GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

'87 Sir

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in Books.........




Yea, I know, I talk about books a lot, but I figure it's a more interesting topic than extolling the virtues of Obamacare or wondering if Army will ever beat Navy at football.

This year I stretched my reading goal to 33 books, up from 30 last year.  It was a tough challenge, tempered only by the fact that I got to write another excellent review essay for the Society of Military History and hooked up with the fabulous gang at the New York Journal of Books.

There were some really marvelous books this year, and some that were, frankly, meh, okay, but likely to end up in the library donation bag.  I will say that I was a little surprise there was only 1 Civil War book in the completed list, considering how many new volumes have come out, but quite frankly, there were not a lot that piqued my interest.  Ditto for World War II history.  Although Rick Atkinson's book easily won my favorite of the year, the others were okay, but not outstanding.  Since a 1/3 of my choices were fiction, I would have to say that Robert Conroy is quickly replacing Harry Turtledove as my favorite alternate history writer, although Peter Tsouras, from a technical point of view, is still the master of the alternate military history anthology.

I was also a little disappointed at how quickly the quality of books ran out, so to speak.  Other than my review copies, there was little on my Christmas or Birthday Amazon wish list, sadly, I think all the outstanding books came out in time for summer reading, (coincidence?  I think not), leaving little to look forward to over the holiday.

Which is probably just as well...my backlog is extensive and there will no doubt be some really great books to look forward to in 2014.  My hope is that I will continue to see more scholarly and thoughtful books about the conflicts of the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, written by historians instead of "journalist" hacks with an ax to grind.  Hopefully, this will be my motto in 2014..................


Friday, December 27, 2013

Grouchy Historians Favorite Books of 2013

So, as the year comes to a close, I thought I would highlight my favorite books of the year.

It has been an outstanding year for military history in general, and World War II and Civil War history in particular.  Of course the continuing 150th anniversary remembrance of the Civil War certainly helps, and the upcoming centennial of World War I promises what I hope will be a fruitful year of excellent scholarship.

  • Rick Atkinson's book was the CLEAR favorite of mine this year.  His entire Liberation Trilogy is simply magnificent and deserves a prime place on your World War II book shelf.  My review at the New York Journal of Books  (NYJB) (my new awesome friends for free books!) was my very first, and I liked this book more than Chris Matthews loves Obama!Ok, political snark, sorry...Anyway, if you have not read the entire Trilogy, you should, Atkinson has won numerous awards for his history, including a well deserved Pulitzer Prize, and you will find out why when you dive into these volumes.
  • Allen Guelizo managed to take a very well trod subject, the Battle of Gettysburg, and turn it into my second favorite book of the year.  My review noted how much I actually LEARNED from this book that I did not know about the battle, including the remarkable analysis that the Union Army was never really in danger from Pickett's Charge, but was nearly undone by Dan Sickle's ego and tactical blundering on the 2nd day of the battle.  I have many Gettysburg books, some inherited from my father-in-law with his hand-written notes in the margins, but for a single volume history, this book gives some serious competition to Stephen Sears, my other favorite Gettysburg historian.
  • World War I is probably one of the most ignored wars in American history. This is somewhat understandable since the U.S. did not enter the war until very late and our contributions to the seminal event of the 20th century were quickly lost on the events of the Great Depression and World War II.  Nonetheless, for anyone who wants to understand how the events of the 20th century played out...understanding the events of 1914 are crucial.  Sir Max Hastings has been a prolific author of military history for over 30 years and he wrote one of the best books on World War I of the year, in my humble opinion.  As I note in my review at the NYJB, the generals and politicians had no real concept of what a general European War would look like or how events would unfold and they quickly lost control of what they thought would be a short and decisive war.  Although each military had detailed plans and elaborate alliances, as Von Moltke noted, none of them survived the actual test of combat.  Sir Max does a marvelous job of showing exactly what happened across Europe in 1914 and provides his usual sharp analysis of the many, many blunders committed by all sides.

My one fiction book was kind of an unusual choice, but since there were no Monster Hunter books this year, I went with my favorite genre of science fiction--alternate history.  Peter Tsouras has been one of my favorite authors, or should I say compilers of alternate military history.  I have read nearly all of his anthologies on World War II, the Cold War, and the Civil War and they have some really good speculative scenarios.  Disaster at Stalingrad is one of his few full length novels, and it is really very good.  He picks an unusual event for his point of departure (as alt hist geeks know, this is the event that changes history and begins the alternate story line) but it is quite realistic, and the decision trees that follow are also scary in their realism.  As I have stated many times, too many people, being poorly educated in history, have no idea how close our history in America, and even Christian civilization came to being totally different.  As the old saying goes "for want of a nail..." and this is certainly true of events such as the Second World War.  This book was fascinating in its premise and very well executed.

So those are my favorite books for the year.  I read many good and some mediocre books this year, but for the most part, I was pleased with my selections.  Hopefully 2014 will bring more good books....many of which are even now sitting in my library......

Friday, December 20, 2013

Random thoughts....need more eggnog

So, in a fit of frenzied year end blogging, a few random thoughts occur:

1) Why do liberals see nothing but waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars from the Defense Department, but consider it inhuman to inquire about waste, fraud, and abuse in the myriad of welfare programs run by the government?  Do they assume that only stupid and lazy civil servants work at DoD but not at HHS, or the Agriculture?  Only defense contractors are crooked and not welfare queens that auction their foodstamps on Craigslist? This goes along with that whole nonsense that liberals peddle that "welfare is good for the economy" and "foodstamps are a form of stimulus"  Yea, for Democratic votes maybe.  The idiocy of counting government JOBS and JOBS is economically silly.  Not to denigrate gubment workers or anything, but every government job is paid for with TAXES.  This may come as a shock to Democrats who think money grows on trees (or the Federal Reserve, whichever) but REAL JOBS from REAL private companies are what provides the TAXES for government jobs.  Economics 101, morons.

2)  Why do liberals consider that all corporations are run by evil, greedy robber barons, but all government is run be benevolent Mother Teresa types that ONLY have the public good in mind?  I don't disagree that corporate CEO pay packages can be a little ridiculous and I actually think the old golden parachute is a little absurd, but it is at least THEIR own money (or their shareholders, I guess) that corporations spend.  Why don't liberals wonder how people like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi go from very modest means when they first enter Congress to become multimillionaires as "public servants"?  I mean liberals unloaded the hate on Mitt Romney as a rich capitalist, but at least he wasn't getting rich on a Senator's salary...how exactly does that happen?  CBS News?  CNN?...anyone in the lame stream media want to 'splain that?

So, here's an interesting question for all those Occupy numbnuts...why hasn't any big banker gone to jail?  After all, if those greedy bastards caused the '08 crisis, why aren't they swinging from the lampposts?  CLUE IN MORONS, they contribute money to just as many Democrats as Republicans.  AND, of course, I think the Democrats would not like to shine too much of a light on the effect of the Community Reinvestment Act on the whole banking crisis.  That's right liberals, look it up--Congress forced banks to make bad loans to, yup, you guessed it "poor oppressed minorities" that they would NEVER EVER be able to pay back in the interests of...wait for it....FAIRNESS.  So, banks, being good capitalists, contorted their lending policies to protect themselves from the gubment and BLAMMMO, sub-prime mortgages, ready for meltdown....again economics 101.

3)  When liberals and atheists and knuckleheads decry the infiltration of "religion" into politics, how do they want to explain their own philosophy and world view?  I mean, it seems to me that EVERYONE has some sort of internal code that guides how they think, what they believe, and how they form moral, and if an elected official, public policy decisions.  It would appear to me that liberals simply want CHRISTIAN philosophy and thinking eliminated from the public sphere...Gaia worshipping and Secular Humanism seem to be just fine...and no, don't tell me those aren't religions....if they form your inner core of character, consciousness and conscience, then they are your religion....period. (and I mean that, PERIOD, unlike Barry O).  To say that religion has no place in public life and political policy seems a little absurd and self serving...after all to many liberals, socialism is their god and Marx is their prophet....may Che's name be praised.

4) AND, here's my wind up to the big finale...how exactly is abortion health care?  I mean liberals make it a bedrock principle that Obamacare must cover abortion and contraception as "Women's Health care Issues" (liberal's favorite code word for abortion on demand).  But medically speaking, how is abortion health care?  I am no doctor (oyyy, I could never cut into an overly rare steak without wanting to throw it back on the grill a little bit more) but it seems to me that any medical "procedure" that interferes with a naturally occurring process in the body, i.e., pregnancy, could not reasonably be called a health care procedure.  This goes back to my point above. Liberal progressive commies, secure in their smug moral superiority, always want to RAM the most extreme and distasteful part of their world-view, nee religion, in this case unlimited abortion on demand paid for by taxpayers, on conservatives to prove that they are smarter, better and more smug.

Is pregnancy a disease?  Maybe that's the question the AMA should be asking if it wasn't another lefty group that just sold its members down the road for Obamacare (kinda like the AARP--hey how's that whole Medicare $700B cut working out for ya, Grandma?)  It would seem to me that abortion and contraception are LIFESTYLE concerns, not HEALTH CARE issues.  As my momma used to say, if you don't want to get pregnant, don't sleep around.  WOW, does that make me a knuckledragging Republican?  OK, then answer the question libs--IS pregnancy a disease?  Or do women just want sex without consequences?  Which is a great deal for guys...who have really won the one-night stand contest.  Sleep around and if you get a girl knocked up...hey, it's her problem....REALLY? 

This seems to be a question no one wants to ask...if pregnancy isn't a disease, then abortion can't be considered a health care procedure...seems pretty straightforward to me...but hey, I'm a man, so what do I know...Sandra Fluke is probably way more qualified to answer this....SO, here's what I say to these people...prove that pregnancy is a disease or if you want to play the "government out of my bedroom game" then fine...I say "keep your naked hand out of my wallet"...if you want to use your LIFESTYLE promoting contraceptives, then pay for them yourself.  As long as abortion is, unfortunately, the law of the land, then PAY for your own and stop expecting religious taxpayers to foot the bill for your life CHOICES...if you want to be PRO-CHOICE, then be freakin' PRO DEAL WITH IT.

Finally, on a lighter note...cuz I know feminists will never actually debate me on this issue of abortion as health care....
WHAT is the deal with Christmas and peppermint?  I mean seriously, my freezer is full of Peppermint ice cream from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day...stop the madness...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Grouchy Historian's Naughty and Nice List

Yes, it's almost Xmas, so who will Santa be bringing coal to this year?  Hmmm, my naughty and nice list probably won't surprise anyone...but hey...here it is.

NAUGHTY:

1)  Barrack Hussein Obama---Elf says it best:
Yup, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the NSA...and...Obamacare.  Is there a shred of honesty or decency in anything this Administration says?  How can anyone in this town trust him?  Except gullible Republicans like John McCain and John Boehner. 

2)  Every Democrat up for reelection in 2014---YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE.  Nope, not gonna be able to dodge your votes for Obamacare next year...not even with the help of Jesus.  There is nothing any of you lying numbnuts can say...zip, nada, zilch.  You break it, you bought it.

3)  Al-Shabbab terrorists--Really?  Why aren't there more smoking holes in Somalia after that attack on the mall in Kenya?  BIG, BIG smoking holes.  I mean, it's not like more rubble would make the place worse.

NICE:

1)  Papa Robertson--that's right Mr. Happy, Happy, Happy.  An unlikely defender of the 1st Amendment, but maybe he will bring about the long needed come to Jesus moment (no pun intended) to discuss why the left is OFFENDED ABOUT EVERYTHING...by golly don't you dare question the left's patriotism, morals, intelligence, motives or policy results you redneck, xenophobic, homophobic, racist hunter...REALLY?? But Christians have to put up with Bill Maher, darling of the left?  Ed Schultz, union payed hack? and Al Sharpton, lying race baiter?  It's almost as if lefty liberal pinkos have some sort of inferiority guilt complex.  NAH, that would require a conscience, and after all, morality is all subjective right?  IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT?  Isn't that the mantra of the modern left?  Anyway, I hope the Robertsons have the guts to tell A&E to choose....either the audience that actually watches Duck Dynasty (one of my favorite shows) or a bunch of liberals that probably wouldn't know a duck call from a kazoo...after all, it's not like Duck Dynasty couldn't move to another network.... 

2)  Ted Cruz and Rand Paul--love 'em or hate 'em, they stand up for their beliefs and don't seem to care if the NYTWAPOCBSNBCABC machine mocks and ridicules them.  Hmmm, I bet a REAL bunch of journalists would be asking why Obama is delaying so MUCH of his signature legislation JUST like Ted Cruz and the Republicans wanted...before they went all squishy.  And of course, Rand Paul took a principled stand against Obama and his Big Brother state...wonder what libs would say if ol' Dr. Evil, otherwise known as Dick Cheney, had done half the crap Obama has done with surveillance of Americans.

3)  Sarah Palin--Caribou Barbie (who always seems to have the last laugh on the haters) was sooooo right->Death Panels do exist in Obamacare  And she is still lethal to 800 meters with a rifle.  I have not yet tried her recipe for moose chili...but I may.  Liberals mock her at their own peril...but hey, what do I know...I'm sure Ed Schultz is wayyyyy smarter than me.

4)  The Tea Party-- racist, xenophobic wingnuts or patriotic Americans?  Whatever you believe, they remain a political force to be reckoned with.  How do I know?  Cuz the media spends so much time trying to write their obituary...sometimes with the help of RINOs.  But they will be a factor in 2014, 2016 and beyond.  So better dig in Washington establishment... your cozy lobbying positions and Congressional pensions may not be so assured.

5)  Pope Frances--is the Vicar of Christ a liberation theology whacko?  Who knows, but he is shaking up the Catholic Church and flummoxing the mainstream media, who so desperately want a Pope who will endorse gay priests and condoms handed out in Mass.  I suspect they will be SOOOOO disappointed, but hey, let them enjoy their wishful thinking.  The media will probably have a lot of that in 2014.

That's about all I have.....Merry Christmas to all!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Can there be a "Master Strategist?"

The final chapter of the section on military strategy in Dr. Freedman's book asks a critical question-can a single person be a "master strategist" a la Clausewitz?

Or is modern strategy so complicated and multifaceted that a single person cannot grasp all the subtle nuances?

This would seem to be one of those esoteric questions that academics love, but it's really an important issue.  As this section showed, strategy is as much art as science, and the ability to properly and completely outline a national security/defense/war strategy has not done well by most countries throughout history.

Based on his analysis and commentary, it's pretty clear that Dr. Freedman considers modern strategic thought to be too complex for solo contemplation, which is pretty interesting considering how much he quotes, Colin Gray, one of my favorite strategic thinkers, to prove his thesis. 

Strategic thought is a wide open field that can encompass everything from this volume, which surveys thousands of years to a single volume covering one aspect of strategic thinking, such as David Kilcullen's excellent new volume-Out of the Mountains.  While I don't disagree with the notion that modern strategy is hard and has many variables, I still think it is possible to become a "master strategist" in a particular field of study such as military or business strategy.

However, I can certainly see his point in a different way, separating strategic thought from the process of actually forming strategy that will influence diplomacy, drive doctrine, and influence procurement and operations.  One of the definitions of strategy is the balancing of ends, ways, and means and this clearly takes the involvement of both politicians and generals.  While not a big fan of "strategy by committee,"  I have to conclude that as a practical matter, it is really too complex a process for one person to master.  Sadly, gone are the days when a Napoleon could do it all-- make strategy, conduct operations, and command armies on a tactical battlefield.

Some other interesting observations were the role of "cultural strategy," which introduced the recent discussions about the role of a country's and military's culture in forming strategy.  Sun Tzu, of course, touched on this almost 4000 years ago, so again--nothing new here, just a relearning of history.

This was a less than chipper conclusion to the section on military strategy.  But it was an interesting education in how strategic thought has advanced and adapted throughout history and the challenges to successfully implementing strategy in the 21st century.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Today is an important anniversary...that has nothing to do with Obama

Today marks the anniversary of the German surprise attack in the Ardennes in 1944...the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.  I have blogged about this particular battle before and my personal connection with it.

Not a whole lot more to add...however, I seemed to have missed my usual book recommendations.


 Charles B. MacDonald, who was a participant in the battle, has written the standard volume on the battle.  Detailed, comprehensive, and very well written, it is probably the best single volume on the battle to date.  AND, since it was written after the existence of the ULTRA program was reveled , it offers a more complete picture of the level of Allied intelligence failure to detect the German buildup for the offensive.
 Dr. McManus has written a number of excellent volumes on the American Army after D-Day.  This book offers a different perspective on the battle, detailing the valiant stand by the American Infantry Divisions stationed in the Ardennes as they were virtually destroyed delaying the initial German attack.  Despite being massively outnumbered and outgunned, these desperate bands of GIs made the stands at Bastogne and St. Vith possible.
A hard to find little volume, this collection of essays, edited by one of my favorite alternate history authors, looks at different ways the battle could have unfolded.  Written by some of the best military historians today, these essays examines changes to the role of the British and Canadians, the German 7th Army and even a different ending to Operation Market-Garden that would have actually prevented the battle.  Available second hand or on Kindle, it's a great little volume for the serious student of the battle.




That's about it.  I always try to remember December 16, 1944.  Ol' Winston Churchill said it best:


I have seen it suggested that the terrific battle which has been proceeding since 16th December on the American front is an Anglo-American battle. In fact, however, the United States troops have done almost all the fighting and have suffered almost all the losses. They have suffered losses almost equal to those on both sides in the battle of Gettysburg. Only one British Army Corps has been engaged in this action. All the rest of the 30 or more divisions, which have been fighting continuously for the last month are United States troops. The Americans have engaged 30 or 40 men for every one we have engaged, and they have lost 60 to 80 men for every one of ours.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Slate Magazine surprised me again.....

Just when I thought inane and pretentious lefty magazines couldn't lower their idiocy anymore, I discover this. 

The End of the College Essay 

Now, I'm not an "education columnist" or anything...whatever the hell that actually is...but I'm pretty sure MS. Schuman has never lived in the real business world where communications counts and writing is important. 

SO, to kick things off...and YES, I am fired up about this stupidity, let's have some awesome quotes:
Mom, friends, educators, students: We don’t have to assign papers, and we should stop. We need to admit that the required-course college essay is a failure. The baccalaureate is the new high-school diploma: abjectly necessary for any decent job in the cosmos. As such, students (and their parents) view college as professional training, an unpleasant necessity en route to that all-important “piece of paper.” Today’s vocationally minded students view World Lit 101 as forced labor, an utter waste of their time that deserves neither engagement nor effort. So you know what else is a waste of time? Grading these students’ effing papers. It’s time to declare unconditional defeat.
This, of course, would be an excellent summation of the state of modern American education...it's too hard, the kids hate it...so let's just drop it.  REALLY???

I assume this probably starts in high school where, maybe she is right (my particular highlights are in bold italic for this post) that we have wasted BILLIONS AND BILLIONS at the request of the teacher's unions for WHAT???.  Students that are too lazy and stupid to communicate more than 140 characters at a time?  IS that what the NEA and AFT want to stand up and tell parents...."Hey never mind our endless pontificating about more $$$ to educate little Johnny, we really didn't mean it...Whattsamatta U will fix everything"...only maybe they won't.

Let's move now to the second awesome observation here:
Most students enter college barely able to string three sentences together—and they leave it that way, too. With protracted effort and a rhapsodically engaged instructor, some may learn to craft a clunky but competent essay somewhere along the way. But who cares? My fellow humanists insist valiantly that (among other more elevated reasons) writing humanities papers leads to the crafting of sharp argumentative skills, and thus a lifetime of success in a number of fields in which we have no relevant experience. But my friends who actually work in such fields assure me that most of their colleagues are borderline-illiterate.
In many cases, I must agree with her argument, many college students can't even write a decent paragraph, which, of course, starts in high school.  A little anecdote...when I was working on my first Master's degree, in Technology Management, we wrote...a lot...in every class, and it was a huge pain in the butt.  Not so much for me, because as a history major, I was able to write and edit my own work.  BUT, for the techno-geeks...wowza, it was painful.  Which is why our Program Director, during our capstone class outbrief said the NUMBER ONE request from businesses where graduates worked was MORE COMMUNICATIONS TRAINING, both written and oral.  The basic problem was you had super-geniuses that had to explain complex technical subjects to a bunch of MBAs that had no idea what they were talking about, but had $$$$ in venture capital that the geeks wanted.

And, here is the final stupidity:
I’m not calling for the end of all papers—just the end of papers in required courses. Some students actually like writing, and let those blessed young souls be English majors, and expound on George Eliot and Virginia Woolf to their hearts’ content, and grow up to become writers, huzzah. But for the common good, leave everyone else out of it. Instead of essays, required humanities courses should return to old-school, hardcore exams, written and oral.
So, let's breakdown her logic (which is pretty broken down to begin with)...how exactly do you plan on doing these oral and written exams?  If students cannot ingest factoids, analyze and synthesize those facts into a logic and coherent argument and then express their conclusions IN GENERAL, how the hell will they pass these exams?  More likely they will be dumbed down to some sort of multiple choice nonsense to ensure the most students pass so Momma and Daddy can justify spending WAY too much money on that college diploma.

FINALLY, (and I was very happy to get to the end of this poltroon's essay) here is the usually touchy-feely crap from Slate that makes me very happy, happy, happy, I went to a real institute of higher learning.
Sure, this quashes the shallow pretense of expecting undergraduates to engage in thoughtful analysis, but they have already proven that they will go to any lengths to avoid doing this. Call me a defeatist, but honestly I’d be happy if a plurality of American college students could discern even the skeletal plot of anything they were assigned. With more exams and no papers, they’ll at least have a shot at retaining, just for a short while, the basic facts of some of the greatest stories ever recorded. In that short while, they may even develop the tiniest inkling of what Martha Nussbaum calls “sympathetic imagination”—the cultivation of our own humanity, and something that unfolds when we’re touched by stories of people who are very much unlike us. And that, frankly, is more than any essay will ever do for them.
 To be honest, I actually have no freakin' clue what that last sentence even means.  But that whopping introduction should frighten every single American...is this the state of modern American higher education?  Is this how they think?  Kinda makes me wonder if we shouldn't accelerate the end of the educational-industrial complex and let the era of individualized on-line education begin.  Of course, by keeping college kids uneducated and generally stupid, it does make it easier to get them to vote for Democrats with awesome political messages like "Hope and Change" and "Free birth control and legalized pot."  So maybe that is the long-term plan all along from the educational-industrial Democratic dominated teachers union and tenured college professors.

Hmmm, I don't feel better....maybe I will stick my Turabian under my pillow tonight to keep the bad, bad Slate lady away.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Even liberals love some Machiavelli....

So, how does the old saying go...even a blind pig can find some acorns, or something like that...

Well, imagine my surprise when I see this headline on the NUT...ooops, I mean NYT website...

Why Machiavelli Still Matters

Yup, it seems some old dead white guys still matter...well duh.

Machiavelli, as your neighborhood Grouchy Historian recently blogged, is still very relevant...

Of course, the NYT being the NYT...had to get in the obligatory Obama reference....
What would Machiavelli have thought when President Obama apologized for the fiasco of his health care rollout? Far from earning respect, he would say, all he received was contempt.
Well, at least they got something right with their next sentence...
As one of Machiavelli’s favorite exemplars, Cesare Borgia, grasped, heads must sometimes roll.
Of course, I'm pretty sure Machiavelli would have said something about being competent in the first place and not making such an easily preventable blunder as rolling out an unsecured, untested, piece of crap website in the era of Google and Amazon, but I digress....and yes, if Obama had fired some people, maybe, maybe this would have blown over.....NAH....

However, I will compliment the authors on their summary, which was very well done:
The proper aim of a leader is to maintain his state (and, not incidentally, his job). Politics is an arena where following virtue often leads to the ruin of a state, whereas pursuing what appears to be vice results in security and well-being.
Hopefully the Republicans, conservatives and Tea Party (not necessarily the same people, mind you) read up on our friend Niccolo and prepare to GOVERN should they be blessed with the political fortune of regaining the levers of power by 2017.  

If they have 'nads of steel and are willing to rule with the same iron fist that Barry and Harry have shown...maybe there is hope to repeal Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, reign in the EPA, balance the budget, and generally undo the damage of the last eight years....

HISTORY, as always...shows the way........

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Generational Wars---the defining event of our time?

Nice to see someone in the liberal media agrees with me....
 I, of course, have been saying this for a long time on this little blog:


Obama gets his credit card cut...maybe

Nice of the WaPo to clue in...5 years too late...there is no doubt that Obamacare may finally wake up the Millennials to the magnitude of the screwing they are about to get...although it might be too late.
 Hey...here's a catchy NO SH** quote:
 The federal government is increasingly a transfer agency: Taxes from the young and middle-aged are spent on the elderly.
WOW...way to figure that one out Einstein!

and he follows on with another brilliant observation:
Political leaders of both parties have avoided distasteful choices. Younger Americans have generally been clueless about how shifting demographics threaten their future government services and taxes. 
The Baby Boomers best be lookin' over their shoulders...yea, the elderly come out and vote...but young people turned out in record number to support ol' Hopey-Changey.  What do you think might happen if they get REALLY pissed off and not only start voting in greater numbers, but actually get up from behind their XBoxes and enter the political process as candidates and party faithful affecting party platforms??

Here's Mr. Samuelson's stunningly DUH conclusion:
We pretend these discomforting conflicts don’t exist. But they do and are rooted in changing demographics, slower economic growth and competing concepts of old age. They cannot be dissolved by pious invocations that “we’re all in this together.” To date, the contest has been one-sided; now the other side is beginning to stir.
 I have been saying this for FIVE FREAKIN' YEARS...forget Obama's efforts to stir up race, class, gender, and culture wars...the sleeping giant he has awakened is the fact that Social Security, Medicare and OBAMACARE are total PONZI schemes designed to screw younger (Millennials) and middle-aged (GenXers) to ensure that the Baby Boomers have the retirement they are ENTITLED too (and don't you know they will tell you that over and over and over too!)

When the 18-29 crowd finally figures out that between student loans, a crappy job market that will screw them for the rest of their careers, higher taxes (including Obamacare, cuz the Supreme Court said so), and the general downtown in their economic prospects, it's not going to be pretty.....and that whole pushing Grandma off a cliff.....may be the best case scenario.... 

  

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

OF COURSE, History matters....

During my daily blog check-in routine this little article caught my eye the other day on Human Events.

 History matters

To which I respond, DUH!

However, I did particularly like how the author organized his argument..I think it is something I can use in my own tutoring sessions.  Dr. Bogar highlights three main themes:

  • History is Precedent, and ignorance of precedence goes far beyond George Santayana’s admonition that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
  • History is Context—our shared record of the strivings and challenges and setbacks and triumphs of individuals whose lives must be understood in the context of their era—a context that can never be comprehended through the mere memorization of dates. 
  • History is the study of the relationship between the Individual and his/her Society—the role which each of us plays, with its incumbent responsibilities, as a member of a democracy.
 These three points address many of the issues I have with the horrible way history is taught today...boring, pedantic, and TOTALLY without context or, ultimately the most important issue..."So What?"

Of these I would say the "So What?"  is the most important shortfall of all...students simply don't care about history, government, nee "Civics" in general.  It is conceptually easy to show why math, science, and reading are important, but much harder to instill in students the importance of not being the dreaded "low information voter."  who falls for the most slick candidate with the catchiest soundbite campaign slogans....I mean seriously--"Yes We Can!"...and "Hope and Change"??!?!?  Besides being the most ridiculous and meaningless slogans ever heard...they did dupe the uninformed and undereducated to place their trust in the most singularly unqualified and unsuitable candidate to ever be elected President....TWICE....George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are no doubt rolling over in their graves.  History will hopefully someday triumph over demagoguery...at least I hope so.  Which leads me to my usual soapbox.....

Why is history important?  I can't seem to escape my eternal gripe with the "IT'S AN UNPRECEDENTED CRISIS!!!" and "SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE!!!"...two histrionics often used by politicians and uninformed journalists to cover for their historical ignorance, sorry sweet-cheeks, there is really nothing new in human experience.  Greed, lust, joy, creativity, lying, stealing, bravery, and cowardice have happened since our first ancestor picked up a rock and schwacked a squirrel for dinner. SO, there is a great deal of previous information to actually guide decision making by the political leadership, if they chose to use it.  After all, our country has had numerous depressions, recessions, wars, political crisis, and even endured the disco age...all of which have something to teach us....however, it is unlikely students will learn anything useful in the American public school or collegiate systems of the 21st century.  Yup, I said it...if you aren't homeschooling your children...well, you'll see what happens when the properly indoctrinated little Marxists come back from their first year of college wearing a Che T-shirt and showing off their Occupy Wall Street membership cards.

MORE importantly, there is the ability for the average voter to understand how our government SHOULD work ( you  know that whole archaic Constitution and balance of powers thing) versus how it does work.  This actually applies to economics as well....I am no great fan of crony capitalism myself, so I can understand those lefties that are uncomfortable with the cozy relationship between Wall Street and Washington...just remember moonbats...Democratic politicians crave money as much as Republican ones.  And remember that when politicians say they are "Saving GM" or making sure banks aren't "Too big to fail"..try to follow the $$. 

Maybe someday, Americans will start to learn their history again...there is hope...history books still sell pretty well, (shoot, I make sure that happens) and history is still a pretty popular subject for TV and movies...although most of it AWFUL.  I guess all of us who care about history and America have to keep plugging along....one uninformed voter at a time.....


Monday, December 9, 2013

Wrapping up a couple thousand years of military strategy....

As we move into the 20th century, Dr. Freedman quickly moves through four distinct "phases" of examination of strategic thought:
  • Restoring mobility and firepower to the battlefield in the wake of the carnage of trench warfare and World War I.  Here he quickly examines JFC Fuller, BH Liddell-Hart, and other tank and maneuver warfare theorists, although he spends practically no attention to Heinz Guderian or the German Reichswehr between the world wars.  
  • Airpower and the writings of Douhet and other proponents of strategic bombing replacing traditional ground and naval warfare.
  • The rise of the "think-tank" and game theory to grapple with the issues of nuclear weapons and the great MAD debate
  • The post-Cold War era of the Revolution in Military Affairs, COIN, and 4GW.  
All of these are covered in a very cursory manner which seems to indicate that Dr. Freedman doesn't consider that there has been much movement in the general area of strategy and warfare since Clausewitz.  AND, I have to say I don't disagree with him.  Most of the writings and authors he discusses don't really contribute much to an understanding of war and politics at the strategic level, rather, they are significant changes to--dare I say it--the operational art of war.

This is an area of great contention, especially among those knuckleheads that like to debate the continuing utility of studying Thucydides, Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu.  There was an interesting thought comparison between the early proponents of air power and the early seers of the "revolution in military affairs".  One group figured strategic bombers would pummel your opponent into submission by bombing his cities and factories, while the other group assumed sensors and technology would "eliminate the fog of war."  <snort>...turns out both groups were wrong...with devastating consequences.  War remains a fundamentally human endeavor, and humans are brilliant, cruel, inventive, and ultimately so unpredictable that.....the nature of WAR has not changed for 5,000 years, even as the methods of conducting WARFARE have changed remarkably.

This section of the book is very timely for anyone thinking about the future of the U.S. military and warfare in general in the "post-9/11" era where alliances are shifting, new powers are rising, and the global balance of power is probably in the greatest state of flux since the 1930s.

More goodness to come......................

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FDR Thanksgiving Proclamation- November 1942

 It's good to know that at some point in our history, our Presidents truly believed in the power of prayer and respected our military.  'Nuff said.
Happy Thanksgiving!
 
 

 
Thanksgiving Day
November 26, 1942 By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord." Across the uncertain ways of space and time our hearts echo those words, for the days are with us again when, at the gathering of the harvest, we solemnly express our dependence upon Almighty God.

The final months of this year, now almost spent, find our Republic and the Nations joined with it waging a battle on many fronts for the preservation of liberty.

In giving thanks for the greatest harvest in the history of our Nation, we who plant and reap can well resolve that in the year to come we will do all in our power to pass that milestone; for by our labors in the fields we can share some part of the sacrifice with our brothers and sons who wear the uniform of the United States.

It is fitting that we recall now the reverent words of George Washington, "Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy Protection," and that every American in his own way lift his voice to heaven.

I recommend that all of us bear in mind this great Psalm:"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

"He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

Inspired with faith and courage by these words, let us turn again to the work that confronts us in this time of national emergency: in the armed services and the merchant marine; in factories and offices; on farms and in the mines; on highways, railways, and airways; in other places of public service to the Nation; and in our homes.

Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby invite the attention of the people to the joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day; and I request that both Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1942, and New Year's Day, January 1, 1943, be observed in prayer, publicly and privately.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Strategic thought from the masters--Clausewitz, Jomini, Moltke...and Tolstoy?

So, continuing with our excellent book club, the sections on Clausewtiz and Jomini are solid, if not outstanding.  However, a couple of interesting dynamics that occurred to me are the ying and yang of the art and science of war and the ability of a general, even a great general to truly influence what occurs on the battlefield once the first shot is fired.

Dr. Freedman makes the case that Jomini and Clausewitz viewed war very differently.  If anyone actually perused Jomini's Art of War (seriously, these guys need to come up with some more original titles), it's sometimes like reading a geometry textbook.  Although both writers emphasized similar themes, no doubt the results of their experiences in the Napoleonic Wars, they proscribe very different ways to achieve the Holy Grail of the battlefield --critical mass at the critical point of the battle.  Clausewitz definitely viewed war as more messy and uncontrollable once battle was engaged (that pesky friction thing), and would not have recommended a "cookbook" approach to military strategy.  Jomini was more "scientific" and seemed to think that if you maneuvered your troops in a certain way in reaction to certain situations, victory could almost always be assured.  Of course, the challenge for a 19th century general, with no staff, little usable intelligence, and the command and control span of his horse and a few aides was to know where to commit your precious reserves, when to attack, and when to retreat.

Along those lines, Tolstoy gets thrown in the mix to shake up conventional wisdom.  No doubt Dr. Freedman does this to show that not EVERYONE in the 19th century, or even early 20th century believed in the utility of strategy to war.  Tolstoy, who was not a general, nonetheless makes a number of comments on war in his masterpiece War and Peace,which apparently has a cameo appearance by ol' Karl himself.  The provocative notion Tolstoy presents is that strategy is so fluid, with so many variables caused by human nature, that's its worthless to even try to think strategically.  Maybe Tolstoy just takes "friction" to its extreme ends, but he seems a little hysterical. 

NOW, I will say that the problem with strategy, and strategists...especially at the political level, is the assumption that your opponent will do JUST what you want them to and react JUST like you think they will.  They don't, of course, listen to Clausewitz when he tells them that fundamentally, war is a HUMAN act, between humans that think, react, evolve, and change, often quickly and in directions never imagined by their opponent. 

A good strategy will have the ability to vary the ways and means to achieve the desired ends and will be flexible enough to react while keeping the end goal in sight.  This, of course, also assumes that the chosen ends can be achieved within the available means, another problem that both politicians and generals have trouble understanding.  So, while Tolstoy was a little dramatic (hey, he's Russian, what can I say), the fundamental problem isn't strategy as an art or science, but strategy as a delusion where wishful thinking and invalid assumptions lead to an inflexible plan that can't be implemented or if implemented, can't be changed to meet different circumstances.

This is where Moltke enters the stage...Prussia/Germany was probably never better served than by the team of Bismarck and Moltke, two giants that changed Europe and the world forever and probably the greatest political/military team in Germany's history.  Moltke was the ultimate strategist, keeping ends, ways, and means aligned, and always ensuring the strategy could be implemented at the tactical and operational level by subordinates who could adapt to the reality on the ground, while still working toward the commander's overall goal.  The trifecta of wars in 1864, 1866, and 1870 that united modern Germany into the military and economic juggernaut of the first half of the 20 century were masterpieces of limited war, although Moltke agreed with the concept somewhat less than Bismarck which served to unite the German people while avoiding a general European war.  Moltke's genius was not merely strategic, but operational, as he realized the potential of the railroad and telegraph to give Prussia a unique ability to quickly mobilize its army and attack before their rivals were even fully prepared for combat.

Excellent sections, with some thought provoking material.  As an introduction to the challenges of the major militaries of Europe grappling with the social and military changes to war wrought by Napoleon with the introduction of major new technologies, including naval technologies, Dr. Freedman does an excellent job summarizing the contributions of these great masters.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Machiavelli, does he get a bad rap unfairly?

So we continue with my new FAVORITE book on Strategy...

In the next section, Dr. Freedman offers another perspective on Machiavelli, arguably the world's first political pundit and talking head. For a good chunk of history, old Niccolo got a pretty bad rap for advocating an amoral, realpolitik style of rule.

It is kind of ironic how much grief Niccolo got considering that amoral politics seem to be a staple of the "if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance" Administration, but I digress.

In real terms, I think this book gives Machiavelli a pretty balanced look.  Realpolitik strategy can appear pretty cold-hearted at times, but in the real world, where nations undertake diplomacy and war to further their own interests-"Hey, it's nothing personal, it's just strategy." Seems pretty straightforward.

In terms of domestic politics, old Niccolo hits things pretty much on the head too..his maxim that "It's better to be feared than loved," can be taken to an extreme of course, as any good IRS agent investigating the Tea Party can tell you, but for the most part real leadership sometimes requires taking the citizenry in directions they don't necessarily want to go for the good of the people....which would not be how Obamacare is working out...remember for the GOOD of the people is the key phrase.  When the prince has taken his kingdom into uncharted waters, he'd better have a good navigator to get them where he wants to go, not his wife's college roommate's company...ooops, I digress again.  In addition, although Machiavelli was a hard-nosed pragmatist, he also warned his "prince" that unduly annoying the people was not a good idea either...you now like lying to them about "if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your health care plan."

For the most part, in the modern world, in spite of happy terms like "mulitlateralism," "multi-polar world," and "coalition of the willing," countries are going to look out for themselves.  Machiavelli was just honest enough to say this, and a few other things, that might make fuzzy headed "can't we all just get along" progressives gnash their teeth, but for those of us who can think clearly, he has just written down what everyone is thinking.  The business of American strategy and foreign policy should be to look out for American interests, not the interests of the UN, IAEA, Iran, Syria...well you get the idea.






Friday, November 8, 2013

Strategy in the Ancient World

So Dr. Freedman begins his discussion of strategy with the Bible...which is fascinating stuff, but I am saving that for a comparison of the strategic thinking of God versus Satan...yes that's right he actually does a comparison of the strategy of God and Satan...that is some academic chops.

But let us turn to the Ancient Greeks, who provide an endless fodder for the study of strategic thought, primarily divided between the concepts of strength versus guile.

There is a fascinating few pages on the debates between the Greeks, primarily Athens and Sparta, on the merits of trickery, both military and political, to achieve strategic goals-a debate that would not be out of place today.

A couple of points stand out...clearly the idea that there is very little we can learn from history and that every problem mankind faces is "unprecedented" rings very hollow. First, the debate between "strength and guile" really seem to me to be a variation of the "firepower versus maneuver" debate that endlessly rages among practitioners of the military art. Or, put another way, is it more "manly" to fight wars and battles of attrition or to use maneuver to so confuse and disorient your opponent that they surrender or run away? Well, like many questions in history and strategy, the answer is-"It depends." Not a very satisfying answer to be sure, but strategic challenges are rarely clear cut. As Dr. Freeman points out, the Ancient Greeks struggled with these issues, which for them were truly life or death decisions.

Second, in addition to the whole firepower vs maneuver question, the Ancient Greeks also struggled with an ancient version of asymmetric warfare, currently a topic all the rage among military pundits and historians. One of my favorite strategists, the timeless Thucydides, points out that at the beginning of the Peleponesian Wars, the leader of Athens, the great and wise Pericles, deliberately avoided a direct confrontation with the juggernaut that was the Spartan Army and decided to use Athens superior naval power to conduct raids on Sparta and her allies to wear them down. His strategy may have had a good chance to succeed if he hadn't been killed by a plague that swept Athens. Pericles replacement by less thoughtful leaders soon put Athens on the slippery slope to bad politics, bad strategy, and eventual defeat.

FINALLY, on a political note, I have finally discovered the secret to why so many progressive liberals think the way they do...they're merely using the Socratic method...or as one of my favorite movies pronounce it "SO-CRATES...excellent!" At the end of this section Dr. Freeman discusses the relative merits of modern philosophy a al Socrates and Plato and provides an interesting quote on Plato's belief on the right of the wise and noble, properly educated "elite" to rule the peasants:
"The rulers must have supreme power to decide what was wise and just...We want one single, grand lie which will be believed by everybody--including the rulers ideally, but failing that, the rest of the city....The noble lie was a white lie on......communities had to be educated into a belief in social harmony and a conviction that the existing order was natural."  (p.40)
Hmmm, that could almost come from the mouth of any 21st century social progressive statist....you fool, who are you to judge what kind of health care you will get...only the wise and benevolent Obama Administration will decide what's good for you.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Harsh truths about 2014 and 2016

Ok, so the mandatory 72 hour breathless "Oh, God, Oh God We're all going to die!" waiting period is over.  Yes, one of my favorite lines from Firefly, a libertarians favorite show.  So now we can get around to the usual comparison of war and politics, a al Clausewtiz style.

SO, to start with Terry McAweful, un-indicted crook, money man, and overall schmoozer extraordinaire has won the governorship of Virigina, my home state.  I am still a little at a loss to accept the fact that a fundamentally decent, honest man (Ken) could lose to such a schmuck, but in the cold light of day, some honest real politik assessments must be made beyond the shallow offerings of the media pundits.  Some of these might be harsh, but that doesn't make them less true.

#1---(MOST IMPORTANT) To the modern Democratic party, politics, elections, and campaigning are a blood sport with no limits on the amount of mud to be slung.  They want to win and will do ANYTHING, SAY ANYTHING to do so, no matter how untrue.  As Clausewitz would say, the Democrats wage complete and total war without any limits on truth or facts.  Republicans better understand that-Democrat strategy numero uno is ...pick a lie, make it big, stick to it, and pretty soon low information morons will believe it.

For example......there is no legal way for any Republican to outlaw birth control or abortion.  PERIOD. (I really mean that, unlike the current administration).  The fact that any female voter would even begin to believe that is kinda hard to fathom.  BUT, it works and works well...now I know that some pro-life Republicans want to limit partial-birth and late term abortions, but the FUNDAMENTAL "right" to kill your unborn child in the womb, is, sadly, as much a law as Dred Scott, Plessy versus Ferguson or any other excellent laws passed by the Supreme Court (like the one that Obamacare is Constitutional because it is, in fact, a tax).  So, Republicans better get out in front of this "War on Women" BS NOW NOW NOW.  Plenty of commercials stating that women are welcome to pay for their own birth control and abortions would at least alleviate the worst effects of this nonsense, while also at least placating the base that we (conservatives) shouldn't have to pay for women's "Sex in the City" choices....you want to be pro-choice and keep people out of your bedroom?  FINE, then stay the hell out of my wallet to pay for it...sounds fair.

In the mean time #1 blends into #2...Get over the whole "REPUBLICANS ARE MEAN" crap.  Democrats will NEVER stop calling Republicans misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, puppy eating meanie poo poo heads...so STRIKE BACK and call them the CROOKED, FASCIST, HYPOCRITICAL, MORONS they are.

My biggest complaint about the 2008 and 2012 Republican campaigns were not the candidates...although they were not my favorite, but the fact that the ENTIRE party was so afraid to attack Barrack Hussein Obama as the crooked, socialist, dope smoking, Chicago thug, inexperienced light weight that he was.  Shoot, Hillary landed more punches on him in the primary than McCain did on the campaign.  All because Republicans didn't want to appear "racist" by attacking Obama on his past, his record, his inexperience, his loopy ideas.  WELL GUESS WHAT, they are going to call you racist anyway...and guess what, if Hillary runs, they will call you a "woman hater" for attacking her on Benghazi, the Middle East, Fast and Furious, whatever. 

So grow a pair Republicans, and get prepared for a knife fight in a phone booth, because that's Democratic politics.  Nice guys never win in politics these days.  Democrats can NEVER win on issues...like Obamacare, raising taxes, regulating soda sizes, etc, so they always resort to character attacks.  What the Republicans need is another Lee Atwater....one good Willie Horton moment and Hillary is toast.  WHOA, WILLIE HORTON, does that make me a racist?  Nope, it's called hard ball politics...I would have Benghazi placards at every Hillary rally and I would tie Hillary to Obama every way I could.

Once we find a candidate that doesn't care what the NYTWAPONBCABCCBSCNNMSDNC media complex think about him, we might have a chance....they had better have a thick skin and be willing to fight back and call Democrats out on their crap....otherwise the "War on Women" meme will win every time.

You may be able to reason with the voters, but Republicans can NEVER reason with Democrats in a political campaign.  Be prepared to spend big, sling mud, and defend yourself vigorously while launching everything you can at your opponent.

 It's not polite and certainly will turn some voters off, but that's the way it is...in World War 2 the allies were just as willing to carpet bomb German cities as the Germans were English cities...we'd better get our bombers ready and be willing to fight the hard fight against not only the Democratic party and their direct supporters, but their cheerleaders in the media, Hollywood, academia and every other lefty institution.

Politics is war....there are no points for second place....

Monday, November 4, 2013

Another highly anticipated brain break

So, the final of my long-awaited, long library waiting list brain break books arrived this weekend and was quickly consumed like a box of Ding-Dongs.  Ok, yes, we had a box of those too...Go Hostess!

So I have to say, I was skeptical of this book at the beginning, but it turned out to be one of my favorite JD Robb books in recent memory.  She takes a real mystery thriller risk by making it pretty darn obvious who the killer is (no spoiler here) and the book really morphs into a "chase the psychopath" tale, which is very, very well done. 

The pace, tension and usual outstanding character development  make this a real pager turner.  And, of course the usual witty banter between Eve and Roarke that really makes them a welcome member of my bedside table twice a year.  I was worried this series was really losing its luster, especially after 36...yup, 36 titles.  But I am very happy to say that there seems to always be some new surprise that JD nee Nora Roberts can pull out of the hat.  The only small nit I had was that one of the things I was looking forward to with this book is extended time with Roarke's Irish family..after all the book is set during Thanksgiving.  The actual time with the family story was disappointingly small.  Hopefully she will fix this problem in a future book...I hopefully foresee a wonderful plot line that takes Eve and Roarke to Ireland...are you listening JD?

Anyway, if you are a fan, pick this one up....it is a quick nugget of escapism and fun.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Obamacare...will it be the Pearl Harbor of progressive liberalism?

So now that the whole shutdown kerfuffle is over...and the inevitable recriminations have settled and food has been thrown...where does American politics stand?

An interesting question about which practically all columnists and pundits, both left and right have an opinion....some of them interesting and thought provoking, many of them bizarre wishful thinking, particularly in the pages of the NYT, DailyKos, Daily Beast, and other left leaning websites.

However, your friendly Grouchy Historian believes, along with a majority of pundits, that the shutdown debacle...and let's be honest, for the Republican leadership and Tea Party, it was a debacle...like soldiers in World War I hurling themselves by battalions into machine gun nests...it was in the end an unwinnable fight. All the Dems had to do was sit and wait because they held all the cards...or at least the Republicans weren't really willing to pay the price of "defaulting" on the debt, which I think is an artificial construct anyway...kinda like our whole national debt. I mean seriously what the hell is $17 TRILLION dollars mean to the average American? After a few hundred billion..doesn't it all become monopoly money anyway? Does any sane, rational person think this country will EVER pay back $17T in debt? I don't think so...So Harry and Barry figured they had the Republicans on the run...the demise of the Tea Party was at hand....but not so fast.

The total and complete screw up of the Obamacare website and the ensuing "Apple Dumpling Gang" management of the crisis by the White House have, at least for the average American, quickly swamped the fallout from the shutdown...and ironically, given the Tea Party gang a little credibility for questioning the ENTIRE premise of Obamacare in the first place.

I picture Obamacare as the Pearl Harbor of progressive liberalism.....and here's why. In 1941 the Japanese attacked the US Pacific Fleet and destroyed most of the old battleships in port, but missed the aircraft carriers, storage and maintenance facilities, and MOST importantly, did not destroy the US Pacific Fleet's oil storage, which would have been almost as bad as sinking an aircraft carrier or two. True the Japanese were able to conquer most of the Pacific and run wild for about six to nine months, but in the words of ADM Yamamoto, it awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.

I compare this to Obamacare for two reasons--1) Obama and the Democrats ALMOST got what they wanted. UNIVERSAL SINGLE-PAYER healthcare...a al European socialized medicine. They came pretty close, but like the Japanese couldn't quite close the deal with their "government option" which was nothing more than a Trojan Horse to drive private insurers out of business. I mean seriously, does anyone think the Democrats wanted anything else? But they couldn't get the votes in their OWN party...That's right, NO Republican voted for this monstrosity, and quite frankly it didn't matter. However, to keep enough of the party faithful in line to march off the cliff (which many did in 2010), the watered down Obamacare was neither a wholesale takeover or real market-based reform. Now, the choice Republicans have will be to oppose or defacto support Obamacare...and with Tea Partyers fired up, I don't see Republicans running as "moderates" in the 2014 primaries...at least on this issue.

2) People are PISSED OFF. Yup, forget the whole website nonsense, this is the calm before the storm. Although the individual marketplace offers a lot of heart wrenching and head shaking stories of premiums going up dramatically, deductibles going up, and coverage going down...the real storm hasn't even arrived. When COMPANIES and UNIONS start screwing with the coverage for their members and employees, well, Obama will retreat to golf course and never be seen again until January 20, 2017, when he rides off to the rubber chicken circuit. Congressmen better buff up their resumes, especially Democratic ones, because even though Obama managed to push this off until after 2014, it's gonna come back to bite them sooner or later...before 2016.

I mean there isn't enough lipstick in my local Walmart to hide this pig...no matter what nonsense spews from the word processors of liberals saying..."Well of course you lost your old insurance coverage..it wasn't GOOD ENOUGH for you." I mean really, I'm sure a lot of 20-something men want to pay 100% more than their old plan for pre-natal care and sex change operations.

Even some liberal Obama lovers are figuring out that HEY, Obamacare isn't free healthcare--morons, you gotta pay for it. Which warms my little schadenfreude heart.

AND of course, there are the lies, lies, lies that have been told and will now live on YouTube forever...and we haven't even gotten warmed up about those either. In addition to losing your old insurance plan, wait until folks lose their doctors, hospitals and other providers that either won't be in the NEW superwhamadyne Obamacare-approved plan or just say "Screw this" and leave the medical profession altogether. THAT will be interesting to watch.

Of course, ideology aside, what will most concern those pesky, wishy-washy "independent" voters is a basic question of competence. After all, if the mighty and benevolent FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can't even get a website running after spending hundreds of millions of dollars, what else are they screwing up?

Yes, this is a teachable moment...if only the right person was able to start the discussion.

Liberals have been running around spewing their usual nonsense about how those evil, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, puppy eating tea baggers want to DESTROY THE GOVERNMENT and turn America into, oh, I don't know Chicago? Detroit?

No, most people realize that government is needed, but here's three questions ALL Americans should ask themselves...and most importantly, questions our elected knuckleheads should be asking:

1. What do we, the American people think government should do? This applies to Federal, State and Local government. What functions are specifically outlined in the Constitution? A pesky question, but one that should be asked...even Obama hasn't done away with it yet...even though he mostly ignores it when it suits his purposes.

2. Of those functions, which are best done where? I.E.,should the Federal government be dabbling in education, agriculture, commerce or is that best done at the state or local level?

3. WHAT are we, the American people, willing to PAY for those things?
These are not inconsequential questions...in spite of the lunacy of the progressive left that thinks government programs create jobs or increase the economy, every dollar spent by government at ANY level comes from citizen's pockets...and I am willing to bet any WORKING American will tell you they could spend that $ for their family if the taxman wasn't taking it. Taxes are money removed from private hands and placed in government hands...period...no wealth is created, except for politicians and lobbyists, and no lasting value is created.

NOW, there are exceptions of course. Roads, bridges, etc do provide a positive gain and are massive projects that can really only be done by government, so that's fine, let's have that discussion.

But, what about everything else? I find it more than a little disturbing when Democrats, particularly the LOONEY LOONEY left say that ANY CUT WHATSOVER to government spending is the moral equivalent of the Holocaust, except for defense spending of course...and even that isn't really cut, they just want to switch it over to food stamps, Head Start, etc.

I find it absurd that absolutely NO social program can ever be touched. This is why, although it has sucked for everyone, I think sequestration has been such a success and is currently driving the left insane...it cuts everything...not very thoughtfully to be sure, but it has at least put some real brakes on Obama and his endless credit card.

More on that later....that's my little historical analogy today. I agree with the pundits who say the Republicans should just sit back and watch Obamacare come unglued...then they can step in with some MAJOR changes and offer to fix things...and this time they will be in the drivers set, especially if they keep the House and/or pick up the Senate in 2014. Obama is gonna finally start thinking about his legacy soon (snort) and although he doesn't give two cents about what happens to his fellow Democrats, he will care if his "SIGNATURE" LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT" becomes the equivalent of the progressive Edsel...or worse (or better) begins to call into question the entire notion of the Federal government having so much accumulated power over every aspect of the American economy and citizens.

Could Obamacare be the Pearl Harbor that awakens the American people to what progressive, creeping socialism and statism has done?  Do we have the courage to demand our politicians ROLL BACK the endless regulations and command economy?

Time will tell.....now back to our regularly scheduled book reviews and strategy discussions.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

WOW...Where have you been all my life?

Sometimes a book comes along that you have been waiting for all your life. THIS is one of those books.

I am so excited about this book that I may just have blogging book club every week on this bad boy...it is that awesome.

As you know, your Grouchy Historian is a keen student of Clausewitz, Thucydides, Jomini, Sun Tzu and all things strategic, and I frequently share my minor observations. In addition, I have been branching out to learn about business strategy and even political strategy.

GUESS WHAT, this book does all three! Yup, finally a book covering the Grand Unifying Theory of All Strategic Thought...at least in the Western World. I have only read a couple of chapters and I am HOOKED. I mean seriously, I could make an outstanding year look course on strategy, strategic thought, strategic planning...the whole thing from this book...all it needs is a pocket to store bacon and it would be the only book I ever read.....ok, maybe not, but it is darn good.

I have to say, it's pretty impressive when I break out the highlighter and start marking up sentences....cuz I usually NEVER mark in my books...but this feels so much like an awesome textbook that I just had to...here are some of my favorite first quotes.
"...strategy comes into play where there is actual or potential conflict...that is why strategy is much more than a plan....Strategy is required when others might frustrate one's plans because they have different and possibly opposing interests and concerns."
Now this may seem obvious, but even this author, a professor at King's College in London, grapples with what exactly strategy IS...which is the beginning of understanding, as it were.

OR, as my old comrade Clausewitz would say..."Because war is an act of force, committed against a living, reacting opponent, it produces three interactions that, in theory, lead to three extremes: maximum use of force; total disarmament of the enemy; and maximum exertion of strength"

So prepare, me hearties! I sense a few weeks on this book as I try and dissect this bad boy and start putting together my own thoughts of the Grand Unifying Theory of All Strategic Thought...my new favorite thing.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Couple of brain break books....

Yes, it has been a long dry spell since my last post...kinda like how long it takes to sign up for Obamacare.

In any event, I have been plugging away on my reading goal...see the Shelfari to the left there  I am currently at 29 out of my goal of 33 books this year.....and decided to take a little break for some brain candy books...yes, the annual offerings by Richard Castle and Brad Thor...two of may favorite authors since the sad demise of Vince Flynn...who is still sorely missed.

The first book, the latest tie in to my favorite TV show, Castle, was actually a pretty darn good page turner, and actually had a little surprise twist at the end.  Like all Castle books, it steals plot lines and situations liberally from the TV show, but with just enough twist to keep you wondering.  This particular book actually kept me guessing all the way to the end, including the surprise villain reveal.  Not a real intellectually challenging read, but good fun and just the sort of book you would expect from Richard Castle.  I have actually been pleasantly surprised at how well done these "tie in" books have been done and I am looking forward to the next installment.




The second book, the annual conspiracy theory tome by Brad Thor, was okay, but not entirely satisfying...it was kinda like eating grilled turkey burgers.  It fills you up, but you know it could be better.  To be perfectly honest, although I love Brad's characters, pacing, and overall story, these have kind of fallen into a rut.  This book does have some excellent historical mystery tie-ins, which I liked, and I did have to race to the end and see if the good guys win and the bad guys die in a horrible gruesome manner, but overall it wasn't as fun as his earlier books and to be perfectly honest, was a little preachy...not that there's anything wrong with that, but I feel like it adversely impacted the story.

SO, what I would like to see, should Brad ask, which I doubt, is a tie-in between his Athena Project characters and Scott Harvath.  I actually LOVED his debut Athena Project novel, which got panned by a few readers and I think the concept of the all-female butt-kicking SPEC OPS team is very cool.  The by-play between the women and their mutual admiration/snarky relationship with Harvath would make a really great story, in my humble testosterone driven opinion.  Maybe if his current story line has run its course, he can move off in a new direction with his Harvath character.  There are still plenty of foreign and domestic evil doers out there...

That's about it...short and sweet.  Two excellent summer readings books that I got too in the fall thanks to the LONNNGGG waiting list at the library.

Life has been extremely busy, but there might be some politics inbound...now that the dust has settled on the whole shutdown fiasco so we could get on to the bigger fiasco that is Obamacare...