Author Archives: Bill Brandt


By lex, Posted on December 8, 2006


Shelby Steele is one of the principle author-gods in my pantheon of philosophical greatness, a man whose writings on race fundamentally informed my own development. He writes today in the WSJ on a somewhat different topic: The war in Iraq.

Steele argues that we now struggle in Iraq partly because we have not defined “victory” sufficiently. This is a point of view I don’t entirely share – regardless of whether you believe the Bush administration’s war aims to be realistic and achievable, they have countless times outlined their victory/exit conditions: A democratic Iraqi government, representative of its peoples’ aspirations, and able to defend itself against both internal and external enemies while posing no assymetric threat to its neighbors and regional stability.

I think Steele begs the question a bit by defining victory in his own terms, as a kind of neo-colonialist “ownership” of a foreign state until the internal institutions of democracy are able to take root:

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Signing the logbook

By lex, Posted on December 9, 2006


I saw the best pilots of my generation destroyed by
Bacardi, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the Cubi streets at dawn,
looking for the way back-sheep…

So Cubi Point it was, in the Philippines that was, on one or another cruise from here to there and back again in the service of the Greater Good and racking up shipboard arrested landings, just for the bragging rights that were in it. ‘Twas a “working inport,” which meant of course that the blackshoes professional surface warfare officers had to busy themselves about the rust stains adhering to the hull of our warship, herself half-way returned from the uttermost parts of the world, with the signs of the sea showing plain. Well, that and ordnance offloads and re-tiling of the mess decks, a task that seemed an almost monastic devotion aboard certain ships, the one aboard which I had the honor to serve being not least among them.

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The Helo Dunker


By Lex, Posted on Tue – February 10, 2004


I’ve written before of Navy training – it’s very effective, if not always very fun. But I think it’s safe to say that the Helicopter Dunker, which is a subset of water survival training, and requires refresher training every four years, pegs out both meters: Max effectiveness, max not very fun.

Some of you may remember the film, “Officer and a Gentleman ,” starring Richard Gere, and set in the 1980’s. It caused quite a stir for a while, but having seen it recently, it’s surprising how badly the film has aged over the years. The “poor kid with a bad attitude who survives a trial by fire with the assistance of a tough-love drill instructor and his poor factory girl sex toy who nevertheless loves him for who he is, while tragically losing his best friend to suicide” zeitgeist seemed within a hair’s breadth of being anachronistic when the film debuted, but it’s merely painful to watch now.


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Short sighted

By lex, Posted on December 11, 2006


The Australian Defense Forces HQ has pulled the plug on its milbloggers:

Critics say the soldiers are being denied the very freedoms they are fighting for.

The blogs were destroyed in September, hours after pictures of Australian soldiers playing with guns surfaced on the internet in the days before the inquiry into Private Jake Kovco’s death in Baghdad.

Australia’s leading defence think-tank, a civil libertarian and an internet expert have blasted the move as heavy-handed, saying it denied freedom of speech and destroyed Australian history.

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Flameout approach

By lex, on December 12, 2006


I’ve had the opportunity over the course of my flying life to land with “an” engine shut down, which fact always made me glad that I had been issued two of them to go along with the rest of my FA-18. I did get a few hundred hours of single engine F-16 time down in Key West as an adversary pilot, and several hundred hours in single engine A-4’s there and in training.

You hear things in single engine jets that you’d be able to safely ignore in their multi-engine counterparts. Especially at night. “Night noises,” we’d call them, the bumps and whines of a mechanical contraption seem somehow magnified by the realization that you’re sitting on top of a single-point-of-failure, which is why God created ejection seats I guess.

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Useful Fools or Rose Colored Glasses?

I had an idea for a post peculating in my head, and my friend Robert Avrech pretty much said everything I wanted to say today. It is one thing to be idealistic – in fact, I would say without idealism the world wouldn’t change much for the better. It’s another to filter the facts to fit your weltanschaung.

Always thought it was Vladimir Lenin who coined the term “Useful Fools” but alas, his term was slightly different.

Interesting thing I learned about our modern Olympics: It was the 1936 Berlin Olympics when a dictatorial government first used the modern Olympics to extol their virtue.

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Stupid facts

Posted on August 14th, 2007 by lex


Tawanna Brawley. Duke LAX. Scott Thomas Beauchamp. The narrative.

It is one thing to assemble evidence and from them draw conclusions. It is quite another to start with a conclusion and then assemble supporting evidence. Too many reporters and their editors use the latter technique, because, as John Leo points out in his excellent Townhall column, they find the “story lines congenial” even when the facts – those stupid, stubborn facts – get in the way of “the narrative”:

If anyone ever starts a museum of horrible explanations, the one-liner by Newsweek’s Evan Thomas about his magazine’s dubious reporting on the Duke non-rape case — “The narrative was right but the facts were wrong” — is destined to become a popular exhibit, right up there with “we had to destroy the village to save it.”

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