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December 2011

A New Year Wish

2011 has been quite a year.  I know for that for many it has not been a good year.  Looked at one way, it has been what I would consider the worst year of my own life.  There are many reasons for that, for myself and for others. 

Yet, looked at another way, it has been one of the best years of my life -- and much of that is because of blogging and you, the readers.  Without blogging, I would never have met Matt or otherwise become a member of this blog.  My embeds to Iraq would never have happened, and Cooking with the Troops would never have come about; and, without your support, we could not have done what we've done. 

I think pretty much without exception, every high point in 2011 came from Cooking with the Troops and working with U.S. and Allied troops, their families, and caregivers.  From Operation Fight Post Holiday Blues to pig roasts at Brook Army Medical Center, from Cooking Fun 101 events to swearing a new oath to defend; from the Dayton VA to NASDAQ on Veteran's Day:  what an amazing year it has been.  I've gotten to finally meet my Cuban brother in the flesh, and gotten to meet some amazing people such as Heather, Jorge and Joey, and the amazing folks at the Warrior and Family Support Center.  It is no wonder I would like to make Cooking with the Troops my life as it is the best part of my life. 

Given that 2011 has redefined the term "embrace the suck" for far too many of us, I offer this wish for 2012:  May the best of 2011 be the worst we face in the new year, and may 2012 be filled with health, happiness, joy, and prosperity for all of good will.  May our enemies lament our good fortune, and be turned from their path; and, may those that do not turn find themselves no longer our problem.  May our friends share in our good fortune; and, may we share with those of deserving need. 

May 2012 be a good one.  Be safe out there this evening with all the amateurs about, and enjoy the new year. 


EFF No Longer Protects A****les?

If that's the case, then quite a few of us are in trouble.  In fact, I would say almost everyone with a blog qualifies to some degree or another.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has long stood up for the rights of those involved in new and social media.  As politicians and the law have struggled to understand and come to terms with the changes created by technology, and within media technology itself, the EFF has been there.  They have helped champion justice in the electronic frontier, and supported those who blogged anonymously for personal safety -- an important thing.  They have helped some of those in the milblog community I do believe.  Personally, I've been glad for it and encouraged support for it.

However, this morning I read something rather disturbing over at the Jawa Report.  It started with this story about an anti-jihad blogger pulling a fast one on someone determined to out him.  It quickly morphed into something more, best seen here

Jillian York is on the staff of the EFF, as Director for International Freedom of Expression.  Her comments in support of outing the anti-jihad blogger because he was an "a****le" are in direct contradiction to the policy of EFF, and all previous precedent.  As they appear to have been made in her official capacity, and not personal, I was concerned enough that I e-mailed some of the leadership of the EFF to ask some questions. Questions that included asking if she was, indeed, speaking in official capacity for the EFF. 

So far, I've only heard back from member of the Board of Directors Brad Templeton, who responded with "If you have a problem with Jillian, bring it to the attention of her superior.   That is not me." 

The lack of response to the questions, and the response of Mr. Templeton, do not inspire confidence.  So much so, that unless and until this matter is addressed, I withdraw all support for the EFF and recommend any of you who have or do support them examine the matter and make your own decisions.

I am very well aware that individuals within an organization are entitled to their own opinion -- it's why we have a portion of the bylaws of Cooking with the Troops protecting that.  However, we also have provisions in for who can speak for our organization, and what happens if someone claims to without sanction.  I'm also well aware that even private, protected speech can have a negative impact on an organization:  there's a reason I don't blog about politics much anymore, as I've found it has a negative impact on CwtT. 

When someone can be seen as speaking for an organization, they have a much higher level of responsibility to clarify for whom they are speaking.  This is not about attacking Jillian York, no matter what Mr. Templeton mistakenly appears to think.  It is about clarifying for whom she was speaking, and if this represents a fundamental change to an organization that has done a lot of good for bloggers, online journalists, and others. 


An act of war against Ron Paul

Ron Paul will never be President of the US, something we should all be profoundly thankful for. Matter of fact, the only real impact he could have on the race is to run as an independent and throw the election to Obama. There are certainly some principles of fiscal responsibility he has helped bring attention to, but he has far too many batsh*t crazy ideas to ever be trusted with the title of Commander in Chief. Here is the latest reason why.

Defending himself against charges of isolationism, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul told voters in Iowa on Thursday that western sanctions against Iran are "acts of war" that are likely to lead to an actual war in the Middle East.

That wouldn't pass even a freshman quiz on international affairs. Q. What are economic sanctions?

A. Economic sanctions are domestic penalties applied by one country (or group of countries) on another for a variety of reasons. Economic sanctions include, but are not limited to, tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas

You will have to help me out if I miss anything vaguely resembling an act of war there or in any of the melange of weak tea proposals advanced to try to stop the advance of the Iranian nuke program. I wish I was missing something, as an act of war is about the only thing likely to slow it down long enough for the Mullahocracy to finally implode. If refusing to trade favorably with a country is an act of war, then by Ron Paul's reckoning I am committing an act of war against him by withholding my vote from him. Jim Hanson officially declares war on Ron Paul 2012 this 30th day of December 2011, a date that will live.....ahhh nevermind.

Now I am not saying we should invade, but at some point someone needs to turn some centrifuges into recycling. This of course assumes you have the common sense to oppose the proliferation of nuclear weapons to the certifiably batsh*t crazy. Even that is a bridge too far for Mr. Paul.

Apparently alluding to Israel and its nuclear-weapons arsenal, Paul said that "if I were an Iranian, I'd like to have a nuclear weapon, too, because you gain respect from them."

I'm with you Ron, I don't trust those dirty Joooos either. You gotta show 'em who's boss. Now it is fine to say that Iranians might want to have nukes, heck there are plenty of disrespected dictators and wannabe-much-more-oppressive regimes who would greatly appreciate the bargaining clout a few A bombs bring when extorting satchels (or more properly planefuls) of Danegeld. Just ask the Pakistanis. But that is why any reasonable person should oppose them getting that power. And even more important that the American President grasp that and oppose it with every tool at his disposal and if necessary every weapon in our arsenal.

Isolationism would be fine if the planet wasn't such a hellish place and we didn't need to keep the petty and not-so-petty tyrants and tyannies from boiling over into frenzies of genocide and slaughter. But you see, we do. When the world dials 911, the phone rings at the Pentagon. That doesn't mean we roll tanks every time something awful happens. But it does mean we are still the only ones who can. Hiding our heads in the sand can't change that and we need to act proactively, so we don't need to send in the Marines. Ron Paul would have us sit on the sidelines until Tel Aviv was a parking lot. Sorry but I must disconcur.

Bogus gun statistics kill the truth

Did you know there is a nationwide rampage going on where crazed fanatics with concealed carry permits are slaughtering innocent citizens? Neither did I, but thankfully the NY Times is on the story. With their usual, thoroughly accurate, fact-checked, journalistic professionalism propaganda, they have concocted a faux outrage that simply doesn't add up. National Review Online points out the fallacy.

From the Times:

The New York Times examined the [concealed-carry] permit program in North Carolina, one of a dwindling number of states where the identities of permit holders remain public. The review, encompassing the last five years, offers a rare, detailed look at how a liberalized concealed weapons law has played out in one state. And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.

More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter. All but two of the killers used a gun.

All of these numbers are completely meaningless; in any large population, there will be some crime. The only way to see what these numbers mean is to compare concealed-carry holders to the general population. Fortunately, state-level murder data are easy to find.

North Carolina has a statewide murder rate of about 5 per 100,000. Even without counting manslaughter, that’s 25 murders committed per 100,000 North Carolinians every five years. There are about 230,000 valid concealed-carry permits in North Carolina, so by pure chance, you’d expect these folks to be responsible for nearly 60 murders over five years. And yet only ten of them committed murder or manslaughter. Instead of “rais[ing] questions,” the Times has demonstrated yet again that permit holders are more peaceful than the general population.

Shocking The Times pushes a conclusion so divorced from reality. And you just have to love this bit of misdirection.

And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.

OK, I have a question. I know you Times writers are "journalists", but can't anyone in your entire organization do simple math? I mean go to your accounting folks, oh wait, they can only add negative numbers like your plummeting revenue. Aside from the visceral, pants-wetting fear that armed, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging albeit law-abiding regular Joes walking the streets causes in pantywaist milquetoast liberals, concealed carry is not dangerous. Well, unless you're a bad guy who tries something stupid with one of those regular Joes around. Then it could be painful, perhaps even fatal.

I carried for the best part of ten years. I never once had to pull my weapon in a civilian situation. But I did have the ability and inclination to intervene in some dangerous settings. Knowing that I had the trump card allowed me to de-escalate some violent situations that I may not have intervened in otherwise. That is not a stat the NY Times would care about though, now would they? Nope, they bask in the added safety of the very sheepdogs they deride on the pages of their rag. You're welcome, anyhow, you gutless weasels.

Santa's Stallion

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U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, and members of his visiting delegation prepare to load a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter following a Christmas Day visit to Marines in Garmsir District, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2011. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder

Dec. 23 in US Military History

1783: Three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington resigns his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

1941: Japanese troops conduct a second landing on Wake Island, supported by carrier-launched airstrikes. After 12 hours of intense fighting, the Marine garrison surrenders. Wake's capture came at a high cost to Japanese forces, however, losing nearly 900 men, two destroyers, two patrol boats, a submarine, and over 20 aircraft at the cost of 12 planes and 50 Marines and sailors.

The Japanese sub I-21 sinks the oil tanker Montebello off the coast of Cayucos, Calif.

Meanwhile, labor and industry leaders agree that there will not be any strikes or lockouts during World War II.

1944: Elements of the 5th Panzer Army bypass the 101st Airborne surrounded at Bastogne, Belgium. A break in the weather allows Allied fighter-bombers to conduct 900 sorties, conducting devastating attacks against German supply depots and allowing aerial resupply of the 101st

1948: Former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo is hanged after the International Military Tribunal for the Far East found him guilty of war crimes. Tojo was responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack. Also hanged are Gen. Iwane Matsui, responsible for the Rape of Nanking, Gen. Heitaro Kimura, responsible for the brutal treatment of Allied prisoners of war, and four others. Overall, around 5,000 Japanese are found guilty of war crimes, and 900 are executed.

1950: Gen. Walton H. Walker, commander of the Eighth Army is killed in a jeep accident. Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, who would turn the tide of the Korean War, is his successor. In April, Ridgway will replace Gen. Douglas MacArthur as Supreme US and UN Commander in Korea.

1951: A prisoner exchange request is denied by the North Koreans. UN command lists 65,363 troops as captured in the first nine months of combat.

1961: Cuban dictator Fidel Castro announces that he will release the 1,113 prisoners from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in exchange for $62 million in food and medical supplies. One year later, Castro will begin releasing prisoners.

1968: After 11 long months of brutal captivity, North Korea releases the crew of the USS Pueblo. The communists claimed that the intelligence-gathering ship was in North Korean waters while the US maintains that the ship was in international waters. One prisoner died in captivity, and the ship remains in North Korea as a museum.

1970: The World Trade Center is complete. The twin 110-story buildings were - at the time - the tallest buildings in the world, with the North Tower reaching an impressive 1,368 feet.

1974: The B-1 Lancer bomber makes its first flight.

2004: Marines neutralize the last pockets of resistance in Fallujah, Iraq. The Second Battle of Fallujah was the bloodiest battle of the war and the deadliest since the Vietnam War with 107 killed and 613 wounded.

Dec. 22 in US Military History

1775: The Continental Congress creates the Continental Navy. Esek Hopkins, Esq. is named commander-in-chief of the fleet, four captains are commissioned, as well as five first lieutenants (including future hero John Paul Jones), five second lieutenants, and three third lieutenants.

1864: Following his “March to the Sea” and just before his “March through the Carolinas,” Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman presents the captured city of Savannah (Ga.) to Pres. Lincoln as a “Christmas gift.”

The wire from Sherman to Lincoln reads; “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”

1941: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C. for the Arcadia Conference, the first summit between Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt to discuss military strategy.

Meanwhile, the first US troops arrive at Australia. (h/t Davod)

1944: Having surrounded the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, Belgium, German General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz issues a surrender ultimatum to Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, the acting commander for the 101st. Clement's one-word response: "NUTS!"

Despite being heavily outnumbered, the 101st was able to hold out until the 4th Armored Division relieved them on Dec. 26th.

Meanwhile, German commanders, including the Chief of the General Staff, recommend ending the Rundstedt Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) due to a lack of significant progress.

1950: Air Force F-86 Sabres shoot down six communist MiG-15 fighters without losing a single jet in the biggest dogfight of the Korean War.

Medal of Honor: 67 years ago near Kalterherberg, Germany, Tech. Sgt. Peter J.Dalessondro saved his unit from being completely routed by multiple overwhelming attacks.

Image of the Day: US soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge

Adapted (and abridged) in part from "This Week in US Military History" by W. Thomas Smith Jr. at Human Events.

Patriot missiles found on China bound ship

Your odd and disturbing national security story of the day:

The MS Thor Liberty left port in Emden, northern Germany, on 13 December and docked two days later in Kotka, southern Finland, to pick up a cargo of anchor chains, said Finnish Customs spokesman Petri Lounatmaa.

It was bound for the Chinese port of Shanghai but there was no indication for whom the military cargo was destined.

Routine checks by Finland's traffic safety authority revealed a load of up to 160 tonnes of improperly packed nitroguanidine, a low-sensitivity explosive with a high detonation speed.

"Actually in our investigation at the moment, we have got the information that we found 69 Patriot missiles on the ship and around 160 tonnes of explosives," said Detective Superintendent Timo Virtanen from the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation.

69 Patriot missiles is not some minor load.  That’s a bunch of missiles.  Were they hijacked?

They belong to somebody.   Of course, remember we provide Patriot missiles to our “allies” too. 

How in the world do 69 Patriot missiles go missing and end up on a ship bound for China (why spend the money to develop technology when you can steal it and reverse engineer it)?