Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

What 17 Intelligence Agencies?

If you’ve heard all the drama about “17 Intelligence Agencies” recently, you might have wondered 1. who the hell all those agencies are, and, 2. why do we need so many?

Unfortunately, we can’t answer the second question. But we’ll take a shot at the first.

The current, highly dysfunctional and ineffective structure of the intelligence community was a result of a re-organization after the 9/11 Commission found that interagency rivalry and stove-piping prevented unity of command and efficiency in the IC. So they created several new agencies, including “One Ring to Rule Them All,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which duplicated the primary function of the Director of Central Intelligence. They also created the duplicative Department of Homeland Security.

So, Congress’s response to too much bureaucracy in intelligence was to create two more enormous, empire-building, and completely non-operational bureaucracies. That bid against each other, raising the prices of credentialed and cleared personnel in the National Capital Area, and have 17 independent, redundant and leaky massive overhead bureaucracies. None of the overhead — the great bulk of the personnel and costs of these agencies — does a thing to secure an adversary’s secret or protect a friendly one. Feeling safer, yet?

So, the ODNI (website here) is one of the agencies. Here’s how ODNI presents what it sees as the subordinate 16 (not all the agencies are subordinated willingly):

That’s a really illogical way to do it, and we have no idea why they listed them like that. Wait… duh. They’re in alphabetical order. OK, let’s break it down functionally and historically for you. With ODNI accounted for, we have 1 down and 16 to go.

First, we have Cabinet Departments that want to horn in on intelligence. DOE was formerly involved in nuclear intelligence, because it’s involved in nuclear everything. State contains the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which has always been an attempt to duplicate CIA capability in Foggy Bottom, and has a long history free of significant attainments. Treasury wants to play the-spy-as-auditor. And DHS has already been mentioned. Treasury and DHS do have some agencies with intelligence capabilities, mostly domestic. This accounts for 4 more of the agencies: 5 down and 11 to go.

There are the service intelligence bureaucracies, five of them (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard), plus the long-standing DIA which is mostly another duplicative analysis shop, but does run some military HUMINT and CI projects. This happens because the main HUMINT agency has dropped the ball on HUMINT and is unresponsive to military tasking. 10 down and 6 to go.

Then, we have the flatfeet. These agencies are primarily crim catchers, but DEA gets intel (mostly by liaison) about transnational drug traffic that often has other intelligence implications, and FBI has internal security and national security responsibilities — they’re supposed to be our prime spy catchers. These 2 chiefly-crimefighting crowds bring us to 12 down and 4 to go.

The four that remain are what you probably think of when you think of US intelligence. They are divided along functional lines of intelligence disciplines (the “INTs”).

  1. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) runs HUMINT (as well as an organization that institutionally hates to leave the flagpole can), runs any collection it can, and runs a comprehensive all-source analysis shop. It has some paramilitary “regime change” capability, first developed early in the Cold War but now waxes and wanes because many politicians have turned against it.
  2. The National Security Agency (NSA) runs most electronic and technical intelligence collection and analysis, using swarms of military personnel as its foot soldiers (think Bradley Manning). Its Central Security Service branch is also responsible for securing American codes and ciphers. Like CIA, it was established by the National Security Act of 1947.
  3. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), in conjunction with the Air Force Space Command and other intelligence agencies, manages intelligence collection via overhead platforms. Until the last couple of decades, its very existence and everything it did was classified.
  4. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a textbook example of bureaucracy creep. Like the NRO, the NGA’s intelligence work is kept mostly secret for good reasons. It also has overt and public responsibilities; it used to be the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), before that it was the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), and before that it was the very prosaic Army Map Service. Along with its secret responsibilities (many of the agency’s personnel and contractors got a well-deserved attaboy for the OBL raid), the NGA also makes our maps and charts, both paper and digital. (Having used stuff from all round the world, our digital stuff can be incredibly awesome, but the Russians make the best paper maps by far).

That brings us to 16 agencies plus ODNI. Now, frequently you will see some Beltway drone or chinless broadsheet bloviator talking about what “17 intelligence agencies” (or “16” if the berk leaves off the DNI) did or didn’t do, and that should act as a handy tag, like the ones that Tracking Point puts on a target, but a kind of photographic negative version — a marker that that guy is so stupid he’s not worth shooting and/or so dishonest that he’s not worth listening to. When you hear “17 intelligence agencies” all you need to understand is “ODNI Opinion” which generally means something coming from the top down. From the political appointees and the career officers who suck up to them.

“The last piece of the puzzle before we can execute this mission will be the ODNI analysis,” said no one operational, not in any of the “17 agencies” nor military services. We can guarantee you that. ODNI is entirely a Beltway political knob-polisher and brings nothing to the the intelligence community but more headcount (and a concomitant lowering of the entry bar and product quality). They do, however, have a lot of really flashy document formats, logos, and slide deck templates.

This may be because they have learned what leaks best to their journalism pals.

Most of actual production of useful and actionable intelligence is done by individuals and very small teams, usually working for a single agency, often taking the sort of risks that ensure that they, ultimately, won’t be promoted, and the teeming HQ credit-thieves will.

Our bloated, blind, and Beltway-bound intelligence community is mostly in the wrong place. Intelligence is, mostly, foreign information, but we insist on gathering it and analyzing it from DC desks.

Fun facts:

  • the majority of our intelligence analysts have never been to the countries or regions on which they’re supposedly experts.
  • Perhaps 5 or 10% are functional in the languages of their target area. Professional fluency is vanishingly rare, and usually rests on immigrants and first-generation Americans.
  • Many analysts have never been outside the First World.
  • Another large percentage of them, who have been to the area, were on an escorted 7-capitals-in-11-days tour.
  • You can rise to the Senior Executive Service level in any of the agencies without ever having to move from your Maryland or NoVA suburb.

And yeah, we’re worse off in intelligence than we were on 11 September, 2001, despite producing vastly more output (and leaking it, to the press and adverse intelligence agencies, but we repeat ourselves). Because we didn’t solve the bureaucracy problem, we exacerbated it. And we blew billions — and continue to blow billions — on the project.

Which is increasingly a government jobs program — the WPA for liberal arts graduates. Except, we’re still using some of the useful bridges and town halls the WPA built.

(Note: with this post, we’ve added a new category, which we seldom do. A lot of previous writing on Intelligence and Espionage has been characterized as Unconventional Warfare, but they’re not the same thing. For practical reasons, we’re probably not going to go back in five years’ of archives reassigning the new I&E label, but we’ll use it going forward. -Ed.)

What’s an Original 1911 Worth?

Well, this one didn’t draw a bid… even for a penny.

And a penny bid would have taken it… it was a no reserve auction.

Obviously, you didn’t see it, and we didn’t see it. And no, they didn’t relist it that way.

We’re guessing that this was an error by the seller, a pretty high-volume FFL.

(The link to the auction is still live at press time. At some point it will go stale).

Had someone bid the cent, he’d either have gotten a gun valued between $1k-2k for $35.01 plus his transfer fee (there was a $35 shipping charge, which is fairly standard), or the seller would have had to plead error, welsh on the sale, and risk getting toxic feedback.

The pistol was a relatively uncommon M1911 (not A1) pistol. The 1911A1 was introduced in 1927, and all the vast quantities of pistols that were made from then to 1945 were A1s. But the original 1911 was the World War I pistol, and some original 1911s — rebuilt several times –served right up to the last days of the .45.

We’re kind of glad this sale didn’t happen… we all like to get a bargain, but who likes to see a seller get ripped off, even due to his own error? We all benefit from a healthy gun-industry economy, including manufacturers, importers, and retailers.

Of course, if someone had snagged the 1911 for very short money, the seller would have had one positive result from it: he’d never, ever make that mistake again.

The Hijab Jab

To steal a gag from the mighty Horwitz brothers (and Larry Feinberg): Hasan Ben Sober. Eric Fanning’s model soldier.

In a last-minute strike at the service he worked tirelessly to undermine and disrupt, outgoing Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning issued a rule subordinating Army uniform regulations to mohammedan dress codes. Now commanders must allow scruffy beards, turbans, hijabs, and other ancient Arab dress affected by extremist moslems.

Brigade-level commanders now must grant religious accommodations to any soldier seeking to wear a religiously mandated beard, turban or Muslim hijab while in uniform with only a few exceptions, Army Secretary Eric Fanning wrote Tuesday in a memorandum. Previously such uniform exemptions had to be approved by the secretary.

“The soldier’s brigade-level commander will approve a request for a religious accommodation …unless the commander determines the request is not based on a sincerely held religious belief, or identifies a specific, concrete hazard that is not specifically addressed in this directive and that cannot be mitigated by reasonable measures,” Fanning wrote, noting the new policy would be added to Army Regulation 670-1, which defines the Army uniform appearance standards.

Supporters of the “Social Justice Secretary” have been spinning the rule as an accommodation for the handful of unquestionably loyal Sikh soldiers that the Army has been blessed with over the years, but its real intended beneficiaries are moslems like Nidal Hassan, the failed doctor turned Al-Qaeda murderer at Fort Hood.

The Army has granted several Sikh soldiers temporary appearance waiversin recent years to wear neatly groomed unshorn beards and hair under a turban while serving in uniform. Those waivers were applied on a case-by-case basis, and most of them were granted only after the soldiers filed lawsuits seeking their uniform exemptions.

The new accommodations will be made permanent for soldiers throughout their careers once granted by their brigade-level commander, Fanning wrote in the memo issued in the final weeks of his tenure.

Meanwhile, Fanning’s office met with silent indifference the death of an SF support guy in Jordan.

A 23-year-old cook assigned to a deployed Special Forces group is the fourth soldier from that unit to die during their current mission.

Spc. Isiah Booker was operating construction equipment when he was killed Saturday in a non-combat related accident in Jordan, according to a Defense Department release. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.

A 2,000-soldier task force is in Jordan under Operation Inherent Resolve, an amusing name for anything under the command of this waffling, trimming, difference-splitting Pentagon. The core of that effort is a Special Forces battalion, 2/5th SFG(A). Three soldiers from the unit were killed last year by a Jordanian guard in an apparent friendly fire incident. While Jordan is not without extremist elements, and the massive refugee presence is a threat to the nation’s stability, the Jordanian man in the street is far and away the most pro-Western and pro-US of any Arab nation.

Daniel Boone Wanted a Gun (Updated with Book Title)

This is an excerpt from chapter of a fictional life of Boone published in 1943, and meant for children, especially boys. If you have had the poor luck to have looked for books for children in today’s marketplace, you know what they’re like: every single one of them is a Disney princess tale, full of magical doings, and packed with a cast of characters assembled according to the college-brochure checklist: Bennetton-ad, skin-tone diversity. In the end, triumph comes to those who really want it really bad, because life is all about having all your desires magically met, because You are a Unique and Special Snowflake™.

Seriously, if you want to understand Generation Snowflake’s incompetence at real life, start with their grade-school indoctrination. In 1943, there were no such illusions, and the grade-school indoctrination was both (1) written at what is now high-school level, and (2) eucivic rather than dyscivic in nature. Imagine the freakage from Gun Ban Barbie and your own town biên-pensant busybodies if the school library contained a book with this:

It was November second, 1746, and it was Daniel’s twelfth birthday. He was twelve years old. Now he should get the gun his father had promised him. His brothers had received their guns when they were twelve.

But maybe he wouldn’t after all. He knew his father didn’t have the money to buy one. He was afraid he didn’t have enough skins to trade.

Hunting had been bad all fall. It had turned cold early in October. There had been several bad snowstorms. A deep snow covered the ground now and it was still very cold.

The fur-bearing animals—beavers, foxes, martins and weasels—were hidden away in caves. If they came out, none of the hunters around Exeter had seen them.

It was their skins the traders wanted most.

Daniel was afraid they wouldn’t take deer skins for a gun; their fur wasn’t thick enough. And, so far as he knew, deer skins were all his folks had.

His brothers had been hunting several times this fall but they had killed nothing but deer. At least that’s all they mentioned.

So what chance had he to get a gun? No game, no skins. No skins, no gun. And to make things worse, some of the boys were coming to see his gun this morning.

He hoped the snow would keep them at home but he knew it wouldn’t. Hadn’t he walked miles through snow to see Joe’s and Paul’s new guns?

Of course, the whole gun thing would make Snowflake’s mom go all Trigglypuff in a public school board meeting, but that’s the least of this book’s sins. Someone who Read Until Offended would probably protest its depiction of Indians, but the depiction is actually well balanced, and is taught by young Daniel becoming infatuated by what he sees as the superiority of the Indians’ way of life, only to learn that the natives are different and deserve respect, and one can’t merely project his own cultural norms on to them.

Likewise, it’s interesting to consider the way in which the book describes young Daniel learning to hide in the woods, find direction, read sign, and track, and how his parents and other adults explain to him how he cannot go to the woods alone until he is old enough, because it is dangerous. Compare that to what parents today teach their kids about dangers, and you can’t help but conclude we’ve had three-quarters of a century to inculcate the reflexive, but ineffective, responses of possums and ostriches to threats. A thousand sad demises recounted in the Where Guns are Outlawed columns here can be explained by comparing the feeble children’s literature of today to the robust children’s literature of the 1940s.

This book turned up at the town swap shop, with a perfect-penmanship inscription awarding it to a boy in 1948, as a reward for five years’ perfect attendance at a mainline Protestant church’s Sunday school. (That same church has no Sunday school any more, but the female pastor and her wife fight the Social Justice War, with their turkey baster babies alongside them. What’s today’s equivalent of that 1948 kid going to amount to, when Sunday School was holding a Hillary! sign in the cold, and trying to keep both mommies from ending it all late that night; and Daddy was a turkey baster?)

You want to know whether Daniel got his rifle, right, and if so, what he did with it? Entire chapter attached: Daniel Boone’s First Gun.pdf .

You want to know why many of our young people lack the character of our grandparents? Start with the books. Start with the culture.


Apologies to all for not identifying the book in the initial post. It was Daniel Boone, Boy Hunter by Augusta Stevenson. It is from a series called Childhood of Famous Americans, and to my amazement it is still in print! You can get a paperback at Amazon for $7. One hopes it has not been bowdlerized. Many other books are in the series, including Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver. Some are in print and some are not.

National Guard Troops: 5,000. Armed? Zero.

The very last thing that will be executed under Jeh Johnson’s leadership, if that’s the word, of the Department of Homeland Security, is the 2017 Inauguration. The Secret Service plans to flood the DC zone with armed defenders. The Washington Examiner:

Washington is beefing up security in the run up to President-elect Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, including the deployment of 5,000 National Guard troops downtown amid security concerns.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said despite increased security concerns, the city is prepared and ready for the event, she said Friday at a press conference with U.S. Secret Service and other security forces.

“We prepare for the biggest number possible,” Bowser said. Secret Service special agent Brian Ebert said the Washington field office is “well-prepared and ready for this inauguration.”

In addition to the 5,000 National Guard troops being deployed in the city, 3,000 security officers from multiple jurisdiction will also be on the ground, according to security officials.

Many of the 3,000 LEOs are detailees from other Federal agencies, assigned to scut work and standing posts by the Secret Service. (That’s pretty normal for any big even the Secret Service is protecting). These law enforcement officers will be armed with their customary sidearms.

But the National Guard soldiers? Some of them may have weapons, but most will be unarmed. Even any that do carry weapons will simply be window dressing: neither Johnson nor the Secret Service considers them sufficiently loyal or well-trained to be trusted with firearms.

There is a technical term for a soldier in uniform, but unarmed. This technical term is understood by the soldiers, and by the would-be lone wolves and homegrown wolves of ISIL.


They’re not “beefing up security.” They’re beefing up security theater. They might as well put the TSA in charge.

They Paroled a Serial Killer — And Then Let Him Slide

Yep, it really happened. In Pennsylvania. They paroled a violent felon — a guy who drew down on cops with a sawn-off shotgun — who immediately began violating the conditions of his parole. And they didn’t finally bring him in until after he’d blazed a trail of bloodshed.

Byron Allen was on parole. He’d been out a year, and nothing – not the troubling sexual behavior he first displayed in prison, which had caused officials to treat him as a sexual predator, nor the porn obsession and erratic behavior witnessed by parole staff shortly after his release, nor the consecutive positive results for cocaine around May and June, nor the skipped required treatments – made parole supervisors deem this man a threat.

Then he came up hot on a piss test for the same drug he was on when he attacked cops in 2002, PCP, “angel dust.”

[But] agency supervisors did what they had done for months in the face of Allen’s increasingly troubling behavior: They let him walk free. …police now say he was also on a one-man spree of murder and sexual assault.

When they turned him loose after that, he almost killed a Kensington, PA, woman. It wasn’t for lack of effort.

Philadelphia police have charged him with four sexual assaults between April and October – the last one, the 23-year-old Kensington woman, only two days after he was found with PCP in his system at the parole office in Northwest Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, police say, he’d lure woman who worked as prostitutes, then slit their throats, beat them with bricks or choke them unconscious. In most cases, he’d sexually assault them.

Three suspected murders, four assaults.

Why didn’t his parole officer revoke him? He wanted to, but couldn’t get approval from supervisors.

…the officer could not spur his supervisors to action.

This fits with what parole agents have been telling me for a few years: In the state’s effort to decrease swelled prison populations – and reduce recidivism rates – it’s harder to lock up some people who really should be off the streets.

 The unstirrable supervisors

Leo Dunn, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole… couldn’t comment. Neither could the supervisors who kept Allen on the street. Dunn called the case a “tragic situation” and said that board has launched an internal investigation to “ensure no policies were violated.”

Sure, at least three women are murdered and four more raped, but it’s all okay if all the policy tick-boxes had ticks in ’em.

Some of the same people were involved in this that paroled Rafael Jones,  a name that still makes Philly blue shirts see red.

Like back in 2012, when Police Officer Moses Walker Jr. was killed by Rafael Jones, a parolee who’d been released ten days earlier. I wrote how parole officials had failed to fit Jones with an electronic monitoring device or lock him up after failing a drug test. Hearings were held, three officials were fired (one of whom now has her job back). Reforms were put in place.

One of the people that turned Jones loose to kill Walker was back on the job to let Allen loose to kill at least three.

But naturally, there’s a bleeding-heart judge at the center of it all, whose very being thrums with sympathy for murderers like Allen and Jones, and who cares about their victims … something less than any measurable amount

Former Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner, who now serves as the city’s Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice, says that move toward treatment and rehab nationwide reflects recognition that for too long we have been locking up people for longer than necessary. Excessive incarceration is not only expensive, he notes. It destroys families and communities.

Yeah, unlike, say, the murders that he prefers, as a matter of public policy.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Self-Absorbed Moms and Negligent Nannies

She’s pretty, and people have been filling her head with praise all her life. Result, narcissistic tendencies.

This story has it all: a victim that’s going to recover, thank God; a perp who was apparently careless, not evil; and an enabler — the newborn victim’s mom, first entry in the Mom Of The Year® stakes for 2017 — who’s so self-absorbed that 1), her kids are being raised by nannies; and, 2) she’s seeking therapy for herself for the trauma caused by her kid’s fractured skull.  The C-List celeb-obsessed New York Daily News:

[Actress Eva] Martino — daughter of Susan Sarandon and Franco Amurri — shared details on a horrific incident that occurred just weeks after she gave birth to her son Major James in October.

The “Happily Eva After” actress said that a few nights before Thanksgiving, a night nurse accidentally fell asleep while holding her son and dropped him on his head, where the baby suffered a fractured skull.

Ah, the N3 (Nameless Night Nanny), the costumed and caparisoned villain of many an upper-class child abuse story. Now if this was, say, a poor family in Queens where the babysitting aunt dropped the kid accidentally while Mom was working the night shift as a nurse’s aide in a charity hospital, the Forces of Good Government™ would be going all-out to take the kids and place them with some knuckle-dragging foster family, where the abuse and neglect would at least be by selected and trained professionals.

But because it was a rich actress’s kid, the goo-goos™ are just asking for autographs, and the celebrity suckups in the media nodding and typing as Mom Of The Year® whinges about how awful her kid’s skull fracture was — for her. 

“Let me tell you — the guilt I bore in the days and weeks after this accident was more intense and more damaging than anything I would wish upon my worst enemy. I had all those same thoughts and more,” she revealed.

“I chose not to share [FOR] fear of judgement … The internet can be a peculiar place, where some people forget about humanity and go for the jugular.

That would be us, apparently. Jugular, tally-ho!

“I know that this news might reach many, and of those many there will always be the people who say that this accident was my fault. That if it had been me in there holding him instead of a night nurse, that this never would have happened.”

Well, that’s arguable, but it’s a counterfactual. Fact is, the nanny that she can’t bring herself to call a “nanny” (because no fiction is more grimly gripped by the 1% than that they’re “middle class”), dropped the kid and the kid got hurt. It happened, learn from it. If you can.

“That I deserve this for allowing my child to be in the care of somebody other than me.”

Notice that it’s all about her, not the child? That is a case of Olympic Level narcissism right there. If your kid gets damn near killed by the person you hired to take care of him, that’s a tragedy; but if you (and your publicist?) spin it so it’s all about you, that’s a tragedy and a person of some questionable character exploiting it. Is it really all about you, Mother Of The Year®?

Martino announced that while baby Major is “healing well” with no signs of brain damage, she is seeking help for emotional distress following the scare.

All about her. Sheesh. “The kid’s OK, let’s keep talking about me me me me me!”

Lord love a duck.

We wonder how the nanny feels — awful, we’d bet. And with that sentence, we bet we’ve had more of a care for her distress than Mom Of The Year® here.

“If you read my post about choosing Homebirth, you know that I have an (irrational) phobia of hospitals. To be in one for two days under such circumstances was nearly unbearable for me, not to mention how scary and emotional those days were for the entirety of our family,” she wrote.

OK, so she’s in emotional distwess, and going to the hospital with her baby was “nearly unbearable.” Any thing else about you, lady?

Martino said she plans to seek therapy for possible postpartum depression.

Of course. via Eva Amurri Martino on son’s broken skull: ‘The guilt is damaging’ – NY Daily News.

Lord love a duck.

Hey, at least the kid’s OK. Sometimes, the children of neglectful or self-absorbed parents turn out just fine, so he’s got a shot, poor little guy.

On the other hand, sometimes they become actors.

Mabus Strikes his Colors on Ratings

Mabus joins the ranks of those, like HMS Java in the foreground here, who tangled with the US Navy and lost.

It was a stinging defeat for the cruelest, most bitter enemy the American Navy has ever faced.

Ray Mabus’s decision to eliminate Navy enlisted ratings, which was approved by a slew of yes-man admirals including current CNO Adm. John Richardson and Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke, and a slew of yes-man master chiefs including current MCPON Steven Giordano and his predecessor MCPON Mike Stevens, has been quietly reversed in a Christmas Week memo. Mabus’s signature was absent, with the loss of face for the Secretary’s defeat accruing to his camp follower, Richardson.

The Navy Times noted that it was all Mabus’s initiative, originally, to eliminate what he saw as an obstacle to social engineering. Imagine what greater heights the social imbroglio might have reached in the anticipated Clinton administration, where Mabus imagined himself SecDef; but, alas for the prospect of mandatory gender transitions, it was not to be.

[T]he decision was made by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, whom multiple sources described as eager to announce the new policy before his impending departure after more than seven years atop the the sea service. Mabus, the first to broadcast this new policy Sept. 29, was motivated by a fervent desire to promote gender neutrality across the Navy and the Marine Corps, which he also oversees. He was presented with four options for removing the word “man” from nearly two dozen job titles — what the Navy calls ratings — and opted for the most extreme option.

Mabus, sources said, was determined to put ratings reform in motion — and on the record — before he leaves office. Gender integration, while Obama’s directive, has become a hallmark of Mabus’ tenure as Navy secretary. And he’s upset plenty of people along the way, notably within the Marine Corps, which has reluctantly opened its ground combat units to women and modified many of its job titles as well, though not to the extent that the Navy has.

The idea was always top-down, and never popular in the ranks:

When the order came down to provide feedback about possible gender-neutral ratings changes, most sailors were cynical, the [unnamed to prevent retaliation by Stevens, Giordano, et. al.] command master chief said. Many, wondered why the Navy was prioritizing the issue. “No one,” he added, “not a single sailor — across paygrade and gender lines — I spoke with saw the need to change the names of ratings based on gender neutrality.”

It was really unpopular in the ranks, and Mabus, a career politician who never has been popular in the ranks himself, did his politico’s Brave Sir Robin emulation and bugged out, leaving career naval politician Adm. Richardson holding the bag:

“I underestimated how fiercely loyal people were to their rating, I’ve gotten a fair amount of feedback on that,” Richardson said … Dec. 6 at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada.

” … So we kind of [underestimated] the loyalty with which people affiliated themselves with that rating tribe. So as we go forward, we’ll learn.”

The rapid cancellation of the centuries-old tradition generated an overwhelmingly negative response from sailors.

With the Trump defense team including actual, not political, leadership in DOD and the Service Secretary positions, Richardson put his name on a backpedal; Mabus realizes that saving Richardson’s career is one way to save some of his social justice warrior legacy in the Pentagon — apart from gutless, gunless ships named for his fellow politicians.

But, as we said in the lede to this post, Richardson has backpedaled on Mabus’s behalf. Sure, he’s doing it to avoid being relieved in January, but a good decision made for a bad reason can still be a good decision. As a wise old man once told us, “The most important thing a bad decision means is that you now need to make a new decision.”

Effective immediately, enlisted sailors will officially regain their ratings, the traditional job titles that have inspired a deep cultural loyalty and that have defined enlisted career tracks for generations, Navy officials said.

The extraordinarily rare move comes after a fierce backlash from the fleet….

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, called it a “course correction” and acknowledged the overwhelmingly negative reaction from the fleet was a key factor in the decision.

Well, that and the likelihood that the incoming SecNav would want the ass-kissing Richardson’s resignation on his desk, along with that of the even-more-ass-kissing Giordano (Stevens has already retired, although they could recall him for keelhauling or something). Never underestimate the power of career fear on those who rise high via suckuppery.

The reversal did not surprise many sailors, though many believed it would come after a new Navy secretary takes over early in 2017.

Now if they could just stop paying a half a billion for the million dollars’ worth of scrap aluminum that is a Littoral Combat Ship, we’d be getting somewhere. 

The Exsanguinated Frogman Affair

Strange doings in Thailand.

A diver found with his throat slashed and tied to a post in the middle of the sea near a seedy Thai beach resort may be Russian, police said Monday.

The body, in a full wetsuit and flippers, was found on Friday tethered to a mooring post dozens of metres out to sea off Koh Larn — an island near the sleazy, crime-ridden beach town of Pattaya.

Shades of “Buster” Crabbe, who was found in a similar state after trying to reconnoiter the hull and propulsion of the Soviet warship Ordzhonikidze during the Cold War.

The macabre case has baffled detectives who say they are unable to ascertain how he died.

Wait, didn’t they just say his throat was cut?

“The initial autopsy found his throat was slashed… but the forensic doctor said it could have happened by suicide or by someone cutting him,” Pattaya police colonel Apichai Krobpetch told AFP.

Suicide? And he was lashed to a buoy?

“We believe he could be Russian… there are witnesses who said they heard him earlier speaking Russian,” he said, adding they were seeking consular help to identify the man.

Well, if he was a Russian organized crime figure, the Russian cops should have prints and a file. None of those guys has no criminal history.

Koh Larn is a short boat ride from Pattaya — a town located a few hours south of Bangkok and notorious for its go-go bars and links with organised crime.

The town is popular with Russian holidaymakers, who are met with Russian-speaking staff in some hotels and menus and street signs written in their language.

Hey, Putin may miss the USSR, but in the USSR they’d never trust ordinary Russians to go to the fleshpots of Pattaya. For fear they won’t come back.

Which, come to think of it, is what happened to this mystery frog, Russian or not — wherever he came from, he won’t be coming back.

Thieves Will Steal Anything. But a Whole City Street?

Yes, a couple of Philadelphia cons did indeed make off with one block of a city street in 1984. The Philadelphia Inquirer tells the tale of the miscreants who made off with Mifflin Street

Truckers and policemen drove by and nodded, assuming that the guys digging up grey-stoned Mifflin Street with a front-end loader were municipal workers.

A nearby shop owner thought the same. But as he watched them work, he developed an uneasy feeling, and then couldn’t shake a troubling thought: Why were these men being so cautious with the stones, yet so reckless with the earth below them?

So he walked over and asked.

Joseph Monkiewicz, an excavator from Montgomery County, told the shop owner that he and his employees were tearing up the old surface so they could lay down a new one.

The shop owner surveyed the damage and returned to his office, suspicious and puzzled.

Seriously, who steals a street?

Monkiewicz, who was no stranger to handcuffs, did. With the help of an associate named Propper, who had even more, and more serious, priors, but who beat this rap in court. Read the Whole Thing™. If you get paywalled out, the attached .pdf is from the paper’s story from 1984.


The current story is part of a series of entertaining dives into the paper’s morgue that run from time to time.