Happy 100th Birthday to Dame Vera Lynn

Yesterday we regretted the loss of Chuck Berry, whom so many of us loved and enjoyed. Today is a happier occasion for today is the 100th birthday of Dame Vera Lynn, DBE, OStJ, CH, honorary citizen of Nashville Tennessee, holder of the British War medal, and the Burma Star. She is known worldwide as the British Forces Sweetheart. Quite a career for a girl from East Ham, Essex.

And besides, all here know of my weakness for British redheads, so any excuse to feature one is welcome.

Her first recording was Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire, recorded on Crown Records in 1936.

 

Her greatest fame came during the Second World War when she became the Force’s Sweetheart with songs such as these

And this

This

And tonight her image will b projected on those very same white cliffs, by the country she served so well.

This is interesting

But it wasn’t all about loneliness either, especially before the war got so grim, the humour showed itself.

Eventually, it was over

But she kept right on singing, this was the very first #1 on the American charts by a British artist.

And still she goes on, Decca released a new album,  Vera Lynn 100, just three days ago. Here is the trailer

And yes, amazon.co.uk says they will send it out to us Yanks, as well, if we want.

So, how do we end this glorious retrospective? There is only one possible way, in my mind.

And it will truly always be a:

Happy Birthday, Dame Vera!

 

 

 

Budget Day

Yesterday, OMB Director Mulvaney had a press conference on the new budget. Pretty good one in my view. $0 for NPR, PBS, and NEA, 50% reduction for the UN, down 30% + for EPA, a lot for State as well, more for the Pentagon which needs it (it also needs much better and leaner management). Nothing about entitlements in this one, that comes later.

Here’s Mulvaney, he a joy to listen to, a man who knows his subject thoroughly, stays calm and answers the question. And the budget is a good start.

Neptunus Lex

Blogging is a very personal effort. NEO is not the same as any other blog, even though I may draw on many of them for inspiration, or even long quotes. It has been so as long as I’ve been around. One of the blogs I read, even before I started was Neptunus Lex, the blog of Carrol Le Fon, a naval aviator. He made me laugh, he made me cry and he made me think, what more can a man do for another. Lex died on 6  March 2012 doing what he loved best: making naval aviators even better. That’s a legacy that any man can aspire to.

Our blogs overlapped, but I don’t think I ever referred to him. I was amazed, reading the Victory Girls last night, that he still appeared on their blogroll. On a nostalgic whim, I followed the link. As I thought, the site disappeared shortly after his death, but what I didn’t know is that it was preserved. YAY!!! It is here, mostly. It’s not the same as having Lex amongst us, but I think it will serve. A sample of why so many of us loved him, and still do.

Well, and I very much appreciate all those who offered their thoughts. They pushed and pulled in many different directions, and apart from those who counselled immediate retirement – sorry, that’s not me – I have shared in all of them, all in a moment. Funny how things can swirl so quickly through your mind, between the moment when you hear unlooked for news, and the moment after, when you are asked what you think of it.

Is there a moment of wounded pride, wherein you ask: What? How can I be offered up? How can I be spared? As busy as I am, and as much as I contribute?

There is. But we are none of us irreplaceable, the wheel continues to turn. And it does not surprise me that I am offered up: I made a decision some time ago that this would be my last tour, which obviated the need for self-promotion. I do my work quietly, accept no thanks, offer it instead to others. It’s really quite astonishing what you can do, when you don’t care who gets the credit.

Is there a moment when the old joy of battle sings again in your heart? When you think of joining the fray rather than reading about it? When you think of qualifiying in weapons whose range is measured in meters rather than in miles? Of strapping on and suiting up once more? Of hurling yourself into the fight?

There is such a moment. A moment only. And then you reflect that no one places super-annuated FA-18 pilots on the deck in order to carry the fight to the foe. You reflect that of all the things you might learn in Sojer School, the most valuable would be to count your rounds as they went down range, in order to save the last one for the end. Because just like in the days when I strapped an airplane on to go to war, if it comes at last to a pilot with a pistol in his hand and dust on his boots, something has already gone horribly wrong, and the odds of it getting any better are vanishingly small.

From Now is the autumn of our discontent Who amongst us older people can’t relate to that? It’s happened to me and I’ll bet it’s happened to you as well. All we can do is try to pass on all those lessons we’ve learned, often to youngsters who think they know it all, but it’s our duty.

I note that Lex died a few days before the USS Enterprise set out on its last tour. Is it connected? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised, legends are like that.

Schwerpunkt

The Monday Forum over at Watchers of Weasels is always worthwhile reading, as some very astute bloggers give their view of one of the issues of the day. This week, it was exceptional. Taking as their subject: Forum: Is Demonizing Putin And Russia A Smart Move? they gave us some very good thinking on the subject. Rob Miller highlighted something that I’ve long said.

Ahh, Russia! A mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a wonderful sandwich of that Russian black rye, turkey or roast beef, spicy Russian mustard and pickle with kasha on the side and a Stoly chaser (Sorry, Sir Winston).

First, let’s not forget that Barack Hussein Obama and his $ecretary of $tate Hillary Clinton gave Putin whatever he wanted in the beginning. They literally betrayed Poland and the Czech Republic by reneging on America’s commitment to put missile defense units in those countries and all Putin had to do was glower a bit.

Russia’s nukes at the time of the Hillary ‘reset’ were outmoded and out of date, So Obama and Hillary put together that ridiculous START treaty, which not only had the U.S. decommissioning state of the art American nukes on parity with Russia’s obsolete ones, but giving Russia access to our top anti-missile technology like Shoot To Kill, with no quid pro quo from Russia at all. And that doesn’t count Hillary giving Russia control over a chunk of America’s uranium production in exchange for a nice donation to the Clinton Foundation and a $500K speaking fee for Bill. What the Clintons and Obama gave Russia hurt America worse and was worth far more to Putin than they and their surrogate’s wildest accusations about anyone in the Trump Administration!

But as to the question at hand…

The major challenge of our age is the War on Jihad. Nothing else comes close. This isn’t a clash between civilizations as Samuel Huntington put it, but a clash between civilization and totalitarian barbarity. And the Russians know that first hand.

via Forum: Is Demonizing Putin And Russia A Smart Move? – Watcher of Weasels

Keep reading, and read the other views as well.

That’s the priority, in my mind. If we don’t win (or at least drive back) the war on jihad, we lose completely, our civilization disappears into history.

Putin is not my sort of leader, that’s pretty obvious, but then Stalin wasn’t to the taste of either Churchill or Roosevelt, either. But they supplied him because Hitler was the clear and present danger. Was it fairly obvious that Stalin would become a menace at some point? Sure. But if Hitler won, it simply didn’t matter. Neither in fact, did Tojo. Hitler was the Schwerpunkt, the center of gravity of the Second World War. Now Islamic jihad is. That doesn’t mean it’s 1943, we don’t need to send trucks, guns, and food to Putin free. But we would be well advised to not demonize him, to recognize that he will attempt to advance Russian interests, as we should those of the United States. But also recognize that we have many common interests.

Historically, until their revolution, Imperial Russia was mostly a friendly power, by no means an advanced democracy, but not an enemy, either. Putin strikes me as more a new Czar than a komissar.

Churchill said after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, “If Hitler invaded Hell itself, I would give the Devil a favorable mention in the House of Commons”. So should we. Putin is not a present danger to Western Civilization, he is a part (certainly an imperfect part) of it.

The Jihadis are the existential enemy of this generation, anything else is a distraction. And anyone promoting that distraction does not have the best interests of the United States or Western Civilization at heart.

Hyper Puissance, The American Way, and Donald Trump

United (States) Parcel Service.

United (States) Parcel Service. (Photo credit: matt.hintsa)

If you’ve been following along here, a few days ago, I posted on how Donald Trump was forcing American government (constitutionally, no less) to run at something like the speed of American business. That post is here.

But something was missing from that post, and it’s been bugging me, so I did a bit of digging in the archives the last few nights, and I found the article that spoke of it. It is one from the first month of NEO, and it was one that when Jess and I became friends she really liked, and asked me to rerun, and I think it deserves to run another time. Here it is.


Something I’ve been meaning to post about, given my interest in the military, freedom, and capitalism, is how they worked together to make the United States not only the most powerful nation in the history of the world but able to defeat the entire world, if necessary.

Pretty bold statement, isn’t it? Well, this isn’t going to be ironclad proof, but I think it is a given if America decided to.

Let’s start with a quote from Courtney Messerschmidt, Great Satan’s Girlfriend, herself:

Which may funnily enough hinge on a factor that is flat out tough to factor in:

Unbridled free inquiry.

“Courtney, free societies have, in general, a decided advantage when it comes to creativity and innovation, including in the military realm. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that”

All the cool kids know how Great Satan’s indispensable ally just to the east of Durand line sold access to that ditched sexed up chopper of Abottabad/Abottagood infamy. Theft of high tech and reverse engineering are the fortunes of unfree regimes and will directly impact the Diffusion of Military of Power.

Stuff that makes the West the BestWonderbra, BvB, individualism, scientific inquiry, rational critical thinking, democracy with it’s inherent capitalism, political freedom, dissidence and open free wheeling debate functions as kryptonite in Smallville in regards to autocrazies, despotries — and by extension — to their acquisition, development and deployment of military power.

What she is saying here is that free inquiry and looking for the best solution (and being able to afford it) is what make free armies so formidable.

The other thing is when fielded these same armies can react so fast that they may have 2 or three or even more decision cycles inside their opponents one.

Most of us, in business, don’t have a lot of use for an aircraft carrier, let alone a carrier battle group, that is why they are so expensive. There are less than 2 dozen in the world, ten of them American.

Each of the American ones is equal in power to most of the world’s air forces. They (some of them) are out there, all the time, 5-acre patches (plus their consorts) of the USA, representing all that we are. Freedom, Teamwork, Rock music, Movies, and all.

When the big steel battleships were coming into their own, it was a little different, the new developments were: Iron Ships, Steam Power, Radio Communications, Screw Propellers and such. This was also the time when America was industrializing. An example of these early dreadnaughts is the USS Texas. These developments had very obvious commercial uses and therefore were much less expensive for navies to deploy.

So let’s go back to the infantry for a bit, it’s not nearly as sexy, even being the Queen of Battle, you tend to get all muddy. But what does the American military do so well? React. Small unit leadership is what we are all about. Spring and ambush on American forces and what do you get. If they are still doing it like  they said they did when I was in college, this is what you get: Apaches, and Warthogs, and Abrams and p****d off grunts (Oh, my) coming your way  at a dead run all spitting fire, and if you are really unlucky even Spectre may show up to complete the ruin of your whole day. And that’s the first 30 seconds of your ambush, your day will probably still get worse. Try it at night and it will be worse.

OK, back to us civilians for a while, we compete, like our infantry, right down to the stubbornness to hold our positions. The other thing is, did you ever wonder why it is always the big companies running to Washington for help, while those of us in small business don’t? It really not the money, we could combine and find enough to at least rent some Congress-critters. It’s because, on anything remotely resembling a level playing field, we will outmaneuver the big companies so bad that we’ll run them all the way back home to mommy.

Why? Let’s think about it.

If I’m a supervisor at XYZ, Inc.that employs say 15,000 people (that would be a middle-sized company). I have probably something like 10 layers of management between me and the CEO, all of which have their bureaucracies to sustain, they aren’t all that interested in the company as a whole, they are interested in their little piece of it. So if I (a supervisor, remember) come up with a way to produce widgets at half the cost, how long is it going to take it to get out of the suggestion box and to a level where somebody says what a great idea. If XYZ is unionized, it’s going to be at least twice as bad. I don’t know either, but it will be a while, probably measured in years.

OK, now let’s say I’m a supervisor at Joe’s Widgets, LLC. where there are, say, 20 of us working. When Joe started the company he just copied what XYZ was doing and because his overhead was lower he made pretty good money. But now, I come up with the same idea and as before I sketch out how the process will work. I think I’ve got a pretty good idea, now what do I do? If Joe’s is like most companies this size when Joe comes to work, I ask him if he’s got a minute and he says yes. In some companies, this would be an after work beer with the boss, but no matter. So, I go to Joe’s office and lay it out and he likes it, so later that day I’m talking to his support people and within a month it’s implemented. It will probably take a bit of tweaking, say another month and Joe’s cost has been cut in half. THAT is how small and/or informal businesses always win.That is also how Lockheed’s famed Skunk Works worked.

The other thing you notice is that its more fun to work in a small company where your effort is appreciated, as it usually is.

The real point here is whether we are talking about war or business, free inquiry and minds that do not have to worry about being shot (or fired) for dissent are always able to run at high speed and outside the box. We’ve been doing this since at least when we decided the Redcoats needed to go home and it is what has fueled us all the way to where we are now.

The other thing that top-down management stifles is quality. If we remember the Soviet union designed really sexy widgets, their problem was that an 8th-grade shop class in America had better quality control. Courtney, again:

 

Cold War history continues the action for autocratic Commonwealth Russia. Long lol’d as more ‘evolutionary than revolutionary,” her defense industry is plagued with the horrible situation of being unable to redeem warranty claims by Pakistan, India, Iran and Algeria AND crank out new stuff at the same incredible instant. Since 1992, not a single state defense order has been fulfilled completely and on time.

If we allow ourselves to over to the European model, we will need to set our sights to European levels in all areas including the lower productivity, higher unemployment and the lack of what Courtney calls Hyper Puissance in both the military and commercial/cultural fields.

It amounts to a path to mediocrity, and I will never be ready for that.

Will you?


In talking with Jess after I reran this for her, I mentioned the aphorism that ended that other post, although in its more civilized form: “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way”. She commented that she had never heard it, and was stealing it. That night she went to a social function with another friend of mine and used it when they were dithering over the choice of the wine. 🙂 She said it raised some eyebrows, and that our friend (who is quite senior) commented that she was keeping company with Americans, which raised them even further. Well, Britain is perhaps the next best at this, but it is basically an American trait. That pandering to Europeans is another reason they got Trump (Brexit too, I think).

Garryowen, Sir

image

So yesterday came word that LTG Hal Moore, who commanded as LTC the 1st BN of the 7th Cavalry, at Ia Drang in 65 has died. From the Stars and Stripes.

Retired Lt. Gen. Harold G. “Hal” Moore, the American hero known for saving most of his men in the first major battle between the U.S. and North Vietnamese armies, has died. He was 94.

Joseph Galloway, who with Moore co-authored the book “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young,” confirmed Saturday to The Associated Press that Moore died late Friday in his sleep at his home in Auburn, Alabama.

Galloway said Moore, his friend of 51 years, died two days shy of his 95th birthday.

“There’s something missing on this earth now. We’ve lost a great warrior, a great soldier, a great human being and my best friend. They don’t make them like him anymore,” Galloway said.

Moore was best known for his actions at the 1965 Battle of Ia Drang, where he was a lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. His actions were later reflected in the movie “We Were Soldiers” in which actor Mel Gibson portrayed Moore. The book tells what happened to virtually every trooper involved in the 34-day campaign and the climactic four-day battle in which 234 Americans died at landing zones X-Ray and Albany in November 1965.

On a Facebook page managed by Moore’s family, relatives said he died on the birthday of his wife, Julia, who died in 2004 after 55 years of marriage.

“Mom called Dad home on her day,” the statement said. “After having a stroke last week, Dad was more lethargic and had difficulty speaking, but he had always fought his way back.”

via Lt. Gen. Hal Moore dies; depicted in film ‘We Were Soldiers’ – U.S. – Stripes

And so another legendary American Cavalryman goes to Fiddler’s Green to drink with the legends, JEB Stuart, Custer, Patton and all the others. He, like they, will be missed as long as Americans believe in courage, dash, and above all winning even against the odds. Something to remember as the Dragoons are road marching about in Eastern Europe, showing the guidon to the people we freed from the Soviets. And no doubt teaching their soldiers about the legend, the glory, and yes, the Stetsons of the US Cavalry.

Rest in Peace, Sir.
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