Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

Kimberlin’s empr dot media website continues to muddle along, but almost all of the news stories seem to relate to the quasi-war between Ukraine and Russia and COVID in Ukraine. Both are reasonable stories to be tracking, but … well, I’ll need to do a bit more research before I say more.

A Change in Staffing

CNN (they haven’t folded yet) reports that Richard Torres-Estrada has been reassigned from his recently hired job of head of diversity and inclusion at US Special Operations Command. Questions have arisen about his qualifications for the position following the circulation of a photoshopped image that compared Donald Trump with Adolph Hitler.

Actually, I’m surprised by this development. I had supposed that the image in question demonstrated Torres-Estrada’s qualification for such a post in the Xiden Administration.

Hmmmm.

I’m So Old …

… that when I served in the Army and if I had made a potentially intimidating statement about a member of the the civilian press of the sort recently seen on Twitter, I would have expected to be charged and court-martialed under Article 134 and/or Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

What those senior servicemen did was not only unwise, it was likely a crime.

IANAL, but if I were one of those servicemen, I’d consult a JAG officer or a civilian attorney with JAG experience. OTOH, given who the individuals with actual court-martial convening authority over this individuals are, they may have nothing to worry about.

Hmmmmm.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

Occasionally, the TKPODs have had as much or more about me as they did about the member(s) of Team Kimberlin. Cabin Boy #BillSchmalfeldt, Journalist, from eight years ago today was such a post.

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Bill SchCBBS_HM3malfeldt claims to be a Journalist. He cites his training and experience. He learned how to proofread while training to be a PR flack an enlisted Journalist (JO rate) in the Navy (That’s CBBS on the right). He’s done talk radio in such major markets as Sheboygan. He’s won awards for his writing and editing of government documents.

OK, so he’s a Journalist. Big deal.

If he’s going to work in Maryland, he might want to download a copy of The Journalist’s Guide to the Maryland Court System. This handy reference was put out as a joint project of the Maryland Courts, the Maryland Bar Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. He might find the sections on Knowing Your Limits (p. 14, ff.) and The Law of Libel and Invasion of Privacy (p. 75, ff.) to be instructive.

BTW, I am not a Journalist. I am just a blogger and a hobbyist blogger at that. I have a day job providing engineering consulting to various projects at NASA (But what I do isn’t rocket science; it’s applied quantum physics.). Once upon a time, I was a Journalist, but that was a long time ago, back when CBBS was in middle school and high school. One of the places I worked was the news department at WLAC, a 50,000 watt clear-channel station in Nashville. Back in ’60s, WLAC was the number one R&B station in the U. S. covering 28 states at night. I was the guy in the newsroom and on the air the night Martin Luther King was shot. I wonder if CBBS ever covered a story that big—or that sensitive. Given his modus operandi, I doubt it.

algore in Nam

UPDATE—Several prominent Journalists got their starts in the Armed Forces. Al Gore (at right), who worked at the Tennessean while I was in broadcasting in Nashville (We were both recently returned from Viet Nam), got his first reporting gig as a Public Affairs Specialist (46Q) in the Army. While he was in Viet Nam, he wrote for The Castle Courier, the newspaper of the 20th Engineer Brigade at Bien Hoa. I was stationed with the 12th Combat Aviation Group down the road at Plantation Army Airfield, but we weren’t in country at the same time.

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BTW, the picture above shows the Cabin Boy™ (who is a Viet Nam era veteran) wearing more decorations on his uniform that are listed on His DD214.

Nothing to See Here. Move Along.

According to an Agence France-Presse report published by France 24, North Korea and Iran have resumed cooperation long-range missiles development according to the UN. The report, which was submitted to the Security Council this week, also confirms that the Norks continue to violate several UN resolutions related to nuclear weapons development.

President Xiden has said that the U. S. should rejoin the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Don’t Let Your Mouth Write a Check …

Legal Insurrection reports that Iran has been making public threats against the life of President Donald Trump. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the airstrike that killed Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani, and the Iranian government is plainly stating that they intend to take revenge by killing the President.

On Friday, Iran’s judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, warned that President Trump and members of his administration will “not be safe on earth” as the regime marked Soleimani’s death.

“Do not presume that someone, as the president of America, who appeared as a murderer or ordered a murder, may be immune from justice being carried out. Never,” Raisi said. “Those who had a role in this assassination and crime will not be safe on Earth.”

Tehran could hit President Trump on American soil, Soleimani’s successor Esmail Ghaani suggested. “It’s even possible that there are people inside your home [the U.S.] that will respond to your crime,” he said on Friday.

This strikes me as a sign of desperation on the part of the Iranian government. Their economy is free fall, collapsing not only because of sanctions but also because American energy policy has held the price of oil at levels well below what Iran needs.

I doubt that the Iranians will be able to carry out their threat successfully. Their mouths have written a check that their asses can’t cash. However, I’m afraid that they will not learn the proper lesson from that failure—that they should moderate their behavior. Their evil brew of politics and religion won’t permit that. Rather, they will further convinced of the need to acquire nuclear weapons and use them.

I fully expect the Xiden/Harris administration will take the steps necessary to remove restraints from the Iranian weapons program.

2020 has turned 21 and has started drinking.

Quote of the Day

Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat the enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war.Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy that must be exposed: War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.

—Carl von Clausewitz

Meanwhile, in the Persian Gulf …

… the Iranians are getting restless. During the final years of the Obama Administration, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps repeatedly engaged in harassment of U.S. Naval vessels in the Persian Gulf. After the change in policy under the Trump Administration, contact by the Iranians dropped precipitously. Until recently.

The pallets of cash provided by Obama Administration have run out. The oil market is cratering. The IRGC’s top commander has been killed, and the IRGC’s retaliatory strikes fizzled. Iran is among the nations hardest hit by the Wuhan virus. The level of frustration must be reaching the boiling point. So last week, a group of IRGC boats harassed American ships, buzzing them with weapons unsecured.

I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.

—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020

Stay tuned.

Gnats and Elephants

The United States fired one missile. It hit its target, and there was trivial collateral damage.

Iran launched 15 missiles. Four (over 25 %) failed in flight. The remain eleven all missed their targets, causing collateral damage to a third party (Iraq) and wounding Iraqis.

Donald Trump set his red line a the death of an American, and he has not responded with further military action. Iran’s feeble response to our hit on Soleimani didn’t tempt him to ratchet up the fight. Rather, Trump’s restraint demonstrates the huge difference in power between the U.S. and Iran and the difference in our abilities to take a punch.

Elephants have thick skins, but if small insects become bothersome, elephants have the wherewithal to deal with them.

Cultural Sites and War Crimes

John Hinderacker has a post over at PowerLine about war crime hysteria on the Left.

The Democrats hyperventilate endlessly over hypothetical offenses that President Trump hasn’t committed and, I venture to say, won’t commit. Meanwhile, there is no reason to assure the mullahs that anything if off limits if they continue to kill Americans, something about which no prominent Democrat, to my knowledge, is expressing any concern.

There are two important points there. The first is that President Trump hasn’t ordered any further actions yet, and I doubt he will unless the Iranians are foolish enough to invite such an attack.

The second is the warning to the Iranians that we won’t be deterred from attacking one of their military assets if it has been placed at a cultural site. IANAL, but my training in the laws of war that I received as an Army officer was that it a war crime to place a military asset at such a cultural site—or a school, hospital, or place of worship—but that it was legal to attack such a target. If the Iranians have illegally hidden assets where they shouldn’t be, they have now been given fair warning to move them or risk the consequences. (I suspect that Trump is not so subtilely reminding the Iranians of how good our targeting intelligence has been and that we have reasonably good knowledge of where many of their assets are hidden.)

Hinderacker concludes—

Wouldn’t it be great if the Democrats were pro-America, rather than pro-Iran and pro-terrorist? That is a world that we once knew, but is now hard even to imagine. I don’t expect we will see it again in our lifetimes, unless the Democrats are dealt electoral defeats so crushing as to dictate a total realignment of their party.

Just so. Read the whole thing.

 

BREAKING: WaPo Discovers the Government Lies

WaPo has published a long piece on one of the Lessons Learned reports of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (aka SIGAR). The article is based on documents received after a three-year long legal battle over a Freedom of Information Act request that is still ongoing.

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

The government initially refused to release the unclassified report, claiming the the persons interviewed were whistleblowers. That was patently false because those interviewed did not come forward voluntarily but were approached by SIGAR. Also, some agencies, including the State Department, the DoD, and DEA, have classified parts of the report after the fact.

Read the whole thing and check out the linked documents.

Meanwhile, over at Instapundit, Mark Tapscott suggest that

Trump will say it proves him right about getting out of Afghanistan, and, more importantly, about why the Washington Establishment cannot be trusted. That this gift comes to Trump from the Post is the icing on the political cake.

Perhaps. Stay tuned.

You’re Welcome

Last Saturday night, I was sitting in a restaurant with Stacy McCain and his older brother Kirby when a young man walked up and thanked us for our service to the country. How he pegged us as veterans is beyond me.

But to all of you thanking us veterans today—You’re welcome. It was an honor and privilege to serve you.

Note: The young man was only two-thirds correct. Both Kirby and I served in the Army. I was a Signal Officer, and Kirby was a paratrooper in the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions. Stacy isn’t a veteran, but one of his son is a soldier currently assigned as an instructor at the Army Ranger School.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

Some people are very bad liars who are easily caught. This episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign first ran four years ago today.

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Johnny Atsign Logo 2ANNOUNCER: From Westminster, it’s time for—

SOUND: Skype rings once.

JOHNNY: Johnny Atsign.

RULE 5 GIRL: (Telephone Filter) Hi, Johnny.

JOHNNY: Well, hello! What’s up?

RULE 5 GIRL: (Telephone Filter) Nothing. Things are quiet.

JOHNNY: Only on the surface.

RULE 5 GIRL: (Telephone Filter) Oh?

JOHNNY: Have you ever heard the expression “the lull before the storm”?

MUSIC: Theme up and under.

ANNOUNCER: The Lickspittle Broadcasting System presents W. J. J. Hoge in the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed Twitter account, America’s fabulous free-lance Internet investigator …

JOHNNY: Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign!

MUSIC: Theme up to music out. Continue reading

Brandishing the Big Stick

Teddy Roosevelt once described his approach to foreign affairs as speaking softly while carrying a big stick. Over the past few days, Donald Trump apparently came close to using that stick, but he wound up speaking softly. It seems to me that he made a wise choice.

Iran is being crippled financially by our sanctions. Its proxy fighters in places like Yemen and Syria have been taking beatings from our allies. Iran’s power and influence are not on the rise.

So why would Iran attack shipping and shoot down a U.S. drone? Desperation?

I don’t think so. The Iranians may be testing the limits to see what they can get away with. Or they may be in such a cash bind that they’ll try anything to raise the price of oil. But oil shipments through the Persian Gulf are no longer a direct concern to Trump because his policies have resulted in America becoming a net oil exporter. These days, it’s China, Vietnam, and Japan who are reliant on oil from the Gulf.

A pinprick attack in retaliation for shooting down a reconnaissance drone wouldn’t have caused enough damage to the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guards to curb their ambitions, so speaking softly (but firmly) probably was wise.

This time.

One of these days, the Iranians will do something too costly to be disregarded. Then it will be time for the stick.

Tankers Attacked in Gulf of Oman

Two tankers have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman, the body of water just outside the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. One is Norwegian-owned, the other is Japanese-owned, but both are sailing under second country flags. The U. S. Navy says that it received distress calls from the vessels at 6:12 am and 7:00 am local time this morning. The Navy says it is helping to evacuate tankers, and the shipping companies says the crews of both ships are safe.

There have been reports that the Norwegian-owned ship was torpedoed. The Iranian Student’s News Agency has tweeted pictures of one of the ships which show it burning at the water line which is consistent with either a torpedo strike or hitting a floating mine. A missile strike would probably have a higher point of impact.

If torpedoes were used, that would imply a state or state-sponsored attacker. Thus far, no one has claimed responsibility, and the Iranians have denied any connection, pointing out that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe currently visiting in Tehran.

The price of oil is up today. The cost of these attacks is yet to be determined.

UPDATE—These tanker attacks occurred a week after a mysterious fire in the Iranian port of Shahid Rajaee destroyed four Iranian merchant ships and damaged two others. The Shahid Rajaee fire occurred one day after the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Norway—whose ships were attacked near Fujairah, UAE, on 12 May, 2019—submitted a report to the U. N. Security Council about the attacks on their vessels.

The Bladensburg Cross

Earlier this week, the American Legion and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission had what should be their final day in court over the Bladensburg Cross, a war memorial to the town’s World War I dead. The American Humanist Association has sued to have the 91-foot tall concrete cross removed because … well, it’s a cross, and that’s too Christian. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Humanists. The American Legion and Planning Commission appealed.

Part of the defense of the monument is the notion that it is a memorial to dead soldiers that takes the same form as their grave markers. Matthew Vadum reporting at The Epoch Times on the Supreme Court hearing notes that Neal Katyal, the Park Commission’s lawyer, told the court—

In the context of World War I, crosses have a secular meaning in that they honor those who perished in the conflict, Katyal said.

The “dominant image of the time, everything from that poem to art, to the war bond advertisements that the United States Government put, to the 1924 congressional resolution, all did use this cross.”

“That poem” refers to words written by Lt.-Col. John McCrae of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1915 after he buried a friend who was killed in combat in Belgium. It begins, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row …”

The Humanists claim that the monument dishonors the non-Christian war dead. The American Legion respond that such a claim is nonsense, noting in one of its briefs that it had many non-Christian members at the time the memorial was built. In fact, J. Moses Edlavitch, a Jewish veteran who was one of the local chapter’s leaders, signed the deed for the land upon which the monument was eventually built.

This leads to a question about the facts of the matter. The monument honors the town’s war dead. It’s in a shape reminiscent of a grave marker. Do any of the dead being honored actually have non-cruciform headstones?

Meanwhile, we can wait for the Supreme Court to rule.