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Thought Experiment: is the sin of Sodomy, in the present context, “just” another sin?      May 27, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Basics, Dallas Diocese, error, family, General Catholic, paganism, secularism, self-serving, sexual depravity, Society, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
17 comments

While I was researching some things yesterday for the post on the support the “Always Our Children” program has received from Bishop Farrell, I found a video in which a protestant “minister” at Focus on the Family, of all things, argued that people should not make too big a deal out of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, as they are just one of many sins that people fall into.  Since we are all sinners, and virtually everyone mortally so, we should not condemn too harshly those who fall into this particular sin.

On the surface, that argument seems to make a great deal of sense.  We are all sinners, and every one of us has deserved eternal death through our sins.  We should have mercy and compassion on those who fall into grave sin, praying they repent and confess their sin and never commit any again.  To do anything else would not be Christian, right?

But there are several problems with this approach.  The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the present context, are in most cases not like other sins.  This is not because they are intrinsically worse in terms of the evil they involve, but they are worse because, for the first time in history since the founding of Christendom, we have individuals going around who literally define themselves according to the sin they commit.  They claim they and their sin are one, that the sin is inseparable from their identity, and, even more terribly, they believe that their sin is not, and that far from realizing their need to repent of this sin and abstain from it, they embrace it as so core to their being that they utterly reject even the thought that they could possibly change even slightly.

In fact, many of the practitioners of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are so attached to their sin, they would rather see their relationships with mother and father, sister and brother, friend and cousin destroyed rather than accept even the least bit of criticism of it, or any counsel advising them to change their ways.  This is a root cause for the approach the “Always Our Children” group has adopted – out of fear of losing contact with their loved one entirely, they have more or less adopted the  rationalizations of the “gay” lobby whole hog.  Anyone who proclaims the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church raises such painful mental stress they must be shut up at all costs.  Thus, the treatment some have received at these local group sessions.

We have not seen, to date, thank God, groups of thieves, or murderers, or adulterers, or gossips, or the pathologically envious, running around declaring their sin is such a core part of their being that God must give them a pass for their sin, because “He made them that way.”  In this way the devotees of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are, for the most part, unique (there are some who do struggle with this sin, and try to overcome it, but I am speaking of those who embrace it fully, to the extent of trying to re-write Scripture and Tradition to find excuse for their sin).

This is a most dangerous trend, and there are indications that it is spreading.  There presently exist “fat advocacy” groups who argue that being morbidly obese is not unhealthy, who basically reject the idea that gluttony is a form of moral degradation.  But the devotees of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are much more dangerous, touching as they do on that most powerful of human drives.  The arguments they put forth could easily be accepted by others attached to sins of the 6th and 9th Commandments, further destroying the tattered remains of the Christian moral order.  As such, their advocacy for their sin represents a grave threat to the moral well-being of others – a further marker that this particular sin, in this particular place and time, is not simply one among many.  About the only sin I can think of that has similarly tried to upend Truth in order to justify the sin, is divorce and remarriage.  Those two evils have probably precipitated the present rise of “liberated sodomy” more than anything else.

It is also spreading in the sense that already millions of people have become convinced that the sin of sodomy/”lesbianism” are not sins at all, because they have accepted the false and self-serving arguments of those who have fallen into these sins.  This can be witnessed in the outlook of the “Always Our Children” groups here locally, where “outreach” has transmogrified into unthinking support, and even advocacy.

None of this is to say that those who have not fallen into these sins are somehow superior to those who have.  Nothing could be further from my purpose.  All have sinned, and all have deserved death.  St. Paul and our Blessed Lord make this clear.  Thus we all have infinite need of the salvific Grace that only comes from faith in Jesus Christ and the Church He founded.  This is not about standing on a statue of superiority condemning others.

What it is about, is making plain that we are dealing with a unique threat to the entire moral order and millions of individual souls.  We do ourselves no favors by downplaying the unique danger of the “gay” rights lobby and self-serving, soul-crushing arguments they put forth.  Of course these individuals should be approached with love – and I would argue that those who have the strength of faith and character to stand in a group of hostile people and tell them the Truth, that sodomy is wrong and always has been, that the inclination is disordered, etc ., are the ones practicing true love and true mercy.  No one wins by souls falling into hell like so many snowflakes, and Our Lord could not be more clear that these sins absolutely DO send people to hell.

I’ve gone about a thousand words, so now I invite your comments.  Any approach to anyone in any sin must be a fine balance between charity and truth.  But we do ourselves no favors – nor those who fall into this sin as with any other – by hiding the Truth and failing to make necessary distinctions.  At this point in time, the behaviors associated with the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are really unique in the history of Christendom and represent an existential threat to the remains of the Christian moral order.

I guess I would sum up saying, in order to deal with a problem, you have to first understand it.  Minimizing it or pretending it is not unique is not a help, in the long run.

I knew it all along – Baylor football coach fired, program in turmoil May 26, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, asshatery, error, foolishness, non squitur, silliness, Society.
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Going off topic for a moment…….

As I’ve mentioned to many people offline (my poor wife has heard this too many times to count), there is simply no way a program like Baylor attracts talent to attain Top 5 status without serious recruiting and other moral violations.  Just no way.  You can be a skeptic and say that Alabama and all the other top programs do the same, but for a small private school in a highly undesirable location and little tradition of winning to suddenly become a top program, something is seriously off-kilter.  Think SMU in the late 70s and 80s off kilter.

I’m willing to bet this is almost certainly just the beginning of an avalanche:

Baylor University is making sweeping changes to its athletic and academic leadership in the wake of a sexual assault scandal involving numerous football players.

The school announced Thursday it has suspended coach Art Briles with intent to terminate him after eight seasons.

In addition, school president Ken Starr has been removed as president and will transitions into role of chancellor; he remains a professor at the Baylor law school. Dr. David Garland has been named interim university president. Athletic director Ian McCaw has been sanctioned and placed on probation.

A report from Pepper Hamilton, an outside law firm hired by Baylor last fall, found the school “failed to take appropriate action to respond to reports of sexual assault and dating violence reportedly committed by football players. The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University.”

The report also found Baylor administrators actively discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one case constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.

Firing Briles and a couple of others is also a way to proactively respond to any NCAA investigation, if you know what I mean.  The hope is that by terminating the coach and some admins involved prior to any action from the NCAA, they can say they were being cooperative and any penalties imposed should be lessened.

Good luck with that.

TCU won’t be far behind in this process, either, I don’t think.  But Baylor has long been known to those with even a bit of inside knowledge to run one of the most unsavory athletic programs in the state.  I won’t go into details, but they did a lot of really gross things, things in mark contrast to their supposed baptist beliefs. Again, these things might happen a lot of places, but I’m talking about a whole ‘nuther level of magnitude.

But Texas will still continue to struggle for another 7-8 years, quite possibly just punishment for a rabid, over-emotional fan base.

Diocesan TLM in San Antonio still available?? May 24, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Interior Life, Latin Mass, Liturgy, Tradition.
8 comments

Dear readers, I may be in San Antonio this coming Memorial Day weekend.  I have heard in the past that the diocesan TLM at St. Pius X parish has become irregular, or may not be offered very weekend?  The parish website did not say anything to that effect, but I know I have seen comments stating such here on my blog, and not that long ago.

Can anyone confirm whether the 12:10 pm Sunday TLM will be offered at St. Pius X on May 29?  Really, that’s not the best time, and I’m contemplating the 10a at the other alternative.

Thank you in advance for your help. God bless you.

Flightline Friday Extra: Early Viper Mania May 23, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, foolishness, fun, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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The excellent San Diego Air and Space Museum (I’ve been there – Sandy Eggo is the best city in CA for my money) has a very enjoyable Youtube channel wherein they post videos stemming from San Diego-based defense contractors – most notably, Convair/General Dynamics, Teledyne Ryan, and General Atomics.

They’ve been posting a flood of wonderful early F-16 videos, mostly from General Dynamics.  These are both great timepieces and very informative.  There are really too many for me to list, but I give some of the better ones below (enjoy your groove to the late 70s music, too):

First up, some fascinating (and, to my knowledge, heretofore unreleased) footage of early attempts at integrating the semi-active radar homing (SARH) AIM-7 Sparrow missile capability into the F-16.  What was new to me are the missile mounting rails on the landing gear doors!  Innovative, but I can see why Air Forces would balk at the idea.  Sparrow integration into the F-16 was a long and arduous process, the original APG-66 radar was not intended to guide SARH missiles and so lacked the continuous wave illumination system that radars like the APQ-120 in the F-4E Phantom II possessed.  Everyone figured it would be very easy to provide a Sparrow capability to the F-16, but in reality, it took 10 years and a quite different radar. In the end, the Sparrow was only really used on air defense variants of the F-16A (equipped with the special radar), while the F-16 gained its all weather radar guided missile capability with the far more capable, active-guidance (no in-flight illumination from the a/c required) AIM-120 AMRAAM:

Touting the F-16s ground attack capabilities.  True aficionados will observe @~0.10 and various other points, the smaller nose of the original YF-16 before the nose was redesigned to accommodate the more capable APG-66 radar.  Eat dirt, Pierre Sprey.  Also observe the F-16 leave the F-4D chase aircraft behind on takeoff. Sorry, sound pretty bad on this one, but the footage is teh awesome. @~8:14 you can easily see how much tighter an F-16 could turn than an F-4E (slatted wing) at 500 kts and probably 25-30k ft:

I wish someone would post this kind of awesome internal PR material from other manufacturers!  Republic had some fantastic material on the A-10 but I haven’t been able to find it.  America’s very proud aerospace industry had been kind of humbled during the Vietnam experience, and the late 70s/early 80s were a time when they were getting their legs back and strutting their stuff.  There’s never been material like it before or since.  Witness the glorious simulated combat between F-16s and English Electric Lightnings!  Do I even need to say who won?:

The 388FW at Hill mentioned in the video above is now in the process of transitioning from the F-16 to the F-35.  For many reasons, I don’t think we’ll see too many videos from LockMart bragging on the unprecedented operational readiness of the F-35 anytime soon.

A few more, mostly general flight demonstrations with various countries.  First one has good footage but the audio is in Spanish, quite possibly associated with the sale of F-16s to Venezuela in the early 80s:

This one has pilots from various countries singing the bird’s praises (watch for loud buzzing sound the first 2 seconds):

Not sure how many readers are familiar with a dramatically altered variant of the F-16 that flew in 1979 and was intended to compete for the Air Force’s Enhanced Tactical Fighter competition to provide a dedicated long-range strike aircraft to supplement the F-111 fleet.  The F-16XL was the result of that effort, and even though it lost to the F-15E, it was an impressive aircraft in its own right.  Chief F-16 designer Harry Hillaker has said had he known the F-16 would be used primarily as a ground attack aircraft in service, his original design would have been more like the F-16XL than the F-16 most are familiar with.  The F-16XL had a cranked delta wing, lengthened fuselage, and numerous weapons pylons.  Unfortunately, the video is silent:

Finally, a dedicated research variant of the F-16, the F-16 CCV or control configured vehicle.  A highly modified F-16 intended to push the envelope of intentionally unstable designs controlled by fly-by-wire, the F-16CCV could do all kinds of novel things, like move sideways without banking or gaining/losing altitude, go up or down without changing the orientation of the nose relative to the airstream, or point its nose up/down left/right without changing the direction of vehicle travel.

Flightline Friday: Five Military Weapons That Should Not Have Been Scrapped May 20, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, foolishness, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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I stumbled on this post, and found it very interesting for two reasons: one, it is always fun to contemplate might have beens, considering different courses of action that could have been taken that may have been better than the one actually done.  Secondly, it’s interesting because it’s quite naive in parts, and seems to not comprehend the severe state of degradation in the nation’s military, especially in its air and sea arms.

So, the list, in brief, with my comments:

  1. General Dynamics F-111:  I agree, it was a heckuva a platform, much more a medium bomber/heavy attack plane than a fighter, showing the long influence of the fighter mafia in refusing to fly anything without an “F” in front of it.  No tactical aircraft in USAF history has had the -111’s combination of range and payload.  But, my problem with this recommendation is that, while the 111s were retired way too early in 1996 as a strictly cost-saving move (one that left USAF seriously handicapped in some scenarios, especially electronic warfare), today, 20 years on, those birds would be getting very, very old.  The newest would be 40 years old, and they were always something of a bear to maintain.  The D-model, the most capable in theory, would have to have been retired by the mid-90s anyways as it was literally impossible to find parts.  The E and F could soldiered on for another 10-15 years, but by now would be very long in the tooth.  Nice idea, but unrealistic.
  2. Grumman F-14 Tomcat:  Ditto, even more, while Tomcats remained in low-rate production through the 80s and into the early 90s, most were built in the 70s and had become maintenance nightmares by the time they left service in 2006.  The few F-14D models built starting in 1988 were much better in this regard, and it’s a crying shame Dick Cheney was allowed to cancel production after only 55 planes built, instead of the several hundred planned, in favor of the much-less capable F-18E/F.  The Tomcat also had very long legs, absolutely priceless in combat, and is still far superior today as a fleet air defense fighter than the F-18E/F will ever be.  The Navy probably should have gone with the Tomcat for its future fighter back in the early 90s, to my mind, but it would mean they would put carriers to sea with even fewer fighters than they have today (usually, only about 40, instead of the 70-80 of the 70s/80s/early 90s), but they would be far more capable than the ones they are stuck with now (whose range limitations are truly severe).
  3. Spruance Class Destroyers: The argument here is less to have kept them in service than to have at least maintained them in mothballs.  I argue a little differently: both the Sprucans and the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates should have been kept in service rather than spend tens of billions of dollars on black shoe admiral surface combatant showpieces of dubious usefulness, like the Zumwalt class destroyers, Littoral Combatant Ship, and even large scale production of the Arleigh Burke class destroyers.  By putting surface ships on a moratorium during the period 1990-2010 and using the many Sprucans and Perrys built in the late 70s and 80s (the former, especially, being very capable and thoroughly modernized) to form the core of the fleet (while building some new Burkes), the Navy could have freed tens of billions to properly reconstitute its air wings and keep many important types – like the Tomcat, Invader, and Viking in service.  But the Navy is still led predominately by surface warfare types, akin to the battleship admirals of old, who won’t believe their precious fleet is obsolete until it is sitting on the bottom of the sea floor somewhere.  Plus, the Spruance Class destroyers were perhaps the most capable ASW ships the US Navy ever produced, and have never been adequately replaced.  Anti-submarine warfare in the surface fleet is a glaring weakness in the US Navy that is only beginning to be addressed – and 15 years too late.
  4. B-52G Stratofortress:  The argument here is strained, the G’s – produced in larger numbers than any other B-52 version  – were retired due to the START treaty of 1992.  Given the post Cold War environment, I don’t think there was really ever even a remote chance these could have been kept in service. The Soviets/Russians were pretty adamant they go, and it was either that or cut more effective delivery vehicles like ICBMs/SLBMs.  Yes, the G model would have been more useful in the kinds of wars we’ve wound up fighting, but at the time, seemed like a fairly no-brainer decision to cut.  Plus, they would be really, really old now, and were handicapped by poor-performing engines (something the B-52H dramatically improved on).  I’d say this one is mostly a pipe dream, and fails to take into account the budget realities of the past 25  years.
  5. All retired supercarriers:  The argument here is that they should have been kept in mothballs and not scrapped, as is occurring to basically all retired carriers now down in Brownsville.  I agree, that’s a stupid and short-sighted move, at least in part.  Holding ships in mothballs costs a trifle in the grand scheme of things, and while bringing them back to operational service might take a few years and cost billions, it is still far, far cheaper and quicker than building a new carrier.  Basically, the entire reserve fleet of carriers is now being scrapped (with CVN-65 Enterprise remaining in reserve for a few years).  BUT, on the other hand, most of these ships were badly run down and really didn’t have much life left in them.  Saratoga is about the only exception to this reality (having undergone a thorough modernization in the late 80s right before retirement) and perhaps Kitty Hawk.  I know Enterprise was in horrific condition on her last cruise (I know sailors who served on her), JFK was down to three screws and had irreparable boiler and reduction gear problems, America was sunk in a very important test, Connie and Independence were in really bad shape when they retired, not sure about Ranger and Forrestal but I think they were pretty well spent, too.  Having said that, I see no major reason to scrap all of them, at least 3 or 4 retired carriers should always be kept on hand as major national resources worthy of keeping around and as surge assets should there ever be some kind of terrible war.

His honorable mentions:

 

  • OV-10 Bronco – Would have been a useful counter-insurgency assets in Iraq and Afghanistan. [Indeed, so useful, updated version were sent to Iraq and the Af to test to see if they should be brought back into service.  I hope it happens, they are dirt cheap to acquire (or should be) and operate and make a lot more sense to use in low-intensity counterinsurgency operations than $120 million F-22s]
  • Iowa-class battleship – The Marines need the fire support. [Dumb.  Hideously expensive, their guns are now outranged by 5″ laser guided projectiles and their manning costs are horrific.  Not needed]
  • Tarawa-class amphibious assault ships – While old, the America-class ships take five years to build. [Kind of agree, but these ships had problems and were not terribly well designed.  They were getting quite old.  Wouldn’t mind having them around, but in a world of draconian budget limitations, they don’t make sense]
  • M551 Sheridan light tank – The 82nd Airborne Division needs some mobile firepower. [They have it in the Stryker AGS, don’t they?  Plus, that 152 mm gun was never worth squat.  Literally useless, at least against armor.]
  • S-3 Viking – Anti-submarine plane would also have been useful for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, and as a tanker.[Couldn’t agree more, one of the more colossally stupid decisions the Navy has made in the past 20 years. Cheap to operate, could carry a ton of gas and act as a tanker (which the Navy desperately needs), never should have been retired.
  • F-117 Nighthawk – The original stealth fighter could be very useful. [Meh. Somewhat useful.  A light attack aircraft with a limited mission set and pretty expensive to operate]

I can think of some more, but this post is getting long.  One thing not many people know is how small the tactical air fleets have become under Bush/Obama.  USAF is down to about 150 air superiority F-15s.  That, plus about 150 F-22, means USAF now has fewer air superiority aircraft in service than deployed for Desert Storm in 1991.  The number of F-16s is plummeting, as well. So when people freak out about the A-10, they are really missing the big picture. Everything is being gutted under Obama.  I have no idea what they spend all those hundreds of billions on (pay, health care, and gas, mostly), but it sure ain’t on new aircraft, or even old ones.  The Navy has purchased over 550 F-18E/Fs (not counting Growlers) but somehow only has about 2/3 of that number in actual service.

And so it goes.  There are supposedly 76 B-52Hs “in service” but only about 40 are available for combat at any one time.  20 B-2s yields about 10 for actual combat.  The military is a near total mess – soldier’s M4 carbines are literally falling apart in training – but still the money goes out the door in a torrent.  I can’t explain it.  Bad decisions, PC bullcarp, lack of focus, the steady domination of left-wing politics at the command level, have all managed to severely degrade the US military, all in the past 7 years.

But Trump will fix it all.  I have every confidence.

Query: is it possible for traditional parishes to become too large? May 10, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, Grace, Latin Mass, priests, Sacraments, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.
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We have been blessed by a particular “problem” at our local FSSP parish.  This church has grown like wildfire since it moved out of the convent and into its own facility, a converted Korean Methodist church that was rundown when bought but which has been restored to something quite nice.  Since that time, roughly the beginning of 2010, the parish has at least doubled in attendance, with a fourth Sunday Mass added recently and more and more new faces showing up every week.

I don’t have updates on the latest Sunday attendance figures over Holy Week but I’m quite certain they are now surpassing 1000 souls per Sunday.  That’s quite small by typical NO parish sizes, but makes our local parish perhaps the largest, in terms of weekly attendance, traditional parish in the world.

Mind, this is after two priests were permanently assigned to a parish in Fort Worth, 30 miles away, and two priests are also in Tyler, 90 miles away.  The three priests at our parish are swamped, and there is talk of bringing in a fourth.

Which gets to my question – is there an optimal size for traditional parishes?  Traditional Catholic parishes are much more than just the Mass, they are the community, they are the intimate involvement of the priests in every level of catechesis, they are Sacraments always offered by priests and not deacons, they are communities where the priests try to visit the homes of every parishioner at least once (and generally, more than that).  This is to say, a priest at a traditional parish is a true father to the souls in his charge, attempting to know all the families at least a little bit and taking great concern over the state of their souls.

As such, at a certain size, no matter how many priests are assigned, can a traditional parish not outgrow itself?  Would it not be better to build a new parish to split some of the congregation off?  Is that not what the Church did for centuries?  And weren’t most parishes, outside the largest urban areas, smaller in attendance than the (it must be said) ludicrous situations we have today, where two priests supposedly supply pastoral care to a notional 15,000 families?

To me, the situation in Dallas is getting to the point where serious consideration for a second traditional parish should be underway.  It is not unforeseeable that the current parish could have 2000 people assisting on a given Sunday within a decade, after the new church gets built (as we’ve outgrown the one acquired in 2010).  Even with 3 confessionals, can you imagine the lines?!

Add to that the factor that many souls drive 20, 30, 50, even 100 miles to assist at Mass.  Much of the parish attendance comes from the northern suburbs, and I’m positive that should a second Fraternity or other traditional parish open in Plano or McKinney, there would be no problem with attendance or funding.  But would Bishop Farrell allow it?  I keep hearing the words of a local diocesan (non-FSSP) priest ringing in my ears – “the Traditional Mass will never be offered  in this diocese outside Mater Dei.”

What do you think?  Do you agree that traditional parishes are best if they don’t grow beyond a certain size?  Believe me, this is not a “I want this to myself” complaint, I constantly invite folks to Mater Dei, but I’m concerned that much of what makes a traditional parish special can be lost if it becomes too much of a behemoth. I think there is also a practical benefit in having more than one location, as there are more than a few folks who would assist at a TLM were it 10 minutes away, instead of 45 minutes to an hour.  Might not four priests spread among 2 parishes not result in more folks assisting at the TLM than four priests at one parish?  Isn’t bringing more souls back to the traditional practice of the Faith, and giving them the best shot at Heaven, the point of it all?

But really, it’s mine all MINE and I want you OUT!

Bad comment problem again May 3, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin.
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I guess there’s always another way to muck things up, and now that I felt I had the valid comments winding up in spam largely licked, now many in the past few days have gone straight to the trash!  That’s never happened before.  It seems there were a spate of comments so affected just today, and a spate on April 21 (sorry for the long delay finding them).  That’s nuts, comments are never supposed to automatically go to trash, only I’m supposed to be able to send them there.

Anyway, I fished out 17 good comments, about 10 of which came from today.  Sorry they were delayed getting posted.  I’ll try to watch the trash folder every few hours to check for more.  If you have been waiting for your comment to post, check now, they should be there.

Sorry and thanks for your patience.  Comments have always been a periodic problem going back years.

Shhh…….don’t tell May 3, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness.
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Look what accidentally jumped into my shopping cart Saturday night.  Numero doce:

petredprifle (2 of 26)

Ain’t she just about the purtiest AK you ever did see?  Who needs 2″ groups at 800 yards, anyway?  I can’t shoot that far, regardless.

Given that the H-woman is almost certain to be our next president, and given her strident statements regarding gun control and mounting rhetoric about banning semi-auto firearms, I consider this purchase not one of excess, but of grave prudence.  Yeah, that’s it………

I was going to get a much cheaper model but when I saw this, with the nickel plate receiver, Guncote, treated barrel, and refinished original Russian AK furniture, I couldn’t say no.  It shipped today.  Might have it by the weekend.  But it’s sort of a secret, so no telling.  It being easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission is a maxim I tend to live by.  So Catholicism was really a natural fit.

I know, shotguns and handguns are probably more practical.  One day I’ll buy another shotgun.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get another handgun, the two I have are fine and they just don’t move me like long arms do.  There are several other semi-autos I’d like to get before anything else, including a C308, FAL, and a Dragunov clone. I did see a really wicked double barrelled semi-auto shotgun at the local shop the other day, but it was almost $1500.

One day:

dragunov_svd0323111

Flightline Friday: Just like old times April 29, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, Society, technology.
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This hasn’t happened much in the past 25 years – USAF operating out of Clark Air Base, Philippines, again:

Back in the “bad old days” of the Cold War, the Philippines were the United States bastion in Southeast Asia, especially after the fall of South Vietnam.  Having been used by US forces for nearly a century, an immense and capable infrastructure had been built up.  The two primary bases were the Air Force’s sprawling Clark Air Base, and the Navy’s equally huge Subic Bay Naval Base and co-located Cubi Point Naval Air Station.  In addition, there were numerous minor fields, and, perhaps more importantly, vast instrument ranges for conducting Red Flag-like exercises called Cope Thunder.

After the fall of Ferdinand Marcos, the end of the Cold War, the development of a strong anti-US sentiment, and, with perfect timing, the explosion of Mount Pinatumbo (which rendered Clark useless for years and badly impacted Subic Bay), the Philippine government decided – with very little US opposition – to terminate the nearly 100 year US presence.

However, China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea have caused both the Philippines and the US to re-evaluate the need for defense cooperation.  Now that China is building a large military base in the Spratly Islands – which they have no legal justification in occupying, let alone militarizing – and have been invading Philippine territorial waters with increasing frequency, the Filipinos have had a bit of a change of heart and have decided it might not be so bad to have something of a US presence in their country again.  Of course, it has to be different this time, they say, the bases will continue to be “owned” by the Filipino government with the US simply getting certain use and visitation privileges, but we’ll see how long that lasts.  The Filipinos have been very hard pressed to keep the US-legacy infrastructure they inherited from completely falling apart, and there will need to be substantial investments soon to keep Subic and other places viable locales for military operations.  We’ll see what happens in that regard.

To my mind, however, if the desire is to contain China, the Philippines are not enough.  Other current operating locations – the Aussies are very accommodating, there’s Singapore, and of course the

Range of some - by no means all - Chinese anti-access systems.  Red are deployed, yellow in development.  However, ranges are more favorable than reality.

Range of some – by no means all – Chinese anti-access systems. Red are deployed, yellow in development. However, ranges are more favorable than reality.

island of Guam is almost one giant base – are both too far away, and too few in number, to permit a close-in containment of China.  The other factor is this: China’s strategy viz a viz the US is obvious.  It consists of what is called anti-acceess/area denial, meaning, they will use a variety of means to keep the US at arms length in any conflict.  The primary means are very accurate ballistic missiles and cruise missiles to attack approaching naval forces and threaten all bases in the region.  The best way to counter this kind of threat is dispersion – having a large number of bases from which the US can operate from at various times, without necessarily having forces present there at any given moment.  Right now, even with access to a few bases in the Philippines, there simply aren’t enough realistic operating bases from which to both threaten China and also provide sufficient dispersal (I did not mention a few above – there are bases in Korea, but they are not good for this purpose as they are too close to China, meaning missile flight times are so short they would be extremely difficult to defend.  There are also some bases in Japan/Okinawa, and those are good, but again, not enough of them. There’s three air bases and one principle naval base in those locales.  They’re also not in the right place).

Negotiations have been ongoing with Vietnam about getting access rights to some installations the US built, at great expense, back in the 60s (Cam Ranh Bay, principally, but also Da Nang), but I am skeptical that will happen.  There is another country that would probably be quite happy to have a US presence, even if only periodic, Usaf-thailand-mapand which is perfectly located to threaten much of China’s burgeoning high-tech industries. That country is Thailand.  The US operated many bases there from ~1960 – 1975 and beyond.  While the locals gutted everything they could after we left, the runways are still there and the Thai’s have repaired a bit of infrastructure.  Ubon or Takhli would be interesting options.  If you draw a roughly 800 nautical mile ring around both Ubon and Clark, you can see that the arcs overlap nicely in the South China Sea.  800 nm  happens to be the unrefuelled radius of a moderately loaded F-15E, and the subsonic cruise radius of an F-22.

Beyond that, reconstituting many of the installations across the Pacific that have fallen into disuse and disrepair would also provide means of quick dispersal and defense in depth.  I’m speaking of Wake pacaf-2013-command-brief-18-638Island, Shemya in Alaska, Johnston Island, and especially Midway.  While some of these have fallen into rather severe disrepair – especially the latter two – and would require quite a bit of investment to return to operational status, the first two have been kept in “warm storage” and are still in use today, albeit at a low level.  I’m not saying that these locations make sense as offensive operational locations against China, but they do make eminent sense as both staging areas for any necessary offensive build up, but, even more importantly, dispersal areas in times of crisis, to weather the initial Chinese barrage of ballistic/cruise missiles.  China still does not possess terribly capable means of reconnaissance, so they would have a hard time knowing which hardened aircraft shelters are occupied at which time at which base – especially if the number of frequently used bases were to rise from the current ~10 (almost all in Japan/Okinawa) to say, 30.  Plus, some of those dispersal sites are out of range of the Chinese missile threat.

Interesting to note, late last month, the bases the US would use in the Philippines were made public, and neither Clark nor Subic were on the list.  And yet, see the video above, A-10s at least visiting, if not operating from, Clark.  I have a feeling the list of bases was a bit of subterfuge to complicate Chinese planning, forces will probably rotate among a whole host of bases, in order to lessen their vulnerability to being targeted.  At least for a while.  History shows, however, that wherever the US goes, we like to take home with us, and build up a nice fat infrastructure.  So……..we’ll see.

In our house, we start ’em out young April 22, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Domestic Church, family, fun, General Catholic, non squitur, silliness.
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With the Rosary, that is.  Just a couple of cute/silly pics of Josefina:

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There’s some grist for the competitive Catholic mom circuit.  My baby started praying the Rosary at 6 weeks, how about yours?

She’s fattened up a lot since she was born 4 weeks early.  Mom’s doing a great job.

Now if she would only go back to sleeping at night……..

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