30 October 2006

Repeat After Me:

Master Rove guide us. Master Rove teach us. Master Rove protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours.

This mantra must be chanted in the kneeling position, facing Washington DC, with your forehead pressed to the floor and your arms straight at your sides. In the field this can be repeated three times, but when you are not it must be repeated for an hour. Anything else is an Abomination Unto Nuggan and will be punished appropriately.


My apologies to the Terrys, Goodkind and Pratchett. H/T to DUmmie FUnnies.

23 October 2006

Can We Question Their Patriotism Yet?

Now we find the New York Times admits that they were wrong to publish the story about SWIFT, saying that it was indeed legal, and that they were "embarassed by the how-secret-is-it" issue.

Also in the news is a story that Ted Kennedy conspired with the Soviets to wage a PR campaign against President Reagan. That's not all, he also conspired with the Soviets against President Carter, of all people, and was also instrumental in getting restrictions put on the CIA and FBI to hamper their intelligence gathering capabilities. Serious allegations, ones that certainly merit further exhaustive investigation, followed quickly by a long drop and a short rope if found to be true.

On a happier note, I got another locomotive, cause you just can't have too many (regardless of what The Management says). This one is a twin to one already on my roster, a Bachmann 2-8-0 Consolidation in N scale, and now I can double head my freight if I want to with steam instead of the F-7 ABBA lashup. I should have a 4-6-2 Pacific coming soon that will be just perfect heading up the passenger special.

19 October 2006

Extra! Extra!

Driving home from work this morning (I work nights) I heard on the radio where NFL stadiums may have been targeted for dirty bomb attacks. The idea, straight from a Tom Clancy novel, was to load box trucks with "dirty" bombs and park them next to football stadiums, then detonate them while the games were in progress.

Driving back to work this evening I hear on the radio that the whole thing was a hoax. Of course I already knew this yesterday from the Jawa Report. Score another scoop for the blogs. Note that the post was updated on the 19th, but the original post was written on the 18th.

And from Ace O' Spades, this unbelievable report: the French court has punished Philippe Karsenty for exposing a fraud. Kind of reminds me of the line that Jacksonville Florida radio personality Robbie Rose used to sign off with, "Remember folks, no matter how bad it is, it ain't that bad".


18 October 2006

Cats and Dogs

Howard Dean feels your pain.

Something I have noticed about Democrats and Republicans, when a Democrat is faced with scandal he first denies anything has happened, then calls his accusers liars/racists/haters and claims the "evidence" is made up, then when the evidence is proven he refuses to take any responsibility for the wrongdoing, fights to stay in office, and disdains any attempt to censure him
The Republican on the other hand immediately goes into a hand-wringing apology, resigns from public office, and is later (with exceptions, such as Duke Cunningham) found to be not guilty of any wrongdoing.

The MSM usually will support the Democrat through the whole process, but will throw the Republican under the bus at the first opportunity. This is called the "moral high ground", something that the Republicans own, the Democrats don't want, and apparently isn't worth any strategic or tactical advantage.

I think we ought to just fire every single politician in both House and Senate and hire a whole new bunch, that way maybe we can get something done with them.

While we're at it, how about having the intestinal fortitude to call a traitor a traitor?

But at least the TSA is finally getting a clue. I wonder how long it will last?

15 October 2006

Thank You For Your Service

From Blackfive and One Marine's View, a story of a former Staff Sergeant Bryan Fluharty's struggle to protect his children from the abuse heaped on them by their mother and her live-in boyfriend while he was deployed to Iraq.

I have a personal interest in seeing justice in this case served. First off let me say that military life is very hard on a marriage, and some just don't make it. My first one didn't, I came home from cruise to find a strange toothbrush in my bathroom and a woman that I no longer knew telling me that my presence was no longer required. Consultations with lawyers revealed the sad truth, I didn't qualify for custody of my 2 year old daughter because I was not her mother, and since I was in the active-duty military I was not considered able to create a stable home atmosphere for her. So my 2 year old daugher was taken away from me and my contact with her was scant and at her mother's mercy. Now she is 20, and harbors a deep resentment that I didn't do "more" to be her father.

My story is not unique, it happens all the time. I will say that at least my ex-wife was a good and caring mother and my daughter grew up healthy and un-molested by her following 3 fathers. The last one, a friend of mine (he introduced me to her mother), took care of her as if she was his own. It doesn't take the sting away, but at least I didn't have to worry about her safety.

Please, go, read the story. Please, help where you can. If you are an Ohio resident, please contact your state legislature. This is no way to treat one of our heroes.
Photo from the V.O.I.C.E.S. website linked above.

14 October 2006

Greater Love Has No Man

During my 20 years with the US Navy I had the opportunity to meet some of these "special" people that make up the most elite units of the United States Navy, and in my opinion the most elite and effective warriors on the entire planet. I have always been in awe of these men, and somewhat hesitant to claim them as brothers because my service did not rise to their level. But we were brothers in arms nonetheless.

They don't talk much about where they have been, indeed most of them won't mention their association with the Teams at all unless you specifically ask. They aren't in it for the glory, to them it is a job that needs to be done. But they throw the best parties.

I never got a chance to meet this gentleman, although I did run into a few of his compatriots. Allow me to introduce Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Micheal A. Monsoor.

Petty Officer Monsoor will not be able to join us today. He has demonstrated the meaning of the Bible verse John 15:13 and in doing so has proven his place in Odin's Hall. He will likely deny that he deserves such an honor, he saw something that needed doing and he did it, nothing more.

What he saw that needed doing was a grenade that had to be neutralized before it could kill his fellow SEALs. He neutralized it with his own body, throwing himself on it and absorbing the blast. Two other SEALS were injured in the incident, and Petty Officer Monsoor gave his life to prevent them more serious injury.

But there's more. Petty Officer Monsoor was already a hero, he and another teammate had previously pulled a wounded man out of the line of fire at great personal risk to themselves. Once again, just a job that needed to be done. For that incident he was (posthumously) awarded the Silver Star. The written citation for that award will have a standard blurb at the bottom that will read something like this:

"By his bold initiative, undaunted courage, and complete dedication to duty, Petty Officer Monsoor reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Navy."

Well done shipmate.

Fair winds and following seas. Valhalla awaits you.
AP photo

13 October 2006

Happy Birthday US Navy!

231 years ago today on 13 October 1775, in support of the growing American privateering campaign against British commerce, the Continental Congress authorized the establishment of the Continental Navy.

It was hoped that even a tiny navy would be able to offset, to some extent, what was otherwise uncontested British sea power. This navy had a very limited mission; it was not expected to contest British control of the seas but rather to generally harrass British shipping in conjunction with the scores of privateers outfitting in American ports. To carry out this mission the Continental Congress acquired, through purchase, conversion, and new construction, a cruiser navy of small ships. For the most part they cruised independently or in pairs in search of their prey, avoiding pitched battles whenever possible. There were a few victories, such as the capture of British sloop Drake by Capt. John Paul Jones aboard Ranger, but they never did give the British any great cause for concern. This was the humble beginning, and the event that is recognized as the birth, of the US Navy. However, navies are notoriously expensive to maintain, and the new republic was more concerned with British and Spanish threats on it's western frontier than along it's sea coast. So, in 1783 the last of the Continental Navy ships were sold, leaving the Revenue Cutter Service (now the US Coast Guard) as America's only armed sea service.

On 27 March 1794, in response to the attacks on American shipping by the Barbary corsairs, President George Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 to provide for naval armament. The Third Congress subsequently authorized the construction of six new frigates, which in effect created the United States Navy as we know it today.

These six frigates would not see immediate action against the Barbary corsairs since an agreement with Algiers was reached in 1796. Their construction was put on hold, and the nascent Navy slept until the French, upset that their "allies" were helping the British war effort through their trade, started attacking American shipping. This began the undeclared Quasi-War. The six ships were quickly completed; the first of them, USS Constellation, launched on 7 September 1797. On 30 April 1798 the Department of the Navy was established with Benjamin Stoddart as the first Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV). By 1800 the Navy boasted a fleet of 30 ships, and under Stoddart's care evolved as a professional warfighting service with an excellent reputation.

The Navy served well during the Quasi-War, and later against the Tripoli pirates, but the War of 1812 drove home the need for a large and effective Naval force. Although the Navy performed well in single combat against British ships on the Atlantic they were not so successful on the Great Lakes. Because of their relatively small size they lacked the necessary naval muscle to affect matters to a great degree even on the high seas, and Great Britain was able to send numerous naval squadrons and armies across the Atlantic. The United States quickly found its ports blockaded and its trade destroyed. The British raided the coast at will, and in the summer of 1814 a small British force captured Washington DC. The Washington Navy Yard and the White House were among the facilities destroyed in this raid, the British officers first sitting down to dinner at the White House before setting it to the torch.

To rectify this situation a crash program of ship building was instituted, and this time the program did not end with the war but continued through the postwar years. This was a time of rapid technological change, and the Navy experimented with advanced propulsion systems (the Constitution was fitted with experimental man-powered paddle wheels), armor plating, breechloaders, shell guns, and the telegraph. The Naval Academy was established in 1845 at Annapolis, Maryland in an effort to enhance with engineering training what was already a well-established professional officers corps.

The Civil War ushered in the era of steam and steel, rendering the wooden sail-powered ships obsolete. USS Constellation, second of her name, was built in 1853 (the same year that the first Constellation, the first of the original six frigates authorized in 1794, was being broken up for scrap) and was the last sail-powered warship built for the US Navy.

In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 new steel hulled steam powered battleships, dubbed the Great White Fleet due to their sparkling white paint, on a global cruise to signify that the US Navy was not a localized force but was able to project power worldwide if needed. The two World Wars proved yet again the importance of a strong Navy. From the ashes of Pearl Harbor in the beginning of World War Two the Navy built an unstoppable force of battleships, aircraft carriers, submarines and surface ships. This tradition continues to this day.

One of the six original frigates authorized by the Naval Act of 1794, the 44 gun USS Constitution still serves on active duty (although not in active service). Launched on 21 October 1797, she is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat in the world (the HMS Victory, Lord Admiral Nelson's flagship, is older but is unseaworthy and sits on land in Portsmouth England). The USS Constitution is homeported in Boston MA at the former Boston Navy Yard. She is pictured above, under her own sail power, during one of her turnaround cruises.

The aforementioned USS Constellation, the last sail powered ship built for the Navy, also survives. Decomissioned in 1955, she is now owned by the private non-profit USS Constellation Museum and is homeported in Baltimore's inner harbor. The only Civil War battleship still afloat, Constellation made her last trip under sail on a Navy Academy training cruise in 1893.

Happy 231'st US Navy, here's to 231 more (at least).
US Navy photograph

11 October 2006

Dinner And A Show

It's a slow news day.

As I peruse the online news sources I see that Jerry Sullivan, the owner of the Cafe Erotica (We Dare to Bare!) in St John's County FL, has died at his Gainsville home in Florida. His fine dining establishments could also be found in North Carolina and Georgia along I-95 under the Cafe Risque banner. I tried one of them out once but have to say it was a rather uncomfortable dining experience. Oh the food and service were good enough, but I felt kind of rude eating during the performance. But, fear not diners, the show will go on!

"The world is a less interesting place with Jerry gone, but he was also a good businessman and a good family man," said Sullivan's attorney, Gary Edinger. "He's made arrangements so his various business interests will go forward as they always have."

Good to know if I'm ever jonesing for a hamburger and a floor show somewhere along I-95. Not likely since my significant other would probably be along for the trip, but nice just in case.

In other news, the first lawsuits have been filed for the Apex fire that I mentioned earlier. 4 days from end of fire to beginning of legal action, but according to the plaintiff and the attorney, it's not about the money. It's about holding the company responsible. Which means that it's about the money. Funny, I thought there should at least be an investigation first.

Last but not least, this is the danger of nuclear proliferation. Maybe this would work...

09 October 2006

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

So now North Korea has a nuke, isn't that special. All the king's horses and all the king's men weren't able to prevent this, the United Nations were anything but, and once more worse than useless, and the 800 pound gorilla once again didn't have the will to be a gorilla.


Next in line Iran, and once again we are talking...and talking...and talking...and soon the talking will be over as Iran detonates a nuke in a "test", possibly in an Israeli or US city, once again we will be shocked, shocked! and do nothing.


I would write more, but I'm too disgusted.
Operation Crossroads, Bikini Atoll, 1945.

06 October 2006

Baby Blogging

This is what I have been doing today.

This is my 3 month old granddaughter Kasandra. Her parents just moved up from Florida, so she is the closest one to us, all the other grandkids are still in Florida and Georgia. Grandma wanted a fire today, so I built one and we have been rocking in front of it. Sounds boring I know, but these are the things that add value to life.

By now everyone has heard about the fire in Apex. It's quite a bit south and a bit west of us, so we were well out of danger. I was closer when I was at work last night at RTP, but still well out of the way.

Between grandbabies and trains it has been a pretty good day, even if it did rain all day.

05 October 2006

Have You No Shame?

I know that I just posted a few hours ago, but the following got my temper up.

Seems like the good Christian folks at the Westboro Baptist Church have agreed to cancel their protest at the funerals of the 5 Amish girls killed by a schoolhouse shooting shitweasel in Pennsylvania in exchange for an hour on Mike Gallagher's radio talk show. Isn't that awfully big of them.

Of course to concede that you have to ignore that only a creature lacking basic human decency would even consider protesting at a funeral of five innocents in the first place, but when you get into the article and read what their "spokesperson" has to say you will be hair-flaming furious. This "spokesperson" would be Shirley Roper-Phelps, she of Hannity and Colmes fame, who was so bereft of worth that even lefty Alan Colmes had to take her to task.

If you aren't familiar with the Westboro Baptist "Church", this is the group of inbreds in Topeka KS that started out 16 years ago protesting at the funerals of AIDS victims and moved on to protesting at the funerals of American servicemen. Most recently the protest was at the Sago miner's funerals. The message is the same, God hates us all because we allow homosexuals in our midst.

It is important to note that neither the American Baptist Churches nor the Southern Baptist Council claims any association with WBC, even though they call themselves Baptist.

I wonder if the Patriot Guard Riders would do an Amish funeral. On horses, perhaps.

In other news, Bill Frist is now a Democrat.
Photo is of the Patriot Guard Riders

04 October 2006

Alas, Babylon

The big news on everyone's radar screen now, it seems, is Mark Foley. The Dems are jumping with joy, the Repubs are scurrying for cover. Now it seems, more than ever, the Democrats are poised to regain control of at least the House; Hello Speaker Pelosi!

Dire consequences are threatened by the Republicans, who claim that such an event would lead to the impeachment of President Bush, the repeal of any and all tax breaks, the end to the War on Terror (on conditions favorable to the terrorists), fire, famine, flood, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, disaster of Biblical proportions! And it would be really really bad, too.

First off, understand that even should the Democrats gain control of both House and Senate, impeach the President, end the tax cuts, and surrender to the terrorists the United States of America will survive. We may never again be the same, we may find ourselves in the position of Great Britain two hundred some years ago, faced with the decline of our power and prestige in the world, but through it all the US will survive.

Decline of power and prestige you say? Just like Great Britain you say? Yes, I do say. We, after all, were Great Britain's VietNam. Is there any doubt that they could have crushed us utterly, not only in the years following 1776, but also in the years following 1812 as well? They were, after all, the world's most powerful nation, they had the world's most powerful Navy and the world's most powerful Army...much like we do today. They were faced with an insignificant foe that they could have destroyed completely, given the national will to do so. Much like we are today. Instead the rebellion in the colonies, which could have been put down decisively by hanging a scant handful of traitors, was viewed as a political opportunity by the party currently out of power. Quagmire! Wrong war, wrong time! No blood for raw goods! And the party out of power took control, ended the war on terms favorable to the Americans, and turned their attentions to France and Napoleon - bigger fish to fry and all that, you see.

During the War of 1812 the British burned the American capitol city on the Potomac, feasting on President Madison's dinner before setting fire to the White House, and with very few and notable exceptions handed the Americans crushing defeats whenever battle was joined. Once again the pesky French threw the flies in the ointment, keeping the British otherwise occupied in the Napoleanic wars.

Once the Napoleanic wars were decided in Britain's favor they simply didn't need the bother of the American campaign, and signed the Treaty of Ghent. They had stopped the impressment of American sailors (actually before the war began), protected their interests in Canada, and didn't need the foodstuffs for their wars on the Continent, so the reasons for the war were no longer valid. The Treaty of Ghent restored the ante bellum conditions, returning the state of Maine to the United States, and the US in turn agreed to abandon it's aspirations towards British Canada.

And so the decline began. A mere century and a half later, Winston Churchill effectively ceded the leadership of the free world to Franklin Delano Roosevelt; less than a quarter century after that the vast holdings of the Empire that the sun never set on were divested, and today Britain holds only it's own island and a few others scattered about the globe.

Such is the way of the world, the sun sets on one empire and rises on another, the great civilizations of the Greeks, the Egyptians and the Romans, just to name a few, have all come and gone, leaving only statuary and records for the historians to pore over. One day America, too, will take it's place as once-were's; it will be a while yet but it will happen, and then someone else will rise to take their place as world's greatest; in time they, too, will fail and yet another will rise, until at last man's place on this mudball is through. I have greatly simplified Great Britain's time in the sun, of course, but the end result is the same.

But America is not an imperial power, you say? We have no "Empire" spanning the known world, as did the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottomans, the British? Not in land, no; we do have holdings overseas but the bulk of our "empire" is one of ideas. The idea of freedom has germinated in our soil, we did not invent it but we did nurture it, and we have exported it along with our trade goods. All the free world looks to America, and most of the free world owes their very freedom to America to one degree or another (whether they care to admit it or not).

And now we, as were Empires past, Empires to come, are poised on the cusp, on the edge of the abyss, and our choices are these: do we choose to confront the evil before us, united as in ages past, and quell it? Or do we choose to turn aside, fragmented and concerned only with personal or political gain, thereby beginning our long journey into obscurity?

A bit melodramatic, you might say. After all, Iraq is in no position to harm us at home, nor is Iran, nor is North Korea; we are the 800 pound gorilla and no one is strong enough to take us on. True enough, if the 800 pound gorilla has the will to make it so. But when the gorilla cowers in it's cage, refusing to strike a blow for it's own defense, or only striking out half-heartedly, or only when directly threatened, it becomes easy to dismiss and soon can be ignored completely; a gorilla that is apologetic about being a gorilla will find itself overrun by ants in a very short order.

I believe this to be our future, sitting in the corner saying "sorry, sorry" whenever someone pokes us with a stick, until the pokes get harder and the sticks get sharper, and finally the gorilla expires due to massive loss of blood caused, not by one mighty blow, but by a thousand cuts.

Alas, Babylon.

01 October 2006

In The News

A few newsworthy items:

First on the agenda is an old story, reported on the 26th of September, about the arrest of 28 construction and landscaping workers attempting to enter Fort Bragg NC on false ID's.

Fort Bragg, as you may know, is an Army base in southern North Carolina that proudly proclaims itself to be "Home of the Airborne and Special Operations" on it's website. The 101'st and 82'nd Airborne Divisions call Bragg home, as well as the 10th Mountain and the Dragon Brigade. All in all a place you would think would be pretty well guarded.

If they were coming to work at Bragg, pay attention here folks, that means their employers had contracts with the US Army. That's the US government folks. Illegal aliens are working for contractors who have contracts with the US Government. On the 28th of September 10 of these illegal aliens pled guilty to entering the US illegally, a misdemeanor. That's right, misdemeanor.

Do you still believe our government is serious about illegal immigration?

Item two, activists in Norfolk are upset that the Navy might be deploying to go into harm's way. Apparently Time Magazine speculated that a small battle group made up of a submarine and a handful of small ships will be going to the coast of Iran. The Nation says the Eisenhower battle group could also be heading to a confrontation with Iran when it deploys this month. This speculation is based upon reports from "a Navy source" that an as-yet unnamed cruiser or destroyer has been ordered to prepare for short notice deployment, along with the CNO's review of blockade plans.

What is more likely, however, (and I'm basing my speculation on having taken a few boat rides at Uncle Sam's request) is that the sub and small ships will be part of the Eisenhower's battle group, the "unnamed cruiser or destroyer" has been placed on short orders in case one of the Ike's group is not ready to deploy (we call that the "surge" vessel), and since the battle group is heading to the Gulf anyway to relieve the Enterprise's battle group it will be close to Iran.

Deploying ships is damned expensive, and deployment schedules are drawn up years in advance. Alterations and modifications are done, of course, but only if great need dictates.

As far as the CNO reviewing plans, that falls under the damned if you do and damned if you don't catagory. Failure to plan being a plan to fail, and all that. If the balloon goes up and the powers that be have not at least dusted off the plans they are faulted for that, if they do look the plans over they are accused of being confrontational. I would rather they looked over plans they didn't need than not look over ones they did.

Last on the docket, you can now go to the web home of Filthy to purchase a bobblehead Mohammed for $14.99. 10 percent of the profits go to his beer fund. Sounds like a worthy cause.

The picture, which has nothing to do with the post, is of East Broad Top locomotive 15 crossing Meadow Street, taken by me on August 20, 2006 during the Community Appreciation Weekend.

In The Beginning

Once upon a time everyone had a website, time moves on and now instead of websites there are web logs, blogs as we all know and love so well.

So here's a new thing for me, this whole blogging deal. I have a few that I keep an eye on, but now here I am with mine own; now the pressure is on to make it worthwhile. Will I succeed? Time will tell.

Since there isn't much on my own personal radar screen for now the first posting is going to be rather lame I'm afraid. Such is life.

For now I'll leave you with one of my favorite things, East Broad Top Railroad's M-3 motor car photographed by yours truly on Sunday, August 20, 2006 during the East Broad Top's Community Appreciation Weekend. This was it's second day back on the railroad after being inoperative for many years.

You can find out more about the East Broad Top Railroad here and here.