Thursday, June 30, 2005

Stuff In Progress

Thought I'd have a post this evening (something on the recent Iranian "election"), but I am just too tired to complete it this evening. Off to get the Heir out of camp tomorrow, so it will have to wait until sometime early next week.
Am working on a couple of other things also: something on the make-up of the Iranian rebel forces; a post on the outbreak of the First World War; and one on the implications of current Chinese military developments. But not tonight. A good book awaits, together with a glass of decent Scotch.
Ta ta.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Make Some Popcorn, Find the Beer

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, parent of the notoriously liberal PBS, has just appointed a former Republican Party co-chairman, Ms. Patricia S. Harrison, as its new President. Ms. Harrison is presently the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Just last week, Democrats in Congress were urging that selection of a new President be put off, because they were concerned about Republican political pressure.
This is going to be so much FUN ! The Deaniac set is positively going to go into orbit. Pop the popcorn, and open the beer, the Lefties are getting ready to have community apoplexy.

It Ain't the Flag That's Burning, It's Rome

In the midst of our troubles, when the military is short recruits; when the borders are overrun by hordes of Central American and Mexican peasants; when we have schools that don't work; when we have a pension system that's imploding; and are spending the national fiscal inheritance of the Heir and his friends like drunken sailors; and destroying our economy letting in gimcrack imports from Asia manufactured by Chinese prison labor, it's good to know we can rely on the House of Representatives to come to our rescue with salutary legislation like a constitutional amendment stating that Congress can outlaw flag burning. Favorable consideration by the Senate is widely expected, so no doubt this worthy legislation will soon form a part of the Constitution.
Well, maybe not, at this point, it doesn't look like the Senate could pass a bill acknowledging that the Sun rises in the east. Still, who cares ?
Don't get me wrong. I despise flag-burners; if I were Emperor of America instead of head of my own nefarious and vast criminal empire, I'd have flag-burners and their ilk drawn and quartered, and then my goombas could get started on some serious persecuting. Dick Durbin, Illinois's poor excuse for a Senator, would think that Guantanamo was a resort by comparison. But this is Terri Schiavo again. Congress is grandstanding with fluff that, however worthy, is not their proper concern, rather than earning their paychecks. I'd much rather see Congress get serious about the war, the borders and the treasury.
This is Republican control of government ? Nonsense -- nobody's in charge. Part of this is the consequence of Bush being a lame duck: he's not running for re-election, so nobody has to be afraid of him being around past 2008. Part of this is the consequence of a constitutional system that is in these polarized times increasingly difficult to operate, because the built-in checks and balances operate as a bias against the production of real legislation under the best of conditions. Most of the paralysis bedeviling Washington is the product of a unified Democratic Party, which stands for nothing but the word "No !" shouted loudly, product of its sour grapes over losing the last several elections; and its desire to in effect punish the President (and us for voting for him) by sending us all to bed without our suppers.
Since nothing of significance can be accomplished, we can kill trees by outlawing flag-burning. Wise readers will immediately buy stock in flag-manufacturing companies, who stand to do well when all the Leftie Yahoos go buy flags to perform their gallant and heroic acts of civil disobedience.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Iranian "Elections"

The Iranians are having their “election” today. Despite the multiplicity of candidates, the quotes around “election” are fully deserved. A real election implies choice. For the Iranian people, 70 percent of whom are under 30 and have no memory of the Revolution of 1979 that founded the Islamic tyranny, the choice presented today is rather like the choice between being hanged or shot.

The Islamic Republic is a sham that is neither Islamic, nor a Republic. It is instead a con game wherein unelected clerics rig the election for Powerless President by deciding who may run and who may not, and then using the chosen patsy as a sock-puppet when he is finally “elected.” The incumbent president, the so-called reformist Mohammad Khatami, had the power to do little beyond order no-doubt impressive business cards and perhaps re-arrange the chairs in his reception room.

As a foreigner, who wishes the Iranian people well, El Jefe begs leave to doubt whether the last Iranian Revolution was worth it at all. Revolutions seldom establish liberty, but instead, they lead to the construction of greater and more dangerous tyrannies. This was the pattern in the French and Russian Revolutions, and the same has held true in Iran.

What’s the solution ? Certainly, today’s New York Times offers no useful advice, today saying that: “[f]or all of its multiple flaws, this election is the best tool available to the Iranian people to indicate which way they want their troubled country to head over the next four years.” Typical New York Times logic: "yeah, things are bad, but tell the slobs who didn't go to Harvard to take their gruel and shut up."
Beg pardon, but legitimizing the non-choice presented by Iran’s clerical tyrants by participating in their fake election is no help at all. As the Regime Change Iran blog says here, (quoting Iranian blogger): “A vote for any of these candidates is approval of poverty, oppression, prostitution, humiliation, frustration, brain drain…” Absolutely right. Here’s to Iranians who stay home today, who deny their criminal masters legitimization through their votes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Happy Birthday US Army

As my friend the Merry Mad Monk reminds us, here, today's the U.S. Army's birthday. The Army is in fact older than the country it defends: what is now the United States Army was founded by the Continental Congress's decision to raise ten companies of riflemen for the Boston siege of General Thomas Gage's British Army.

Some units of the U.S. Army and the National Guard are even older, tracing their ancestry to pre-Revolutionary militia units. Among the oldest are the 181st and 182 Infantry Regiments, both tracing their ancestry to militia units raised in Boston in 1636.

There are units which followed other flags, yet were still in the service of America. The 116th Infantry Regiment of the Virginia National Guard also predates the Revolution, tracing its ancestry to the Virginia militia. Under another name, the 116th marched with Stonewall Jackson, carrying the banners of the Confederate States at First and Second Manassas, Winchester, Sharpsburg and Gettysburg, among other places. Years later that very same unit was among the first ashore at Omaha Beach, on 6 June 1944, suffering 800 casualties that day at places named Les Moulins and Vierville-sur-Mer.
Happy Birthday U.S. Army, present and past. Wherever and whenever you carried the flag for us, thank you. We owe you more than it is possible to calculate, or to repay.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Wolf at the Door

We need your help! Speak out to your representative, contact one of the organizations at; or if you know anyone in Zimbabwe spread the message, we are going to stand up for what's rightfully ours.
The Zimbabwean Pundit, post of 6 June 2005.
As you sit at your computer reading this, the government of Zimbabwe has, deliberately, with malice aforethought, driven nearly a million people from their homes, which were promptly razed. The bandit Mugabe regime calls this “Operation Murambatsvina” (meaning “drive out trash”).

The Drive Out Trash campaign is punishment for the urban poor and others who had the temerity to support the opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in elections last March, and in the previous two elections. Mugabe and his henchmen have evidently decided to depopulate the urban areas of the country (much like Pol Pot in Cambodia) to see that this does not happen again.

There is nobody, in Zimbabwe, at least, who can stop Mugabe now, after the blatantly fraudulent Parliamentary elections. Mugabe has a sufficient majority to change the constitution, wiping out the last remains of the democracy foisted on Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party when Rhodesia gave way to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe was once relatively prosperous – Winston Churchill, in former times, called the country the “pearl of Africa.” Today, 80 percent of working age persons in Zimbabwe are unemployed. Mugabe’s regime systematically destroyed the nation’s agricultural system – expropriating farms and vast tracts of land to reward his supporters. The Mugabe regime has driven out foreign capital, and is in the last stages of expropriating and driving into exile or impoverishment his country’s most educated and productive citizens, because they’re primarily of European descent, their families in Zimbabwe for generations. Food is desperately short. The United Nations is estimating that between 3 and 4 million Zimbabweans face starvation unless food aid arrives. Even aid is no real solution – Mugabe and his thugs routinely steal aid supplies and hoard them for their supporters. Many people, including so many, many children, are, most assuredly, going to die.

With so many humanitarian tragedies in this world, most of us in America and in Europe are relatively inured to yet another African disaster. The Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia – so many deaths. What makes Zimbabwe’s plight so monstrous is that this holocaust is being deliberately induced, created, as a matter of state policy, in the same way that the Nazis murdered the Jews, or the Soviets murdered much of their peasantry. Where are our liberal friends now ? Where are the bleeding hearts incessantly screaming about US atrocities in Iraq, or the plight of the Palestinians, or the “victims” at Guantanamo ? The silence is deafening. Mugabe, of course, is a longtime darling of the international left…

Meanwhile, tyrant Mugabe opened his puppet Parliament today, arriving in a Rolls Royce, medals on his chest, inspecting his honor guard, and calling for “unity.” Best thing for Zimbabwe would be Mugabe swinging from a lamppost.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Prince on a Hunger Strike

Daily Briefing on Iran, a good source for events in that country, reports that H.I.H. Prince Reza of Iran, exiled son of the late Shah, has announced plans to go on a hunger strike for three days (starting tomorrow), in solidarity with Iran’s many political prisoners. He has also urged Iranians to boycott the sham elections that the bandits that run the so-called-Islamic Not-a-republic are holding on 17 June. As the Prince points out, Iran is only country in the world "whose written constitution specifically denies that sovereignty belongs to its citizens."

I’ve been a Prince Reza watcher, and admirer, for years. I have always thought that had his father abdicated in time, or died a few years sooner, Prince Reza would have succeeded to the Peacock Throne, there would have been no Khomeni regime, and the last 25 years would have been happier for Iran and the whole Middle East. Ironic that the son of the late Shah is the most articulate and visible spokesman for a more liberal Iran.

Iran is full of people who don’t like the present regime, and who want better relations with the United States. This doesn’t mean that the demise of the present regime would open the doors to perpetual sweetness and light – Iranians of all political stripes, for example, would support their country’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. That’s okay. A sane, but nationalist, liberal regime, that held real elections, would be a vast improvement over today’s false republic, actually a theocratic tyranny, with its so-called morality police, torture chambers, its jailings and murder of opponents. Here’s hoping there’s a free Iran someday.
UPDATE: Something is stirring in Iran this morning. Iran defeated Bahrain for a World Cup, 2006 qualification, and celebrations of this event have apparently turned into anti-regime demonstrations. There are apparently riots in cities all over the country, and the citizens are attacking the regime's riot police. Check out Regime Change Iran, (links in this post and in the blogroll) which is following this closely.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Coming Attractions

El Jefe has lots of things working, but not much ready for posting just yet. Among other things, I’m working on (1) a discussion of the Korea nuclear issue; (2) endgame for the insurgency in Iraq; (3) the wider war against Al Qaeda; (4) something on the First World War; (5) a food and wine entry; and, (6) life now that Heir is at camp for the next month. Some of these require a bit of background reading that I have not completed yet.
Meanwhile, there’s always the day job, (yawn) and fantasies about escaping to my vast Palace by the Sea to oversee my armies of servants, enjoy my wine collection, vast fortune, and the attentions of my numerous babe paramours, and receive petitioners and well-wishers. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Aiding our Enemies

The Associated Press (via the Washington Post and Drudge) reports today that former US President Bill Clinton has urged French President Jacques Chirac not to be discouraged by the recent rejection of the proposed EU constitution by voters in France and Holland. Mr. Clinton reportedly suggested that Mr. Chirac “listen to voters’ concerns” and “go back to work.”

Now why would a former American President give advice and encouragement to the anointed leader of anti-American political forces in Europe and elsewhere ? Why would he offer counsel calculated to assist and support in the creation of a politically unified EU, one of the primary purposes of which, according to its backers, is to serve as a counterpoise to the US ?
Clearly, these questions don't concern former US President Clinton. Or, au contraire, perhaps they do, but Mr. Clinton thinks that creating a rival for the US is a good thing. After all, Nationalism is usually considered a great evil by lefties.

Why is Mr. Clinton still popular with Democrats ? Stupid question. Perhaps a better one is: why would an American vote for a Democrat, for anything, ever again ?

Remembering the Alamo

This weekend, El Jefe and SWMBO took the Heir to summer camp up near Kerrville. Following some begging by the Heir, en route, we stopped in San Antonio to view the Alamo, which the Heir had never seen. When he was 7 years old, the Heir used to tramp around the house and yard in his pseudo-coonskin cap with his toy musket, and watch all those old movies Fess Parker made in the 50’s portraying Davy Crockett. We’ve seen John Wayne die in celluloid at the Alamo countless times, so I suppose an Alamo trip was inevitable at some point.
The Alamo sits smack-dab in the middle of Downtown San Antonio, on Alamo Plaza, which, as we will discuss momentarily, is more descriptive a name than one might think. Driving in San Antonio can be a reasonably surreal experience to out-of-towners like us, but our handy-dandy Yahoo-generated map guided through the pinball maze of streets safely to the Alamo over streets named Bonham, Bowie and Crockett.
The Alamo is maintained by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who do a good job running the place with very little money and thousands of visitors annually to cope with. It's obscene but true that the State of Texas contributes nothing whatever to the Alamo's upkeep. However, “Alamo” is really misleading, because most of the mission/fort defended by Colonel Travis and his brave companions in 1836 is just gone – swallowed by downtown San Antonio. All that’s left of the original mission is the church itself, part of the attached corral, and the quarters for the mission’s friars, known to students of the Battle of the Alamo as the “Long Barracks.”
Pause a moment in the mission room where the Alamo’s women and children sheltered during the attack. This room appears to be in more or less original condition, and with a little imagination you can visualize waiting there nearly two hundred years ago, listening to the occasional boom of the big guns, the rattle-bang of the muskets, and the shouts of men in desperate peril. Equally moving is the nearby Long Barracks, where at the end of the battle, bands of Mexican soldiers fought room to room, up close and personal, bitter close-quarters infantry combat with bayonet, pistol and musket-butt, flushing-out the last desperate survivors of the Texian garrison.
Forget the kitschy souvenirs in the nearby gift shop (although your purchases do help support the Alamo), and go outside, back onto Alamo Plaza. This place -- the best spot to stop, sit and think for a minute is ignored by most Alamo tourists, all intent on getting into the generally recognized mission church that means “Alamo” to most people. But the heart of the 1836 Alamo used to be Alamo Plaza itself. The big, 1936 statue in the center of the Plaza – between the mission church and the shops along the south side of the Plaza – was the middle of the Alamo defended by Travis’s men in 1836.
The entry area in front of the Shrine, that is, the Alamo mission entrance, where a sign enjoins visitors to keep voices low, and gentlemen to remove their hats, is right near where the low palisade that Davy Crockett defended stood. Colonel Travis is believed to have died near the steps of the US Post Office, on the north side of Alamo Plaza, which was about where the north wall of the Alamo once rested.
There’ve been many books about the Alamo, but my own favorite is still Walter Lord’s A Time to Stand, published in 1961. Mr. Lord, a journalist turned historian, gets most of the facts right, tells a splendid story, gives good brief sketches of the protagonists, and throws in a sound evaluation of the military situation without all of the tedious social-history ruminations on class and race which are de rigueur for anything written today. As a bonus, he gives an excellent account of the Battle of San Jacinto.
Driving from Houston to see the Alamo enhanced the whole experience, at least for me. You may have figured out by now that military history is possibly a minor interest of El Jefe’s. In any case, the most interesting aspect of the Texian War for Independence for me is the period after the Alamo: that is to say wondering about the question of how General Santa Anna, (who did a splendid piece of work organizing, supplying and moving a Mexican army over the northern Mexican deserts and into Texas), managed to take the Alamo, wipe out the biggest Texian force (Fannin’s little army round Goliad), and still manage to lose the war.
Driving from Houston (site of San Jacinto) to the Alamo supplies part of an answer. Other than being in the Alamo, I can’t imagine a fate worse than being some poor Mexican conscript, probably with no shoes, walking across Texas in March/April, rainstorms alternating with heat, a river in flood to ford every couple of days, and having to fight a battle at the end of it, all the time hoping for something to eat. Meanwhile, Santa Anna, probably concerned about Houston escaping over the US border, wore his army out with longer and longer marches. To the Mexican soldier, Texas must have seemed endless. The Alamo has had lots of books written, but I think the wider war still awaits its historian. In any case, the Alamo trip was an interesting little excursion.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

4 June 1942

Went the day well ?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.
John Maxwell Edmonds, London Times, 6 February 1918
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the turning point of World War II in the Pacific. Sixty-three years ago today a handful of U.S. aviators, (Navy of course, but also Marines and Army Air Forces) outnumbered, outgunned, some scarcely trained - defeated the cream of Japanese naval aviation and exacted partial revenge for Pearl Harbor by sending carriers Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu and Soryu to the bottom. From 7 December 1941 until that day, the U.S. was on the defensive in the Pacific. No longer. At Midway, the United States, in Gordon Prange's words, put aside the shield and picked up the sword.
America and Japan deployed vast fleets that day -- hundreds of ships, crewed by thousands of men. But the battle was won by about 100 pilots in their twenties, many of whom paid with their lives. Sixty years on, we've lost or are losing the World War II veterans. Some, killed that day in 1942 or soon after, are forever young in the memories of their families and their country. Do not forget Waldron, Osmus, McClusky, Lindsey, Gay and all the others. Think of them today and every 4th June.

The Koran and Guantanamo

The media is having a feeding frenzy over Guantanamo again, this time, we are told, because interrogators (1) kicked the Koran, and/or (2) permitted urine to touch it.
Why are we hearing about this ? Would it be news in the American and European press, at least of a similar magnitude if soldiers someplace (1) kicked the Bible; and/or (2) permitted urine to touch it ? We all know the answer, don't we ?
The reason we are hearing about this now is because the mass media has closed ranks around Newsweek, which ran a false Koran desecration story last month. The Bush administation was, for some reason, upset about the resulting riots and killings all over the Muslim world, and had the gall to criticize Newsweek. Clearly, the imperialist U.S. administration must be punished for its temerity, so the newsies have since spent every waking hour looking under rocks for any poor sap that even so much as snarled in the Koran's direction.
Hurray. Now the media's found some patsies and can be "vindicated." Of course, the predictable new round of rioting and killing is of no consequence, and will help the media sell papers, and cripple the American war effort. A win-win for the press. Meanwhile, the interests of poor Mrs. Jones from Nowheresville, Mississippi, who loses her only son in Afghanistan when his Army unit breaks up a riot of angry Koran-thumpers can be completely disregarded -- unless she wants to get in print by blaming the Bush administation for her son's death.
What world do these people live in ? Why does freedom of the press include the right to depress support for the war effort ? Can you imagine the press running similar stories about the mistreatment of, say, Japanese prisoners of war sixty years ago ? Now you know damn well this went on, but somehow the media bosses of the day managed to avoid putting such stories on page one. Too right they did, because the public of those days, serious people who knew where their bread was buttered, would have roasted the editors of such publications on a spit.

Friday, June 3, 2005

3 June 1965

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first walk in space by a U.S. astronaut, Lieutenant-Colonel (USAF) Edward H. White, II, of the spacecraft Gemini IV. Tethered to the spacecraft, and carrying a camera to record some stunning photographs of Earth, plus a "zip gun" propulsion device to move himself around, Colonel White enjoyed his fifteen minute walk outside the capsule so much that Mission Control had to prompt him rather emphatically to come back inside: “Gemini IV, Get Back In !” Colonel White’s crewmate, James McDivitt, didn’t get an opportunity to go outside, having to content himself with watching and relaying messages from the ground.

Colonel White died a tragically untimely death: killed in the Apollo 204 disaster, 27 January 1967. Just 36 years old at the time of his death, he left a wife and two children.