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  • Archive for June, 2010

    Car Dealer Economics

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st June 2010 (All posts by )

    Recently I purchased a car and came face to face again with the befuddling economics of car dealerships.  My brother, who is an expert car negotiator, helped me out a lot doing research and negotiating with them in the crazy, we-aren’t-ever-going-to-see-each-other-again style necessary not to get ripped off at the dealer.

    The car dealership that we were working with had masses of cars on his lot.  A co-worker of mine said his buying power was increased because while he was haggling a big rig came onto the lot full of cars to unload and it was so packed that there literally was nowhere to put the newly arrived autos.

    While every other industry in the world seems to be moving to a just-in-time model or some sort of centralized distribution warehouse (Amazon), the car dealer industry uses the sad, old-fashioned methods of packing their lots with autos and then cutting each others’ throats to get an incremental sale.  Rather than having the exact car you want by having you order it and wait for its arrival (BMW still does this, at least according to a friend of mine who recently bought one, and Scion does this, too) – my dealer just tried to sell me the closest one to what I wanted on the lot.

    My brother, being a crazed car buyer, actually uses the technique of 1) determining the car you want 2) asking for a different, similar car to what you want that you KNOW the dealer doesn’t have on the lot 3) threatening to walk away because they don’t have the car that you knew they didn’t have in the first place and instead having to “settle” by having them offer you to take the car you wanted in the first place, for a discount.

    One major problem with this methodology is that the car buyer (me) leaves this experience with a terrible feel for the brand rather than a positive view, based upon interaction with the dealer.  This sort of marketing is suicide given that a repeat customer is critical to the long-term success of a car brand.  The second major problem is that having all this inventory on the lot causes all the dealers to drive down prices since they need to move these cars quickly which isn’t the most profitable outcome.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 8 Comments »

    The Global War Against Israel, Now in Oakland

    Posted by David Foster on 21st June 2010 (All posts by )

    A coalition of leftists and Islamists blocked access to piers in Oakland which had been designated for offloading of a container ship owned by the Israeli firm Zim Lines. The local longshoremen refused to cross the “picket line” and perform their job of unloading the vessel. There was nothing particularly controversial about the ship’s cargo: this was clearly an economic action directed at the entire country of Israel.

    Follow the link above to learn the identities of the organizations involved in this–organizations that the San Francisco Chronicle referred to as “peace and labor groups.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Israel, Leftism, Middle East, Transportation, USA | 11 Comments »

    Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 19 thru 20 June 1945

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 20th June 2010 (All posts by )

    19 June 1945

    On Okinawa, the insistent use of propaganda by means of leaflets and loudspeakers, by the American forces, induces some 343 Japanese troops to surrender.

    Japanese forces fall back in some disorder along the frontage of the US 3rd Amphibious Corps but continue to resist along the line held by the US 24th Corps.
     FIGHTING TOWARD HILL 89, tanks of the 769th Tank Battalion attack a bypassed Japanese strong point on top of Yaeju-Dake, 18 June 1945


    FIGHTING TOWARD HILL 89, tanks of the 769th Tank Battalion attack a bypassed Japanese strong point on top of Yaeju-Dake, 18 June 1945

    20 June 1945

    On Okinawa, Japanese resistance along the center of the line, held by the US 24th Corps, continues to be strong.

    The US 32nd Infantry Regiment (US 7th Division) reaches Height 89, near Mabuni, where the Japanese headquarters have been identified.

    On the flanks, the American Marines on the right and the infantry on the left advance virtually unopposed, capturing over 1000 Japanese and reaching the southern coast of the island at several points.

    The scale of surrenders is unprecedented for the forces of the Imperial Army.


    Okinawa Background — Japanese Resistance Collapses

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Japan, Military Affairs, National Security, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Hyping Higher Ed, continued

    Posted by David Foster on 19th June 2010 (All posts by )

    My post on this topic a little over a week ago garnered a fair number of comments. Here are some related items which have surfaced in the last few days and may be of interest…

    1)A Washington Post item about college graduates who have chosen to make a switch to the skilled trades

    2)Glenn Reynolds posts some interesting emails he has received from recent college graduates. Excerpts:

    For the vast majority of people who are now in their 20’s, adolescence wasn’t about anything at all but getting in to college. Our teachers talked about College the way that Churchill talked about Victory. I’ve long argued that the reason why popular culture among young adults today is so obnoxiously, insufferably adolescent is at least partly due to the fact that we were never /allowed/ to be adolescents. You didn’t play sports or write for the school newspaper or volunteer at the soup kitchen because you wanted to, you did it to pad that college application. I can’t tell you how many times I was told, point blank, that the way to success was to get into the best college you could, and borrow as much money as you could to pay for it. Of /course/ college was worth six figures in debt.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Education, USA | 12 Comments »

    Defeat in Afghanistan? The View from 2050

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th June 2010 (All posts by )

    xyz

    Voices from many quarters are saying dire things about the American-led campaign in Afghanistan. The prospect of defeat, whatever that may mean in practice, is real. But we are so close to the events, it is hard to know what is and is not critical. And the facts which trickle out allow people who are not insiders to only have a sketchy, pointillist impression of the state of play. There is a lot of noise around a weak signal.

    ChicagoBoyz will be convening a group of contributors to look back on the American campaign in Afghanistan from a forty year distance, from 2050.

    40 years is the period from Fort Sumter to the Death of Victoria, from the Death of Victoria to Pearl Harbor, from Pearl Harbor to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. It is a big chunk of history. It is enough time to gain perspective.

    This exercise in informed and educated imagination is meant to help us gain intellectual distance from the drumbeat of day to day events, to understand the current situation in Afghanistan more clearly, to think-through the potential outcomes, and to consider the stakes which are in play in the longer run of history for America, for its military, for the region, and for the rest of the world.

    The Roundtable contributors will publish their posts and responses during the third and fourth weeks of August, 2010.

    The ChicagoBoyz blog is a place where we can think about the unthinkable.

    Stand by for further details, including a list of our contributors.

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    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Europe, History, India, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Politics, Predictions, Russia, Society, Terrorism, USA, Vietnam | 17 Comments »

    Self Reliance

    Posted by Ginny on 19th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Emerson can lead to naval-gazing and even solipsism. Googling one of his aphorisms, I find powerpoints from assertiveness training and slick empowerment seminars. Sure, that is true; as I’ve gotten older I sometimes have less patience with that cheerful old group. Still, reviewing Robert Richardson’s Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind, I was struck by his summary of the ideas Thoreau found so congenial in Emerson. And it reminded me that felicity may be the most reliable and most important consequence of a restrained but dominant individualism (and its byproducts) – and the first victim of policies now being contested:

    The danger in setting society at a higher value than the individual, the trouble with encouraging people to identify themselves primarily with some group, was that it then became easy to transfer the blame for one’s own shortcomings to that group. If one looked to society for one’s identity and one’s satisfactions, then surely society should be held accountable for one’s dissatisfactions, lack of identity, alienation. Emerson had already set himself against this view, and Thoreau was now thinking along the same line. (34)

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Civil Society, Human Behavior, Quotations | 7 Comments »

    Tax Update

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 19th June 2010 (All posts by )

    When Dan and I were first invited to join Chicago Boyz Jonathan mentioned my high quality posts on energy and taxation.  Recently I have not been writing too often about taxation because the news from the US perspective has been almost universally negative.

    Two core principles of taxation are:
    1) the tax should be effective, meaning that if it intends to raise a certain amount of revenue that it should be designed to achieve that end
    2) the tax should minimize negative impacts on overall economic behavior

    Japan Considers Lowering Its Corporate Tax Rate

    There was an old joke that Arkansas’ motto was “thank god for Mississippi” because else Arkansas would have been #50 in the rankings by state on various metrics.  In that same vein, when ever I talk corporate taxes and about how the United States is the least competitive corporate tax environment in the world, they would say that in fact, Japan was worse.

    Now even Japan has woken up to the fact that high corporate tax rates push investment overseas (since companies can choose where to invest in new plants, subsidiaries and businesses) and are a relatively poor way to raise incremental tax revenues.  According to this Wall Street Journal article titled “Kan Seeks Cuts in Japan’s 40% Corporate Tax Rate” the newly installed Japanese government is considering reducing this punitive rate, which would take away our “Mississippi” per the analogy above.
    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Taxes | 1 Comment »

    The PIIGS Who Fell to Earth

    Posted by Lexington Green on 18th June 2010 (All posts by )

    In her office in Berlin, Angela Merkel waited by her phone. A small group of advisors waited with her, unusually quiet. Their eyes moved back and forth between the clock and the telephones. Finally, a ring shatters the silence. The defense minister picks it up. He listens, nods, barks an acknowledgement into the phone, and hangs it up. He turns to the chancellor.
     
    Der Rubikon ist gekreuzt worden.

    This is from a great post by Jim Bennett.

    In the form of a thriller, he shows one way the current Euro currency crisis could play out.

    Schadenfreude is a German word, but we in the Anglosphere occasionally feel a twinge of it … .

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    Posted in Europe, France, Germany, Markets and Trading, Predictions | 14 Comments »

    It’s easy to have a disciplined euro, but nobody would want to join.

    Posted by TM Lutas on 18th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Reading Gerard Baker’s speculations on Germany leaving the euro I got somewhat bored halfway through. The solution was as obvious as the fact that Mr. Baker, and perhaps most of Europe’s luminaries, are blind to it.

    Europe is a hodge-podge of buried irredentist sentiment and maximalist territorial dreams. Do you want Greek discipline in paying its debts? No problem, force it to put up the islands that Turkey has wanted for a very long time and suggest that insufficient fiscal discipline will lead to an auction sale of the territory collateral complete with loss of sovereignty. Not only will this instill fiscal discipline in countries that have to put up parts of their own territory, it will induce their neighbors to save up “wishful thinking” funds to bid the real estate up high enough.

    Is the UK spendthrift? Have them put up Gibraltar as collateral and watch the Spanish suddenly start saving like mad in hopes of an auction. No doubt Moroccan finances would tilt towards fiscal surpluses as well.

    The utter national humiliation of dismembering your own country to finance social spending should set things right. And if not, well, other hands would take over their country’s ultimate assets, national sovereignty.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Europe | 16 Comments »

    Norwegian Coastal Defenses

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 18th June 2010 (All posts by )

    A while back I wrote about the fact that there are very few WW2 or WW1 “big gun” ships remaining outside of the US Navy; the British heavy cruiser HMS Belfast is about the last of the European ones afloat.  This is understandable because many of the continental and Asian fleets were sunk during WW2 or sold for scrap in the dark immediate aftermath; yet I find it depressing because of how beautiful these ships were and the immense investment in time, men and material that were put into their creation.

    I recently toured the Southwest coast of France and was entranced by the remaining German WW2 bunkers.  And in researching them on the web I came across a vast number of resources, in many languages, on WW2 coastal fortifications.

    While little survives of the WW2 or WW1 German navies, I started researching the fate of the Gneisenau, sister ship of the Scharnhorst.  These two battleships had an odd armament with nine 11 inch guns in three triple turrets; their peers had at worst 14 inch guns or more likely 15 or 16 inch guns.  Other than this under caliber on the main turrets they were fine ships and quite effective in their role.  In 1942, after their “channel dash”, the Gneisenau was hit by air attack and declared a total wreck.  The Germans, being efficient scavengers, made full use of all the high caliber weapons and were able to pull two entire turrets into case mates and likely impregnable positions on the Norwegian coastline in separate forts.  This excellent web page (highly recommended that you read it) shows the history of this installation and has a color picture of the turret firing to check accuracy after its installation.  While there aren’t any large caliber German ships preserved (for obvious reasons), this complete turret is very historic and perhaps something I’d make a tour to visit someday.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History | 11 Comments »

    Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 16 thru 18 June 1945

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 18th June 2010 (All posts by )

    16 June 1945

    On Okinawa, Mount Yuza is captured by the US 381st Infantry Regiment. Fighting continues on the south of the island.

    At sea, the Japanese air offensive against American ships slackens, but the Japanese still sink 1 destroyer and damage 1 escort carrier.

    The destroyer, the USS Twiggs, was struck close to shore at twilight on bombardment duty by a low level torpedo plane. Her crew had 188 survivors with 126 men lost, dead and missing, including her captain.

    17 June 1945

    On Okinawa, reinforced American units advance in the Kuishi Ridge area which has been stubbornly defended by forces of the Japanese 32nd Army.

    Along the line of the US 24th Corps, the last Japanese defensive line is broken. The US 7th Division completes the capture of Hills 153 and 115.

    YUZA PEAK, under attack by the 382d Infantry, 96th Division. Tanks are working on the caves and tunnel system at base ridge of ridge.

    YUZA PEAK, under attack by the 382d Infantry, 96th Division. Tanks are working on the caves and tunnel system at base ridge of ridge.

    The commander of the Japanese naval base on Okinawa, Admiral Minoru Ota, is found dead, having committed suicide.

    18 June 1945

    On Okinawa, the remnants of the Japanese 32nd Army continue to offer determined resistance to attacks of the US 3rd Amphibious Corps and the US 24th Corps.

    Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, commanding US 10th Army, is killed by Japanese artillery fire while he is on a visit to the front line, inspecting troops of the US 8th Marine Regiment.

    Buckner is temporarily replaced by USMC General Geiger, commanding the US 3rd Amphibious Corps.

    Okinawa Background — Processing the KUNISHI RIDGE with Recoilless Rifles

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Japan, Military Affairs, National Security, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    The Myth of Alternative Power and Hydroelectric Storage

    Posted by Shannon Love on 17th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Every time I get into a debate about “alternative” energy I point out it can’t be used for baseline power because it can’t provide reliable power, and it can’t provide reliable power because you can’t store the electricity that it episodically generates.

    Immediately, someone will say, “We can use hydraulic storage!”

    Hydraulic storage is basically a hydroelectric dam on a small or large scale, except instead of using water brought by a watershed, the water is pumped up behind the dam with pumps powered by the generator whose energy output you want to store. For example, you would have electric pumps powered by solar panels or wind turbines, the idea being that when the wind or cloud-free days produced a surplus of power (or you built in surplus capacity) the pumps would pump water from a lower reservoir uphill into a higher storage reservoir. The electricity would be stored as the potential energy in the elevated water. When you needed the power back, you would drain the water back downhill through turbines just like a hydroelectric damn.

    Now, this certainly works and it has been done on a small scale. However, it will never, ever be a real-world, large-scale solution that can make alternative power work.

    Why? Well, let’s just do some back-of-the-envelope calculations.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation | 18 Comments »

    Oil: The New Tobacco

    Posted by David Foster on 17th June 2010 (All posts by )

    John Gapper,writing in the Financial Times about Obama’s arm twisting-of BP to put $20 billion into an “escrow” fund:

    It has echoes of the 1986 tobacco settlement in which industry paid $246bn to states following legal action by their attorneys-general. Only 5 percent of that money was spent on tobacco-related initiatives with Virginia, for example, investing in higher education, fibre optic cables and research into energy…Willie Sutton, the robber, sagely observed that he raided banks because that was where the money was, and US politicians know this lesson well.

    and

    The tactics of Congress and President Obama against BP are reminiscent of tort lawyers, who are big funders of the Democrats.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Politics, USA | 3 Comments »

    “Oil Addiction”

    Posted by David Foster on 17th June 2010 (All posts by )

    The phrase “oil addiction” has come into common use…in his speech the other night, Obama generalized this to “addiction to fossil fuels.”

    A little historical perspective…

    Before we were addicted to oil, we were addicted to coal. This fuel was used to heat homes, to drive locomotives and steamships, to power steam engines in factories, and for many other things in addition to its present-day uses in power generation and iron/steel production. While coal has many positive qualities as a fuel, the age of coal had its drawbacks. Coal mining was dangerous and often injurious to health. Stoking of furnaces involved backbreaking labor…although automatic stokers were developed for locomotives and power plants, the firing of steamship boilers still required the round-the-clock effort of large numbers of human beings. (See Eugene O’Neill, The Hairy Ape.) And coal was and is heavy and bulky in proportion to its energy, so that it could not enable the development of such things as airplanes, automobiles, and farm tractors. All of these factors were changed by the large-scale availability of oil. The need for human beings to serve as Hairy Apes was greatly reduced.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, History, Politics, Tech | 14 Comments »

    Drawing From The Well A Few Times Too Often

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 17th June 2010 (All posts by )

    I thought everyone here would like to have a little glimpse into the French national pension system.

    The news item linked to above is both short and written in English. Click the link and read the sidebar for a few thumbnail facts concerning who gets a pension, and what kind of money they can expect. A comparison to Social Security in the United States is not a futile exercise.

    What I found interesting is how French workers with private sector jobs have to make do with 50% of their pay, and the base figure is found by averaging the 25 top earning years during their career.

    Public sector employees, by contrast, receive 75% of their pay, and the base figure is found by averaging the last six months of their career.

    It seems that this is inviting fraud, as I would certainly try my best to work as much overtime as possible during that last six months. Inflate the pay and get a better pension than I deserve.

    Those who avoid sucking at the government teat are shafted in a lot of other ways as well. Private sector employees have to give up over 10% of their pay in order to fund the pensions, while government workers are only taxed less than 8%. Pretty good work if you can get it.

    Read the whole thing. Like I said, it is short and to the point.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, France | 2 Comments »

    And one more thing …

    Posted by Lexington Green on 16th June 2010 (All posts by )

    It is inconceivable to me that if the much-reviled Gov. Sarah Palin had been POTUS when this oil spill occurred that she would not have done a much better job than the pathetic, flailing, clueless response we have seen from our Chief Executive, Mr. Obama. For one thing, she would have grasped the difference between stopping an ongoing disaster and suing for damages after all the damage has already been done. Mr. Obama is like a person standing on the sidewalk as a fire is spreading through a building, and people are screaming for him to do whatever it takes to put it out, and he stands there as the flames spread and the smoke plumes into the sky, and he says, “I will sue the person who caused the fire.” It is flabbergasting that the man seems not to even grasp the existence of the executive function. All he knows, all he is even aware exists, is assigning blame, and clutching at money in response.

    Michael Barone wrote somewhere that the American people do not want the President to be a nice man. They want him to aggressively use the powers of his office to secure their well being.

    Mr. Obama, faced with his first serious test, has shown himself to be a miserable failure on that score.

    I knew he’d be bad. I had no idea how bad.

    We can do better.

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Management, Obama, Politics, USA | 7 Comments »

    Totten Interviews Hanson

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Superb. This interview has probably already been linked by fifty blogs but I’ll make it 51. Hanson is insightful as always. Totten is characteristically observant and thoughtful.

    VDH: I’m worried about Iran, and I think we’re asking some of the wrong questions. It’s not just about whether or not Iran can be deterred. Even if Iran can be deterred, leaders like Ahmadinejad are going to periodically issue these proclamations about killing the Jews. I’ve read polls where Israelis are asked if they’ll leave the country if Iran develops a nuclear weapon. Some of them say yes. There’s a real worry that Iran will place this Sword of Damocles right over their heads, and a lot of them will just leave.
     
    MJT: It would have to be awfully demoralizing.
     
    VDH: It’s like living next to a crazy neighbor with a house full of guns who once in a while yells over the fence that he’s going to shoot your whole family, but never quite gives you a good enough reason to call the police. Who wants to live next to somebody like that?
     
    MJT: Nobody.
     
    VDH: This is what Obama does not understand.
     
    MJT: I don’t believe Iran will actually nuke Israel, but I don’t believe that in quite the same way I believe France won’t nuke Israel. I’m 100 percent certain France won’t, but I’m not 100 percent sure Iran won’t.
     
    VDH: But you can be 100 percent sure they’ll talk about it.
     
    MJT: Absolutely. Ahmadinejad talks about it right now.
     
    VDH: And he’ll keep doing it.
     
    MJT: They’ll ramp up the belligerence in general. I mean, why wouldn’t they? Why would they suddenly dial it down once they’ve built a nuclear arsenal?
     
    VDH: The administration is immature. There are millions of reform-minded Arabs in Jordan, Egypt, and the West Bank. There are millions in Lebanon. To the degree that they can function and try to create a liberal community of nations in that area is dependent on the United States opposing radicalism and allowing Middle Eastern governments to be hypocritical. What I mean is, let the Arab states complain about the meddling United States with the private understanding that they want us to oppose Al Qaeda and Iran. I’m worried that Obama believes this anti-Western rhetoric, or at least thinks it’s legitimate, and by voting “present” he sold out all these people. They’ll just go back into their shell or make the necessary accommodations.
     
    We saw this in the 1930s in places like Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. People there accepted that hardly anyone would speak out against Hitler, that if they aligned themselves with Britain, Britain wouldn’t do anything for them.
     
    MJT: Look at the Lebanese. They now have the United States “engaging” with the people who have been trashing their country and murdering their elected officials with car bombs. France is now “engaging” Damascus. Sarkozy was supposed to be an improvement over Chirac, but I’m beginning to doubt he really is.
     
    VDH: This a confusing period. There’s a lot of irony. Look back at the period when Europe had it both ways, when we defended them while they mouthed off, when they undermined us and Bush pushed back.
     
    Now compare that to what Obama is doing. He’s almost smiling while selling out Europe. He’s trying to become even more left than they are on foreign policy. On one hand, the Europeans are getting what they deserve, but they are Westerners, they are a positive force in the world, and what we’re doing is dangerous.
     
    MJT: It seems to unnerve the Europeans now that Obama is to their left.
     
    VDH: It does.
     
    MJT: They seem uncomfortable being to the right of the United States in some ways.
     
    VDH: I had an interesting conversation two years ago just before Obama’s election with some military people in Versailles. They were at a garden party, and everybody was for Obama. But an admiral said to me, “We are Obama. You can’t be Obama.”
     
    Everybody looked at him. And I said, “What do you mean?”
     
    He said, “There’s only room for one Obama.”
     
    I said, “So we’re supposed to do what? Take out Iran while you trash us?”
     
    And he said, “Right out of my mouth. I couldn’t have said it better. Bush understood our relationship. We have to make accommodations with our public, which is lunatic. You don’t really believe there’s going to be an EU strike force, do you? Nobody here believes that. If you become neutral, what are we supposed to do?”
     
    That’s what he said. I was surprised at his candor. And it’s worrisome. On the one hand I like it because they’re getting just what they asked for, but on the other hand, it’s tragic. And it’s dangerous. We shouldn’t be doing this.

    The complete interview.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Europe, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Quotations | 10 Comments »

    Eisenhower, Obama, Diplomacy, and Sensitivity

    Posted by David Foster on 16th June 2010 (All posts by )

    When Dwight Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, he was very concerned with the need to maintain positive relationships among the Allies. General Lord Ismay, in his memoirs, gives some insight into just how seriously Eisenhower took this aspect of command. In one case, following a serious fracas between a British and an American officer:

    ..(Eisenhower) came to the conclusion, after a careful consideration of all the evidence, that it was the American who was in the wrong. He ordered him to be dismissed from the Staff and sent back to the United States. The British officer who had been embroiled pleaded for him ‘He only called me a son-of-a-bitch, sir, and all of use have now learnt that this is a colloquial expression which is sometimes used almost as a term of endearment, and should not be taken too seriously.’ To which Eisenhower replied, ‘I am informed that he called you a British son-of-a-bitch. That is quite different. My ruling stands.’ (emphasis added)

    I was reminded of this story (taken from this post in my Leadership Vignettes series) by Obama’s behavior toward the British, most recently in the case of the BP fiasco. One of the first things he did on assuming office was to send back the Churchill bust in his office. This was followed by the giving of inappropriate and quite narcissistic gifts, and now by the needlessly offensive assault on BP. Eisenhower, the lifelong soldier, evidently understood something about nuance and diplomacy in interpersonal communications. Obama, who has been positioned as a new-age-y kind of guy, more sensitive and diplomatic than the cowboys he replaced, couldn’t even be bothered to select appropriate gifts or to use the proper name of the corporation he was attacking–which has not been “British Petroleum,” either legally or in marketing usage, for quite a while.

    The truth is, people who come across as “sensitive” are very often in actuality sensitive to only one set of feelings: their own.

    Some links on Obama’s speech last night here.

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    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, History, Politics, Rhetoric, USA | 9 Comments »

    The Great Unifier

    Posted by Ginny on 16th June 2010 (All posts by )

    To win wars, clean up oil spills, or define domestic policies, don’t we need to work together? Isn’t the president’s most important duty – the one that lies under all those others – to unify? I suspect that was the founders’ thoughts, since the presidency is the one post for which the entire country votes.

    Sure, I saw enough of BDS to suspect Bush less culpable than his audience; I’m trying to be objective. And the leftist pundits are unhappy. Still, crazy as they are, they aren’t the thugs at polling booth doors – nor responsible for the large numbers at Tea Party rallies.

    Surfing responses, I was struck by Luntz’s focus group: the more Obama talked the more reactions diverged; his audience became intensely argumentative. Some were attracted to populist rhetoric and others turned off by it.

    My impression of past polls is despite a good-sized discrepancy on many issues, the lines were roughly parallel. The more knowledgeable might remark whether this divergence is common. Perhaps it isn’t a big deal. I hope not. We don’t need an increasingly polarized country. But though I would like us all to at least minimally get along and be more productive, that doesn’t mean I’m buying much if any of the goods Obama was selling last night.

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    Posted in Obama, Politics, Polls | 8 Comments »

    Airbrushing history

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 15th June 2010 (All posts by )

    A new museum of World War II is opening in London. Some anonymous nanny stater has taken the liberty of airbrushing the cigar from Winston Churchill’s mouth.

    nonsmoke

    It isn’t even a very good job as the whole lower left side of his face is distorted. The museum directors say they don’t know who did it. It is a mystery but not surprising.

    The FDR Memorial that was put up in Washington a few years ago, does not show FDR with his cigarette holder that was so characteristic of him in public. I gave a cigarette holder like that to my grandfather when I was a child. He loved it because it made him look like FDR.

    The FDR Memorial shows something that was never seen in public when he was alive. He is shown in a wheelchair. He would never have allowed that but the modern nannies have to draw the last drop of sanctimonious pap from the scene.

    Thus goes the slow decline of common sense and reality in our lives and those of our friends.

    Posted in Britain, History, Human Behavior | 8 Comments »

    Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 15 June 1945

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 15th June 2010 (All posts by )

    15 June 1945

    On Okinawa, Marines suffer heavy casualties and are unable to advance on Kunishi Ridge. The US 1st Division, already short of troops, is attached to the US 2nd Marine Division.

    Forces of the US 24th Corps continue operations to eliminate Japanese positions on Mount Yaeju and Mount Yuza.

    Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT)  on 01 April 1945

    Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) on 01 April 1945


    Okinawa Campaign Background –– LVT Attrition

    The USMC, at the beginning of the Okinawa campaign, had used previous island assaults as the base line for provisioning spares and supports for it’s landing vehicle tracked (LVT).

    It was utterly inadequate in the face of the reality of protracted combat on Okinawa:


    At the beginning of the campaign, the 4th and 9th Amphibian Tractor Battalions with a total of 205 LVTs were attached to the 6th Marine Division. Added to those in the 1st and 8th Battalions attached to the 1st Marine Division, the total number of LVTs available to IIIAC was 421. IIIAC AR, chap VII, p. 101. The resupply of spare parts for LVTs was totally inadequate, especially in the case of such vitally needed basic items as tracks, track suspension system parts, front drive assemblies, and transmission parts. The lack of all of these deadlined a good many LVTs and severely limited the amount of support they could have provided during the drive to the south and in the Oroku landing. At the end of the campaign, 75 LVTs had been completely destroyed as a result of enemy action, or, having been badly damaged, they were cannibalized for spare parts. Of the 346 vehicles remaining, 200 were deadlined for lack of spare parts. Ibid., p. 102.

    There were 421 LVT-3 and LVT-4 on 1 April 1945. By the end of the campaign only 146 of that 421 were operational. A number a hair under 35% of the original starting force.

    The logistical implications of those numbers for Operation Olympic in November/December 1945 were daunting.

    Posted in History, Japan, Military Affairs, National Security, Okinawa 65, Uncategorized, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Rogue State Pakistan

    Posted by Zenpundit on 14th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Interesting news, if “Dog Bites Man” stories can be considered interesting. Not on their surface, of course, but the implications which they contain. A dog biting man story begs the question “Who owns the dog?”. Our story though is not about something as mundane as a dog but of a putative ally, Pakistan.

    Report: Pakistani spy agency supports Taliban

    ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s main spy agency continues to arm and train the Taliban and is even represented on the group’s leadership council despite U.S. pressure to sever ties and billions in aid to combat the militants, said a research report released Sunday.

    ….But the report issued Sunday by the London School of Economics offered one of the strongest cases that assistance to the group is official ISI policy, and even extends to the highest levels of the Pakistani government.

    “Pakistan’s apparent involvement in a double-game of this scale could have major geopolitical implications and could even provoke U.S. countermeasures,” said the report, which was based on interviews with Taliban commanders, former Taliban officials, Western diplomats and many others.

    Here is a text of the actual report (PDF):

    The Sun in The Sky: The Relationship Between The ISI and Afghan Insurgents

    I wager the case therein is understated when measured against the actual reality.

    Of course, I am not surprised. a while back, I asked why Pakistan was considered an ally rather than an enemy of the United States:
    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Military Affairs, National Security, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Mini-Book Review — Junger — War

    Posted by James McCormick on 14th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Junger, Sebastian, War, Harper Collins, 2010, 287 pp.

    The author of The Perfect Storm has written a book about his time with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in the remote, steeply mountainous Korengal Valley — 200 kms east of Kabul, and 200 kms northwest of Islamabad. Patrolling and living five times between June 2007 and June 2008 with Second Platoon, Battle Company, Junger gives the reader some sense of the life of combat infantry out at the very end of the logistics chain — small high-altitude outposts protecting larger, lower bases with covering fire. Every creature comfort is reduced to that which will serve weapons and fortification. Niceties like hot and cold running water, cooked food, clean clothes, air-conditioned or heated sleeping quarters are simply absent. No one over 30. No women. No rear-echelon MFs. No one but Taliban wanting to come across the perimeter wire and kill or kidnap you. The troops live for weeks amongst scorpions, camel spiders, dust, and dirt in ramshackle outposts carved out of hilltops with their own hands. Resupply is based on occasional helicopter “speed balls” (air-dropped duffels or kit-bags) or whatever the men can pack on their backs up the mountains. In other words, Fort Apache – Korengal. No generals or pundits or “pros and cons of war” in sight.

    The region of Afghanistan is so remote that it has largely been ignored by all forces in the area: Afghan, Pakistani, and European. No central government ever existed in the area. The Korengalis live in small tribes within a valley barely six miles long and one mile across. They were animists and adopted Islam barely a hundred years ago. Though speaking Pashto, they keep largely to themselves. Meager, valley-bottom subsistence farming is subsidized by illegal timber-cutting of the large cedars found high on the mountain-sides. Thus the Korengalis are entirely in thrall to their elders, the local Pakistani timber smugglers, and the Taliban forces that pass back and forth between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Americans weren’t welcome. No one was.

    American forces established themselves in the Korengal to act as “spoilers” for the Taliban transit zone through the neighboring Pech River valley. The 173rd were replacing a previous deployment by the 10th Mountain Division, who in turn had replaced the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. The members of Second Platoon, Battle Company of the 173rd were assigned to man an isolated outpost called Restrepo.

    Junger’s account of his time with Second Platoon is organized as a set of squad and platoon vignettes on three major themes (Fear, Killing, Love) and bridged with his reflections on his own experiences (patrolling, combat, surviving an IED), interviews and biographic details on the troops in Second Platoon, and a review of the latest literature on combat psychology and physiology. As an established adventurer and war reporter, he was struggling to come to terms with a new and deeper experience of relentless combat in a very small group.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Book Notes, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    When Congresscritters Attack

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 14th June 2010 (All posts by )

    Holy Crap!

    Follow the link to see an unprovoked assault on some college student when he asks a member of Congress a simple question.

    Dan weighs in with some thoughts about self defense. I would much prefer it if people could carry pepper spray on the streets of Washington without first being required to register with the police. A little spritz in the eyes would not only have ended the attack toot sweet, but it would also produce a sight that I have become convinced is impossible.

    A Democrat would cry real tears.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Politics | 22 Comments »

    Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 12 thru 14 June 1945

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 14th June 2010 (All posts by )

    12 June 1945

    On Okinawa, many of the Japanese naval infantry cut off in the Oruku peninsula, reduced to a pocket of about 1000 square yards, begin to commit mass suicide to avoid surrender.

    The US 1st Marine Division captures the west end of Kunishi Ridge during a night attack.

    The US 96th Division attacks Japanese positions around Mount Yuza and Mount Yaeju.

    13 June 1945

    On Okinawa, the Japanese resistance in the Oruku peninsula ends. The US 6th Marine Division records a record 169 Japanese prisoners as well as finding about 200 dead. (This is a large total when compared with previous numbers of Japanese prisoners reported.)

    The fighting continues to the southeast, especially in the Kunishi Ridge area where a regiment of the US 1st Marine Division suffers heavy casualties.

    The US 24th Corps uses armored flamethrowers in the elimination of the Japanese held fortified caves on Mount Yuza and Mount Yaeju and on Hills 153 and 115.

    Battle line on the Kiyan Peninsula, 10-19 June 1945

    Battle line on the Kiyan Peninsula, 10-19 June 1945

    14 June 1945

    On Okinawa, mopping up operations proceed on the Oroku peninsula.

    The troops of the US 3rd Amphibious Corps and the US 24th Corps continue to eliminate fortified caves held by Japanese forces on Kunishi Ridge and on Mount Yuza and Mount Yaegu.

    An American regiment of the US 96th Division reaches the summit of Mount Yaegu, while the US 7th Division extends its control of Hills 153 and 115.

    Okinawa Campaign Background — Goodbye General Mud
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    Posted in History, Japan, Military Affairs, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | Comments Off on Battle of Okinawa 65 Years Later — 12 thru 14 June 1945