There's a lot of news coming from Ukraine right now. I'm not sure what is fact and what is propaganda. It looks like Ukraine is winning the propaganda war so far, for whatever that's worth. I guess we'll know when the smoke clears.
In the meantime, this post gives you a grounding in Ukraine-Russia politics.
Why on earth are we talking about getting into a war in Russiain the winter?
I mean, you could ask Napoleon how that turned out, or the German 6th Army. Heck, you could ask the Afghani allies we just left behind how good an idea this is. Since our military has such a good track record this century.
Peter's take is that the Powers That Be are getting desperate as the economy is mired in stagflation, the vaxx mandate is increasingly unpopular, and Biden's approval rating drops lower than any President in my lifetime. A foreign adventure is often the prescription for what ails them - politics ends at the water's edge, right?
Except no - firstly, this is nothing but madness. Bill Clinton at least had the good sense to bomb a Somali aspirin factory rather than Sevastapol. Secondly, we've heard from Democrats for 20 years that politics does NOT end at the water's edge.
Quite frankly, it's time for Congress to step up as the Adult Supervision* and pass a resolution saying that we do not have a compelling national interest in NATO expansion into Ukraine, and we sure as heck don't have a compelling interest in Americans getting killed over that. It sure would be something to see the Democrats filibuster that.
It's been a long time since I've tagged a post "Atomic War" ...
* This just goes to illustrate how weird things are.
I would expand on this, with several additional arguments:
The Biden Administration has done terrible damage to our armed forces, which quite frankly may not have the capacity to respond meaningfully in a peer-to-peer shooting war.
There is quite a good chance that if we do engage with Russia that the Chinese will think that this is the best opportunity they will ever see to take Taiwan back. The ability of our armed forces to simultaneously engage with two peer-to-peer conflicts is roughly between slim and none. And Slim just left town. (UPDATE 24 FEBRUARY 2022 12:01: Aesop has some Pertinent thoughts on this topic, and is more pessimistic than I am.)
An actual shooting war involving the US and NATO will show that Donald Trump was right: NATO members have not been living up to their agreements on funding troop levels and readiness. Quite frankly we all think that NATO is a paper tiger but a hot war will prove the point.
A corollary to #3 is that the EU will come under big pressure to do something - anything - about the conflict and any refugees. The EU will be paralyzed (because it's always paralyzed) and will be exposed as not the "United States of Europe" but rather a paper tiger just like NATO.
Germans will begin to freeze in the dark. They shut down a whole bunch of base load power (Energiewende) and now the Russians have them over a barrel. Fuel Poverty is a real thing.
I'd like to digress in particular on #5. We are seeing a fair amount of the usual jingoistic banging of the War Drum, with people not sufficiently enthusiastic about World War III being called "stooges" (or worse). Quite frankly, I'd be more impressed with these attacks if they were also leveled at the greenie Watermelon crowd (Green on the outside, Red on the inside) who are hamstringing our fossil fuel industries (both here and in Europe). Nothing gives Vladimir Putin more leverage over the West than this. No war for European oil, and all that.
This post is tagged "idiots" because, well, you know.
UPDATE 24 FEBRUARY 2022 12:01: Stephen Green at Instapundit muses about why Putin pulled the trigger and invaded. I think it's quite simple: he thinks he will get away with it. Quite frankly, I expect he's right.
This is my annual President's Day post - actually the 10th time I've posted this. The rankings are based on a simple question: did the President leave the Republic better off or worse off? This eliminates many fascinating people like John Tyler who basically infuriated his own party that they expelled him. But he didn't clearly leave America better or worse off, so he doesn't make the list. It also does not delve into bad decisions made by the best presidents or wise decisions made by the worst - it's only whether they left the Oval Office better or worse than they found it. Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove tag under penalty of law.
Also, it's not a real President's birthday (Lincoln was the 12th, Washington is the 22nd), but everyone wants a day off, so sorry Abe and George, but we're taking it today. But in the spirit intended for the holiday, let me offer up Borepatch's bestest and worstest lists for Presidents.
#5: Calvin Coolidge
Nothing To Reportis a fine epitaph for a President, in this day of unbridled expansion of Leviathan.
#4. Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson is perhaps the last (and first) President who exercised extra-Constitutional power in a manner that was unambiguously beneficial for the Republic (the Louisiana Purchase). He repealed Adam's noxious Alien and Sedition Acts and pardoned those convicted under them.
#3. Grover Cleveland.
He didn't like the pomp and circumstance of the office, and he hated the payoffs so common then and now. He continually infuriated his own party by vetoing pork spending (including for veterans of the War Between the States), so much so that he was defeated for re-election, but unusually won a second term later. This quote is priceless (would that Latter Day Presidents rise so high), on vetoing a farm relief bill:"Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character."
#2. Ronald Reagan
He at least tried to slow down the growth of Leviathan, the first President to do so in over half a century (see entry #5, above). He would have reduced it further, except that his opposition to the Soviet fascist state and determination to end it cost boatloads of cash. It also caused outrage among the home grown fascists in the Media and Universities, but was wildly popular among the general population which was (and hopefully still remains) sane.
#1. George Washington
Could have been King. Wasn't. Q.E.D.
#5. John Adams.
There's no way to read the Alien and Sedition Acts as anything other than a blatant violation of the First Amendment. It's a sad statement that the first violation of a Presidential Oath of Office was with President #2.
#4. Woodrow Wilson.
Not only did he revive the spirit of Adams' Sedition Acts, he caused a Presidential opponent to be imprisoned under the terms of his grotesque Sedition Act of 1918. He was Progressivism incarnate: he lied us into war, he jailed the anti-war opposition, he instituted a draft, and he was entirely soft-headed when it came to foreign policy. The fact that Progressives love him (and hate George W. Bush) says all you need to know about them.
#3 Lyndon Johnson.
An able legislator who was able to get bills passed without having any real idea what they would do once enacted, he is responsible for more Americans living in poverty and despair than any occupant of the White House, and that says a lot.
#2. Franklin Roosevelt.
America's Mussolini - ruling extra-Constitutionally fixing wages and prices, packing the Supreme Court, and transforming the country into a bunch of takers who would sell their votes for a trifle, sending American citizens to concentration camps. At least Mussolini met an honorable end.
#1. Abraham Lincoln.
There's no doubt that the Constitution never would have been ratified if the States hadn't thought they could leave if they needed to. Lincoln saw to it that 10% of the military-age male population was killed or wounded preventing that in an extra-Constitutional debacle unequaled in the Republic's history. Along the way, he suspendedHabeas Corpus, instituted the first ever draft on these shores, and jailed political opponents as he saw fit. Needless to say, Progressives adore him.
So happy President's Day. Thankfully, the recent occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue haven't gotten this bad. Yet.
So the Canadian Police have sent actual Mounties to break up the trucker's protest. People have been trampled, including a disabled old woman. The Mounties' "heroism" in this has been noted all over the world. We'll see if these horses can drag the truckers away.
Col. Gail Halvorsen, the "Candy Bomber" from the Berlin Airlift has taken off on his last flight. If you haven't heard his remarkable story, I'm reproducing a post from autumn 2020. As I said in that post, Col. Halvorsen represents the best this country has to give to the world. He is a man who made the world a better place.
Rest in peace, and may flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest.
The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field. Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
- Matthew 13:31-32
This is a little unusual for the regular Saturday country music, because it's not country music. But stick with me - folks who like country music will like today's story which starts with "Happy 100th birthday, Col. Gail Halvorsen".
He was a kid who liked to fly, joining the Civil Air Patrol in 1942 and then the brand new US Air Force when he was old enough to sign up. He missed World War II because of his age but found himself in the left hand seat of a C-54 in Germany, 1948. That's when Stalin cut Berlin off from the Free World and the Berlin Airlift started.
Lt. Halvorsen was at Tempelhof Airport one day when he saw some kids standing on the other side of a chain link fence. They told him not to worry if the weather was bad and he couldn't bring in food. You see, they said, they could live on very little food but if they lost their freedom they thought they would never get it back. Smart kids.
Halvorsen wanted to do something for them and told them that he'd drop some gum from his plane. They'd know it was him because he'd wiggle his wings. He and his co-pilot pooled their candy rations for the next day's flight. Because it was heavy, they made little parachutes out of handkerchiefs. Over the next weeks the number of kids waiting for his flights grew and grew. He tells the story about when hisCommanding Officer found out about it:
On his return from Berlin, he was told that Col. James R. Haun, the commanding officer of Rhein-Main Airbase, wanted to see him in his office.
Here, Halvorsen, sitting in his Provo backyard and wearing the same uniform he wore back then, picks up the narrative.
“‘Halvorsen,’ the colonel asked when I came in his office, ‘What in the world have you been doing?’
“‘Flying like mad, sir,’ I told him.
“‘I’m not stupid. What else have you been doing?’”
Here, Halvorsen pauses for effect.
“That’s when I knew they knew. I got chewed out real good,” he says before flashing his trademark smile. “But at the end, the colonel said, ‘That’s a good idea. Keep doing it. But keep me informed.’”
The Berlin Candy Bomber had the clearance he needed to carry on.
They called him the "Candy Bomber" and when the word got to the Press it became a sensation back in the States. School children and candy manufacturers donated candy for the children of Berlin. In just a few months Lt. Halvorsen couldn't keep up with all the candy and handkerchief parachutes that were arriving in the mail. Pretty much everyone in his unit was now aRosienbomber (as the German kids called them - "Raisin Bomber". Halvorsen himself was known as "Uncle Wiggly Wings" because of his signal that he was about to drop sweets.
Operation"Little Vittles"dropped 23 tons of candy in a quarter million handkerchief parachute loads. Halvorsen was awarded the Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz, Germany's highest award. He also got some marriage proposals via mail from adoring fans back home, but he went home and married his College Sweetheart. They had 5 children and 24 grandchildren.
In a very real sense, he represents what is best with America. Three years before we had been mortal enemies of Germany, now we were trying to take care of their kids because, well, kids. I'm not the only one who thinks this - he retired to his native Utah and in 2002 for the Winter Olympics there the German team asked him to carry their national standard into the stadium in Salt Lake City. Bravo Zulu, Colonel.
Like I said, Col. Halvorsen, happy 100th birthday. You make me proud to be an American. This song is for you because you've earned it 100 times over. Sammy Davis.Jr. didn't like it initially because it was too sweet. It became his signature song, and I think he's approve of it being played for your 100th birthday. Here's Sammy singing this song in Germany, back in the 1980s.
Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew Cover it with choc'late and a miracle or two The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
Who can take a rainbow, wrap it in a sigh Soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie The Candy Man, the Candy Man can The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
The Candy Man makes everything he bakes satisfying and delicious Now you talk about your childhood wishes, you can even eat the dishes
Oh, who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
The Candy Man makes everything he bakes satisfying and delicious Talk about your childhood wishes, you can even eat the dishes
Yeah, yeah, yeah Who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream The Candy Man, the Candy Man can The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good Yes, the Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man
Like I said, it's not country music. But I think the community can take a day to salute a veteran who represents the best of this country. Here's what looks to be an early2000's documentary of Operation Little Vittles. It's long but well worth a view. If you aren't looking for a kleenex between 15:00 and 18:00 then I'm sorry, we just can't be friends. And the last line in the video hits the nail on the head, spoken by a now grown German kid who remembers catching the parachutes and knows that it meant that someone who didn't have to care, cared anyway:The world needs more Halvorsens. Amen, and amen
Like I said, Col. Halvorsen represents the best this country has to give to the world. He is a man who made the world a better place. Happy birthday, Uncle Wiggly Wings.
For Haywood County native Richard Hurley, his time in the U.S. Navy is marked by a single event that outshined all the others.
While serving his country, Hurley wrote a song about then Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Zumwalt — an action that prompted a direct response from the admiral. Not only was it an honor, but it was something rarely seen by a lower enlisted man.
In total, Zumwalt sent out 121 Z-grams. Hurley said he also enjoyed the Z-Grams, the first of which Zumwalt sent out on July 1, 1970, when he took over as CNO.
In fact, Hurley, who is still well-known in the area as a singer-songwriter and performs regularly at local events, enjoyed them so much that he wrote a song about them called “The Ballad of the Z-Grams.” The song expresses a deep appreciation for both the Z-Grams and Zumwalt himself.
“When Admiral Shepard heard about the song, he called me in, and said, ‘I understand you wrote a song. I’d like to hear it,’” Hurley said. “So I went in and borrowed a guitar from some guy and sang it for him. He lit up.”
Next time Hurley was home on leave, he stopped by his hometown radio station, WPTL, where he was a DJ prior to joining the Navy, to record the song on a reel-to-reel. From there, Shepard, who initially loved the song, passed it on to Zumwalt, the highest ranking member of the Navy.
Click through for the whole story including when Hurley met Zumwalt. Sadly, it doesn't look like the song is anywhere on the 'net (at least that I can find).
Also, it seems that Z-Gram #1 did not read in its entirety: "Cut the crap." I first heard this in the early '70s, and it's kind of like learning that Santa Claus is actually Dad ...
John Michael Greer looks at the bumbling and incoherence seen from the current Administrations and ponders how they can be so incompetent. It's the Soviet Union all over again, where ideology is everything and results nothing:
The more tightly you focus your educational system on a set of approved abstractions, and the more inflexibly you assume that your ideology is more accurate than the facts, the more certain you can be that you will slam headfirst into one self-inflicted failure after another. The Soviet managerial aristocracy never grasped that, and so the burden of dealing with the gap between rhetoric and reality fell entirely on the rest of the population. That was why, when the final crisis came, the descendants of the people who stormed the Winter Palace in 1917, and rallied around the newborn Soviet state in the bitter civil war that followed, simply shrugged and let the whole thing come crashing down.
We’re arguably not far from similar scenes here in the United States, for the same reasons: the gap between rhetoric and reality gapes just as wide in Biden’s America as it did in Chernenko’s Soviet Union. When a ruling class puts more stress on using the right abstractions than on getting the right results, those who have to put up with the failures—i.e., the rest of us—withdraw their loyalty and their labor from the system, and sooner or later, down it comes.
Classical music is alive and well, it's just given up the concert hall for the cinema. Sometimes, it's gone to the Television Set. Lalo Schifrin wrote musical scores for both films and television, blending classical, jazz, and themes from his native Argentina. This won him five Grammys and nominations for six Oscars and four Emmys.
You will remember his music from the Dirty Harry films and Cool Hand Luke, but this is his most famous composition.
The Queen Of The World suggested this song for today, and pointed out that Peter Graves (from Mission: Impossible) and James Arness (Marshall Dillion from Gunsmoke) were brothers. I had not known that.
And speaking of Peter Graves, this is perhaps his funniest scene:
This post isn't about the song. Rather, it's about the most unusual Marine who ever served in the Corps: SSGT Reckless.
Reckless was a horse. A Marine Lieutenant realized that his recoilless artillery battery was having a problem getting shells up the steep Korean hills. So he bought a horse:
On October 26, 1952, Lt. Eric Pedersen, commanding officer of the 75mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon, 5th Marines, went to the Seoul Racecourse looking for a pack animal to help his men carry ammunition over the rugged terrain of South Korea. Pedersen paid $250 of his own money for her. The only reason Kim Huk Moon sold his beloved horse to the Marine was so he could buy an artificial leg for his older sister, Chung Soon, who lost her leg in a land mine accident.
Kim’s loss was the Marines’ gain. The men named her "Reckless" after the gun she carried the ammo for, and she quickly earned the love and respect of all of the Marines that served with her.
One of Reckless’ finest hours came during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March of 1953. At the time of this battle it was written that, “The savagery of the battle for the so-called Nevada Complex has never been equaled in Marine Corps history.” This particular battle “was to bring a cannonading and bombing seldom experienced in warfare … twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble.” And Reckless was in the middle of all of it.
During this five-day battle, on one day alone she made 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites, 95% of the time by herself. She carried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds – almost FIVE TONS! -- of ammunition), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute. And as she so often did, she would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns. She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line. Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down.
After the war, she was left behind. One of the Marines got her story published in the Saturday Evening Post, and an outraged public demanded she be brought back to the States. And so she was, living out the remainder of her days at Camp Pendleton. She was promoted to Staff Sergeant by the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
This is quite a story, one that I had never heard before. I encourage you to click through and read the whole thing. But yeah, there's a country music song about a horse with grit. Eddy Arnold's version was nominated for a Grammy in 1959.
On the surface, this would seem to be something like an olive branch. “You see, we are just trying to figure this out. Can’t we all get along?”
That sounds great until you learn that they don’t really want to get along. To Harris and his political theater friends on the left, the entire reason Americans are at odds is because of, you guessed it, the Deplorables.
Politico EU reports thata 3-year-old Cypriot boy was denied a heart transplant by a hospital in Germany allegedly because his parents weren't "fully vaccinated".
And it wasn't just Germany.The boywas turned away by hospitals in the UK and Israelfor the same reason. Finally, a Greek hospital was found to do the transplant, but the story is going viral anyway as the latest example of COVID restrictions run amok.
Remember what the lefties like to say: Government is just the set of things that we all agree to do together.
Why do you need an assault rifle? Because some governmental flunky might want to tell you that your kid is going to die because you committed crimethink.
Aesop links to John Wilder writing about life paths, and adds his own thoughts. This part from Aesop's post seems key:
A high school classmate, solid C student, nice guy, was a total gearhead. Not college material in any way, shape, or form, and he knew it. But a good guy, and good with transmissions and engines. Three years out of high school, he bought his boss's shop. Ten years out, he owned ten auto shops. Was married, paid-off house, and worth $1M. Before age 30. Never even bothered with the SAT. Knew what he liked, did what he wanted. None of the college grads (which was 95% of my class) could touch that at the 10-year reunion.
A guy fixing air conditioners, transmissions, or furnaces and water heaters is going to make a good living anywhere but Trashcanistan, and the entry requirement is a GED, aptitude, and a work ethic.
Mike Rowe annually pounds the drum that Caterpillar every year has unfilled openings for people willing to learn how to repair bulldozers, cranes, and graders, has a full apprenticeship program, and that in 2 years, you'll graduate with zero debt, and skill that can take you worldwide, and pay $100K a year within a couple of years after graduating, and can't be shipped overseas, unless that's where the broken bulldozer is. And they go begging for applicants, because people would rather mortgage their entire future and not get their fingernails dirty.
Same with the Electric Unions. They'll train you for little/no cost and then get you an apprenticeship. That's a job that simply can't get outsourced.
I've written for almost a decade about how you can teach yourself everything you need to pass basic Cisco network certification. Starting salary is $50,000+ and you can keep repeating the exact same process until you have their Security cert at which point you will be making six figures. If you're a young guy I should point out that SecureWorks has a Security Operations Center in Myrtle Beach, so you can ride your Harley to work at the beach.
The cost? $30 for a book, your time, and the cost to take the cert (couple hundred bucks). My posts are here, just keep scrolling.
The key point here (my posts, Aesop's, and John's) is that the University Marketing departments have done an excellent job of selling short-term social status, not long term Return On Investment. If you're independently wealthy then that's fine, but their pitch of "you'll make a million dollars more if you get our degree" simply isn't true for most students.
College is expensive. People need to look very closely at the expected return on their investment if they're considering going. Social status doesn't put dinner on the table.
There are a lot of alternative paths that High School Guidance Counsellors won't tell them about. Most of those alternatives pay as well or better than a University degree. Caveat Emptor.
Dissatisfaction with China for various geopolitical reasons,
Anti-Covid measures are making things difficult for athletes,
Difficulty in visiting results in very small crowds of spectators,
"Olympic fatigue" - the delayed summer Olympics were held only 6 months ago.
None of this explain why the American public no longer cares about the Olympic games. There's quite a simple explanation, one that Wetzel interestingly does not explore. American Olympians have for a couple decades now acted as spoiled, unpatriotic brats. They've taken a knee during the national anthem at awards ceremonies. They've given interviews generously larded with examples of how the Republic has oppressed everyone under the sun. Displays of patriotism and gratitude to their country - and to their fellow countrymen - have been notable by their absence.
And we're supposed to watch these impolite, unpatriotic brats "represent" us? No thanks.
The American Olympic Committee has brought this on themselves, by allowing this behavior for far too long. Me, I don't care if I never watch another Olympics.
Larry Niven had some great science fiction in the 1970s, in which one of the plot twists was that the galactic core had exploded. Based on the latest imaging, that doesn't look like it's happened*. And here is a pretty cool mosaic picture of what the Galactic Core looks like, from the South Africa MeerKAT observatory:
The Queen Of The World pointed out to me that Ken Curtis (who played Festus on Gunsmoke) was also a professional singer. In fact, he had a long career doing that: he was lead singer for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, replacing Frank Sinatra in 1942. But he was most famous as front man for Sons Of The Pioneers. This is him singing in 1949.
Dan Carlin from Hard Core History talks to Elon Musk and Bill Riley from SpaceX on World War II aviation engineering. I expect most of y'all will enjoy this. Their approach to engineering as a game of rock-paper-scissors is interesting, and they apply that to each of these aircraft (as well as some others, like the Spitfire and FW-190).
Strengths and weaknesses of each plane are discussed, along with what could have been done to improve them (in particular the P-38). Also, the nearly fatal flaw of the P-51 which I hadn't heard anywhere, plus why the F6f was the most brilliant American fighter design of the war. I'd never heard that.