'87 Sir

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

WoooHooo...made it!

So, this year I gave myself a pretty ambitious goal of reading 30 books by December.  I thought this would be a stretch but achievable, so away I went and I am gratified to say that I made it!  Yes, with only a few weeks left, I made it...with the caveat that 9 out of the 30 books were fiction.  Which is a little more than I like, but hey, those pesky Hunger Games books were hard to put down.

I finally took the plunge into e-reading this year since Amazon offered all the Hunger Games as $.99 downloads when the first movie came out.  I must say it was pretty weird reading a book in hardback, on my iPhone, and my iPad...yes I was that hooked I actually squinted at my iPhone while sitting in a doctor's office.  ANNND, sorry I am still pretty much a Luddite when it comes to books, I like the feel, the turning of the pages, flipping to the maps and illustrations...at some point, I could see carrying around the complete JD Robb collection on my iPad...(hmmmm), but history books...not so much.

If I had to rate the fiction, I would have to say I enjoyed the Monster Hunter book the most...of course I love all the Monster Hunter books....the new Vince Flynn was really good...and of course, JD Robb never disappoints.

Of the non-fiction, they were all good, although I must say I enjoyed the Citino books the most.  Nearly all of the recent World War II history has been from the Allied point of view, and his books were a refreshing new look at the Wehrmacht as a fighting organization during some pivotal years of World War II.  In particular his look at the fighting in 1943, a year under examined by historians, offered some fascinating insights into how the Germans were able to keep fighting after the war was clearly strategically lost.

The most surprising book was the Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution.  Given the turmoil in politics the past four years, most of it caused by ignorant politicians of both parties that would not recognize the Constitution if it bit them in their very wide butts, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned and how well the book explained the context and background of how our Constitution was created and truly what the Founding Fathers INTENDED each part of each clause to say and mean.  Unfortunately, it became clear that although our Founding Fathers all clearly understood what they were trying to do, they did not take into account the stupidity and scheming of their progeny.  The Commerce Clause and other little known, but key provisions in the Constitution, which are continually used and abused by Progressive Liberals to ram through things like Obamacare are simply and clearly explained.  An excellent little book that should be required reading in our public schools, but alas, I guess it's more important to read Heather Has Two Mommies instead.

So, I will rack up 2012 as a successful year...now on to 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A forgotten anniversary- with a personal touch.

December 16 marked the 68th anniversary of the Germans 1944 Ardennes Offensive, popularly known to Americans as the Battle of the Bulge.  Given the tragedy in Connecticut..including the media circus and usual idiocy of the progressive left, it was probably forgotten...well, as most of American history is forgotten by an electorate and citizenry who seem to think following the Kardashians constitutes a mentally rigorous activity.....but I digress.

Fortunately for those of us whose brains have not turned into a Storage Wars, Survivor, and Bachelor watching pile of Progressive Liberal mush (free stuff....give me free stuffff), there has been some excellent writing and scholarship on this battle, which has a very personal meaning to me.....

George Patton, A Giant Of A General At The Bulge

 Green Troops Grew Up Fast to Become Heroes of Hofen

 Ardennes Offensive Begins, an “Abysmal Failure of Allied Intelligence”

My personal connection is very meaningful (yes, the Grouchy Historian does have feelings).  My godfather, Roy Lindemann, was a member of the mythical Greatest Generation, and a young 18 year old paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne in World War II.  That's right, at the age that Baby-Boomers were dropping acid and dropping out, and Millennials were whining that their Xboxes weren't working, my godfather was serving his country in the freezing winter of 1944-1945.  The funny thing is he NEVER talked about his service, even when I went off to Annapolis and thought for a brief time of becoming a Marine officer.  Oh, there was that interesting Christmas during either my plebe or youngster year that I received a box of his old army patches and pins, including a Combat Infantryman Badge that I immediately recognized, but he never said a thing about his service...and I knew enough not to ask, or when I did was brushed off with a couple of non-nondescript sentences about being a company clerk.

This continued until he passed away in 1995 from pancreatic cancer.  I was unable to attend his funeral because we were in the middle of a medical crisis with my daughter, but shortly after he died, my mother called and asked if I wanted his medals.  Being polite and a historian, I replied, "Sure, that would be great."  Little did I know, that my mother, being the bulldog that she is, had petitioned her Congressman, and both Senators from Oklahoma, to have brand-new medals sent to my godmother, and eventually me.  I was grateful to receive them and proudly display them in my home today.

Yes, for anyone who pays attention, that is  Bronze Star, Purple Heart and three campaign stars on his European Theater of Operations medal, meaning he fought in three separate campaigns.  After he died, I remember my parents talking about Roy's drinking and how he was a lifelong alcoholic.  I can't help but speculate whether his drinking was tied to his military time, as so many World War II vets lived with undiagnosed and untreated PTSD, including the war's most decorated soldier, Audie Murphy.

So, as the final members of the World War II generation fade away to the mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, let's remember their sacrifice, both on and off the battlefield.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' "  Matthew 25:21

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

End of the Year Post- Buyer's Remorse?

Well, we come to the end of another year...oyyy and this one went just as fast as any of them.  As your friendly Grouchy Historian contemplates the last year, politics of course springs to mind.

As noted in my previous post, you should never take me to Vegas to break the house, cuz it just isn't going to happen.  I predicted the American people still had some common sense, or at least basic survival instinct and I was wrong...they voted for Santa Claus a little early...and the election of 2012 went into the history books.

I would say that particular post elicited a very lively conversation with an unknown progressive liberal, always fun and enlightening...especially the part about me overreacting...hmmmmm

SO, at the risk of making predictions and overreacting again...here it is...Part Deux.  Why? Because it is fun, makes me think...AND gives me something else to write about in December 2013 if the Mayans or zombies haven't killed us all.

I decided to use some predictive metrics, since that sounds so much cooler than wild-assed guessing and go with 100% certain, likely, possible and wild cards...just for fun.

Let's begin:

100% Certain
  • The US economy is going to stay in the crapper.  This is a no-brainer:   
But the annual average growth is forecast to be 2.1 percent, slightly less than 2012's projected annual average 2.2 percent...The annual unemployment rate will likely be an average 7.7 percent, down from this year's forecast annual average 8.1 percent, which is down from 2011's annual average 9 percent, the survey said.  
These are abysmal numbers that would likely get a Republican tarred and feathered daily by the drive-by sheeple media...but hey, in Obama's Amerika this is the new normal...and don't forget that 7.7% number is total BS, the real unemployment is likely to remain above 10% (use the U6 number from the Bureau of Labor..or in Amerika, the Bureau of Cover Obama's Butt with made up numbers)....numbers FDR would be proud of... what will be fun to watch is the media make up more "unexpected" and "unprecedented" surprise noise when the economy continues to produce bad news...all of which will be continued to be blamed on George W Bush.  Although it seems incredulous to those of us with eyes, ears, and a brain, Teflon Obama will continue to dodge responsibility for his over-regulation, crony capitalism, and dead weight of Obamacare..I mean seriously look at the mess he has inherited from the last four years!!

  • Obama and his allies in Congress will gut our military and work as hard as they can to make us a 2nd rate power because gosh isn't it horrible that America is a superpower and Zimbabwe is not?
The ONLY and I mean ONLY thing Progressive Liberal Democrats (the 2012 Democratic Party) like to cut out of the Federal budget is defense and intelligence spending.  This is nearly as built into their DNA as raising taxes and social welfare spending (otherwise known as building the Democratic voter base).  What most Liberal Progressives DON'T want to remember is that Dear Saint Bill Clinton made most of his miracle budget balancing happen on the backs of the US military.  Not to say he wasn't forced into some pretty remarkable stuff like welfare reform by Newt and the Republican Congress (said reform now being gutted by Obama) but for the most part Clinton balanced the budget by cutting our military.  Obama would no doubt love to do the same. Probably the only way to avoid this would be for the US military to unionize as part of SEIU.

  • If no "fiscal cliff" deal is reached, there will be much blame, talking heads, and finally some sort of crappy deal to try and get us to the 2014 election cycle.
 What amazes me here is, again, the sheeple of the lame stream media not getting the fact that Obama DOESN'T want a deal....at all....no way...no how...He wants EVERYONE'S taxes to go up, spending to go up...and hey, that whole debt thing?  That is so 2017 and someone else's problem.  The Democrats really are the Santa Claus of politics...put every one's goodies on a credit card...spread them around (you know how good they are at spreading sh--) and leave the adults to pay the bill in January...or in this case January 2017, when Obama goes on the million dollar speaking circuit...hmmmm wonder what kinda tax rate he will pay.  Of course, sequestration will impose some pretty decent spending reductions--especially in whose hallowed social programs, with the added bonus that Obama can dodge responsibility for them and blame EVERYTHING on Congress...which is, of course, the number one goal of narcissistic, whiny little brats- Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations.  Now, of course, they will say "Hey, those meany poopoo head Republicans put two wars on a credit card" and all that blather...and they will have a point...Republicans from 2000-2008 were not fiscally responsible.  BUT, would any sane, rational, ADULT human being actually say:   "Well, they did it too....so we get to do it more...neeener, neener."  Seriously?  Where are the grownups on Capitol Hill?  In either party?

  • The Middle East will muddle along, while underneath the surface, hatred for the US will grow.
Although I actually agree with President "They love me, they really love me" that Syria is not worth the bones of one American soldier, I am not so sure the Turks or Europeans will avoid dragging us into that mess.  Of course, a selected group of Delta Force and Seal Team 6 guys might be needed to keep the Syrian chemical weapons out of the hands of Hezbollah or Al Qaeda, lest the Israelis do it, but for the most part, I have no problem with Sunni knuckleheads killing Shia knuckleheads.  Harsh?  YUP, but practical...call it Iran's Vietnam...unfortunately, there is little good the US can do now...when Assad falls, there will be huge massacres of the losers by the winners, followed by an endless insurgency, all of which can hopefully be contained.  In the meantime, I expect Egypt, Turkey, and Iran to begin some sort of anti-Israeli nexus that can only end badly.  What the Arabs don't seem to get is you don't screw with people who have nothing to lose.  Clearly someone needs to deliver a good history of Masada to Cairo, Ankara and Tehran...likely the first three targets of the Israeli nuclear force...ya think?

  • The US will beat feet out of Afghanistan...slower than we skedaddled out of Iraq, but with no less horrible consequences.
I will give this to Barrackus Maximus...he absolutely kept two campaign promises of his Presidency...or Emporership...he ran our troops out of Iraq and he raised taxes.  Iraq of course, was the centerpiece of Obama's first term...pulling our troops out without any sort of Status of Forces agreement...saying adios to Iraq, and watching chaos ensue.  So, you think Assad could have lasted this long if a couple of squadrons of American fighters were able to keep Iranian arms from overflying Iraq to Syria?  Hmmmm, let me think.....Now, with bombings occurring weekly and a new Iraqi-Kurd war possible, what exactly is Obama's long term strategy for Iraq?  As far as I can tell....nothing....nothing....get the hell out of Iraq nothing.  Unlike the 7th century cesspool that is Afghanistan...Iraq had potential to become a decent American ally...maybe even a long-term counterweight to Iran and Egypt (irony of ironies)...but not now...now it appears Iraq is likely to slowly drift along to become a vassal state of Iran, if it doesn't sink back into another civil war....way to go Joey and Bammy.

And coming right behind...Afghanistan.  Here Obama became the victim of his 2008 campaign rhetoric that Afghanistan was the "Good War" so he couldn't immediately abandon the campaign there...but anyone with any knowledge of history (again) could see he wasn't serious about "winning" whatever that meant.  Obama went through the motions of a Surge...except he didn't send as many troops as the commander wanted...pulled them out early...and telegraphed when we are leaving.  I dare say George Patton would not agree with this strategy.  But hey, those dollars can better be spent on Obamacare and "nation-building at home"  whatever the hell that means.

  • The media will actually do their job and fairly and honestly investigate and report on Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the debacle of the "Green Energy" companies and the massive voter fraud of the 2012 campaign
Ok, I was just kidding....I figure I have a better chance of getting to shoot the SI Swimsuit cover photo as this is likely to happen.  But hey, a guy can dream right?

  •  China pushes too far and an "incident" occurs in the waters off China
This actually makes me pretty nervous.  For the past year, the Chinese and Japanese (or as I like to say the Hatfield's and McCoy's of East Asia) have been posturing over some little known islands called the Senkakus in the East China Sea.  This is a lot of chest thumping "mine is bigger than yours" type of stuff, but it has the real potential to get ugly fast.  Add to it the fact that China has been very pushy in the waters off their coast lately and there is a real potential for things to get ugly. What will (or could) the U.S. do?  This, of course, is the big question.  Obama has talked about a "rebalance" to Asia. But what does that really mean?  Especially if (when) the budget ax falls.  The Pacific will be all about ships and planes, two very expensive defense items to buy, maintain and operate.  More importantly, given how Obama has treated our traditional allies like Britain and Israel, will Malaysia, Singapore and Japan trust us?  This could be the key question of the next decade of American foreign policy.

Wild Card
  •  Israel bombs Iran when they find out a nuclear test is imminent.
This also scares me a lot...see comment about Masada above.  I know Obama has put huge pressure on Israel not to bomb Iranian facilities and let sanctions work, but I am not sure the Israelis, after the kerfuffle in Gaza, Egypt's devolution, Syria's implosion and Hezbollah's strengthening, are going to stand-by and let Hezbollah's primary ally and sponsor get nuclear weapons to put together with North Korean missiles (yup, that whole Axis of Evil 2.0 thing...).  Maybe they will, but I don't know.  Unfortunately, by themselves, the Israelis probably can't put a serious dent in Iran's nuclear program, and it's almost a 100% prediction that Obama doesn't want to fight a serious war with Iran which might interfere with pumping more cash into the coffers of the UAW and SEIU.  Of course WHEN Iran does get the bomb, look for the Middle East to become the Balkans a la 1914...a powder keg waiting to go off and trigger a wider and potentially more devastating war....just sayin' forget the world looking like 1933...I think it's looking more like 1913....more on that later.............

  • Mexico goes to hell in a hand-basket, creating a Somalia or Iraq or Afghanistan...pick it..right on our border.
This is my ultimate black swan sorta scenario...unlikely, but a real game-changer for US politics, security, and pretty much everything.  Having a country on our very porous and undefended border that is de facto controlled by drug cartels..and with an Administration and political class unwilling to defend our borders is not only a nightmare for Texas, Arizona, etc..but it could force major changes to US domestic politics...in very unpleasant and unforeseen ways...

SO, there they are...read 'em and laugh or weep.  I consider myself pretty well informed and very well read...and I really have no clue how bad things will get before January 2017....or even if they will get better after January 2017.  The ultimate nightmare is that the U.S. becomes Wiemar Germany...but I feel pretty darn certain in saying that the miracle bounce-back of the U.S. economy is NOT going to happen while Barrack Hussein Obama is in the White House...

Of course, miracles do happen...and if they do...so much the better....but I wouldn't count on it...strap in, keep your heads down...and keep your friends close and your enemies closer....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Final Brain Candy of the Year

So, here is my final brain candy read...and final book of the year.  Castle is one of my favorite TV shows and I read the first couple of Heat books just to see how silly they might be...and was pleasantly surprised that they were actually pretty good mystery novels.

Of course the entire time I was reading them, I was watching a Castle episode in my head, so that might have been why I liked them so much...and of course there was the obvious tie-in to the recent season of TV mysteries to make things interesting.

When I got this book after waiting patiently on my local library reserved list, I was intrigued, since the recent season of solving Becket's mother's murder was the obvious fodder for this book. 

It doesn't disappoint.  No spoiler alerts here, but I had absolutely NO idea what the heck was going on for half the book...then when the mystery began to unravel, I was waiting to see who the mystery killer was....and then BAM...surprise twist that I didn't see coming (although I probably should have in retrospect) kept me turning the pages.... 

 OK, small spoiler alert..I was counting down the pages as I raced to the end...thinking to myself  "Wow, there aren't  a lot of pages left to wrap this up"...then I got that feeling of dread...which became my worst nightmare....ARGHHHHHH.....CLIFFHANGER.........TO BE CONTINUED...OYYYYYY, I really hate that....

Needless to say, the witty banter, familiar characters (although the names were changed to protect the innocent) and fast narrative made this a delightful finale to my reading list in 2012.

Except, of course, for the whole annoying wait until next fall for the (I hope) concluding novel of this story line....curse you Richard Castle....