'87 Sir

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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Pop" Military History that does not impress me

So, clearly all military history is not well written military history.

I picked up three volumes of what I loosely call "pop" military history from across the pond--Pen and Sword Publishing in the UK.

Now Pen and Sword publishes dozens of titles a year, most pretty good, which cover a wide variety of topics on military history.

Sadly, in my opinion, these three volumes fall short of being well written history on several counts. 

 Granted, the author takes a very big bite, trying to write a history of very long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in less than 200 pages, but I was still unimpressed. 

First of all, NONE of these books have any maps...seriously?  That violates the prime directive of writing military history, as far as I am concerned.  The geographically challenged "pop" history reader of the 21st century probably couldn't even locate Iraq on a global map, much less Baghdad or Fallujah.  This seems like a very serious omission to me.

Second, the writing is, to say the least, a bit disjointed.  The book on the Gulf War is probably the best as it covers a fairly short conflict that can be broken into bite-sized chunks covering the air, land, and sea aspects of the conflict fairly easily.

However, the Iraq and Afghan conflicts were much more complicated and fluid and I frankly could not really determine the narrative the author was following.  I felt like the books skipped from the initial military actions to the end, without nearly enough middle action.  Granted insurgencies are messy and sometimes don't make thrilling military history like tank battles and Special Forces guys on horseback, but there is a lot of history to be found in both conflicts...however, probably not in a mere 100 pages of large print text.

On the plus side, and to be fair, the books were lavishly illustrated, probably in keeping with the "pop" history theme and as an added bonus, presented a much more "British" centric view of the conflicts which I actually found pretty interesting.  Clearly Pen and Sword is focused on a Trans-Atlantic and not just American market.

Overall, I assume these books will do well for the first time reader or the VERY casual reader of history who likes lots of pictures (you know, like Obama's foreign policy team and State Department spokespersons), but I have to say, I am glad I did not pay too much for them.


The Middle East is on fire, the Russians are resurgent...HEY Look at that...Hillary went to Chipotle.

Some days I really wish there was something like a felony charge of "criminal journalistic negligence".


I do.

And I would use it like Ahunuld uses a rocket launcher.

So here we are in early 2015 with the world literally going to hell in a hand basket and all the so called "journalists" of the Lame Stream Media can do is swoon over Hillary's awesome inevitability to be the first woman President.

Not the best, or most prepared, or most eloquent, or even most awesomely cool...but the first woman President. 

Identity politics at its best.  WAIT...can I use the phrase identity politics when talking about Hillary?  I mean I wouldn't want to use one of the "banned" phrases":   “polarizing, calculating, disingenuous, insincere, ambitious, inevitable, entitled, over confident, secretive, will do anything to win, represents the past, out of touch”

Actually, those are the NICEST things your could probably say, in my opinion.  Although my favorite would be "candidate so wooden and patronizing and cold hearted that couldn't defeat a nobody Senator from Illinois."  or polite words to that effect.

But seriously, I know most modern reporters have little to no knowledge of history, politics, strategy, or geography, but there is some serious stuff going on in the world that is being ignored, covered up, or just not understood well. 

Let's start with the train wreck of the Middle East.  Putting aside the inane arguments about WHEN, not IF Iran will get nuclear weapons, and the fact that this Administration is fine with Iran being a nuclear power after January 20, 2017, the real issue is the growing Sunni-Shia "Thirty Years War" about to engulf the region.

So for you public school students, the Thirty Years War was primarily a religious war waged in Europe between 1618-1648 which destroyed most of Germany and pretty much created the modern nation state.  Google it or use Wikipedia...I'll wait. 


Ok, now consider how much religious fanatics (NO NOT Christians, although liberals lump them all together) I mean Islamofacist religious fanatics love to kill people and you have a real mess as Saudi Arabia (our erstwhile frenemy in the region) and Iran (Obama's newest bud) duke it out for dominance in the region.  First in Syria, now in Yemen...and pretty soon in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain? 

Yes, public school kids...look it up on Google Earth.  The region where most of Saudi Arabia's oil is found is filled with....yup, SHIA Muslims and Bahrain, a key location in the region and home to the base of the US Navy's 5th Fleet is filled with...yup, SHIA Muslims who ALL look to Iran for guidance, funding, and ultimately SUPPORT in their fight against their Sunni overlords.

So, hey, we got that going for us.

Then of course, there's Vlad the Impailer...yup..ol' Pootie Putin...deciding how far into Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia...OOOPS, check your Google Earth again kids...all those FORMER Soviet Republics that some Soviets, oopps Russians, aren't so happy left the glorious Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

So now that Russia has figured out just how big a bunch of rubes this Administration is...how toothless NATO is now that their biggest challenge is how to keep the Greek retires and pensioners happy and the Euro intact....well, we'll see how many oppressed "Russian" minorities they want to save in the various NATO countries bordering the ol' Soviet Union. 

Maybe if the Poles and Czechs sign up for Obamacare or donate to the Clinton Foundation, someone in the Democratic Party will care.....nah....

What's really important is how totally awesome Hillary is in her Scooby Doo van and how mean all those Republicans are and how cool it is that Valerie Jarrett HUGS, FREAKIN HUGS reporters before an interview.  Seriously????

Yes, Seriously..now I would expect Creepy Joe Biden to go on Fox News to try and hug Megyn Kelly...but really?  Hugs?  Can you imagine Dick Cheney going on MSNBC and getting hugs from Rachel Maddow....<shudder>...yea, me neither.

AND YET...all that talk about bias in the media...NAHHHH...move along peasants...nothing to see here.

"Criminal Journalistic Negligence"

Remember that phrase...it could catch on..

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Happy Tax Day...or as liberals like to say "Pay up you peasants"

So today is that most miserable of days...Tax Day...the day we Americans dutifully file our taxes and hope that at some point in the calendar year we can finish throwing money down the gaping maw that is our government.
Here's a happy chart for you...

Ronald Reagan probably said it the best.

"Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."

Now I understand that we need taxes to pay for police, roads, teachers, Obama's vacations, etc, etc. But it seems like some liberals, okay MOST big government progressive liberals, think that more taxes are ALWAYS better. Really? Yes, they really do.

Take this awesome article by...you guessed, a liberal journal, The New Republic..A little less looney than Salon, Slate, or even Vox, the three rags where people who aren't talented enough to write for MSDNC go to work I guess.
Raise Our Taxes. Please

Nope, this isn't the Onion, and this is not satire. This knucklehead is totally serious.
"In the coming years, the federal government is going to need more revenue. Nothing any politician says can refute the basic math that Americans are growing older and that’s going to cost a lot more money."
BUT WAIT, it gets better....this is one of my favorite lines...truly something only a big government liberal could say with a straight face. 
"Republicans like to describe the government as a bloated, bureaucratic nightmare. But that's not really the case. For instance, former Senator Tom Coburn, who retired at the end of the 113th Congress, used to release an annual "Wastebook" that described egregious examples of government waste. The 2014 version named 100 federal projects that cost the taxpayer $25 billion. That sounds like a lot. But many of those have legitimate purposes. More importantly, $25 billion is a mere sliver of the $3.5 trillion the government spends annually. At 0.7 percent, it's close to a rounding error."
Hey folks, good news...to a liberal $25 BILLION, that's $25,000,000,000 is a "rounding error".  Well shoot, I guess when you put it that way, Obama's multi-million dollar vacations seems pretty insignificant, huh?  I mean, a billion here, a billion there, what the hell?  Not like any of us peasants are gonna miss those tax dollars huh?  Of course, over 10 years, that's $250B...which is NOT an inconsequential amount of money.  But to a liberal, anything less than a TRILLION dollar stimulus package (giveaway money to Democrat constituents) or a TRILLION dollar entitlement program (Obamacare) is a rounding error.


But, just when you thought the stupidity couldn't get any bigger, we have more.
"Already, federal agencies are strained because of a lack of funding. Budget cuts at the IRS, for instance, have crippled morale and forced the agency to cut back on much-needed services for taxpayers. Further spending cuts would damage agencies across government, decreasing the number of food inspections, increasing wait times for regulatory permits, and harming a vast number of other government functions."
This statement almost made me snort my morning coffee! The IRS? Really? Crippled morale? POOR BABIES...I feel so bad for the political thugs that targeted conservative groups and helped steal the 2012 election for Barry O...NOT...yea, liberals like to throw police, fire, food inspectors..etc...but wait REGULATORY PERMITS? Hey moron, here's an idea, CUT DOWN on petty government regulations and we won't need as many permits...DUH?
In conclusion, Mr. Brilliant Policy wonk works the usual liberal intellectual contradiction into a stunning summary.

"In that sense, policies that promote growth may be the best solution to our debt problems.  [DUH, YA THINK?]Yet we shouldn't rely on them alone. It's difficult to design policies that drive growth. The economy is massive, and the federal government has limited ability to steer it. Policymakers should aim to promote growth while also improving the lives of Americans and solving our long-term debt problems.  [Wait a minute, you don't think Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, THOUSANDS of pages of regulation, taxes out the wazoo affect the economy?  THEN why do liberals want the government to control and regulate it so much? The mental delusion here is stunning.]
 A tax plan that increases revenue by closing tax breaks is not a political winner, so long as the economy is in recovery and wage growth remains weak. [Wait a minute..aren't we coming out of the awesome OBAMA recovery?  You know, the recession ended in 2009?  All the media said so!!!  Isn't the economy humming along?  Millions of jobs created? Stock market up?  Oh, wait, no, we're not, but MSDNC says we are!! All the pundits say so!] But at some point, we're going to need to raise more revenue. The longer politicians pretend that that isn’t the case, the harder it will be to accomplish."

I almost can't take this..hence the call sign on the Blog.  Here's an interesting idea.  How about we give more money back to the people and let them decide?  How about we cut regulation, go to a flat tax, close down and consolidate redundant government programs and agencies.  I bet if we can find $25B in wasteful spending, we could find $100B...then $200B...then pretty soon we could really bend that pesky cost curve down....how about by letting people shop for their own health insurance in a completely deregulated market...like SAY car insurance...instead of the bloated mess that Obamacare will become...

Healthcare will bankrupt this country as our population ages...but it will not be pretty.  As much as this <ahem> so-called writer/pundit/Democrat with a byline wants to avoid saying it, what I believe Obamacare will eventually do is set up a generational tug of war between Medicare and Obamacare patients as they fight over the same pie...and it will get ugly.

So here's my idea..every progressive liberal (pretty much the entire Democrat Party) should voluntarily send in 90% of their income to their homeboys in the IRS...after all, it's their civic duty!  They think the government needs more revenue...let them send it in! And to  be fair, they should receive more government services, so let's send more IRS, OSHA, NLRB, USDA, and other regulators to their homes and businesses...especially the billionaires of Silicon Valley.  I think that's a swell idea, don't you?  They pay more for government regulation and oversight, they should get more regulation and oversight.  AND, all those government inspectors can leave the rest of us the hell alone.

Just a thought.

So, Happy Tax Day my fellow peasants...cheer up, only 9 more days until Tax Freedom Day

Monday, April 13, 2015

Some pretty good military history

In addition to some decent fiction, I also came across some pretty good military history to start 2015.

This volume, which, to be honest I got at my local Barnes & Noble bargain rack, was pretty good.  Covering some major U.S. Special Operations missions since the Vietnam War, it provides a number of small case studies on the good, bad, and ugly of U.S. SpecOps missions.  Although the authors trod some familiar ground with recounting the well executed by unsuccessful raid on Son Toy and the disaster at Desert One, they offer some interesting insight in what those missions ultimately did to create modern US special operations forces and capabilities.  The highly successful missions of the 1990s, one in Desert Storm and the other in Bosnia, validated many of the lessons learned and really paved the way for the success of US SOF after 9/11. 

I thought the chapters on recent missions since 2001 were especially good, since there has not been much history written on the myriad of SOFs missions in the early days of the invasion of Iraq.

 In particular, I think the story of the Special Forces run operation that involved the 173rd AB Brigade making the first mass combat parachute jump since the Korean War into Kurdistan to meet up with Kurdish Pershmerga forces and tie down Iraqi forces north of Baghdad really needs to be told.

The quieter side of SOF is also well represented with the tale of a Green Beret team that set up in the Karbala Gap to watch for signs of Iraqi chemical weapon use as the US forces neared Baghdad during the invasion of 2003. 

The chapters were just the right length and were well illustrated with pictures and the all important maps.

The other book is a new volume on the Battle of Khe Sanh.  This book was brought to me by friends at the New York Journal of Books and my full review is there.

However, as always, I offer here the "rest" of the story.  This was actually a pretty decent battle history and I actually learned a few things.  Vietnam is not one of my specialties, especially since much of the history, even the military history, is tainted by an overly pessimistic lefty viewpoint of the war--but this author was very pro-American, and he unabashedly considered the battle a military, if not strategic victory.

His recounting of the rhythm of the battle, especially the ebb and flow of the many hill fights around the base, and the desperate battle for Lang Vei were particularly well done, in my opinion. 

I have yet to find a really good overall military account of the 1968 Tet Offensive, which encompasses the fights at Khe Sanh, Hue, Saigon, and other cities in a sweeping narrative that relates just how badly the NVA and their Vietcong minions were crushed.  Which was ultimately irrelevant as the lefty narrative began to consume the war effort, wreck LBJs shabby Vietnam policy, and give the North Vietnamese the political victory that their battlefield efforts could not secure.

I am one of those crazy right-wingers that questions whether Vietnam could have been winnable with a better policy and strategy, and the defeat of the Tet Offensive only intensifies my curiosity if things could have turned out better.

In the meantime, both of these books were very good and helped kick start the year.