Pearl Harbor Day

I realize I’ve exceeded my recommended daily allowance of posts today, but I couldn’t let December 7th pass without comment, especially on the 80th Anniversary.

My father was too young to serve in WWII (he was only 5 on December 7, 1941) but he was a huge WWII buff and there were lots and lots of WWII history books around my house growing up.

I was a voracious reader as a youth so I was exposed to quite a bit of WWII history through those books. I was especially enamored with Naval history, which was the impetus for me enlisting in the Navy at 17. I knew I was going to be a Sailor from the time I was about 12.

Anyway, as a result, Pearl Harbor Day has always been a seminal date for me.

The importance of that day faded somewhat at about 9:05am on September 11, 2001, but it still has significance to me and so I thought it worth a mention.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think 9/11 was more significant than 12/7, or that 12/7 is any less a date that will live in infamy; it’s just that I was around and was active duty military on 9/11 so it hits a bit closer to home.

What brought this to mind is the basic fact that most of the people I work with are young. I work in a department in my company that is primarily made up of entry level positions, so most of my co-workers are recent college graduates. They’re all younger than my kids, a couple not much older than my oldest grandkids.

Most of them don’t know anything about the significance of December 7. If I say “Pearl Harbor” some of them (not all) may have some vague notion that it had something to do with WWII, or that it was an attack, but most don’t really “get” it and wouldn’t remember the date had any significance if I didn’t mention it.

Heck, most of them don’t remember 9/11…they were literally infants then.

It’s ancient history to them, and irrelevant.

But considering what’s been happening in our military lately, what with purging patriots in the name of “domestic extremism” and “white supremacy”, espousing critical race theory, and subordinating readiness to political correctness, I think it’s important to reflect on what led up to the attack on 12/7.

It, after all, wasn’t an attack on an undefended civilian target, it was an attack on one of our most important military assets in the middle of a heavily defended military base, and at the time of the attack, the rest of the world had already been at war for over two years so we should have been on the alert.

The point is that 12/7/1941 is a case study in allowing the military to become complacent and in failing to take world threats seriously enough. Allowing our military to focus on anything other than combat readiness and effectiveness during this troubled time is a recipe for disaster. We ignore the lessons of history at our peril.

Of course, that’s pretty much what humans do, so I imagine when the next “date that will live in infamy” occurs, we won’t be any more prepared for it than we ever have been.

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”
~ George Washington

And, of course, the antipode is equally true: To be militarily unprepared is one of the most effectual ways of inviting war.

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Reducing violence through violence

This is one of those “I was going to leave this as a comment…” posts.

Bearing Arms has a post up this morning about the “Thumpyard” movement.

What things like the Thumpyard do is not so much trying to change the culture, but channel that cultural need for satisfying one’s honor into a direction that’s less likely to result in death.

Now, some will argue that changing the culture so as to eliminate the desire for violent retribution is the superior solution, and maybe it is.

I firmly believe that the utopians who think they can change human nature through good wishes and pipe dreams have directly contributed to the situation we’re in today.

Trying to change the basic human (primarily male) instinct to fight when challenged has led to entire generations of boys with suppressed aggression and nowhere to direct it. In the inner cities, this is combined with the lack of formal family structure and the kids not only have aggression to get out, but a need to feel a sense of belonging and “family”. That’s how you end up with gangs of feral kids roaming the streets shooting at each other because they were “dissed”.

When I was a kid, fighting was discouraged, but expected. It wasn’t treated as the end of the world and violence wasn’t a dirty word, it was just understood to have a time and a place. If two kids had a beef, but really didn’t want to fight, they’d start something on school property. That way they could make a show of being willing to duke it out without much risk because in short order a teacher or two would show up to break it up. The combatants would often get a paddling, or a few hours of detention, their parents would be notified and that would be it.

It was the “parents notified” part that was the worst because back in that age, if you got in trouble in school, the consequences would be twice as bad at home. That wasn’t the day of “how dare you discipline my child”, it was the age of corporal punishment both in school and out.

At any rate, if you really had a beef to settle and wanted to get it settled, you didn’t do it in school, you set up a time and place off school grounds where no adults would be there to give each of you a graceful exit. Those were the fights that were memorable. Broken noses. Lost teeth. Broken fingers.

But at the end of those fights, the issue was generally settled, the combatants generally respected each other and often became friends (if they hadn’t been before).

In other words, we had a way of working our aggression and disputes out amongst ourselves. The adults knew this and as long as we kept it to appropriate times and places, they left us to our own devices. It was part of growing up. You know what never happened when I was growing up? You never heard of a kid getting knifed or shot as a result of a petty dispute. Kids didn’t bring guns and bombs to school and try to kill everyone (and at that time and place virtually all of us had guns at home).

Kids would be bullied until they learned to stand up for themselves. It was a right of passage and it was a lesson one never forgot.

My point is that schools run by liberals and women have been actively trying to suppress male human nature for generations and the results speak for themselves. Suppressed aggression is not eliminated aggression, it just becomes expressed in different ways. Isn’t it much better to acknowledge that nature and allow it to be expressed in controlled ways than to ruthlessly suppress it until it boils over out of control?

One anecdote related to this: My bus driver was a farmer in the summer and drove a bus in the winter to while away some time and make a little extra money. He was a true man (like most men in the rural area where I grew up), was no-nonsense, direct and practical. So on the bus one day two of the boys were having a disturbance…not sure exactly what started it, but it quickly became shouting, and then shoving, at which point the bus driver had had enough. He stopped the bus, opened the doors and said “take it outside”. The boys piled off the bus and had at it right there on the side of the road. It was your typical pre-teen fight, mostly flailing ineffectually at each other and rolling around on the ground until they were both too worn out to continue. When they finally ran out of steam and it looked to be about over, the bus driver opened the doors again and asked “You done?” They acknowledged that they’d had enough and he said “all right then, back on the bus”. They got back on the bus, sat down and we continued on our bus route like nothing had ever happened.

I don’t recall there ever being another disturbance between those two boys. The bus driver let them get it out of their system and work it out, and it stayed worked out.

I’m not saying that just letting kids start duking it out would solve all the problems, it’s deeper than that. It’s taken us a long time to get from there to here and the problems won’t be solved overnight (if we ever even started trying to solve them). What I’m saying is that suppressing human nature doesn’t fix anything and from all the evidence I’ve seen makes it worse. What people knew (especially rural people) back when I was a kid is that it is much more productive to give that aggression a release valve and channel it into learning experiences than it is to bottle it up until it explodes.

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The Military experience

This post by Old NFO at Nobody Asked Me encapsulated it so well it actually made me tear up a little:

To understand a Military Veteran you must know:

We left home as teenagers or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.

We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.

We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.

We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.

We found new friends and new family.

There’s a lot more and it’s perfect. You may not get a sense of what military life is like from that list, but you’ll get a sense of how we feel about it.

One of the biggest culture shocks of moving from the military to civilian employment after I retired was the absence of the camaraderie that military units share.

Even in units with crappy leadership (yes, there are those) and even with fellow service members that we didn’t like personally, there was just a sense of brotherhood and unity. We always knew that, as a group, when the metal hit the meat, we had each other’s backs. When we had a problem, on duty or off, we could count on our shipmates and our command to help us work through it…even if that involved a bit of “tough love”.

In civilian life, that sense just isn’t there. The job is just that, a job. I live in a “right to work” state…a policy which, incidentally, I agree with…but that means the company doesn’t need a reason to fire anyone. If you piss off the boss bad enough, that’s it; pack up your stuff and get out. I actually work for a very good company that tries to take care of its employees, values our individuality and doesn’t get political at all. But that doesn’t mean they’d hesitate to fire me if I ever became a drag on the company or even got the point where they felt I wasn’t providing the value they’re paying my salary for.

I guess one way to describe it is this: During my Naval service, I held many different primary and secondary roles*. Some of them were related to my Rate (the actual job specialty for which I was trained), some of them not at all related. My career was as a Sailor; my particular work duties at any specific time were my job.

In the civilian world, it’s exactly the opposite. My career is what I do; who I do it for is my job. I can quit my job right now, take my skills and experience and apply them equally to any other employer with a need for my particular skillset. That doesn’t impact my career choice at all, just who I’m drawing a paycheck from.

I think that’s the distinction that’s so hard to describe to anyone who’s never been in the military. The Military career is just that; what particular job we’re doing at the time has nothing to do with the career, that’s just the job we’ve been assigned at the time. Do it to the best of your ability and your career will flourish.

Of course, that’s only a part of it. Part of it comes from the shared knowledge that our very lives depend on each other. I never served in combat per-se. I served in combat zones, but not against a nation with a Navy that could actually threaten our ships. No one was ever shooting at me; but the flight deck isn’t called the most dangerous four and a half acres in the world for nothing. Anyone who’s spent much time up there has seen people die and/or be maimed for life. There is simply too much going on in too crowded a space to have perfect situational awareness at all times. We rely on each other to watch our backs and keep us safe. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been grabbed and pulled out of harm’s way…or how many times I did the same for others. When you are depending on others to help you stay alive…well…that tends to create a bond even with people you don’t particularly care for on a personal level.

Some of it comes from the dedication it takes to work 12 to 14 hour days 7 days a week for months on end. To work for 72 hours straight to get a mission accomplished. To be on call 24/7/365. To miss holidays and birthdays and anniversaries. To be deployed away from home for half a year even during peacetime…much longer during war. To not know for sure that you’re going to make it back home in one piece…or at all…at the end of such a deployment.

By the way, when I retired, we were just beginning to get fairly consistent (if often delayed by up to 24 hours) e-mail delivery. For most of my career our only way to communicate with loved ones during deployment was with written letters and, during port visits, long distance phone calls.

I’m just sort of rambling so I’ll leave it at this: If you’ve never served in the military, it’s hard to grasp what it’s really all about. It’s not just a job, it’s a way of life that’s hard to describe in any meaningful terms.

To all my brothers and sisters in arms who’ve ever served, happy Veteran’s day. Be proud of your service…you’ve lived a life that most can not even imagine.

*When I was in the Navy, my official rate (job description) was Aviation Electronics Technician. My formal training was in repairing communication, navigation, fire control and other electronics systems onboard aircraft. Throughout my 21 year career, I did that primary job for years, primarily during the first half of my career, but also was called upon to do many other things: I worked in the security department as a Naval Police Officer and patrol supervisor; I worked as a formal classroom instructor; I worked as an Ordnance Quality Assurance Safety Officer (QASO) supervising the loading and arming of aviation ordnance; I worked as a final checker and QASO for launches and recoveries on the flight deck; I was full systems qualified meaning I could provide quality assurance inspections on every system on the aircraft from engines and gearboxes to hydraulics and airframes systems (and was the enlisted supervisor of the entire Quality Assurance division at the time); I worked in Maintenance Control managing maintenance and aircraft flight schedules and releasing aircraft as “safe for flight”. And those were just primary duties, we’d be here all day if I started going through all the collateral (secondary) duties I held. The point is that the military was the career, the job description was just in support of that career.

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Rittenhouse Trial Prediction

As eminent American Philosopher Yogi Berra once said: “Making predictions is hard…especially about the future.”

I was wrong in my prediction that the Virginia Democrats would be able to create enough fake votes to steal the election from Youngkin…not for lack of trying mind you, but they just couldn’t overcome the wave…

So after being pleasantly wrong on that one, I’m going to make another prediction, this time on the Trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. By the way, if you’re interested in the case and how the trial is going, Andrew Branca, self defense attorney and the brains behind “The Law of Self Defense” has been covering each day of the trial in detail with a daily post at Legal Insurrection.

Friday was Day 4 of the Trial. I discovered Andrew during the Zimmerman Trial where he covered the proceedings in detail and his coverage of the Rittenhouse trial has been lo less indispensable.

At any rate, my concern is that the SJW’s are desperate to see Kyle drawn and quartered for having the audacity to fight back against the Antifa and BLM rioters in Kenosha and my fear is that at least one of the jurors is a stealth SJW who lied during Voir Dire to get on the jury.

If that’s the case, they will try their hardest to convince the jury to convict which will at best result in a hung jury.

There’s no way a fair, non-politically motivated jury could ever convict Kyle based on the evidence they’ve presented, and I see no cause to think they’ve got some bombshell to drop that’s going to prove he was some murderous zealot out for blood rather than just what he seemed: A patriotic kid who wanted to try to help protect the town and provide medical assistance to anyone who needed it, who was violently attacked by the rioters when they realized he was alone and isolated and was forced to defend himself.

But I think there’s probably at least one stealth SJW on the jury and my prediction is that it will end with a hung jury.

This is another of those predictions where I sincerely hope I’m wrong. Time will tell.

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So here’s what seems odd to me…

During the “height” of the pandemic late last year and into early this year, several people I personally knew came down with the Wuhan China Virus. Probably 10 or 11 people. All have since recovered.

So, now we’re being told that things are terrible, the case numbers for the past few weeks have been almost as bad as during the height of last winter, the hospitals are overwhelmed by the unvaccinated and people OD’ing on horse dewormer. The only thing that can save us is if everyone gets the shots along with boosters at least every year for the rest of our lives.

But I don’t know a single person who’s actually come down with the Kung Flu since early in the year.

I’m not saying there aren’t people getting sick, it just seems odd to me that I don’t know any of them. Why aren’t any of the people I know catching it?

I wish I had a bigger readership now just because I’d like to get other people’s takes on it…do you know anyone who’s had it recently? Were they vaxxed or unvaxxed? Did they end up in the hospital?

I know that wouldn’t be evidence of anything either way, it’s just struck me as weird when it occurred to me that I haven’t personally known anyone who’s been sick in several months.

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EDC Knife

J.KB over at the Gun Free Zone has a post up today about people asking to borrow one of his knives.

When I lived in Chicagoland, my redneck self was usually the only person with a knife so colleagues and coworkers would ask to borrow mine.

I don’t live in Chicago, but also being a repurposed redneck, I live in a city full of dependent urban dwellers who’s idea of being prepared is having their AAA membership paid up and their apartment maintenance guy on speed dial.

I left a comment but it started to wander off into a review of what I carry everyday; it got too long for a comment so I decided to bring it over here.

My comment was regarding the fact that it seems to be the very people who “poke fun” at me for always carrying a knife are the very ones who ask to borrow it constantly.

I mentioned that although I own many knives, I only carry one routinely, and that’s what almost led me down the rabbit hole of discussing my EDC knife. Here’s the part that I decided to move over here:

I have lots of knives for various different things, and I may carry more than one of them with me when I’m engaging in specific activities, but I really only have one “EDC” knife that I always have with me.

I have a very specific way I like to carry my knife: I like it clipped to the inside of my strong hand front pocket with the blade down and the back forward. This allows me to pull it out of the pocket and it’s ready to deploy without having to change my grip.

This sounds simple, except that I’m left handed and there aren’t a lot of knife makers who cater to it. Most of them only offer clip positions intended for point up or point down carry in the right pocket. For that reason, my choices are a little limited.

The one I’ve found and like the most is the Kershaw Cryo 2. Yes, I know the blade is Chinese and I admit it doesn’t hold an edge for long…the upside is that it does sharpen easily and I can get it back to razor sharpness in a couple of minutes using my stones and a strop. Even one of those ceramic “v” sharpeners work reasonably well in restoring the edge and that only takes a few seconds.

It’s all steel so it’s extremely durable and it’s inexpensive enough that I don’t concern myself with carrying it every day and abusing the blade by using it in situations for which it was never intended. If I lose it somewhere (which I’ve done more than once) or bend or break the blade (which I’ve never had an issue with so far), no big deal, I can get another one for less than $40.

I’d be a lot more reticent to really use the blade as a general use tool if I had $200 into the knife.

Other than the blade steel that’s softer than I’d like, the only other downside is that it’s an “assisted opening” knife which some states consider a switchblade and will arrest you for, so you’ve got to be careful when traveling and carry an alternative if you’re leaving free America.

A good alternative non-assisted opening knife is the Spyderco Tenacious. It uses the same Chinese steel as the Cryo 2 for the blade but the clip can be mounted in any of the four possible positions so it will work for me. It’s quite a bit more expensive than the Cryo 2 ($52 vs $32 on Amazon) but still relatively inexpensive. It’s also lighter having G10 handle scales rather than being all steel. The reason I’d choose the Cryo 2 for my main EDC is that I prefer the assisted opening as long as I’m in a place it won’t get me into legal trouble, and I like the blade profile of the Cryo 2 better than the Tenacious….but if I need a non-assisted knife, the Tenacious does the job.

By the way, the original version of the Cryo 2…the Cryo…is exactly the same as the Cryo 2 only scaled down a little bit (actually, to be technically accurate, the Cryo 2 is a scaled up version of the original Cryo, but you get the point). The Cryo has a 2.75″ blade while the Cryo 2 has a 3.25″ blade, so the Cryo 2’s frame is proportionally bigger as well. Otherwise, they’re identical. I’ve got both and I prefer the bigger version, but some may like the smaller one. YMMV.

I’ve also seen a Tanto blade version of the Cryo and Cryo 2 on Amazon, but I prefer the drop point style and I don’t see the Tanto blade version on Kershaw’s website so I don’t know if they stopped making them or what.

Anyway, if you’re interested in what knife I carry and why…there you go. If you’re not…why are you still reading this??? (just kidding…you’re more than welcome to read my humble scribblings whether you’re interested or not. No additional charge for the rambling, stream of consciousness, boring stuff.)

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Another lesson on why reliance on others is weakness.

Just another story among many reinforcing why you should never become reliant on others for your well-being.

The European Union is threatening to hold back millions of euros —$150 million — in cohesion funding to local areas in Poland due to their declarations and stances against LGBTQ ideology.

They initially act like benevolent benefactors: here, you need help with this aspect of your life, so accept our money, assistance or guidance.

That’s all well and good, but it is very easy to, over time, become dependent on that assistance. Without it you can’t pay your bills, your lights will be turned off, your water service will end, you’ll be evicted, you’ll starve.

Which gives them power over you. When you do something, say something, think something that they don’t approve of, they threaten to turn off the tap. You will comply or else.

This works at all levels, from the no or low income people in the US who are dependent on the welfare state, to states dependent on federal government grants, to organizations dependent on twitter to get their message out, to individuals dependent on facebook to share pictures of their grandkids.

Dependency inevitably results in slavery.

Why do you think the left is so all-in for “single payer health care”? When the single payer is the government and you are dependent upon them for your medications, doctor’s visits, life saving treatments…you are their slave.

You want your cancer treatments this month? You’re going to have to give up that earth killing gasoline car and cut back on your electricity use. It’s all to save the planet you know.

You want your blood pressure medication? You need to delete those “transphobic” tweets where you said that people with penises shouldn’t be using the same public bathroom as your daughter.

You think that’s not the end goal? Then you haven’t been paying attention. The argument will be that you’re an evil white supremacist planet killing Nazi, why should the hard working taxpayers have to pay for your medical care?

It’s very difficult if not impossible to be completely independent in the society that we’ve allowed to fester, but do the best you can because dependency equals slavery.

“whatever power you give the State to do things FOR you carries with it the equivalent power to do things TO you.
–Albert Jay Nock

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Rambling

I know that the really popular bloggers put up a post every day, or at least on a regular schedule.

I used to do that as well, back when I was really striving to grow my readership. I pretty much stopped blogging for quite a while for several reasons:

– The gun blogosphere had expanded to the point that there were many voices saying the same things I was saying, and generally saying them better.
– The political landscape was deteriorating to the point that it was disheartening to post on it (that hasn’t changed).
– The big reason is it was starting to feel more like a job than a hobby.

I’ve never even tried to monetize my blog. For a while I was selling CD’s of my gunsmithing posts to raise money to buy a new computer, but that only lasted a year or so, and I’ve had that “new” computer for well over a decade now (and I still use it), so there was never a financial incentive to expand my audience, I was only in this because I wanted a place to vent, and to some degree I felt I had something to add to the conversation.

So, When I started feeling that I was no longer adding anything fresh to the discussion, I took a (long) break).

Now I’m back, but again, this is just a hobby for me. I started again in dribs and drabs just because I had something in my head that I wanted to get out there. I’ve been posting a bit more regularly, but I’m just venting, writing when I think I have something useful to add, or interesting to share, not just to put up a post.

I’ve been working on a remodeling project lately that has taken a lot of my “not at work” time. I stripped the oldest bathroom in my house down to studs and am in the process of rebuilding it. It had some issues and honestly I was expecting to find a lot of water damage in the walls and under the floors, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. It’s a small space so in the process we’re getting rid of the tub and putting in a shower stall. Slow going, but making good progress. I’m almost ready to paint the drywall parts and then start laying tile.

Still working on trying to buy property in a remote undisclosed location. That has hit some snags but we’re trying to move it forward. We’ll see what happens.

Doing my best to move forward, trying to prepare for an uncertain future and hedge my bets, all while actually living and enjoying my life rather than cowering in fear over a not particularly deadly virus.

I’m not very optimistic about the future of our society and haven’t been for over a decade. I think we’ve passed the tipping point. Entire generations have been indoctrinated into the cult of anti-individualism, explicit racism and communistic government control over speech, personal choices and lifestyle.

If we can get the electoral system straightened out in enough states, Republicans may actually even win a national election or two before being completely inundated, but the time is coming when the “traditional” American culture of rugged individualism, personal responsibility and individual liberty will be overwhelmed by collectivism and top down control over every aspect of our lives.

That’s just the way human nature goes. The vast majority of people want nothing more than a sense of security (false or not), and being relieved of the responsibility for making, and facing the consequences of, their own decisions. Most human beings simply want to be “kept”. It’s much easier than being self-reliant and independent. And they’re not even particularly concerned about the conditions in which they’re “kept” as long as it’s not abject misery…and as long as most of the people around them are in the same situation, so they’ve no grounds for jealousy.

At any rate, there’s nothing I can do about it. The leftist worldview isn’t compatible with “live and let live”. They won’t voluntarily leave me alone to make my own decisions and suffer my own consequences, so my best option is to find a place as far away from the people who would control my life as possible, ensure I have good sight lines to the approaches to my redoubt, and post signs on the property line that say “No trespassing: if you can read this, you’re in range”.

So that’s where I’m at. This started out as just an explanation as to why I haven’t posted lately and ended up rambling into a State of the Union address, but there it is.

Your mileage may vary.

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NFL and the “black national anthem”

I left the below as a comment on this column I read yesterday. I’m relating it here just because it seemed to be a good blog post and in case it disappears from the comment thread over there:

“By the way, here’s another controversy the NFL just created. I’ll bet the NFL never thought of this one. How will black players feel when white fans who are angry, offended and insulted by this racist decision respond to the “Black National Anthem” by KNEELING?”

More likely is that whites will just stay home. I stopped watching the NFL, lets see now…I guess this fall will be the fourth season I’ve missed. To put this in perspective, my wife and I have been huge NFL fans all our lives. Our saying was “we spend 5 months of the year watching football and 7 months of the year waiting for football season to start”. We were fans of different teams and we used to revel in wearing all our opposing regalia on game days, for Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries, things themed in our NFL team logos was the go-to gift experience.

Like I said, I haven’t watched the past three seasons. I don’t even know who most of the players or coaches are any more and don’t care to. My wife actually lasted one more season than I did, she kept watching the first year after I gave it up but after that year, she’d had enough too.

I’m tired of being told I’m a bad person solely because of the color of my skin (we used to have a term for that, but I can’t remember what it is) or being instructed by 20-something-year-old millionaires about how oppressed they are in this country. No worries, I’ve got a LOT better things to spend my time and money on.

And I think there are a goodly number of whites (and even some blacks) with the same attitude, so no, I don’t think you’ll see a lot of whites kneeling for the “black national anthem”, you’ll just (continue to) see a lot of empty seats.

The column’s point was that the NFL is doing nothing more than feeding into the tribalism and disunity being sown by the left. I agree with him…cultural institutions should be doing their best to unite us against the tide, rather than participating into further dividing us. But the management of all the major cultural institutions has been coopted by the left so that’s never going to happen.

Honestly, disassociating ourselves from those cultural institutions isn’t going to help either, it’s just another form of isolating ourselves into cultural tribes…but honestly I don’t think, at this point, it will make any difference either way. The land of the free and home of the brave doesn’t exist any more and probably never will again.

Refusing to support the cultural institutions that are working so hard to undermine our unity may not stop the decline, but at least I’m not spending my money in support of it. I guess that’s about the best I can hope for.

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The State of the Navy

Many people have been talking recently about a new report commissioned by several veteran congresspeople including Tom Cotton and my personal favorite vet in office, Dan Crenshaw:

Concern within the Navy runs so high that, when asked whether incidents such as the two destroyer collisions in the Pacific, the surrender of a small craft to the IRGC in the Arabian Gulf, the burning of the Bonhomme Richard and other incidents were part of a broader cultural or leadership problem in the Navy, 94% of interviewees responded “yes,” 3% said “no,” and 3% said “unsure.” And when asked if the incidents were directly connected, 55% said “yes,” 16% said “no,” and 29% said “unsure.” This sentiment, that the Navy is dangerously off course, was overwhelming.

I have serious doubts as to the veracity of this “study” for two reasons:

Polls are notorious for being easily manipulated. Pollsters can handily get the answers they’re looking for by wording the questions in the right way.

For example, a poll that asks:

“Do you support the loophole that allows criminals to purchase firearms from unlicensed dealers without undergoing a background check?”

Will get entirely different results from a poll asking the exact same people:

“Should private citizens be required to seek permission from the government before being permitted to sell their personally owned property to other private citizens?”

The questions are asking the same thing, just in dramatically different ways and will result in completely different data.

The second issue I have with the “study” is the number of personnel interviewed.

77 unique and formal interviews were conducted with Navy personnel via an extensive hour-long process to establish a common controlled approach to the questions at hand.

Seriously? 77 people to represent the outlook of the entire US Navy? There are many different “communities” within the Navy, and although they all fall under the basic framework of the UCMJ and Naval Regulations, the different communities have vastly different cultures. The surface navy vs submarine navy. Black shoes (ship’s company) vs Brown shoes (aviation community). Small boys (destroyers, frigates, cruisers) vs flattops (aircraft carriers). Then there are the specialties that have unique roles like the Seabees, the SEALs, EOD, etc. There are even cultural difference between the East Coast Navy and the West Coast Navy, between the individual fleets and between different ships, even different ships of the same class.

I wouldn’t trust a poll of 77 people to be representative of the crew of a fully manned aircraft carrier (approx 5,000 people), let alone the entire Navy of 330,000+.

So, I don’t think this “study” should be touted as the definitive statement of the attitude of all Sailors. This is very likely just another exercise in confirmation bias. Conducting interviews with too small a sample to be truly representative and wording interview questions in such a way as to receive a desired response.

With that said…

Just because the “study” framework and execution raises questions in my mind, doesn’t mean the attitude they were trying to confirm isn’t real. Whether the majority of sailors are aware of it, or will admit it, the Navy of today is in a very sad state.

This started well before I retired. The members of any military unit’s very survival depends on the skills and abilities of each of those members in their assigned duties. When such an organization begins to place more emphasis on retaining and promoting individuals based on any criteria other than merit, that organization’s effectiveness is going to suffer. Those policies were in place long before I joined the Navy in the early ’80’s and did nothing but get worse throughout my tenure. Those policies have done nothing but escalate in the 18 years since my retirement.

Additional policies include the softening of standards and requirements, the dumbing down of training and qualification standards, the elimination of longstanding trust building and team building traditions, the overt rewarding of timidity and risk aversion over boldness and warfighting ability, the incessant harping and “training” on social issues leaving little time for training designed to enhance mission capability. I could go on.

The result of decades of senior leadership promoted on the basis of their political acumen and ability to avoid controversy rather than any leadership or warfighting skills has ultimately resulted in a Navy where ships crash into civilian freighters, small boat crews who instantly surrender to third world rabble when challenged, ships in the shipyard burning to the waterline because the crew is unequipped and unable to perform the single most important function for the survival of any Navy vessel: damage control.

Not to mention an entire new class of highly technological, extremely expensive ships that serve no practical purpose, a new generation of Aircraft Carriers that can’t effectively launch or recover aircraft due to the incorporation of unproven, unreliable (also extremely expensive) technology, and a remaining fleet of overtasked, undermaintained ships that the crews struggle to keep marginally operational.

We may still have the largest, most technologically advanced Navy in the world (for now, China is rapidly gaining and will soon overtake us), and the most highly motivated, creative and dedicated sailors in history, but our Naval capability has been hamstrung by multiple generations of poor leadership and misplaced priorities, with no signs of improvement on the horizon.

And I don’t need a weak “study” of the attitudes of sailors to tell me that.

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