That Such Men Lived

At the Doris Miller Memorial in Miller’s native Waco, Texas.

by baldilocks

Doris “Dorie” Miller has always been my favorite Pearl Harbor hero. Is it because he was black? Partially.

Simply, it’s impossible to separate his race from his heroism, considering that the US. Military was segregated back then, that black servicemen and women were mostly assigned to segregated units, and that most were tasked with servant and “menial” jobs. Miller, himself, was a cook — Messman Third Class and Ship’s Cook Third class — aboard the USS West Virginia. Way back when I was in kindergarten, he was the first war hero to enter into my consciousness.

Miller was the recipient of the Navy Cross – at that time, the third highest award behind the Medal of Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal  — for the following:

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Miller was doing laundry below decks on the USS West Virginia. When the alarm called the ship’s crew to battle stations, Miller headed a gun  magazine amidships [sic]. A torpedo had damaged the magazine, so the physically strong Miller began carrying the wounded to safety. Among those he attended to was the ship’s commander, Capt. Mervyn Bennion, who was mortally wounded. Miller then manned a .50-calibre antiaircraft gun, for which he had no training, and continued firing on the enemy until he ran out of ammunition and received the order to abandon ship.

Admiral Chester Nimitz himself pinned the Navy Cross to the young man’s chest. Miller died in 1943 when his subsequent ship, the USS Liscome Bay, was sunk by the Japanese. He was 24.

There was a Navy destroyer escort/frigate named in Miller’s honor – the USS Miller, service date 1973 to 1991.

What I love about Doris Miller’s existence is that the man was here for only a short time and was merely playing the cards that life dealt him when he performed the action that will long outlive him. When the challenge came, he stepped to it and met it — something intrinsic in heroes and heroism.

And this may seem like a change of topic, but it isn’t. Back when Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV; ironically) passed away in 2010, I remembered writing — prior to his passing — about his actions during WWII:

Byrd refused to serve in World War Two due to blacks being a part of the force, even in their lowly status before the desegregation of the US Armed Forces in 1948.  I cited that here using Wiki, but the reference has been cleaned up.

If, by some chance Byrd got to go to Heaven, I hope he gets to be Dorie Miller’s butler.

Whoever Miller’s Heavenly Cook and Messman is, I’m sure he’s just happy to be there serving a great man and is doing so with a smile.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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The Pentagon’s Vast All-Wing Conspiracy: Plunder

Nicknamed “Pentagram” for a reason

by baldilocks

While reading the media frenzy on the firing of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, I ran across a report on something that I read last year and promptly put out of my mind because it was too big to fathom, both the fact of it and the implications of it.

In 2018, the Pentagon conducted an audit; it was the first time Department of Defense had ever done so since its 1947 creation, even though an annual audit for the Department has been legally required since 1990. The audit failed – an insufficient description.

The Pentagon cannot account for $21 trillion. TRILLION. Times 21.

Truthdig:

There are certain things the human mind is not meant to do. Our complex brains cannot view the world in infrared, cannot spell words backward during orgasm and cannot really grasp numbers over a few thousand. A few thousand, we can feel and conceptualize. We’ve all been in stadiums with several thousand people. We have an idea of what that looks like (and how sticky the floor gets).

But when we get into the millions, we lose it. It becomes a fog of nonsense. Visualizing it feels like trying to hug a memory. We may know what $1 million can buy (and we may want that thing), but you probably don’t know how tall a stack of a million $1 bills is. You probably don’t know how long it takes a minimum-wage employee to make $1 million.

That’s why trying to understand—truly understand—that the Pentagon spent 21 trillion unaccounted-for dollars between 1998 and 2015 washes over us like your mother telling you that your third cousin you met twice is getting divorced. It seems vaguely upsetting, but you forget about it 15 seconds later because … what else is there to do? (…)

Let’s stop and take a second to conceive how much $21 trillion is (which you can’t because our brains short-circuit, but we’ll try anyway).

  1. The amount of money supposedly in the stock market is $30 trillion.

  2. The GDP of the United States is $18.6 trillion.

Remember: the Pentagon is run by generals, admirals and GS-eleventies and it is they who approve of these monstrous expenditures. It’s impossible to even begin to comprehend the decades of graft that many of them have perpetrated for the benefit of themselves and their associates. But I do think that the antipathy and open insubordination to President Trump is directly related to his general trend of turning off the spigots of tax dollars which go into the pockets of all these public “servants.”

No other president has been willing to ask “hey, where did all this money go?”

That’s why everyone dipping into our pockets – Democrat and Republican, military and civilian — wanted Donald Trump gone even before he arrived. And why they keep trying to make it happen.

I don’t know if the country can recovery from this vast rape-and-pillage, but if it can, the first step has already been taken.

(Thanks to MintPress News)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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The War South of Us

Winner takes them all

by baldilocks

What do marijuana, humans beings, fuel, and avocados have in common?

Answer: all are trafficked by Mexico’s cartels.

The cartel members showed up in this verdant stretch of western Mexico armed with automatic weapons and chainsaws.

Soon they were cutting timber day and night, the crash of falling trees echoing throughout the virgin forest. When locals protested, explaining that the area was protected from logging, they were held at gunpoint and ordered to keep quiet.

Stealing wood was just a prelude to a more ambitious plan.

The newcomers, members of a criminal group called the Viagras [yep], were almost certainly clearing the forest to set up a grow operation. They wouldn’t be planting marijuana or other crops long favored by Mexican cartels, but something potentially even more profitable: avocados. (…)

More than a dozen criminal groups are battling for control of the avocado trade in and around the city of Uruapan, preying on wealthy orchard owners, the laborers who pick the fruit and the drivers who truck it north to the United States.

“The threat is constant and from all sides,” said Jose Maria Ayala Montero, who works for a trade association that formed its own vigilante army to protect growers.

After seizing control of the forest in March, the Viagras announced a tax on residents who owned avocado trees, charging $250 a hectare in “protection fees.”

But they had competition. Rivals from the Jalisco New Generation cartel wanted to control the same stretch of land — and residents were about to get caught in the middle of a vicious fight.

Sounds ridiculous, yes? But, thinking it over, if the cartels want to seize of every inch of Mexico, it makes sense to diversify holdings and create a monopoly on popular good — like avocados.

By the way, there are tons of avocado trees here in California, so there should be no worries about a shortage of guacamole in the US – at least for now. We had a huge tree in the backyard of our house in the 1970s.

In fact, California is still ripe – no pun intended – with all manner of fruit trees. There are at least two lemon trees down the street from my present dwelling.

Considering, however, that California’s Organized Left is constantly looking for ways to gouge the state’s middle class, I wonder how long it will take them to come up with a plan to tax property owners for their trees.

Back to Mexico. Consider these thing: recently Mexico’s military surrendered in a war against one of the cartels and another cartel murdered members of an American family. President Trump even offered to send the US military to assist President Lopez Obrador against the cartels, to “wipe them from the face of the earth,” as President Trump so memorably put it. But the Mexican president refused.

So, what will happen to Mexico and Mexicans? The US continues to build a real wall in attempt to stem the flood of illegals. If, due to a strong wall, the flood recedes to a trickle, Mexicans will be forced to have a true confrontation with the cartels or submit and be ruled by them.

We’ll be neighbors with a gangster state and it will be fentanyl and avocados for all.

Not looking forward to that.

(Thanks to The Federalist)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Gang Warfare

by baldilocks

I estimate that everything we’ve seen since the assassination of President Kennedy has been Government-by-The-People Theater. No doubt, this charade goes much further back than that point in time, however, let’s call that event a conflagration – a reminder to all observers of who really runs things. Yes, I’m aware of the implication that I’m making: that the JFK assassination was a conspiracy by unseen actors, but don’t get it twisted; I’ve seen all the other conspiracy theories about it and I don’t subscribe to any of them. And it’s not my point anyway.

This is: I contend that every president from Lyndon B. Johnson to Barack H. Obama has walked in step with and/or been controlled by the bureaucracy, the secret cabals, the military-industrial complex (thank you, President Eisenhower), and the various other gangs that undergird this country. Yes, even Ronald Reagan.

And yet, somehow, we managed to elect one that refuses to walk in that path.

The gangs that began conspiring against him even before he won the nomination knew that he was the most dangerous choice for president — dangerous to them. He had made his money outside of government, had been in the public eye for decades and had a checkered private life that he didn’t try to hide. And, most frightening of all, he had claimed to be one of them: a Democrat. He entertained them, partied with them, listened to them.  He had probably seen and heard all manner of foul things that his “friends” prefer to remain private. And he had done so while drinking no alcohol and doing no drugs.

They had given him awards and begged him for jobs and for money.

Then, “out of the blue” he runs for president. In reality, he signaled what he was going to do back in the 1980s and did so again in 2012.

So, the gangs had to have something prepared just for him. However, it appears that he was ready for this, and for the next attack, and the next one and the one after that.

One of his missions is to expose the various means which the gangs have of enriching themselves on monies gotten from the pockets of the tax-payers. Ukraine seems to be both a means of thievery and a huge storage space for the loot.

This is why the government gangs will do anything to get him out of office. But before that happens, his reputation must be blasted to smithereens.

He knows this, which is why he will not be silent about it. As they use to say about a totally unrelated topic, silence equals death.

But he also keeps talking because it distracts the gangs from his more meaningful action against the gangs. While they continue to attempt to ruin his legacy before driving him out — or worse — he is on offense as well.

Everything will come to a head in one year or less.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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The Wall and its lessons

By Christopher Harper

From the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Cold War shaped most baby boomers.

Like me, almost every boomer spent some time under classroom desks in a rather idiotic drill during and after the Cuban missile crisis. Somehow being under a desk would save us!

The Vietnam War also was a reaction to the Cold War—an attempt to stop the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia. Obviously, it didn’t work.

I had the opportunity to spend time behind the Iron Curtain both before and after the fall of Communism.

What struck me most about Soviet domination before 1989 was how difficult the lives of people in Eastern Europe were under Communism.

It was difficult to find food, proper medicine, and hope.

I recall twisting my ankle in Poland. I struggled into the hospital and noticed how the shelves were empty, and the equipment was aging. The doctor told me the ankle wasn’t broken, and he didn’t have much to help me with the pain. Fortunately, a nurse found an elastic bandage to help me hobble around for the next few days.

In Bulgaria, the hotel offered lobster on the menu. One of my colleagues decided to order some. The waitress didn’t speak much English, so she came out with a shellfish that was encrusted in ice because it was caught years ago. The message, however, was clear. Perhaps my friend should order something else.

For years, my wife and I had wanted to visit what was then called Czechoslovakia. Because I was a journalist, I was unable to get a visa even though I only wanted to be a tourist. The government did not allow American journalists to visit for any reason. Fortunately, we were able to visit the Czech Republic after the end of the Soviet empire.

Although Eastern Europe has had its share of difficulties after the end of communism, the streets are brighter, the hopes are higher, and the freedoms are greater.

The lesson that every American should take away from the fall of the wall is how much better life is in Eastern Europe. All you have to do is look at the economies of Poland, Hungary, and other countries that lived behind the wall and under the boot of Soviet oppression.

Moreover, it’s critical to realize that socialist doctrines, such as government control of essential industries, never worked in the Soviet Union and its empire and won’t help the United States in the years ahead.

How’s that Africa plan working out for us?

Map of Nigeria, from Nigeria.ru

With the focus on the Middle East, its easy to forget there are other parts of the world. Africa in particular tends to not make our news feeds. It always makes mine though, and yesterday was more bad news:

Nigeria looks to sign military cooperation deal with Russia this month

with this gem:

““We’re sure that with Russian help we’ll manage to crush Boko Haram, given Russia’s experience combating Islamic State in Syria,” Nigerian envoy Steve Ugbah said in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency.”

Steve Ugbah, Nigerian Envoy

Ugh.

As a nation we suck at African relationships. Nigeria in particular is a key nation, with not only a relatively functioning democracy, but also a large population and large economy. Nigeria will be a leading force in Africa over the next 20 years. And that is about where our relationship ends.

Our State Department is not pushing relationships forward enough, unlike China and Russia, who are more than happy to offer economic and military incentives to advance their influence in the region. On the military side, we should be pushing for a military collective with African Nations that would help build military standards (similar to NATO), allow collective exercises, provide personnel exchanges and open markets to military sales. On the economic side, Africa presents a unique opportunity break China’s grasp on low-cost manufature and invest in a region that is unlikely to build a military super-giant devoted to destroying the United States. While we’re at it, let’s reevaluate how we do sanctions, since we seem happy to put sanctions on African countries for human rights violations while willfully ignoring those of Arab countries.

Africa could be our answer to China if we let it be. Let’s make that choice vice letting China and Russia turn Africa into their next backyard.

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.

Impeachment Strategy (UPDATE: Letter)

Image result for tug of war

by baldilocks

I heard that one of President Trump’s lawyers sent the House a letter which basically says “hell naw we ain’t playing your impeachment inquiry games.” I read only part of the letter, but it really must be spicy, because a lot of anti-Trump partisans are wailing about it.

When this whole thing started, someone on Twitter offered this as an exclusive photo of the anonymous “whistle-blower.”


I shared it and got a lot of laughs, but the thing is this: it is probable that Donald Trump set this soap opera into motion and did so on purpose. What follows is my theory on how it went down.

Last week, it was reported that Secretary of State Pompeo was sitting in on the call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky.

After the call – or maybe before – the president tells Pompeo to get one of the latter’s people to drop some bait about the call in the presence of the right person — someone who is likely to spill the beans to the Democratic Party honchos.

This gets done and thus is born the “whistle-blower,” who so is excited about it that she doesn’t bother with the whistle-blower procedure. Instead, she runs to Congress in order pass the bait along to the other fish — especially to Adam Schiff — and they, of course, swallow it. What about the change to the whistle-blower statute regarding first-hand information? Trump changed that.

Why would President Trump do this? Simple. He knows that the Democrats have been after him since he announced his candidacy; they pre-conjured a reason for his impeachment, for Heaven’s sake. Therefore, he is forcing an impeachment at the time of his choosing rather than theirs.

I don’t think the Democrats wanted to begin the procedure this long before the 2020 presidential election. Remember that Nancy Pelosi didn’t want this to happen right now; she comprehends strategy even if it’s a dim vestige of comprehension. But her caucus isn’t even that bright. They want Trump gone NOW and Pelosi had to do what they wanted.

And President Trump knew that this is how it would probably go.

So, voila! The impeachment inquiry was conjured, appeasing Pelosi’s idiot caucus, without messing up the intended timeline. She wants to file formal articles of impeachment months from now, hoping that the procedure will last until the time of the election, causing the president to lose. Therefore, it is in Donald Trump’s best interest to have them do it as soon as possible.

What the Democrats hope is this: that a goodly chunk of their supporters don’t know that an impeachment inquiry means jack squat and that the president is not required to participate in it.

It’s a good bet.

UPDATE: Here’s the full letter read aloud. It’s spicy alright. 

The wailers are wailing mostly about the language of the letter. It’s in plan, blunt English rather than in lawyer-ese. Probably dictated by the non-lawyer who sits in the Oval Office. Good.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Update: the 1st Instalanche at the new host. Hi all, nice to see you here, hope you like the faster load speed and the similar design, we’re still moving posts over but we’re going full speed, take a peek around, learn about the new gender of “traitor”, notice the Pence pivot on impeachment, and if you have an extra buck or two consider kicking into my Great Niece’s gofundme campaign as she was made homeless and lost everything in an IDE fueled suicide that took our the condo building that she lived at (full details here)

On her majesty’s service

It’s been almost 40 years since I met British diplomat Gordon Pirie and his wife, Maria, at the coffee shop at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tehran.

Iranian militants had just taken American diplomats hostage in what would be become an ordeal of 444 days.

As a reporter for Newsweek, I was trying to figure out what was going on. Gordon provided me with important insights into what was happening.

Unbeknownst to me and the rest of the world until two decades later, Gordon played an important role in saving a number of American hostages who had managed to escape the takeover of the U.S. embassy.

The Times of London provided an account of his derring-do to correct the errors of Argo, a 2013 movie about the hostage crisis that gained critical acclaim but had little to do with the facts.

Gordon and a colleague, Martin Williams, learned that the diplomats had holed up in the southeast part of Tehran.

The two men drove around and made contact with five fugitive diplomats. A sixth found his way to the Swedish embassy and joined them in hiding 10 days later.

Gordon and Williams were meant to take the Americans back to the British embassy, but as it was occupied, that was out of the question. They decided to go instead to Williams’s home in the British compound in the northern suburbs.

The Americans’ relief was palpable when they made it to the relative safety of the compound, where Maria, who is Italian, cooked up pasta.

Eventually, the Americans went to the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor and were spirited out of the country on January 28, 1980, bluffing their way through passport control at the airport in Tehran as Canadians from a film crew created by the CIA for their escape.

Just as the CIA’s role in springing the Americans was not declassified until 1997, so the British decided to keep quiet fear of further inflaming relations with the Iranian regime.

Over the years, my wife Elizabeth and I spent many hours with the Piries, who moved across the street from us in Beirut and down the street from us in Rome.

We often regaled one another with memories of how Gordon, who was fluent in Farsi and several other languages, helped us bargain with Persian carpet sellers to get the best price possible.

In Rome, our apartment looked into the love nest of the Italian finance minister, who brought numerous young ladies there for his extramarital affairs. We’d turned off the lights and peered from behind the curtains to see what new woman he’d decided to wine and dine. We justified our Peeping-Tom approach as research into Italian politics!

Last year, Gordon, who was in his 80s, ran into the inevitable problems of getting older. I was able to visit him, and it was as if we hadn’t spent a day apart from one another.

Sadly, Gordon died a few weeks ago. He was a tribute to his work as a diplomat throughout the world. More important for me, he was a dear friend who will sorely missed.

Battles Seen and Unseen

by baldilocks

As has become apparent, the Democratic Party will do anything to keep from losing even after they have already lost.

The latest preventative method: an impeachment probe.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, acquiescing to mounting pressure from fellow Democrats and plunging a deeply divided nation into an election year clash between Congress and the commander in chief.

The probe centers on whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government for his reelection. Pelosi said such actions would mark a “betrayal of his oath of office” and declared: “No one is above the law.”

At issue are Trump’s actions with Ukraine. In a summer phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he is said to have asked for help investigating Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter. In the days before the call, Trump ordered advisers to freeze $400 million in military aid for Ukraine — prompting speculation that he was holding out the money as leverage for information on the Bidens. Trump has denied that charge, but acknowledged he blocked the funds. (…)

Trump advisers say they are confident that an impeachment process led by the opposition party will bolster his political support heading into his reelection campaign.

This morning, before the probe announcement, the president tweeted that he’ll release the transcript of the phone call.

I suspect that this will bite the Democrat Party on the backside. Or probe said backside. The president has a preternatural way of causing his enemies to fall into their own self-dug pits.

Meanwhile, if you want confirmation of the fact that other forces are at work, look no further than President Trump’s words at the UN summit days ago. Look to who he defends.

President Trump told all gathered at this year’s UN Summit:  “Today, with one clear voice, the United States of America calls upon the nations of the world to end religious persecution.”  

“We’re standing up for almost 250 million Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.  It is estimated that 11 Christians are killed every day for the following — I mean, just think of this: Eleven Christians a day, for following the teachings of Christ.  Who would even think that’s possible in this day and age?  Who would think it’s possible?”

“The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; they come from God, Trump reminded the assembly.   “This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.  Our Founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.

“Regrettably, the religious freedom enjoyed by American citizens is rare in the world.

“Approximately 80 percent of the world’s population live in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted, or even banned.  And when I heard that number, I said, ‘Please go back and check it because it can’t possibly be correct.’ And, sadly, it was.  Eighty percent.

“As we speak, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Yazidis, and many other people of faith are being jailed, sanctioned, tortured, and even murdered, often at the hands of their own government, simply for expressing their deeply held religious beliefs.  So hard to believe.”

And there was this on abortion.

The Trump administration Monday declared to U.N member nations that there is no “international right” to abortion, and called on other countries to fight efforts promoting abortions, drawing criticism from reproductive rights groups and other world nations.

President Trump has the unique distinction among pro-life presidents of actually doing something to keep the money of American citizens out of Planned Parenthood’s coffers. So this is more that mere words.

I don’t claim to know anything about the president’s relationship with God. I do know, however, that the president is standing up for most of the things that God cares about and that many of those who seek his removal from office also seek more death. And, just to top things off, they want us to fund the destruction.

So I think that the battle we cannot see is the one that fuels the one we can.

Remember, this isn’t about Donald Trump, it’s about us — the people of the United States.  It’s about what kind of country we want this nation to be.

Next year, we’ll see the results of these battles, both political and spiritual.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Norway: stuck in the middle

Norway is stuck in the middle. Russia has been pushing more aggressively past Norway. Recently Russia canceled a polar Norwegian Cruise Line entry into Russian waters, forcing the cruise company to reimburse passengers only two weeks before the cruise. Russia also surged naval forces off the Norwegian coast in its “Ocean Shield” exercise, causing a lot of consternation among the Norwegian populace.

But simply saddling up to the US isn’t in the cards, at least for some. Norwegian media is enthralled with President Trump, and not in a nice way. Norwegian media, namely Dagbladet and Klassekampen, regularly blast the US and President Trump in particular, and call for Norway to keep its distance from the US.

Norway is quickly entering into a forced choice. It’s military understands that NATO, and specifically the US, are critical to keeping it independent of Russia in any future conflict. The US is doubling down not just on NATO funding, but also on support for the Straits of Hormuz patrols. Iran’s foreign minister recently visited Norway, was met with significant protests, and told Norway to not support the patrols.

So now Norway, always content to play the middle, gets to choose between two forces. On one side, a resurging Russia and Iran, who are willing to use their muscle in critical maritime geography, and a US, which is using its forces to support the agreed-upon UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Choices have consequences, and the middle choice will likely become untenable before much longer.

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.