Testing continues on an electromagnetic weapon that could hurl a 40-pound projectile hundreds of miles from Navy ships offshore towards, well: Everything (Video at the link) -
“As you can see, it represents a significant increase in range,” Roger Ellis, the Office of Naval Research’s electromagnetic railgun program manager, said in a conference call with reporters.
Ellis said that because the gun can fire at such high speeds, it wouldn’t necessarily have to shoot an explosive to inflict damage, either. He would only say that it would carry a “lethal mechanism.”
Depending upon the employment range, the effects of a hyperkinetic weapon needn’t be explosive, necessarily.
Conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart is dead at age 43, apparently from natural causes:
The websites he founded ran a statement Thursday morning announcing that Breitbart, 43, died “unexpectedly from natural causes” in Los Angeles shortly after midnight. His attorney and editor-in-chief of those sites confirmed his death to Fox News.
“We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior,” the statement said. ”Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.”
Breitbart was a happy warrior who engendered pure hatred in those with whom he disagreed. It was possible to find some of his methods regrettable while respecting the unapologetic passion he brought to his politics. One of his cleverer tactics on Twitter was to re-tweet the bile he received to ensure that his haters received a wider audience.
Many of whom it appears, do not have the grace or tact to remember that, de mortuis nil nisi bonum. These haters may think that they have gotten the last laugh simply by outliving a man they could not outwit, but by their spleen we know them
Not all of his ideological opponents took the fast train to the gutter. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo takes the high ground, remembering that behind our differences we share a common humanity, and a common destiny.
It starts with a trickle, and the trickle becomes a stream, and the stream becomes a river.
And then the river becomes a flood:
Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.
The article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born…
The article, entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, was written by two of Prof Savulescu’s former associates, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.
They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”
Oxford’s motto is “Dominus Illuminatio Mea“, which is Latin for “The Lord is my Light.”
Might be time for a change up.
An interesting article in the WSJ on end-of-life decisions that doctors make for themselves:
Years ago, Charlie, a highly respected orthopedist and a mentor of mine, found a lump in his stomach. It was diagnosed as pancreatic cancer by one of the best surgeons in the country, who had developed a procedure that could triple a patient’s five-year-survival odds—from 5% to 15%—albeit with a poor quality of life.
Charlie, 68 years old, was uninterested. He went home the next day, closed his practice and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with his family. Several months later, he died at home. He got no chemotherapy, radiation or surgical treatment. Medicare didn’t spend much on him.
In a 2003 article, Joseph J. Gallo and others looked at what physicians want when it comes to end-of-life decisions. In a survey of 765 doctors, they found that 64% had created an advanced directive—specifying what steps should and should not be taken to save their lives should they become incapacitated. That compares to only about 20% for the general public. (As one might expect, older doctors are more likely than younger doctors to have made “arrangements,” as shown in a study by Paula Lester and others.)
Why such a large gap between the decisions of doctors and patients? The case of CPR is instructive. A study by Susan Diem and others of how CPR is portrayed on TV found that it was successful in 75% of the cases and that 67% of the TV patients went home. In reality, a 2010 study of more than 95,000 cases of CPR found that only 8% of patients survived for more than one month. Of these, only about 3% could lead a mostly normal life.
The gist of the article is that doctors know that even heroic attempts to prolong life often lead to poor prognoses and diminished quality of life. They choose to go out gracefully, which is all to the good.
But then there’s this:
Physicians really try to honor their patients’ wishes, but when patients ask “What would you do?,” we often avoid answering. We don’t want to impose our views on the vulnerable.
It’s not a matter of “imposing your views”, doc. It’s about answering the question.
When the USAF acquisition directorate chose Brazil’s Super Tucano to outfit the Afghan air force over rival Hawker-Beechcraft’s AT-6 offering, howls could be heard from Wichita all the way to Sandy Eggo.
I guess somebody heard them:
The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it would set aside a contract awarded late last year to Sierra Nevada Corp. to supply planes to Afghanistan’s military, a surprise move that may reopen the contest to rival Hawker Beechcraft Inc.
The Air Force also said it would launch an investigation into the contract to deliver training and light-attack planes to Afghanistan, worth $355 million…
The contract award, announced in late December, had been seen as an important win for Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer SA, which teamed up with Sierra Nevada to offer a fleet of Super Tucano single-engine turboprop planes.
But procurement of the Afghan warplanes became a politically charged issue. Hawker Beechcraft, the product of a 2007 leveraged buyout by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Onex Partners, filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims after the Air Force excluded its proposed design, the Beechcraft AT-6. The Wichita, Kan.-based company and its supporters also played up potential U.S. job losses as a result of its exclusion.
“While we pursue perfection, we sometimes fall short, and when we do we will take corrective action,” said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, in a statement Tuesday. “Since the acquisition is still in litigation, I can only say that the Air Force senior acquisition executive, David Van Buren, is not satisfied with the quality of the documentation supporting the award decision.”
The Super Tucano is a more mature product, and therefore has lower initial acquisition risks. But Hawker Beechcraft has the advantages of secure logistics lines, which prevents sustainment of the aircraft from being subjected to foreign pressures. All this before you get to the issues of outsourcing one of our few areas of unquestioned industrial dominance and the domestic jobs that goes with it. Where the USAF pooched the deal is by excluding the AT-6 from the competition without telling the vendor why their bid had been denied a chance to compete.
I suspect you’ll see more of this, with more defense contractors grappling for a slice of a smaller defense budget.
Late last year Congress, in a bi-partisan fashion, wrote into law the requirement that foreign born terrorists captured in the US be held in military custody as enemy combatants. Our president strongly objected to this provision, but signed the enclosing defense spending bill in to law with a “signing statement” recording his disagreement. Even after Congress wrote a codicil enabling the White House to waive the requirement in the interests of national security.
Well, give the man an inch:
Under Mr. Obama’s guidelines, if F.B.I. agents take someone like Mr. Abdulmutallab into custody and think there is probable cause to believe that the prisoner fits the definition of a terrorism suspect covered by the law, they are to notify the attorney general.
The attorney general, in consultation with other top members of the executive branch legal team — the secretaries of state, defense and homeland security, the chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence — will discuss whether there is “clear and convincing” proof the prisoner is covered by the law.
If so, the officials are to consider whether the prisoner is covered by the waivers Mr. Obama is issuing. Even if not, the administration guidelines allow the attorney general to make other exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
All six members of an interagency national security team must agree before a prisoner is transferred to military custody, effectively giving any of them veto power over complying with the mandate. In addition, even if all six agree that a prisoner should be transferred to the military, the director of the F.B.I. must agree that the timing is right.
So if a terrorist is detained it requires “clear and convincing proof” that he is covered by the law, and even if he is, any one of a six-person star chamber – all of whom report directly to the president – may veto that decision. And if none can be found willing to do so, AG Holder can make exceptions on a “case-by-case basis.”
Why such broad interpretation of the “waiver clause”, which to the disinterested would seem like the executive branch deliberately gutting federal law, without even the intervention of the Supreme Court, the third c0-qual branch of government?
Because the president is smarter than Congress, that’s why.
Leon Panetta is a Democrat who served in the White House budget office. In Congress he chaired the House Budget Committee. And he led the intelligence and military operations that led to DevGru popping Osama bin Laden.
In short, he is the perfect man for these lean times:
“No budget can be balanced on the back of defense spending alone,” said Mr. Panetta, “For that matter, no budget can be balanced on the back of discretionary spending alone.”
Discretionary spending refers to that portion of federal expenditure that is set each year by Congress, as opposed to the automatic mandatory spending every year on entitlement programs, like Social Security and Medicare.
“Real deficit reduction only happens when everything is on the table – discretionary [spending], mandatory spending, and revenues,” Mr. Panetta said.
The planned spending reductions in the administration’s new defense budget would result in a “smaller, leaner” force, he said.
“But at the same time it should be agile, it should be flexible, it should be ready, and it should be technologically advanced,” he added.
Nonetheless, Mr. Panetta acknowledged, “I can’t reduce the [defense] budget by half-a-trillion dollars and, frankly, not increase risks” to national security.
Preach it, brother.
Very much in the eye of the beholder, according to the admittedly partisan Hinderaker, who surveys the legacy media’s response to “Act of Valor“:
(Quite) a few movies have been made about post-September 11 warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world. Virtually every one of them has been shameless propaganda. You probably didn’t see them–hardly anyone did, for the most part–so let’s call the roll of shame: Fahrenheit 9/11; Rendition; In the Valley of Elah; Why We Fight; Homecoming; The War Within; Lions For Lambs; Stop Loss; Redacted; No End In Sight; The Kingdom; and Home of the Brave. No doubt I’ve missed a few. These films were anti-war, anti-military propaganda. Audiences avoided them like the plague, but the Washington Post had no problem with anti-war propaganda, nor did any of the critics, pundits or news outlets linked above.
Countless anti-military movies can be made, and continue to be made, even though their backers must know that they are destined to lose money. But if they are countered by a single pro-military movie, liberals get out their cloves of garlic and crosses–no, wait, just the garlic–and try to ward off the evil spirit of “propaganda.” It is a humorous phenomenon, but not one that will influence American movie-goers in the slightest.
I saw the film this weekend with the Hobbit, and we both quite enjoyed it, although the lady needed a moment or two to collect herself after the credits rolled. For it’s not all beer and skittles in the SpecWar community, and not everyone comes home.
What I liked:
- The sheer versatility of our Navy, from the SEALs themselves, to the aviation, submarine and special warfare combat crewman who ferry them to their insertion points, and then extract them back again, the necessary work having been done.
- The unabashedly pro-American point of view. Most of us of a certain age were brought up believing that we represented mankind’s last, great hope. Somewhere along the way, some of us came to think that wasn’t quite good enough. They came to think that we could be better still, and that falling short of their own personal vision of that ideal rendered all that went before it not just insufficient, but actively evil. Some people didn’t get enough mothering.
- The practiced grace and ease of warriors entirely within their own skin. There’s a moment where a SEAL takes a sliding knee to get into firing position behind a column. Even as he slides into that position, he subtly kicks a leg out to refine his cover, changing his vector from a more exposed position to one more perfectly suited to offensive action and defensive superiority. You could shoot that frame a thousand times with a “professional” actor, but you’d never replicate it, nor even come close. You get there by countless hours of training and experience, knowing that each movement presses a finger upon the scale of your own destiny.
- The firepower. If it’s not working, you’re not using enough.
- Many media critics decried the acting as “wooden.” But these were men not acting. They were being themselves, and I treasured them for it.
- The teamwork: It’s trite but true to say that to be a SEAL is to be a member of “the teams.” To be part of something bigger than yourself, which somehow represents the whole.
- The sacrifice: They have and had families they left behind because someone has to do it. Not everyone comes home, and sometimes warriors roll atop the grenade, knowing that they would die in any case, but the rest might be saved. The pinched-faced, lemon-biting shrews who saw that and said to themselves, “propaganda” have never had a moment’s thought for any life they loved more then their own, and I pity them for it. They never heard of Michael Monsoor, and their lives are poorer for that loss. Bruce Willis, Matt Damon, George Clooney – none of them – ever faced a moment of clarity so crystalline as did Petty Officer Monsoor, and they are at once personally blessed and eternally impoverished by that fact.
What I didn’t like:
To be fair, it isn’t, I don’t think “liberals” qua liberals who find this movie disquieting, even threatening. Patriotism is not limited to one or another partisan preference. But they were critics. Many of whom find themselves more comfortable with the “blame America” crowd than with those who celebrate America for what it is, rather than withhold their love in favor of what it might yet be. Conditional love being akin to chronic emotional abuse.
To which I quote a man who was once deemed a “traitor to his class”:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic,” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910