USS Missouri (SSN 780) Commissioned

USS Missouri (SSN 780) was commissioned this morning in Groton. Here's her seal:

If you'd like to see a video of the ceremony, you can find it here. Looks like it was nice weather (low 70s, partly cloudy), as opposed to the cold weather during the Dec. 1998 commissioning of USS Connecticut (SSN 22), the only one I participated in. (I was the "officer in charge of the formation that stood on the pier for the whole ceremony".) Anybody have any good stories about formal boat ceremonies?

Update 1346 31 July: Here's a news release from SUBGRU 2; they say hi-res photos of the ceremony will be available here later.

Update 1353 31 July: Here are some of the first pictures, including the one where they cycle the masts and antennas after the ship is officially placed in commissioned and manned:

Whenever I saw this, I always wondered why we went to all the trouble to water the masts when cycling them inport when it clearly doesn't hurt them to dry-cycle in the case of commissioning ceremonies.

Idaho CD-1: A Bellwether For America's Future?

As the midterm elections approach, most of the talk is about whether or not the Republicans will be able to take back the House of Representatives (or even the Senate). More than that, this election seems like it will be a referendum on whether or not Constitutionalism (represented mostly by the Tea Party and Libertarians) has the strength to re-emerge as a dominant force in American politics for the first time since basically the end of the Polk Administration. I submit that the Congressional election this year in Idaho's 1st Congressional District between Democratic incumbent Rep. Walt Minnick and Republican challenger Rep. Raul Labrador is a key battle between those who seek to return American political philosophy to the Jacksonian era and those who prefer a more modern interpretation of the Constitution. Basically, if the Paulites and their ilk can't win here, it's unlikely they'll be able to ever emerge as more than an occasionally humorous sideshow to the main ebb and flow of the American body politic.

Idaho is a very conservative state (Sen. McCain got 61.3% of the vote in 2008, even higher in the 1st District); the only reasons that Walt Minnick was able to win in 2008 is that 1) he's a fiscally conservative social moderate who would be a Republican in most other states, and 2) his opponent in 2008, then-Rep. Bill Sali, was a complete buffoon. This year, however, adds the dynamics that most of the 1st District electorate has been fairly unhappy with President Obama's policies, and the Republican nominee is a perfectly normal person. However, in coming from behind to win the Republican primary against an establishment candidate with one of the worst-run campaigns in modern history, Rep. Labrador had to position himself pretty far to the right -- well into the territory being staked out by the Tea Party.

Rep. Labrador, knowing that he really can't attack Rep. Minnick on his record (Minnick was the only Democrat to receive the endorsement of the Tea Party Express, although Minnick later rejected the endorsement), seems to be running the campaign as a referendum on Speaker Pelosi. I'm not really sure that's going to resonate among the vast majority of voters here in Western Idaho, but it's probably his best shot. Unlike other districts where there might be 35% of the electorate who will always cast their ballots for one party or the other with the opponents fighting for the middle 30%, this district seems to have about a 45-25 split favoring the Republicans (the 49% Sali got in 2006 and 2008 seems to be a floor). Most of the "Pelosi Bad, Boehner Good" voters are included in the already-locked-in 45%, so Labrador needs to focus on winning 5% of the "floating" 30% of the electorate to win. Currently, Minnick is up in the polls, and has about a 16:1 advantage in cash on hand.

This money will enable Rep. Minnick to use Rep. Labrador's own stated positions against him, with little opportunity for Labrador to respond. Examples of Rep. Labrador's positions beloved by the Tea Party but unlikely to find favor with the broader electorate include:

1) Repeal the 17th Amendment (also known as the "Sell Idaho's Senate Seat to whichever company can give the highest paid 'consulting' jobs to the wives of 53 Idaho lawmakers" plank);

2) Return to the Gold Standard (aka the "Give all our gold to China when they cash in their Treasury Bonds" philosophy);

3) Withdraw the U.S. from the United Nations (or the "Look how well our decision not to join the League of Nations worked out" plank);

4) "Publish all campaign donations on your website, including date, name of parent organization as well as the donating entity, and the amount of the donation". (Actually, Idaho voters will probably like that pledge; the problem is, Labrador isn't fulfilling it; his webpage contains no such information. I'm sure he'll say that his "pledge" only takes effect if he wins.)
Here's the deal. The May primary election showed that only about 7-10% of the electorate really supports the extreme Paulite/Tea Party positions (based on the clearly "Constitutionalist" candidates for Governor and the 2nd District Congressional races getting only about 25% of the vote with 30% turnout, in an election where the Constitutionalists would seemingly be much more motivated to vote than the general public). They think there are more of themselves because they're loud, and they mostly hang out with themselves, creating a self-perpetuating fantasy that most people agree with them (or would, if only their voices weren't censored by the mainstream media).

Basically, it comes down to this -- if the Constitutionalists have any hope of becoming a real political force in this country, they need to win this election. This would be the one to win, since they have a personable candidate (one whom I happen to think doesn't actually believe in all these extreme positions he's officially supporting, based on no real data except for one meeting) and a district that reflexively tends to vote for anyone with an "R" after their name. Unfortunately for them, since their actual political views aren't supported by the vast majority of the "floating middle" (or the political elite who give actual money to candidates), they aren't that likely to do so. The Minnick campaign, I'm sure, wants a race where voters get a chance to compare Minnick's experience as a businessman, a veteran and a bipartisan problem-solver to Labrador's record as an attorney and politician; if they can define the campaign that way, they'll probably win. It'll be an interesting 3+ months until November 2nd.

Guest Post: Military Housing Programs

Brandon Fischer, who writes for VA Benefits Blog, submitted a guest post about Military Housing Programs:
When government housing is not provided, it can be difficult for Navy service members to find adequate housing overseas. For those who are able to come back to the states and find rentals, living expenses can be hard to keep up with while on extended or permanent duty. That’s why the Department of Defense provides both the Basic Allowance for Housing and Overseas Housing Allowance programs.

Both programs allow service members to obtain housing that’s affordable or, as of 2005, with no out-of-pocket expenses whatsoever. It can also help lenders to discover what mortgage payment plan would be best for veterans looking to buy a home through the VA home loan program as opposed to renting.


BAH is for service members who cannot obtain government quarter with the U.S. The DoD compensates the military member, giving him or her a monthly allowance based on the local housing costs in which he or she resides. Other factors determine how much a service member receives such as pay grade and dependency status.

People with dependents can get about $300 more than single persons. Persons without dependents receive what’s called Partial BAH. There’s also BAH II and BAH Diff for persons paying child support.

Sometimes BAH rates are subject to decreases and increases. However, individual rate protection prevents the fluctuations from affecting the service member in a negative way. This also applies to OHA.


Members stationed overseas who are not furnished government housing, are eligible for OHA, according to the DoD. If a member is serving an UNACCOMPANIED overseas tour, the member is eligible for BAH at the "with dependents" and “without dependents” rate.

Overseas housing allowances change bi-weekly. That’s because the overseas housing system is set up to pay service members for both housing and utilities. Rental ceilings oscillate all the time. However, members still dot have to pay any out-of-pocket expenses and can actually net a little extra funds based on the system.

Taking Advantage of All the Opportunities

For Navy members, a whole list of allowances could be accompanied with the BAH and OHA programs. The Navy Times posted a whole spread about the different allowances available.

For Navy members coming back to the states, they might choose to buy a home. Monthly BAH payments could be put towards mortgage payments. And with programs such the VA loan, military personnel could save a lot of money on both monthly and initial costs. If a veteran or active duty member is interested in buying a home with BAH funds, he or she should talk with VA lending consultant as soon as possible.
If anyone else would like to submit guest posts on relevant topics, I'd be happy to look post them (after stripping out any links that are too commercial). Send me an E-mail [joel(dot)bubblehead(at)gmail(dot)com] and let me know if you'd like to write something for posting here.

The Full Nixon(land)

This is pretty cool. Rick Perlstein's epic Nixonland has been released as an enhanced e-book with footage from CBS:More from The New York Times here. 


Linking right in with this seemingly odd desire to limit our use of water, energy and resources, is this compelling claim at Pascal Fervor:
The single most debilitating thought in our world is not often spoken, but I see it underlying everything today.

S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y.

This is the arch concern of "very important" people who are acting on behalf of the fear that there are too many people on earth.

It means that a minimum number of people aim to maximize human decline with a minimum of fuss.
Those who find themselves in positions of power and influence tend to be pessimists. Why that is I have done a bit more than speculate on my own and other sites. But why is not nearly as important to you, the individual, as first recognizing that the pessimism is there, in horrifying amounts, and then comprehending where all that angst is leading.

I find it logical and significant that Malthusianism which preceded Marxism came into being at roughly the same time that mankind achieved unprecedented liberty and then quickly gained the ability to thrive as never before. I also find it compelling to note that both deadly ideologies -- one from the start, the other proven to be -- have been and are heavily fostered and accepted by the highly positioned and/or the well-to-do who have self-styled themselves as "Progressives."

The furtherance of these ideas has become such accepted thinking in the splendid halls of "intelligentsia," that any who dare utter an optimistic word -- such as those who believe in a God who has promised to always provide -- are shouted down, marginalized, and persecuted.

And generic hatred of mankind other than oneself -- misanthropy-- underlies it all. I've witnessed it as have nearly everyone who is reading this blog when you bumped elbows with them. It is that sense of dread and loathing oozed by some in the upper classes for the "repulsive" middle class that ever strives upward to join them.
That ties together Progressivism, the hijacking of Environmentalism to rule every aspect of our lives, and the class warfare of the ultra-rich against middle America.

Belmont Club put it thus:
Once upon a time the future was going to be fun and the assumption was that things were always going to get biggest, faster and better. But today a significant current in public thinking holds that the coming years are going to be dark — that they literally should be dark. The UN’s has promulgated indicators to indicate how much of anything we shouild be allowed to use. Today efforts are being focused on the degree to which we can reduce energy consumption, limit intensity of materials use, cut down on water consumption, limit land use and curb mobility. The dream of the future is no longer the man in the flying car but the man/womyn/transgender person living in the smallest possible cubicle, limited to the narrowest geographic circle possible and consuming his own waste.
And we are getting there.

A future in which America will have no capability to send a human being into space is already in sight. And good riddance to it, some would say.
To bring it full circle, Belmont Club's link to the report on UN indicators above is entitled, gaggingly, "Sustainable Consumption", positing that consumption is destructive and bad.

There's that word again!

Sustainability is just a word to convince you to walk into the misanthropic tyrant's cage willingly.

PCU Missouri Arrives At SUBASE NLON

Here's a video of PCU Missouri (SSN 780) arriving at SUBASE NLON in preparation for her commissioning on Saturday morning:

Here's a story about the move. This reminds me of one of the more embarrassing moments of my Navy career, although Missouri had a much better time of it than I did when I was Eng on then-PCU Connecticut (SSN 22). When Connecticut made her first trip up the river to SUBASE from Electric Boat in 1998, we weren't "underway on nuclear power"; we came up the Thames pulled by a tug and with a puppy diesel welded to the deck. This was because Big Navy had forced our CO to sign the transfer documents for delivery of the boat to the Navy despite the fact that the diesel was inoperable (reportedly in order to meet a delivery deadline in the contract so EB could get a big bonus -- those SUPSHIP guys need jobs when they retire!), so NR wouldn't let us start up the reactor without an operational diesel (understandable). As a result, our "triumphant" entry into SUBASE came in the form of a dead-stick move. Humiliating.

Harvey Pekar (1939-2010)

Harvey Pekar, the creator of alternative comic book American Splendor, died a couple of weeks ago. As he described it: I was sort of on a mission with American Splendor. I wanted to try to prove that comics could do things. I wanted to expand them beyond superheroes and talking animals. And I knew that was going to take a long time. But I just started writing an autobiography about my

Blogiversary V: The Internet Hamsters Strike Back

It's my fifth blogiversary, not worthy of Methuselah status, but a fairly long time in blog years. It hasn't been my most prolific blog year, although there's been a late flurry of activity, and a few highlights before that. Thanks to everyone who's stopped by, or otherwise supports small blogs or "long form" blogging. Here's my traditional retrospective round-up (mainly so I can find the damn

And A Submarine Shall Lead Them

Once again, we see a "group photo" from a big naval exercise where the submarine is front and center. This one is from the current "Invincible Spirit" exercises off the coast of Korea, with USS Tucson (SSN 770) leading the fleet:

Here's a close up of Tucson from the same event. I've blogged before about why submarines are almost always in front of the formation in these group steaming photos, or more rarely off to the side -- it's because submarines have absolutely no tradition of station-keeping in formation steaming, so it's easiest just to let the sub be the guide. In the description of the picture above, the Navy Mass Communication Specialist who wrote the caption made the common mistake of calling the submarine "USS Tuscon" (I've blogged about that before as well). I think we can all just agree that the spelling and pronunciation of "Tucson" bear no relation to one another, and leave it at that.

For those wondering about the RIMPAC 2010 group photo, here's a video of the parade, with USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) leading the way. They claim there are four submarines in this formation, but they must be way out of the way. (Here's a still picture of the formation, and even in hi-res I don't see any submarines.)

The GOP's Pitch for November

As Dave Johnson and many other liberal bloggers have noted, the Republican plan is to "block everything Congress does, then run against Democrats as ineffective." It'd be nice if the press at least reported that accurately, so that voters could make an informed decision, but that wouldn't be "fair and balanced." It really does bear mentioning that in a functioning democracy, this pitch wouldn't

Sailors Missing In Afghanistan

From the official Navy website:
Washington (NNS) -- The Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead extended the following statement on the events in Afghanistan:

"The thoughts and prayers of our entire Navy go out to the missing Sailors serving in Afghanistan and their families. We have been closely following the situation from the outset. These Sailors represent two of several thousand Sailors serving on the ground in Afghanistan in support of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan. Forces on the ground in Afghanistan are doing everything they can to locate and safely return our missing shipmates."
Our prayers are with the missing Sailors and the families of all concerned. Similarly, please keep Idaho native Army Specialist Bowe Bergdahl, captured over a year ago, in your thoughts. When the missing Sailors' identities are released, hopefully those of us who might know them won't put out any personal information on the 'net that the enemy might use to exploit the situation.

Update 0740 29 July: The remains of one of the Sailors were recovered on Sunday, and now there's word that the second Sailor's body has been found.

Obama Video for Netroot Nation

This video of Obama aired at Netroots Nation:Pretty good. Faced with several disasters to clean up (any of which could consume a presidency on its own) and hampered by an obstructionist GOP, Obama has a ridiculously tough job. I'm very sympathetic on that front. However, some things, like upholding due process, are non-negotiable, no matter who is in office. And I think many liberals wouldn't

Insufferable Busybodies

Any doubt this monster of an adminstration and its fascist progressive allies want to control and regulate every aspect of human life, need look no further than this Department of Energy decree in May:
1992 federal law says a showerhead can deliver no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch.
That in itself is a problem -- that they feel they can regulate that. But it gets worse!
But in May, the DOE said a "showerhead" may incorporate "one or more sprays, nozzles or openings." Under the new interpretation, all nozzles would count as a single showerhead and be deemed noncompliant if, taken together, they exceed the 2.5 gallons-a-minute maximum.

In May, the DOE's general counsel, Scott Blake Harris, fined four showerhead makers $165,104 in civil penalties, alleging they failed to demonstrate compliance for some devices.

Manufacturers and retailers say the new rules affect not just upscale systems but also those with hand-held sprays used by the elderly and disabled. Multiple showerheads often found in shower rooms at schools or gyms could also be at risk, manufacturers say. Customers will be disgruntled because of limited product range, they add.

"Did Congress limit consumer choice? Absolutely," the DOE's Mr. Harris says. "When you waste water, you waste energy." Each multi-head shower fixture uses an extra 40 to 80 thermal units of energy per year, equivalent to 50 gallons of gasoline, or one barrel of oil, he says.
If I want to pay for that, I WILL NOT stand for any busybody to tell me just how much energy I am "allowed" to use!
The showdown is a challenge to President Barack Obama and his energy secretary, Steven Chu, as they try to cajole—or compel—Americans to use water and energy more efficiently. Mr. Chu, a self-described "zealot" for energy efficiency, says he crawls around in his attic in his spare time installing extra insulation.
Send them back to the attic!


I will now "waste" energy and water with glee just to spite them.

We Cheat the Other Guy and Pass the Savings to You

I'm returning to David Brooks' January op-ed "The Populist Addiction," because it's quintessential Brooks, but also because it provides a useful framework for conflicting political views in America. The full column is here and worth reading for full context (and Brooks' cute plea not to scapegoat poor Goldman Sachs). However, this is my favorite section:So it’s easy to see the seductiveness of

Won't Somebody Please Think of the Needy Wealthy?

Republican Senator Jim DeMint recently introduced an amendment to repeal the Estate Tax permanently. Not adjust it or improve it – repeal it entirely. Never mind that there's staggering wealth inequity in America. The amendment failed, but the GOP and some of the Blue Dogs voted for it. Like the Republicans, Blue Dogs Kent Conrad and Evan Bayh want to extend Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy,

Geeks 1, Homophobes 0

Actually, "homophobes" is too tame a word for Fred Phelps and the hate-filled gang of the Westboro Baptist Church. But when they showed up to protest at Comic-Con, they were met by some counter-protesters:Unbeknownst to the dastardly fanatics of the Westboro Baptist Church, the good folks of San Diego's Comic-Con were prepared for their arrival with their own special brand of superhuman counter

Daniel Schorr Remembered

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr has died at the age of 93 after a lifetime in journalism. NPR has put together several pieces on him, including a 3 minute one, a 12 minute one, and a 55 minute memorial special (see the left column at the link). His stints in Moscow and Germany yield some interesting tales, and I found the Nixon and 70s era stories particularly fascinating. Here's one:In

Civil Rights and Shirley Sherrod's Family

Earlier this week, Digby posted some of Shirley Sherrod's speech - the parts Andrew Breitbart and his team chose to hide. (Media Matters has the video.) If you haven't seen it yet, it's pretty moving and thoughtful. Three recent posts delve more into her story, her father's and her husband's. "Hosie Miller: Shirley Sherrod's dad, and a casualty in a forgotten war," by Will Bunch:How unusual

Inception Complete Spoiler Post (Beware!)

Yeah, don't read this one if you haven't already seen the film (which is very good and will play better on the big screen), 'kay? Just some quick thoughts...Inception isn't just the title of Christopher Nolan's new film; it's a description of what the film attempts to do to its audience. The film is extremely intricate and ambitious in its plot and structure, but also its meta-narrative games.

Marvin Gaye - 'What's Happening Brother"

I was listening to What's Going On the other night - it's still one of my all-time favorite albums. As the Wiki entry explains, "The album is told from the point of view of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for, and seeing nothing but injustice, suffering and hatred." (Marvin's brother served in Vietnam.) The YouTube description for this video says, "A visual

RIMPAC 2010 Videos

RIMPAC 2010 is going on through 01 August; for those who didn't get enough when they were a PACFLT Sailor, here are a bunch of videos for you to relive the experience. The only submarine one I could find is this rather boring one of USS Pasadena (SSN 752) leaving Pearl:

Anyone have any favorite memories of large multinational exercises? I just remember how long morning colors took when all the different nations' boats were in port if one was unlucky enough to get caught outside.

The Five Circles of Conservative Hell

In American politics today, there are five circles of conservative hell. Unlike those in Dante's Inferno, these are primarily states of pain and suffering that conservatives seek to impose on others in this earthly world - or places of torment where they drag their fellow Americans for company. After all, there's no problem in the country that's not made sweeter by domineering spite! Note that

The Social Contract

Sorely lacking from the chattering class' discussions on national politics is the concept of the Social Contract. There have been different takes on it throughout history, but the basic idea of creating a fair society, one 'ruled by laws not men,' of checks and balances on power, and of shared, basic prosperity, was central to the founding of the United States. The plutocrats, Randians and

National Popular Vote Arguments

A supporter of the National Popular Vote Initiative dropped by and anonymously left several lengthy comments on my previous piece. I won't be a repository for their propaganda; it can all be found verbatim on their website.

But I will address the main points raised.

And the main point to note is nowhere do the NPVI people address the fundamental (and little appreciated) structure of the Electoral College formula, that it was never meant to be a direct proxy for a citizen popular vote, but rather is a weighted average of TWO popular votes: one by the people, and one state-by-state.

Because those were the two power groups mentioned in the Constitution that ceded limited powers to form a Federal government, and thus are separately represented in Congress (House and Senate), and in choosing the President -- by the same Congressional formula.

The NPVI supporter ignores the state represention issue entirely, and thus we end up talking past each other.

On to the carefully-crafted misdirecting rhetoric:

The current system of electing the president ensures that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states and their voters.
Nor would a strategy to win 51% of the popular vote force a candidate to reach out to all states and voters. Indeed, such a strategy would foster targetting specific demographics, without regard to geographic diversity. If states only existed as subdivisions of Federal political power, this wouldn't be much of an issue -- but they aren't.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.
Again, that is not a bug, but a feature. It's not meant as a poor proxy of a popular vote, but is a blend of TWO votes.

For example, though Gore in 2000 won the popular vote by a whisper-thin margin of 48.4% to 47.9%, Bush won the state-by-state vote in a LANDSLIDE of 59% to 41%!

Blended together by the electoral formula, Bush wins. There's nothing perverse or unfair in that outcome AT ALL.

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."
Indeed it is. The states can certainly do this. It's just foolish and wrong, as it further marginalizes states as separate political entitites with their own rights. The Founders believed the only thing strong enough to stand in the way of a government is another government.

There is no valid argument that the winner-take-all rule is entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution.
That too is true. If we wanted to make the popular vote piece of the electoral formula more representative, the reform I'd support is for States to assign their Electoral votes as 1 vote per Congressional district won (for the People's representation), plus the State's 2 votes to the overal state winner (for the State-by-state "popular vote"). Two states (Maine and Nebraska) already do this.

But, they'd never do that, because it would put a big piece of California and other large "blue" states in play for Republicans, and no Democrat could ever be elected President.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).
Irrelevant. They surely don't understand the real issues at stake, and have been misled to believe the Electoral College gets in the way of their popular vote for no good reason. The importance of the States is largely forgotten by most -- but not by me.

I'll take the National Popular Vote movement more seriously as a principled stand, if it also stood for abolishing the Senate as an irrelevant body getting in the way of direct representation in the House.

Instead, it will increase the risks of populism and demogoguery, and identity-group politics at the further expense of the already near-moribund States, which are supposed to stand as important bastions between us and a Federal government that naturally trends to tyranny.

Too much pure democracy is a bad thing -- as Franklin put it, two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.

Peasants, Sell Your Yachts

Alan Grayson continues to be one of the most refreshing things about Congress. Conscience and being nice haven't budged conservatives, so why not just call the bastards out? (Via Digby.)

USS North Carolina Photos And Story

Here's a really good story, with embedded videos, about USS North Carolina (SSN 777). Almost 30 pictures of the boat can be found here, including this one of the Command Center:

The CO is CDR Wes Schlauder, who was Weps on USS Connecticut (SSN 22) when I was Eng. He done good. He has a fine boat -- even if it's a lot slower than his Department Head ride.

Another Willful Step To State Destruction

Senate Action Moves Commonwealth of Massachusetts One Step Closer to Enactment

Last night, the Massachusetts Senate passed National Popular Vote legislation by a vote of 28 to 10, moving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts one step closer to giving voters an equal vote in electing America’s President. The Massachusetts Senate vote follows the recent 52-7 New York State Senate vote in favor of the bill—a victory supported by a 22-5 Republican margin (with 3 not voting) and 30-2 Democrat margin.
National Popular Vote preserves the Electoral College by creating an agreement among the states. When enough states join (totaling 270 or more Electoral Votes or a majority of the Electoral College), the agreement triggers. Compacting states then award a majority of Electoral Votes to the candidate who wins the most votes in all fifty states, guaranteeing the presidency.
Terrible, misguided idea. More news and background here.

“Our proposal is consistent with the intent and wishes of our Founding Fathers and gives the American people what they want,” said Koza. “The compact addresses the serious drawbacks of the current system of state-by-state, winner-take-all rules. It ends a system that marginalizes two-thirds of America’s voters. With National Popular Vote, a vote in Massachusetts will always count as much as a vote in Florida.”
Wrong wrong wrong!!!

They make it sound so reasonable, but it is a deception. The talk of equal votes is a complete misdirection. The Electoral College system is intended to blend TWO separate votes, one a popular one and one a state-by-state one in choosing the President!

That fact is generally forgotten, as State's Rights have withered away -- but it is recognized in the Constitution that TWO groups, the States and the People, both ceded limited powers to the Federal Government, and thus that is why both are represented separately in the Senate (with all states equal) and in the House (proportionally to population, for the People) in Congress.

And so both also get to weigh in on electing the President through the Electoral formula. Thus we see the supposed "anomaly" when Gore lost to Bush though winning the popular vote really wasn't odd at all, because Bush won the state vote in a landslide -- and the blending of those two results together resulted in a Bush win.


So the first statement in the quote above, "Our proposal is consistent with the intent and wishes of our Founding Fathers" is a complete and utter LIE.

Massachusetts is poised to join Maryland, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington and Hawaii as the sixth state to enact the National Popular Vote bill. Companion bills have been introduced in all fifty U.S. States.
Idiots. how they so easily throw away their State's Rights! Those legislators are allowing their votes to be controlled by people outside of their own state. It is such outrageous foolishness that it is beyond belief.

And yet, here we are.

Who is really behind this National Popular Vote Initiative?

Attack of the Plutocrats

Plutocracy and democracy don't mix.- Bill Moyers There’s class warfare, all right - but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.- Warren BuffetCheck out any mainstream news outlet, and before long you'll encounter some rich person claiming that extending unemployment benefits makes people lazy or that the social safety net needs to be slashed. Others will whine that (

Class Warfare

Class warfare is back, but this time it's the ultrawealthy and the "ruling class" setting out to destroy the middle class. Their perfect vision is one of perpetual power, created by dividing society into two parts: those who oversee the resources and hand out largesse for the Progressive public good, and everyone else who is dependent upon receiving those handouts.

The upwardly-striving middle class doesn't fit into that model.

This also requires resources, particularly energy, to be scarce. I've always argued energy should be cheap and used plentifully and never understood the rationers, but now it makes sense. And clearly the Green movement and the Global Warming hysteria play right into it.

But I digress. Here is the essay everyone is talking about right now, which lays it all out. It is long, and important:

Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust.
Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters -- speaking the "in" language -- serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century's Northerners and Southerners -- nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, "prayed to the same God." By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God "who created and doth sustain us," our ruling class prays to itself as "saviors of the planet" and improvers of humanity.
Once an official or professional shows that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths, and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members, he can move profitably among our establishment's parts.

If, for example, you are Laurence Tribe in 1984, Harvard professor of law, leftist pillar of the establishment, you can "write" your magnum opus by using the products of your student assistant, Ron Klain. A decade later, after Klain admits to having written some parts of the book, and the other parts are found to be verbatim or paraphrases of a book published in 1974, you can claim (perhaps correctly) that your plagiarism was "inadvertent," and you can count on the Law School's dean, Elena Kagan, to appoint a committee including former and future Harvard president Derek Bok that issues a secret report that "closes" the incident. Incidentally, Kagan ends up a justice of the Supreme Court. Not one of these people did their jobs: the professor did not write the book himself, the assistant plagiarized instead of researching, the dean and the committee did not hold the professor accountable, and all ended up rewarded. By contrast, for example, learned papers and distinguished careers in climatology at MIT (Richard Lindzen) or UVA (S. Fred Singer) are not enough for their questions about "global warming" to be taken seriously. For our ruling class, identity always trumps.
As the 19th century ended, the educated class's religious fervor turned to social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers.

Thus began the Progressive Era. When Woodrow Wilson in 1914 was asked "can't you let anything alone?" he answered with, "I let everything alone that you can show me is not itself moving in the wrong direction, but I am not going to let those things alone that I see are going down-hill."
Our ruling class's agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a "machine," that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members. Such parties often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods and enhance mightily the upper levels' wealth. Because this is so, whatever else such parties might accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges -- civic as well as economic -- to the party's clients, directly or indirectly. This, incidentally, is close to Aristotle's view of democracy. Hence our ruling class's standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government -- meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc. Hence more power for the ruling class has been our ruling class's solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming.
Dependence Economics

By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty. While the economic value of anything depends on sellers and buyers agreeing on that value as civil equals in the absence of force, modern government is about nothing if not tampering with civil equality. By endowing some in society with power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices -- even to buy in the first place -- modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Thus if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu. Eventually, pretending forcibly that valueless things have value dilutes the currency's value for all.

Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally. For example, the health care bill of 2010 takes more than 2,700 pages to make sure not just that some states will be treated differently from others because their senators offered key political support, but more importantly to codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits (e.g., public employee unions and auto workers) and who would pass what indirect taxes onto the general public.
Nowadays, the members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws. They don't have to. Because modern laws are primarily grants of discretion, all anybody has to know about them is whom they empower.

By making economic rules dependent on discretion, our bipartisan ruling class teaches that prosperity is to be bought with the coin of political support.
Government needs a cleansing.

But wait, it gets worse!
In Congressional Government (1885) Woodrow Wilson left no doubt: the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from meeting the country's needs by enumerating rights that the government may not infringe. ("Congress shall make no law..." says the First Amendment, typically.) Our electoral system, based on single member districts, empowers individual voters at the expense of "responsible parties." Hence the ruling class's perpetual agenda has been to diminish the role of the citizenry's elected representatives, enhancing that of party leaders as well as of groups willing to partner in the government's plans, and to craft a "living" Constitution in which restrictions on government give way to "positive rights" -- meaning charters of government power.
Anyone who believes that way is an enemy of the Constitution and of individual Liberty.

We The People

It's a trend!

I Am America

The title reminds me of this post.

The Stupid Shall Be Punished

Now, we all know initial reports are often erroneous, and there might be some other explanation for this, but if this story from Bangor is even halfway true, it looks like some Submariners haven't learned the first lesson of submarining. Excerpts:
Two Navy sailors were in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center on Friday night after an explosion involving military equipment that the men may have taken from a submarine without permission...
...The men, both active duty and assigned to a submarine at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, had apparently taken Oxygen Breathing Apparatus equipment, Wilson said...
...Wilson said the men had apparently knocked off the tops of the canisters and were using them to "huff" or get high. The men were also apparently throwing the canisters onto an open fire in the yard in order to make them explode...
...Wilson said detectives were trying to find out all the details, adding that witnesses at the address "are not the most reliable." He said the men could be facing some "pretty serious" charges given the circumstances.
No mention in the story about whether or not alcohol was involved. I'm sure the Submariners in the Bangor area will now be subjected to some sort of "Safety Standdown" where they learn not to throw OBA canisters into the fire because of a few idiots. Kind of like this "Dilbert" cartoon:

Gotan Project - "Peligro"

Do Away With Boomers?

From the New York Times, we find that the old "if we just get rid of nuclear weapons then everyone will love us and there won't be any more war" crowd is alive and still writing. Excerpts:
As the sea leg of the triad of nuclear deterrence, the Trident submarines provide “the nation’s most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability,” as stated by the Navy. Their mission is to launch a massive and final lethal blow in the event that the worst has happened: “nuclear combat toe-to-toe with the Ruskies,” in the memorable drawl of Major T. J. “King” Kong, the Slim Pickens character in “Dr. Strangelove.”
MAD makes sense in a rational world: the Russians or Chinese would never try to wipe us out, because we would then wipe them out. They want to live well and prosper, as do we.
But MAD makes less sense at a time when the enemies of civilization are cave-dwelling religious fanatics who target cartoonists and kill innocent children at soccer telecasts and think, if they die in nuclear Armageddon, a sexual reward awaits them in heaven...
...Why not a much larger reset? The deterrence would still be there, even with a pair of submarines, let alone the dozen-plus out there now, not to mention the new class of extraordinarily costly submarines under construction.
These new submarines may cost about $8.2 billion each to build, the Congressional Budget Office reported a few months ago. The first one, always the most pricey, may run up to $13 billion, which would make it the most expensive Navy vessel ever built. In May, Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioned whether the cost of all these new ships was worth it in the big view of getting the most safety for the most buck.
His legitimate query was greeted by a collective ho-hum. MAD and all its budget-busting infrastructure is just so much a part of the scenery now.
What we will get for those billions are sleek new nuclear-armed behemoths to replace the sleek old nuclear-armed behemoths, all in service to a dinosaur policy. Once the subs are in use, they will likely perform the same tired mission, ready to fire the last shot in a world going down. Meanwhile, above the surface of the ocean, crazed religious leaders in tents and Flintstone huts plot murder against innocents using Radio Shack rejects.
While it's true that SSBNs wouldn't be much use against terrorists hiding in caves (or rather, would be extreme overkill) the theory that "the Russians or Chinese wouldn't try to wipe us out" doesn't pass the test of history. Sure, I'd be willing to say that a nuclear war between superpowers is very unlikely for the next 20 years, as the Ohio-class boats end their service lives. However, as Great Britain learned at their peril back in the '30s, you really can't base defense funding projections on a theory that "not much politically will change in the next few years". The lesson learned from WWII is that one must always prepare for a potential enemy's capabilities, vice intentions, as intentions can change relatively quickly. With this lesson in mind, it's obvious that we cannot unilaterally give up the most survivable leg of our nuclear deterrent while our potential adversaries maintain the capability to act against us with impunity.

Woody Guthrie's Birthday

Over at The Inverse Square, Thomas Levenson has a nice, small compilation of Woody Guthrie tunes for Guthrie's birthday, plus a follow-up post. It's neat to hear Woody's "Tom Joad" followed by Bruce Springsteen's underrated, haunting "Ghost of Tom Joad." As Pete Seeger would say, that's part of the folk tradition.Update: Speaking of Tom Joad, Digby's post "Let Them Eat the Grapes of Wrath" (

Submarines In Commercials

One thing we don't see enough of is submarine-themed commercials. Here's one:

Another one (in Polish) is here. What's your favorite use of submarines in commercials?

TDU-Launched Comms Buoy

I found a couple of neat articles (here and here) on a new system that's supposed to start testing next year. Part of the "Comms at Speed and Depth" (CSD) Program, it's described as a communications buoy that links a submarine to the Global Information Grid through a miles-long tether; the 40 inch long buoy is launched from the TDU, then floats near the surface while the submarine continues operating normally, in constant communications with bothersome bigwigs. Other than concerns about running at speed and depth with the TDU Muzzle Ball Valve open, it sounds like a promising concept to me.

Military Justice

I've been on a jury for the last 10 days, of which I ended up being the foreman. It was an instructive and sobering experience; quite a few tears were shed during deliberations. (I did learn that the urban legend is true -- ambulances can trip traffic lights in their direction. I also learned that there are still people who use MySpace.)

As I was sitting through hours of chain-of-custody evidence on the forensics, I started thinking about the differences between civilian and military justice. I've heard that military justice actually does a better job of finding the "truth" (whether a person actually did the thing they are accused of doing) at the expense of some rights for the defendant that have evolved over the years in civilian courts. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I suspect it might be.

I was lucky enough never to have to face military justice during my time in the Navy, but I did attend several Masts as part of the chain of command of the accused, and served on a couple AdSep Boards. My most memorable story involved, as usual, the good ship Topeka during our '92-'93 deployment. While we were on a Mission Vital To National Security, we were allowed to grow beards. The caveat was that if you had to be in the Wardroom during a Captain's Mast, you had to appear clean-shaven (this applied to the defendant's whole chain of command). As a result, none of the Department Heads got all the way through the Mission with a full beard; I was lucky enough to miss out on that. Our XO, even though he went to every mast, still ended up with a full beard several times; he was one of those people who could grow a functional beard in about 5 days. (Off topic, we ended up shaving the letters "XO" into his back when we did our Shellback Ceremony that deployment.)

Anybody have any good stories about the military justice system?

New Submarine Blog

Check out Underway Life, a new blog by a submariner. He's already got some pretty good posts up.

The Righteous Brothers - "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"

In memory of MD, who took my suggestion to sing this song (with slightly altered lyrics) for a fund-raiser. He had a fine, powerful baritone and a great sense of humor, and sang it with shameless gusto, infectious glee and his characteristic wide grin.

PCU Missouri Finishes Alpha Trials

PCU Missouri (SSN 780) just finished Alpha Trials out of Electric Boat in Groton on the Fourth. Here's a picture of her heading out to sea:

More pictures can be found here. Just for the record, I wanted to point out -- not for purposes of argument, just stating a fact -- that I was the fastest American submarine Engineer ever on Alpha Trials when I went out on Connecticut in 1998. And, depending on whether or not the Russian Alfa-class boats did full power runs on their Alpha Trials, I might be the fastest ever worldwide. So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.


Another home run from The Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cBlamewww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Steve Benen and other bloggers chronicle this sort of hypocrisy all the time - and Republicans practice it all the goddam time - but ain't nuthin' like The Daily Show treatment!

Andrew Breitbart Owes Skippy $100,000

skippy pens the very funny "andrew breitbart owes skippy $100,000." This is sorta inside blogger baseball stuff; if you didn't catch the Dave Weigel "scandal" and don't know who Breitbart is, you can get some background here.

New Navy Submarine Recruiting Video

Here's a new submarine officer recruiting video the Navy put out last month:

In the news, here's a story about a "flying submarine" that DARPA is working on, and here's a story about the most advanced drug-running submarine yet found. While the drug-running sub is about 100 years behind what we're building, it's still a pretty impressive achievement.

Independence Day 2010

Happy Independence Day! This post is cobbled together from previous years, but you'll see why. We'll kick it off with Jimi:Next, Marvin Gaye:The Declaration of Independence:The Muppets:Finally, Seeger and Springsteen doing "This Land is Your Land":Happy 4th!

Happy Fourth Of July!

In celebration of our Independence Day, The Greeneville (TN) Sun is putting out a special 40 page supplement about USS Greeneville (SSN 772). Now that's a good submarine / namesake city relationship!

Two Indian Submarines Bump

Two Indian Kilo-class submarines collided last week when one that was trying to land hit the sub it was going to moor alongside. Excerpts:
Two Kilo-class 877EKM attack submarines collided with each other at the Naval Bay in Mumbai-half-a-km from the Gateway of India-last Monday.
Officials said the "minor accident'' took place when INS Sindhukesri was parked at the bay and INS Sindhuratna was returning from patrolling; the latter-being towed by a small tug boat -hit the parked Sindhukesri.
"The accident was not too serious as Sindhuratna's engine was switched off and it was being towed by a small tug. These are minor accidents,'' an official said, trying to downplay the incident.
This article has a "helpful" picture of what happened. I like to make fun of journalists who make basic mistakes in writing about submarines, but I can't help but think there was some translation error in this paragraph that appears in both linked articles:
Both 2,300-odd-tonne vessels have low noise levels. That could be one of the reasons why they got too close to each other without anybody noticing.
Yes, it's clear that two surfaced submarines, probably during daylight, couldn't notice each other -- when one was moored and the other was trying to park alongside -- because they were so quiet.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - "I Learned the Hard Way"

Here's their third live session at KCRW.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard CO Fired

From Navy Times:
The commanding officer of Norfolk Naval Shipyard has been fired less than one year after assuming command.
Capt. William Kiestler was relieved Wednesday. Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, cited a loss of confidence in Kiestler’s ability to command. There was no mast, according to NAVSEA spokeswoman Pat Dolan.
The loss of confidence stems from “a series of events over the past few months,” Dolan said. Specifically, there was a “failure to ensure critical maintenance work was being performed according to procedure and loss of situational awareness with respect to the status of ongoing submarine projects.”
Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., is one of four shipyards specializing in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and submarines. The ballistic submarine Tennessee and fast-attack sub Montpelier are in the shipyard for scheduled maintenance. Dolan said she did not know whether the failures have affected the yard time for either sub.
In addition, the submarine tenders Simon Lake and McKee are in the shipyard for decommissioning.
I pretty much only had experience with NAVSEA in Groton, so I don't know if the culture in Norfolk was any different. As a general rule, the Repair Officers in Groton did a pretty good job. Anyone got any horror stories about NAVSEA types screwing up on their boat?

Three SSGNs In 7th Fleet AOR

Over on the 7th Fleet Facebook page, they posted photos of the three SSGNs in the AOR on 28 June. They are USS Florida (SSGN 728) doing a Fast Cruise after crew exchange in DiGar:

USS Michigan (SSGN 727) pulling into Pusan, Korea:

And USS Ohio (SSGN 726) in port in Subic Bay:

This is pretty cool, but this is what they're supposed to do, so I wouldn't read too much into it (like the idiots who think that a normal carrier swap in the Arabian Sea somehow means we're about to attack Iran). Now, if all three SSGNs were in Diego Garcia...