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Clausewitless On Warbirds

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Back in the 2000 Election, Ralph Nader made the claim that there wasn't a nickel's worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. One has to wonder if Lame John McCain and Dame Hillary Clinton aren't attempting to prove him correct in his assessment.

There has been a great deal of commentary concerning Dame Hillary's pronouncement that only she and Lame John have what it takes to be Commander in Chief. Considering later comments she made to CNN, one might come to the conclusion that she's standing by her main military man by boosting his image with those who are essentially single-issue voters. This promotion of Lame John certainly isn't helping her with Democrats, and might even be the final nail in the idea that Dame Hillary will deign to allow Barack Obama to serve her inevitable presidency as Lackey in Chief.

The real issue of who is better suited to be Commander in Chief is being overlooked in this donnybrook.

One duty the top officer must perform is to ensure that the military has been properly equipped and supplied to conduct its operations. Neither Dame Hillary nor Lame John show much capability despite their self-designations to the contrary.

Dame Hillary and Lame John share a common disdain for the military mainstay Boeing Corporation. Probably because Boeing isn't a major contributor to his campaign, Lame John has seen to it that Boeing has to meet stiff lobbying standards that he himself refuses to observe, or they won't get Pentagon contracts.

Dame Hillary, for her part, is the largest single recipient of military-industrial beneficence. She has accepted contributions from the subsequent winners of the latest USAF air tanker contract, EADS/Airbus and Northrup, for whom Dame Hillary has promoted contract awards in the past.

The personal health and welfare of the troops should also be a priority. The current usurper of the title is failing these standards miserably.

Despite a price tag of approximately $12 billion a month just for the Iraq terror war against terror, our soldiers are buying their own gear which the Pentagon can't or won't supply them. In addition, a crony corporation of the Vice-Commander in Chief (and maybe in Fact) is being accused of providing tainted water to our troops. Maybe instead of purchasing "cool" sunglasses and moldable caps which should be provided by Washington, our GIs should be pooling their funds for pools of safe drinking water. And what of all that downer cow meat that the USDA refuses to account for? All that "lost profit" could easily end up in MREs!

I won't go into too much detail here about how the government is protecting air polluters from regulation, because who really needs to breathe anyway?

On yet another affront, er, front, one has to wonder if the military itself isn't getting a bit too big for its expensively-tailored britches. Has the United States Military become convinced that they are more powerful or important than God? At the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, one just might think so!

It has long been a naval tradition that the American flag is flown below only one standard – that signifying religious services are in progress aboard ship. One item of Pearl Harbor trivia is that many of the ships there on 12/7/41 were in that condition when the attack began.

Yet, currently, there are some (the Academy superintendent, for instance) who profess that to dip the American flag before the symbols of the Almighty is a violation of the civilian flag code, which prohibits the display of any standard above the flag.

One might think that in a country which strives mightily to pretend to be a Christian nation, this would be an affirmation of the belief expressed by Bob Morrison of the conservative Family Research Council that the dipped flag before the Almighty is an acknowledgment that "the nation-state is not the highest authority in the world."

Don't let George hear that! It just might cause a loss of conservative support!

Such a reaction – for very different reasons – is already raining on the plains in Spain as Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero won the endorsement of the Spanish voters to continue in power. Spanish conservatives were reportedly out to "correct" a "mistake" made when Zapatero first took office, but they failed to convince the Spanish voters of that position.

Speaking of correcting mistakes, across the Pyrenees, the French voters bolstered the strength of the opposition to French neocon Nicolas Sarkozy's government in local elections over economic issues and "his ostentatious and impetuous presidential style".

There is every reason to believe that similar issues will affect the political fortunes of those who seek to maintain the status quo in the United States, something Lame John McCain has publicly vowed and Dame Hillary appears by her actions to be intending without affirmation.

It is not for nothing that Barack Obama is doing so well with the voters despite some validity to the charges leveled against him by his opponents on both sides of the two-party singularity. The people are wanting a change to replace shady business dealings as usual, and they are willing to entrust the awesome power of the US military to someone who has yet to demonstrate the walk to his talk over those who claim to have already done so.

Maybe instead it's because both Lame John and Dame Hillary truly already have demonstrated their walk – and that the voters do not like what they have seen.

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About pessimist

  • I suppose we’re lucky that you never respond to comments, but I do wonder if this article – like some of your others – was just put together randomly as a kind of stream-of-consciousness rant with full-blown ignroance, misinformation and propagandbits included.

    Just a couple of notes because it all seems so pointless.

    Sarkozy is not and cannot be a neocon. Applying the term to him just demonstrates that you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about, as usual. He’s nothing like a US conservative of any kind. He’s a secular atheist, opposed to the War in Iraq and a pro-union populist. I suppose that makes him something like Barack Obama without God.

    And then, of course, I wonder if you even read the documents you link to. The fact that soldiers like to buy ‘cool’ gear with their own money does not mean that the government isn’t providing them with everything they need. They don’t actually need wraparound polarized sunglasses and ultralight net harnesses even though many of them choose to buy them.

    I wonder if some day you will write an article which starts from facts and comes to a conclusion rather than starting with a conclusion and then trying to drag in the cat, the lawnmower and the kitchen sink to prove that conclusion in a sort of half-assed and ramshackle way.


  • Clavos

    Never respond to comments?

    Excellent tactic.

    Relieves you of having to defend the indefensible…

  • STM

    Nup, never responds to comments.

    That way, you can write bollocks ’til the cows come home, and you never have to face the muzak 🙂

  • Actually, if you pay attention, Realist does respond to comments, but not on the threads. He(She?)’ll make some oblique reference to them in a subsequent article.

  • True, Dr. D. Which is how we get disjointed catch-alls like this one.

    His articles should be looked on as a magical continuum of some sort.


  • Clavos

    “He(She?)’ll make some oblique reference to them in a subsequent article.”

    And sometimes, not so oblique; this line, from a “realist” article on March 7:

    “I want to have something to laugh about when you brag about all those bargains you picked up on the way down.”

    Is a direct response to one of my comments on another thread a few weeks ago.

  • bliffle

    Regardless of the distress of some readers at their failure to engage him in dubious battle, Realist makes some interesting points. In particular that McCain and Clinton make claims to military prowess and soldiery concern that isn’t backed by their actions in congress.

  • Clavos

    “Regardless of the distress of some readers at their failure to engage him in dubious battle”

    Sure glad you identified my “distress,” bliffle.

    I was wondering why my appetite is gone and I’ve been unable to sleep for weeks…

    Oh, BTW. McCain’s claims of “military prowess” (though I doubt he would phrase it that way) are indisputable, and a matter of record.

  • REMF

    Great article, keep up the good work!

  • bliffle

    McCain flew 23 bombing missions over Vietname before being shot down and becoming a POW for 5 years. he was the Point Of the Spear, as a pilot.

    But he was not in a command position.

    At least he did more than GWB.

    By contrast, the much disparaged John Kerry was in a command position in Vietnam.

  • Bliffle, McCain spent a substantial portion of his post-Vietnam career in the military in a command position – not on the front lines, but certainly as an administrator of significant rank. He’s certainly better qualified based on his military service than any president we’ve had since Ike.

    But consider this. We’ve only had a small number of presidents who had what could be called a true career military background – service in a war as a volunteer or draftee not counting. They haven’t exactly been the greatest presidents all told. Who do you prefer Eisenhower, Carter or Grant?

    If we open the field up to presidents with some significant non-career military experience then you really start to hit the gold mine, especially with those who volunteered to serve in the militia or something equivalent – Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, msybe throw in Jack Kennedy. The distinguished part time soldiers seem to be the real winners.


  • Clavos

    “By contrast, the much disparaged John Kerry was in a command position in Vietnam.”

    Sure was. Of a boat all of 50 feet long, with a crew of five including himself, and for all of 3 1/2 months before he exercised his option as a thrice “wounded” participant to skedaddle back to the World.

    Yup, lots of command experience.

    I led a squad of nine men for ten months of my tour in Nam, and I’ve never thought of it as being a “command position.”

    What a travesty; comparing Kerry’s experience in that war to McCain’s…

  • Clavos, I think it’s McCain’s post-war command experience that really matters. There’s a limited amount that Kerry could bring from commanding a boat on a river to leading a nation, but there’s a lot of relevant management experience that McCain can bring from his time commanding a squadron after Vietnam and in fact being awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for his work in improving training and performance there.


  • Clavos

    Point taken, Dave.

    I just wanted to point out that John Kerry’s experience in Vietnam is much overrated, especially when compared to McCain’s wartime record.

    From an administrative standpoint, commanding a squadron is the equivalent of running a good sized company in the civilian world.

  • bliffle

    My mistake. I stupidly thought that a command position involved being responsible for other men while under fire. I naively underestimated the value of driving a pentagon desk.

  • Clavos

    Not to worry, bliffle. It’s not your first mistake, and likely won’t be your last, either…

  • REMF

    “What a travesty; comparing Kerry’s experience in that war to McCain’s…”
    – Clavos

    But had he DESERTED, it’d be nonsequitur.

  • I agree Sarkozy is many things but calling him a neo-con strikes me as mislabeling – besides they exist in France?

    As for his populism, from what I can tell the left assert this. He’s accused of many things. French politicians are hard to get a handle on as French politics are slightly more, shall we say, nuanced than North American politics. He certainly acts like a conservative yet he is from the DeGaulle/Chirac lineage.

    As for the unions, didn’t he stare them down in November?

  • STM

    Let’s put this business into perspective shall we, using American politics as the yardstick.

    Sarkozy – to the right in France – is probably just a tad left of where the Democrats might sit in the United States.

    He’s no neocon, that’s for sure.

    The UMP, of which he’s the leader, is a party of the centre right.

    When you compare American politics to the politics of other developed western nations, that’s also where the Democrats sit – the centre right.

    The average American probably doesn’t realise just how to the right their politics are skewed.

    The reason? There is no Labour/Labor-style party that set out originally to uphold the intere4sts of workers, which is where the left comes from in Europe, Canada, the Antipodes, etc.

    It’s also the reason, as some commentators have noted recently, that you can hold down a fulltime job in the US for 25 years and still be homeless; why there is no standardised arbitration to set minimum wages and conditions tied to such things as productivity increases, why the minimum wage is a miserly $7-8 an hour, why wiatresses, waiters and bar staff can earn $4 an hour and have to live on tips, why annual leave in the US is a paltry two weeks’ a year (elsewhere in the civilised world it’s generally a minimum of four weeks, with no conditions attached and often accompanied by such things as an extra 17 per cent loading on holiday pay), and why tens of millions of Americans only get second-rate healthcare and second-rate educations.

    America, for all its good and all its energy, is indeed a land of contrasts and much of it remains baffling to those of us outside who are keen observers.

    It often seems to me that the average American has no real voice in government, and has no chance of changing that.

    In reality, the Democrats are not even really centre-left … and how I laugh when Americans describe them as the Left, and their policies as “socialist”.

    To me they just look centre right, as opposed to the republicans, who seem like they sit margibally to the right of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun.

    This current malaise in America that seems to be polarising the country I believe is about lack of community, and a tendency by Americans to confuse the concept of community with socialism, and a preference for the notion of “I’m all right Jack, and bugger you”.

    In other words, every man for himself.

    No one argues that the work ethic is important. However, it’s also important to reward good and loyal workers with a set of untouchable rights that includes things like unfair dismissal laws, award wages that can’t be undercut, a genuine living minimum wage and other workplace rights like decent paid annual leave.

    Universal health care isn’t the ogre it’s painted as in the US either; hundreds of millions of people outside the US think it’s great, and in most places that have it, any government doinmg away with it would likely be voted out of office quick-smart.

    Just because you haven’t had it and therefore don’t know, or because it wasn’t invented in America, doesn’t mean it’s bad. Take the blinkers off. You could learn from others.

    Other countries have managed to do all these things and have standards of living identical to that of the US and economies that are strong and healthy (and quite a few of them spend big per capita on their military, too), so it’s not impossible.

    Just given the sheer size of the population alone in the US, you are headed for a very divided society that, as the economy gets worse, will lead to great unrest.

    Now is the time to address many of these discrepancies, before the ice-cream hits the fan.

    That’s if the average American can even be heard in Washington among the big lobby groups and corporations and politicians lining their own pockets and needing to hold on to power and influence for its own sake rather than the sake of the country and its citizens – who should be the government of the US, but aren’t.

  • bliffle

    Too too true, STM.

  • bliffle


    So Kerrys boat was a puny 50 feet long? How long was the desk that McCain captained through the Pentagon seas after the war?

    Hey, I’m not the one who suggested that Size Matters.

  • STM

    Doesn’t mean I agree totally with Realist’s train of thought here, though, Bliff, I was really sticking up for Alessandro’s POV … as Realist’s train of thought often more closely resembles a train wreck.

    A veritable collision of ideas somehow not adding up to a very convincing argument.

    Mind you, even 5 per cent of the current military budget could probably provide really good healthcare for all those in need of it. Perhaps that’s what the Commander in Chief should be looking at.

    And the US military is not alone in soldiers having to fork out for decent kit … Australian soldiers have been forced to buy their own boots for active duty because the ones the government provides aren’t doing the job in many cases.

    It happens.

  • And the US military is not alone in soldiers having to fork out for decent kit … Australian soldiers have been forced to buy their own boots for active duty because the ones the government provides aren’t doing the job in many cases.

    Well, it’s still an improvement on the Royal Navy in the Age of Sail, when sailors were expected to provide ALL their own gear, including uniforms (for officers – enlisted men wore their civilian clothes) and weapons.

    Mind you, the entire crew also got to share in the profits from a captured enemy ship (the prize) – which would cause quite a hoo-ha if it happened today…

  • Clavos


    McCain was a squadron commander.

    The rest of it is moot.

    Kerry will never (thankfully) be president.

    McCain could be.

  • Baronius

    Well, if Realist won’t comment on this, maybe some of you guys will. I didn’t understand Realist’s comments about the naval flags. Was he pro or con, or being wry?

  • Silver Surfer

    I couldn’t quite work out what realist was on about either Baronius, but I think it’s just that in the USN, tradition dictates that the stars and stripes should not be flown under any other flag except the religious services flag, but at Annapolis they won’t even do that according to realist.

    The problem with realist’s scattergun approach is that it is totally partisan, and doesn’t REALLY mount any cohesive argument so you get to the end and it’s like you’ve just had a Chinese meal.

    You think you’re full but you ain’t … and you’re scratching your head wondering why you suddenly want more, but there isn’t any.

  • bliffle

    So, Clavos, you prefer the credentials of a guy who led a (presumably large) rearguard squadron, not in battle, over a guy who led a small unit under fire?

    Does size matter?

    Or is it that you are predisposed to dislike one and denigrate his service while celebrating the (seemingly lesser) service of someone you are predisposed to like?

  • Clavos

    “Or is it that you are predisposed to dislike one and denigrate his service while celebrating the (seemingly lesser) service of someone you are predisposed to like?”

    I’m denigrating the service of a man who denigrated mine, which was both more responsible (in terms of numbers of troops led) and lasted longer (in country) than his.

    How you can describe McCain’s service as “seemingly lesser” than Kerry’s is astonishing. McCain was a career officer, commanded (flew) a complex, intricate machine for dozens of missions, then spent 5 1/2 years as a POW; returned home and continued to serve, held additional highly responsible positions, including, finally, that of Navy liaison to the US Senate.

    Kerry served one four year (minimum) hitch in the Navy, during which he ran a small boat in Vietnam for a grand total of 4 months under arguably questionable circumstances, returned home, and proceeded to establish and build his political career by publicly denigrating everyone else who served in Vietnam.

  • STM, that was great. Someone ate their Wheetie’s.

    I guess the Democrats are more right than we think even though the rhetoric is to the left. Same with Canada; the Liberals are pro-business. While, the Conservatives/Rep. tend to tolerate big government despite the right of center talk. It’s not the same as other places as you put it. That’s why calling Sarkozy a neo-con is looking at it through American political lenses.

    At the end of the day, the relationship of right/left spectrum here is tighter than it is in other places.