Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Stuff That Falls Out

Happy belated Memorial Day
Just a little bit of brain spillage today folks.  Is it just me, or does everyone become a little more opinionated, and maybe just a little curmudgeonly as they get older?  Webster defines a curmudgeon as: 1: archaic : miser. 2: a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man.  While I am under no illusion that my conservative values and opinions are shared by the majority of people out there, I really don't think I'm archaic.  Miser?  That doesn't apply either, ask my well funded kids.  Crusty and ill-tempered?  Ok, maybe.  All right, definitely.  But can you blame me?  There are just too many wolves out there masquerading as shepherds, and plenty of sheep who are blindly following them.  And these sheep either can't, or just refuse to think for themselves so that the level of idiocy in the world is becoming almost unbearable.  For me anyway.

With age comes wisdom they say, and my opinions have the benefit of time in their formation.  I wasn't as critical of a thinker in my 20s and 30s, but probably because I either didn't have as much of a stake in the world, or didn't realize what was at stake.  Now, in my late 40s I'm able to see things more clearly,  maybe I'm better at picking out the underlying issues, and I think I mostly understand the politics and personal motivations surrounding a topic.

Not that that makes it any better.  It just makes me more frustrated, upset, or disgusted.  I can shake my head in response only so many times before it starts to hurt my neck.  Do I stop caring?  No, but I do become a little numb and somewhat resigned to the direction things are heading.

Five or so years before I retired from the Navy, the CNO established Task Force Uniform.  I'm not sure why it was considered a Task Force, considering how their only task was to look at our uniform regs and propose an ugly set of uniforms, not take out the enemy or anything else task-force like.  They brilliantly came up with a khaki shirt for junior enlisted, and the overweight and flammable pajamas affectionately known as blueberries or aquaflage.  The Task Force came up with uniform proposals that were widely panned by many in the Navy, myself included of course.  The problem is that they were essentially directed to change the uniform.  When has a Task Force ever been formed that didn't have to do something?  They couldn't very well survey the fleet to assess the current (at the time) uniform regulations, and tell the CNO that no, we don't recommend any changes- the status quo is good.   I was glad that the new uniforms didn't become mandatory until after I retired because I really hate that uniform.  I'm sure I would have just stayed in my flight suit or worn khakis instead though.

Now, after hearing sailors complain about it being too hot, uncomfortable, and almost a joke- Camouflage in the water?  Good for hiding paint drips? - the Navy is apparently reconsidering that uniform altogether.
After six years in the fleet and some controversy, the blue-and-gray cammies could be headed for Davy Jones' seabag....Dumping the digital blues, also known as the NWU Type I, is a move that's been quietly discussed by leadership in recent years.
While I applaud that pending decision, I wonder why cooler heads didn't prevail back in the day.  I expect that they polled an inordinate number of younger Sailors and Officers in the Navy, of which the majority are, by definition, junior, and were therefore lacking the same sense of ownership for the traditions our sea-service holds dear.  As for the khaki-ish uniform below, I'm not sure there weren't a bunch of Chiefs that didn't like junior Sailors putting on khaki early- formerly reserved for E-7 and above.  The digi camis? I think they were just jealous of the other services who had already started wearing them.

In their defense, there were far too many uniforms in the Sailor's sea bag, and working whites on a ship just didn't make sense.  The TF did exactly what they were asked to do, but I just don't like the result.  Or maybe it's that I just don't like change. Back in my day when we had to walk uphill both ways to school in the snow, we didn't have change (see curmudgeon, definition 1.)

So that's one instance where I didn't like the decision, and believe me, there are many more.  As I get further from my active duty days, I see more changes that I don't necessarily see as being better for the force.  Diversity?  Shortly after retirement the Navy seemed to go all in on it, at the expense of war fighting readiness and everything else.  I have no issue with having diversity in our ranks, but forcing it just seems wrong.  I know it'll happen in due course, but the Navy seems to want to to make "firsts" instead of firsts just happening.

It's not always the decisions I'm not happy with.  Recently, I realized that it's indecision that will hurt the Navy.  The aircraft above is the MH-53E Sea Dragon.  It's an old, maintenance intensive, but incredibly capable platform.  It's the Navy's primary mine-hunting and mine-sweeping system right now due to the Avenger Class Minesweepers being so poorly resourced.  Several years ago, probably around 15-20 years back, the Navy decided to slowly decommission all its mine countermeasures (MCM) ships and helicopters in favor of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) MCM Mission Package (MP), and be complete with that effort by the middle of the next decade.

MH-53E towing the Mk-105 Sweep System
MCM is the bastard stepchild of the Navy.  Nobody pays any attention to it until they absolutely have to, and then only momentarily.  The required maintenance for the MCM ships and aircraft is underfunded by tens of millions, and for the past 15 years, the focus has been on getting the LCS MCM MP into the fleet.  The plan to decommission all those ships and aircraft was based on a plan to get those new units into the fleet with a full-up-round mission package.  That was supposed to happen starting in 2014. The program offices limped the program along for a dozen years, never fully meeting requirements, and never having enough funds to support the old systems, while at the same time developing and testing the new stuff.  The new systems were crucial in justifying the building of the LCSs, but the testing went sideways and there have been repeated delays.  Last summer, the final practice test before the final exam (Operational Test and Evaluation) went terribly, and the primary mine-hunting sensor, the Remote Minehunting System below, performed so badly, that future procurement of it has been cancelled.

So, to summarize my rant- four out of the original 9 systems in the MCM mission package have been cancelled.  The others are either behind schedule, or didn't do all that great during testing.   Navy leadership has known this for years- that the systems weren't cutting it.  And after a congressional ordered delay in 2010 due to a Nunn-McCurdy breach, and subsequent cuts to the program, it was essentially a guarantee that the program would be delayed.  Yet the decommissioning plan for the old systems never got a second look.  That's the part that's practically dereliction of duty- continuing on a course that is either sure to fail, or making no decisions regarding the current and likely future mission shortfalls.  Then again, the plan didn't change in 2012 after the Airboss cancelled the part of the MP that had the MH-60S Helicopter towing the same (orange and white) sonar you see above, eliminating one of the search sensors.  It was deemed to be too heavy under tow, and risked loss of aircraft if the helo lost an engine.  Now that the RMS has been cancelled, the future force is on its back, to put it mildly, left without a search sensor.

My command has been expressing this concern for several years of course, but the band-aids we've received in response, while capable, aren't in sufficient number to cover the loss. This all came up during a conference last week in Monterey California during which a Navy Captain spoke very candidly about the issue, pulling no punches when it came to his disagreement regarding the lack of movement on the future of MCM.

In defense of the Program Offices, they are given less and less money each year, but the task doesn't change- get the LCS MCM MP across the finish line.  And shifting course 10 or 15 years ago could have never happened considering the political ramifications- shipyards employ constituents and constituents vote for legislators.  And in the Pentagon, the bean-counters rule, and their rule is even more prevalent when a Democrat is in the White House.

Trump might be ok for the DoD.  I'm sure he'll be at least a little better than Shillary.  I'm not all that jazzed about him though.  He talks a big game, but I can't help but think he's a political chameleon.

I guess I'm just stuck in the past, longing for what used to be.

Little chance of that I suppose.  I just want our leaders to make decisions that make past sacrifices worthwhile.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sijan! My name is Lance Peter Sijan!

Here's hoping you are having a peaceful, reflective Memorial Day weekend.  I was blessed with a surprise call from the Most Beautiful Daughter on Saturday asking if I'd mind driving over to a state park she and some friends had camped in Friday night and "rescue" her.  Seems she had slept in her sleeping bag in a hammock, and the local mosquito population had had a lavish banquet on her face and neck.  Once again, and it's been awhile, I got to experience the feeling of being needed and riding to the rescue.  

It also meant we had a chance to visit a local winery and sip a glass of Albariño while chatting and listening to music.  Life is good.

She bought the T-Shirt, but I am good at that!
Sarge asked if we'd take a moment to remember those people who have given their lives to protect the freedoms that we cherish.  I have.  I thought it also fitting that I do the research on another name on my list of Air Force Medal of Honor Recipients.  While I had been focusing on the Recipients whose name I didn't immediately recognize, today I thought I'd discuss someone who is a bit more familiar to me and see if I couldn't expand on my knowledge of the man.

Capt Lance P. Sijan

That man is Lance P. Sijan.  Capt. Sijan (pronounced sigh-john') was a 1LT Back Seat Pilot in an F-4C, lost over North Vietnam, captured by the North Vietnamese and transported to Hoa Loa Prison, where he died of pneumonia.  During the time he was a POW, he was promoted to Captain.  That's the long and short of it.  

I had read an Air Force Magazine article about Capt Sijan in 1986, that intrigued me.  I sought out his Biography (this was pre-Amazon instant book gratification days, so involved a bit of effort), "Into the Mouth of the Cat: The Story of Lance Sijan, Hero of Vietnam"  by Malcolm McConnell.  A very sobering book, to say the least. 

It had been about 30 years since I had read Capt Sijan's story. While "incredible endurance and courage" are the phrases that flash through my memory whenever I hear his name, I'd forgotten the details.  So to refresh my memory and for the edification of any interested readers, here we go.


I had originally thought that Capt Sijan's F-4, like so many others, had been shot down but apparently his ordnance and that of the other F-4 comprising Baffle 01 flight had been outfitted with a new type of fuse.  The weapons were released in a low altitude high speed pass and all immediately detonated, destroying both aircraft.  Capt Sijan was able to eject, and was severely injured in doing so.  His AC also ejected, which may have been command initiated by Capt Sijan's ejection from the back seat, however neither he, nor the other crew was heard from again.

The high speed ejection causes a compound fracture to one of Capt Sijan's legs and "mangled" one of his wrists bending it backwards.  Additionally, on landing in the rocky Karsts of the target area, he sustains a skull injury.  

So, he's on the ground in North Vietnam, in relatively close proximity to a target he's tried to attack "in anger" (evidently that's a perjorative now and not to be used. Don't get me started.).  Anyhow....He's on the ground, in bad guy territory and critically injured. He manages to contact other aircraft and a rescue operation is started.  At one point he sees a Jolly Green and tells them "I see you, I see you. Stay where you are, I'm coming to you."  The Jolly hovers in position for 33 minutes while receiving fire.  (Ok, one more example of why Jolly crew members never pay for beer in fighter bars.) Finally, the increasing volume and accuracy of the fire forces their withdrawal.

At this point, Capt Sijan starts to try to evacuate the immediate area.  Remember, he's got a compound fracture of his left leg, the bone is protruding through the skin. How is he going to evacuate the immediate area?  He pushes himself along on his butt using his good arm and leg.  He successfully evades the immediate threat.

He continues to use this method of movement.

For. Forty. Five. Days!

He would travel for 2-3 days until exhausted, sleep and then wakeup and continue moving eastward.

Very little to eat and drink during the ordeal, as well as the friction of his method of movement has left him emaciated and covered in sores.  Finally, after six and a half weeks, he collapses by the side of a road and is picked up by the North Vietnamese.  He's managed to make it 3 miles from his landing site.

The story is not over, though.

The North Vietnamese, thinking he's close to death, place him on a table in a hut and post a single guard, leaving him to die.

When he regains consciousness, he signals to the guard.  When the guard approaches, he manages to knock him unconcious.  That's right, little food and water for six and a half weeks, crawling through a jungle with a broken leg and hand, sick and covered with open sores, he knocks a guard unconscious with a single punch.

He crawls out of the hut and back into the jungle and evades for another 8 hours before being recaptured.

For those of you who have read the stories of POWs of the North Vietnamese, it should come as no surprise that the next few hours of Capt Sijan's life were not pleasant.

Eventually, he's loaded on a truck and transported to a POW camp near Vinh.  

While there, he's put under the care of then Major Bob Craner and Capt Guy Gruters.  The two Misty FAC aircrewmen care for Capt Sijan while at Vinh and during his transport to Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi.  While awaiting that transport, their cell is next door to the interrogation room where they are forced to listen to Capt Sijan's interrogation.  

According to Capt Gruters
 "As best as I can recall, it was New Year’s Day of 1968 when they brought this guy in at night. The Rodent came into the guy’s cell next to mine and began his interrogation. It was clearly audible.
He was on this guy for military information, and the responses I heard indicated he was in very, very bad shape. His voice was very weak. It sounded to me as though he wasn’t going to make it.
The Rodent would say, “Your arm, your arm, it is very bad. I am going to twist it unless you tell me.” The guy would say, “I’m not going to tell you; it’s against the code.” Then he would start screaming.
The Rodent was obviously twisting his mangled arm.  
The whole affair went on for an hour and a half, over and over again,and the guy just wouldn’t give in. He’d say, “Wait till I get better,you S.O.B., you’re really going to get it.” He was giving the Rodent all kinds of lip but no information.
The Rodent kept laying into him. Finally I heard this guy rasp, “Sijan! My name is Lance Peter Sijan!” That’s all he told him.

Returned to his cell, Major Crane and Capt Gruters administered to him as best they could.  Whenever he'd regain consciousness, he'd ask them "How are we getting out of here?"  

His injuries and physical condition caused him to contract pneumonia, which contributed to his passing circa 21 January 1968.

One of my favorite comedy movies "Galaxy Quest", has an oft repeated line "Never give up, Never surrender!".  I think that pretty well defines Capt Sijan.

His Medal of Honor Citation:

While on a flight over North Vietnam, Capt. Sijan ejected from his disabled aircraft and successfully evaded capture for more than 6 weeks. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Capt. Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a prisoner of war camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered 1 of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length. During interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. Capt. Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner. During his intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Capt. Sijan's extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.
Rest In Peace, Captain Sijan, I am grateful for, and awed and honored by your courage and sacrifice.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ad Memoriam Mortuorum

The Wall
by Catherine Anne McNeill

I walked along that long black wall, with names as far as I could see. 
Friends I knew in childhood now etched in memories.
I've touched their names so many times, remembered them with love.
I walk along, the rain pours down, tears from heaven above.

I watch a Vet, deep in thought, pain across his face.
He walks a mother to the wall; he's taken his friend's place.
She reaches out to touch a name, the one that was her son.
They pause together in the rain, their memories a bond.

The men who fought, the men who died, their names for all to see
Their lives so brief, fallen short, a page in history.
We can't forget what they had done, so many years ago.
Sacrifices they have made the bravery they showed.

I walked along that long black wall, crying in the rain.
For all those men who've touched our lives, we'll never see again.

28 May 2000 (Source)

PFC Charles D. Raver and PFC Christopher S. Bryant
Killed In Action, Republic of Vietnam
Quang Nam Province
17 May 1968


PFC Raver is on the Vietnam Memorial, Panel 62E, Line 10.


PFC Bryant is on the Vietnam Memorial, Panel 61E, Line 24.


PFC Bryant was loyal reader STxAR's uncle. His buddies called him Steve. Both men died on the same day and were members of the same unit. May their memories always shine forth as exemplars of all that is good in this Nation of ours.

Marines, across the ages, I salute you.

Semper Fidelis

Saturday, May 28, 2016

This Weekend

Four days off.

Will we barbecue? Probably.

Will we perhaps have an adult beverage? Probably.

Will we remember the fallen?


Many view this weekend as the start of summer. Pools will be opened. Folks will go to the beach. People are going to enjoy themselves. It's what people do.

Should folks take a moment this weekend to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom? Yes, they should. Will everyone? Probably not.

In church on Sunday I will, as I do every Memorial Day Sunday, recite the names of those killed in the line of duty whom I wish to keep alive in my heart, in my memory.

For if they are remembered, are they truly gone?

Captain Carroll F. LeFon, Jr.
United States Navy
Lance Corporal Kurt E. Dechen
United States Marine Corps

Major Taj Sareen
United States Marine Corps

Lieutenant Nathan T. Poloski
United States Navy

Private Robert Bain
Royal Scots Fusiliers

(No photo available)

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal 
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres, 
There is music in the midst of desolation 
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young, 
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. 
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted; 
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; 
They sit no more at familiar tables of home; 
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; 
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound, 
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, 
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known 
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, 
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; 
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, 
To the end, to the end, they remain.

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Stuff of Nightmares

Sources for Johnson and Trump photos, all others are public domain.
There has been a bit of talk around the virtual water cooler at work concerning this year's Presidential race. I know some folks who are nominally Democrats (hey, it is Rhode Island after all) who don't much care for Shrillary and are uncomfortable with Comrade Bernie. Up North in the ancestral homeland I have any number of friends, family members, high school classmates, etc. who are simply ga-ga about Comrade Bernie. Whenever I mention something unfavorable about Comrade Bernie on Facebook, I get at least one "Feel the Bern" comment in response. Yes, you know who you are, there's more than one of you, I know.

Now I am a native Vermonter. Born and bred in the Green Mountain state and (used to be) proud of it*. Not so much anymore. I just don't understand the attraction of that aging socialist loon. No, I don't like him, not at all. He's another failure who somehow thinks that socialism (or communism if you will) could work "if only the right sort of people were in charge." Of course, I understand that he thinks that Castro and Chavez are the cat's meow. I guess it's because of the economic powerhouses and bastions of human rights Venezuela and Cuba have become.

(What, they're not? Sorry, my bad...)

Now that Libertarian fellow up there (one Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico) I had never heard of until this past week. I caught a blurb of an article indicating that he thinks we don't need aircraft carriers anymore. My first thought was "What a complete idiot." My second thought followed much along those lines only with more profanity. Then I did actually think about the efficacy of the modern Nimitz-class (and soon to be commissioned Ford-class, yes, I hate that name) in these modern times. Ooh, China, big bad ship killing missiles, etc., therefore we don't need carriers, the Chinese will just sink them. (I hear that from time to time, it irks me.)

My fourth thought (after careful cogitation vis-à-vis the carrier issue) followed much along the lines of my first and second, though with perhaps a bit more profanity than was absolutely necessary. Or polite.

What exactly is a Libertarian? Well, the source of all knowledge says: The Libertarian Party is a libertarian political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, and laissez-faire economics and abolition of the welfare state. No, I am most assuredly not a libertarian. I'm more of a monarchist. As long as I get to be the monarch. Otherwise color me as a generic conservative. Though I probably would support Robin Lee as emperor. He has interesting ideas and a bizarre sense of humor. Something I would require in a sovereign.)

So who would vote for this Johnson fellow? Those who are not Democrats but cannot abide "The Donald." Who is the presumptive Republican nominee. So in reality, by not voting for "The Donald," they are sort of voting for Shrillary. Who is the presumptive Democratic nominee. One might argue that those who won't vote (as a protest against "The Donald") are also voting for Shrillary.

Politics is confusing. It upsets my stomach and makes my head hurt. We hates it...

I have been reading about the various polls, predictions, prognostications, entrail-reading, and tea leaf scanning concerning the Presidential races. And found the following to be of some interest -


So if it's "The Donald" versus Shrillary, can you say "Madame President"? She also beats Cruz (who certain colleagues of mine refer to as "The Devil." Seriously, why don't people like the Tedster?)

Now Kasich would beat Shrillary in this poll. Not that close either. I am puzzled that I know next to nothing about Kasich. Other than one of my colleagues assuring me that "he would make a good President." As the chap voted for Obummer, twice, I can't say I am altogether confident in his judgement as to who would make a good President. (In his defense, he now regrets voting for The One, the second time anyway.)

Of course, Comrade Bernie beats "The Donald," Cruz, and Kasich. (No, not all at once, that would be silly. Not to mention probably illegal. Each party gets one candidate. So I'm told.)

So why are the Dems so high on Shrillary? Is it because it's "her turn"? Is she the heir to the Obama "legacy"? (Whatever the Hell that is.)

Why are the establishment Republicans so down on the Trumpster? I mean I understand it at some levels. The man is a bit of an ass, a demagogue, and I don't really trust his judgement. He's no statesman. Admittedly I have a deep distrust of businessmen. Oh, maybe that's why the Republican Establishment doesn't care for him. In truth, he ain't one of them. Maybe that's a good thing? (I have no love for the Republican Establishment. Bunch of know-it-all and RINOs.)

So Sarge, who would you prefer to see as the Republican candidate? Glad you asked. This guy:
Louisiana Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal

I had the opportunity to listen to a long interview with him on the radio whilst traveling to the ancestral homeland to visit Madame Mère. I was impressed with him, truly I was. (Even though I found his support of Common Core somewhat baffling. Meh, we all have our faults. Won't be me casting the first stone!) Yes, you're right, I shan't be holding my breath awaiting a Jindal run in 2016.

So those are the players. One colleague finds the prospect of a Trump Presidency terrifying. His candidacy and his behavior smacks of something from 1930s Germany. His fiancée's Dad survived the Holocaust. She refuses to watch the news anymore. As an amateur historian who has studied that period in depth, she has every reason to be nervous, at the very least.

Same colleague figures that Shrillary would be a horrid President, in fact, he figures she'll be impeached and then imprisoned within her first year in office. If she gets that far. Some of us think that she'll be indicted sometime this summer.

But then who will run for the Democrats? The Democratic Establishment has no love for Comrade Bernie, who, as I mentioned above, isn't really a Democrat.

So perhaps a four (maybe five) way race. Johnson, "The Donald," Shrillary, and maybe Cruz or Kasich running as independents. Hell, the Comrade might go that route himself. (A six way race for President? What are we, Europe? No, not yet. But close.)

What's my nightmare? Joe "Junior Mints" Biden steps up to the plate at the last minute and offers himself to save the Democratic Party.

The voters, totally confused by the sight of Shrillary in an orange jumpsuit (issued by the state), "The Donald's" weird looking orange hair, Comrade Bernie's increasingly ludicrous promises of "free stuff" (for which someone has to pay, even the Sandernistas will figure that out eventually) and everyone wondering why Cruz and Kasich are still campaigning, will throw their reluctant support behind the Vice President. Even though they wouldn't want him anywhere near their daughters.

The outcome (in my nightmare) looks like this:

Hail President Biden!

Oh, and the Special Advisor to the President. Of course.

Yeah, the stuff of nightmares.

Though Biden isn't looking all that bad, considering the others.

I think he'll come out of the woodwork and soon. Should be interesting.

Of course, if Shrillary doesn't go to jail, then she wins and we will know that the fix was in from Day One. If she gets elected, I might actually miss The One.

Nah, that won't ever happen...

* Rather like I used to be proud of the Air Force. Sigh...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stopping to Smell the Roses

Heading home after a long day...
So after eight straight serious (dare I say ranting) posts. I suddenly felt the need to chop the throttles and slow down. You almost got another rant today after I heard Shrillary shrieking at her feckless followers on the radio. I mean for crying out loud that voice of her's just grates on my nerves. Like fingernails on a freaking chalkboard. (Do the chilluns even know what a chalkboard is? Well, I reckon they could Google it...)

At any rate I switched the radio to the O.F.F. mode and nearly started cussing a blue streak. Then this popped into my head...

Ah yes, the dulcet tones of the Wicked Witch of the West. Well, at least compared to the voice of that screeching harpy running for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

At that point hilarity in the cockpit of the vehicle ensued. Odd considering how traffic was moving at maybe 5 MPH (that's 8.04672 km/h for you metric types, pretty damn slow no matter how you measure it). I'm sure the surrounding drivers thought me a right loon.

So, the political rant I had been mulling over today flew right out the window.

Yup, just like those flying monkeys. (Was that a Trump rally towards the end of that clip? Couldn't really tell in all the excitement.)

Anyhoo, it was a beautiful day here in Little Rhody. So I decided to take the night off. Toss a couple of photos your way, a couple of Tube O' You clips, make good. And we're on our way.

See you tomorrow. I'm gonna go outside and pine for the fjords. Or something...

When the sun shines on the bay...
Red, white, and blue center line. Why I must be on the parade route. What parade? Why the oldest Fourth of July parade in the country. (The world really...)

Do, do, do, lookin' out my backdoor...
(Okay, technically it's the view from my driveway, I claim artistic license.)
The birds they were a singing, the bees they were a buzzing.

Yup, way too nice a day to spoil with a rant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Don't You Know There's A War On?

Marine barracks, Beirut International Airport. 1983. (Source)
In response to a Juvat comment yesterday, I offered this -
In wartime we get fighting generals, in peacetime we get shoe clerks. I don't know what you call the times we're in now. Feels like wartime, civvies think it's peacetime.
Forgive me for thinking that we're at war. I mean the United States is right now, at this very minute, involved in combat operations with an armed and determined enemy. To me, that's war. But not so according to any number of definitions of war I found on the Web of World-Wideness, to wit...

From Duhaime's Law Dictionary:
War Definition:
    The use of violence and force between two or more states to resolve a matter of dispute.
"War has been defined almost always as the employment of force between governments or entities essentially like governments, at least de facto....

"The cases establish that war is a course of hostility engaged in by entities that have at least significant attributes of sovereignty. Under international law war is waged by states or state-like entities.... (W)ar (is) a contention between two or more States through their armed forces. War is that state in which a nation prosecutes its right by force.

"English and American cases dealing with the insurance meaning of war have defined it in accordance with the ancient international law definition: war refers to and includes only hostilities carried on by entities that constitute governments at least de facto in character."
-- These were the words adopted by Justice Hays of the United States Court of Appeals in the 1974 case, Pan American World Air v. Aetna.  (Source)
From Black's Law Dictionary Online:
What is WAR?

A state of forcible contention; an armed contest between nations; a state of hostility between two or more nations or states. Gro. de Jur. B. lib. 1, c. 1. Every connection by force between two nations, in external matters, under the authority of their respective governments, is a public war. If war is declared in form, It is called "solemn," and is of the perfect kind; because the whole nation is at war with an- other whole nation. When the hostilities are limited as respects places, persons, and things, the war is properly termed "imperfect war." Bas v. Tingy, 4 Dall. 37, 40 1 L. Ed. 731. (Source)
What does Merriam-Webster have to say on the topic?
    1     a (1) :  a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2) :  a period of such armed conflict (3) :  state of war
          b :  the art or science of warfare
          c (1) obsolete :  weapons and equipment for war (2) archaic :  soldiers armed and equipped for war

    2    a :  a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism
          b :  a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end <a class war> <a war against disease>
          c :  variance, odds (Source)
What I derive from all that is that the legal definition of war tends to lean towards a state of hostilities between two (or more) states. Seems that Justice Hays stretched that definition to include entities which act as or are de facto states. Think the Taliban, think al Qaeda, think ISIS or any other of a number of organized "thuggeries". Hell, you could probably make an argument for MS-13 and the like being de facto governments or states. I'm quite certain that their rule is the law in the areas they control or hold sway over. (Which is pretty much the same, the latter being rather outside the law. At least that's how I see it.)

I believe that we are war with "certain elements" in the world who have the goal of destroying "Civilization As We Know It." They want to replace our culture and our institutions with a culture which is both medieval and inimical to individual freedom.

We are not alone in this fight, there are other nations fighting beside us who see the threat and, more importantly, understand the threat. Perhaps, in some cases, better than the American public understands the threat. All that being said, look around, does it look like or feel like we're at war?

Why no Sarge, no it doesn't.

Unless of course you are on active duty. Or know (and care about) someone who is on active duty. Then the threat of deployment, possible combat, possible injury or death is very real. Yup, sure feels like a war when you're on the ground at the "Two way shooting range" (as Alemaster so eloquently put it). Or when you're watching your kid (or someone else's kid for that matter) head out to far away places where the skies ain't so friendly and the locals might try and kill you, given the chance.

While I don't think we should all be wearing sack cloth and using our ration books to buy necessaries (think WWII, when many things were rationed to support the war effort), you'd think we could try and remember. While this isn't that kind of war, yet, it could go that far. The Russians aren't throwing their weight around in the Baltic for the fun which is in it. (Or bullying Ukraine.) Nor are the Red Chinese building islands on reefs to support fisheries. Nope, those are both aggressive and (semi-)hostile societies. If we're perceived as weak...

Yup, too late on that one!

Don't get me started on what's happening in the Middle East. Do you think for a minute that if (when?) enough of them show up as refugees (already happening in Europe) that they won't start demanding sharia courts (think the UK, already happening there) and taking to the streets in violent protests should they be denied?

Think "fifth column," it's already in place overseas. Don't think it can't happen here. If people don't care, it can and will happen.

Not at war?

Think again...

We've been at war for a very long time. Only the G.I.s seem to remember...

Hostages taken at U.S. Embassy in Tehran - 1979, perpetrated by Iranian revolutionaries.

Bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, 1983 - perpetrated by Hezbollah
  • 62 dead (17 of whom were American)
  • 120 wounded 
Bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, 1983 - perpetrated by Iran?
  • 5 dead
  • 86 wounded
Attack on the Marine Barracks, Beirut, Lebanon, 1983 - perpetrated by Hezbollah
  • 305 dead (220 U.S. Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers; 58 French paratroopers; six civilians)
  • 75 wounded
Kidnapping and murder of CIA Station Chief William Buckley, Beirut, Lebanon, 1984 - perpetrated by Hezbollah?

United States embassy annex bombing, Beirut, Lebanon, 1984 - perpetrated by Hezbollah
  • 23 Dead (2 American dead, one soldier. one sailor)
USS Stark, Persian Gulf, 1987 - A single Iraqi fighter aircraft, firing one Exocet
  • 37 dead
  • 21 wounded
The First World Trade Center Bombing 1993 - perpetrated by al Qaeda
  • 6 Dead
  • 1042 non-fatal injured
USS Cole 2000 - perpetrated by al Qaeda
  • 17 dead
  • 39 wounded
The 9/11 attacks - perpetrated by al Qaeda
  • 2977 dead
  • 6000+ non-fatal injured
(FWIW- none of those numbers above include the assholes who perpetrated the attacks.)

Not to mention the many aircraft hijackings. One cruise ship. The Berlin disco bombing. Not at war?

Guess again.