Monday, October 22, 2007

First Cup of Coffee: Rules

Been listening to the national news a lot about the annual California wildfires and reminiscing a little about the Okeefenokee wildfires not so long ago... well seven months ago, anyway. I don't remember the media being so irate about Georgia being on fire.

MSN this morning has an article bemoaning the fact that not every damn aircraft was fighting the fire - the lead states:
LOS ANGELES - As wildfires were charging across Southern California, nearly two dozen water-dropping helicopters and two massive cargo planes sat idly by, grounded by government rules and bureaucracy.
Egad! The deuce you say! Goodness knows liberals hate government beauracracy, that's why they prefer it so small... er...

Moving on, paragraph the second:
How much the aircraft would have helped will never be known, but their inability to provide quick assistance raises troubling questions about California’s preparations for a fire season that was widely expected to be among the worst on record.
No kidding? But idle speculation make for terrific alarmism to panic the unwashed. Kind of the like yelling fire in a crowded theater, so to speak.

Paragraph the third:
It took as long as a day for Navy, Marine and California National Guard helicopters to get clearance early this week, in part because state rules require all firefighting choppers to be accompanied by state forestry “fire spotters” who coordinate water or retardant drops. By the time those spotters arrived, the powerful Santa Ana winds stoking the fires had made it too dangerous to fly.
How sad. Who knows what sort of damage could've been done, had the firefighting aircraft been able to fly around dropping fire fighting agent as best they could instead of on target with a professional spotter. And if only we could've gotten the two planes and 24 helicopters off the ground during those dangerous winds and killed some pilots, why then we'd be able to blame George bush for killing those guy by making them get in the air and fight fires when he knew it was unsafe!

Additional commentary from John at OPFOR: On the use of UAVs to help identify fires in southern California, Brig. General James Poss says "This is the United States Air Force you are talking to. We designed these things to locate targets -- to help us start fires, not put them out."

News articles aren't designed to be read farther than the third paragraph, I majored in journalism, they taught us this. Most people won't get farther than paragraph two. Even on the Internet, articles are written this way by news organizations and you can tell they're sticking to the format because right after the third 'graph is where the advertisement goes. If you make it past the advertisement, you're more intelligent than the MSM gives you credit for.

Below the ad, it becomes instantly clear the C130s weren't even outfitted for firefighting. Waiting for the upgrade for four years - jump right into my nightmare the water is warm! My last ship was 23 years old and still waiting for basic vital safety upgrades. It's all about cash, and it all has more important places to be spent, like the Army and Marines for fighting the GWOT. I can deal with that. It's not until paragraph seven that you get to Gov. Schwarzenegger's response.

I've spent nine of the last thirteen months living with helicopter pilots and working closely with the air bosses of two detachments to ensure they have everything they need to fly safely. Aviation safety rules are written in blood, folks, and if a small number of aircraft remained on the ground, it was in the best interest of their crews.

Odds and ends about this: I loved the press conference that Harry Reid gave saying that one reason the fires are happening is global warming, then turning around three minutes later and denying he said it (Tin Foil Hat Tip: Bloviating Zeppelin and Rush Limbaugh). The politicizing of disaster response has become really irritating, yet provides keen insight as to who the leaders in Washington are and who the politicians are.

I think the Healthy Forests Initiative may help (Tin Foil Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin), but it's too late to make a difference now and if it passes won't show results until after President Bush leaves office at which time some Democrat will likely take credit for it.

That's it, just the rant. Thank you, drive through.

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Friday, October 19, 2007


Wow, so finally after a week ashore I'm starting to get riled up about politics again. I've been listening to this whole deal about the letter that Harry Reid sent Clear Channel about Rush Limbaugh. Now that it's nap time for James, I've got a few minutes to share my thoughts with you, Internet.

Rush's auction of the smear letter sent to Clear Channel president Mark Mays just earned $2,100,100.00 on eBay for the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. Rush is matching it, for a total donation of $4,200,200. Wow.

If you're not up to speed, Rush spoke on his show about people who have claimed or exaggerated military service in Iraq in order to make false claims about he conduct of the war on terror - feeding the media the stories they want to print about the U.S. military committing atrocities afar in the hopes that an embarrassing withdrawal from the Middle East will result.

So on the floor of the Senate, on the clock, so to speak, the Honorable Senator Reid said,
If we take the Republican side at their word that last week’s [at the end of September sometime - sorry I was still deployed. -Robo] vote on another controversial statement related to the war was truly about patriotism, not politics, then I have no doubt that they will stand with us against Limbaugh’s comments with equal fervor.

I am confident we will see Republicans join with us in overwhelming numbers. Anything less would betray a double standard that has no place in the United States Senate.

Reid got 41 moonbat senators to sign a letter demanding that Clear Channel force Rush to apologize for his comments, trying twist Rush's keen observations and convince the great unwashed that Rush had trashed the military.

Rush took that letter, the text of which you can read here, and put it up for auction on eBay for charity. This is the beautiful thing about Rush's show and real conservatism. He looks at everything as an opportunity and I think it's a terrific example. It's a real charity helping real people, it's people making a conscious decision that is in their own self-interest, and it's a live demonstration of the positive attitude required to combat the spineless cowardice that the leaders of the left think America needs.

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Night of the Living Democrats

Just messing around on JibJab. Maybe more at nap time...

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Packs of Wild Dogs

Just to let anyone who's interested know that I made it home yesterday to Jacksonville from Salaverry, Peru. I was pretty wiped out after about 24 hours total between leaving the ship and touching down in Jacksonville International Airport.

When we arrived in Salaverry, I realized once again that just because cruise ships visit a port doesn't make it paradise. Interestingly, the NCIS told us that one of the primary dangers of this port was (I am not making this up) packs of wild dogs.

Salaverry is a port surrounded by a shanty town just outside Trujillo, the second-largest city in Peru. All the liberty to be had was reportedly in Trujillo, but I was only out for one day - at my farewell. It would also have been my relief's hail (hence the traditional name for the get-together "hail and farewell"), however no one knew where he was. We half expected him to show up the last day in port beaten, bleeding and filthy, probably missing a shoe, dragging a suitcase with a trail of skivvies behind him and say, "No one picked me up at the airport!" as he limped up the brow. Luckily, he is a smart and resourceful person and arrived the next day with plenty of time for a good turnover as Chief Engineer.

I left the ship right before it got underway and spent most of the day sitting at the Trujillo airport reading "Sourcery" by Terry Pratchett and waiting for the restaurant and shops to open so I could eat something and buy a phone card to call my wife. Then flew to Peru for a red-eye flight to Atlanta and then a quick hop down to Jacksonville.

So I'm home for two weeks and enjoying doing nothing almost as much as I miss being the Engineer. Luckily, I get to do it again in a couple of months and get to spend the intermediate time playing with my son and spending time with my wife. It's already been an eventful couple of days and I'm just getting up to speed on what the hell is going on in America, as well as becoming reacquainted with my family.

I just started monkeying around with MySpace, by the way, but there's not much there.

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