At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Dr. James McHenry, a Maryland delegate, followed Benjamin Franklin from Independence Hall. He recorded a question asked by a lady, directed at Dr. Franklin.

The lady asked, "Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?"

"A republic," replied Dr. Franklin, "if you can keep it."


"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." - Ayn Rand

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Validiction for Memorial Day

We used the dip tank to test outboard motors used on the combat rubber raiding craft. 

The raiding craft were nothing more than black zodiac inflatable boats but they formed an integral part of the Naval Special Warfare program’s mission flexibility. When they were dumped out of the back of a C-130 flying low over the ocean, followed by five SEALs, they were referred to as limp ducks. 

Uninflated, packaged with an outboard motor, they fell from the sky to the foaming waves below. After a hearty splash, they slipped beneath the waves, inflated and popped back to the surface. 

The SEAL’s came later, floating, not falling, braked by parachutes, water landing protocol. They detached themselves from the chutes before they hit the water so that the silk wouldn’t drag them down to Davy Jones. Everyone swam to the combat rubber raiding craft, boarded it carefully, whoever was appointed coxswain cranked the outboard motor and off they went. 

Salt water is hard on equipment. The dip tank is used to test the motors after each operation and training evolution. It’s important that they work. Sitting mid-ocean in a limp duck is not fun. Paddling to shore, wherever shore may be, is not fun either. It puts everyone in a bad mood. 

Dip tanks have other uses, more traditional and esoteric uses. They’re baptisteries of a different nature. 

The SEAL Team Five facility – not the shining new one, the sprawling old one of the 1980's - built in the sixties, the green-painted, one-story, flat-roofed, dinosaur of a building had a rusty old dip tank outside the outboard motor shop. There was always at least two inches of fuel and oil floating in a rainbow slick on the top. Maybe emptying it constituted an environmental hazard so it was never cleaned properly. On the other hand, keeping it foul might have served its other purpose well. 

There is no saluting on a SEAL facility, but if you wave, they’ll wave back. Formations are equally lax and lacking in all pretense of spit and polish. That sort of thing is not necessary to good military order. Rate and rank are observed though, and promotions are celebrated. 

No matter how high you climb in the Navy’s bureaucratic structure, if you’re promoted or if you mention your recent promotion on the facility, strong hands take you. You’re expected to fight. Nobody who goes to the dip tank willingly garners any respect, but they all treasure the drop into the oily filthy water as a rite of passage. 

Men may curse their bad fortune. The uniform was clean. They just showered. Other excuses are muttered beneath their breath, but beneath all that, there is a deep satisfaction that comes with belonging to an exclusive club with others who share your commitment and skill at life taking and heart breaking. 

It was winter and while Coronado is never so cold that you’d freeze but the wind whipping rain from the ocean can make it brisk. The dark clouds threaten, sheets of rain follow, and the facility always flooded. I’m sure that the new SEAL Team Five compound isn’t prone to flooding, but the old one always did. 

Don B. showed up late that day in January when the San Diego Coast was lashed with rain. He checked in at the quarterdeck and being Don B., he flashed his CIA credentials in their blue case for the Officer Of the Day to see. There was no escort required and he knew the way, but Don B. wanted an escort. I suspect he wanted a witness. 

I sat behind the World War Two vintage wood desk with a chart spread across it when he waltzed in with the OOD trailing behind him. Rain blew in with the two men because my office was in the quadrangle that opened to the weather. I tried to shield my chart; paper flew, driven by the wind. 

“You’re here.” I said dryly. Don B. was my best friend and I hadn’t seen him for about a month. 

“As per our arrangement, I was promoted and I’m here to take you to lunch.” 

A sly glance crossed the face of the OOD, who excused himself politely. 

I knew what was coming. The SEAL’s like nothing better than dropping some pseudo-civilian spook like Don B. into the dip tank. Nobody was immune, certainly not Don. Though he never admitted it, I’m certain that Don was hoping to be dropped unceremoniously into the dip tank as so many other warriors had before. 

“Rainwater’s sounds like an appropriate lunch for the weather.” I picked the most expensive place I could think of. 

“Sounds good.” Don B. was a man of few words. 

I threw the chart into a locking file cabinet, spun the lock and put one of those magnetic signs on it that read “secured”. 

A step into the quad met two-dozen smiling faces and drenched uniforms. Don B. acted the soul of surprise and protested wildly as strong men grabbed him by his hands and legs. Before they had him completely he slipped me his credential case and I palmed it. 

He dropped beneath the surface of the dip tank and emerged to howls of laughter. Hands grabbed him, patted his back and honored his promotion to the Senior Intelligence Service-One grade. 

I told him that I had a uniform he could slide into. We wore the same size. 

“Where’s your wallet,” I asked. “We need to dry off those credit cards.” 

His reply, soto voce, “I left it in the car.” 

This is a non-fiction story and Don B. was my best friend. He lost his life in the war against radical Sunnis/the war on terror. He didn’t die alone. I was there and I held his hand as he passed from this life. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Drone Aircraft

The US Military (and the military of other nations) are becoming more heavily invested in drones such as the Reaper and Predator.

The US Navy is moving ahead with its unmanned X47B program (above).

How survivable are these aircraft in a battlefield environment where the enemy isn't living in the Bronze Age, carrying 20th Century small arms?  Take a look here (LINK) at Heartache Noise.

I don't know the answer to my question, I'm simply posing it for the sake of discussion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Was it Fair to the Fish?

Where is Greenpeace? Where are the sea hippies? Where is the protest to dumping toxic waste into the ocean?

I'm just asking...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obama Accomplishments

Is the United States better off economically because of the Obama presidency?

Is the U. S. and the world safer because of Barack Obama (BHO)?

Is our future brighter and are Americans more optimistic because of the past three Obama years?

ObamaCare, the hallmark of BHO's presidency is not popular in the country and nobody knows what the Supreme Court will say on the matter, but its vote to render part of the bill unconstitutional will likely be split along partisan lines. The lack of severability with the legislation may doom it, but in the meantime we can sit on the sidelines and watch.

In a sense, I give some credit to BHO for saving the conservative movement in the nation and for almost single handedly creating the Tea Party. In that sense, BHO has been a valuable president. And perhaps as a slight antecedent to that, he became responsible for more firearms and ammunition sales than any other president in US history. BHO's radical actions, radical associates and utopian socialist beliefs, that seemed 'cute' while he campaigned for office, somehow soured for many.

BHO's rise to power should have silenced all those black activists who said that a negro/mulatto couldn't get a fair shake in America -- but it didn't. They still rant about the white man's boot on the neck of the black man. So perhaps BHO let his black community down to some respect? Or maybe they simply need to continue to have something to complain about.

BHO supporters still blame President George W. Bush for the nation's woes - even though he had a Democratic majority in Congress during his last four years in office, spending money like drunken sailors. However, the drunken sailor award really belongs to BHO, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, who gave a completely new definition to government opacity, out-of-control spending and hubris in office.

In the end, 'progressive' policies led to disastrous results and many parts of the US are gripped in a depression despite summer after summer of 'recovery' as Democratic Party projections that 'happy days are here again' turn out to be nothing but VP Joe (Slow Joe) Biden's baseless ranting.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Search for Credit

The US Invasion of Iraq distracted the US from the larger war against terrorism and cost the nation a fortune. President Bush used pretexts for invasion that he knew were false when he used them. Nobody can know precisely when Bin Laden (OBL) would have been killed if we hadn't preoccupied the nation with Iraq (where Al Qaeda was an enemy of the state). However conservatives are crowing about thanking George W. Bush for the take-down of OBL in his compound. The congratulations are misplaced in my opinion.

I don't know that anyone is stupid enough to credit Barack Obama (BHO) for doing anything but riding the coat tails of the people on the ground who brought OBL down. However you have to give him credit for giving the green light on Muslim terrorists when true to his roots, he might have been disposed to have done otherwise. BHO is the man who sat in the church and clapped to Wright's rants and screaming "God Damn America!" -- and then contributed heavily to that church. If it sounds as though I'm damning BHO with faint praise, I am.

The credit goes to a lot of men and women who had the courage and fortitude to take out OBL. 

Stressed interrogation worked as Investors Business Daily pointed out (below):
In January 2004, Kurdish forces near the Iranian border apprehended Hassan Ghul, a top al-Qaida lieutenant once under the direct command of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. After quickly being handed over to U.S. forces, Ghul was sent to one of the CIA's foreign "black site" prisons. It wasn't long before this particular terrorist canary started singing.
Ghul told the CIA that "Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti" — determined years later to be Sheikh Abu Ahmed — was a high-value courier for al-Qaida and key associate of KSM successor Faraj al-Libi. When al-Libi was captured and interrogated the next year, U.S. intelligence began putting together the pieces, finally concluding that al-Kuwaiti was a courier to bin Laden himself.
Some feel that if we hadn't invaded Iraq, we might not have obtained this information (the IBD Editorial supports the Iraqi invasion for this information recovered). I disagree, but we're arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin at this point because the die was cast and we're stuck with history, not what might have been.

Waterboarding worked. The CIA's black sites (prisons) were key to dealing with terrorists, preventing attacks on US Soil. President George W. Bush deserves a great deal of credit for authorizing this sort of aggressive activity against America's enemies. It's difficult for a president to do things that he knows might come back to bite him. The CIA black sites were one of those things. But President Bush made the call and it turned out to be a good one. 

The public doesn't understand what it takes to protect a nation from the animals out there beyond the wall. The men and women who stand on the wall get it -- and so did President Bush. BHO, sadly, hasn't got a clue.

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