Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bread and Butter Blogging

That's what it feels like, slogging through a blog entry, as a sort of courtesy note.

It feels lately like I don't have time for noticing current events much less commenting on them. The holiday season is hectic for those of us in the hospitality business. That may or may not let up by February, depending on staff shuffles.

What free time I have, free of an obligation to get enough sleep for the night ahead, is really for savoring with family and friends in the holiday season.

So I'll post when I have the time, energy, coherence, and lack of other chores. Enjoy yourselves!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Slow Blogging

I've been busier at the job than usual, something that will probably continue for a good month or so. I'll be making maybe a third again as much takehome. The downside is that most days the engine of my mind skips a cylinder.

I had two days off this week, of which the first was consumed in preparing and attending the office Christmas party. Wednesday I took a few hours to enjoy a hike along the Santa Ana riverbottom. I wandered down among the bare pecans near the Nature Center and down grey-sand trails to the flowing water, enjoying the thick reeds and warped eucalyptus. So many of the plants down there are imports run wild.

Once I get some rest and have nothing more pressing, I'll finish a post I started Dec. 5th. After I write all my letters and send my Christmas ecards. And pay bills.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bucking the Conventional Wisdom

As I flit from book to book in my library, I was struck by Chapter XII of Adm. Samuel Eliot Morrison's "The Two-Ocean War". That chapter covers the landings at Salerno and Anzio.

I've heard repeatedly that Hitler bungled his response to Overlord, by refusing to let Rommel hurl the panzers at our Normandy beaches immediately.

Yet if you read Morrison's account of our Italian landings, Kesselring did have armor fighting at the beaches, and it failed to break our landings. The best Kesselring, who would later prove himself a very capable commander was able to do was contain the initial landing force. Naval gunfire, directed by fighters, enabled US and British destroyers to destroy gun emplacements and disrupt panzer formations. The Germans weren't able to carry out blitzkreig against the beaches-- Morrison notes one example of a panzer unit of 35 tanks routed with 7 tanks lost to 6" guns--very light mounts for naval weapons. As Morrison points out, this was when the Allies didn't have effective reconnaisance of their road or rail transports, didn't mount paratrooper raids in the interior, and didn't have total control of the air.

At Normandy we had whole airborne divisions beyond the beaches, extensive air recon of the whole region, air supremacy, more troops, more planes, more ships, and an additional year's experience at close naval support fire.

It would take a graduate thesis to prove or disprove, but we can surely speculate that Hitler's refusal to expend his panzers against British and American battleships was no blunder, but a sensible marshalling of resources.

The Silly Season

Like a social disease, the Bushhatred syndrome is raging once more among the MSM. The usual symptoms are present--insistence that a standard practice from prior Administrations be given a sinister interpretation; deliberate fudging of the facts; hysterical insistence that no President can withstand such a furiously building scandal.

He has, he will, and he is doing so.

Because as usual, their idea of "scandal" invokes a "proper" operating procedure that past Presidents have spurned, and the current public spurns too. In this instance, nobody wants the US govt to avoid listening to Al-Qaeda; and that is exactly what the MSM is trying to crucify Bush for refusing to do.

But it's the season to be merry! So laugh at 'em on their way down.

Powerlineblog skewers Sen. Reid, who imagines himself a Cecil spurning Cromwell and the Puritans, but hath not the competence.

And then there's Nancy Pelosi's announcement that the Democratic Party will have no formal war proposal this November, which is like promising to lead-off every inning with a bunt. If that works for them, they may well wonder why they have a Party leadership at all for any issue... Actually, they might wonder that regardless of the outcome.

T'is the season.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's Unpatriotic

"You know it's unpatriotic to waste paper."

I caught that line channel-surfing tonight. It's from "Up in Arms", a 1944 Danny Kaye flick. Somebody says it to explain why he doesn't throw away a letter.

So many things revealed by a single sentence! A country so bent on victory that household resources were mustered for the war effort. A country so bound by common values that one American could actually refer to "patriotism" as a reason for doing anything, expecting silent agreement rather than a shouting match.

How far we've degraded the term "patriotic". Hugh Hewitt this week went back in time to the 1968 campaign. He was arguing that Curtis LeMay was a patriotic right-wing extremist, and John Murtha is a patriotic left-wing extremist; but LeMay went down in flames while Murtha gets all the good press because the media is a bunch of patriotic left-wing extremists.

They're all patriots to Hewitt, because he can't consider what a decorated combat veteran says about the war without giving brownie points for his war service.

Me, I say Rep. Murtha's unpatriotic. Just look at all the paper he's wasted.

International Calls Are Not Domestic Targets

Michelle Malkin really does her homework, so I'll refer you there for a detailed rebuttal.

But that's the whole point in a nutshell: reviewing conversations between foriegn targets and persons inside the United States is not domestic surveillance.

Is the NSA is supposed to switch off the mikes if bin Laden dials a NY number?

The way the Senate is thinking, that may just be their next demand.

P.S.

I remembered this incident from my reading of "The FBI Story" by Don Whitehead. Here's an online synopsis of the case:
The facts of the case are odd.

Five letters were written in early 1942 and mailed by seemingly different people in different U.S. locations to the same person at a Buenos Aires, Argentina, address.

How do we know that? Because all of them bounced: "Return to Sender"--and the "senders" on the return address (women in Oregon, Ohio, Colorado, and Washington state) knew nothing about the letters and had not sent them.

Wartime censors had intercepted one letter postmarked Portland, puzzled over its strange contents, and referred it to cryptographers at the FBI Laboratory. Our experts concluded that the three "Old English dolls" left at "a wonderful doll hospital" for repairs might well mean 3 warships being repaired at a west coast naval shipyard; that "fish nets" meant submarine nets, and "balloons" referred to defense installations.

The FBI immediately opened an investigation.

It was May 20, 1942--62 years ago--when a woman in Seattle turned the crucial second letter over to us. It said, "the wife of an important business associate gave her an old German bisque Doll dressed in a Hulu Grass skirt...I broke this awful doll...I walked all over Seattle to get someone to repair it...."

In short order, we turned up the other 3 letters:

From New York: "The only new dolls I have are THREE LOVELY IRISH dolls. One of these three dolls is an old Fishermen with a Net over his back...I went to see MR. SHAW he distroyed YOUR letter, you know he has been Ill.
From Oakland: I will try to make these 7 small dolls look as if they are "seven real Chinese Dolls."
From Portland: "I just secured a lovely Siamese Temple Dancer [doll], it had been damaged, that is tore in the middle, but it is now repaired...."
All five letters were using "doll code" to describe vital information about U.S. Naval matters. All had forged signatures that had been made from authentic original signatures. All had typing characteristics that showed they were typed by the same person on different typewriters. How to put these together?

It was the woman in Colorado who gave us our big break. She, like the other purported letter senders, was a doll collector, and she believed that a Madison Avenue doll shop owner, Mrs. Velvalee Dickinson, was responsible. She said Ms. Dickinson was angry with her because she'd been late paying for some dolls she'd ordered. It was a match: the other women were also her customers.

Who was Velvalee Malvena Dickinson? Basically, a mystery. She was born in California and lived there until she moved with her husband to New York City in 1937. She opened a doll shop on Madison Avenue that same year, catering to wealthy doll collectors and hobbyists, but she struggled to keep it afloat. It turned out, too, that she had a long and close association with the Japanese diplomatic mission in the U.S.--and she had $13,000 in her safe deposit box traceable to Japanese sources.

Following her guilty plea on 7/28/44, she detailed how she gathered intelligence at U.S. shipyards and how she'd used the code provided by Japanese Naval Attaché Ichiro Yokoyama to craft the letters. What we'll never know is why the letters had been, thankfully, incorrectly addressed.
Does anybody mourn the FBI's high-handed trickery regarding US mail in this case?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lips Sealed, Eyebrows Waggling

Robert Novak ably demonstrates why journalists do not, and should not, enjoy the confidentiality protections of priests, lawyers, and doctors.

When a doctor is asked to break a confidence, not only will she not yield the information, she will not refer the questioner to someone who will. She works to ensure the confidence is respected.

Contrast that with Novak's behavior. He clearly wants the name of his source revealed, the confidence broken--just not direct from his lips.

Lawfully immune confidants do not dance in the streets singing

I know something you dunno
I know something you dunno
And I ain't gonna tell you!

When journalists learn that "harlequin" is not an ethical profession, we can endow them with those privileges.

The Arab Street Has Spoken

Anybody who doesn't appreciate what America has done and the President Bush, let them go to hell.----Betty Dawisha

Saturday, December 10, 2005

"What It Takes To Win"

From Drudgereport today:
Today, Senator Daniel Inouye, the Ranking Member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II, released the following statement:

"As a Veteran of World War II, I know what it’s like to fight a war and put your life on the line every day. I also know what it takes to win a war, and I know that politics and an attack machine like the President’s plays no part in it.

"The Republican Party’s latest ad is a shameful and disgusting attempt to distract the American people from the problems in Iraq. It may improve the President’s political fortunes, but the American people and our troops will pay the price. I hope that President Bush realizes how shameful it is to play politics when what we really need is leadership, and that he will direct his Party to take down this ad immediately."

Well I guess the Senator forgot the presidential "attack machine" that broke the Axis!

On December 29, 1940:
There are also American citizens, many of them in high places, who, unwittingly in most cases, are aiding and abetting the work of these agents. I do not charge these American citizens with being foreign agents. But I do charge them with doing exactly the kind of work that the dictators want done in the United States.

These people not only believe that we can save our own skins by shutting our eyes to the fate of other nations. Some of them go much further than that. They say that we can and should become the friends and even the partners of the Axis powers. Some of them even suggest that we should imitate the methods of the dictatorships. Americans never can and never will do that.

The experience of the past two years has proven beyond doubt that no nation can appease the Nazis. No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender.

...The American appeasers ignore the warning to be found in the ate of Austria, Czechoslovakia., Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and France. They tell you that the Axis powers re going to win anyway; that all this bloodshed in the world could be saved; and that the United States might just as well throw its influence into the scale of a dictated peace, and get the best out of it that we can.

They call it a "negotiated peace". Nonsense! Is it a negotiated peace if a gang of outlaws surrounds your community and on threat of extermination makes you pay tribute to save your own skins?

...We have no excuse for defeatism. We have every good reason for hope-hope for peace, hope for the defense of our civilization and for the building of a better civilization in the future.

I have the profound conviction that the American people are now determined to put forth a mightier effort than they have ever yet made to increase our production of all the implements of defense, to meet the threat to our democratic faith.

As President of the United States I call for that national effort. I call for it in the name of this Nation which we love and honor and which we are privileged and proud to serve. I call upon our people with absolute confidence that our common cause will greatly succeed.


On March 15, 1941:
From the bureaus of propaganda of the Axis powers came the confident prophecy that the conquest of our country would be "an inside job"-a job accomplished not by overpowering invasion from without, but by disrupting confusion and disunion and moral disintegration from within.

Those who believed that knew little of our history. America is not a country which can be confounded by the appeasers, the defeatists, the backstairs manufacturers of panic. It is a country, which talks out its problems in the open, where any man can hear them.

We have just now engaged in a great debate. It was not limited to the halls of Congress. It was argued in every newspaper, on every wave length-over every cracker barrel in the land. It was finally settled and decided by the American people themselves.

The decisions of our democracy may be slowly arrived at. But when that decision is made, it is proclaimed not with the voice of any one man but with the voice of 130 millions. It is binding on all of us. And the world is no longer left in doubt.

This decision is the end of any attempts at appeasement in our land; the end of urging us to get along with the dictators; the end of compromise with tyranny and the forces of oppression.

The urgency is now.


How is it that any man who heard these words and then took up arms to fulfill them, could have forgotten them?
Or is it that he presumes the public would not remember them?

Winston Churchill once cattily remarked, "...honor, like a lady's virtue, is not subject to dimunition."

Either you have it, or you don't. You can't say, well check the record, I've done more good than harm.

For example, Democrats are touting the notion that the Hon. John Murtha's career as a Marine combat officer cancels out any impropriety in his suggestion that America abandon the field of battle to the enemy, without any effort made to relieve our ally who must fight on to the death without us.
That's not dishonorable, says the Dems, for he is an honorable fellow.

Nuts.

Dishonor, like sewage, is an intolerable mark that a decent person seeks to erase immediately before rejoining the society of man. It taints and ruins the whole package.

I've posted eleven months ago on Joseph P. Kennedy, who was one of the "American citizens...in high places" FDR referred to. Kennedy's public comments that America should suck as much out of democratic Britain before it fell to fascism, were dishonorable.

Rep. John Murtha's call for the pullout, and for the President to be stripped of any power to negotiate the pullout terms with the Iraqi government, was dishonorable.

Howard Dean's declaration that the United States is going to lose the war is dishonorable.
(Dr. Dean wants you to know he is damn sorry--that you all heard what he said. He has since offered a totally different statement that loyal Party members will kindly glue in place after excising the erroneous entry with a small razor.)

In what way does declaring our inevitable defeat, advance anything but our defeat?

"What it takes to win" is for the government that is trying to win, that is winning, to denounce and deflate the careers of the defeatists whenever possible. To shame and vilify the architects of defeat for seeking to build a tottering ruin.

When memory of FDR's condemnation of defeatism set me to writing this entry, I thought Sen. Inouye had been duped by misguided love of gentility and decorum on Capitol Hill, into defending defeatism and appeasement.

But reviewing his remarks...I see nothing about succeeding in the war, or affirming a committment to victory. I see a condemnation of the war as problematic, and a declaration that if we don't listen to the Democrats condemned by their own voice in this ad, "the troops will pay the price".

Given the substance of the Democrats' remarks condemned by the ad, in what does Sen. Inouye expect Presidential "leadership" except cut-and-run?

He's off the curb and in the gutter with the rest of them.

"I do charge them with doing exactly the kind of work that the dictators want done in the United States."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Setting Up Another Tet Backlash

I'm thrashing out a lengthy post on the methods of politicization of warfare, but I'll surface with some quick commentary.

I see a lot of Republicans, official and blogosphere aquilifers, hastening to reassure the public that the troops can start coming home in 2006. And pundits like Powerline and John Rasmussen urge the GOP stress that idea or forfeit the majority in November.

Aren't we really setting ourselves up with that approach?

The pace of enemy action is really up to the enemy. If the enemy decides a suicidal, all-out attack across Iraq that requires American reinforcement to crush,is what they really want to try, there's not much we could do to prevent it. We can only rapidly contain and destroy it.

There isn't much talk about the "failed plan" of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. That plan is largely about holding cities hostage. I don't know why those guys haven't figured out that trying to set up sharia in a mid-sized urban area brings them nothing but grief, but they keep trying, and writing each other to demand more of it. Perhaps I shouldn't be suprised, since that was the pattern of Western warfare up to the mid-1800s, when strategy changed to demand a focus on destroying enemy forces rather than on occupying capitals.

So I expect to see more attacks on city governments, and more forces mobilized to fight them in 2006. I don't think the GOP is really preparing the American public for a series of victorious engagements in Iraqi cities next summer. Quite the contrary. I think they are feeding the notion that if we have to fight in Iraq, we're losing the war in Iraq.

The key difference between the President and the Democrats is that Democrats want us to adhere to a schedule of withdrawal, even if we have to helicopter our troops from rooftoops amid heavy rifle fire from smoking cities. The President wants to win, which is why he rejects any timetable. His true friends should avoid stressing that victory means a steady rate of evacuations from Iraq. Winning may require otherwise.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Doctor Dean: We're Doomed

First Dems said we didn't have enough troops in Iraq. We put in more troops and we heard that we had to have a handover. We demonstrate there's a handover in progress and they call it Vietnamization.

ARVN was a conscript army; the Vietnamese had to run a draft for twenty years just to stay afloat. Nixon's Vietnamization plan required the Republic of Viet Nam to revoke draft exemptions for college students. We know how well that works.

By contrast, all of the 212,000 Iraqi police, National Guard and Army are volunteers. All of the recruits coming in are volunteers.

Mention that to the chickendoves and they'll respond with sinister theories about sleeper cells, ethnic chappelles and regional militia. They don't want to win this war.

From the midst of the equine herd rises the bray of Howard Dean. The good doctor, not content with the traditional chairman's role of raising money quietly and preparing to win elections, is now moonlighting as Secretary of Defense (the way fundraising's been going over there, can you really blame him?)
I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years," Dean said. "Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this anyway. We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don't have enough troops to do the job there and its a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We've got to get the target off the backs of American troops.

Well.

For one thing, newspapers may report on troop deployments in absolute numbers, but nobody who knows what they're talking about uses those figures. It's all about brigades, divisions, battalions--it's all about accomplishing tasks and carrying out missions. The Pentagon would no more call up "20,000 men" to Afghanistan than you'd call IBM and order "19 cu. feet of server".

For another thing, back in the 1980s we decided that since we really wouldn't need to police foriegn cities, guard thousands of prisoners, or treat thousands of wounded in peacetime, most of those jobs could be farmed out of the regular armed forces into the Reserves and National Guard, and the regular armed forces would be the combat troops. That's why the Abu Ghraib guards came from the National Guard. The National Guard and Reserves are the outfits that can belong in a conflict like this, by design. (When exactly was President Dean going to learn that, before or after his inaugural?)

And finally, what is the Democrat fascination with flying into a country over the horizon to make raids on terrorists before vanishing out of sight? I thought they'd had their fill of that after Mogadishu. I know Rep. Murtha had his fill of it at that time! Why would thirty minutes of minimal force be less effective than twenty-four hours of maximum power?

Rhetorical questions. They don't want to win this war.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So Much for the Necessity of Terrorist Profiles

What a wasted opportunity for the terrorists.

I've heard that screening everybody for terror threats has been a waste of time and resources, an imposition on loyal Americans, a surrender to PC-culture, a sign we are not serious about the War on Terror.

Where was this woman on all the proposed profiles? A blue-eyed brunette with a French accent, with a bomb strapped to herself.

Profiles are a cop-out, that gives the enemy free windows of opportunity. Only now, after the attempt, would Belgian women get attention as a risk category. I guess we still have to wait for them to try once with a Nubian Muslim woman, or a Chinese Muslim senior citizen, before those groups get discussed as threats on a par with Arab men.

Which they are. They are out there. Are we even looking?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Charge of the No-Fight Brigade

At the barbershop the other day, I saw a copy of Newsweek for November 28, 2005. It looked like a presidential election issue and Rep. John Murtha was the nominee.

It spoke of him as a "straight-line hawk" who turned against the war, and of his plan as the "turning point", and of Republican criticism of him as "the low point". CW gave him an Up Arrow: "Not Swiftboatable." Veep Cheney got a Down Arrow: "Open to calls of chickenhawk."

Too bad they didn't call Sen. Kerry first so he could clue them in that Democrats really want to stick around and win in Iraq as much as the President does. As he explained on the floor of the Senate, reeling from the President's Naval Academy broadside.

It's gratifying how swiftly the latest charge of the defeatists has been hurled back by the Congress, backed by the majority of the American people. A few bold souls continue caracoles, like Rep. Nancy Pelosi supporting a swift pullout; but their line has been riven and the bulk of their force is scurrying out of sight to reform.

They'll be back, as soon as they psych themselves into thinking another dove has the "moral authority" to make defeat golden. We'll be waiting for them.