Free Men Bear Arms

Herschel Smith · 15 Dec 2014 · 3 Comments

Mike Vanderboegh: You know the Founders were as suspicious of unrestrained democracy as they were of absolute monarchy. Both can be tyrannical. Both can be deadly. Both are threats to life and liberty and property. This is why they crafted a constitutional republic. The Founders knew that the mob could be manipulated by cynical elites to rob other citizens of their liberty, their property and their lives – cynical elites, wealthy men, powerful men, with unceasing appetites for more and more…… [read more]

Taliban Massing of Forces Part III

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 8 months ago

The Waygal district in Nuristan has been seized by Taliban forces.

The Taliban seized control of a district in eastern Nuristan Province on Tuesday, chasing the governor and the police from the district capital, according to both Afghan officials and a spokesman for the Taliban.

It was the second Taliban success in recent days in the general area of the strategic Pech Valley, which American troops are in the process of withdrawing from and turning over to Afghan authorities.

“The white flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is flying over the Want district center, while some policemen of the puppet administration flee toward the provincial capital after slight resistance,” said the Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, in a statement to news organizations circulated by e-mail. He was referring to the district more commonly known as Waygal.

The Nuristan Province police commander, Gen. Shams-ul-Rahman Zahid, confirmed that the police had fled their barracks and district government buildings in town of Waygal, the capital of Waygal district, leaving the Taliban in what he said was temporary control of the district. The district governor, Mulavi Zia-ul-Rahman, was also said to have fled.

“Police forces have tactically withdrawn from the district center early this morning about 5 a.m. following harsh fighting and due to lack of ammunition, and to avoid civilian casualties,” General Zahid said in a telephone interview.

“We are planning a counterattack to retake the district,” he said. “We will reinforce and retake the district soon from the insurgents.”

On Saturday, 40 police recruits had been returning to their homes, also in Waygal district, when they were kidnapped by Taliban insurgents as they crossed through Capa Dara district in the Pech Valley area, which is in Kunar Province close to the Nuristan border.

Analysis & Commentary

It is reported that the Taliban massed forces of up to 300 fighters.  I had previously reported that there have been at least eight instances of massing of forces against coalition troops.

In Taliban Tactics: Massing of Troops, I detailed no less than six instances of Taliban forces massing from 100 to 400 troops for engagements (approximately half-Battalion), including at the fated Battle of Wanat.  The Battle of Kamdesh is a seventh instance of massing of forces, in this case up to 300 troops.

The Germans have experienced yet another example.  “Germany says three of its soldiers were killed and five severely wounded in heavy fighting with Taliban insurgents today in northern Afghanistan.

The German military said the detachment was patrolling near Chahar Dara, southwest of the city of Konduz, when it was attacked by militants.

District government chief Abdul Wahid Omar Khil estimated there were about 200 Taliban fighters involved in the attack.”

This report from Waygal is no less than the ninth report of massing of forces of up to 300 fighters.  It is noteworthy that the insurgents were facing only Afghan National Security Forces and not U.S. troops, and it’s equally noteworthy that U.S. forces at Kamdesh and Wanat were never overrun.  But the tactic remains the same.  Taliban fighters like to fight asymmetrically by overpowering their foe.  They want a ten to one troop ratio or they won’t face down our forces in classical battle – or it would seem in this case, neither will they face down the ANP.

It’s also noteworthy that this is generally in the region of the Pech Valley, something that only The New York Times article mentions.  We are paying a high price for our abandonment of the Pech Valley, as the insurgents have safe haven, human terrain for recruitment, an area for R&R, and safe passage from one region to another.

Prior:

Taliban Massing of Forces category

Abandoning the Pech Valley Part III

Abandoning the Pech Valley Part II

Abandoning the Pech Valley

Korengal Abandoned, Pech River Valley Still Problematic

The Pitiful Rolling Stone

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 8 months ago

Michael Yon calls Rolling Stone out on journalistic malfeasance.

Seldom do I waste time with rebutting articles, and especially not from publications like Rolling Stone.  Today, numerous people sent links to the latest Rolling Stone tripe.  The story is titled “THE KILL TEAM, THE FULL STORY.”  It should be titled: “BULLSHIT, from Rolling Stone.”

The story—not really an “article”—covers Soldiers from 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) in Afghanistan.  A handful of Soldiers were accused of murder.  It does in fact appear that a tiny group of rogues committed premeditated murder.  I was embedded with the 5/2 SBCT and was afforded incredible access to the brigade by the Commander, Colonel Harry Tunnell, and the brigade Command Sergeant Major, Robb Prosser.  I know Robb from Iraq.  Colonel Tunnell had been shot in Iraq.

The brigade gave me open access.  I could go anywhere, anytime, so long as I could find a ride, which never was a problem beyond normal combat problems.  If they had something to hide, it was limited and I didn’t find it.  I was not with the Soldiers accused of murder and had no knowledge of this.  It is important to note that the murder allegations were not discovered by media vigilance, but by, for instance, at least one Soldier in that tiny unit who was appalled by the behavior.  A brigade is a big place with thousands of Soldiers, and in Afghanistan they were spread thinly across several provinces because we decided to wage war with too few troops.  Those Soldiers accused of being involved in (or who should have been knowledgeable of) the murders could fit into a minivan.  You would need ten 747s for the rest of the Brigade who did their duty.  I was with many other Soldiers from 5/2 SBCT.  My overall impression was very positive.  After scratching my memory for negative impressions from 5/2 Soldiers, I can’t think of any, actually, other than the tiny Kill Team who, to my knowledge, I never set eyes upon.

The online edition of the Rolling Stone story contains a section with a video called “Motorcycle Kill,” which includes our Soldiers gunning down Taliban who were speeding on a motorcycle toward our guys.  These Soldiers were also with 5/2 SBCT, far away from the “Kill Team” later accused of the murders.  Rolling Stone commits a literary “crime” by deceptively entwining this normal combat video with the Kill Team story.  The Taliban on the motorcycle were killed during an intense operation in the Arghandab near Kandahar City.  People who have been to the Arghandab realize the extreme danger there.  The Soviets got beaten horribly in the Arghandab, despite throwing everything including the Soviet kitchen sink into the battle that lasted over a month.  Others fared little better.  To my knowledge, 5/2 and supporting units were the first ever to take Arghandab, and these two dead Taliban were part of that process.

The Rolling Stone video is remarkable for its boring content.  Rolling Stone waxes breathless as they exclaim “The video was taken on patrol with a helmet-mounted camera; at one point, the soldier shooting the images can be heard boasting, “I got it all on camera.”

And so what is the big deal with the video, or getting this particular engagement on video?  We are left to wonder.  It looks to me like about one hundred thousand other such engagements that occurred in Iraq from 2003 to 2008.  Remember Recon by Fire?  If I have no problems with that, I certainly have no problem with what the Rolling Stone video depicts.

It looks to me like several insurgents violated cones or otherwise came up on the team in a threatening manner.  That’s what happens when Soldiers are under threat.  Michael was right to call Rolling Stone out on this, but there is another point to be made.  If Rolling Stone is breathlessly reporting on things that make no difference, what is going unreported that needs their attention?  Right?  Got the question?  If they are wasting time on irrelevancy, why?  Can they not tell the difference between this and real reporting and analysis?

I didn’t even need their report on General McChrystal.  Neither did Michael.  I knew he had to go before Rolling Stone’s silly report on him and his staff, and for reasons other than what they called out.  And I didn’t even have to talk to McChrystal’s staff to figure this out.  Journalists?  I think not.  I can do better and I’m not being paid for it.

“Nightmare” Budget Scenario From NY Times: The Sum of Liberals’ Fears

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 8 months ago

Professor N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard) has a piece in The New York Times‘ business section that is intended to impress upon us all the frightful prospects that await the U.S. in the future if immediate action is not taken on the federal debt now.  (Hat Tip to PowerLine)

As a disclaimer I must say that I do consider immediate action to rein in federal spending a critical piece of saving America’s future and the consequences for not doing so truly are fearful, but reading Professor Mankiw’s list of horrors brings to mind commonsense policies rather than doomsday.

Mankiw writes the column from the perspective of a U.S. president in the year 2026.   The article is the text of the president’s speech to the nation.  So let’s have a little fun and put ourselves in the audience for this 2026 presidential address.

Here is the calamitous news that the president is forced to give to the nation:

Yesterday, I returned from a meeting at the International Monetary Fund in its new headquarters in Beijing. I am pleased to report some good news. I have managed to secure from the I.M.F. a temporary line of credit to help us through this crisis.

(I like this bit about the HQ being moved to Beijing.  It fits the Times’ recurrent fantasy that China is the paragon of economic and political progress, notwithstanding that China has more and deeper challenges to its future than America ever will).

This loan comes with some conditions. As your president, I have to be frank: I don’t like them, and neither will you. But, under the circumstances, accepting these conditions is our only choice.

OK, here it comes.  The terrible, awfable, excruciating cuts…. wait for it….

We have to cut Social Security immediately, especially for higher-income beneficiaries. Social Security will still keep the elderly out of poverty, but just barely. [Emphasis added].

Nooooooooo!  High-income beneficiaries may see a “cut” in their social security benefits???  How will they live without that unneeded income?  How will they cope with the thought of having paid into what they knew was a rotten system with negative returns on their investment that had no, real prospect of ever paying them back what was paid in?  The system that they chose to keep in place all those years by voting for Democrats that continually denied that there was even a problem with the system and obstructed and demagogued every attempt to reform it???  I hope it doesn’t get worse than this.

We have to limit Medicare and Medicaid. These programs will still provide basic health care, but they will no longer cover many expensive treatments. Individuals will have to pay for these treatments on their own or, sadly, do without.

Arghhhhhhh!  The pain!  “Limit” Medicare and Medicaid??? They will only provide “basic health care” and “no longer cover many expensive treatments” ???  Cruel world!  We will be expected to actually pay for something ourselves or do without?  This sounds agonizingly like personal responsibility!  I can’t expect my family and friends to help with something like my health care when it is clearly the responsibility of the federal government to provide me with every treatment and drug into eternity!  What about healthcare being my right?

We have to cut health insurance subsidies to middle-income families. Health insurance will be less a right of citizenship and more a personal responsibility.

Curses!!! There’s that word, “personal responsibility” !  No subsidies for the middle class?  What’s next?  Are they going to stop handing out free bread and eliminate the circuses at the Coliseum??

We have to eliminate inessential government functions, like subsidies for farming, ethanol production, public broadcasting, energy conservation and trade promotion.

The world is truly ending!  Eliminate farming subsidies?  Doesn’t the gubbmint know that farmers can’t survive on the record-high prices being paid for corn, soybean and other crops?  Don’t they know that the world food shortage means that farmers need those subsidies more than ever??   And ethanol…we can’t live without that!  Even if it does reduce the world food supply and costs far more in energy to produce than the energy released, it is so…GREEN and earth-friendly and makes us feel good that we’re doing the responsible thing rather than sending that corn to the starving people in Africa.   And no more public broadcasting?  Who will give me my liberal-biased news (besides ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, the AP, Reuters, AFP, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The LA Times…).   No more money for energy conservation?  Really?  How will Americans know how to conserve energy on their own without someone to tell them how?  Those bills I get from the utility company are so complicated.

We will raise taxes on all but the poorest Americans. We will do this primarily by broadening the tax base, eliminating deductions for mortgage interest and state and local taxes. Employer-provided health insurance will hereafter be taxable compensation.

Horrors!  It’s simply outrageous to think that more than 50% of U.S. citizens should pay anything in taxes.  This almost sounds like the nutty ideas of the “Far Right” all those years ago who wanted to restructure the tax code so that everyone enjoyed a lower, simpler flat tax without needing a high-paid CPA to do their taxes.  And those employer-sponsored health plans have been so vital to keeping down costs, too!  Taxing these might actually force Americans to switch to a model for health care that would make sense and be affordable– the villainy!!

We will increase the gasoline tax by $2 a gallon. This will not only increase revenue, but will also address various social ills, from global climate change to local traffic congestion.

Thank God!  Finally this president is talking sense.  It is way past time to crank up the gasoline tax another $2 per gallon.  I’ve always thought those tiny, little Smart cars were so cute.  Now everyone will have to drive them.   And I hear they have an optional drive train installed— pedals.  So cute!   And with that extra $2 per gallon, the federal government will know just how to spend that money curing the “various social ills.”   Yes, like “global climate change.”   Even though it is the year 2026 and none of the things the global warming scientists predicted have happened — massive crop failures, all the coastal cities flooded out and the polar bears drowned– we just know that one day global climate change is going to kill us all, so why not $3 or $4 per gallon tax?

AS I have said, these changes are repellant to me. When you elected me, I promised to preserve the social safety net. I assured you that the budget deficit could be fixed by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, and by increasing taxes on only the richest Americans. But now we have little choice in the matter.

Wow!  I just had an incredible feeling of de ja vu listening to you, Mr. President.  Here it is 2026 but I am almost sure that I heard some, other presidential candidate promise that all our problems could be fixed simply by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse and by re-distributing the wealth of those greedy, evil, rich people– let’s not even call them “Americans”;  real Americans don’t get rich unless they are the right kind of rich people who live in L.A. and donate small portions of their money to causes like saving the California Crested Booby-Hatch or promoting the rights of pedophiles.

It’s OK, Mr. President, I see now that you had no idea that being president of a big country like the U.S. would be so hard and I understand that you don’t have any choice but to make these terrible, awfable cuts.

But maybe, if you have the time, could you look into closing Guantanamo?

Philadelphia G.I. Cop Deranged Over Open Carry

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

Here is the backdrop.  The Philadelphia police spy someone legally engaged in open carry, accost the citizen, and later find out they are being recorded (it’s too bad that we have no video, this is audio only).

Can someone tell me why this is okay?  I don’t see any reason for this being acceptable behavior for any police officer, anywhere.  It’s not acceptable for an officer not to know the constitution, it’s not acceptable for a police officer not to be cognizant of his own department’s policies, and it’s not ever acceptable for a police officer to verbally abuse someone.

Or perhaps Philadelphia wants to be known as “The city of brotherly get the fuck on your knees and shut the fuck up,” especially if you aren’t one of the few in a city of around 1.5 million people who are personally known by a police officer?

Must We Engage In Nation Building?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

Paul Miller at Foreign Policy has an interesting take on counterinsurgency as nation-building.

General David Petraeus, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, told Congress this week “I am concerned that funding for our State Department and USAID partners will not sufficiently enable them to build on the hard-fought security achievements of our men and women in uniform.  Inadequate resourcing of our civilian partners could, in fact, jeopardize accomplishment of the overall mission.”

Congressional testimony is usually bland and does not often contain any real news.  Petraeus’ remarks mostly wrote themselves:  he started by announcing that the Taliban’s momentum “has been arrested,” but progress is “fragile and reversible.”  You might as well say “Progress Made, Challenges Remain.”  Nothing new here.

But then Petraeus came out with that bombshell about funding for civilians near the end of his testimony.  He could not have been more stark.  We will lose the war in Afghanistan unless we pony up more money for our civilian efforts-which is to say, for nation building.

Nation building, as I’ve argued earlier, is not international charity.  It is not a superfluous and dispensable exercise in appeasing western guilt, an expensive tribute to humanitarianism, or an act of unvarnished selflessness and goodwill.  Nation building is a response to the threat of failed states that threaten regional stability.  It is a pragmatic exercise of hard power to protect vital national interests.  In the context of Afghanistan, nation building is the civilian side of counterinsurgency, the primary objective of which is to “foster the development of effective governance by a legitimate government,” according to the Counterinsurgency Field Manual Petraeus wrote.

Afghanistan’s weakness threatens America’s security.  State failure, chaos, or Taliban rule in Afghanistan will provide a safe haven for al-Qaida, destabilize western Pakistan and endanger its nuclear weapons, become a worldwide headquarters for narcotics traffickers, discredit NATO, invite Iranian and Russian adventurism, and sully self-government and civil liberties in the Muslim world.  We must rebuild Afghanistan to prevent these catastrophic outcomes.

Miller makes a good case for the campaign in Afghanistan, one I have made here many times before.  Furthermore, I have advocated against seeing this or any other campaign as merely out to spread benevolence, good cheer and harmony.  This includes democracy programs.  The U.S. doesn’t have the necessary wealth to take on every possible democracy project on earth.  There must be an inherent self interest for the campaign to be worthy, and in Afghanistan, there is inherent self interest.

I’m with Miller until the last sentence.  Actually, I might take issue with the notion of a legitimate government if it is seen as a central government.  The republic envisioned by John and Abigail Adams cannot be installed in Afghanistan.  It doesn’t have the cultural and religions foundation for such a republic.  But I’ll leave the stylistic issues to Christian Bleuer and Joshua Foust.  They know more about that than me.

Now to the last sentence of Miller’s advocacy for nation building.  The value is in the nuance.  Notice that Miller has said that in order to “prevent” these catastrophic outcomes we must nation-build.  Must we prevent these outcomes, or simply respond to them?

In Fallujah 2007, the Marines had a very high bar for performance of the Iraqi Police, and they left such a strong force to protect Fallujah that I claimed to Tom Ricks that al Qaeda would never return.  The only reasons that I tired of Operation Iraqi Freedom were the ridiculous Status of Forces Agreement and the lies to the Sons of Iraq told by the weasel Nouri al-Maliki.  Or maybe I just tired of Nouri al-Maliki.

Marines with whom I talked after three years in Anbar were all of the same opinion.  The Marines were finished in Anbar.  They (the Anbaris) had been given a start.  If they screwed it up and Anbar became a safe haven again for Islamic globalists, the Marines could do the job again in five years, or ten years, or twenty years.

The difference is profound.  The difference envelopes cost in American lives, cost in American wealth, the quantity and quality of American support for the mission, the training, purpose and organizational framework for the U.S. armed forces, and whether a specific people, religion, culture and locale can support a self-sustaining constitutional republic.  The American experiment cannot be exactly duplicated anywhere on earth.  It’s wasteful of lives and wealth to pretend otherwise.

But that doesn’t mean that we should retreat to within the boundaries of the U.S. and wait for the insurgency to cross our own borders.  It just means that we have to maintain a modest appraisal of the possible outcomes of our international involvement, and if necessary, do it again, and again, and again.

The G.O.P. And the Federal Budget: Piecemeal Approach Is The Key

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 9 months ago

Peter Ferrara has an opinion piece at Pajamas Media that urges the Republican leadership in the House to “get over” their fear of a government shutdown and get on with meaningful cuts to the budget.  Ferrara urges Rep. John Boehner:

The Republican leadership is losing their own base by displaying too much of a ready willingness to compromise, while Obama and the Democrats are not losing any support from their spending addicted political machine. The Republicans need to go on the offensive to reverse this political dynamic.

They must pass a continuing resolution (CR) for the rest of this fiscal year, which goes to September 30, with at least their original $100 billion in budget cuts for the year. No more 2 or 3 week extensions. Then fan out across the country and take their case to the people

Ferrara sees the fight playing out in Republicans’ favor:

That budget needs to inspire the grassroots by taking spending for every budget line item, not just discretionary spending, back to 2007 budget levels, except for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and of course interest on the national debt. That was just 4 years ago and America survived just fine then at those levels of federal spending. That would save roughly $500 billion in year one, and provide the foundation for balancing the entire budget within a reasonable time. The House should pass appropriations bills to implement this budget, and then again fan out across the country and take its case to the people.

This would frame the issue in the Republicans’ favor, for to resist them President Obama, Harry Reid, and the rest of the Democrats would have to publicly fight for higher federal spending, deficits, and debt. The Tea Party would then have its target clearly exposed.

If the Democrats can’t get their act together to pass a reasonable CR for this year and appropriations bills for next year that put the federal budget on a path to balance within a reasonable time, then the government can just shut down and stay shut down until the election, when the people can decide. There are big virtues to shutting the Obama administration down until the election. No funding for the EPA to implement cap and trade by regulation. No funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement ObamaCare. ObamaCare implementation funding may have been buried in the ObamaCare bill itself. But without continuing funding to keep the administrative offices open at HHS and elsewhere, there will be no one functioning to carry the implementation out.

In a shutdown impasse, House Republicans can continue to pass CRs and appropriations bills to fund the government, and demand to know why the Democrats won’t do their job and fund essential government services. They can pass bills to fund particular sensitive parts of the government. One bill can fund the federal courts. Another bill can fund the Social Security Administration.

While there is much to recommend Ferrara’s approach, particularly with regards to favoring a bold approach in the face of fiscal crisis, there is still plenty of opportunity for the Democrats to continue their intransigence by insisting that they cannot vote for a bill that cuts this vital program or fails to fund that urgently-needed priority.   So long as the Republicans present complete budgets to the Democrats, the Democrats can simply pick them apart as mean-spirited, devastating to the poor and disadvantaged, etc…  Worse, Ferrara’s approach still allows Democrats to claim that the Republicans are forcing a government shutdown by insisting on “draconian” cuts that will hurt the common person.

But Ferrara may have, unintentionally, hit on the key to drastically reducing the size and expense of the federal government.   In fact, it is a better and smarter way, politically, to achieve significant reductions in spending and put the big-spenders in D.C. on the defensive.

Republicans in the House need to fund the federal government in a completely upside-down manner, and they need to do this not only for 2011 but also for 2012 and, perhaps, beyond until some mechanism is put into place that can reliably shrink the federal government.   The solution is to stop funding the government with comprehensive, unitary budgets and, instead, as Ferrara alludes to as a sort of desperate measure, fund the government in piecemeal fashion with bills that fund specific government departments or activities.

As things stand, the Republicans in the House have been hitting a brick wall when it comes to passing a comprehensive, 2011 budget.   As Ferrara well notes, this was the work of the previous Congress run by Nancy Pelosi and they failed miserably despite having majorities in both chambers and the White House.   Whether one believes that a government shutdown is disastrous or not, it is clear that the GOP approach so far is not going to achieve any serious reductions in the 2011 budget.   Ferrara cites the horrific deficit numbers, so I will not repeat them here.   The GOP House has been forced to agree to temporary, continuing resolutions to keep the government funded on an ad hoc basis.

Instead, Boehner should flip the funding process on its head and abandon the comprehensive approach.  Rather than presenting one, unitary budget with spending cuts reflected in it, Boehner should present to the floor of the House a whole series of individual bills that fund only those essential functions of government that must be funded.  And the funding bills should be presented in order of political priority.

So, for example, the first funding bill to come up would be funding for Social Security for the balance of the 2011 budget year.  Let the Democrats in the Senate try to explain to the public why they are voting against Social Security.   They will cave in a heartbeat.  Just as liberal Senators, in the end, caved in on voting for military funding for the Iraq war in 2007, although they denounced the war as a lost cause and a crime against humanity, they knew that they could not face re-election having voted to deny our soldiers and marines the materiel needed in the midst of combat.  Same thing applies here.

Boehner and the majority in the House would continue to line up single funding bills in similar fashion:  for the Defense Department, for Medicare, for Veterans Affairs, for payment of interest on the national debt — there goes that favorite argument about raising the debt ceiling.

In short, this is a historic opportunity for the GOP to fund only those federal activities that are clearly necessary and Constitutionally prescribed.

Everything else never gets a vote.

The Department of Education?  No funding bill.  Note how this completely changes the debate.  According to the Department of Education’s own website, the Department oversees a budget of slightly more than $69 Billion.  Presumably this includes not only the cost of personnel but also programs such as the popular Pell Grant.   According to Higher Ed Watch the Pell Grant program grew from $14 Billion in 2008 to over $40 Billion for 2011.   If the GOP House took a piecemeal approach to government funding, it could easily introduce a bill that would fund the Pell Grant program at the 2008 levels and package it as a block grant of sorts to the States for each State to administer, saving the costs of federal administration.

Notice how completely different this equation is from a budgeting approach that automatically includes the Department of Education within an overall budget but seeks to cut its funding down to $14 Billion.   It effectively de-couples those who want an ever-larger budget for the Department of Education from those who do not care as much about education but strongly resist any cuts to the Federal Communications Commission.   It effectively splits the forces of the big-spenders.

Even better, piecemeal budgeting allows the House to specifically fund those programs that it finds appropriate and necessary without funding programs that are wasteful, better left to the States or are contrary to Americans’ values and beliefs.   The funding bill can specifically tie release of the funds to only specific activities or programs.

And because the most politically sensitive issues are voted on and approved first, the big spenders are left with fewer and fewer effective funding issues to demagogue.   For instance, once the funding has been set for Social Security, Medicare, Defense, the Courts and other, similar services considered essential, how effective will it be for the big spenders to howl about the House’s refusal to introduce a bill that would renew the $2.4 Million funding to New York state for, “Determining the connectivity among and fine-scale habitat use within Atlantic sturgeon aggregation areas in the Mid-Atlantic Bight: Implications for gear restricted management areas to reduce bycatch.”

Think of this approach as an aquarium tank full of electric eels.   So long as the tank is full of water, the eels can multiply the effect of their sting.  But by passing appropriation bills individually, the water in the tank is steadily drained out.   By the time the major spending bills are passed there are only the puddles of water left along with the eels harmlessly writhing on the floor.

Perhaps the biggest problem all along has been the method used to fund the federal government.  So long as funding is done in large, amorphous chunks, billions of dollars of waste and unneeded programs can slip through and no one is willing to sink the entire budget for the sake of cutting funding for what amounts on an individual level to small amounts.   But once the spending is broken down into individual and more manageable amounts, it is an entirely different matter.

Another huge benefit of the piecemeal approach to funding is where it leaves Senate Democrats who form the majority.   With the House churning out spending bills by the dozen and sending them up to the Senate for approval, the burden of keeping essential government functions instantly passes to the Senate.   If Harry Reid somehow refuses or fails to schedule the bills for a vote or cannot get the votes to pass the bills, then it will be Reid who has caused a shutdown of that government agency.   It is true that Reid could try to modify the bill and call for a committee to reconcile the two bills, but it will be a steep uphill climb for the Democrats to argue in this economic atmosphere that there must be more spending or they will shut down Social Security completely.   The American people are clearly in the mood for fiscal restraint and reduced spending.   Republicans should welcome any opportunity that paints them as the responsible cost-cutter versus Democrat big spenders.

It is time for Rep. Boehner and the House to get to work.   The present Continuing Resolution expires on April 8th.   Between  now and then, the House can vote to fund the government but only those functions and departments which are deemed essential or allow Democrats to demagogue.   Everything else must rise or fall on its merits and only after severe scrutiny.

The worst thing that could happen is the House democrats take the familiar approach and hide out in Illinois until the adults in Congress finish up the job properly.   That’s tough luck for Illinois, but, then again, Illinois is a far, far cry from the land of Lincoln.   Perhaps they should change the state motto to “Refuge of Scoundrels.”

Status of the Fukushima Reactor Accidents Part II

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

In Status of the Fukushima Reactor Accidents, I said:

… it’s important that everyone realize what I have already said concerning this set of accidents.  The main stream media (both print and television) continue to point towards avoiding a core melt event, as if it will announce itself with some sort of trumpet blast and melt through the earth.  As I have explained, it doesn’t happen that way.  The corium, if it makes it through the lower reactor vessel head, will disperse and cool from that dispersal, not even making it through the lower basemat of concrete.

The cores for Units 1, 2 and 3 are already damaged.  They are partially melted, and partially shattered and rubblized, sitting in the lower part of the reactor vessel.  Most of the radiological source term that can be expected to be released from the core to containment has already been released.  It is being held up inside hard containments and depleted via radioactive decay, plateout, etc.

The work now has to do with mitigation of the radiological source terms, from water injection into the reactor coolant system, water washdown of plant components, and so on.  If the semi-volatile fission products and alkali metals are in effluent, they will likely not re-evolve to the atmosphere in large quantities.  Most importantly, for now, the Spent Fuel Pools deserve attention, and hopefully the operators will be able to mitigate zirconium fire events in the pools.

And in Primer for Studying News Releases on the Japanese Reactor Accidents, I described how computer codes – including one that I have written – model fission product release as a function of temperature during fuel heatup.  Fuel melting doesn’t have to occur to release fission products.

On March 19th Glenn Reynolds linked an article at Pajamas Media that weighs in thusly:

Nature has also learned that initial CTBTO data suggest that a large meltdown at the Fukushima power plant has not yet occurred, although that assessment may change as more data flow in during the coming days. Lars-Erik De Geer, research director of the Swedish Defence Research Institute in Stockholm, which has access to the CTBTO data and uses it to provide the foreign ministry and other Swedish government departments with analyses, says that the data show high amounts of volatile radioactive isotopes, such as iodine and caesium, as well the noble gas xenon. But so far, the data show no high levels of the less volatile elements such as zirconium and barium that would signal that a large meltdown had taken place — elements that were released during the 1986 reactor explosion in Chernobyl in the Ukraine.

And today the AP acknowledges that the cores in Units 1, 2 and 3 are “partially melted.”  The Captain’s Journal is a week or so ahead of the rest of the nuclear experts.

Here is another prediction and technical explanation.  Power has been restored to the plant.

Japanese authorities have taken a major step in managing a nuclear crisis by connecting all six earthquake-damaged reactors to power supply, but it’s too soon to say the crisis has reached a turning point, experts said on Monday.

Power has been connected but not switched on to crank up most coolers and pumps, which may have been badly damaged in the quake and tsunami that on March 11 triggered the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Only one pump has been activated.

The damaged reactors and their spent fuel pools at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, urgently need cooling from air-conditioners and from water pumped in.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, asked by CNN whether the worst of Japan’s 10-day nuclear crisis was over, said: “Well, we believe so, but I don’t want to make a blanket statement.”

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko added that radiation levels at the plant appeared to be falling.

But nuclear experts in the United States and elsewhere were not quite as positive.

“I am not sure if the crisis has passed but it is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Peter Hosemann, a professor at the University of California Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering Department.

“It is getting better. However, we don’t know if the pipes and connections and pumps still work at this point or what works and what not. But having power makes external water supply easier.”

This is a positive step.  This is good.  This makes addressing the problems an order of magnitude easier.  But don’t hurry to a conclusion.  Water may have intruded into terminal cabinets, circuitry, pump motors, transformers, load centers and motor control centers, and getting power to the plant is not the same thing as getting power to individual components.  There will be ground faults, broken connections, flooded components, and breakers that trip open on over-current and under-voltage when they are closed.  It will be a massive headache for the operators.

This isn’t over.  The Japanese are performing heroically as I have observed.  They are improving the situation.  But habitability of land, edibility of crops, cleanup of the plant, and recovery operations for the rubblized reactor cores will take time and money.  Pray for the Japanese – and don’t jump to any conclusions from MSM reports, like the notion that the fact that Unit 3 contains mixed oxide fuel (MOX) makes it somehow more dangerous than UO2 cores.  Please don’t fall for the hype.  Fuel fines will not become aerosolized or airborne, and the Plutonium is part of a metal crystalline structure.  It will stay bound within the fuel matrix.

Pop-Centric COIN Revisited

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

In Marines do not bleed I stated my opposition to the doctrines of population-centric counterinsurgency (as discussed in FM 3-24).  Not that I oppose engagement of the population, or reconstruction efforts, or jirgas with elders.  In fact, you won’t find any more robust advocacy for speaking the indigenous language and the necessity for pre-deployment and even long term language training than from me.  The conversation is more nuanced and complicated that simply buying into FM 3-24 or not.  The nuance can be seen in my opposition to withdrawal from the Pech Valley because of leaving safe haven for the insurgents.

But it occurs to me that it’s always good to remind the readers of prose that’s just so plain, clear and straightforward that it leaves you nodding whether you agree with it or not (and I happen to agree with what I am about to quote).  The best thing about the quote is that it doesn’t come from me, but from an Army field grade officer.

One thing that I think many people forget about Iraq (or maybe it wasn’t reported?) is that in 2007 and 2008 we were killing and capturing lots of people on a nightly basis. Protecting the populace was A priority. When speaking to the folks back home, in order to sell the war, perhaps we said that it was the priority. But on the ground, I do not recall a single Commander’s Update Brief spending any time at all discussing what we had done to protect anyone. We were focused on punching al-Qaeda in the nuts at every opportunity and dismantling their networks. The reconcilables got the message loud and clear that they could take money and jobs in return for cooperation, or they would die a swift death when we came knocking down their doors in the middle of the night. The rest of the populace made it clear to them that they should take the offer. The only protection that the population got from us was good fire discipline so that we did not kill non-combatants. We made it clear that the government intended to win this thing and we did not send that message by delivering governance or digging wells. We shot motherf******s in the face.  Pop-COIN blasphemers, your scripture is false teaching.

And that’s what I advocate for Afghanistan.

Marines do not bleed!

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

From DVIDS:

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — “Marines do not bleed. They do not eat, they do not sleep. They are not human.”

Afghan citizens voiced these words in December after watching Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) conduct a route repair operation for three consecutive days near Durzay, a rural community in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Until recently, certain communities throughout southwestern Afghanistan have not witnessed coalition operations.

This perception of Marines as heartless, impersonal figures stems from their meticulous work ethic and discipline, said Sgt. Kyle Ekblom, combat engineer, Engineer Company, CLB-3, 2nd MLG (Fwd). Though Marines pride themselves on their warrior persona, the perception of the Marine Corps as an inhuman, militaristic force will hinder their ability to succeed in Afghanistan.

While conducting military operations in Afghanistan, coalition forces instruct their personnel to maintain a personable and professional relationship with the Afghan community. Since beginning operations in Afghanistan nearly 10 years ago, coalition personnel established themselves as a security force determined to eradicate the Taliban and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.

“We’re trying to break that perception,” said Ekblom, a native of Brandon, Fla. “Communication limitations in this country make [the Afghan citizens’] knowledge based solely upon what they see. We’re not trying to impose our culture or beliefs upon the Afghan people. We’re just trying to provide them with a country, which isn’t governed, oppressed or threatened by the Taliban. We’re here to help these people live their lives in the manner they see fit. By developing a rapport with the Afghan community, we can earn their trust and accomplish our mission.”

According to Khliq Daad, a 57-year-old resident of Haji Hanif Khan, Afghanistan, Marines must continue to develop strong relationships with Afghan citizens if they want to distance themselves from the perception as an invading force, such as the former Soviet Union. Though younger generations of Afghans may not recall the Soviet occupation, they could easily view any foreign military in the same negative manner. However, in the time since coalition forces began their operations, Afghanistan and its citizens have experienced many positive changes.

“Once the Marines showed up, Taliban activity in my village ceased,” said Daad, through an interpreter. “The Taliban here were preventing construction and rehabilitation of this area. When the Marines first showed up, they were only fighting to bring us peace. But now I see them conducting many projects and my village is much more secure. I want this knowledge to spread throughout Afghanistan – the knowledge of the good things Marines are doing for this country. Without this knowledge, those who are not educated will continue to make bad choices.”

Daad believes coalition forces will continue to find success in his country if they continue to influence those who may perceive them as inhuman – a perception as damaging as it is insulting. Stripping Marines of their humanity denies the sacrifices they’ve made.

Forgive me if I don’t share in the happy thoughts of the good things that the Marines are doing for Afghanistan.  Neither will I cover, comment on or press for international “humanitarian” missions for the U.S. Marine Corps.  The Marine Corps is for shock troops, for rapid deployment, for distributed operations, for quickly-devolving security situations across the globe where there is an inherent U.S.-self interest.

I continue to oppose the doctrines of population-centric counterinsurgency, as I have done before.  If we want the local population to entrust to us their security by divulging Taliban identities and whereabouts, why wouldn’t we want at least to allow the myth to exist that the Marines don’t bleed, eat or sleep?  Why on earth would anyone want to destroy this notion with the people?  In fact, I know of similar ones believed by the people and IPs in Fallujah.  The myth was left alone to exist in the minds of the locals because the Marines there didn’t believe in population-centric COIN.  And … they won Fallujah.

Status of the Fukushima Reactor Accidents

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 9 months ago

The Telegraph has some useful video that shows the damage to Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

ANS Nuclear Cafe gives us a rundown of the status of Fukushima reactors (and a little information on the Spent Fuel Pools).

FEDERATION OF ELECTRIC POWER COMPANIES OF JAPAN March 17, 2011, 14:15 GMT Update regarding the Tohoku earthquake

Radiation Levels

  • At 9:20AM (JST) on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 1000ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 4,130 micro sievert.
  • At 9:20AM on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 300ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 87,700 micro sievert. At 11:10AM on March 17, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power station: 646.2 micro sievert.
  • At 7:50PM on March 17, radiation level outside main office building (approximately 1,640 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 3,599 micro sievert.
  • For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro sievert per year from Natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. One Chest CT scan generates 6900 micro sievert per scan.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor
  • Since 10:30AM on March 14, the pressure within the primary containment vessel cannot be measured.
  • At 12:50PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.185MPa.
  • meters below the top of the fuel rods.At 12:50PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor
  • At 12:25PM on March 16, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.40MPaabs.
  • At 12:50PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: -0.027MPa.
  • At 12:50PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.8 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor
  • At 12:40PM on March 16, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.23MPaabs.
  • At 6:15AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber was observed to fluctuate.
  • At 7:00AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.22MPa.
  • At 7:05AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.44MPa.
  • At 7:10AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.26MPa.
  • At 7:15AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.52MPa.
  • At 7:20AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.13MPa.
  • At 7:25AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.57MPa.
  • At 9:48AM on March 17, a Self Defense Forces helicopter made four water drops aimed for the spent fuel pool.
  • At 4:35PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.005MPa.
  • At 4:35PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.95 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
  • At 7:05PM on March 17, a police water cannon began to shoot water aimed at the spent fuel pool until 7:22PM.
  • At 7:35PM on March 17, five Self Defense Forces emergency fire vehicles shot water aimed at the spent fuel pool, until 8:09PM.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor
  • At 2:00PM on March 16, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor
  • At 2:00PM on March 16, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Notice the pressure inside the Unit 1 reactor vessel: 0.185 MPa, which is 26.834 psi.  Units 2 and 3 are lower, essentially atmospheric pressure, and Unit 4 isn’t even included in the report.  The NRC has some hypothetical dose projections (that are in my opinion far too high, and I don’t believe them), but it isn’t difficult to see why the NRC has recommended evacuation for U.S. citizens.

Help is on the way, and they hope to install and align emergency power soon.  It wasn’t long after the tsunami that they had portable emergency diesel generators delivered, but the tsunami had cleared out all offsite power, including stepup transformers and connections.  They literally had nothing to which to connect (that could be readily ascertained as the power source for any specific component).  It was a jungle of cables.

But it’s important that everyone realize what I have already said concerning this set of accidents.  The main stream media (both print and television) continue to point towards avoiding a core melt event, as if it will announce itself with some sort of trumpet blast and melt through the earth.  As I have explained, it doesn’t happen that way.  The corium, if it makes it through the lower reactor vessel head, will disperse and cool from that dispersal, not even making it through the lower basemat of concrete.

The cores for Units 1, 2 and 3 are already damaged.  They are partially melted, and partially shattered and rubblized, sitting in the lower part of the reactor vessel.  Most of the radiological source term that can be expected to be released from the core to containment has already been released.  It is being held up inside hard containments and depleted via radioactive decay, plateout, etc.

The work now has to do with mitigation of the radiological source terms, from water injection into the reactor coolant system, water washdown of plant components, and so on.  If the semi-volatile fission products and alkali metals are in effluent, they will likely not re-evolve to the atmosphere in large quantities.  Most importantly, for now, the Spent Fuel Pools deserve attention, and hopefully the operators will be able to mitigate zirconium fire events in the pools.

The Japanese are performing heroically, and the main stream media will catch up in several days (or weeks).  The current efforts are focused on radiological source term and thus dose mitigation, not the prevention of core melt events.

Prior:

Further Degradation of Fukushima Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool

Spent Fuel Pool Fire At The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant?

Primer for Studying News Releases on the Japanese Reactor Accidents


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