Monday, May 31, 2010

The Washington Post Gets it Wrong on Memorial Day

(UPDATE: Correction made, see below)

With their layers of fact checkers and editors, the Washington Post can't tell the difference between a Sailor, a Soldier, and a Marine.

Sailors and Marines are not Soldiers.

This matters to many who have served. Please get it right.
This picture is from the front page. It is captioned "Soldiers salute during a ceremony in Kabul..." But the person in the picture is a Sailor not a Soldier. You can tell by her insignia, her rate or "crow" as we call it. She is a Petty Officer First Class, United States Navy. Show her some respect by recognizing that.
In the slideshow for today, this picture is captioned "US soldiers and civilians working in Afghanistan pay their Memorial Day tribute..." The person on the right in the picture is a Marine, not a Soldier. You can tell by the shape of his hat, the color of his uniform, his rank insignia, the globe on the pocket, and also the words US Marines over the pocket. I can't be sure with the resolution of the photo, he looks to be a Corporal, but may be a Lance Corporal or a Sergeant. Show him some respect by recognizing that.

I could rant on about how this exemplifies the lack of connection between most journalists and those who sacrifice to defend their freedoms. But I won't.

I'm just disappointed.

UPDATE:  An email to "corrections" at the Post and a few hours later the captions have changed.  Thanks Post for caring enough to make the correction. It is noticed and appreciated.  I've posted screen shots of the new captions.  Note they've changed to the generic "service members." Probably an 80% solution, but at least it's not wrong.  Thanks again!

The front page image is now captioned "US forces serving overseas remember...."

The slideshow image is now captioned "US service members and civilians working in Afghanistan pay their Memorial Day tribute...
On Memorial Day Remember The Fallen

Last night we had our usual Sunday dinner. We raised our glasses in honor and remembrance of CTI2 Craig Rudolph and CTI3 Patrick Price. They were the last CT's lost during the Cold War. As told in VP Navy
EA-3B was attempting to land on the USS Nimitz CVN-68 at night during blue water operations off of Lebanon. Aircraft attempted to catch the arresting gear wire 5 times to no avail. During one of the bolters the EA-3B drop out of view below the flight deck almost impacting the water. After regaining altitude the aircraft was running low on fuel with less than 800lbs left, the aircraft then meet up with the A-7 tanker which would not work because the buddy store was spewing fuel every where (No Joy). Due to the low fuel state the EA-3B was unable to make it to a shore base and it was decided to launch the KA-6B tanker. It was then determined that the A-6 couldn't be launched due to it was blocked in on the bow by other aircraft from the last recovery. After a discussion between the aircraft, CAG and VQ-2 CO, It was ruled out for the crew to bail out or ditch into the cold Mediterranean water. The barricade was rigged, then it was discovered that a big wrench used to tighten up the barricade was missing, so the barricade was sagging 8 foot. The EA-3B made a really nice approach to the carrier descending toward the barricade at a high angle, once near the barricade the LSO told the pilot to "Cut, Cut" meaning kill the engines, the pilot failed to do so flying into the barricade really high hitting the nose landing gear on the sagging barricade ripping it back and slamming the A-3 into the deck then skidding down the flight deck and off the angle into the sea. The rescue Helo hovered above the A-3 not noting any movement inside; the helo SAR swimmers did not enter the A-3. After 13 minutes of floating the EA-3B sank with its 7 men crew to the bottom of the sea.
Seven men were killed: LT Alan A. Levine, Pilot; LCDR. Ronald R. Callander, Navigattor; LT Stephen H. Batchelder, Evaluator; LT James D. Richards, Evaluator; AT2 Richard A. Herzing, ESM Operator; CTI3 Craig R. Rudolf, Cryptologic Direct Support Operator; CTI3 Patrick R. Price, Cryptologic Direct Support Operator.

For a full list of Naval Cryptologists lost in action since the end of World War II, see my Memorial Day post from 2009.

We didn't think too much about it at the time, it was the job. In retrospect it was a dangerous business.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Childhood in the Age of Obama

Overheard at the neighborhood pool today, two ten year old boys talking about something...

Boy 1: You couldn't do that, you don't have enough money.

Boy 2: I could if I had a trillion dollars.

Boy 1: Nobody can get a trillion dollars.

Boy 2: If I got a bailout I could.

Remember folks, the children are listening.
Godspeed LT Finn

Chief Petty Office John W. Finn was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941.

Both CDR Salamander and the NY Times profiled him Most memorable...
When Chief Finn arrived at the hangars, many of the planes had already been hit. He recalled that he grabbed a .30-caliber machine gun on a makeshift tripod, carried it to an exposed area near a runway and began firing. For the next two and a half hours, he blazed away, although peppered by shrapnel as the Japanese planes strafed the runways with cannon fire.
As he remembered it: “I got shot in the left arm and shot in the left foot, broke the bone. I had shrapnel blows in my chest and belly and right elbow and right thumb. Some were just scratches. My scalp got cut, and everybody thought I was dying: Oh, Christ, the old chief had the top of his head knocked off! I had 28, 29 holes in me that were bleeding. I was walking around on one heel. I was barefooted on that coral dust. My left arm didn’t work. It was just a big ball hanging down.”

After attending to the premier of the Hollywood movie Pearl Harbor in 1999, he said, “I liked it especially because I got to kiss all those pretty little movie actresses.”

Once a Chief always a Chief. God Speed LT Finn.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Angry Obama Executes White House Jester

Sweet. When the Onion picks it up, you know you've nailed it.
White House Jester Beheaded for Making Fun of Soaring Deficit 

(update: edited to fix link)
The President Says He is Angry

According to the NY Times, at the press conference today, President Obama said he is angry and frustrated over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Heck, I told you that almost two weeks ago... also last year.

I got blasted by some when I first called him "our angry president" last year.

He is still our angry President. He says so himself. It's still not comforting. When there is an emergency, do you want the guy who stays cool, or do you want a screamer? "Plug the damn hole!" Screamers get action, that's for sure. But it's not always the best action.

What happens if Korea, Iran, or, God forbid, Russia or China make the President angry? What hole will he demand be plugged then?

But we love him. Right?

UPDATE: Instalanche! Thanks Professor! Folks, while you're here, take a look around, I'd especially appreciate it if you looked at the roll of the fallen Navy cryptologists in my Memorial Day post and took a minute minute to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The President Owns It

At the press conference today, President Obama, referring to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, said,
From the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort, BP is operating at our direction.

In the same press conference he reportedly "...claimed his administration inherited the problems at MMS, but said "I take responsibility" for problems that persisted since he took office."

Let's be fair. The President's appointee has only been in place one year. (Whoops, she's gone) The federal government is just too big for the president to be expected to run the whole thing...maybe that's part of the problem.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The New York Times wants to Know How Service Has Changed You

The New York Times again invites members of the military who are serving, or have served, in Afghanistan to help us document the daily life of this war in photographs, video and writing. Take us on a tour of the FOB, introduce us to your friends, describe the hardships of deployment and the humor that helps you pass the time.

Loved ones of those serving in Afghanistan are also invited to participate. Show us what life at home is like without your husband or wife, mother or father, daughter or son.

Scan or take close-up photographs of letters you have sent or received and send us copies of e-mails and digital photos you have used to keep in touch during the deployment.

We will select from the submissions we receive and post them in a gallery of experiences from the field.

Why do I get the feeling this will not turn out well. I hope to be pleasantly surprised with an honorable treatment of those who have served.
It's a Win-Win (Unless you get caught)

In today's Washington post, Kathleen Parker ponders over the case of the US Senate Democratic candidate, "...Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general recently infamous for exaggerating his role as a Marine reservist during the Vietnam era. At various times, he has accurately said that he wore the uniform during that period; other times, he has said that he wore the uniform in Vietnam. In fact, he received several draft deferments while a student at Harvard and Cambridge and enlisted in the Marines only when those deferments were running out. "

"And, he did falsely and knowingly imply that he was a combat veteran. The question is: Why? ..."

My answer is so he can play the victim to Democrats, the combat vetern to Republicans, and both to independents. In the clips I've seen, such as the one below (H/T CDR Salamander) he was clearly playing the victim... he's the suffering veteran, sent by his nation to fight an unpopular misbegotten war then mistreated and discarded once he got home. Now he's promising government care for all those other poor tormented souls who have been lied to and sent to fight another unpopular misbegotten war, and would be discarded too (like the victims veterans of WWII and Korea) were it not for those honorable people who want to care for them, "regardless of what you think about the war." New England liberals eat that stuff up because the love victims and combat veterans with all their experience and bottled up pain make great ones in their eyes. "Look at how he's suffered, he has the experience to empathize and help others."

Then there is the added bonus for liberals of showing their patriotism (helping war veterans, see I love America) while simultaneously maligning the nation (America went men to war then failed it's veteran, America is bad)

On the other side, being a Vietnam veteran, means you did your duty, served honorably when the country called. Republicans like this. Southern Republicans anyway.

Being a Democrat in liberal Connecticut, I would give more weight to the reason up top. This guy is not stealing valor, he actually served and he is not claiming to be a war hero. He doesn't seem care about that. He is stealing victim status. That's what plays to his base.

Ms. Parker finally asks "Who knows what motivated Blumenthal to stretch his truth? Perhaps it was survivor's guilt."

Guilt assumes some sense of right and wrong. Survivor's guilt implies that he went through a harrowing experience where others died. He didn't.

Perhaps it was his desire to get votes.
Sources and Methods...

Here we go again...

An article in todays LA Times said that evidence "...cited growing evidence Saturday that a Pakistani army major had been in cellphone contact with a man who allegedly attempted to bomb Times Square in New York, including the possibility that they spoke shortly before the failed bombing."

Like my last post about revealing sources and methods, this is a bad thing. When you let the bad guys know how you get information about their activities, they are likely to try to cut off those sources of information.

I think the ongoing disclosure of intelligence sources and methods in the Times square bombing case illustrates one of the difficulties and the difference between treating terrorism as warfare and treating it as criminal actitivity. Warfare is ongoing, therefore you protect your intelligence sources until the fight is over. Criminal activity is made up of "cases." Revealing the source may strengthen a case by lending credibility to the evidence. The investigators and prosecutors are not as concerned about protecting sources as they are about "solving a crime" or winning a case.

The problem from a military perspective is that once a source is lost, because the target avoids it or makes it more secure, it takes time to develop and test new sources. If the target gets their operations going again before you can do that, they have the advantage.

Bottom line, is that that treating terrorism as crime rather than warfare makes everything more dangerous. Our government has made this policy calculation and decided to accept that risk.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Draw Muhammad - May 20, 2010

Allahu Akbar

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Reagan Diaries 5/18/1981

Monday, May 18
We may have a chance in Lebanon of heading off a war. The Saudis sent an emissary to Syria. Our problem now is 2 pol. leaders Assad  Begin finding a way that saves both their faces doesn't look like the u.S. managed this.
Met with Volcker of the Fed. Reserve. Int. prime rates went to 20 today. This is "chicken little" stuff in the money mkt. based on pessimism that Congo won't give us what we're asking so inflation will go up.
Bill Smith came in with a task force report on immigration. Our 1st problem is what to do with 1000's of Cubans-criminals, the insane that Castro loaded on refugee boats and sent here.
Finally an interview with Teddy White. Yes now I'll be in a book called "The Making of the Pres."
Tonite we went to the Lisner Auditorium for the benefit performance by the Joffrey Ballet. Ron is featured in much of it-the old show biz story. One of the principles strained a muscle & Ron replaced him. He was darn good. He has a grace that is remindful of Fred Astaire-a little extra flair that makes it all look easy.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Somalia Parliament Attacked

According to AP, Islamic insurgents attacked a building in the Somali capital where parliament was meeting Sunday for the first time this year, pounding the area with mortars. At least 16 civilians were killed in the fighting that ensued...

My first reaction on reading this was, "Somalia has a parliment?"
Our Angry President, Part II

I first wrote about our angry president back in December.  It is now May, 2010 and President Obama is still angry. 

He's angry about different things now. Most recently "...about the oil spill, its magnitude, and BP’s stalling,” but also, since December he has been reported angry about the failure to prevent the Christmas terror attack, and he was really angry at Israel after Vice President Biden's visit.  There are reports of angry exchanges between the US and Afghan President Karzai, but most only refer to "the administration" generally, so I'll give the president a pass on that one.

Some might wonder if it's just political theater.  The president being clear on what's important.  I don't think so.  The reason I think not is because of all the coverage of the president talking about how the public is angry.  Without debating the causes, or how angry people really are, let's just accept that he understands it, because he's an angry guy.

Have you ever worked for an "angry boss?" The one who is constantly pissed about something. It has a tendency to get personal. It is not a pleasant place to work. People begin to withhold information or not have frank discussions needed because they don't want to become the next target.  Now take that angry boss and put him (or her) in the most powerful office in the world. Would you want to be in a White House meeting where the boss is angry?  Not I.

Anger is not a healthy emotion in an individual. It is especially unhealthy when that individual leads an organization. It wears over time. On everyone. It weakens communication. It clouds the judgment and impairs decision making.

It is still worrisome to have an angry president.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Required Reading for Local Schools

I was in a Border Books store in Georgia today. I noticed two racks with signs that said "Required Reading for Local Schools" Worrying about what kind of leftist pap I would find, I took a look. I was pleasantly surprised. While there are certainly some books there that I don't know (I should) there are many that I do. The list included two Ayn Rand titles, as well as the important classics 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Huck Finn, Gatsby, and All Quiet on the Western Front are still there. While I may be disappointed once I read the books that have been added over the last 30 years, this is an American Reading List. If kids are reading, Atlas Shrugged, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451, there is hope for us yet.

What books are the kids in your part of the country getting?

Here are the photos and the almost complete lists... some I couldn't remember the titles or read them on the photos.

Confederacy of Dunces
Of Mice and Men
Life of Pi
Brave New World
The Crucible
Catcher in the Rye
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Poisonwood Bible
Streetcar Named Desire
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Their Eyes Were Watching God
A Clockwork Orange
Watership Down
Tom Sawyer
The Joy Luck Club
Slaughterhouse Five
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Pride and Prejudice
The Awakening
Ender's Game
The Hobbit
The Count of Monte Crist
The Great Gatsby
The House on Mango Street
The Bridge at San Luis Rey
Fahrenheit 451
Time Machine

Princess Bride
As I Lay Dying
The Color Purple
A Lesson Before Dying
Invisible Man (Ellison)
Foucault's Pendulum
The Fountainhead
Atlas Shrugged
The Bell Jar
Flowers for Algernon
The Bluest Eys
Moby Dick
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Grapes of Wrath?
The Jungle
All Quiet on the Western Front
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Julius Caesar
Romeo and Juliet

(Disclaimer: The book racks were too tall to capture them in one shot, so I have merged two photos to show the full rack)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Holy Sources and Methods Batman!

So... NSA has a technique to analyze disposable cell phone usage that can quickly identify a bad guy.
The number from a disposable cellphone led FBI agents to the suspect arrested Monday night for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday evening, according to a senior official.

“They were able to basically get one phone number and by running it through a number of databases, figure out who they thought the guy was,” the official said
Nice to know.

Another source and method that people probably worked long and hard to develop... blown. Some stuff should stay classified. This is surely an example where the public's need to know specific sources and methods does not outweigh the need to keep using those sources and methods to protect the public. Revealing sources and methods usually results in degradation or loss of the source. It is usually criminal, irresponsible, self-serving, or just plain stupid. Sometimes all of those. Rarely, rarely none.

Check out the last paragraphs:
At 11:30 p.m., Holder was called about the arrest. He was rushed back to DOJ, complete with flashing lights. He didn't go to his office but straight to the National Security Division's 7th-floor SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) for real-time updates.

Officials worked until 1:10 to nail everything down. Assured it was the guy, DOJ issued a news advisory. Holder walked in front of the camera at 1:30 a.m.

I don't think I've ever seen the SCIF referred to in an article like this. It sounds like they read the traffic in the SCIF then someone came out and gave anonymous background to the press?

Great job catching the bad guy so quickly. That was professional. Revealing how you did it, that was amateurish.

H/T Instapundit

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Your Papers Please - the "Arizona Immigration" Debate

The issue of the week(apart from oil spills and terrorist attacks in New York City) is the new Arizona immigration law. I've heard a lot of misinformation and disinformation over the last several days. For example, these discriptions of the law are just a bit coy

From the Washington Post "Under Arizona's new law, to take effect in 90 days, it will be a state crime to be in the country illegally, and legal immigrants will be required to carry paperwork proving their status. Arizona police will generally be required to question anyone they "reasonably suspect" of being undocumented -- a provision that critics argue will lead to widespread racial profiling, but that supporters insist will give authorities the flexibility to enforce existing immigration laws."

From the New York Times "The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

NPR says "Protests were held throughout the weekend after Governor Jan Brewer signed a measure that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper authorization."

The Post and NPR mention, without elaboration, that this is a state crime. The Times doesn't.

I think that the important point is the federal statute. First, the law requires that aliens must register.
(a) Willful failure to register. Any alien required to apply for registration and to be fingerprinted in the United States who willfully fails or refuses to make such application or to be fingerprinted, and any parent or legal guardian required to apply for the registration of any alien who willfully fails or refuses to file application for the registration of such alien shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not to exceed $1,000 or be imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Also the law requires that aliens must carry proof of that registration
(e) Personal possession of registration or receipt card; penalties. Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

But this isn't how the opponents are framing the debate, the requirement to register and carry that proof. Remember, the law quoted above is federal law, not the Arizona state law. But this federal law is important because this is the US Code that the Arizona law refers to. The state law makes it a state crime to be in violation of federal law. The Arizona law is simply authorizing and requirement their law enforcement officers to enforce the law.

It is federal law that requires aliens to register and carry papers. If this is so horrible, so terrifying, so reminiscent of a Nazi police state, so inconsistent with our values, then it must be changed.

So Mr. President, Madam Speaker, Mr. Majority Leader, if you are serious about this issue, change the federal law. Mr. President, if you really believe that the people of Arizona are "misguided," and that Americans "deserve common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability" then change the federal law. Madam Speaker, if you really believe that the people of Arizona have shown the "need for urgent, bipartisan action at the federal level," then change the federal law. Mr. Reid, if you really believe that his is an "important example of why we need to fix our broken system," Then change the federal law.

If the federal law is changed, Arizona will have nothing to enforce. If you don't at least attempt this, then you are intellectually dishonest, hypocrites, demogogues, or maybe just crybabies.