The truth will make you odd.
Flannery O’Connor

«— You Won’t Believe How Ted Cruz Treats Syrian Christians

Former Launch Officer on Trump’s Potential for Nuclear First Strike

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John Noonan is a defense analyst and former United States Air Force officer who performed duties as a Minuteman III launch officer. In a nuclear war, he would have been one of the people turning the keys to end civilization as we know it. As a result, his series of tweets analyzing Donald Trump’s potential attitude toward using nuclear weapons carry a certain moral weight not available to most discussions on the matter.

Noonan writes in response to anonymous allegations reported by Joe Scarborough that Trump asked a foreign policy expert “three times,” “if we have [nuclear weapons], why can’t we use them?” The Trump campaign has denied Scarborough’s statement, saying, “There is no truth to this [story].”

Enter Noonan’s series of tweets, which analyze the consequences of such a shift in nuclear weapons use philosophy, if true.


Noonan tells those who are just tuning in (like myself) that he has significant experience with nuclear weapons.


Read the rest of “Former Launch Officer on Trump’s Potential for Nuclear First Strike”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:58 am

«— Destruction of Serbian Church
—» Obama and Islam

New US Subs Trade Nukes for SEALs

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When I was in “A” school, I really wanted to be on one of these, the best of both worlds of submarine life: the large, spacious living of a Trident submarine with the missions and port calls (we all hoped) of an attack submarine.

The Ohio is the first of a new class of submarine created in a conversion of 1970s vessels by trading nuclear-tipped ICBMs for conventional cruise missiles and a contingent of commandos ready to be launched onto virtually any shore through rejiggered missile tubes – against conventional forces or terrorists.

The sub’s cruise across the Pacific comes as China builds its submarine fleet into the region’s largest as part of the bulking up of its military. The voyage is the Ohio’s first deployment since the makeover, and Hale is in the odd position of showing the ship off.

It’s odd because the sub is all about stealth.

Hale can’t talk about where the ship is going. The back of the ship, where the nuclear power plant is located, is off limits. The leader of the SEAL commando contingent aboard can’t be named and the commandos themselves can’t be photographed in any way that shows their faces.

Read it all: New US Subs Trade Nukes for SEALs

The article mentions that Tridents are larger than attack submarines, but “still cramped.” Harumpf. No one ever hot-racks on a Trident. Ever. And apparently, the main passageway on a Trident is wide enough to allow for the span of a man’s arms. Mind-boggling. I have intentionally avoided the opportunities to “see the other side” that have come my way.

After reading most of this article (asking myself, “Does it have decent information for family and friends, or is it degraded beyond usefulness?”), I went surfing and found this video of the famous Typhoon class submarine, featured most memorably as the Red October in the movie and novel by Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October. (The music in the video is Basil Poledouris’ “Hymn to Red October,” from the film score.) Although the fictional submarine is named after the relatively recent revolution, Russia’s actual ships bear names from far deeper in their history — names like Dmitri Donskoi and Yuri Dolgorukiy.

Submariners are the same the world over, it seems, wearing coveralls and “underway sweaters.”

As for the title of the AP article… If only we could “trade nukes for SEALs”! (Submariners and airedales will get the joke.)

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:43 pm

«— Station the Maneuvering Watch!
—» Joyeux Noël

The Ship is Moored!

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We successfully passed sea trials, with very few deficiencies. Every gave us BZs for a job well done.

Being fully qualified and authorized to wear the dolphins is still elusive. The submarine force instruction directs that a sailor shall qualify in “less than six months, three months of which shall be on an operational submarine (i.e. not in the shipyard).” The scuttlebutt is that all the requests (of which there are many) for waivers were denied. Interestingly, the ship enters a modernization period in the spring, so there won’t be enough operational time to fulfill the requirement. Even with already a month on an operational sub (from riding USS Providence back in May), I would not see three months until summer ’07 sometime. Other non-qualified sailors would be waiting even longer.

Reminds me of the old proverb about what awaits those who ask for God to grant them patience: He rewards them with many circumstances that teach them to be patient.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 1:26 pm

«— Patron of Submariners
—» The Ship is Moored!

Station the Maneuvering Watch!

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Sometime betweeen now and late this week, USS Jacksonville will cast off lines and get underway for the first time in over two and a half years. This would be a bad luck boat, if there ever was one. They say that if you treat your ship right, she’ll treat you right. It’s hard to take any pride in a boat that’s collided with other ships three times. Good thing I don’t believe in luck.

Of your mercy, please remember the unworthy servant of God, Basil, in your prayers when a petition is invoked for those who travel “by land or by sea.” As mentioned earlier, Saint Nicholas is the patron of mariners. Saint Pantaleon is the patron of military men and women.

(Rumor has it that all of us who have passed our boards will be pinned sometime in the next few days, perhaps before or just after getting underway. My chief had me get dolphin patches for my uniform just in case.)

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:14 am

«— Learn Something New Every Day
—» Station the Maneuvering Watch!

Patron of Submariners

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Saint Nicholas: Discovering the Truth About Santa Claus

Happy Saint Nicholas Day. This site has all kind of resources to show you who St Nicholas was. I love the Western image that’s most prominent on the front page: Bishop Nicholas’ crozier has a ship in its crook. Beautiful.

Saint Nicholas, pray for us, the crew of this thrice ill-fated submarine, that we may be protected from every adversary as we travel below the surface of the sea in the depths that only the Lord and his saints perceive. By the prayers of the Mother of God and the power of the Lord who appeared to you in a vision, manifest your friendship to us as you did of old by appearing to the terrified sailors and saving them from destruction, that like them we may glorify the almighty God who has worked such wonders through you. Intercede for us before the holy and life-giving Trinity, whose name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we ever praise and glorify, that we may have health and life in this age and in the age to come, amen.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:51 pm

«— Coming Again Soon
—» Two Sides, At Least

Deadly Force

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Deadly force: force that a person uses causing, or that a person knows would create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily harm (e.g., broken bones, internal bleeding). Deadly force, under Department of Defense Directive 5210.56, is authorized under the following circumstances:
when

  • all lesser means have failed, cannot be reasonably employed, or are unavailable, when
  • the risk of death or serious bodily harm to innocent bystanders is not significantly increased by its use, and when
  • one or more of the following circumstances necessitates its use:
    1. Defense of self and defense of others
    2. Protecting assets vital to national security (such as nuclear reactor information, or detailed plans that could endanger the lives of service men and women, as well as civilian workers and bystanders)
    3. Protecting assets not vital to national security but inherently dangerous to others (such as bombs or spent nuclear fuel)
    4. Prevention of serious offenses against others (rape, aggravated assault, etc.)
    5. Apprehension of persons designated as posing a grave threat to national security or public health and safety
    6. Prevention of escape of persons designated as in the previous item
    7. Protection of public health and safety (e.g., poisoning of water supplies)

(This is for DoD military and civilian personnel performing security duties. It does not apply under fire during time of war or in situations where specific Rules of Engagement apply.)

It required that DoD personnel carrying firearms have the applicable portions of the directive linked above memorized.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 8:59 pm

«— White Man’s Religion?
—» Rhetorical Question Begging

Anti-war group alters display

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The name of Rob Henderson, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, was among 52 Kentucky service members names posted at the fair under a piece of paper that read “In honor of their sacrifices” when Henderson’s wife saw the display.

“It was like someone stabbed me in the heart,” said Lisa Henderson, 27, of Bowling Green. “My husband went over there and was supportive of the military and of going over there. For someone to use his name to end the war and ask to pull all the troops out, my husband would not have been in support of that.”

Read more: Lexington Herald-Leader: Anti-war group alters display

Related, from the archives of MSNBC:

All war presidents find ways to deal with the strain of sending soldiers off to die. During the Vietnam War, LBJ used to pray after midnight with Roman Catholic monks. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, prayed with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on the eve of the first gulf war. For George W. Bush, these private audiences with the families of dead soldiers and Marines seem to be an outlet of sorts. (They are perhaps harder for Laura, who sometimes accompanies Bush and looks devastated afterward.) Family members interviewed by NEWSWEEK say they have been taken aback by the president’s emotionalism and his sincerity. More complicated is the question of whether Bush’s suffering is essentially sympathetic, or whether he is agonizing over the war that he chose to start.

The most telling—and moving—picture of Bush grieving with the families of the dead was provided by Rachel Ascione, who met with him last summer. Her older brother, Ron Payne, was a Marine who had been killed in Afghanistan only a few weeks before Ascione was invited to meet with Bush at MacDill Air Force Base, near Tampa, Fla.

Ascione wasn’t sure she could restrain herself with the president. She was feeling “raw.” “I wanted him to look me in the eye and tell me why my brother was never coming back, and I wanted him to know it was his fault that my heart was broken,” she recalls. The president was coming to Florida, a key swing state, in the middle of his re-election campaign. Ascione was worried that her family would be “exploited” by a “phony effort to make good with people in order to get votes.”

Ascione’s family was one of the last Bush approached. Ascione still planned to confront him, but Bush disarmed her in an almost uncanny way. Ascione is just over five feet; her late brother was 6 feet 7. “My whole life, he used to put his hand on the top of my head and just hold it there, and it drove me crazy,” she says. When Bush saw that she was crying, he leaned over and put his hand on the top of her head and drew her to him. “It was just like my brother used to do,” she says, beginning to cry at the memory.

Read it all: ‘I’m So Sorry’

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:28 pm

«— Vigil
—» Church of Nigeria: The Episcopal Church compared to “a cancerous lump”

500 WMDs and Counting

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Over 500 — the exact number is still classified — weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and the search continues.

“These are chemical weapons as defined under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and yes … they do constitute weapons of mass destruction,” Army Col. John Chu told the House Armed Services Committee.

The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. It was signed in 1993 and entered into force in 1997.

The munitions found contain sarin and mustard gases, Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said. Sarin attacks the neurological system and is potentially lethal.

“Mustard is a blister agent (that) actually produces burning of any area (where) an individual may come in contact with the agent,” he said. It also is potentially fatal if it gets into a person’s lungs.

The munitions addressed in the report were produced in the 1980s, Maples said. Badly corroded, they could not currently be used as originally intended, Chu added.

While that’s reassuring, the agent remaining in the weapons would be very valuable to terrorists and insurgents, Maples said. “We’re talking chemical agents here that could be packaged in a different format and have a great effect,” he said, referencing the sarin-gas attack on a Japanese subway in the mid-1990s.

According to the press release from Armed Forces Press Service, it is believed that the deposed Iraqi regime had poor maintenance records, which have made it difficult to locate the chemical weapons remaining. Lt. Gen. Chu indicated that he did not believe all the chemical weapons had been found.

Read more: Munitions Found in Iraq Meet WMD Criteria

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Filed under: — Basil @ 7:10 am

«— You Really Can’t Take It With You
—» 500 WMDs and Counting

Vigil

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One Last Night

Update: Well, after receiving word that the original page was accessible by registration only (see the first comment), I did some searching and found the original article from Rocky Mountain News: “Final Salute” by Jim Sheeler and photographer Todd Heisler. (Google Images rocks.) And boy am I glad I did. Sheeler and Heisler did an in-depth article on the return of fallen Marine Second Lieutenant James Cathey from overseas, and it turned into a story about servicemembers Stateside who attend to the families of fallen soldiers such as Casualty Assistance Call Officers (CACOs). The entire article is well-done (except for being on twelve separate web pages). For the short version, I linked the photo to the right to the page about Katherine Cathey’s last night beside her husband. I highly recommend reading the article in in its entirety, though.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:33 pm

«— Surface! Surface! Surface!
—» Works

Congress Bars Funeral Protesters

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“It’s a sad but necessary measure to protect what should be recognized by all reasonable people as a solemn, private and deeply sacred occasion,” [Senate majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.] said.

Under the Senate bill, approved without objection by the House with no recorded vote, the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act” would bar protests within 300 feet of the entrance of a cemetery and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Those violating the act would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

The sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said he took up the issue after attending a military funeral in his home state, where mourners were greeted by “chants and taunting and some of the most vile things I have ever heard.”

“Families deserve the time to bury their American heroes with dignity and in peace,” Rogers said Wednesday before the Hosue vote.

The demonstrators are led by the Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., who has previously organized protests against those who died of AIDS and gay murder victim Matthew Shepard.

In passing, I would like to note that most Christians, including those with orthodox views of homosexual activity and same-sex attraction, are appalled and disgusted by Phelps and his disciples. (Just in case you were unclear on that.)

Read more: Congress Bars Funeral Protesters
See also: Louisville Courier-Journal article on ACLU vs. KY

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Filed under: — Basil @ 5:47 pm

«— Under Where?
—» Congress Bars Funeral Protesters

Surface! Surface! Surface!

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I’m back. It looks like I’m going to be attending the annual pilgrimage at St. Tikhon’s Monastery this Memorial Day, so try to find me if you’re there. Leave a comment or email me if you want to meet somewhere.

To answer Tabitha’s question on the previous post, “smooth sailing” is a perfectly appropriate blessing for a submariner, especially since the perfectly round hull of a submarine tends to roll (list from side to side) a lot more than a surface ship. Surface ships have keels designed to cut through the surface of the water and stabilized the ship, whereas submarines (since the innovative USS Albacore design) are built to perform better underwater.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 3:08 pm

«— Male activists want to opt-out of unplanned pregnancies
—» Jesus Decoded

New Navy Uniforms Finally Approved by CNO

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CNO Approves New Navy Uniforms

“These are good uniforms, designed to support the modern Sailor,” said Mullen. “Durability, safety, ease of wear and cleaning were all factors that weighed heavily on my mind, as did, quite frankly, the survey data and the opinions of wear testers. This wasn’t a popularity contest by any stretch, but we would have been foolish not to consider the opinions of the men and women who will wear these uniforms.”

The BDU-style working uniform, designed to replace seven different styles of current working uniforms, is made of a near maintenance-free permanent press 50/50 nylon and cotton blend. Worn with a blue cotton t-shirt, it will include an eight-point cover, a black web belt with closed buckle, and black smooth leather boots, with black suede no-shine boots for optional wear while assigned to non-shipboard commands.

“When I walk down the piers, I see a Sailors standing watch as a pier sentry in January and it’s 30 degrees and freezing rain,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/AW) Terry Scott said. “You have to ask yourself, does the uniform that we currently issue protect us, and the answer is no.”

The scuttlebutt is that this probably still won’t make it to seabags before the fall of 2007 (FY08).

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:44 am

«— Blogger: 404 – Page not found
—» Serenity Reviewed by Orson Scott Card

Military Warns Combat Bloggers

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Military Warns Combat Bloggers

“The enemy aggressively ‘reads’ our open source and continues to
exploit such information for use against our forces,� he wrote. “Some
soldiers continue to post sensitive information to Internet Web sites
and blogs. … Such OPSEC violations needlessly place lives at risk and
degrade the effectiveness of our operations.�

The thumb-rule given to Sailors in boot camp: “You’re here to defend liberty, not practice it.”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:52 pm

«— Frist’s Flop: Some Implications in the NYT Article
—» Sheehan Backstory

Destroyer Dwarfs Barge

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DDG 71 – 3

Originally uploaded by Kevin Basil.

Destroyers are small ships by comparison to cruisers and carriers, but they can still dwarf smaller vessels like barges and patrol craft. Believe it or not, this is the first surface ship I’ve seen since joining the Navy in February 2004.

My dad was surface navy. He served as a parachute rigger on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and at the testing facility at China Lake. Then, from 1980 until his retirment in 1992, he served as a chaplain at a series of commands on the east coast and in Okinawa, Japan.

When we were stationed at Charleston, SC, in the mid-80’s, my dad took me aboard one of the destroyers he served aboard (he was technically attached as chaplain for the squadron). This probably marks one of the most important childhood moments that made Navy life attractive to me after being laid off from Lexmark.

Hopefully, I’ll get to tour this baby and report back.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:45 pm

«— Portsmouth Area
—» Like “Crocodile” But Not Spelled That Way

Personal Update

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Portsmouth is a wonderful little community. Downtown is full of these great little shops and eateries. I haven’t been into the shops yet, but the eateries are way too expensive. Oh, wait. I have been into a little independent bookseller. Very nice, but small. It was good to talk again to people like the folks I used to work with at Joseph-Beth.

Read the rest of “Personal Update”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 4:52 pm