Target Centermass

6/21/2007

And … push!!!

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:35 pm

Just a quick post from the labor-delivery room. Wife and baby are doing fine so far.

Update (23:00): It is now a race. Will the baby come in the next hour or will he or she share my wife’s birthday?

Update (00:10): Well, at least the previous question has been answered.

Update: It’s a girl, born at 03:15!

5/28/2007

Memorial Day 2007

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:14 am

Memorial Day 1958

Click for larger version. Also, see my photoblogging of my visit to the USS Arizona Memorial.


“Here Rests
In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
Known But To God”

U.S. Memorial Day.org
The Day’s Background
Arlington National Cemetery
The Tomb of the Unknowns
Texas National Cemetery Foundation
Texas National Cemetery Memorial Plans and Fundraising

Tomb of the Unknowns: Changing of the Guard (embossed)
The Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknowns

If you have not seen the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, I’ve witnessed it more than once and highly recommend it.

The guard is changed every hour on the hour Oct. 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5 to 7 p.m.

An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony.

The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknowns who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, “Pass on your orders.” The current sentinel commands, “Post and orders, remain as directed.” The newly posted sentinel replies, “Orders acknowledged,” and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.

The ritual is slow. It is determined. It is meticulous. It is touching.

The majesty of the ceremony lies in its detailed, determined nature. It shows that our honored dead are not remembered only one day a year by our military — their memory is unfailingly revered . Their sacrifices receive tribute constantly from both comrades and strangers. Such is as it should be, both in the military and among all of the citizenry that value the freedoms and security that have been bought and paid for in blood and sacrifice. Our heroes deserve their special day, but their honor deserves our hearts throughout the year.

(On a side note, the above photos were taken by my then-girlfriend-now-new-bride. The photo of the ceremony was perfect in every way but one, a slight discoloration I was unable to overcome. In desperation, I tried the embossed effect and was quite happy with the outcome.)

2/22/2007

Links o’ the Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:18 pm

Just some links for y’all, as I’m currently packing for a weekend excursion to College Station to watch the surprising Texas A&M men’s basketball team match up against Baylor. My Aggies are currently ranked #8 and #9 in the polls, and that was more than enough reason for a guys’ weekend away with some old friends.

Anyway, on with the links.

Victory Caucus

The Victory Caucus

We support victory in the war against radical Islamists. We supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and we believe victory is necessary in both countries for America’s self-defense.

We believe that the radical regime in Iran, while not representative of the Iranian people, is a menace and that it cannot be allowed to obtain or build nuclear weapons.

We believe that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans and which waged war against Israel in violation of every law of war this past summer, and will do so again in the future.

We believe Israel is our ally and friend and deserves the full assistance of the United States in its battle with radical Islamists. We believe that Israel has repeatedly shown its willingness to negotiate a just and lasting peace, but that its enemies do not want peace, but the destruction of Israel.

We believe that the American military is the finest in the world and indeed in history, well led and superbly trained, and populated at every level by America’s best and brightest.

We support the troops, and those organizations which assist the wounded in their recoveries and support the families of those who sacrificed everything.

We support leaders who support victory.

Part blog, part message board, still getting its feet wet.

The Danger Room

A blog about what’s next in national security. Hat tip to Op-For.

Pin-ups for Vets

I always loved the beautiful pin-up photos and paintings from the World War II era that American soldiers took overseas with them to boost their morale. The troops often carried these “cheesecake” pictures with them into war to help remind them of what they were fighting for back home. One of the most famous pinup shots was taken in the 1940’s of actress Betty Grable, in a bathing suit, looking back over her shoulder.

With these old glamorous pictures as inspiration, I decided to try to recreate the feeling of these nostalgic pin-ups in my own photo shoots, and then assemble my pictures in a calendar for a fundraiser to benefit the programs that support the hospitalized Veterans, injured in ALL wars, past and present.

A one-woman good cause worthy of your time. Both the cause and the lady are certainly worth a gander.

Appeal for Courage

Received in an email request:

Hello from Baghdad.

I and a Vietnam vet friend of mine have launched a new site, AppealForCourage.org which allows active duty military to (legally) tell Congress and the media that they should support our mission, and that their criticism does hurt our morale while emboldening our enemies.

This site is partly in response to the leftist site AppealForRedress [edit: Grayhawk has more about this over at the Mudville Gazette]. It was created by a big money group and given a free pass by the media. I don’t have any money for advertising, and I don’t expect the media to help.

If you folks could help publicize it in other websites and to your military friends, I think we could get thousands of signatures and have an impact at this crucial juncture in the war. Thank-you for your help.

V/r,
LT Jason Nichols, USN
MNF-I, Baghdad

Consider it done, sir.

Fullbore Friday

One of my favorite recurring features in the blogosphere is the weekly posting of Fullbore Friday, brought to you by CDR Salamander. Each week, he brings a little piece of military history, usually naval and often focusing on a gallant performance by a particular ship. As a little sample, here’s a recent posting about an engagement that fascinated me when I first read about it as a little child — the clash of the British cruisers Exeter, Ajax and Achilles against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate. After that, be sure to keep an eye out tomorrow for the next Fullbore Friday feature.

UPDATE: While I’m plugging CDR Salamander, I thought I’d take a quick moment to discuss a recent visitor to Target Centermass. Click the “more” for the curious Site Meter listing.
(more…)

2/21/2007

What if it Takes a Democrat?

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:34 pm

Is a Democratic president thrust to the helm in 2008 the only way to get both parties behind the seriousness of Iraq? Jonah Goldberg toes the precipice of this line of thought.

This wisp of a notion is simply this: Maybe a Democrat should win in 2008.

Personally, I don’t believe in this poltergeist, at least not yet. But every now and then, I must confess, I do shiver from its touch.

The idea goes something like this: If you believe that the war on terror is real — really real — then you think it is inevitable that more and bloodier conflicts with radical Islam are on the way, regardless of who is in the White House. If the clash of civilizations is afoot, then the issues separating Democrats and Republicans are as pressing as whether the captain of the Titanic is going to have fish or chicken for dinner. There’s a showdown coming. Period. Full stop. My task isn’t to convince you that this view is correct (though I basically believe it is), but merely that it is honestly and firmly held by many on the right and by a comparative handful on the left.

And that’s the problem: Only a handful of people on the Left — and far too few liberals — see radical Islamists as a bigger threat than George W. Bush. Which is why if you really think that we are in an existential conflict with a deadly enemy, there’s a good case for the Democrats to take the reins. Not because Democrats are better, wiser or more responsible about foreign policy. That’s a case for Democrats to make about themselves and certainly not one many on the right believe. No, the argument, felt in places we don’t talk about at cocktail parties (vide A Few Good Men), is that the Democrats have been such irresponsible backseat drivers that they have to be forced to take the wheel to grasp how treacherous the road ahead is.

While I agree with Mr. Goldberg that we are indeed facing a clash of two civilizations, the modern West and primitive barbarism of expansionist radical Islam, and I agree with some of the points he presents for this notion, I just cannot embrace it. Should the Dems triumph in ’08, I would expect a rapid withdrawal from Iraq with little or no increase in focus on Afghanistan. I also would not expect another 9/11, at least not during the first term and not if our enemies have a clue. That would be a window for our enemies to consolidate their position in Iraq, shift their eyes to Afghanistan, and continue relatively unabated their efforts in Europe, northern Africa and the Asian Pacific region. That would be four years of progress and radicalization on their part and retreat on our part, with all progress of the last five-plus years wasted. That would also be four years of relative peace for the U.S., leaving the Dems in the White House and (presumably) Congress to work toward enacting their policies without substantially strengthening our nation.

No, I cannot embrace that notion at all. That said, it does hinge on a bit of shrewd political calculation and restraint by our enemies, and they have overplayed their hands many times to date. I do wonder how some of the current Democratic candidates would fare in the Oval Office after another 9/11. I also wonder if it would again take something on the scope of 9/11 for them to see it as something worthy of a sizable response.

Either way, all initiative would be handed back to our enemies.

Hat tip to Dean Esmay, who doesn’t agree with Mr. Goldberg and me that it is a war of civilizations. Perhaps that is because he thinks that Goldberg considers the other civilization to be Islam rather than a dangerous subset. Still, Mr. Esmay makes a couple of key observations, one bitingly bitter and one truly rational, so I’ll let him have the last words here.

But I do, with some sadness, agree with most of his other arguments. In the year or two after 9/11 I genuinely believed in “partisanship ends at the water’s edges.” Democrats stomped that to death for me and made me feel deeply betrayed. Now I feel cynical, and like their party will only grow up on this issue if they’re actually forced to be put in charge.

Besides, we’re going to have a Democratic administration sooner or later.

2/20/2007

Murtha! Murtha! Murtha!

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:58 pm

With apologies to the Brady Bunch for the headline, here’s a link dump about pro-retreat Congressman John Murtha (D-IsForDefeat) and his plans to control (read undermine) our military efforts in Iraq. Oh yeah, there’s a little thrown in along the way about Nancy Pelosi and the bulk of the Congressional Democrats.

Not the ‘Real Vote’

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-Pa.) has a message for anyone who spent the week following the House of Representatives’ marathon debate on Iraq: You’ve been distracted by a sideshow. “We have to be careful that people don’t think this is the vote,” the 74-year-old congressman said of the House’s 246-182 decision in favor of a resolution disapproving of President Bush’s troop surge. “The real vote will come on the legislation we’re putting together.” That would be Mr. Murtha’s plan to “stop the surge” and “force a redeployment” of U.S. forces from Iraq while ducking the responsibility that should come with such a radical step.

[...]

Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site MoveCongress.org, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to “stop the surge.” So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill — an action Congress is clearly empowered to take — rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. “What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,” he said.

Mr. Murtha’s cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq.

Unparalleled Perfidy

The party of John Murtha shamelessly seeks to defund and defeat U.S. troops on the battlefield and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Congress the terrorists wanted is doing their bidding.

There’s a reason the founders of this country designated a single commander in chief and placed the responsibility to wage war in the hands of the president. We saw recently the futility of having 100 commanders in chief when the Senate tried to pass a resolution of disapproval of the war in Iraq and couldn’t agree on the terms of our surrender.

Now it’s the House of Representatives’ turn, led by Rep. John Murtha, who believes the fine young men and women we send to defeat terror and our sworn enemies are cold-blooded killers. While the House works on its own nonbinding resolution, Murtha has bigger plans and considers such a resolution only a prelude to the real battle in March over appropriations for the war.

[...]

As we’ve noted on several occasions, Democratic talk of “redeployment” has encouraged terrorist groups around the world.

Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said before the 2006 vote: “Americans should vote Democratic,” adding that “it is time the American people support those who want to take them out of the Iraqi mud.” The statement could have come from Murtha, Kerry, Hillary or any number of Democrats.

We find it scary that the Democratic and terrorist game plans are indistinguishable.

Hat tip to the above goes to Chap, who throws his own pondering into the mix.

My pondering is as follows: is Murtha’s legislation regarding training, rotations and equipment going to apply to the Afghan theater? You know, the campaign the Dems supposedly support. I don’t see how he’d be able to separate the two without setting himself up for a constitutionally-backed debacle. He may be able to affect funding policy, but it’s highly unlikely that he could do so only in a particular theater without blatantly overstepping the established role of the president as commander in chief.

But wait, there’s much, much more.

War Power Game: The coming constiutional crisis

There is a straightforward way for Congress to end a war: Cut off its entire funding. Congress has the power of the purse, the most important lever of legislative influence in the Anglo-American tradition. But House Democrats don’t want to wield this power because they’re afraid it will expose them to charges of defunding the troops. So they are resorting to an unconstitutional expedient instead.

[...]

Murtha repeatedly says in the webcast that his proposals are meant to “protect” the troops. But he is frank about the not-so-ulterior motive of keeping more troops from heading to Iraq, explaining that “they won’t be able to do the work.” Because his provisions can be sold as guaranteeing the readiness and quality-of-life of the troops, Murtha believes that they “will be very hard to find fault with.”

Only if one ignores our constitutional scheme. The president, not Congress, is the commander in chief. Congress was never meant to, nor is it suited to, direct tactical military decisions, as Murtha seeks to do with his restrictions.

Arguably, his maneuver will be the most blatant congressional intrusion on the president’s war-making powers in the nation’s history. Congress choked off the Vietnam War in the 1970s, but only after U.S. ground troops were mostly already out of the country and chiefly as a matter of cutting off aid to South Vietnam.

Just as disturbing is Murtha’s cynical reliance on failure in Iraq as a political strategy.

Hat tip to Blackfive, who calls it a must-read. I agree, if only for the disheartening notion later on in the column about what political fallout may result from this constitutional end-around.

Novak: Murtha in Command

After 16 undistinguished terms in Congress, Rep. John P. Murtha at long last felt his moment had arrived. He could not keep quiet the secret Democratic strategy that he had forged for the promised “second step” against President Bush’s Iraq policy (after the “first step” of a nonbinding resolution of disapproval). In an interview last Thursday with the antiwar Web site MoveCongress.org, he revealed plans to put conditions on funding of U.S. troops. His message: I am running this show.

Indeed he is. Murtha and his ally House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were humiliated last Nov. 16 when the Democratic caucus overwhelmingly voted against Murtha as majority leader. Three months later, Murtha has shaped party policy that would cripple Bush’s Iraq troop surge by placing conditions on funding. That represents the most daring congressional attempt to micromanage ongoing armed hostilities since the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War challenged President Abraham Lincoln.

Peters: Cowards Give up on GIs – & Give in to Evil

PROVIDING aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime is treason. It’s not “just politics.” It’s treason.

And signaling our enemies that Congress wants them to win isn’t “supporting our troops.”

The “nonbinding resolution” telling the world that we intend to surrender to terrorism and abandon Iraq may be the most disgraceful congressional action since the Democratic Party united to defend slavery.

The vote was a huge morale booster for al Qaeda, for Iraq’s Sunni insurgents, and for the worst of the Shia militias.

The message Congress just sent to them all was, “Hold on, we’ll stop the surge, we’re going to leave – and you can slaughter the innocent with our blessing.”

We’ve reached a low point in the history of our government when a substantial number of legislators would welcome an American defeat in Iraq for domestic political advantage.

[...]

And a word about those troops: It’s going to come as a shock to the massive egos in Congress, but this resolution won’t hurt morale – for the simple reason that our men and women in uniform have such low expectations of our politicians that they’ll shrug this off as business as usual.

This resolution has teeth, though: It’s going to bite our combat commanders. By undermining their credibility and shaking the trust of their Iraqi counterparts, it makes it far tougher to build the alliances that might give Iraq a chance.

If you were an Iraqi, would you be willing to trust Americans and risk your life after the United States Congress voted to abandon you?

Emphasis in original. Ralph Peters is perhaps my favorite columnist and, as I’ve repeatedly said, I’m always happy to link to his incisive efforts.

Steyn: Why the Iraq war is turning into America’s defeat

The Middle East is a crazy place and a tough nut to crack, but the myth of the unbeatable Islamist insurgent is merely a lazy and more neurotic update of the myth of the unbeatable communist guerrilla, which delusion led to so much pre-emptive surrender in the ’70s. Nevertheless, in the capital city of the most powerful nation on the planet, the political class spent last week trying to craft a bipartisan defeat strategy, and they might yet pull it off. Consider this extraordinary report from the Washington Post:

“Democratic leaders have rallied around a strategy that would fully fund the president’s $100 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but would limit his ability to use the money. . . . The plan is aimed at tamping down calls from the Democrats’ liberal wing for Congress to simply end funding for the war.

“The Murtha plan, based on existing military guidelines, includes a stipulation that Army troops who have already served in Iraq must be granted two years at home before an additional deployment. . . . The idea is to slowly choke off the war by stopping the deployment of troops from units that have been badly degraded by four years of combat.”

So “the Murtha plan” is to deny the president the possibility of victory while making sure Democrats don’t have to share the blame for the defeat. But of course he’s a great American! He’s a patriot! He supports the troops! He doesn’t support them in the mission, but he’d like them to continue failing at it for a couple more years. As John Kerry wondered during Vietnam, how do you ask a soldier to be the last man to die for a mistake? By nominally “fully funding” a war you don’t believe in but “limiting his ability to use the money.” Or as the endearingly honest anti-war group MoveCongress.org put it, in an e-mail preview of an exclusive interview with the wise old Murtha:

“Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president’s foreign and national security policy.”

“Undermining”? Why not? To the Slow-Bleed Democrats, it’s the Republicans’ war. To an increasing number of what my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls the White-Flag Republicans, it’s Bush’s war. To everyone else on the planet, it’s America’s war. And it will be America’s defeat.

Whew! When these columns and editorials are taken as a whole, that’s an awful lot of sudden double-takes by the media at the efforts of Murtha. Well, maybe not so sudden for Peters and Steyn at least.

It’s also a lot of words that should inspire a great deal of anger in the reader. Hey, why not relax a bit from the news and opinions with a look at the comics section. Flopping Aces brings the related editorial cartoons. Yeah, they don’t look too highly on Murtha and the Dems either. Hat tip to Hyscience.

Quote of the Week, 20 FEB 07

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:19 pm

The soldier who has been forced to retreat through no fault of his own loses confidence in the higher command; because he has withdrawn already from several positions in succession he tends to look upon retreat as an undesirable but natural outcome of a battle.

—Field Marshal Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis

2/12/2007

No, Really, I’m Going to Blog Again

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:18 pm

In the meantime, I’ve been doing some shopping. Does anyone have an opinion on this product? It would seem that I have a few projects in my near future.

1/2/2007

Blogging Will Resume Soon

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:50 pm

No, I’m not through yet with this little venture, though there has been a distinct decline in motivation and free time of late. After two-and-a-half years and a marriage, my focus seems to have drifted a wee bit. That said, like MacArthur, I shall return.

Oh yeah, happy new year, y’all.

12/26/2006

Former President Gerald Ford Dies

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:10 pm

President Gerald R. Ford
1913-2006

Thus passes the 38th president of the United States and the first president I clearly remember from my childhood.

Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon’s scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America’s history, has died, his wife, Betty, said Tuesday. He was 93.

Details on his death Tuesday were not immediately available.

Ford had battled pneumonia in January 2006 and underwent two heart treatments — including an angioplasty — in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

He was the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93. Ford had been living at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

Rest well, Mr. President.

12/13/2006

Happy 370th B-Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:11 pm

… to the National Guard.

Hat tips to John at Argghhh!!! and RTO Trainer at Signaleer, who both have more on this auspicious day.

As has been the case so many times in the past, the National Guard is once again answering the nation’s call. Here is a Texas Guardsman from 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 56th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division on patrol in Iraq in 2005 [click to enlarge]:

Lone Star Guardsman patrolling Iraq
[image source]

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