Tag Archives: Lex

One Year


In honor of the year that has passed since we lost Carroll, the Hobbit (Mary) will once again be at Shakespeare’s Pub in San Diego at 5:00 PM. I apologize for the late notice, but we would love for anyone in the area to stop by and share a Guinness, or even a shot of Jameson in memory.

Thank you again for all of your kind words, care and support over the past year,

The entire LeFon Family.



06-11-20 This is the last post on Lex’s web site (neptunuslex.com) before his site went down due to a technical issue.


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Half Cocked

Posted by lex, on September 25, 2009

The administration’s much ballyhooed plan to close the detainee center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is in something of a shambles:

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Sanctions that Bite

Posted by lex, on September 25, 2009

A second, heretofore hidden Iranian nuclear plant, a defiant, nutjob Iranian president and a case of breathtaking naïveté:

“So I think Iran is on notice that when we meet with them on October 1st,” Obama said, “they are going to have to come clean” and make a choice on whether to give up “the acquisition of nuclear weapons” or “continue down a path that is going to lead to confrontation.” He added: “The international community, I think, has spoken. It is now up to Iran to respond.”

Mr. President, they already did.

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Posted by lex, on September 24, 2009

Sometimes it is exactly as strange as fiction:

Yarynich is talking about Russia’s doomsday machine. That’s right, an actual doomsday device—a real, functioning version of the ultimate weapon, always presumed to exist only as a fantasy of apocalypse-obsessed science fiction writers and paranoid über-hawks. The thing that historian Lewis Mumford called “the central symbol of this scientifically organized nightmare of mass extermination.” Turns out Yarynich, a 30-year veteran of the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces and Soviet General Staff, helped build one.

The point of the system, he explains, was to guarantee an automatic Soviet response to an American nuclear strike. Even if the US crippled the USSR with a surprise attack, the Soviets could still hit back. It wouldn’t matter if the US blew up the Kremlin, took out the defense ministry, severed the communications network, and killed everyone with stars on their shoulders. Ground-based sensors would detect that a devastating blow had been struck and a counterattack would be launched.

The Sovs kept the program secret, unfortunately. Quite contrary to good game theory.

After all, in the immortal words of Dr. Strangelove, “The whole point of the doomsday machine is lost if you keep it a secret! Why didn’t you tell the world?”

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Failed to sail

Posted by lex, on September 21, 2009

Bummer for the Bonnie Dick *:

Problems with its steam service turbine generators are delaying Friday’s planned deployment of amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, Navy officials confirmed late Wednesday.

Maintenance crews were determining the repairs needed so Bonhomme Richard, carrying nearly 3,000 Marines and sailors, can begin its scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf regions. The turbine generators convert steam into electricity, which in turn feeds energy into the ship’s power supply.

“The ship received an inspection advisory for the ship’s service turbine generators,” said Cmdr. Greg Hicks, a U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman in San Diego. “Issues were discovered that are best corrected pierside before commencing deployment.”

I was aboard the USS Independence in 1990 when Cat 3 went down. All alert launches were from the waist catapults, and the embarked F-14s couldn’t launch off Cat 4 with Phoenix missiles aboard. The flag wouldn’t cross the Bear Box without Tomcats, so the ship was delayed about a week undergoing repairs.

A lot of people got very excited at the news.

** 01-27-21 Link gone; no replacement found (was Navy Times)

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Just Politics

Posted by lex, on September 22, 2009

That whole “Iraq is a bad war, Afghanistan is a good war” thing?

That was all just funnin’ around, according to Digby:

The Democrats backed themselves into defending the idea of Afghanistan being The Good War because they felt they needed to prove their macho bonafides they called for withdrawal from Iraq. Nobody asked too many questions sat the time, including me. But none of us should forget that it was a political strategy, not a serious foreign policy.

It was all just a means to an end – sabotage the war effort, sacrifice the troops, suffer national disgrace and leave the Iraqis twisting in the wind was nothing but a way to political power, and single payer health care and so on.

Just don’t, you know: Question anybody’s patriotism.

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Posted by lex, on September 18, 2009

In 2001, intelligence estimates said that Iran was five years away from being able to assemble the components for a nuclear weapons program. The 2003 National Intelligence Estimate doubled that figure to ten years, “early next decade” at the soonest, more probably not until 2015.

In the summer of 2003, national media outlets took heart at the news that the intelligence community was re-assessing the products it had developed asserting the presence of WMD in Iraq – an important, but by no means exclusive rationale for going to war there. There were murmurings here and abroad that, rather than cautiously balanced assessments with footnoted caveats intended to inform policy makers, the intel had been “sexed up *” at the direction of politicians – a crucial distinction.

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Drones Gone Wild

Posted by lex, on September 16, 2009

UAVs are pretty slick when it comes to long-dwell ISR and plausible denial. But there are certainly drawbacks to beyond-line-of-sight command and control:

A drone pilot’s nightmare came true when operators lost control of an armed MQ-9 Reaper flying a combat mission over Afghanistan on Sunday. That led a manned U.S. aircraft to shoot down the unresponsive drone before it flew beyond the edge of Afghanistan airspace.

The U.S. Air Force stated that a manned aircraft took “proactive measures” to shoot down the Reaper, which ended up crashing into the side of a mountain. Reaper drones have typically engaged in hunter-killer missions over Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan by targeting enemies on the ground with Hellfire missiles.


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Business Opportunity

Posted by lex, on June 16, 2009

Learjet Repo man

Someone misses a few payments. The bank wants to recover its plane. There will be an attempt to set up some kind of debt payment plan. Failing that, collateral has to be ponied up. If there is none, then an account executive reaches out to (Nick) Popovich. But Jumbo Jets are expensive — a 747 will run you anywhere from $125 million to $260 million — and people who try to acquire such toys are loath to give them back. If the deadbeat gets wind that the bank is sniffing around his plane, he’s likely to spirit it away before anyone has a chance to grab it, and then it becomes a cat-and-rat game that can take months to complete.

Sounds like the money’s pretty good. But I could do without spending time in a Haitian prison.

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On Pragmatism

Posted by lex, on June 17, 2009

One of President Obama’s most compelling themes while running for office was the notion of ending Washington’s “politics as usual” processes, which most people took for ugly partisanship propped up by rigid ideological orthodoxies. He promised to govern as a pragmatic, eschewing ideology in favor of analysis. A generous reading of such an analytical approach is that it is experimental, favoring what appears to work in complex, adaptive systems. A less generous view would be that it enables policies of just making it up as you go. The chief advantage to ideology is that in a crisis it gives the ideologue at least a default position: Free markets are generally superior to government driven systems, freedom generally is superior to its alternative.

This is not to say that the president is not in favor of freedom generally, but in the case of the post-election unrest brewing in Iran, he seems unwilling to be in favor of it in particular. Robert Kagan notes this conundrum:

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