Ma Deuce Gunner

MilBlogger on NPR:

Fellow MilBlogger Ma Deuce Gunner wants you to know that he was on NPR recently. He reports a very pleasant and professional experience: "I was afraid that they would take my words out of context and distort them. They did not do this. They were extremely honest and objective."

Well, they'd better be, with the whole MilBlogs ring watching their every step. :) But it's good to hear.

Former Georgia Sen. Zell Miller hospitalized - News -

Best to Zell:

As JHD points out in comments below, Zell Miller is down with what does actually sound a lot like what got me. Of course, it's no joke when you're seventy-three, not even for a mountain lion like Zell. All the best to the man, and may he recover speedily and more than fully.


Role Reversal:

Doc Russia is in Vegas, taking some well earned time off. I hope he finds time to get by the roulette table for me.

Meanwhile, I've been haunting his usual domain: the emergency room. What I had mistaken for allergies turned out to be a case of severe dehydration. I'm not sure how it's possible that I could have become dehydrated, unless it's just exposure to sun and wind. I drink water by the liter, but obviously not enough liters. I am sure that my attempts to ease what I thought was an allergy attack made things worse rather than better. Drinking some gin and tonic, which has always worked well on allergies, only aggravated the dehydration.

This is the classic mistake that guys like me make. My old jujitsu instructor, Sergeant Ken Caton, very nearly died from appendicitis. His appendix burst, it made him feel awful, and so he decided just to bed down with some whiskey and gut it out. He figured it was food poisoning, just like I figured I had allergies, because it was the thing in his experience that fit the symptoms he was experiencing. I got off a lot better than Ken, who was down for months as a result of the damage his body suffered. All I needed was four liters of IV fluid, and I was back in my own bed by midnight.

I'm not pulling my weight today as a blogger for the above reasons. However, Joe of Winds of Change and Defense Industry Daily has several good posts on the Pentago's procurement scandals. Because I feel terrible, I'm just gong to be lazy and run his email on the topic:

It's just not the Pentagon's week for communications projects. The Pentagon has put Boeing on cancellation notice over the JTRS project, one of the central pillars of U.S. military transformation. Meanwhile, criminal investigations into L-3 Communications Holdings over the CSEL search & rescue radios are not only about to force a massive recall of a key item, they're causing the Pentagon to check a whole bunch of other projects - including its Excalibur GPS-guided artillery shells.

Oy. Double-oy if you have to wade through all this and make sense of everything.

Fortunately, we've already made sense of BOTH of these scandals, explaining the programs, their rationale, what's wrong, and what might be next in terms that even non defense specialists can understand.

* L-3 Criminal Investigation.

* Jitters Over JTRS.

Oh yeah, and the Russians have announced 2 new nuclear ballistic missile subs for 2006, with a new type of ballistic missile that's supposedly resistant to missile defenses, and a new sub class to boot.

It's just one of those days.
Here too, mate. Here too.


In Praise of Quinine:

Allergies bedevil us here at Grim's Hall. I turn to an ancient remedy, backed with Bombay Sapphire. I trust you'll understand. Blogging should resume soon; it usually doesn't take long for the body to adjust to the Spring's majestic flowering.

Southern Appeal

Immigration = Invasion?

There is a real dispute at Southern Appeal right now, running across several posts, as to whether or not the current levels of illegal immigration constitutes an invasion by Mexicans of American soil. SA is a law blog, and so they have a point to their investigation: if it is an invasion, there are legal obligations which fall upon the US government.

I won't attempt to reprise the discussion here. There are dozens of comments across several posts. But you should all be aware of the discussion. It strikes me as a tectonic sort of debate on the Right.

Apple - Trailers - Serenity - index


The trailer for Serenity is now available. In addition, there will apparently be a months-early sneak preview in these cities:

San Francisco
Las Vegas
"The Portland of Oregon"
If anybody in or near one of those cities wants to get out and see it, let me know and I'll point you in the right direction. I myself am sorry to see that there's nothing out Virginia way on the list. Might have to fly to Atlanta "to see my family" on the occasion.


More Georgia News:

BlackFive reports on the Best Ranger competition. This is held down near Columbus, Georgia. I've never been myself, but I have a number of friends who go to watch every year. It's an impressive series of events, "feats of strength" and endurance to impress even a Highlander.

JustOneMinute: Missing Stories

The Democratic Party's Plan:

I'm a little bemused by the notion that putting forth an platform agenda should be a threat, rather than a duty for a political party, but that does appear to be the tone of this memo.

If Republicans proceed to pull the trigger on the nuclear option, Democrats will respond by employing existing Senate rules to push forward our agenda for America.
Shouldn't ya'll be doing that anyway? Ah, well. Here's the agenda (hat tip Just One Minute):
1. Women’s Health Care. “The Prevention First Act of 2005” will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions by increasing funding for family planning and ending health insurance discrimination against women.

2. Veterans’ Benefits. “The Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2005” will assist disabled veterans who, under current law, must choose to either receive their retirement pay or disability compensation.

3. Fiscal Responsibility. Democrats will move to restore fiscal discipline to government spending and extend the pay-as-you-go requirement.

4. Relief at the Pump. Democrats plan to halt the diversion of oil from the markets to the strategic petroleum reserve. By releasing oil from the reserve through a swap program, the plan will bring down prices at the pump.

5. Education. Democrats have a bill that will: strengthen head start and child care programs, improve elementary and secondary education, provide a roadmap for first generation and low-income college students, provide college tuition relief for students and their families, address the need for math, science and special education teachers, and make college affordable for all students .

6. Jobs. Democrats will work in support of legislation that guarantees overtime pay for workers and sets a fair minimum wage.

7. Energy Markets. Democrats work to prevent Enron-style market manipulation of electricity.

8. Corporate Taxation. Democrats make sure companies pay their fair share of taxes to the U.S. government instead of keeping profits overseas.

9. Standing with our troops. Democrats believe that putting America’s security first means standing up for our troops and their families.
As one of the commenters at JOM says, "Of course #3 is amusing as well ... 'Democrats will move to restore fiscal discipline to government spending and extend the pay-as-you-go requirement.' since #1, 2, 5 and presuably 9 talk about spending increases."

That said, it is a decidedly mixed bag. I'm outright in favor of some of these notions -- 2 and 9 (although I'm not really sure what they mean by this last one: it's possible they could come up with some tortured notion of #9 that I wouldn't agree to support).

I'm persuadable on other points, depending on the details of the plan -- 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8 (although, in general, my notions on tax reform have less to do with taxing corporations, and more to do with an across the board revision of the tax code: a flat tax, perhaps, or a sales tax replacing all other national taxation). All of these either could be good or bad, depending on how they're handled. For example, I have no idea what the plan to "make college affordable for all students" would entail. Southern Appeal had a link to an interesting article the other day, which pointed out ways in which reducing government mucking-about would lower tuition costs in a real fashion. You could win or lose me on most of these, depending on whether you are trying to increase efficiency (e.g. by reducing wasteful mandates, or through tort reform), or whether you're trying to increase the number of government mandates and spending.

The more socialist the plan, the more likely you are to lose me; but there are a lot of good ideas for addressing these from a libertarian/centrist position. Since that is the very demographic that Republicans seem to be having trouble with over certain religious-oriented policies, it would be a smart play for the Democrats to remold their party's agenda to win that ground. We'll see if they have the institutional will for such an endeavour.

I'm opposed to points 4 (because it was tried in the 1970s, and didn't work; so why waste the oil?) and 6 (opposed to the minimum wage, and in general to Federal meddling with peoples' ability to negotiate contracts on their own terms).

That's really not bad: I'm only decidedly against as many of these as I'm decidedly in favor of. The Democrats have something here, if they've got the guts to play for the center instead of structuring these things as statist, socialist mandates. You'll forgive me if I have my doubts that they do, but I am eager to be surprised. We'll see.

The new National Security Council - The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED - April 26, 2005

The NSC:

An associate sent me a copy of a Washington Times article called "The new National Security Council." Its opening gives the flavor:

The Bush administration's decision to reorganize the National Security Council (NSC) has attracted little interest in official Washington but is potentially significant in suggesting how national security policy in the Bush second term will diverge from its predecessor.
There is a great deal of interesting analysis. The thing that grabs my attention is this:
A new high-level policy-coordinating role has been set up for the NSC staff. The new reorganization includes the creation of five new positions for deputy national security advisers — for Combating Terrorism; Iraq and Afghanistan; Global Democracy Strategy; International Economics; and Strategic Communications and Global Outreach. Each represents an announced administration policy priority.
I disagree with the notion that Strategic Communications is 'an announced administration policy priority,' but it has had some high level attention. The Defense Science Board issued this report on it last year, a very insightful piece that shows attention to the lessons of the blogosphere. The blogosphere, in return, critiqued the report openly and offered more lessons.

What has remained unclear is who will be running the show on US Strategic Communication. The military's combatant commands have a clear role, but one would expect State to be in charge of what is essentially diplomacy; on the other hand, certain functions can only be run by the CIA, as State is not authorized to do disinformation. As the DSB report demonstrated, that confusion of authority and budgets has resulted in a mess, and no coordinated message.

The NSC reorg shows that the administration is paying attention to this fact, and restructuring to meet the need. One could wish they had gotten to it sooner, but it is good to see that they are in fact getting to it. Hopefully the Deputy Adviser in charge of Strategic Communications will be effective. It's something to keep your eye on, though. As the DSB report says, this is one of the most important -- and to date, least effective -- parts of the GWOT.

An Unofficial Dictionary for Marines containing words, phrases and acronyms used by United States Marines through the ages

The Dictionary:

I've been greatly enjoying this dictionary that BlackFive posted. (He had a heck of a blogging day today, by the way -- if you haven't been by, stop in.) The dictionary is amazing. It's got almost everything I can think of off the top of my head, plus a few things I'd never heard of (esp. from the WWII era).

I was interested to see that WM is no longer current. It still was in my day -- indeed, it was printed in the introductory material handed out to recruits, so we'd all know what was meant by it, along with terms like "rack" and "cover." Given the performance of the Corps in Iraq, though, I can't see anything to criticize. Integration's proven out, at least as far as it's gone -- which is pretty far.

There are several entries that shouldn't be missed. My favorite is "group tightener," but you should also take care to read over "Joe," "Close Air Support," and "Sea Dip."

COUNTERCOLUMN: All Your Bias Are Belong to Us

The Countercolumn:

Jason Van Steenwyk reports again on a topic that interests him much: why the 2/4 Marines who replaced his Army unit (1-124th Infantry) took far heavier casualties. His current thinking is that the intelligence capability collapsed with the change of units:

Our Bn S-2 [ground intelligence officer -- Grim] was very proactive at working with and through the Iraqi police and some of the other tribal heads. Our company commanders were also building sources at the grass roots level, and we even had informants coming to the gates asking for platoon leaders and NCOs. They didn't want to tell information to anyone else, other than the officers and NCOs these informants had relationships with and had built up a level of trust.
The 2/4 Marines, he says, were not only unfamiliar to the Iraqis -- they didn't trust them. Just as the Iraqis didn't trust these strangers, the Marines didn't have the personal experience with and ties to the Iraqis either. With the lack of mutual trust gone, the intel network collapsed. The insurgents, who had remained on the ground the whole time, were able to fill in the gap.

There is probably some truth to that assessment, and I don't think it's an Army/Marine thing. It is the other side of an advantage: the fact that we can rotate forces out to a safe area for rest and retraining, lessons learned and replenishment. The breakdown of these personal relationships, which comprise the functional intel networks, is a side effect.

Is there a way around it? Yes: intelligence officers could deploy earlier and remain longer, so that they have time to be worked into the existing networks, and could remain to work in their replacements. That creates an additional burden on these officers, however, who are already engaged in a challenging and mentally exhausing occupation. Alternatively, if the Pentagon can find in its heart enough assets, we could increase the number of military intelligence officers per unit, so that they could divide some of this extra time.

The intelligence challenge is a bigger part of the game in this kind of fighting. We ought to be learning lessons like this. Thanks to Van Steenwyk for thinking it through.

The New York Times > National > Many Say End of Firearm Ban Changed Little

That Times Story:

I've noticed that several bloggers have picked up on the story in the New York Times entitled "Many Say End of Firearm Ban Changed Little." Everyone seems to have noticed the opening:

Despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, the expiration of the decade-long assault weapons ban last September has not set off a sustained surge in the weapons' sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime in the past seven months, according to several metropolitan police departments.
What many have not mentioned is that the rest of the story is a call, in spite of that evidence, for a much more comprehensive ban on firearms.
Indeed, a replica of the ban is again before the Senate.

"In my view, the assault weapons legislation was working," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, a chief sponsor of the new bill.
But it did need some changes, she said:
Senator Feinstein said she wished she could outlaw the "flood of big clips" from abroad, calling that the "one big loophole" in the ban.
Well, that may be what she says now. At the time, however, what she considered the biggest loophole was that it allowed anyone to possess firearms at all:
"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in, I would have done it."
Everyone who has argued recently that "fifty-one percent is not a mandate," please take note. Here is a bill that would have, had it come into law, resulted in the seizure of billions of dollars worth of property, from fully one-third of American households, in spite of the vocal opposition of 49% of the Senate.

Senator Feinstein is, in other words, a radical. There is not a single less reasonable figure in government on the issue of gun rights. Yet, the Times quotes her without analysis or context -- and it does so repeatedly.
Gun-control advocates say military-style semiautomatics do not belong in civilian hands. "They are weapons of war," Senator Feinstein said, "and you don't need these assault weapons to hunt."
No one is allowed to rebut, of course, that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting, and everything to do with providing the tools that citizens need to perform their duties to enforce the common peace. This is not even about "self defense," in that frequently-encountered formula. It is about their duty to uphold the common peace, whether they are defending themselves, or their neighbors, their communities, or their nation. It is about their right and duty to do exactly that, whether the breakers of the peace are violent felons, domestic terrorists, foreign terrorists, enemy armies, or -- should the occasion arise in some future time -- a domestic tyranny that sets aside the Constitution.

That last one is hard to give voice to, because it seems like a radical thought. It isn't radical at all. Jefferson held the view that human liberty might someday have to be protected even from fellow Americans, as did Lincoln (see his comments on the power of any European army to drink from the Ohio). It is the Times and their ilk who are radical, by banning from the conversation a perspective as old as the Republic, and one which has been held by most of her greatest citizens.

Yet even in the Times article, santized of principled advocacy for firearms ownership, there is almost a refutation of Senator Feinstein. It comes here:
Mr. Luth of DPMS, however, said that his sales had been increasing for years, to the law enforcement community, the civilian market and an unexpected new clientele. "We've picked up new customers with the troops returning from Iraq," he said, "who had never shot an AR-15 before and now want one."
Naturally, returning American soldiers might prefer the AR-15 to defend their homes, families and communities -- not for big game hunting, as it is a .22 rifle, but for these other things. It is precisely because it is similar to a military weapon -- the weapon with which they have trained, and which they have carried and lived with during their deployments. They understand its workings, are comfortable with it, and have practiced enough to be accurate.

It is exactly right and proper that they should have such things if they desire them. They are the militia -- as are we all, who take up that charge and stand on that wall. Our continued freedom as a nation is safer in their hands than in the hands of Senators like Ms. Feinstein. We should trust their judgment, not hers.