'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bread and Circuses??

So I am trying to be more Historian and less Grouchy...but holy moley....I can't seem to escape the stupid people.  OR to use a historical analogy...has America become the Roman Empire?...complete with Bread and Circuses?......

"Bread and Circuses" (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public policy, but through diversion, distraction, and/or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered "palliative." Juvenal decried it as a simplistic motivation of common people.The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man. From my friends at Wikipedia

I mean seriously? Romney was hammered by the Criminal Liberal media for his dreaded 47% remark...which created one of my more awesome blog posts..complete with lots of commentary....and now....PROOF of the 47%...Ladies and Gentlemen----I give you the TYPICAL Obama voter circa 2012.

Obama Voter Says Vote for Obama because he gives a free Phone

yes...this is a typical Obama voter...and guess what folks she REALLY BELIEVES that phone is free!!!! Like Obama just pooped it out or something...and....SHE GETS TO VOTE...just like you and me....WOW, that's awesome.

BUT, it gets better...not only is most of Obama's Presidency a fraud...we'll get to that, but his supporters hire faux protesters for Romney rallies:

SEIU Paid Protesters at Romney Cleveland Ohio Rally

I mean, don't they have REAL protesters? They have to go out and pay them? And I wonder where that money comes from?

Then, of course, there is the other inconvenient truth...Blacks will vote for Obama no matter what...with a few excellent and brave exceptions of some black ministers who oppose his weaselly stand on gay marriage.

Jay-Z Supports Barack Obama But Thinks “We Need Less Government”
“I support Barack because I gotta respect that sort of vision. I gotta respect a man who is the first black President ever,” he said. “To have that sort of vision and dream, I have to support that.”
So, let's just face facts...more than 95% of African-Americans will vote for Obama NO MATTER WHAT HE SAYS OR DOES...


But what is Obama actually doing...not much...except fund raising, campaigning..and hangin' with his hommies...

Obama focuses on campaigning, fundraising; Official presidential duties are few and far between
If not for sports champions and terrorists, President Obama’s public schedule for September would be nearly empty of official events, as he devoted most of his time to campaigning for re-election.

On Sept. 6, Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s renomination in Charlotte, N.C. In the 21 days since then, the president has had a total of 14 events on his White House schedule, not including regular daily briefings and occasional lunches with Vice President Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, how's that hopey-changey thing working out for the rest of us schlubs still fortunate to have a job...(you know Joey Biden's four letter word)

Americans’ Incomes Have Fallen $3,040 During the Obama ‘Recovery’
New figures from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, show that the typical American household’s real (inflation-adjusted) income has actually dropped 5.7 percent during the Obama “recovery.” Using constant 2012 dollars (to adjust for inflation), the median annual income of American households was $53,718 as of June 2009, the last month of the recession. Now, after 38 months of this “recovery,” it has fallen to $50,678 — a drop of $3,040 per household.
and...let's not forget the awesomeness that is Obamacare...Obamacare isn't reducing health care costs
When he ran for president in 2008, Obama promised he would lower health insurance premiums for families by $2,500 in his first term. But earlier this month, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its annual Employer Health Benefits Survey showing that average family health insurance premiums have gone up by more than $2,500 ($2,730 to be exact), not down. Then, this week, the Health Care Cost Institute released its annual Health Care Cost and Utilization Report showing that, after briefly slowing down due to the recession in 2009 and 2010, overall health care spending rose 4.6 percent last year, far outpacing both inflation and wages.

Seniors have also been hit hard by the rising cost of health care since Obamacare became law. Yesterday, Avalere Health, a health care consulting company, reported that premiums for seven of the 10 most popular Medicare prescription drug plans will increase by double digits. Seniors using the Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan, for example, will see their premiums rise by 23 percent, while the Humana Enhanced plan will go up by 11 percent.
Yup, but HEY don't worry...all is right with the world....YUP, Obama helped end the NFL referee lockout...THE SINGLE MOST important crisis in America.

5 things to know about NFL ref deal
With President Obama expressing his disappointment with the replacement officiating and poor officiating being the lead story of network news coverage, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had to act -- and he did.
WOW, forget that whole Taxmageddon thing, the Middle East Meltdown...the surrender of Afghanistan (more on that later)...the wholesale ongoing destruction of the American economy...and that SUPERAWESOME $4/ gallon gas...OBAMA BROUGHT BACK THE REFS....

Your beer and chili fries are ready America...so go plop your tired butts on the couch and watch some football this weekend....but enjoy them...if Obama gets reelected...Michelle is gonna starve your lazy fat butts too, just like she is our children...I doubt NFL football will be the same with tofu, arugula, and seltzer water...

Oh well, even the lions thought Nero gave them a pretty good deal....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Intellectual Twinkie Time

Yes, we interrupt our usual political snark, weighty book reviews (the books, not my reviews) to bring you an intellectual Twinkie...NO, not Obama's latest jobs plan...or Middle East peace plan...we're talking MONSTER HUNTERS here...okay, maybe I lied about the political snark....

Oh, Yea...Larry Correia's newest Monster Hunter book, Monster Hunter Legion, came to me, courtesy of the B&N member discount and I was a little surprised to see it in hard cover....yup hard cover...clearly Mr. Correia has hit the big time...I remember buying the first three books in paperback..and now WHAMMO straight to hard back...cha ching ----$$$...good for you Larry (can I call you Larry?  Please don't send a werewolf after me). 

Of course the series has been tremendously successful...and rightly so.  Mr. Correia (yea, let's go with that) makes no bones about what he loves- GUNS and Monster 'B' Movies...and although it seems weird that he can weave a series of masterful tales from these two things...he does.

So, are these paragons of literary prose?...dripping with an intricate plot, witty dialogue and spin-tingling action?....well YEAH...they are...the Monster Hunter series does what any good series should do...create a set of lovable endearing characters (although these have body armor and machine guns) and then create an interconnected set of stories that draw you deeply into the action, and more importantly...into the characters.  After all, who wouldn't want Owen Zastava Pitt in a foxhole with them..a hot babe like Julie Shackleford for a wife, a smokin' girlfriend like Holly Newcastle, or a boss like Earl Harbinger...okay we might have to reconsider that...Earl can be howling mad sometimes...HEY read the books and find out what I mean.

Mr. Correia combines what must be a scary imagination with what I can only assume is a massive library of monster movies to create evil creatures and villains that might even make Madonna blush...although I doubt it.

This particular volume brings together several plot lines, past events, and characters from his previous Monster Hunter books to create his most ambitious novel yet...which I must confess I stayed up until nearly 2 in the morning to finish.  His dialogue is awesomely snarky, his characters seem real..if you know what I mean...and even though he uses monsters...the science (as it were) that he weaves into each book may have you checking under you bed for the boogieman.

I HIGHLY recommend this book...but start with the first volume if you're a NEWBIE...you won't be disappointed...unless you think Dreams of My Father was the best autobiography ever.  Of course there was one downside...Mr. Correia clearly has a multi-book deal going....the book ended with...well not quite a cliff hanger...but MUCH business unfinished.

ARGHHHH, that means I have to wait another year.................

Maybe in the meantime he can write the next volume in the Dead Six series.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Amateur Hour- Not for the NFL, why for the country?

So this morning, during my ride into work (you know, that thing that the 53% in America still do), I was listening to my usual WMAL morning show and everyone was talking about the horrible job the replacement refs did at last night's NFL game.  

Now, I was not watching the game, instead taking in the awesome season premier of Castle, my ultimate guilty TV addiction, but the vehemence of the fan and even TV broadcaster and commentator  reaction was striking.
"We don't want to talk about the officials, trust us," [ESPN's Mike] Tirico said. "But it's affecting the game. When we meet with teams and coordinators, frustration boils out into limited on-the-record statements. Off the record, what guys are saying -- it's a nightmare. It is impacting the game.
"It hasn't burned a team to cost them a playoff spot yet. But you should go back and watch the film. There are so many little things that players are getting away with that is absolutely impacting the game to the detriment of the product."

SO, WAKE THE HELL UP AMERICA!!..if everyone is so pissed off about amateurs ruining a stupid football game that has NO material impact on your life (except the pool money for your fantasy league), why aren't they pissed off about the amateurs in this Administration.

I mean let's start with the economy...it's still in the tank...unemployment is not getting any better:
 and it's not likely to get ANY better under a second Obama Administration

Jobless Claims to Leading Index Show Weakness: Economy 

and remember, this is BEFORE the largest tax increase in American History goes into effect...yes, that's right, for all you schlubs still paying taxes, get ready to get screwed to the wall.

100 Days Until Taxmageddon

Personal income tax rates will rise on January 1, 2013.  The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which the majority of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:
-The 10% bracket rises to a new and expanded 15%
-The 25% bracket rises to 28%
-The 28% bracket rises to 31%
-The 33% bracket rises to 36%
-The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%
Yeahhh, forget all the bilious bullsh** from the Obamazombies about "taxing millionaires and billionaires" BELIEVE ME, those folks have enough lawyers and accountants to survive this... the rest of us...are gonna pay, pay, and pay. Read the facts at that link...if that doesn't scare the crap out of you it should....

Ben Bernanke Warns Congress on ‘Taxmageddon’
Yup, read it and weep...any tiny traction the economy may get will be swamped by Taxmageddon......and Obama is OK with that...as long as he can "STICK IT" to millionaires and billionaires.

Then of course, there's the lies and blunders of Obama's foreign policy...which is likely to be just as dangerous to the US as his economic disasters.
Let's start with the lies:

Ten days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the White House’s official story about the incident appears to be falling apart.
“I think this is a case of an administration saying what they wished to be true before waiting for all the facts to come in.”
That bolded part (which I did) pretty much sums up Obama's Presidency!

That is a pretty damning statement....and this is from the Daily Beast, hardly a paragon of Right-Wing Media....

But it gets better...while the Middle East is in flames (you do know, where the word Armageddon comes from don't you?)

But Obama continues his wishful, "aren't I wonderful eye candy to the world (and The View)" diplomacy.

When host and veteran journalist Barbara Walters kidded Michelle Obama about bringing the president as her "date," Obama quipped, "I've been told I'm just eye candy here."
Veteran journalist my ass...there's a word for Barbara and her clucking hens..and it rhymes with doors.

Anyway, here's President Eye Candy's brilliance on display at the UN today. Here is some outstanding opinion from the WaPo (I know, I can't believe it myself):
The fact that he embodies the U.N. mantra on defamation of religion (“slander”) is even more regrettable. This is, as informed watchers of the U.N. know, an invidious movement to control and suppress speech, to prevent criticism of Islamic extremists and to use the West’s legal system against itself.

Moreover, Obama is heading down a path to nowhere in which every statement of intolerance theoretically must be individually condemned by our government. But he doesn’t mean it. The hypocrisy is evident. He doesn’t and will never do this when Evangelical Christians are vilified, when art displays portray Jesus in offensive ways or when Broadway musicals jab at Mormons.

Moreover, the moral equivalence is downright appalling. Intolerant speech and insulting cartoons — that is free speech — is NOT the same as violence. And Holocaust denial by governments is not the same as boisterous, irreverent free speech exercised by free peoples.
Sadly, what this author doesn't understand is that Obama and his minions are ALL about moral equivalence between Christians, Muslims and Jews....after all you know how those crazy Catholics riot every time some lefty loon talks bad about the Pope.

So, there you have it...America is in a tailspin...we're ready to shoot a bunch of NFL replacement refs...but perfectly willing to overlook a few "bumps in the road" to our perfect Obama utopia....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No secret revelations here...just a story about varmint killin'

So the +1 got me a copy of No Easy Day, the personal memoir of a member of SEAL Team 6 that gave Osama a bad case of lead poisoning.  Now, to be perfectly honest, the one genre of history that your neighborhood Grouchy Historian is not a big fan of is biography/autobiography/memoir.

Not to say I haven't read them...the 200th anniversary biography of Abraham Lincoln was really well done.  And I have copies of Ernie Pyle's book- Brave Men, Eisenhower's Great Crusade, and Charles B. MacDonald's Company Commander, still considered one of the finest WWII memoirs ever done.  But overall, they are not my favorite types of history.  Like military unit histories, most of them are merely exercises in "See how totally fabulous I was as I totally did XXXX"  Kinda like Obama, but in reverse...actually DOING something.  But I digress.

This book, despite all the kerfuffle about leaking state secrets, operational tradecraft, or the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa, seemed pretty darn sanitized to me.  The author notes in the introduction that he had a former SPECOPS lawyer review the thing...and they did a pretty good job from what I can see.  Obama and his team definitely spilled more secrets about the raid than this guy did.

I have to say, that overall, it was.....okay....not great....not bad....just okay as a war memoir.  The author told much of the action in such a watered down, vanilla fashion, that you never really get a good sense of where the action is taking place as he relates his 10...yes...10...that's TEN freakin' combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  That number really floored me...wow, no wonder Osama never stood a chance...these guys can practically kill you in their sleep.  I know he was trying to protect his buddies and avoid legal trouble....TRUST me, Obama and his gang will leave this guy alone...they don't want to get into a "Who leaked what pissing contest" cuz they're likely to lose.

The first half of the book zipped by his first 10 years of service, with a few interesting anecdotes but the second half is definitely better as he talks about getting ready for the Osama raid, then the first intense minutes of the raid as the first helicopter (which he was on) crash lands in the compound, and the nearly blow-by-blow account of the raid.  He skips over most of the process and background on how the intell was developed that placed Osama deep inside Pakistan (Osama, Osama...Shocked, shocked the Paks were that the most HUNTED man on Earth was across the street from a Pakistani military academy...whoda thunk?....oh, can they have another $18 BILLION AMERICAN TAXPAYER DOLLARS in aid?  Allies my ass...treacherous bastards) and describes how the team overcame the helicopter crash landing to successfully send Osama to meet Allah....or Satan...depending on where you stand.

The detailed diagrams of the raid were very nice...I like maps and diagrams...and the end of the story does make for some good drama as the SEALS race to grab as much intell stuff from the house as possible before Pakistani troops or police arrive.

This was a decent book....and it would make a great movie...if it wasn't likely to become a huge propaganda piece for the awesomeness that is Osama...I mean Obama...oh whatever....you that gun-tottin', straight-shootin' cowboy...oh, wait, was that Bush?  No, it was definitely Obama that made the gutsy call to launch the raid...as long as it succeeded...otherwise there was some military flunky to take the hit...typical.

So, Kindle it, library it...it's worth a quick read.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mitt Romney tells truth...scandal ensues.

Yep, that's right...best quote of the morning from Tucker Carlson while listening to my usual WMAL morning show-"Well, that's a real scandal in this town..telling the truth."  I'm paraphrasing a little, but I love it nonetheless.

What truth do I speak of?  Well the lamestream media will be absolutely BREATHLESS with angst over Mitt's comment taped by those crack undercover reporters at Mother Jones...who of course can't seem to find all those guns the DOJ let loose on Mexico...or find those pesky terrorists who attacked our embassy...or can't find that crazy Cabinet Secretary who violated the Hatch Act...but I digress.

NOPE, what has the likes of Brian Williams, Matt Lauer and Chris "Legs" Matthews all uptight today (or business as usual) is this quote:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax…And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

This will no doubt cause heads to explode and mouths to foam at ABCBSMSNBCWAPONYTKOS land...because it's TRUE...100% TRUE...let's review this video for a moment.

This is, of course the CLASSIC Obama voter....bar none...

Now, before picking this little tidbit apart, let's remember when Obama decided he didn't need the white, blue collar Reagan Democrat vote, shall we?

President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign will be the first in modern political history to abandon white working-class voters, strategists claim.
For decades, Democrats have been losing more and more blue collar whites. Their alienation helped lead to the massive Republican wave in 2010, when the GOP wooed 30 percent more of them than the Democrats could.
Democratic strategists say President Obama is focusing his attention, instead, on poor black and Hispanic voters and educated white professionals.
So, clearly both candidates, most political pundits, and even your own Grouchy Historian know that this election is about turning out the base and convincing those mushy, middle road "independent" voters that either Obama isn't as incompetent as he is or Romney isn't a mean as he seems. 

But, really, where is Romney wrong...factually incorrect, that is...of course liberals think he's wrong, and mean, and rich, and white and Mormon...any of which makes him a racist, homophobic, xenophobic meanie poopoo head.  But seriously, what about it? 

Here's the facts:

  • Unemployment has also soared and stayed above 8% for nearly 40 months..and this is using the BS statistics that the Labor Department cooks by showing people "dropping out of the workforce and not looking for work".  That's about the most bogus crap I have ever heard.  Here's the facts...."So, while Obama claims an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, the real unemployment rate is 10.8 percent. Because ultimately, Obama’s unemployment rate decreases are the perverse result of the destruction of American’s hope of finding work and their abandoning the workforce."

  • I really think it's worse than that...if you use the U6 numbers (The U-6 unemployment rate includes the total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers)- the real no kidding unemployment rate is nearly 15%
So, is this okay with Obama and the Dems?  And, for goodness sake, how, EXACTLY is taxing the crap out of everyone with a job (you know those RICH people in Obama's America), going to solve our myriad of problems.

Answer--it won't...but Obama's got nothing else except class envy and the class struggle of the proletariat versus their capitalist oppressors:     

So, I hope Romney has the guts to stand up and say "Hell, yea I said that...we have too many people on welfare, food stamps and disability...they need jobs, we need to cut our entitlement expense...and they GO HAND IN HAND..."

This is what I don't understand...why can't anyone see the relationship between unemployment and the deficit?  This seems pretty obvious to me...the more people that are working...are paying taxes...and spending money...which generates more taxes...and they AREN'T collecting food stamps or welfare...and they are PRODUCTIVE again....

Hmmm...kinda makes ya wonder why Obama gutted welfare reform..dudn't it?

Strap in...it's gonna be a fun week.

Oh, hey and that whole China-Japan thing...nahhhhh, don't worry about that...pay no attention to the war coming to Asia....


The awesomeness continues...more scandal...er, I mean truth telling by Mitt:
Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. Now why do I say that? Some might say, well, let's let the Palestinians have the West Bank, and have security, and set up a separate nation for the Palestinians. And then come a couple of thorny questions. And I don't have a map here to look at the geography, but the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to Tel Aviv, which is the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel, the center of Israel. It's—what the border would be? Maybe seven miles from Tel Aviv to what would be the West Bank…The other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point, or Jordan. And of course the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon, what they did near Gaza. Which is that the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel.

oh, and this gem...
The president's foreign policy, in my opinion, is formed in part by a perception he has that his magnetism, and his charm, and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like Putin and Chávez and Ahmadinejad, and that they'll find that we're such wonderful people that they'll go on with us, and they'll stop doing bad things. And it's an extraordinarily naive perception.

Yup...Mother Jones is SHOCKED, SHOCKED that an American politician does not feel the need to pander to a bunch of murderous thugs...

(Peace) Initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of this faith, the movement educates it members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad: "Allah is the all-powerful, but most people are not aware.

This is only getting better.......

Monday, September 17, 2012

A new look at one a forgotten World War II battle

So, it's September again, when thoughts turn to politics (at least this year), football, and the beginning of another school year.

But for me, September is a very busy military history month, beginning with the 68th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden.  Now, I have blogged about this before, particularly the major books written about this mostly forgotten strategic defeat of the Allies in late 1944.

This year, there is a completely new history of the battle, written exclusively  from the American perspective.

John McManus has written several excellent volumes on American soldiers in World War II, especially his volume on the early fighting of the Battle of the Bulge, where the troops of the 28th Infantry Division were overrun buying valuable time for reinforcement to arrive and hold off the German offensive.

His new book, September Hope not only provides excellent first person narratives and recollections of the battle, he offers some interesting strategic perspectives on the battle, especially new information about high-level discussions between Eisenhower and his commanders.  McManus offers some insightful criticisms of Eisenhower and Montgomery, especially Eisenhower's mushy directives to Montgomery concerning clearing the approaches to Antwerp, a vital port needed by the Allies to overcome their severe supply problem plaguing their advance into Germany in the fall of 1944.

From a military analysis point of view, the sheer hubris of the Allied commanders is really stunning:
  • Having the 1st Airborne drop zones nearly 8 miles from the bridge is really hard to comprehend, even if the reasons seemed logical at the time.  Given that modern air assault units have huge helicopter capacity and modern airborne divisions can drop heavy equipment, it can be difficult for a modern ready to really understand the importance of a large flat surface for the follow on glider trains to land. But wow, marching 8 miles through enemy territory was really gutsy, and as it turned out, stupid.  The Germans had various scratch units scattered around, and these units were able to delay the British advance long enough for the two Panzer Divisions to get into action.  Although the American drop zones were better sited, they also came under extreme pressure from German counterattacks, and McManus details the tense fighting to clear the 82nd Airborne drop zone minutes before the arrival of follow-on glider troops....yes, not hours or days, but minutes. 
  • The intelligence failure, or more correctly the command failure to take intelligence seriously should have made heads roll.  The overconfidence of the British commander, Gen Browning, when shown PHOTOGRAPHS of German armor in the Arnhem area, is pretty mind-numbing.  World War II paratroopers were very lightly armed infantry with none of the modern, lethal anti-armor weapons current American troops have and it was sheer suicide to expect an airborne division to hold off 2 Panzer Divisions, especially SS Panzer Divisions, for 4 days...even though the British held out for nearly 9 days in the Osterbeek Perimeter.
  •  The ability of the German Wehrmacht to reconstitute itself after the disastrous campaign in France is really amazing and needs to be researched and told as a lesson in how an army can keep fighting after suffering staggering losses.  It is probably incomprehensible to modern Americans SHOCKED, yes SHOCKED when 20 or 30 U.S. troops die in a single battle, but the Germans suffered over 250,000 casualties in France from June-August 1944, effectively destroying the German 7th Army and nearly destroying the 15th Army.  And yet, within weeks they were able to stop an Allied advance under near total air dominance, with superior mechanized forces, and against the best Allied airborne divisions available.  Too bad I don't Sprechen Deutsch...I think there are some real military lessons here.  What is more interesting, from an operational point of view, was the incredible ability of the Germans to form effective Kampfgruppes, essentially scratch fighting forces formed from whatever troops were available, usually the remains of battered units, to form fairly effective combined arms groups, usually of regimental or brigade size, to carry on the battle.  Although the supply problems of the Allies were probably the main factor in the halting of the Allied offensive in 1944, the operational defeat inflicted in Holland goes to show Clausewitz' ol' maxim that the enemy gets a vote too.

What separates this book from earlier volumes, besides not retelling the gripping story of the British 1st Airborne at Arnhem, is the fact that McManus describes what happened AFTER the British survivors were evacuated.  This is a forgotten chapter in the war...and it is notable that both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were engaged in combat until November 1944 in Holland because there were NO other troops available.  In fact, the 101st was not withdrawn from Holland until nearly the end of November, which left them only about two weeks to refit and rest before being shipped to the little Belgian town of Bastogne. This is another little tidbit most Americans don't realize.  We did not STEAMROLLER over the Germans.  As this battle shows, the German Army remained a lethal fighting force with offensive capability right up until the last throw of the Ardennes Offensive.  The Allies had nearly exhausted their infantry supply by the fall of 1944, and when the 82nd and 101st came off the line, they constituted the entire strategic reserve of the Allied forces, all other infantry and armor divisions--American, Canadian, British, etc, having been committed.  This is what is so remarkable about the fact that these two units turned around and headed back to the Ardennes only weeks after coming back for rest and refit.

Today, of course, if a fiasco like this happened, with the destruction of 1 elite division and the severe mauling of 2 others, essentially rendering them combat-ineffective, the New York Times would have a field day.  And, rightly so.  The whole operation should have never happened.  Montgomery's 21st Army Group should have focused on opening up Antwerp and other, more capable American commanders, like Patton or even Jacob Devers (more on that later) should have been given the opportunity to drive into Germany.

Ike got away from this with his reputation intact, but as McManus points out, he should bear the ultimate responsibility for the failure of Market-Garden by not only approving the plan, but continuing to let Montgomery try to push through victory when it was clear the battle was lost.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to really dig into the American contribution to this battle. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Civil War Sesquicentennial

Painting by Mort Kunstler...my favorite Civil War Artist.

Sadly, given everything going on in my life professionally, personally, and politically, I have not been able to really get into the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  Which is too bad, because Virginia is going all out to celebrate this milestone in American history

There were some pretty major milestones this year...the Battles of Shiloh, Second Manassas (or Second Bull Run for you Yankees) and the upcoming anniversary of the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Because of this milestone, the publishing industry is producing several new Civil War titles...oh, yes, books, books and more books.  It's really surprising and gratifying to see so much excellent scholarship on the war this year.

So let's begin..

The first recommendations are two volumes covering 1861 and 1862 by the Library of America:
These are really marvelous primary sources collections edited by Stephen Sears (more on him later).  Not only are these fantastic books, they are fantastically made books.  Truly a joy to add to a Civil War Library.  Along with these books, the Library of America also has two volumes of Abraham Lincolns papers from the war time period.  If you haven't read Lincoln's second annual message to Congress {the precursor to today's State of the Union Address}, you should:  
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country....Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free--honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just--a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless."
As mentioned, this excellent series is edited by Stephen Sears...who just happens to be one of my favorite Civil War campaign and battle historians.  He has written some of the best books on the major battles in the Eastern Theater...bar none.  I will only discuss the battles of 1862..since of course, I will need more blog posts for next year.

 His first volume, To the Gates of Richmond, covers the campaign of the Seven Days Battle during June of 1862.  Sears also gives the background and early maneuvering of the armies, including the command organization and generalship of both armies.  This was the first book of Sears I read, and I was immediately hooked, as Sears does an excellent job of writing a campaign history, linking together the battles in a seemless manner that goes all the way from Oak Grove to Malvern Hill. 

His second volume covers the bloodiest day of the war, the Battle of Antietam in September 1862.  For whatever reason, Sears skipped over Second Manassas, that book is below, but picks right up from the aftermath of that battle.  He does an excellent job of showing the flow of the battle that day...from the Cornfield to Burnside's Bridge.  He really gets into the gritty detail, and spares no criticism of McClellan's timidness and excessive caution that caused him to miss a major opportunity to destroy Lee's army and perhaps end the war.

Now, for whatever reason, there has not been a lot of scholarship on the 2nd Battle of Manassas.  I have had this book for about a year, but have not picked it up yet...so I can't really say  much, other than it was highly recommended on Amazon. 

That's about it for now.  I hope to have a better post at the end of the year...no doubt AFTER the election, to discuss the end of the 150th commemoration of the occurrences of 1862.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of the year from U.S. Grant at the Battle of Shiloh...which I am currently reading about...should have a book review soon.

"Well Grant we've had the devil's own day haven't we?" 
"Yes," said Grant, "Lick em tomorrow though." - Gen. U.S. Grant responding to Gen Sherman's remark following the costly Union victory at the Battle of Shiloh.

Seems like good advice for the Republicans....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Foucault, Clausewitz, Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, my!


Although your Grouchy Historian loves preparing book reviews...and bacon...hmmm, one of the things I don't usually prepare is a response to a web article.....

However, this week, I make an exception.

One of my favorite websites, which I check every morning, is the Small Wars Journal. Started during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, it has become, in my opinion, one of the premier forums for discussing counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, defense and intelligence issues. It is lively, controversial and very well done.

Which brings me to this post. I read this article a couple of weeks ago and it kinda rubbed me the wrong way...like a set of nails on a chalkboard (if anyone is old enough to remember that).

Ok, so before I get into the meat of why this article annoys me, let me say that in the course of my MA from AMU...you know, that weeny little on-line school, I was privileged to take a course in historiography. Long story short, I was introduced to Foucauldian thought and had to say, it didn't impress me much. Subjective truth at its finest, post-constructionist drivel and general touchy-feely 1960s hippie crap. But, hey it's the cool thing...kinda like the Obama Stimulus...until you pick it apart...then it's just a lot of overblown nothing....

So I read this article, written by what I can only assume is some Master's student who may have read Clausewitz, but sure as heck doesn't understand Clausewitz, war, or politics. This spiffy quote got my little Clausewitz radar all in a tiz:
The figure that forms the beginning of Foucault’s analysis of war, Carl von Clausewitz, will similarly form the backbone of any genealogical critique of the unity of war. Clausewitz’s oft (mis)-quoted aphorism that “war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means” has shaped theoretical understandings of war since the 19th century. Given the intense and dazzling array of technological changes in the waging of war since the time of Clausewitz, it seems absurd to imagine that the tenets that Clausewitz espoused still hold their same power. (my emphasis)
Really?!? On what frickin' planet? Obviously this kid has missed the fact that warfare may change with technology, but war does not. War has always been, and will always be an act of politics (or power) and if there's one thing the U.S. has painfully learned the last 10 years is that satellites, smart bombs, and robo-soldiers do not affect the basic fundamentals of waging war.

In contrast, one of my other favorite websites....wait for it...The Clausewitz Homepage, had a much better article that talks about non-linearity, unpredictability...you know that pesky "friction" thing...that anyone who can spell Clausewitz knows is one of his primary maxims.

So, the article Clausewitz, Nonlinearity and the Unpredictability of War has some really wonderful quotes that shows that any good student of war will not try to draw exactly linear conclusions about military history, but will always keep in mind context, context, context...
Clausewitz's emphasis on unpredictability is a key manifestation of the role that non linearity plays in his work. This emphasis links widely recognized, fundamental, enduring elements of On War. A look at what Clausewitz says about "interaction," "friction," and "chance" may allow us to explore his understanding of the nonlinear nature of war.
So, war is waged by people, and people have all kinds of faults, foibles and brilliant lunacy. Clausewitz, of course, keenly understood this...and his first and foremost maxim is that war can never be reduced to mathematical equations...no matter how good your sensors, weapons, computers, or fly-by-wire systems are...war is about people.
The essential difference is that war is not an exercise of the will directed at inanimate matter, as is the case with the mechanical arts, or at matter which is animate but passive and yielding, as is the case with the human mind and emotions in the fine arts. In war, the will is directed at an animate object that reacts. The second attribute of military action is that it must expect positive reactions, and the process of interaction that results. Here we are not concerned with the problem of calculating such reactions—that is really part of the already mentioned problem of calculating psychological forces—but rather with the fact that the very nature of interaction is bound to make it unpredictable. [my emphasis]

BUT no, this guy goes on to trash what he calls "transcultural" attempts to look for universals in military history:
Michael Handel, in a thoroughly problematic attempt to read Clausewitz and Sun Tzu together, quotes the former in order to justify his approach: “war, though conditioned by the particular characteristics of states and their armed forces, must contain some more general—indeed, a universal—element with which every theorist ought above all to be concerned.” Such a supposition is deeply troubling under Foucauldian theories.
Well, WAHH, I don't care that it's deeply troubling. YES, Sun Tzu espoused waging war very differently than Clausewitz...yes, the Oriental approach was based much more on subterfuge, maneuver and what we now call PSYOPS. But the end goal was still the same...some political objective..power, survival, resources that would have been no different than their European counterparts. I happen to think Handel is a very good scholar and thinker...much more so than this young-un.

Then, of course, this would have made me spit out my coffee...
In the first place the details of Foucault’s biography as an open homosexual and his ultimate death from an AIDS related illness raise the hackles of what remain a staunchly conservative military environment. Works by authors such as James Miller have sought to portray Foucault’s liberal lifestyle as one of libertine excess, riddled with sado-masochism and homosexual eroticism. These issues present barriers to the serious study of Foucault in the military establishment. A perhaps more pressing concern, however, is the apparent refusal to study Foucault and other liberal thinkers because their ideas cut at the very core of the disciplines of military history and strategy. The critical reexamination of closely held beliefs that Foucault demands is not just difficult and time consuming, it is also profoundly destabilizing and frightening. Given the obvious flaws that holding to a model of military history that emphasizes continuity and seamless transitions from one generation to the next, however, and the real world consequences in terms of human lives lost and resources expended, the fear of questioning these deeply rooted beliefs can not afford to be used as an excuse. The consequences of inaction in this regard are just too great to be ignored.
REALLY??? Was it even necessary to bring up the guy's lifestyle? He's a subjective truth hippie nutjob, period...oh, and by the way...I have read a LOT the last 10 years about the soul-searching by the U.S. military about the influence of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon in 2006 and other conflicts...there is no destabilizing and frightening going on here junior...

Oh, and by the way NO one I read in the military history field assumes a SEAM-LESS transition or continuity in warfare...oyyyy, what a knucklehead...on the contrary, most of the authors I read emphasize the discontinuities...or REVOLUTIONS in Military Affairs...not a phrase I always like, but a useful discussion point. BUT even the most ardent proponents of RMA say it may affect how wars are waged but not what wars are for...

ARGHHH, I need to go have some therapeutic bacon now....maybe even some pulled pork....my teeth hurt from gritting them so much....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Goodness gracious, can we make it stoooooppppppp............

The endless parade of wymyn talking about abortion is really exhausting....I mean Sandra Fluke??? Seriously, why should anyone take ANYTHING this woman says seriously?  She's been a professional student and agitator her entire adult life...all three or four years of it.

So what the hell can she tell me, the Grouchy Historian...if I bothered to listen...

Anyway, after pondering the sneak preview of Slick Willie's speech:
If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we’re-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
So, what exactly is SHARED prosperity?  Does that mean that Warren Buffet is gonna share some Berkshire Hathaway with me?  I freakin' doubt it.

I have, after much thought, figured out why democRATs think they way they do...they consider life a big game of T-ball.  Yup, that's right...T-ball.  I remember those days when my son played this game.  You hit the ball off a tee, no one keeps score, and EVERYONE gets a trophy.  Yup...that's the entire democRAT economic philosophy...with other people's money of course, I doubt John Kerry is gonna pay my mortgage anytime soon.  So, everyone gets a FREE education...FREE healthcare...FREE abortions.....FREE contraception....FREE this....FREE that....cuz golly, we wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by making them WORK or anything like that...God forbid someone else WORK harder, longer and make sacrifices to get ahead...NOPE...can't have that....I mean Michelle summed it up, huh:
And he believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity … you do not slam it shut behind you…you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed. 
I mean what the hell does that mean...who wants to shut the door on anyone but Barrack and his buddies...
“We’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money, but you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or you’re providing a good service.”
 Yup, just like in T-ball, can't have someone be a better hitter, runner or catcher...nope, nope, that just wouldn't do.  After all Michael Moore might get his feelings hurt...

OK, here's the little secret morons...just like in REAL LIFE, people keep score.  I mean, seriously, the kids on BOTH teams knew what the score was...who was the best batter, who the good players were...let's not kid ourselves.

It's the same way in real life...some people are going to be wildly successful, some less so...but is socialism really the way to go...

Winston Churchill said it best:
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Political Intrigue, by the undisputed Master

As the democRATs gear up for their convention in that evil, backwards ass hick state of North Carolina...you know those hicks who passed a traditional marriage amendment, it is instructive to see the line-up of speakers. I mean Jimmy Carter? Seriously? Will he have a sweater on? Talk about America's national malaise? Yup, there's a reason disco, polyester, tie-dye and Jimmy Carter need to stay in the 70s.

With a line up of that, even re-runs of Green Acres look pretty darned good.

I mean I can't wait to hear a WHOLE week of angry wymyn castigating me as a misogynist, xenophobic, racist old white guy....I can hear it now--"Keep the government out of my bedroom....after you pay for my FREE contraceptives." Huh?

I also can't wait for the tribute to Teddy Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and all those paragons of feminist thought within the DemocRATic party. The intellectual inconsistency would be mind-boggling...to anyone who had a mind, which I wonder if Joe Biden does these days...he really does seem more and more like the guy from Weekend at Bernies...you know the dead guy. Seriously, I would rather be covered in honey, buried in a pit of fire ants, and listen to an endless loop of Justin Beeber than watch the DemocRATic convention this week. Fortunately, I will be able to read the transcripts later, without watching Chris Matthews in ecstasy at sooooo muccchhhh thrill up his leg....oo, I think I just threw up in the back of my throat a little.

But I digress...along with Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, there are many other figures from history who have much to say about this year's election cycle.

Nicolo Machiavelli is, of course, the undisputed master or realpolitik, a genius who didn't let a minor detail like morality get in the way of his power politics. What would he say about the current state of affairs?

But coming to the other point—where a leading citizen becomes the prince of his country, not by wickedness or any intolerable violence, but by the favour of his fellow citizens—this may be called a civil principality: nor is genius or fortune altogether necessary to attain to it, but rather a happy shrewdness. I say then that such a principality is obtained either by the favour of the people or by the favour of the nobles. Because in all cities these two distinct parties are found, and from this it arises that the people do not wish to be ruled nor oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles wish to rule and oppress the people; and from these two opposite desires there arises in cities one of three results, either a principality, self-government, or anarchy.

So this pretty much describes the 2008 election...shrewdness...not genius or fortune got Barack Hussein Obama president. Sad to say, the ending of the Bush term and the utter well-meaning ineptness of the McCain campaign pretty much assured a Democratic presidency in 2008. I am still amazed the Obama out-fought the Clinton machine, but I suspect Hillary expected an anointing and got a Chicago gang fight which they were not prepared for. Nonetheless, the nobles (i.e. the mediatainment industry, the educational-industrial complex and the union oligarchy) all supported Prince Obama as their guy to keep their power intact and oppress the people...and if you look at California, Illinois and any other blue state, they have been pretty much successful. After all "the private sector is doing just fine", but those Illinois teachers are going to go on strike- for the children, of course.

Of course, there is a sense that some in the DemocRATic party are starting to realize that Barry, is all about Barry, and doesn't really give a rat (no pun intended) for the rest of the party. Machiavelli address this as well.

Therefore, to make this point clearer, I say that the nobles ought to be looked at mainly in two ways: that is to say, they either shape their course in such a way as binds them entirely to your fortune, or they do not. Those who so bind themselves, and are not rapacious, ought to be honoured and loved; those who do not bind themselves may be dealt with in two ways; they may fail to do this through pusillanimity and a natural want of courage, in which case you ought to make use of them, especially of those who are of good counsel; and thus, whilst in prosperity you honour them, in adversity you do not have to fear them. But when for their own ambitious ends they shun binding themselves, it is a token that they are giving more thought to themselves than to you, and a prince ought to guard against such, and to fear them as if they were open enemies, because in adversity they always help to ruin him.

This would describe the LOOOONNNG list of fellow dems not coming to the convention....including...wait for it...Hillary.....summit in the South Pacific my ass....she wants to set herself up for 2016 if (when) Barry fails....

Then of course there is the question of what the DemocRATs offer for an Obama second term...what would our man Nicolo say about that...probably only the best quote about modern politics EVER:

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.

Yes, that's right...the awesomeness of that quote cannot be repeated to often. Obama is all about the promises...and payments....NOT greatness. I mean seriously...how STUPID can people be? 8.5% unemployment (really much worse, but we'll go with that) for over 40 months, $15T...soon to be $16T in debt with no end in sight, OBAMACARE, STIMULUS, SOLYNDRA...oyyyyy. But Obama will promise "just give me another 4 years and I'll show you what a fantastic worker's paradise we can build...with FREE college education...FREE abortion on demand....FREE contraception.....FREE Unicorns and Puppies...all paid for by taxing those evil, evil capitalist pig-dogs.

I mean really...so the DemocRATs want to tax the rich...for what? I mean I have never actually heard what they want to do with that money...INVEST in things...like more solar plants to companies with DemocRATic bundlers? To cops, teachers, firefighters (sacrosanct pubic servants) so they can fund more union dues? New roads and bridges? built with more union labor? I think it's just become a Pavlovian response..."Tax the rich, tax the rich...polly want a cracker?"

Finally I close with this:

It makes him contemptible to be considered fickle, frivolous, effeminate, mean-spirited, irresolute, from all of which a prince should guard himself as from a rock; and he should endeavour to show in his actions greatness, courage, gravity, and fortitude; and in his private dealings with his subjects let him show that his judgments are irrevocable, and maintain himself in such reputation that no one can hope either to deceive him or to get round him.

Well, that's about all I have to say about the golfer-in-chief, he who shall not be criticized, or your are RACIST....and MEAN...and RACIST...the tenor of the attacks on Romney and Ryan will only get more lunatic. Make no mistake, the "BAIN IS BAD" mantra will be out in full force, "Don't throw Granny off the Cliff" will be shouted...but in the end what will the DemocRATs have to offer? Obamacare? Higher taxes on everyone? More Green Energy when gas is $4 a gallon AGAIN this year?

I expect to hear a lot of bitter angry shrillness...much whining...and not any optimistic plans to lower unemployment, become energy independent or bring morning to America again...because hey- "You didn't build that."

I think this pretty much says it all.