'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.


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.


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......................