By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Now that the Confederate era monuments have come down in New Orleans, one would expect the crime rate to drop as well, at least that is the case if you subscribe to the Mitch Landrieu theory of crime control.

But of course that is not the case and residents and sick and tired of it.  Last week surveillance cameras caught an attack on video of two Boston tourists in the French Quarter. The attack was brutal and hard to watch, but it serves to show us that it’s not just in the neighborhoods where we expect there to be crime that this happens. New Orleans is a city that is supported in large part by tourism and when tourists go there they go to the French Quarter.  If you’re not safe there…

What is the mayor of the city doing about this rampant lawlessness in the city?  Not a whole lot.  He’s giving speeches in south Florida at the Conference of Mayors where he declared

“So let’s be honest. In these moments of uncertain, chaotic and sometimes frustrating times, the families we represent cannot look to Washington for answers,” Landrieu said. “In this political climate, we as mayors must fight to occupy the radical center, where idealism meets reality and where we put people over politics.”

He opened the Essence festival which gave him yet another opportunity to advocate for the removal of the monuments:

The mayor restated his position that though the Civil War was a brief period in the city’s history, the monuments had lingered as symbols for too long and had no place on a contemporary New Orleans public thoroughfares. He called the former situation “absurd.” He put a finer point of the subject when he described the proximity of the now-removed Robert E. Lee statue to the Convention Center.  “Just think about it for a moment,” he said, “having the Confederate monuments stand less than 300 yards from where the Essence Festival meets, that juxtaposition seems like it just doesn’t work.”

While Landrieu is positioning himself for a national bid of some sort when his term ends later this year, the city is in the grips of a terrible crime wave which is certain to affect tourism. This has nothing to do with monuments of course, but more with the fact that Landrieu has refused to pay police officers a decent wage and implemented a two year hiring freeze on police officers which dropped numbers by 400 officers, a 40-year low.

As of this writing, there have been 96 murders (many more shootings, muggings, robberies, rapes, etc.) in 2017 as compared with a total of 175 in 2016.  The numbers are higher each month this year than in comparable months for 2016.

Residents are sick of it.

James Hartman, writing for The Hayride blog, says

The French Quarter is safer, right?  It’s the tourist area so it has extra protection. It has extra taxes to pay for State Police protection, because while Landrieu told NOPD he couldn’t pay them more or hire more of them, he simply added a tax to hire state officials – an inexplicable paradox.  It’s the area that has barricades to prevent Nice- and London-style attacks on innocents.  We’re supposed to be safe there, right?

No.  We’re supposed to be safe everywhere.

Realistically, of course, that’s not possible.  Crime happens, and it happens everywhere.  What should not be happening, however, is that a city is so overrun with lawlessness that people are beaten nearly to death in the streets, that literally hundreds of people are shot – fatally or injuriously—or that children catch stray bullets while thugs roam free.  What shouldn’t happen is that the leader of a relatively major city gives speeches 1,000 miles away in which he says that statues are “virtual murders,” that the Paris Accords are the responsibility of America’s cities now, that Russians interfered with the presidential election (and, therefore, with his appointment to a Cabinet post).

As Landrieu positions himself on the national stage in the coming months we need to know the kind of leader he is. Under his tenure a once beautiful, thriving, unique city is somewhat diminished. It will take more than Mitch Landrieu to kill New Orleans, but he certainly has done her no favors.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

I don’t fondly remember college. I was in engineering, and engineering is hard. During my summer indoc course, we had two “welcome” presentations. The first one was this long skit put on while the whole indoc class was present, and it was really bouncy and cheery, like somehow college was all about the social aspect, with classes barely mentioned.

The next day I went to the engineering campus, and the welcome was different. We were brought into a room, the door shut, and the professor let us know that most people don’t last the first year in engineering. He told us that we could expect to work hard without a lot to show for the first three years. But one thing that stuck out was him telling us to “Just do when you have a lot going on.”

Seems easy right? But it isn’t easy, at least for most people.

My workday is pretty busy, and yet I get a lot done both at work and at home. I’m still amazed by the number of people that say “I could never get all that done.” But I’m not special. I don’t have a high IQ, and I wasn’t a brilliant savant in college. I wasn’t blessed with a lot of money, and I didn’t have parents that spoke lots of languages or taught me higher level math.

But what I do best is just do. Everyday, I focus efforts and make things happen. Sometimes it’s getting the family out the door for a trip. Other times, it’s replacing trucks and equipment at work. I take problems, break them down, and just start doing the small pieces. It’s not easy, and I don’t “do” it right the first time, but there is something to be said for just doing.

And yet, I see too many people that don’t “do” in their day to day life. From shipyard workers to government bureaucrats, I’ve seen people spend their days not getting much done. They also tend to be unhappy, even if they get paid well.

Doing leaves me with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Instead of analyzing, strategizing, or some other “ing,” perhaps we need to get back to doing.


This post represents the views of the author and not the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

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Continuing on my quest to ignore politics – provoked in great part by the media’s recklessness on Russia – I’ve been reading about John McEnroe’s comments about Serena Williams,

Garcia-Navarro: We’re talking about male players but there is of course wonderful female players. Let’s talk about Serena Williams. You say she is the best female player in the world in the book.

McEnroe: Best female player ever — no question.

Garcia-Navarro: Some wouldn’t qualify it, some would say she’s the best player in the world. Why qualify it?

McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she’s not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?

Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?

McEnroe: Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.

Garcia-Navarro: You think so?

McEnroe: Yeah. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player. I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it’d be a little higher, perhaps it’d be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she’s so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke ’cause she’s been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.

I stopped playing tennis when I was very young since even back then my knee was complaining, which was about the same time when McEnroe was at his prime. I’ve never been a McEnroe fan (Rafa is more my type), but McEnroe is right.

For starters, men’s four grand slam – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open – are best-of-five sets matches, while women (and men in other tournaments) play best-of-three sets. When you consider that someone like Nadal is lasting for five sets while doing 110 mph serves consistently enough to win the French Open ten times, you can see McEnroe’s point.

We can spend all day chewing the fat over tennis, or over gender differences or whatnot, but here comes the best part: we’re the ones being played.

Brian John Thomas did some digging,

John McEnroe said something controversial about Serena Williams and women’s tennis. Oh shock.

Guess what people, it’s a stage managed outrage to sell some books. Both share the same book agent, obviously.

Sure enough,

It’s all a game after all.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

By:  Pat Austin

MIAMI, OK:  As I mentioned last week, we are on the road this week and as of this writing find ourselves on Route 66 in Miami, OK.

One of our travel stops today was pretty fabulous and worth sharing with you. It may never have crossed your mind that a 311 foot, Balao class submarine could be found in the middle of Oklahoma, but sure enough, that’s where you can find the USS Batfish at the War Memorial Park in Muskogee.

The sub is open to the public and is lovingly tended and kept in tip-top shape through private donations; the state of Oklahoma doesn’t fund the project (and therefore there is no sign on the turnpike or highways alerting tourists to the park).

The Batfish was commissioned in 1942 and was in service for 26 years and is known primarily “for the remarkable feat of sinking three Imperial Japanese Navy submarines in a 76-hour period, in February 1945.”

The sub sits now in a depressed area of a large field at the War Memorial Park in a shallow basin of water. After touring the museum, visitors then can walk outside and go aboard the sub. The first thing that hits you is the smell of the oil and machinery of the sub, but once you descend the ladder into the Batfish, you can see the torpedo holds, banks of brass gauges, dials, and levers; you can see the bunks where the crew rotated sleep shifts, the officer and the enlisted mess, a couple of office areas, and all along the tour are either guides or video monitors with information.

If I lived closer to Muskogee, I’d take part in some of the cool events that the park offers like Bands on the Batfish, or the overnight stays that they do to raise funds to support this fascinating piece of history.

What impressed my husband almost as much as the USS Batfish was the large section of the mast of the USS Oklahoma which was destroyed at Pearl Harbor.  It was sobering to stand next to that mast and realize its role in history.

Read more about the USS Batfish here, and about the park that has given her a home here. And if you find yourself in Oklahoma, go by and see it. If you want to donate to the upkeep and maintenance of the sub, go here. The park goes beyond just preserving the submarine, but also works to educate young people and to bring history alive.

For me, it was fascinating to walk through the submarine and think about the masterful engineering involved in putting so much equipment in such a small space.  It is well worth the trip.

By John Ruberry

As this post goes live, the 48th Chicago Pride Parade is taking place on the city’s North Side. The event is still commonly called the Gay Parade, “Pride” is of course a much more generic term. On the Yahoo home page today, next to the rainbow colors, is this message, “Be proud of who you are.”

In Chicago there are many people who should be ashamed of who they are and what they’ve done. Which got me thinking. America’s third largest city–for now–really needs a Shame Parade, something along the lines what Queen Cersei suffered, in the buff, in Game of Thrones two years ago at the hands of the Sparrows sect.

But please, shameful ones, keep your clothes on.

Participation is limited only to brigands who live in Chicago.

Attendees are encouraged to chant “Shame…shame….shame.”

Chicagoans, now let me present to you the 2017 Shame Parade participants!

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley: The son of Mayor Richard J. Daley, the younger Daley inherited his father’s talent in creating a powerful political organization. But while the first “Hizzoner” was a whiz at public finance, Number 2 was clueless about about it–clearly Richie is bad at math. Chicago has the worst-funded municipal worker pension plans in the nation. The city prospered in the 1990s, it’s easy to see why. The pension obligations were shorted to create an illusion of prosperity, a Potemkin Chicago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: The Tiny Dancer inherited a mess from Daley, and he’s responding as any liberal Democrat would to any problem–raise taxes. But Chicagoans are responding with their feet–Chicago is the only major city losing population. Most of the West Side and much of the South Side is a killing zone. More people are murdered in Chicago than New York City and Los Angeles–combined.

The leaders of every street gang: “Chicago is the gang capital of the United States,” CBS News reported a few years ago. There are roughly 600 gangs in Chicago and about 70,000 members in these criminal enterprises.

Shame…shame…shame.

Cook County Assessor and Cook County Democratic Party Boss Joseph Berrios: The assessor’s office has long been a campaign fund cash cow for the Chicago Machine. But in a fantastic series from the Chicago Tribune, Berrios’ reign has been shown to favor the wealthy residents of Cook County while cheating poor ones. Boss Berrios has also been accused of rampant nepotism. Do you mean the Democrats aren’t for “the little guy?”

Edward Vrdolyak: A onetime boss of the Cook County Democratic Party, “Fast Eddie” is one of the many former members of the Chicago City Council who is a convicted felon. Roughly once every 18 months a member or former member of that shameful legislative body takes up residence in a federal prison. Vrdolyak became a Republican in the late 1980s. Seven years ago he served a ten-month prison sentence for participating in a kickback scheme with cronies of disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich. Last fall Vrdolyak was indicted again on tax evasion charges.

Karen Lewis: The longtime president of the Chicago Teachers Union, a hardened leftist, was a pretty good high school chemistry teacher, a former co-worker who was one of her pupils told me once. But she’s not that good at math. Or perhaps she is? For years members of her union have had taxpayers, in the name of Chicago Public Schools, pay what is supposed to be the teachers’ contribution into their still woefully undercapitalized pension funds.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett: While the aforementioned Chicago Public Schools was headed into the financial sewer, its CEO, “BBB,” participated in a kickback scam. Byrd-Bennett will report to prison later this year.

Ayers and Dohrn’s Chicago home

Shame…shame…shame.

Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn: Barack Obama began his political career in the living room of these unrepentant Weather Underground terrorists. After their terror career ended they moved on to academia, where they learned that it’s easier to destroy America by indoctrinating youngsters with leftism than by bombing buildings.

Rod Blagojevich: Can President Donald Trump arrange a furlough for the onetime “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant? While Colorado is the jailbird’s home for now, the rest of his family still lives in Chicago. The hair-brained former governor inherited a fiscal mess, as did Rahm Emanuel, but he made it worse, particularly with his 2005 pension payment “holiday.”

Former Gov. Jim Thompson: Look! Another Republican! In 1989 Thompson signed into law the compounded interest pension raises which of course were never properly funded. An astute pol, yes, but like the younger Mayor Daley and perhaps Karen Lewis, math is not the strong suit of “Big Jim.”

Chicago’s Power Corruption Couple, former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson and former US Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr: They’re undergoing a nasty divorce right now, but in happier times they looted Junior’s campaign fund. Both are ex-cons. The couple that steals together doesn’t necessarily stay together.

Lifetime Lack-of-Achievement Award, Jesse Jackson Sr: Decades of race-based shakedowns enriched himself and his family. Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH organization placed his son and daughter-in-law into positions of power. But what tangible achievements can he show other Chicagoans?

Who will the grand marshal of Chicago’s Shame Parade?

State House Speaker and Illinois Democratic Party Boss: Michael Madigan: Since becoming speaker in 1983, Madigan has nominally served with–or over?–six governors. But you can find the 13th Ward Democratic committeeman’s fingerprints on every piece of pension and fiscal legislation enacted into law since then. Illinois’ public pension plans are among the worst-funded among the 50 states. Illinois’ bond ratings are just one step above junk–the lowest ever for a state. And if a budget isn’t passed by the end of this week S&P and Moody’s warns that junk status will be declared.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

Shame.

Oh, why isn’t Barack Obama in the Shame Parade? Chicago is so bad even Obama has bailed on it. The former president lives in Washington now. Obama served in the Illinois Senate, from 1997-2004, while the state’s pension disaster festered. Obama is so smart, right? But why were there no warnings from him about Illinois pensions?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Millenials seem to leak like a cheap diaper. Manning, Winner, Snowden are only the latest in  a line of people that think it’s OK to send whatever information they want to the press. I recently received a personal-for message (sometimes called a P4) expressing dismay at people who were leaking information about the investigation into the USS FITZGERALD collision. While looking for answers as to why someone would do this, I stumbled on this quote:

“In 2016, Gallup found adults under 29 least likely to say they were “extremely proud” to be American, with just over a third agreeing. If managers in the national security industry think they can count on patriotism to dissuade potential leakers, they are mistaken.”
Continue reading “Stopping the leakers with mandatory service?”

So I turn on the TV this morning to find Maria Bartiromo talking about upscale toy kitchens for little kids. How upscale?

This upscale:

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If you go to the Pottery Barn page, they have stuff that will make the dweller of a tiny house or a Manhattan apartment (but I repeat myself) weep with envy.

I love it.

As a pro-Western values, cisgender, capitalist, anti-abortion Christian woman, I find it exhilarating.

What this tells me is that “you, dear girl or boy growing up in America today, can, through hard work and purpose, grow up to buy yourself, from your own earnings, the best appliances and modern conveniences for preparing your family delicious meals in the comfort of your own home.”

Add to that, “and when your kids are little you can get them beautiful toys if you have the room and can afford to.” (As you may remember, I consider living within your means one of the twelve adulting steps.)

It warms my capitalist heart.

If you can afford it, buying your children an upscale miniature kitchen is a better option, and I speak as a mother, than buying them a tablet. My experience is that kids will pick up computer skills in no time at all, but they will need time to learn social and everyday management skills as they grow up. Getting mini appliances is “a good thing,” as Martha Stewart says.

We didn’t have the room in our house when my son was growing up for a Pottery Barn mini-kitchen, but he did have one drawer for his toy pans and plates and a Queasy Bake Oven,

He asked for a children’s cookbook when he was five, and has been cooking ever since. Most of his friends cook, too.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’ll be looking at the grown-up kitchen toys at Williams Sonoma.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog. She still has the Queasy Bake oven.

The CNN crew was morose last night when they realized that the Dem lost the most expensive House campaign ever:

Some of their talking heads claim “moral victories,” but the LA Times notices that “moral victories” mean losing:

Democrats are claiming “moral victories” after losing two special congressional elections in heavily Republican districts. Those results from votes in Georgia and South Carolina on Tuesday follow two other moral victories — also known as losses — in battles for House seats in Montana in May and Kansas in April. Many more results like these and the Democratic Party will be out of business.

The debate is on as to what this means for either party in next year’s congressional elections, since Georgia’s Karen Handel won by “only” 5 points over Jon Ossoff (even when she got a clear majority).

Paul Kane at the WaPo claims that Ossoff lost because he chose civility. I say that Ossoff lost because he did not care to be in his district and the voters noticed.

Charles Glasser points out that

Ossoff raised $23.6 million to make a symbolic run against President Trump, most of it from Marin County, California and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Georgia voters were bombarded with Ossoff media ads and junk mail.

The Democrats ran a pajama boy-looking candidate who apparently could not decide whether he was liberal or conservative, and who does not live in that district.

That is, Ossoff could not even vote for himself.

Adding to the ridiculousness, when asked, Ossoff replied that he lives just “down the street” from the district. Brent Scherr braved the Georgia heat and found that “down the street” meant 3.2 miles on foot.

Republicans can not afford to be complacent. The Democrats are hell-bent on winning.

But Andrew Klavan summarizes in one tweet what the Dems don’t get from yesterday’s Georgia vote:

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Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  It’s officially summertime and many of us are looking toward to vacations and hitting the great open road to discover America, or other parts of the world.

For us, we head to the Midwest. There’s some truth in the old adage about the grass being greener, and all that; the living is always better where you aren’t.

Every summer we travel to Iowa. Now I know there are some people in Iowa wondering why in the devil dog would anyone want to come to Iowa, but we love it. My husband’s family is there but it’s not just that. It’s the road trip along the way. We take the backroads whenever we can and avoid interstates.

One year we left for the Midwest from the Dallas area after attending my grandson’s birthday and we ended up on Route 66 in Oklahoma which we rode out as far as we could, stopping to see all the cool Americana, road stops, signage, that we could. It was one of our more memorable trips.

To me, it’s the things you discover by accident as you roam, it’s not having a fixed plan or a rigid time schedule. When I was a child my father would throw us in the car and we’d head for the beach, but there would be only one stop along the entire fourteen hour trip. Maybe two. And they were fast. Get it and go.  Now I prefer to take things slower.

We love the Midwest, especially around the Fourth of July holiday because truly that’s where the heart of America can be found. The small town parades are the best.  In Shreveport, where we live, the Fourth is celebrated with a huge fireworks extravaganza and massive crowds, traffic jams, in the hot, humid Louisiana night. Give me the small town tractor parades any day.

Maybe it doesn’t matter where you go, just that you go. Sometimes we all need to get away and recharge our batteries, have some real down time.  What I’ll be doing next week is sitting in my sister-in-law’s backyard in the evenings while kids roast hotdogs over a fire pit, watching fireflies light up the dark corners of the yard…in the morning the tornado siren will go off at 7 a.m. for it’s daily test (and again at noon). The Amish buggies will clap down the streets and at the Sale Barn down the road the farmers that fill up America’s bread baskets will meet to solve the world’s problems over eggs and coffee. We will drive up to my husband’s family’s generational farm, breathing in gravel dust from the road as we traverse some of the prettiest rolling hills I’ve ever seen.

The biggest decision I will have to make all day is if we want to drive to the WalMart in the next county to pick up a few things.

The people are nice, friendly, and as down to earth as you’ll find anywhere. They want to know where you’re from, who your people are, and they’ll wish you a nice stay.

“Iowa?  You’re going to Iowa?”

Yes, I am, and I can’t wait.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

USS FITZGERALD after collision, as shown in Japanese media

A forward deployed, global Navy is going to have problems. Ships are expensive, and occasionally they will go “bump” in the night, like the USS FITZGERALD did recently. While we can hold ship CO’s responsible and fire them when they screw up (and we do), the Navy’s dangerous business means that we’re going to occasionally take damage.

We take more damage during war. Looking back to World War 2, CDR Salamander (another blogger) wrote a great article at USNI about carrier losses during the war. Japan obviously lost 100% of their carriers, with 2/3rds of those in the first year. But the US and Britain suffered as well, losing over half of their carriers by the end of the war. That means that with our current inventory of carriers, we could expect to lose 5 carriers in a war with China or Russia, with 3 in the first year of the conflict.

Each carrier has about 5,000 people on it, so just carrier losses account for 25,000 Sailors. To put that in perspective, that is about half of our Vietnam era casualties, and 5 time the number of people we’ve lost in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. And this reality is not an “if,” but a “when,” if we go to war with China or Russia (both of which seem eager to do so).

But the sheer volume of losses isn’t the point of this article. We won World War 2 in the Pacific because we could replace those losses quickly. Carl Vinson, a Georgia Representative, saw our aging fleet and built it up inside the limits of existing naval treaties, at a time when the nation could have cared less about the Navy. His efforts ensured that the Navy had warships on par with the Japanese, and when they lost these ships, they could be replaced, something that Japan was never able to do. Carl Vinson created a “tough” Navy, one that could take a punch.

Secretary Mattis called out Congress recently for not doing their job of passing budgets. We can design the best ships, but the reality is that a major war is going to deplete them. We’re becoming increasingly vulnerable at sea, and we don’t have a good plan to get healthy soon.

We need a new Carl Vinson in Congress, now more than ever.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. Please take a moment to keep the Sailors of the USS FITZGERALD in your prayers.

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