30 May 2008

Iraq and Iran

You know, I've always hated that stupid song where the singers tells me he doesn't know the difference. If that's the case, he should not be permitted to vote. The franchise should be a responsibility. But in Modern America, we can't say "responsibility" much less take any. But I digress.

First, Iran. As far as I'm concerned, we are fighting a proxy war in Southern Iraq against Iran. A friend of mine recently returned from theater and told that in his unit's sector in Baghdad, of the EFPs, 60% were imported from Iran and the rest were home-made. The imported ones were much better, as they had copper disks vice the steel ones of the home-made charges. A steel disk doesn't have as much velocity and doesn't have enough residual thermal energy to set a vehicle on fire after impact.

The Asia Times makes the case that the imams are unpopular, that the economy sucks rocks, and that they are printing money like it is going out of style. I'm no economist, but I know that uncontrolled expansion of the money supply leads to out of control inflation which is Bad All Around. There's the demographic time bomb expressed in 50% youth unemployment rates and no jobs for the cohorts coming of age in the next few years either. Spengler makes the case that the end result is foreign adventures in Lebanon and Iraq. I can see that, it's a time-honored method. He also points out that the people running Iran are True Believers in the Islamic revolution of Khomeni. Given that one cannot know for sure without telepathy, I believe this to be a reasonable reading of the statements and actions of the Iranian leadership.

But what to do about it? Invading Iran is, for a variety of reasons, right out. That would put the imams in the position of leading defense against the foreigner, which would solidify their position. It would also put us in the situation of having to occupy a nation with over three times the population of Iraq, with more rugged mountainous terrain.

Nancy Pelosi and Barak Obama seem to believe that appeasement is the right track. If we engage with Iran, then peace and love will blossom forth, at the small price of selling Iraq and Lebanon to crazy people who want to make nuclear weapons and shoot them at Israel and the United States.

The Belmont Club argues that if the estimates of the situation in Iran are really that bad, we would be selling our interests in the Middle East to a power who would be incapable of imposing order, and may be incapable of maintaining its own house in order within months or years. Pajamas Media is claiming that $35 billion dollars (that's billion with a 'b') in Iranian oil money is missing.

If this is true, then Iran's economic situation is even worse, and they may HAVE to go on foreign adventures to pacify the populace. So, what to do, what to do?

First, we must support the Lebanese people who decisively rejected foreign control over their nation, again. Second, we must support the Iraqi government against the Iranian-controlled JAM Special Groups and their Qods Force advisers.

Third, we need to keep international pressure up on Iran to be forthright on the subject of their nuclear program. Contrary to the recent NIE, there is more evidence of Iranian nuclear intentions emerging.

Basically, I'm talking containment. Back the Iranians into a corner, let them know in no uncertain terms that they have no alternatives, and then support opposition groups inside Iran. There's no shortage of them, I'm sure.

What then? Well, I see three possible positive outcomes. First, and most positive, we get regime change through internal dissent. Best of all possible worlds. Crazies go, and doesn't cost any American blood.

Second, less positive, the Iranians detonate a nuclear bomb and 30 minutes later, the Israelis make them go away. This has the disadvantage of throwing nuclear fallout around the region, but otherwise I won't miss Iran much.

Third, the Iranians try a full-scale military adventure and we get to kick their asses so hard their grandchildren will feel it. Hooray for for-real shooting wars with conventional infantry divisions and whatnot. It doesn't bother me, but it is a terribly expensive option.

On to Iraq. What to say about Iraq?

First, on Soldiers in Iraq. Badger Six is signing off on his blog.

A former Marine is being prosecuted for his role in house-to-house fighting in Falluja (after two previous investigations said there was no evidence) and was imprisoned for invoking his Fifth Amendment rights in the investigation. Funny how Leftists are all about the "Constitutional rights" of foreign nationals detained in the act of committing war crimes, but silent on a combat veteran being abused.

Second, on Media coverage in Iraq. Greyhawk has a review of press coverage of al-Anbar up. Why? It's hard to find current reporting on Iraq. The country has basically lost interest, and the media refuses to cover the good news, so there isn't much to cover. The American Journalism Review discusses that in more depth.

More ranting to follow.

Apology and Population Control

OK, I really have not been inspired to do any deep thinking lately. Seriously, this course sucks the motivation and intellectual capacity out your damned ears and ends up smearing them on the ground. I've coped by hurling myself into SCA-related projects, and have today finished everything except a pair of cosmetic modifications to the cuirass I've been working on. But if you wanted that drivel, you'd be reading the LJ. I apologize to those handful of folks who have faithfully checked up on this website in the off-chance that I might post something of value.

I have no idea how this is going to end up time-stamped. I'm starting it at 292118MAY08, (9:18 PM, 29 May 2008 for those who don't read DTGs). I'll finish it when I finish it. This addresses but one of the flaming rants I have bottled up inside, but this weekend, my priority is really on doing stuff with my hands rather than the intellectual effort of writing.

The original inspiration which made me decide to shake off this malaise of incoherency was a series of links I saw on, of all things, gun control.

As many people are probably already aware, a Philadelphia cop was shot and killed. Tragic, I'm sure, but a part of the game. Well, then things go off the rails. The Liberal Left (as personified by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter) have issued the usual post-mortem, which is that ready availability of guns is the culprit in this case. They have called for a reissue of the un-Constitutional and logically indefensible "assault weapons ban" (you can't ban something you can't define, and I defy anyone to define 'assault weapon' meaningfully)
But wait, there's More To The Story, as there often is. It seems that these three individuals who have been charged have a history.

Levon Warner was sentenced in 1997 to up to 15 years for robbery, one to five for possessing an instrument of crime and five to 10 for criminal conspiracy. Howard Cain was convicted in 1996 on four counts of robbery and sentenced to five to 10 years on each count. Eric Floyd was sentenced to five to 10 years in 1995 for robbery, rearrested in 1999 for parole violation and later convicted in 2001 for two robberies. (Source: Republican-American, who cites an editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News).

None of these men could have LEGALLY purchased a firearm anywhere in the United States. The firearms used were either stolen, or black market. Or both.

Further, while I don't have a fancy legal degree, I'm pretty sure that four times five is twenty years, and that Mr. Cain should NOT have been on the street a mere 12 years later, much less possessing a firearm.

The motivation of the Pennsylvania government is made perfectly clear by some other facts we have available.

Mr Cain, the alleged trigger man had a record of illegally possessing a firearm.

"Over Cain’s criminal career he had thirteen arrests for unlawfully carrying a firearm, that were listed “Nolle Prossed,” meaning the prosecutor chose not to bring charges. In a further eleven arrests for violations of Pennsylvania’s firearms laws, the charges were either withdrawn or dismissed. In only three cases was he prosecuted and either plead guilty or was found guilty. On weapons charges alone, he could have done 12 years in prison, in which case he would not have been on the streets to kill a police officer." (Source Includes a downloadable pdf of Mr. Cain's 15 page criminal record)

Obviously, further restriction of gun ownership is not necessary to prevent people like Mr. Cain from shooting policemen. What would have been necessary would be for the District Attorney to have previously prosecuted Mr. Cain and locked his punk ass up in prison so that he would be prevented from shooting policemen or anyone else. Also would have slowed down his theft, criminal conspiracy, unlawful use of an automobile, kidnapping threats, interference with child custody, unlawful possession of a weapon, etc, etc, etc.

Also at issue is the policy of releasing career criminals on parole regardless of the fact that they have committed parole violations in the past and shown no inclination to NOT commit further crimes. Mr. Walters in his article (cited above) suggests that when a parole board releases a criminal who subsequently commits a crime during the time when he would have been locked up otherwise, the parole board should be charged as accessories and sentenced.

As far as I am concerned, the District Attorney should be prosecuted as an accessory to murder for failing to prosecute these men in a serious way before they killed someone, as should the parole boards who released these animals back onto the street.

What is the further restriction of gun ownership aimed at? Law-abiding citizens. Liberals of the breed represented by Nutter and Rendell have no objection to criminality per se, as it represents job security for them and does not threaten their grip on power. An armed citizenry which is not beholden to governments for basic protection from the average violent criminal is less easily controlled as completely as Nutter and Rendell would desire. And that is their true objection, to free men. Not gun control in and of itself, but population control of which gun control is a single element.

Of course, this tack may be objected to as flaming paranoia. And it is entirely possible that I am being paranoid. No parallels should be drawn between American Democratic Party leadership and examples overseas. Most especially one should not draw attention to their English counterparts who, having successfully disarmed the population by banning firearms and traditional edged weapons, are now going after cooking knives. Part of this is driven, I am sure, by the desire to ensure that at no time may the subjects object to anything that is done to them by their lords and masters. The rest is driven by the condescending pseudo-parental urge that liberals have to "take care" of people--as if human beings were not capable of such a difficult feat on their own. For example, a city council in England wants to cut down an old tree on the grounds that it has sharp needles.

As an aside, it is highly amusing to juxtapose these two articles with this one, with the introductory line:

Despite the fact there are more than 200 million guns in circulation, there is a certain tranquility and civility about American life.

Having been fed the propaganda that guns (and other implements) cause violence in and of themselves, it seems some Brits are surprised that we aren't blowing each other away in the streets on a daily basis.

"Folks will have guns in all of these places and if you break into their homes they will probably kill you."

"They will occasionally kill each other in anger or by mistake, but you never feel as unsafe as you can feel in south London."

Seriously, back to the sharp needles. If a kid had killed himself on the needles it would have been in the story, I'm sure. But preemptively, because some self-appointed busybodies (and if you get into politics, you're self-selecting yourself as a busybody) decided it wouldn't be safe for this tree to continue to exist. I'm all in favor of risk assessment, but I believe if people don't engage in at least some level of risky behavior, then they are no longer humans, but cattle. What did we develop intellect for if only to shuffle through a padded guaranteed "safe" existence engaging only in those behaviors deemed acceptable by some "elite" to whom we concede all sovereignty?

And that's if such an existence were possible. However, it simply isn't possible. Real Life intrudes on the fuzzy pink fantasy with disturbing regularity. If you trust your masters to provide for your needs and protect you from reality, then by all means feel free to divest yourself of the means of protecting yourself. If you wish to be a sheep and raise future generations of high-tech serfs, then by all means avoid all risk and teach your children to do so as well.

I'm reminded of a Robert Heinlein novel about a future in which low-level genetic engineering was an accepted part of society, not extreme modifications, but if a couple were planning to conceive they went in to check and ensure that the child would not be hampered by genetic disease or the like. Over generations of this, they had managed to weed out even things like bad teeth and bad eyesight. But at one point, two characters are talking about the history of the world which led to this state of affairs. One of them mentions that one of the first behavioral modifications attempted by genetic means was the successful attempt to locate genetic markers for violent behavior and to eliminate them, producing people who simply could not engage in violence. It's a predominant mind-set among humans at any time--the fighter has always been in the minority. This experiment failed when a small group of people refuse to partake in it. The other person asked what became of them. The answer: "Every human being alive today is descended from them."

Real Liberals--for the sake of convenience defined as "people who believe what liberals believed before the American Liberal Establishment fell in love with Marx, Lenin, Mao, and Stalin" even catch this. Check out this love-song to the Second Amendment published on Daily Kos.

That's right folks, I'm linking to the Daily Kos with a hearty thumbs-up. I don't agree with all of the reasoning in there, but I love this post. Liberals in the old, classic sense (folks like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson) were all about militias, posses, and military-style firearms in every household precisely because that was (and is) the best way to prevent tyranny. I look at it as self-defense. Most likely self-defense from criminals, but in extreme cases from a tyrannical government. Of course, my standards for when a revolution is acceptable are somewhat different from a fellow who posts at the Daily Kos, I'm sure. But I have them, and that terrifies Progressives (folks who think of themselves as liberal but who are really Marxists stripped of the Marxist-Leninist verbage when in public).

01 May 2008

For my green-suited readers

Actually, dependents and civilian employees need to read this one too.

The United States Armed Services Blood Program needs you to get off your ass and donate blood. If you have an ID card, you can do this.

Presuming you are in generally good health, have not had a tattoo in the past 7 DAYS[1], have been back from CENTCOM AOR more than 12 months, have not spent more than five years total in Europe, and haven't had a smallpox shot in the past eight weeks, or other vaccinations in the past 4 weeks,


Seriously, folks. Blood donated anywhere you see the star-spangled blood drop goes into a different pool than blood donated at the American Red Cross or other civilian blood centers.

It goes into the pool that goes downrange to Iraq and Afghanistan. The record, as I understand it, for blood usage is 207 units used to save the life of a Military Policeman in Iraq.

That's 207 doners giving one bag each.

Your average trauma patient (ie combat casualty) uses between 4 and 8.

All the blood goes to a central shipment point, where it becomes "purple" blood and goes to theater to be centrally managed. It will go to a Serviceman of some kind. Blood in excess of in-theater requirements goes to stateside military hospitals where it goes to servicemen and dependents.


Blood has a shelf-life of 42 days. How long does it take to get to the aid stations and forward support hospitals?

If you are a leader, encourage your Soldiers (Marines, Airman, Sailors, Coasties) to donate some damn blood. By encourage, I mean "do everything but hold a gun to their heads, because that isn't technically legal." Support this shit, because some fucked up kid in a hospital in Iraq is depending on you.

You can donate one unit every 56 days.

Civilian blood must be PURCHASED in order to go into the military pool. It costs the taxpayers between $250 and $500 a unit. There is a limited supply. It cannot enter the blood supply as quickly as blood donated in a an ASBP donation center.

This is the website.

These are blood donation centers.

On Monday, I attempted to donate blood. The medic managed to fail to find a vein twice. Yesterday I went back, having hydrated a hell of a lot better, and the medic managed it on the first stick.

It blows my mind how many people who can lead men into combat will use as the excuse not to donate blood, "I'm afraid of needles."

Why haven't you given lately?

[1] 20 states are on a list where tattoos are only a 7 day waiting period, to include Texas and California. For the rest, it is a 12 month deferment.