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Saturday, June 30, 2018

On Midrats 1 July 2018 - Episode 443: Marines in the Offensive Against ISIS

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 1 July 2018 for Episode 443: Marines in the Offensive Against ISIS
In the last few months a lot has been written about learning how to
fight a conventional land battle again after years of a focus on counterinsurgency. Fighting against an enemy who is holding territory, has a capital, armor, artillery and a proven record in the battlefield.

While some are writing it, others have been living it, fighting side by side with traditional allies and new ones in a complicated joint and combined environment that is the latest chapter in the Long War; the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Our guest is returning to Midrats after just returning from leading Marines in the fight, Colonel Seth Folsom, USMC.

Colonel Folsom is a Marine Corps infantry officer with 24 years of commissioned service. He currently works on the staff of I Marine Expeditionary Force, and he has commanded Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan at the company, battalion, and task force level. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the Marine Corps War College, and he is the author of three books about his Marines fighting The Long War. He and his family live in Oceanside, California.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: You Are There at the "Battle of Gettysburg" (1948)

Pickett's Charge by Thulstrup

Friday, June 29, 2018

President Seeks Control of the Supreme Court: The "Court-Packing" Plan

Perhaps better known as FDR's "Court-Packing" Plan:
After winning the 1936 presidential election in a landslide, Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a bill to expand the membership of the Supreme Court. The law would have
added one justice to the Court for each justice over the age of 70, with a maximum of six additional justices. Roosevelt’s motive was clear – to shape the ideological balance of the Court so that it would cease striking down his New Deal legislation. As a result, the plan
was widely and vehemently criticized. The law was never enacted by Congress, and Roosevelt lost a great deal of political support for having proposed it. Shortly after the president made the plan public, however, the Court upheld several government regulations of the type it had formerly found unconstitutional. In National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, for example, the Court upheld the right of the federal government to regulate labor-management relations pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. Many have attributed this and similar decisions to a politically motivated change of heart on the part of Justice Owen Roberts, often referred to as “the switch in time that saved nine.” Some legal scholars have rejected this narrative, however, asserting that Roberts' 1937 decisions were not motivated by Roosevelt's proposal and can instead be reconciled with his prior jurisprudence.
Some of you might recall that Mr. Roosevelt was not a Republican.

More at  FDR's Losing Battle To Pack The Supreme Court,
"Some suggested that Congress ought to be able to overrule the Supreme Court," he explains. "By a two-thirds vote, Congress should be able to overturn any ruling of the Supreme Court, essentially making Congress the last word on the Constitution and not the Supreme Court."

"He didn't think it was practical," says Shesol. "It takes a very long time, usually, to amend the Constitution ... enough to change the reality in the country. But secondly, and this is really important in understanding why Roosevelt packed the court, [is that] he didn't see any kind of contradiction between the Constitution and the New Deal. He didn't think there was anything in the Constitution that prevented him from doing what he needed to do. The problem as he saw it was not the Constitution; it was the conservatives on that particular Supreme Court. So what could you possibly do about them? So that's how he came to the idea of packing it."
"Age does not define ideology," he says. "Even though Roosevelt looked at what he called the 'nine old men of the Supreme Court' and suggested that the older justices were falling out of touch with reality, the oldest justice on that court in the 1930s was [Louis] Brandeis, the great liberal justice. And this was pointed out with glee with many of Roosevelt's opponents. ... So, you don't hear anything like that today. You hear concern on the part of progressives in this country that Justice Stevens and the other liberals are more likely to leave the court soon than any of the conservatives are, but I think we've come a long way since the 1930s, when that argument was made so forcefully by Franklin Roosevelt."
When the "progressive agenda" has been thwarted by the Supreme Court, some folks have suggested that court-packing might be a swell idea. Recently, for example, one Todd N. Tucker writes In Defense of Court-Packing with the delightful sub-title of "We shouldn't let a handful of reactionary judges get in the way of progressive change. It's time to pack the Supreme Court." -
With Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding Trump’s Muslim ban, Wednesday’s decision attacking public sector unions, and Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announcement that he’s retiring, it is time to push a once-marginal idea to the top of the agenda: pack the Supreme Court. The conservative majority’s support of Trumpism and opposition to progressive objectives means it will pose a barrier to the agenda of even the most left-leaning president and Congress. This barrier must be confronted head on.
From the time the justices unilaterally asserted their power to strike down legislation in 1802, a democracy-eroding judicial supremacy has been an ever-present danger. One of the most significant confrontations came in 1937, when the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration decided to pick a fight with the Court.
That’s not to say court-packing is easy. Historians have documented how FDR badly managed public and congressional opinion, and would have had difficulty actually getting a favorable vote on his bill. His ultimate triumph came from being able to wait out the Court by serving more than two terms — something not available to politicians today, despite having relatively young conservative justices like Neil Gorsuch that will be around for decades to come.

Nonetheless, this shouldn’t dissuade us. Political scientist David Faris makes a compelling case that court-packing — along with statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico and other reforms — amounts to a prerequisite for lasting progressive change. In his new book, It’s Time to Fight Dirty, Faris proposes to expand the roster of the Court to eleven or thirteen immediately, and then pass a law allowing presidents to appoint a new justice every two years. Meanwhile, the most senior justices would be shuffled into a type of emeritus position with lesser responsibilities. The nine most junior cases would do most of the judging, with more senior justices momentarily pulled into duty in the case of a justice’s death.
A thoughtful court-packing proposal would ensure that the Court more carefully reflects the mores of the time, rather than shackling democracy to the weight of the past. With inequality and human rights abuses spiraling upward and justices making it all worse, the time to begin mainstreaming an enlarged Court is now.
I wonder if Mr. Tucker has considered that a conservative president might accept his argument for court-packing but in a manner Mr. Tucker would most definitely not approve? Wouldn't this scheme just lead to an endless shuffling of justices by succeeding administrations that differ in political viewpoints?

And, hey, what about the fact that the "most senior justices" might be the ones "progressives" would like to keep (Justices Stevens and Ginsberg, e.g.), while this idea would allow Mr. Trump to keep rolling in "conservatives." Indeed, that was one of flaws of Mr. Roosevelt's original court-packing plan - his successors could invoke the same concept to achieve their agendas - which may have differed greatly or completely reversed his.

Further, I wonder how Mr. Tucker views the Supreme Court decisions which he might like - say on abortion - are they examples of "democracy-eroding judicial supremacy?"

But, of course, the general rule in cards and politics is "winners always crack jokes, and losers say "deal." or, as Willie Nelson, that great legal scholar put it:
The winners tell jokes and the losers say deal
Lady Luck rides a stallion tonight
And she smiles at the winners and she laughs at the losers
And the losers say now that just ain't right
So, first, Mr. Tucker and Mr. Faris, you need to win . . . which didn't happen.

UPDATE: Idiocy runs amok with an opinion piece in the NYT on court packing Stacking the Court. Really, do these folks think that somehow the other side won't do exactly what they are suggesting except by loading the court with conservative justices?

Friday Film: "Attack on the Marshalls"

Fighting WWII in the Pacific. Interesting look at the strategy of the "island" campaign.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Flash Gordon - 3 Episodes from 1935

About Flash Gordon 26 show serial. Short shows, so I put up three.

On the Planet Mongo:

Battling a Planet and an Earthman

The Prison Ship:

The remainder of the series can be found here.

On Midrats 24 June 2018 - Episode 442: Midrats Mid-Summer Free For All

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 24 June 2018 for Episode 442: Midrats Mid-Summer Free For All
We're back live to catch up on all your maritime and natsec issues
bubbling to the surface this summer. From the migrant crisis in the Med, Russians in the high north, to the infrastructure crunch in the Pacific - we'll cover it all.

This is also your time to have us address the topics you find of interest. We're taking calls and questions in the chat room. It's a live show ... so now's your chance.

Open phone, open topic, all you need to bring is an open mind.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Modest Proposal - Helping Prevent Refugees - Time for more "Humanitarian Intervention?"

So, we have this crisis on our borders in that many people seem to want to skip the formalities of legally entering the U.S. and just walk on in, because whatever hell-hole they have traveled from is too awful to bear any longer. Naturally, humanitarian impulses suggest that our sympathies ought to lie with these folks. After all some suggest that the writing on the Statue of Liberty says we simply have to take in such people, regardless of their status as "undocumented" or "trespassers" on U.S. soil. The holy writ of Emma Lazarus reading in part:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
First of all, I have not now nor have I ever been involved in tossing either "wretched refuse" or "the homeless," despite my last name. Heck, I am pretty certain all my ancestors came from foreign shores, some arriving earlier than others. Indeed, some were here and participated in severing "repressive" British rule over the U.S.

The overthrow of a repressive regime brings me to one of those once fashionable ideas, about which I have written before in The Drumbeat of "Humanitarian Intervention?" in which Susan Rice suggested that it was okay for some nations to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries who fail to take care of or actually abuse their least-favored residents. Here, discussing "doing something" in Darfur in 2009, Ms. Rice was quoted by the WaPo,
Regarding the "ongoing genocide" in Darfur, Sudan, Rice said the U.S. priority for the moment is reinforcing a U.N.-backed peacekeeping mission to protect civilians. She expressed concern that Sudan's government may retaliate against international peacekeepers and aid workers if the International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant on genocide charges for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. (emphasis mine)
So, it appears to be okay to send in troops "to protect citizens" of a foreign country.  Of course, as I noted in that earlier post, Humanitarian Intervention (HI) is not a new thing
In the last decade of the 20th Century such "invasions to save lives" include Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and Sierra Leone. In the world of the people who support such interventions, the U.S. led invasion of Iraq was not a humanitarian intervention because. . . well, because. In fact, Human Rights Watch asserted that the saving of thousands of Iraqis from Saddam's terror "gives humanitarian intervention a bad name."
So, if it was good enough for Darfur, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, etc, why are we not setting up to do some HI in those third-world places the refugees lining up to violate our borders come from to get away from the terror of their native lands? Surely such an HI would solve our border issues. It would keep families together in their own homes and, I am sure, win us near universal acclaim as protectors of the innocent and saviors of thousands if not millions of people.

Well, current info seems hard to come by, but here is a 2014 chart of nations of origin of (gasp!) illegal immigrants:

I guess we should start with the biggest source first and perform an HI in Mexico. Then El Salvador, Guatemala, and so on down the list until we have made the world safe for people to stay in their homes. I suppose China, India, Korea, and Canada might be a little surprised to find a flotilla of Humanitarian Interventionists off their coasts, but once you start on this mission, you just can't call it quits, .

Of course, if the intervention gets ugly, we might just generate more refugees, but it's okay if our motives are pure.

Apologies to Dean Swift, though my suggestion is less extreme than his.

But, wait, perhaps we could just set up some organized process through people could apply for admission to the U.S. and have some sort of sanction for those who try to jump the line. Let me think that over.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Friday Film: Preparations for D-Day

Newsreel coverage of the effort leading up to the June 6, 1944 landings in France. Since the film was released well after the landings, I have delayed the posting of this video until today.

Monday, June 04, 2018

U. S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 30 April - 30 May 2018 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 24 - 30 May 2018

Battle of Midway June 3 - 6, 1942

Though the dates of the battle are as set out above, the groundwork was laid out long before, as set out in Mark Munson's THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY: THE COMPLETE INTELLIGENCE STORY:
At the root of the American victory at Midway was U.S. Navy intelligence successfully breaking Japanese codes and discovering the Japanese Navy’s plans to attack Midway Atoll.

Station Hypo was the team of U.S. signals intelligence (SIGINT) analysts led by then-Commander Joseph “Joe” Rochefort. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Station Hypo began attempting to decode messages transmitted using the JN-25 code. By late April, Rochefort’s team assessed that the Japanese were planning major operations against the central Pacific and Aleutians. In a famous trick, Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Chester Nimitz approved a ruse proposed by Rochefort that saw the American garrison at Midway send a fake message “in the clear” (on open channels) regarding broken water evaporator units on the island. Almost immediately afterward, American listening posts intercepted Japanese transmissions mentioning the water shortage and the need to bring along extra water to support the operation. The identity of the Japanese objective was conclusively determined as Midway.
Then it became a matter of positioning the remaining U.S. Pacific forces in a position to engage the enemy.

Much more on the battle at the Navy History and Heritage Command here.
More here, apparently written when the breaking of the Japanese codes was still highly classified, th
fter leaving Pearl Harbor, these two task forces refueled at sea and effected their rendezvous northeast of Midway on June 2d. The combined force then proceeded under the command of Admiral Fletcher to an area of operation north of Midway.

On full consideration, it had been decided not to employ the battleships on the West Coast in defense of Midway. To strike at long range at the enemy carrier force was deemed imperative, and it was therefore thought unwise to divert from the forces supporting our carriers the ships which would be necessary to screen battleships.

Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, believed that the Japanese plans were designed to trap a portion of our fleet. For that reason he directed that only strong attrition tactics be employed, and that our carriers and cruisers not be unduly risked. To understand the Midway Battle, one should remember that our naval forces operated under a conservative policy necessitated by the superiority of the enemy's force, and under the restraint imposed by the defense of a fixed point.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Saturday is Old Radio Day: D-Day as it was heard on 6 June 1944

NBC coverage:

Art from the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command's D-Day Normandy, this piece by Mitchell Jamieson, 1944.

Radio broadcasts are from Internet Archive and consist of several hours of actual NBC broadcasts. The show will automatically move to the next segment.

Re-posted from 2015.

On Midrats 3 June 2018 -Episode 439: American Strategic Myths Through the Lens of Star Wars

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 3 June 2018 for Midrats Episode 439: American Strategic Myths Through the Lens of Star Wars
There is a long and successful record of fiction, especially science fiction, being
instructive about history, human nature, and the eternal course of events.

Fiction, of course, gets its inspiration from reality - a two way road.

What do the Star Wars movies have to tell us about some of the comfortable myths we may see in American military and strategic thought?

Using his latest article at the Modern War Institute, our guest for the full hour returning to Midrats will be Maj. ML Cavanaugh is a non-resident fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point, and co-edited the book, with author Max Brooks, Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict, from Potomac Books.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.