Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hole in my pocket

One thing that kinda drives me nuts about my Fellow Americans is the ridiculous luuuurve they have for the U.S. Army (and the other uniformed services) that lives only inside their heads.

This isn't the actual Army, the one with the dudes and gals and hosers, the studs and the spuds, the hard workers and goldbricks, the one that can cut you like a knife and then fall over its own feet like a sack of sawdust. You know...the one that is a bunch of Americans wearing the same colored clothes with all the same virtues and all the same vices you see and hear about on the evening news.

This is some sort of shiny, perfect Army populated by heroes and supermen, driving dinosaur-powered tanks that shoot laser beams from their eyes and have the sorts of powers found typically in comic books. This Army is composed of A-students who were the #1 in their Bible Study class and can deadlift 300 pounds while putting all thirty rounds into a two-inch square 300 meters away on full automatic.

I've never once seen this Army, and I kinda wish I could just to see what it'd be like.

I suspect I'd feel completely inadequate.

Anyway, the real Army managed to lose 6.5 trillion back in FY15.

Not steal. Not spend. Not waste. Just...lose. As in "...the fuck? It was...I know I had it. Where...let me look under the desk. Goddamn it..."

The Inspector General's report lays it out pretty clearly; the Army just flat-out has no idea where this jack is, or what it did with it. It wasn't criminal, it probably got put to some sort of use, possibly good use...but nobody knows. The accounting at DFAS and the associated Army financial agencies was bad enough that if a private company had done it that badly it'd have gotten its nuts thoroughly rapped by the IRS.

The IG concludes that due to a waterfall of errors and fuckups:
"As a result, the data used to prepare the FY2015 AGF third quarter and yearend financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail. Furthermore, DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions. Until the Army and DFAS Indianapolis correct these control deficiencies, there is considerable risk that AGF financial statements will be materially misstated and the Army will not achieve audit readiness by the congressionally mandated deadline of September 30, 2017."
The really frustrating part of all this is that you'd think, with 6.5 trillion just kind of lost somewhere the Army could have slipped a hardworking old platoon sergeant a couple of casual hundred thou. on the downlow. Y'know? Kind of a "thank you for your service" kinda thing..?

But, noooooo.

The Second Great Pacific War..?

From Future Warfare in the Western Pacific (Biddle and Oelrich, 2016):
"This article thus provides a more systematic assessment of the potential military effectiveness of Chinese A2/AD (anti-access area denial). We ask not whether ASB would be escalatory, but whether it is necessary. That is, to what extent will ongoing technology trends allow either side to deny freedom of movement to the other, and over what area? Will China be able to push U.S. forces far enough from its shores to threaten U.S. alliances? If so, which ones, and how gravely? And what, given this, represents the best military strategy for the United States to adopt for the long term?"
One of the most common complaints I've heard, both here and from other former military types, is that the exclusive concentration of resources on "little war" expeditionary-force and internal defense of client-state governments has left the United States armed forces unable to successfully respond to a peer foe in a conventional war.

Biddle and Oelrich (2016) is an attempt to analyze one element of what may be one of the two potential peer-foe conflicts; a predominantly naval/air war between the United States and its allies against the People's Republic of China (PRC); specifically, what potential does the PRC's pursuit of A2/AD systems - "...missile launchers, command posts, sensors, supply networks, and communication systems..." - have for creating a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" centered around mainland China, one that is robust enough to control the West Pacific rim in the face of a United States assault?

This seems like an interesting enough question to suggest reading the linked paper and discussing in the comments section. So...hopefully you will enjoy the exercise and come in weapons free.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Open Thread



My contributions:


I am not a fan of command rotation.  MacFarland seemed to be doing well.  Why change?



2]  August 24th is the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Dabiq Meadow, which led to the Ottoman annexation of Syria.  The battle was a masterpiece of deception by Selim the first.  It was infamous for the treachery of the Mamluk’s allies.  And the apparent stroke of the Mamluk Sultan in the middle of the battle is a acclamation for General George C Marshall’s insistence that combat commanders have youth and stamina.



3]  The Kurds and Assad’s forces have been fighting in Hasaka City.  Lots of conflicting accounts of what is going on there.  The Americans ’reportedly’ sent in F-22s to keep Assad’s Air Force from repeating their bombing of Kurdish areas.  The Russians ‘reportedly’ negotiated a cease fire between the YPG and Assad’s troops.  But the Kurds are ‘reportedly’ still taking over Syrian government positions.
 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Fourt Estate is Bankrupt


 Are you for or against us
we are trying to get somewhere
--Join the Boys,
Joan Armatrading

Change is avalanching upon our heads
and most people are grotesquely unprepared
to cope with it,
--Future Shock,
Alvin Toffler

Nobody will have to leave home
to go to work or school,
or even stop watching television.
Everybody will sit around all day
punching the keys of computer terminals 
connected to everything there is, 
and sip orange drink through straws 
like the astronauts. 
--Ladies and Gentlemen of 2088,
Kurt Vonnegut

 __________________________

When did we go crazy?

The New York Times asked last week if the press should cover a duly elected presidential candidate in a disinterested way, sans commentary or prefatory disclaimers and disdain with no apparent irony in absurd non-sequitur, Trump is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism,” (when it is THEY who are demolishing the norms.)

I am a stranger in a strange land reading this.

The press should be an institution tasked with collecting and disseminating the news in a thorough and disinterested way; only the editorial side of the house is permitted to make commentary.

When did this outrageous fascistic press arise which arrogates to itself the power to decide what we see and how we see it? Why have we allowed this and -- moreover -- why do we fed greedily at their trough?

August 8 2016 saw the first NYT coverage of Mr. Trump as a candidate with a platform, and not simply a caricature to be derided.

Three days prior, Robert Parry and Andrew Bacevich considered in separate pieces that Trump is actually a candidate, and that the the liberal media entity has failed both us and themselves in its project to discredit the candidate. In fact, the media has succeeded only in dropping the democratic standards of a free and disinterested press by several rungs.

The shame is entirely upon the press which has fomented the hatred in the public square and erased any serious debate between the candidate’s positions. The talking heads and pens and their creative efforts to curry reader's outrage became the story the year.

Their collective egos trumped the actual story, which is beyond their hatred or disdain.

Surely our abdication of rationality and impartiality to our egoistic social media feeds are partly to blame for our isolation in our respective echo chambers. But there is something else, something more atavistic, which is being awakened in the public.

The decency imposed by exposure to a marketplace of ideas has been erased as a new Left arises which brooks no censure of itself. To be Left qua Left today implies having a lock on the progressive impulse.

Any thought they deem conservative is labeled as hopelessly reactionary and foolish. By extension, the people who hold conflicting ideas are voted off the island of sophisticates.

However, it is the Left in the United States which is missing the bus in their snarky boy-in-the-bubble deshabille. This smug dismissal is ignorance of the highest order.

Opposed to the media story is a mass of people who are chagrined by dynamic world events, and they are not reacting obediently to the Left’s unrelenting insistence upon change-as-progress (lest one be labeled a Neanderthal.)

The Left is wallowing in the madness of the riotous mob (theirs), born of fear and hatred of the unfamiliar, of that which challenges its tidy status quo. They have become bullies. They are they (and therefore, enlightened), and we are we (who are by default, not.)

The reformist and progressivist impulse is gone. I have no sympathy for them and their project to silence their opponents.

By rendering the other side of the aisle as some vague menacing enemy, they give lie to the reality of our political process which for all its variations in opinion, seeks to safeguard and enhance our republic via mediation and amalgamation of a marketplace of ideas.

What I have seen from the erstwhile legitimate liberal press resembles nothing so much as World War II agitprop, which depicted the Japs and Huns as various vermin with exaggerated and grotesque features. Such is the image rendered repeatedly, ad nauseum, of Republican candidate Trump.

Lobbing verbal mortars is so much easier than actually listening and allowing a space for understanding.  One may understand this crude impulse from the average person who lacks access to the details of a precise news feed. But one may not excuse this behavior from the press.

This derogation of the "Other Candidate" is what the liberal media has being practicing for the last year, and they have done so with our imprimatur. Slaves to our shibboleths, the press -- like liberal media wonk Nate Silver at his site FiveThirtyEight who failed so dismally in calling the Republican primary – has NO idea what time it is in our nation.

We are not a very serious people. We play Angry Birds and we are Angry Birds. We prefer to flame-out online versus to engage in rational dialog, and have bifurcated into two dismally remote factions, glowering at each other from our respective caves.

But the more shameful ire and bigotry has arisen from the Left, the corner which should be a shining beacon for liberal thought. The Left has lost any prior claim to excellence and understanding. It has become mean and shrunken.

Snarkiness and much worse rules the day. It is an ugly elitist bastard copy of liberalism with which we are bombarded. Do you present another point of view? “Lalala”, they say, “I don’t hear it”. Moreover, “You are not one of the cognoscenti, because you are with us or agin us.” And with a fillip, the possibility of  an emergent unity from difference is disallowed.

Back to The Cave.

The obituary of liberal and progressive media will say it went down a rabbit hole of begrudging anger and verbal violence born of befuddlement of their fellows, the “Other 50%”. They got lost pursuing cleverly violent bilge to stoke and corral anger against the Other Candidate and his electorate in their easy and predictable derision.

In their refusal to countenance Mr. Trump’s message, the Left shows itself biased, arrogant and dismissive fools. I am not a part of that club. My interest is for the whole of my society, and to understand the impulses behind people’s contentions, and the solutions which are forwarded.


I can’t see all of this from within Plato’s Cave, which is where my liberal fellows currently reside.

August 15 was the first time Trump was mentioned by name as-candidate on the ABC Nightly News. Unfortunately, it was simply to deride some campaign-trail rhetoric (regarding the genesis of ISIS), juxtaposed with an audio-visual of Mrs. Clinton saying something derisive in response.

Because it is her voice alone which was featured, the implication is that she is the Serious Candidate, and therefore alone is sound-byte worthy.

Later the same day, BBC America also mentioned candidate Trump in service of its agenda. Program emcee Kitty Kay asked Former former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen about Mr. Trump’s position vis-à-vis NATO.

Rasmussen predictably said, “[NATO] has worked very well since it’s inception in the Cold War.” (An era which has been, of course, OBE.)

Undeterred by the superannuated bias of her guest, Kay asks Rasmussen asks in her very American form of editorial reportage, “So do you fear for the safety and security of the West if Mr. Trump is elected President?" in what used to be called a "leading question", suggesting candidate Trump would put the entire world in mortal danger from the "bad guys" (Rasmussen's term).

“Indeed,” replied the agreeable-to-being-led Rasmussen (a sina qua non of being Secretary General.)

This abdication of pure reportage -- more pointedly, its devolution into cartoonish verbal partisan violence – is shocking and sad.

We the People do not need to receive this hate and nearsightedness. What fools we are to accept this bludgeoning to our psyches on a daily basis.

We need excellent, careful, disinterested reportage, and we are not getting it.

[cross-posted @ Rangeragainstwar.]

Friday, August 12, 2016

More rubble = more trouble

Interesting study (Dell and Querubin, 2016) released this summer on some effects of "kinetic warfare" (i.e. bombing, shelling, and strafing) in the RVN in 1969.
The study's conclusion should surprise none of us who have watched the "more rubble, less trouble" approach to the Middle Eastern problems over the last two decades or more:
"While U.S.intervention aimed to build a strong state that would provide a bulwark against communism after U.S. withdrawal, bombing instead weakened local government and non-communist civic society. Moving from no to sample mean bombing reduced the probability that the village committee positions were filled by 21 percentage points and reduced the probability that the local government collected taxes by 25 percentage points. The village committee was responsible for providing public goods. Bombing also decreased access to primary school by 16 percentage points and reduced participation in civic organizations by 13 percentage points."
In other words; bombing the living shit out of people pisses them off and makes them LESS likely to go along with whatever cunning plans you have for winning their hearts and minds, or grabbing their balls, for that matter.

How well this study conflates with the current enthusiasm for various Western polities' for bombing the shit out of the Middle East is difficult to assess. But it certainly does seem to suggest that John Paul Vann may or may not have been right about the best weapon for suppressing rebellions but he seems to have been absolutely correct about the WORST.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Khan Game

--Political Dead Letter Box;
Gatis Sluka (Latvia)

This is what he truly envies of these people,
the luxury of terror as a talking point
 --Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk,
 Ben Fountain

 Since Persia fell at Marathon,
The yellow years have gathered fast:
Long centuries have come and gone.

And yet (they say) the place will don
A phantom fury of the past,
Since Persia fell at Marathon
--Villanelle Of Change,
Edwin Arlington Robinson


There is nothing fair in this world
There is nothing safe in this world
And there's nothing sure in this world
And there's nothing pure in this world
--White Wedding,
Billy Idol 

 __________________________


Subtitles: "Khan Men"; "The Greatest Khan of All", and "Pro or Khan". [Sometimes it is hard to choose correctly.]

This past weekend Ranger attended his local Military Order of the Purple Heart [MOPH] banquet (August 7 is Florida's official Florida Purple Heart Day.) Gold Star families were also in attendance as special guests.

Gold Star families have lost a family member in an overseas conflict. They were invited to show sensitivity to the harsh sacrifice which they have also rendered our nation. It is a quiet and somber recognition the nation renders them, and these families are never to be exploited.

But while the privacy of these parents is sacrosanct, this rule was superseded the moment Hillary Clinton and the Khan family gathered on the stage and politicized the death of their son, parlaying their loss into a campaign coup. They fired the first salvo and no one should be surprised that they received return fire. While Mr. Trump may be ill-advised to have shot back, he was well within the rules of engagement.

While my sympathy abounds, the family voluntarily surrendered their attack-exempt status when they stepped up to the microphone.

The Khan's son died for their country, not for Mrs. Clinton's aggrandizement or gain, or to provoke Mr. Trump's reaction. Captain Khan did not die to be used in the partisan political arena.

To have done so was gauche, gross and a disrespect of the dead soldier. Mrs.Clinton showed herself to be as tone deaf as fictional senator Ray Wheatus in the series "BrainDead", when he propped up a dying soldier in his hospital bed for some publicity photos.

The Khan's were portrayed as raw and grieving parents, but their son was in fact killed in 2004 (12 years ago.) If one were cynical, one might imagine this was the only Gold Star family willing to shill for Mrs.Clinton.

Even death has a shelf life.

It is especially difficult to understand the cynical nature of putting Gold Star parents on a political convention podium as attack dogs when candidate Clinton has never attended an MOPH or Gold Star event in her entire political career.

We veterans and surviving families are not set pieces to be trotted out to entertain the nation in political elections. If this is how Mrs Clinton views the purpose of dead soldiers, how will she treat live soldiers if elected?

It is a sad politician that would exploit a soldier's death as blatantly as did the Democrats in Philadelphia.

{cross-posted @Rangeragainstwar.]

Sunday, August 7, 2016

They Shot Their Trump Card


Shut up Kyle!
Shut your Goddamn’ Jew mouth.
You’re the reason that there's war
in the Middle East
--South Park

 That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
--The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby 

And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
--Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads
____________________



It was recently revealed that the Democratic Party (i.e., the Clinton campaign) attempted to discredit Mrs. Clinton's sole opponent, Mr. Sanders, by disseminating the word that he was an atheist, instead of Jewish (which he in fact, is.)

Are we to believe that dismissed Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was to blame for the dirty doings in order that Mrs. Clinton may not have still more smut attached to her already tetchy image?

As the first Jewish congresswoman elected from Florida and a hard-working graduate of a Florida state school, it strains credulity to believe that Mrs. Wasserman Schultz would sink so low against one of her fellows.

Unless she is a pathologically self-loathing Jew, she alone did not hatch this plan but was directed to do so by higher ups. Remember, Mrs. Wasserman Schultz was Mrs. Clinton's campaign co-chair in Clinton's unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid. Old loyalties die hard.

I did not know Mr. Sanders was Jewish, but it is now obvious: his campaign was doomed to failure out of the gate. Anyone in his right mind knows that a Jewish quasi-Socialist will not win election to the presidency of the United States. Whether atheist or Jew, does it really matter as far as unelectability for the Presidency in the U.S.?

Vermont is another country; a Jewish -Socialist can be Senator there but in few other places. What were they thinking? Fronting Sanders seems a put up, to make it APPEAR that we have a viable democracy in the United States. After all, it would be unseemly for Mrs. Clinton to run opposed. Too Banana Republic; too Soviet.

But Mr. Sanders was never a viable candidate, and that he won as many votes as he did is a measure of the dissatisfaction of the electorate. A vote for Sanders was a no-confidence vote against Mrs. Clinton (who was the presumptive nominee from the start.) Sanders was the Democrat's Trump, and now they have none.

Who would be Mr. Sanders' constituents, he, an older white, Jewish man? He does not command the black vote nor the meso-feminist vote, which goes to the establishment Mrs. Clinton. He would not even corner the small Jewish vote.

Bernie got as far as he did on the disaffected lower-middle class white male and female vote -- precisely those who chose the non-establishment Trump on the Republican side.

You who voted for Sanders may think that spending their time also disdaining Trump was time well spent, but you have no candidate now. You drank the cherry Kool Ade Mrs. Clinton mixed for you, and now you have nothing. For the liberal True Believers, the best they can say now is, weakly, "We must not have a Republican".

It is a measure of the yearning of the Democratic base for something other than the Clinton dynasty that Mr. Sanders was able to garner such a following, and a damning reveal of the desperation of the Clinton group to even attempt the smear of Mr. Sanders.

 Jews in the U.S. may hold positions of authority which exploit their humor, intelligence, wit and capabilities. You may have your Rahm Emanuels, Judah Benjamins and Admiral Hyman Rickovers. Jews have won many Nobel and Pultizer Prizes, served as Supreme Court justices and served admirably in the armed forces (though after World War II they often could not be hired in the peacetime industries in which they had distinguished themselves during war because of anti-Semitism.) Hillary Clinton's daughter is married to a Jew. They may be doctors and lawyers, but not Indian chiefs.

Anti-semitism is the last great unbreeched bigotry in this nation, but we do not recognize it because Jews' successes are so outsized to their small numbers.

The boundaries to holding the office of Presidency will be breached in the order in which they were laid: First, a black man (15th Amendment), then a woman (19th Amendment). But before a Jew will be every other minority. Today, an Arab-descended Muslim man would be a good choice, a sort of holding out of the olive branch ("Sorry about that whole war thing.") Following Barack Hussein Obama, it is not far-fetched.

However, he will have to be Muslim in the way that Louisiana Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal is Indian: fully Anglicized, Hart Schaffner Marx, hair waxed and parted on the side. This will demonstrate the movement toward homogenization which is a necessary good today.

So it will be a woman after the first black President (who was quick to assure voters that he was Christian, and not Muslim, like his father and stepfather.) But should it be this woman, so freighted with problems of her own making, done in the name of clawing her way to the top?

In light of the recent revelations, Mrs. Clinton shows herself to be despotic and tyrannical, moreso than her Republican opponent has ever had the opportunity to be. She should be held to account, versus making her lady in waiting take the fall.

But this, the press will not allow. They have made our choice for us.

[cross-posted @ Rangeragainstwar.]