Target Centermass

6/30/2005

Dropping off the Net

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:44 pm

I’ve got too much to do to blog tonight and I’ll almost certainly be on the road until very late tomorrow night. I’ll likely be able to blog some this weekend around the holiday festivities and anticipated large quantities of hot dogs. I’m also really hoping to be able to prepare a post for the first Carnival of Liberty.

Now, back to the washing and packing and whatnot.

Gunner out.

6/29/2005

Looking Around the News

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:59 pm

Army recruiting up for June but still down for year

The Army cut into its recruiting deficit slightly in June but still faces a daunting battle to meet its annual goal of 80,000 new enlistees.

Army recruiters enlisted 6,157 new soldiers this month, 507 more than its goal, Army officials said Wednesday.

The June surplus breaks a string of four straight months in which the Army missed it goals by wide margins.

A big Hooah! to those who have recently answered the call.

Arroyo sends her husband into exile

Gloria Arroyo, the president of the Philippines, yesterday announced that her husband was being sent into exile, amid growing pressure on her leadership. She did not say how long Jose Miguel Arroyo would remain abroad or where he was going.

Keep treading water, Gloria. You’re heading towards a well-deserved reckoning.

Storms hamper US chopper rescue efforts

US military officials say they fear all 17 troops aboard a special operations helicopter are dead after hostile fire downed the craft in a rugged mountain ravine in eastern Afghanistan.

If those aboard were confirmed killed, the crash would be the deadliest blow yet to American forces in Afghanistan, already grappling with an insurgency that is widening rather than winding down.

The officials said they knew of no communications from the crash site, accessible only by foot.

Stormy weather hampered rescue efforts after the MH-47 helicopter crashed on Thursday while ferrying in reinforcements for troops already on the ground pursuing al-Qaeda militants near the border with Pakistan.

My eternal gratitude to those aboard in uniform, and my best wishes to their loved ones for closure and my sorrow for their losses.

US signs formal defence pact with India

India and the US have signed their first formal defence pact since the US imposed sanctions on India following its 1998 nuclear tests.

The 10-year agreement promises enhanced military co-operation, including joint weapons production, technology transfer, patrols of Asian sea-lanes and collaboration on missile defence.

Signing the “strategic framework on defence” in Washington, Pranab Mukherjee, Indian defence minister and Donald Rumsfeld, his US counterpart, said the two countries, whose military ties had been negligible until the terrorist attacks of 2001, had “entered a new era”.

This is one I really need to give a more in-depth look.

Biggio makes his mark as Astros rip Rockies

Craig Biggio homered and set the modern record for being hit by pitches, and Roy Oswalt pitched seven scoreless innings for his fourth straight win to lift the Houston Astros over the Colorado Rockies 7-1 Wednesday.

Biggio was hit on the right elbow in the fourth inning by Byung-Hyun Kim, breaking Don Baylor’s post-1900 record of 267 times hit by pitches. Biggio calmly turned and trotted to first as he had so many other times, but this time he pointed to the ball and asked the ball boy to send it back to the Astros’ dugout as a keepsake for his years of pain.

267? That’s taking “taking one for the team” well past its limit.

Hearings Planned on Calif. Guard Intel Unit

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:26 pm

And the drumbeat continues.

Rat-a-tat-tat. Make it Viet Nam again. Rat-a-tat-tat.

A California congresswoman and a state senator are planning plan [sic] separate hearings into whether a California National Guard unit was established as a spy agency.

Guard spokesmen denied that was the unit’s intent but declined to make the unit’s commander available for an interview to fully explain its function.

State Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove, whose budget subcommittee oversees funding for the California National Guard, said Tuesday he has ordered the Guard to turn over all documents about the unit, formally called the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion program. That would include any information collected about citizens.

That last request will be easy, because no such information has been collected, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Douglas Hart said.

He said the new unit includes nine soldiers and airmen, two of whom monitor the military’s classified e-mail system and seven who work with the State Terrorism Threat Assessment Center. That center is the successor to a terrorism-information unit created after the 2001 attacks and operated by the state Department of Justice.

The seven help gauge terrorist threats to bridges, buildings and other structures, said Tom Dresslar, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

“They don’t monitor the activities of groups that are engaged in anti-war protests or the like,” Dresslar said.

Seems like a straightforward answer, especially considering we’re talking about a unit of nine in our nation’s most populous state. Just how did we get to this point?

The National Guard intelligence unit came to public attention after a story published Sunday in the San Jose Mercury News. The story referred to the unit’s monitoring of a Mother’s Day anti-war demonstration at the state Capitol that was organized by several peace groups — the Gold Star Families for Peace, Raging Grannies and CodePink.

An e-mail chain that began in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s press office culminated in an advisory a few days before the protest from Col. Jeff Davis, who oversees the National Guard unit: “our Intell. folks … continue to monitor” the event.

Hart said the monitoring amounted to recording television coverage and reading newspaper articles about the protest. He said the unit did not infiltrate the groups or observe the rally.

“That’s all there was to it. That was the extent of our ‘surveillance’,” Hart said.

A unit tasked to monitor threats to infrastructure damned well better be concerned about protests and rallies. Should they be tracking the individuals involved, investigating and delving through records? No, that is not their role. The job, as described, is to know of opportunities for threats, then evaluate and monitor the overall situation. There is no evidence in this story to suggest that anything else was done.

Margita Thompson, spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, said, “The administration is concerned, and we are looking into it.”

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, plans to question California National Guard officials at a House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee hearing.

Peninsula Raging Grannies co-chair Ruth Robertson said she suspects the government has a greater interest, perhaps because of her group’s efforts to dissuade people from enlisting in the military.

“Our median age is 72 — we are not threatening,” Robertson said. “We are all about peace.”

Well, if one wants to play the age card, I would suggest that a 72-year-old grandmother is far more likely to be a traitor than a 12-year-old Little Leaguer. That said, I see no problem with a group whose aim is to dissuade people from entering the service. After all, we are talking about an all-volunteer force; each potential soldier should have any information he or she desires during the decision-making process. As long as that is all these Grannies are doing, then more power to them. As long as that’s all they’re doing.

Gold Star Families member Cindy Sheehan said she’s not bothered: “If they’re monitoring what we’re doing, we must be scaring them, and I think that’s great.” The group is composed of people whose sons or daughters have died in military conflicts.

Group composition be damned, if they are so smug about and proud of being monitored then so be it, let them be monitored. However, that is the realm of the FBI rather than the military.

What? No Viet Nam yet? Are the leftists, peaceniks and Dems slipping?

Dunn said he was not reassured by the unit’s denials.

“History has not been kind to such assertions by government and military officials,” Dunn said.

He referred to the Vietnam War era, when the military collected information on more than 100,000 Americans during the 1960s and 1970s.

Thank you. That took long enough.

Questions about the state’s anti-terrorism center also arose two years ago, when Lockyer’s Criminal Intelligence Bureau warned Oakland police about “potential violence” during a protest there.

Police, firing wooden dowels and beanbag projectiles, ultimately injured at least two dozen protesters. Lockyer subsequently disavowed the tracking of groups or individuals that avoid violence or other illegal acts, even if they engage in otherwise harmless civil disobedience.

In a statement this week about the National Guard unit, Lockyer said, “You have to wonder how monitoring the activities of soldiers’ widows and orphans advances the anti-terrorism effort.”

Well, this section certainly has negative overtones to it. Did you notice that the man questioning the National Guard in the third paragraph is the man whose own bureau was involved in the warning painted so negatively in the two preceding paragraphs? Is that a scent of sweat of a man straining to shift attention? By the way, the story lacks context, but on the surface it appears that warnings of potential violence were indeed accurate.

Dunn said that even if the National Guard unit formed last year isn’t spying, the Guard should have cleared the unit with legislators because “perception could put a cloud over these activities,” Dunn said. “Spying on United States citizens is a radioactive topic.”

The Guard on Tuesday abruptly canceled an interview The Associated Press had scheduled with Col. Robert J. O’Neill, director of the new program, citing Dunn’s planned hearings.

“I would respectfully suggest the Guard is taking absolutely the wrong approach to shut down information to the public or media about this unit,” Dunn said. “It only raises the suspicions of the public and the media when the Guard retreats into a bunker mentality.”

Dunn demands hearings. Guard cancels an interview because of those hearings. Dunn claims Guard is shutting up and casts a shadow on the military. Listen, Dunn, the Guard is not hiding from you; rather, they’re heeding your beck and call. Must you smear them with suspicion and questions of perception before they even sit before you at your hearing?

My prediction: tempest in a teapot. But the useful idiots will play it for all it’s worth. Disclaimer: I was in the military. I distrust the anti-war movement. Here’s just one very good example why I feel that way.

Any input from a local in Cali, Eric?

6/28/2005

Britain Celebrates Trafalgar Victory

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:09 pm

Amidst the pageantry paying homage to a battle that greatly helped shaped today’s world, political correctness raises its ugly head as Britain opened a long celebration of the bicentennial of its storied naval victory over the forces of Napolean on October 21, 1805.

Seventeen ships from five nations stage a mock sea battle off southern England on Tuesday to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, during which Admiral Horatio Nelson routed Napoleon Bonaparte’s French and Spanish forces and ensured that Britain ruled the waves for more than a hundred years. The ceremony – watched by Queen Elizabeth II and thousands of spectators – was to involve 10 tons of gunpowder, state-of-the-art pyrotechnics and a replica 18th-century frigate portraying the HMS Victory, the flagship that Nelson commanded and died aboard when a musket ball struck his spine during the famous battle.

France and Britain have long forged an alliance since then, and ships from both countries will take part in Tuesday’s ceremony, as will ships from Spain. But the British-French rivalry remains strong, as is evident by their latest public feud over the European Union budget, and the anniversary organisers worked hard to avoid touching it off. They decided not to carry out a precise re-enactment of the Battle of Trafalgar with a victor and a loser, instead opting for a sea battle pitting an unidentified red navy against an unnamed blue one.

That irritated Anna Tribe, 75, the great, great, great granddaughter of Admiral Nelson and his famous lover, Emma Hamilton. Tribe dismissed the idea as ‘pretty stupid.’

“I am sure the French and Spanish are adult enough to appreciate we did win that battle,” she said [edit — this view is certainly open for debate].

“I am anti-political correctness. Very much against it. It makes fools of us.”

As much as I despise such PC silliness, I recognize I can do little about this instance and, therefore, refuse to let it mar the majesty of the moment for this military history buff. Be it an accurate re-enactment or a silly red-on-blue exercise, I’ll still pimp out an article that has a couple of amazing photographs from the festivities. For the military buffs, I’ll also point you to this interesting comparison of two ships involved in the legendary battle.

Bush Asks for Nation’s Patience

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:25 pm

I must say that I missed the tonight’s speech because of work so I’m writing this off of a news report.

President Bush on Tuesday rejected calls for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq or sending more troops, counseling patience for Americans who question the war’s painful costs.

“Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it,” Bush told a nation increasingly doubtful about the toll of the 27-month-old war that has taken the lives of more than 1,740 U.S. troops.

Bush spoke in an evening address for a half-hour from an Army base that has 9,300 troops in Iraq, hoping to persuade the public that his strategy for victory needed only time not any changes to be successful.

I will catch a rebroadcast or read over the speech later but, frankly, I doubt I’ll hear anything that will strike me as news. Hopefully, some who are fostering doubts about our nation’s direction against the radical Islamist threat will. I’ve argued repeatedly for the need to continue our efforts because the impact of failure would be unrepairably horrendous and will haunt our nation for generations.

For this post, however, I’ll leave the argument to a MilBlogger currently serving. Chris Short at Conservative Thinking argues against those working to undermine national morale, particularly those doing so for purely political purposes. He does so from a political angle but then shifts his attack, bringing it from a different direction — the hopes of the soldiers involved.

I’m sure every soldier, sailor, Airmen, and Marine wants the MC (mission complete) in the final block in section 15, column d of their DD Form 1351-2 (travel voucher) to mean more than, “Our politicians told us to tuck tail and run.”

We, as a nation, certainly failed not only an ally but also a generation of our nation’s military in the past. For the sake of those in uniform today, like Chris Short and his comrades in arms, we cannot fail our military again in a winnable effort. The risk is theirs, and they face it bravely as they work to reduce the risk that is our society’s.

Bloggers, Become Just Another Number

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:46 am

Okay, so Phil pointed me earlier towards a survey, to which I subjected myself. JohnL reminded me to post my proof of participation.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

SCOTUS Issues Rulings

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:12 am

The blogosphere responds in interesting ways.

For example, I present the Constitution Death Pool (hat tip to the Jawa Report).

Hmmmm … there’s some potential for that blog. Goodness knows, there’s a wealth of material for the authors to harvest.

6/27/2005

The Will to Fight

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:10 pm

One of my primary motivations to begin blogging was to provide another voice, however meek or hushed, as a counter to the defeatism and anti-military nature I saw in our mainstream media. Few may hear me and, of those that do, some may dismiss me as a paranoid hawk. I’ll accept the hawk title, though you can keep the oft-attached neocon garbage — the history of that word does not apply to my beliefs. I sharply renounce the paranoid aspect, however, as history is on my side. The media have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory before, specifically during and after the Tet offensive of early 1968. My study of Tet and the subsequent media fallout sickened me back in college during a survey-level military history course, and that feeling has certainly continued and seeped over into this blog. One might say Tet has almost become a central theme here at Target Centermass.

It’s my continued hope that the blogosphere, through such efforts as Chrenkoff‘s regular “Good News from Iraq” features and especially the MilBloggers, can provide enough of a counterweight against the media to allow American efforts to prevail. Sometimes, that hope is bouyed.

Greyhawk: Americans Dissatisfied With Press Coverage of the Military.

In his very next post, Greyhawk points us to two other MilBloggers, one of which previously unknown to me, who clearly demonstrate why sometimes my hopes wane.

Blackfive: How To Lose A War

Neptunus Lex: Could We Lose?

I’ll be honest: I understand what the media, as a whole, is trying to do but, for the life of me, I cannot understand why. There is no way that a victory for the jihadists currently carrying much of the weight of the onslaught against a free Iraq, a defeat for America, and a dooming of a fledgling Arab democracy could spell a better world. Such a result could only lead us down one of two paths — either the resulting next war is fought by us in a far less humane manner or the next war isn’t fought at all, much to our future detriment. And we retreat. And the radical Islamists spread. I really don’t understand the hopes of the members of today’s media when, truly, the lives and freedoms of their grandchildren hang in the balance.

As for me, I’ll keep working and hoping to add to the chorus of counter-voices. Or maybe I’ll go back to work another way. Hey, I hope to have grandchildren, too.

6/26/2005

LLP Graphics: Just Some Ideas

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:23 pm

Okay, I was asked to do some graphics for the new Life, Liberty, Property community. That’s my mistake for having voluntarily done some banners for Eric. I did my time in the uniform — I should’ve know better than to volunteer for any work detail. As an aside, never let a drill sergeant know you can type. Trust me on this.

I dawdled and, in the intervening time, GuyS came up with some buttons. As his effort was in line with one of my concepts, I have happily swiped it and just thrown some space around it. In the choices below, the files are all jpegs. I did all my work in bitmaps and, if any are wanted for further usage, they will be saved as png files. This will mean a lower degree of compression distortion than in these jpegs, at little or no space cost.

Anyway, here are my efforts to date (UPDATE: png files are now available):

Any feedback is, of course, appreciated. We are talking about a voluntary collection of individuals, after all.

Life, Liberty, Property Hits the Ecosystem

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:21 pm

No, this is not related to the recent Kelo decision. Well, not directly.

Eric from Eric’s Grumbles Before the Grave has established a new community as part of the Truth Laid Bear‘s blogosphere ecosystem. The group is appropriately called Life, Liberty, Property and is meant for bloggers whose political beliefs are of a libertarian bent. Other plans for the LLP community are being discussed, including a possible spin-off group or best-of type blog. Personally, I’ve added a link and a community blogroll script to my menu column in a new “Communities” section.

Additional blogging may be light or non-existent tonight, as I have happily taken on the task of creating some potential graphics for the group. Meanwhile, feel free to check out the blogs of the other members of Life, Liberty, Property.

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