Dec 31 2014

Sayonara 2014

And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

As years go,  2014 was not really a good one for me. I won't be sorry to see it go. It started living under the burden of a poorly thought out merger at work, engineered by a psychopath- who, regrettably will probably try to resurrect the same stupid idea later on in 2015. It also started with a New Years trip to Lisbon that saw me get sick as a dog-not exactly what I had in mind when I checked into the Palace Hotel in Estoril. It was kind of a harbinger of things to come, now that I can look at it in hindsight.

Fortunately for me, in May, the horrible merger was undone when the powers that be finally recognized what a hideous thing they had done. However, enough damage had been done that it cast a pall over the rest of the year and made work, well not miserable, but not fun either.

On the personal front too it was a lousy year. I basically had to come to grips with the fact that my dream of getting back to Japan to live and work will never come to pass. And that's a painful thing to have to accept. I was able to spend 10 days in Tokyo in September, but all that really did was remind me how much I really miss living in Asia. But economic realities are realities and at my age finding a job over there that will support the level of income I need to maintain….just …..isn't ….going to happen. frown

Then again, I tell myself things could be worse, a lot worse. I am healthy, more or less, and I am not enduring the mind numbing, soul crushing existence of living in a suburb of an American city. And I got to travel enough this past year to cement my Platinum status and have me zero in on the million mile threshold this year. God willing I will get to travel as much as I did last year, this year.

The SO is, well she is the SO. She hasn't yet grasped that she needs to provide things I need and she has yet to realize she is not going to be able to change me, no matter how hard she tries. But she is working and making money now and she still keeps a clean house. So there is that. For a guy like me who needs physical passion and lots of sex in his life, however, that's not quite doing it. So that is yet more thing I have to come to grips with.

But as I said, things could be worse and for that I will remain always thankful. I can pay my bills and credit cards still enable most of the things I want, so I prefer then, to end the year on an optimistic note.

Here is to hoping the New Year is a better year. For all of us.

Happy New Year.

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Let's see if we can cheer this little expat up, shall we?

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Dec 30 2014

The tragedy of the American Military

James Fallow's of The Atlantic magazine has written a must read, thought provoking article, on the current state of civil-military relations. It is a long read, but it is well worth your time. In it, he highlights the real hypocrisy of a country that fawns over its military to the point of idolatry, yet allows its elected leadership to condemn them to unending and repetitive deployments and wars that accomplish nothing in the national interest, get a lot of fine young men killed and wounded for nothing, and insulates itself from understanding the true cost of the wars they so cavalierly cheerlead.

Outsiders treat [the US military] both too reverently and too cavalierly, as if regarding its members as heroes makes up for committing them to unending, unwinnable missions and denying them anything like the political mindshare we give to other major public undertakings, from medical care to public education to environmental rules. The tone and level of public debate on those issues is hardly encouraging. But for democracies, messy debates are less damaging in the long run than letting important functions run on autopilot, as our military essentially does now. A chickenhawk nation is more likely to keep going to war, and to keep losing, than one that wrestles with long-term questions of effectiveness.

In the body of the article he highlights what many in the military will private admit, and is a subject I have written about many times here; the fact that a lot of the military's problems are not caused by its political leadership-its self induced pain that comes from some very flawed policies by the perfumed princes that now inhabit the 3 and 4 star ranks of the services. This is especially true in the area of acquisition, which can't seem to buy anything efficiently and where warfighters are treated as persona non grata. Instead we see people who have been the acquisition community their entire careers ( like a certain director of a major DOD agency a couple of years ago) who could not lead or for that matter purchase anything either.

America’s distance from the military makes the country too willing to go to war, and too callous about the damage warfare inflicts. This distance also means that we spend too much money on the military and we spend it stupidly, thereby shortchanging many of the functions that make the most difference to the welfare of the troops and their success in combat. We buy weapons that have less to do with battlefield realities than with our unending faith that advanced technology will ensure victory, and with the economic interests and political influence of contractors. This leaves us with expensive and delicate high-tech white elephants, while unglamorous but essential tools, from infantry rifles to armored personnel carriers, too often fail our troops.

At this point the letters, LCS, should be coming into your mind. Fallows picks on the F-35 which is a fine target, but in reality all of the services have their own boneheaded procurement decisions and the Navy is no exception. The American people no longer look at their military in an objective vein, recognizing both its successes and flaws-and even worse, personnel within the military seem all too willing to buy into their own hype holding themselves out as supermen who are above the level of the civilians they so ably serve. One has only to go some of the major military blogs and read the swill that passes for a comment section. Besides making you despair about the mental ability of a certain segment of the human race, it proves the incongruity that one of Fallows' readers quite accurately pointed out. They rail with fervor about issues they know nothing about.

I am an [post-Vietnam era] West Point grad. Resigned after 5 years.

Your article is spot on. I often wonder what the rest of the world thinks of us when at each major sporting event, we have fly overs of fighter planes, B-52s, Apache helicopters and legions of troops getting awards at halftime.

I see in my classmates a total divorce from civilian reality. They live in a rarefied world where they are the only ones who are honest, law abiding, and religious.

They totally disdain social welfare programs as they receive health benefits to death, commissary privileges, and pensions. In their view, civilians are not worthy of these programs.

It is a dangerous slope we are on where we worship the troops, have no clue what they do, or why, and as along as we don't need to know, we are happy.

I hope your article stirs discussion. I fear it won't. The coup may in fact be coming.

 The incongruity, and to put it bluntly, hypocrisy,  of those who are vocally speaking out against other people having benefits that improve their lives, while at the same time enjoying some of the best benefits available from any employer is indeed rich. But don't try telling them that-they are special people. Don't you know that? So long as you agree with them, that is. Others of us, who served longer and equally as well but have arrived at different conclusions-get cast out into the outer darkness.

It's a dangerous phenomenon, and the ideas of people like John Nagl who defend the idea of a "Praetorian Guard" are troubling to me. Nagl thinks that because the troops "know what they are signing up for……..They are proud to do it, and in exchange they expect a reasonable living, and pensions and health care if they are hurt or fall sick. The American public is completely willing to let this professional class of volunteers serve where they should, for wise purpose. This gives the president much greater freedom of action to make decisions in the national interest, with troops who will salute sharply and do what needs to be done.”

You should be very afraid when you hear that-at least if you believe in the concept of a democracy that serves the citizens of the country. Too much history shows us where this can lead if we are not careful. Cue Fallows again:

I like and respect Nagl, but I completely disagree. As we’ve seen, public inattention to the military, born of having no direct interest in what happens to it, has allowed both strategic and institutional problems to fester.

“A people untouched (or seemingly untouched) by war are far less likely to care about it,” Andrew Bacevich wrote in 2012. Bacevich himself fought in Vietnam; his son was killed in Iraq. “Persuaded that they have no skin in the game, they will permit the state to do whatever it wishes to do.”

Shall I remind you of the things that "have needed to be done" that have been done in your name, like torture and warrantless wiretapping? Just a couple in a long list of abuses aided and abetted by the members of that "Praetorian Guard". The problem of the civil- military disconnect is real and dangerous.

In the end of the article, Fallows turns to the recommendations in a never before published memo from Gary Hart which is also worth your time to read.  I will comment on those in a post after the first of the new year.

Many of you will not like Fallows term "chicken hawk"-but he's right on the mark in my humble opinion. The United States wasted the first 15 years of the new century going down foreign policy ratholes. And big part of that is because the American people are insulated from the sacrifices and the true costs of the policies they casually cheerlead. Fallows is doing a national service in pointing that out and I applaud him for it.

For the first time in the nation’s history, America has a permanent military establishment large enough to shape our dealings in the world and seriously influence our economy. Yet the Americans in that military, during what Dunlap calls the “maturing years of the volunteer force,” are few enough in number not to seem representative of the country they defend.

“It’s becoming increasingly tribal,” Dunlap says of the at-war force in our chickenhawk nation, “in the sense that more and more people in the military are coming from smaller and smaller groups. It’s become a family tradition, in a way that’s at odds with how we want to think a democracy spreads the burden.”

4 responses so far

Dec 25 2014

Merry Christmas!

Published by under Uncategorized

Greetings from snowless Stuttgart.

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Dec 24 2014

Jim Webb for President?

Published by under Politics

One could only hope. I have been a Webb fan for a long time in both political parties. Not just because he was on the right side of the "women at the Academy" debate in 1979-but because he has criticized well, the rather boneheaded decisions we have made in recent years.

The Washington Post speculates how Webb could make Hillary Clinton's life difficult:

WASHINGTON — THE conventional wisdom is that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be almost impossible to dislodge from the Democratic presidential nomination and that even if she does encounter some hiccups, they will come from her left flank on economic policy. But if Mrs. Clinton runs, she may face a serious and very different threat: her own foreign policy record. While she can pretty much split the difference with any primary opponents on economic policy, the divisions over foreign affairs could be a lot harder to paper over for Mrs. Clinton, who has been tacking to the right on Iran, Syria and Russia in anticipation of Republican assaults during the general election.

This is why it isn’t really the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren who should worry the Clinton camp. It’s the former Virginia senator Jim Webb, a Vietnam War hero, former secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, novelist and opponent of endless wars in the Middle East. Late last month, Mr. Webb formed an exploratory committee. “He’s a very long shot,” Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “He has to become a serious candidate. At that point she would find him much more complex than dealing with liberals. He’s not a liberal, but a lot of what he says might appeal to liberals. He does not get carried away by humanitarian intervention.”

One response so far

Dec 23 2014

It is time for the airing of the grievances.

It is the 23rd of December and we all know what that means. It's time to break out the Festivus pole.

And it is time to break out the airing of the grievances.

 

 

 

And let me tell you, this year I have lots of them. With a lot of people. One reason I am not able to blog much anymore, besides the hectic schedule I am now keeping is that underneath it all, emotionally, I am tired. I am tired of what passes for knowledge in the blogosphere-such as it is-these days.

Take this complete bit of mental stupidity from the Phibian. He is referring to Barak Obama and a completely flawed push poll done by Navy Times

He threw away what we won in IRQ, it slowly back filling that mistake and is doing the same in AFG after a half decade of advertising retreat … so yea.
 

It is a tired old trope, and worse yet, there is no truth to it whatsoever. Phibian continues to defend our misadventures in these two particular hell holes-and this is spite of the rather significant shift in opinion by the folks who were charged with executing both of these mistaken foreign policy adventures. Let's be clear, the war in Iraq was a huge mistake and the only people who "threw any thing away" was the Iraqi people themselves. As I said, any other viewpoint is just plain wrong and should be meet by a cheery, "fuck you". Same is true in Afghanistan.  "Ultimately it's up to the Iraqis as a sovereign nation to solve their problems," [President Obama] said, "We can't do it for them."

Now that does not excuse us from the horrendous mistakes we made-most important of which was starting the damn war in the first place.

The view of the Iraq hawks – from liberal interventionists, such as his former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, to neo-conservatives, such as his former Republican presidential opponent John McCain – is that the US and its principal allies Britain and Australia bear little or no responsibility for the disaster unfolding across Iraq.

In their eyes, it is Obama's fault for either failing to intervene in the Syrian civil war in 2011-13 or withdrawing US troops from Iraq in late 2011.

It is argued that by failing to authorize air strikes on Damascus and arm the rebellion against Assad's regime during the early stages of Syria's civil war, the administration created a strategic void for the extremist Islamists to exploit ruthlessly. Meanwhile, the "premature" decision to pull US forces out of Baghdad helped scuttle the semblance of sectarian peace that the Americans had brokered following the president Bush's surge of US troops in Baghdad in 2007.

Both accounts are wrong.

Start with the latter. It is true that the end of the American presence in Iraq nearly three years ago helped remove all that was keeping the sectarian rivals in check. But it is also true that the Bush administration in October 2008 pledged to withdraw all US troops by the end of 2011.

Remember, too, that during lengthy negotiations on keeping US forces engaged in Baghdad, the Iraqi government – representing a clear majority of Iraqis (not to mention its sponsors in Tehran) – demanded all remaining Americans would be subject to Iraqi law. This refusal to provide the same kind of guarantees that every nation offers to residual US forces was a condition to which no US government would agree.  

Moreover, the president's withdrawal of US troops from a widely unpopular war by the end of 2011 fulfilled an election mandate. To this day, a clear majority of Americans don't think the original decision to invade was worth it, nor do they support a major intervention today.

Phib, being a surgeaholic, wants desperately to cling to the myth that decision to invade Iraq actually achieved anything worthwhile. Unfortunately, the body of evidence-and,  regrettably the loss of 4, 486 American lives for nothing-tells us otherwise.

Which leads us to his snarky analysis of the poll. It is probably true that by and large the military would prefer a more conservative President. But his summation that the troops loved Bush and hate Obama, is not supported by the facts-or the details of the Navy Times poll. By and large many troops ( and there is a big difference by age and time in service) support his policies , even if they don't support the man. Furthermore, Bush may have talked a good game about how much he loved the troops-but in truth his decisions were bad for the military and no amount of rose colored thinking can change that.  Certainly it is not loving the troops when you squander a lot of lives. The most accurate data we have are on U.S. military casualties: 6,648 service members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan to date, a large majority of the deaths occurring under Bush's presidency. So spare me the "Bush cared, Obama doesn't" nonsense. When you send people to die for nothing, you are an uncaring, unfeeling,  son of a bitch. And that's what Bush did overall. He squandered the first 8 years of the 21st century.

What Phibian's post and more importantly the Navy Times poll does do is allow the service members to avoid blaming the real source of most of their problems, the uniformed leadership itself, from the consequences of some pretty bad decisions. If you read the comments on the post-for the most part they back up what I am saying ( as well as make you despair of the humanity of these people)-they can't bring themselves to talk in facts and numbers, just tired old tropes that were proven false a long time ago.

Furthermore, the military tends to grade itself on a curve as LTG Bolger pointed out, holding a higher opinion of it self than is probably warranted. Its a special kind of conceit and stupidity to think that simply, had a Republican been in office, things would be better for the military. Given the current state of the economy and the currently stated economic policies of the current front runners in the GOP it would have been equally as bad. But they would have certainly been deployed more and more of them would be dead. For nothing.

For me, that's the only thing that matters. Obama has brought our senseless participation in Iraq and Afghanistan to an end. That's what I elected him to do and that's what he did. Too fucking bad if Navy Times readers don't like it. And trust me-a lot of people still don't love George Bush either. Thus endeth the rant for today.

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Dec 19 2014

It is the Friday before Christmas.

Published by under Beer and Babes

Which means it is time to have fun. It is time to drink beer.

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And then think about unwrapping presents!

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Have a good weekend.

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Dec 17 2014

Turns out I was right all along……

I have been saving my comment on the revelations of last week for a while. I wanted to think through my thoughts and also to read other peoples take on them. Probably what is most disturbing out of all the reactions are the statements from the really callous people who actual support the practice of torturing people. Of course Dick Cheney is unrepentant, that’s to be expected. As Jon Stewart quipped: “Dick Cheney is so mean, his own heart ran away from him.”  What’s truly depressing for me though, is to hear the ringing endorsements of the practice from the same people who will lecture me again and again on how the United States of America is “exceptional”.

I went back and looked through some of my old posts and I found one I wrote in June of 2008 right after the Supreme Court ruled that the US had to bring charges against GTMO detainees. At the time, the denizens of the zoo known as Lex’s commenting section went positively berserk at the notion that the United States should somehow have to abide by its own laws, if it is to have any credibility in the world.  I wrote this paragraph.

The contention that the prisoners in GTMO have no rights because they are persons without status, so called “unlawful combatants” is weak. If they have no rights why bother to bring them to GTMO? Shoot them on sight. We don’t do that because we want to show ourselves to the world as being above that type of brute force justice and in so doing prove ourselves better than those we fight-and who attacked the US in 2001. The people coming unglued because the Supreme Court agreed with that premise hang that whole thread on the fact that they are not worthy of legal considerations because they are not fighting on behalf of a state.

And they call me naive? GTMO as currently set up makes for bad law and for bad PR. Given that we claim we have extracted lots of intel from these guys-then we have probably more than enough evidence to convict-the argument that it will expose intelligence is just flawed from the start, we have ways to get that out with selling the farm. The situation at GTMO makes a hell of a publicity problem even with our allies. Even if people are not being tortured there, a significant portion of the world believes they are-and so our moral authority is undermined, even with those who agree with us. Furthermore when exposed to deep scrutiny-most of the claims that valuable intel has been compromised in terrorist trials has later been proven to be a false claim.

I wrote that back in June of 2008. Now, six and one half years later it has become readily apparent how right I was then. And it convinces me even more that I was right to condemn the reactionary positions then and take the side of those who criticize our actions now.

Consider how much damage we have done to ourselves and our arguments that we are of a higher “moral authority”.

In a civilized society, there really would be no debate over this. And before 9/11, there wasn’t. Ever since, this country has slid and then fallen out of the civilized world and out of the core American traditions of humanity and legal warfare. Krauthammer can be seen as emblematic of that slide – someone whose early abhorrence at torture and defense of it only in its mildest and rarest forms has slowly succumbed to a full-fledged defense of a program that violated every rule he said should be in place to protect us from the abyss. This is not surprising. When you start to torture, the sheer evil of what you are doing requires that you believe ever more in its value. You can never admit error, because it would mean you have committed crimes against humanity without even the defense of acquiring any useful intelligence. You are revealed as monsters – and you cannot accept that of yourself or of those you know. And so you insist – with ever-rising certainty – that the torture worked – even though that’s irrelevant as a matter of morality and of law, and even though your own internal documents prove that it didn’t.

And so you become the monster you were supposed to be fighting. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

One final point too. The people who have seized upon the idea that Diane Feinstein was some sort of renegade who had no business publishing the report is itself, a flawed conclusion. The report need to be published for one reason-the US needs to start the process of recognizing its complicity and guilt in the shameful episode in our history.

The torture report is simply the latest and most graphic incarnation of an existential leadership crisis that has eaten through Washington’s moral authority and ability to govern, in the way road salt and rust eat through car mufflers in a Buffalo winter. “America is great because she is good,” wrote Tocqueville back in the day. “If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” We’ve got a lot of explaining to do, not just to the rest of the world but to ourselves. How much longer will we countenance the post-9/11 national security state, which Edward Snowden’s ongoing revelations remind us are constantly mutating into new forms and outrages?

 

3 responses so far

Dec 14 2014

Christmas Market

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

It's been two weeks since I have been back-and I have been busy. Spent the first week of this month in Colorado Springs on yet a another working trip that will not be adequately rewarded.  Its like a stuck record-the morons just don't get it.

And this week-well the less said about it the better.

But we did get to go and visit the Stuttgart Christmas market which happens to be ranked as one of the best in Germany. ( I'm not so sure-but it is big).

So here are pictures for your viewing pleasure" (click to see properly)

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Stuttgart's claim to fame is that it has large decorations on top of each booth:

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And few others:

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The City Hall at night:

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Walking down the rows and rows of booths:

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And some close up shots of the decorations:

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Anybody need a hat?

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One response so far

Nov 26 2014

The Hagel mess……

Listen up boys and girls, because contrary to the opinion of some ( and you know you are), I can , in fact, be critical of the President of the United States. And today is a good day to be critical of Mr. Obama, since just two days ago-he made a rather large blunder:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned under pressure on Monday after President Obama determined that he had to shake up his national security team in the face of escalating conflicts overseas and hawkish Republicans reasserting themselves on Capitol Hill.

It was a striking reversal for a president who chose Mr. Hagel two years ago in part to limit the power of Pentagon officials who had repeatedly pushed for more troops in Afghanistan and a slower drawdown of American forces from Iraq. But in the end, Mr. Hagel’s passivity and lack of support in Mr. Obama’s inner circle proved too much for an administration that found itself back on a war footing.

Aides said Mr. Obama made the decision to remove his defense secretary on Friday after weeks of rising tension over a variety of issues, including what administration officials said were Mr. Hagel’s delays in transferring detainees from the military prison in Guantánamo Bay and a dispute with Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, over Syria policy.

This is to put it as nicely as I can and to paraphrase Joe Biden, is "a big fucking mistake".

Lets start with the fact that, after the mid-terms where your party took a thumping in the mid-terms, it is a huge proclamation of weakness to chuck your SECDEF overboard and head into a new Congress spoiling for now 2, not 1 nasty confirmation fights. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Hagel could not seem to win. He has been both condemned as being too hawkish and not hawkish enough. Which is it? Plus how about acknowledging that protracted wars in the Middle East are an express ticket to nowhere.

 He was never a good fit as defense secretary, a fact that White House officials have belatedly discovered.But if those White House aides really want to know who to blame for recent stumbles in national security, they should look in the mirror. This administration's problems begin with its packing the White House staff with Hill rats and political hacks-one of the least intellectually diverse groups ever to lead the executive branch. They think the problem is what they say, not what they do. They are wrong. 

Meantime, there is going also to be a new head of the House Armed Services Committee. This doesn't matter. Congress has failed to ask serious questions about defense for the last 15 years or so. So reporters writing about the two Armed Services committees, please feel free to use your time more wisely. Here is a link for that.

 

Firing Hagel is not a solution, it is a symptom of a bigger problem-namely an inability to :1) communicate a strategy and get people behind it and 2) understand that the biggest threats to the US are not in the Middle East or from ISIS, they are from the guys who spent the last years sitting out the conflicts in the Middle East and getting stronger in the meantime. That's right. The Bear and the Dragon are still not our friends. The Grey Hair did not recognize it, and I am afraid the current White House does not either. And its just not smart not to have a relief lined up right away. Even when Rumsfeld went away-they already had Gates on tap. Doubly stupid.  Not that I am a fan of Flournoy because I am not. Mainly because she never served in uniform and that is an automatic disqualification as far as I am concerned.  It is troubling that the President has some good former flags that could be tapped. ( Stavirdis or Mattis come to mind)-but then we get back to that problem of too much stuff not being delegated down to Cabinet heads.

And thus we get this:

 

I have already pointed out how President Barack Obama's decision to replace Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel differs from the superficially similar decision by President George W. Bush to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2006: Bush coupled the personnel shift with a thoroughgoing self-assessment and a resulting strategic shift. Bush's move was not just a change in personalities but a change in direction. (Bush also made other crucial personnel changes, most notably selecting General David Petraeus to lead the Iraq war effort, whereas the Obama administration has gone to some lengths to emphasize that there will be no other personnel changes on the national security team.)

Yet Obama's current personnel shuffle is different in another way that could prove almost as consequential: evidently President Obama fired Hagel without having a replacement lined up. When President Bush announced Rumsfeld's departure, he announced the nomination of Bob Gates at the same time. Obama has not yet named the replacement, and two of the most obvious front-runners, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Sen. Jack Reed, have already pulled their names out of contention. The failure to nominate someone is not necessarily proof that the talent pool is shallow, but it is proof that the removal of Hagel was poorly planned and not well coordinated.

 

This a self created mess and it is a bad way to start 2015. GRRRRR!

One response so far

Nov 23 2014

And we are back…….

Published by under Travel

Back yesterday from a very busy week in Tel Aviv. Experienced at least one or two near death experiences on the Ayalon Expressway-where I expect it, and one in a place where I did not expect it at all. There was a lot of tension due to the murders in Jerusalem at the Synagogue. So much so, my plans to visit Jerusalem had to be scrubbed when my employer placed the Old City off limits. Which was indeed a disappointment.

And then there was that one night in Mike's bar on the beach, when this happened:

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Seems some patron finished his beer, grabbed his keys and walked out to the car-and then promptly put it in reverse and gunned the gas. The beer had nothing to do with that I am sure. (sic).

Inside the place felt like a bomb had gone off-it made a really loud noise. since Mike's has been the recipient of a terrorist attack-the idea of it being a bomb is not out of the realm of possibility. Its lucky there were not other people on the other side of the window.

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Mike's being Mike's-they pressed on and continued to sell drinks. IN fact by the end of the week I was there-they had the damage repaired. As for what happened to the driver-I have no idea.

Tomorrow it is back to the normal grind again.

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Nov 14 2014

An explanation of Net Neutrality anyone can understand.

Published by under Assholes,Fun things!

America's dumbest Senator distinguished himself the other day by tweeting this:

CruzNetNuetrality_tweet
 

Thanks a lot dickhead! By tweeting this, you proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that you know nothing about health care OR Net Neutrality. Any one who is buying the latest Fox News BS about the issue-clearly does not understand the issue.


So, as a Public Service-the American Porn Industry came to the rescue. Explaining Net Neutrality in a way even Ted Cruz can understand.

 

Porn Stars Explain Net Neutrality from Alex Chance

8 responses so far

Nov 12 2014

But I thought we lost the war during Obama’s West Point speech?

LTG Daniel Bolger (Citadel Class of 1978) has a very good book out chronicling the truth that a whole lot of people don't want to admit. For them, the wars were lost when the President of the United States decided to :1) not hang US troops out to dry with a worthless Iraqi government when they refused to negotiate on a SOFA treaty and 2) the day Obama gave a speech at West Point that acknowledged what many Americans already knew-that there was a limit to how much we could do for people who over the last 8 years had proven themselves completely worthless and unworthy of the sacrifices being made  on their behalf. And that a lot of Americans were sick of it.

Fortunately for us, there are some military professionals, who actually fought in the war, who know better:

As a senior commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, I lost 80 soldiers. Despite their sacrifices, and those of thousands more, all we have to show for it are two failed wars. This fact eats at me every day, and Veterans Day is tougher than most.

As veterans, we tell ourselves it was all worth it. The grim butchery of war hovers out of sight and out of mind, an unwelcome guest at the dignified ceremonies. Instead, we talk of devotion to duty and noble sacrifice. We salute the soldiers at Omaha Beach, the sailors at Leyte Gulf, the airmen in the skies over Berlin and the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir, and we’re not wrong to do so. The military thrives on tales of valor. In our volunteer armed forces, such stirring examples keep bringing young men and women through the recruiters’ door. As we used to say in the First Cavalry Division, they want to “live the legend.” In the military, we love our legends.

Here’s a legend that’s going around these days. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and toppled a dictator. We botched the follow-through, and a vicious insurgency erupted. Four years later, we surged in fresh troops, adopted improved counterinsurgency tactics and won the war. And then dithering American politicians squandered the gains. It’s a compelling story. But it’s just that — a story.  (Emphasis mine-SS)

 

 

Clearly this will get many "surgeaholics" riled up. Devotees of the theory of ever continuing warfare, and of never blaming the people of Iraq or Afghanistan themselves for the mistakes they made,  just does not fit the narrative. Troublesome facts are not the things they wish to hear:

We did not understand the enemy, a guerrilla network embedded in a quarrelsome, suspicious civilian population. We didn’t understand our own forces, which are built for rapid, decisive conventional operations, not lingering, ill-defined counterinsurgencies. We’re made for Desert Storm, not Vietnam. As a general, I got it wrong. Like my peers, I argued to stay the course, to persist and persist, to “clear/hold/build” even as the “hold” stage stretched for months, and then years, with decades beckoning. We backed ourselves season by season into a long-term counterinsurgency in Iraq, then compounded it by doing likewise in Afghanistan. The American people had never signed up for that. What went wrong in Iraq and in Afghanistan isn’t the stuff of legend. It won’t bring people into the recruiting office, or make for good speeches on Veterans Day. Reserve those honors for the brave men and women who bear the burdens of combat. That said, those who served deserve an accounting from the generals. What happened? How? And, especially, why? It has to be a public assessment, nonpartisan and not left to the military. (We tend to grade ourselves on the curve.) Something along the lines of the 9/11 Commission is in order. We owe that to our veterans and our fellow citizens

Reviews for Bolger's book, Why We Lost, are mixed-I agree with his conclusion- while I agree also with those who think he doesn't place enough strategic blame with our top level civilian leadership. Furthermore, its clear he thinks we had to invade-and that is a conclusion that is not borne out by history. The invasion of Iraq is the biggest Foreign Policy mistake in the last 30 years. Nonetheless he gives an objective and necessary telling of how we far exceeded our original needs and objectives after 9-11 and plunged into a global rat hole. That alone makes it worth the read.

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Nov 09 2014

Time to detox

Published by under The Citadel

Well the reunion has come to an end. A good group of guys made it from my company-and from the Corps in general. On Thursday there was a cigar and scotch social at the Yacht club that was marvelous. I was supposed to play golf on Friday-but events took a different path. Here is why:

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On the morning after I got here-I went for a run. Was cruising along OK, coming down Calhoun street with the intention of hanging a right at Marion Square and heading down to the Battery. When all of a sudden, I tripped and went skidding across the concrete. My left and right hands were bleeding, my chest was scarred up and my elbows had a couple of nasty scars too. Thought I would just shake it off and keep going. After about 4 blocks-realized my hand hurt like hell. Fearing I had broken something, and knowing I had gone past an ER, I reversed course and headed back to the ER. I did not break anything-but the left hand was sprained. The next morning I had a very nasty bruise to show off.

So much for golf.

It worked out well though. Met lots of great friends, saw the place that I started in, and we told the same old lies to each other. It is always amazing to me how I can meet these guys after five years-and pick up as if we had seen each other yesterday. 

Pictures to follow.

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Nov 04 2014

The pilgrimage

Greetings from Frankfurt airport! I am at the beginning of my every 5 year pilgrimage, wherein I return to the sacred soil in Charleston South Carolina. There to contemplate the journey that life took me on since departing Lesesne Gate for the last time as a cadet. To savor the joys of seeing friends again and to feel the sting of all the dreams you had that were later denied you. In their faces, those dreams appear and taunt you. It is at one and the same time a joyous few days and among the most bittersweet of my existence.

Reunions are a time of mixed emotions for me. For one thing, over time, my ardor for my alma mater has faded what it once was. I can no longer answer "yes" to the question, would I have done it again, knowing what I know now, if could go back and do it again? Probably, but then again, possibly not. In the long view of hindsight, and the path that I know,  a different background life might have taken me to. Then again, one can say that about pretty much any experience in life, and my time at the Citadel prepared me well for the travails and joys that followed me through the curving path that has brought me to this airport lounge today.

I have a resolve to remain more quiet than outspoken this reunion, how well I stick to it, is something that remains to be seen. For one thing, it will be hard enough seeing some of the classmates, who by now are clearly what society terms " successful". 8 of my classmates became generals, (none of us became Admirals, although we do have one or two SES's, folks who connived that after leaving active duty), many who run their own companies, a successful newscaster on a major broadcast network and even two successful authors. And then there is me. Well traveled to be sure, literate and well informed beyond compare, but hardly what any would call, "successful" whatever the f*ck that means.

It is also through the lens of hindsight, that I have come to realize that many of the "facts" I was taught, but not the ideals, were just plain wrong when examined in the real world. My view of these has changed dramatically and I count for loss many of the things I used to believe were bedrock truth. I like to think it is the ideals that were instilled by the institution in me, but even that too may be a flawed interpretation of the situation. I just know its been a long journey and I am thankful I am where I am now, politically, philosophically, and mentally. To think were I could have been on my trajectory out of that gate makes me shudder.

So it seems, to be the (sort of) quiet observer is the way to go through the weekend. Wishing all well, remembering well those who will never make another reunion and giving thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Things could be a hell of a lot worse, and I would be well to remember that.

If you are in the whining states of America today, be sure to vote. It is your right, hard earned, even if some of you will squander it on fools.

10 years ago this week, I was again traveling to a reunion-having turned in miles to fly first class on ANA, NRT to IAD. First Class on ANA does not suck, but it was hardly the flat bed seat world we see now. Still it got me to DC all right where I had decided to break my journey thinking it would be cool to see an election from the standpoint of being in the nation's capital. It was made all the more edgy in my humble opinion because it was one of the first times I had voted against the GOP candidate, this vote being driven by my then and still current revulsion at the disaster that man had unleashed with his egregiously stupid invasion of Iraq. I ended the evening in a bar in Alexandria, awaiting them to call the results of Ohio-which would determine the election. Ohio goes Democratic, Kerry wins. If it goes Republican, the grey hair wins and we get four more years of war.

Well, you all know how that turned out, and the present gloomy world rose up to plague us all. The crowd in the bar was pretty evenly split so it was some interesting people watching, but the tea party had not been developed yet and the GOP had not yet descended into its current insanity, so the conversation over beer was reasonably civil.

I expect I will have reason to drink heavily tonight because the wrong side will win-but at least I will do it in my favorite world. That of the traveling man. Have a great day….AND VOTE!

 

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Nov 03 2014

Again it comes down to how many bother to show up

Published by under Hypocrites,Politics

Tomorrow is election day in the United States. Since I will be on my 5 year pilgrimage to the sacred soil in Charleston, I have already submitted my ballot via absentee. Fat lot of good it will do me, since my Senator is running unopposed ( thank you Citizens United and the inability of the state to have a two party system anymore). My worthless excuse for a Congressman is going to win in a walk thanks to his continuous sucking up to the demented folks in the tea party and and the governor has ensured that only he will be the guy to vote for in the election. This is what passes for constitutional governance in parts of the South today.  ( Meanwhile in New York, the GOP incumbent is under indictment, but is expected to win anyway).

Regardless,  be sure to vote. If nothing else it gives you a right to bitch.

By all odds the GOP will take control of the Senate which means the prediction I made way back in April of this year will start coming true. it ought to be a fun time to be one of the 10-15% of American citizenry that actually is sane and understands that the world we live in is changing. Sadly most of us understood too that the country was killing itself slowly a long time ago and began exploring other options.

But, for those of you stuck in the whining states of America next year ( as I may in fact be as well-at least for a couple of years) here is preview of the fun and games ahead:

In Kansas recently, Republican Senator Pat Roberts, who’s in a tough race for reelection, made a statement that left me puzzled. “A vote for me is a vote to change the Senate back to a Republican majority, and we’ll get things done,” he said. “And it means a stop to the Obama agenda.”

Wait a minute, I thought. Which is it—ending the status quo of Washington gridlock? Or ratcheting up the gridlock by obstructing President Obama? You can't "get things done" in Washington without the president's signature, and no matter what happens in this year's elections, he's not going anywhere for another two years.

Yet these two seemingly contradictory messages are at the heart of Republican Senate campaigns across the country. I’ve heard them from candidate after candidate. And the paradox behind them gets to the question political watchers are increasingly pondering: If, as seems likely, Republicans take the Senate, what then? Will the GOP see its takeover as a mandate for ever more extreme partisanship? Or will the party suddenly turn conciliatory, ushering in a new age of progress? A new Republican Senate majority will put the party at a crossroads as it tries to reconcile these two competing promises.

 

 

I'm a total pessimist-I expect a war of vetoes and override battles to ensue and nothing will get done in 2015. I fully expect to be victimized by another government shut down, and my stocks to take a beating when we default on bond obligations.  There are those who think things may be different, I think they are fools:

But with control of both houses of Congress, Republicans would be on the hook for Congress’s actions. They alone would get the blame if Congress remained dysfunctional—and they alone could claim credit if Congress actually passed bills with popular support. If Republicans passed such moderate, constructive legislation, Obama would be hard pressed to simply veto everything they put on his desk.

And of course we can never underestimate the desire to go "legacy shopping" on the part of Obama. " What scares me also is what Obama will agree to".

At least in the abstract, however, there are a number of bills a Republican majority could pass that Obama would agree to sign. Obama—the real Obama, not the left-wing warrior of conservative fever dreams—loves the idea of bipartisanship and has been frustrated by a GOP he sees as unwilling to come to the table. He has agreed in principle, in the past, to ideas like the grand bargain, which his base loathes. Liberals also suspect Obama is willing to allow the Keystone pipeline, a decision on which he has delayed in the face of intense pressure from environmentalists. Most liberals contemplating a GOP Senate majority have focused their preemptive ire on the image of a vengeful McConnell threatening more brinksmanship and shutdowns. But perhaps it’s the dealmaking McConnell they should fear more.

Some, in fact, are already worried about this. I recently asked a top Democratic strategist why he worried about a Republican Senate takeover when, after all, McConnell would still need Democratic votes to pass legislation and Obama could still block bills with a veto. “What scares me the most,” he said, “is what Obama will agree to."

In the meantime, your country will fall further and further behind in global competition that the rising multi-polar world will create.

This is your democracy America, the one your own stupidity created.

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