Author Archives: Bill Brandt

This Day

By lex, on September 11th, 2010

ThisDay

Asleep in my rack onboard the USS Constellation – “America’s Flagship.” We’re about two days out of Hawaii on the way home to San Diego at the end of a six month deployment. What we used to call, in those days, a “combat deployment.” We’d stopped off in Hawaii to drop off about 500 sailors and pick up perhaps twice as many “Tigers” – sons and daughters, fathers and cousins, brothers and sisters – who would ride the ship home with us, who would experience “life in the Navy” for four days.

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Cowed

By lex, on September 8th, 2010

The Ground Zero Mosque controversy has shown that American citizens still understand the difference between “can” and “should.” The Park51 project sponsors have every right to build their “community center” in the ghostly shadows of the World Trade Center – people of good will and taste argue that they ought not.

The same sensible cohort of citizens is undoubtedly even more dismayed by the plans of the pastor of a trivially small Florida parish to burn a copy of the Koran in commemoration of the 9/11 attacks nine years ago. It is, as General David Petraeus has said, an act that could put our war aims at risk and jeopardize the lives of American soldiers. AG Eric Holder has weighed in to denounce the plans, as has Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, who said that the act would be disgraceful and disrespectful. The perpetually outraged set are, predictably, outraged at this expression of libertine free speech.

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With You ‘Til the End

By lex, on September 2nd, 2010

In the WSJ, Danniel Henninger employs the alternate history strategy to close out the Iraq War, asking, “What if Saddam had Stayed?

Let us assume that Mr. Obama’s “smarter” view (2002) had prevailed, that we had left Saddam in power in Iraq. What would the world look like today?

Mr. Obama and others believe that Saddam and his nuclear ambitions could have been contained. I think exactly the opposite was likely.

At the time of Mr. Obama’s 2002 antiwar speech, three other significant, non-Iraqi events were occurring: Iran and North Korea were commencing toward a nuclear break-out, and A.Q. Khan was on the move.

In March 2002, Mr. Khan, the notorious Pakistani nuclear materials dealer, moved his production facilities from Pakistan to Malaysia.

In August, an Iranian exile group revealed the existence of a centrifuge factory in Natanz, Iran.

A month later, U.S. intelligence concluded that North Korea had almost completed a “production-scale” centrifuge facility.

It was also believed in 2002 that al Qaeda was shopping for nuclear materials. In The Wall Street Journal this week, Jay Solomon described how two North Korean operatives through this period developed a network to acquire nuclear technologies.

In short, the nuclear bad boys club was on the move in 2002. Can anyone seriously believe that amidst all this Saddam Hussein would have contented himself with administering his torture chambers? This is fanciful.

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The Speech He Ought to Give

By lex, on August 30th, 2010

“My fellow Americans, today marks the end of America’s involvement in combat operations in Iraq. Our operational forces have withdrawn with honor from the field, leaving behind a free, if troubled democracy secure in its own borders, presenting no threat to its neighbors. Some 50,000 trainers and special operations forces remain in Iraq. They will help to sustain the victories we have labored so hard to earn in partnership with the vast majority of the Iraqi people. In nature of things, some of them may end up in combat, and some may yet die. But as a country, we have done what we can do, for better or worse. The destiny of Iraq now lies with the Iraqi people. We will continue to support them in their fight for freedom, but the fight is now theirs.

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“Overwhelmingly White”

By lex, on August 30th, 2010

I didn’t have much to say (obviously) about this weekend’s Glenn Beck rally on the Mall. I spent Saturday afternoon on the golf course (shooting a 77 on the par 72 Miramar golf course, with an inexcusable double bogey 6 on the par 4 eighteenth), and flew three flights on Friday on one of the sweetest days of the summer. The air itself being like fine white wine, if white wine were actually blue and maybe just a little bit turbulent on the coastal transition. Two-thirds of my guest pilots were overwhelmingly female, as a consequence of the fact that I briefed two of the three events, and briefers get to pick.

Almost entirely on weight and balance considerations, I assure you. Former USAF F-16 jock Pokey being a wee, slip of a thing, and your host remaining a man of a certain, shall we say, consequence. When it comes to weight and balance. (Pokey’s call sign being very well earned, I might point out. Deliberation in his pre-start routine far exceeding the normal requirements of key in, mixture rich, fuel selectors on, carb heat off, prime and crank.)

Which, anyway.

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Special Use Airspace

By lex, on August 26th, 2010

Seems the Coast Guard and the Navy are trading punches over the results of a mishap investigation into a midair collision that took the lives of 9 servicemen last year:

A Navy report on the crash faulted the Coast Guard and Marine crews for failing to watch out for each other, saying it was their responsibility to avoid each other while flying even though a Navy controller was aware of their presence.

Under “see-and-avoid” rules that govern airspace off the Southern California coast, pilots are on their own to watch for others in the area. The collision occurred about 50 miles off the coast.

“Both aircraft were operating under visual flight rules and were ultimately responsible for their own safety, navigation and separation from other aircraft,” the Navy report said…

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A Secular Muslim

By lex, on August 23rd, 2010

Secular: Of or relating to the doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations.

Muslim: A believer in or follower of Islam

I would have thought that the words “Secular Muslim” were oxymoronic in conjunction. One may speak of secular Jews, since Jewishness is both a faith and an ethnic identity, but we speak of “lapsed Catholics”, not secular ones. If one is an “anti-Semite,” one has a non-specific aversion to Jews, but whether that is based on religion, culture or ethnicity is unknowable. Therefore, to be a generic anti-Semite is to be a racist.

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