Friday, November 26, 2004

Not For Hire

I'm not Mississippi pilot, but I do shoot a bit. I have never charged for coaching - I get more than enough value for my time by passing on the skill and seeing new shooters join the ranks of armed citizens.

I shoot pistol and small bore rifle at The Shooting Academy (no link; neanderthals) in Lindon, Utah, once or twice a month. I have coached Marines, single moms, Boy Scouts, minors, senior citizens, and family friends over the last twenty years or so. I also reload for a grundle of different rifle and pistol calibers and am always ready to exchange opinions or advice on that subject, too.

The second thing I saw the first time I met my wife-to-be was a 'no nukes' sticker on the neck of her guitar case. East coast liberal. She has since (long since) learned to shoot paper targets better than I do. We've mellowed each other out over the years.

My sidearm of choice is a slightly-customized Springfield Armory M1911A1 in .45ACP. There's nothing faster for double-taps nor mechanically safer for ready carry, even if it is a heavy beast. It rides in either a Kydex or Galco holster, depending on what level of concealment I want.

If you live in the Utah county area and are interested in meeting up for an introduction to safe shooting or just a nice day punching paper, feel free to drop me an email at tmjutah at Questions or opinions on shooting/reloading/2d Amendment issues are always welcome, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Here at the home of Team Jones we are washing and sweeping and digging out the centerpiece.

We give thanks today for our freedom, good fortune, and the men and women who are giving so much that we may continue to enjoy both. Freedom is never free.

May next year see more of those heroes safe and at home.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Zarqawi Sends a Nastygram


Hitler was bummed too, shithead. He didn't understand why the Germans up and quit on him in 1945, either.

Clue: They were tired of getting killed for the delusions of a maniac. The grandsons of the men who defeated Hitler are working hard to add you to the list of dead losers, too.

Mr. Zarqawi, it would make my Thanksgiving day if I found out you were already dead as I wrote this.

Do your part, bud. Do it for the raisins.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ding Ding Dan Darling Arriving

Mr. Dan Darling, author of Regnum Crucis and frequent contributor to Winds of Change has been added to the Purser's List.

Mr. Darling's ceaseless investigation of terror organizations and the genealogy of the Islamic fundamentalist threat is awe inspiring in its scope and depth.

He spent last summer as an intern with the American Enterprise Institute. Link goes to the "about us" page.

I read his blog on a daily basis.

Monday, November 22, 2004


I am taping with an eight inch knife. That means I have one more knife and two rounds of sanding before I paint.

My next home will be constructed from blocks of sod hewn out of the prairie or mud bricks. Or concrete slabs coated with a spray-applied self-levelling precolored plastic foam.

But I will do the rest of this basement first.

Have a fine day.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday

Matthew Heidt's Froggy Ruminations has been entered on the Purser's List. He writes very well on a wide range of topics. His resume includes over a decade as a U.S. Navy SEAL operator and time with the U.S. Customs Service.

Welcome aboard, sir.

One Riot One Ranger

Blue State people: There's a reason Bush won the election.

Someday you will figure it out. I'm sure. Mostly sure, anyway.


h/t: LGF


to commenters on a Froggy Ruminations thread:

Eric -

"It is a sad day when the possibility of a nuclear detonation on American territory is not a fantasy but a pragmatic reality."

Eric...I'm fortythree years old. The possibility of any random day ending up as Armageddon was accepted conventional wisdom until 1989.

I remember "duck and cover", too.

We equated the end of the Soviet Union as the end of nuclear conflict; why, I haven't a clue. Even our nuclear freeze folks seemed to forget about our nuclear arsenal and delivery systems. Want to know a secret?

We have had as high as something like seven thousand deliverable weapons at one point. Nobody on the planet ever lost a night's sleep about our weapons. Not us, not even our enemies. The reason for that is because even if we are the only nation that ever used a nuclear weapon in war, it is not in our nature (since the Mexican War, and to a weaker point of evidence, the Spanish-American War, to fight wars of aggression.

We have acted to protect our interests, yes...but the last time the Empire itch surfaced in 1898 it rapidly turned into a festering wound on our politics. We haven't been back since.

The enemy thinks that somehow the possession or employment of a nuclear weapon will become their magic bullet. The men and women who created the bomb technology in the forties remembered earlier iterations of the weapons that would make future war impossible like the Gatling gun, machine guns, gas, airplanes, and tanks...and so did the pioneers of SAC and the government leaders that kept our ability to retaliate to a nuclear attack at a high enough level that we never were attacked.

There is no moral difference between a knife or a nuke, Eric. None. They are tools. The men that would use those tools are what need watching.

T Leo -

"It is also a fantasy that the nations of the world will be willing to write the US a blak (sic) check to "just fix the problem".

You sound like you think anybody is going to be asked for help.

Can you name the third largest air force in the world?

It's a trick question. The answer is any one of our aircraft carriers and their associated task forces. That's measured by conventional strike capability alone, by the way. If you add the throw weight of the associated surface and SSN attachments to a carrier, you have the second most powerful national nuclear arsenal on the planet.

Again, for every carrier attack group. We drew down our deployed/deliverable weapons during the nineties. That mistake has been remedied since then.

GW Bush is on record that Iran will not be allowed to become a nuclear power. I don't think his character will permit an out along the lines of "Sorry, Koffi, we were cleaning our Israelis and they went off" (not my line - I read it on Roger L. Simon's forum but can't remember the author's name).

france seeks some ludicrously artificial construct of 'multipolarity' of world powers. Since old europe is in melt down the only realistic avenue they have is to stab us in the back and ally with regimes that oppose us.

france is not an ally. Their actions [we'll ignore Iraq for now - ed.] in giving Iran diplomatic capital to continue their weapons and delivery system development is moving them firmly into the opposition column, too.

Terry -

Everything you said - I agree. You didn't explicitly make the point that I made in my original post but your proposed response makes it clear that the enemy will broaden from simply 'terror' up to 'Islam'.

Old Coot -

"I'm no wuss about striking back with devastating force, but would like to know we hit at least close to those responsible."

That's a rational sentiment.

We know that Iran wants to be a nuclear power and is corporate (plant) for worldwide Islamic terror.

We know that the spiritual mainspring of the movement is Wahabbist Islam which is based in Saudi - call them corporate (executive).

The existing strategy to drain the swamp in the mideast makes non-democratic Arab regimes all objectives for eventual regime change. Syria is WMD capable and is a home to Hamas and various other terror groups. Egypt is a dynastic dictatorship who we pay billions of dollars to every year, which subsidizes their state-run Islamic organizations that damn us every Friday in Cairo.

Pre-WMD attack we might have afforded to wait for functioning democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan to win the fight by osmosis. That option will be gone post-attack.

Yields or casualty counts achieved by a terrorist nuclear detonation are irrelevant in the calculus here. We'll demand no repeats and we have the power to make it stick. One way or another.

Amy -

I saved you for last for a reason.

"We have, can and will wage total war and come out the other side as the same people who went in." I'm sorry, Chris, I don't believe this is true. I'm not arguing against "total war"--I'm simply saying that we don't need to pretend that we can nuke, firebomb, whatever, and when it's over just calmly go back to whatever we were doing.

Why do you say that? That's exactly what happened to Americans after every war we have fought since the Revolution. Once we won, the men went home, went to school, went to work, and raised their families.

That's why they went to war in the first place, Amy. Fighting the Germans wasn't about getting our slice of their colonies or their territory. Ditto the second world war, ditto the nether twilight of the thirty years of the third world war (we are in four now, if you are counting).

Did the wars change us? In some ways, yes. We certainly became a little more cosmopolitan about the world we live in. If you are looking at societal changes that are the direct result of the horrors of war I think you are out of luck.

The automobile changed our daily lives more than DResden or Auschwitz ever did.

What I told Eric about weapons holds true, ma'am. The conflict we find ourselves in is one of philosophies and agendas. We submit or die, or we beat them.

The tools used by the parties to the conflict are just that - tools.

What of Dresden....

What of Coventry? What of Prague falling to the Huns? Why did Xerxes kill any Greek male captured in combat?

Because there was a war going and the enemy was still on the field, and the tools at hand dictated each sides ability to influence the outcome.

It's been decades since I read S5. I enjoyed Vonnegut's writing a lot when I was younger and I have the highest regard for his wartime service and sacrifice. I cannot remember which division he served in and was subsquently captured from during the Battle of the Bulge. I once got to share a table, a bottle, and a snowy VFW December 16th evening in Texas with some survivors of the 106th ID who were captured at that same time. Brutal memories mixed with the names of dead buddies, those who escaped, and the experiences they all shared.

Powerful stuff. Why did Vonnegut end up in Dresden to witness such a horrific event? Because the Nazis still fought, that's why.

The same reason we are still killing jihadis in Fallujah and bleeding in Baghdad, too. The same reason we get to take our shoes off at the airport and the same reason we look twice when we see a man in Arab or Muslim dress on the sidewalk of our hometown.

We aren't the same people - the same nation - we were on September 10 2001. We can't be until we destroy the enemy that has attacked us. Until that happens, the only upper limit on waste, violence, and barbarism is what the enemy is able to buy, build, or steal.

We don't get our world back unless we win. I think we will...but I'm not even going to guess at the bottom line it will take to get us there.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Communication Protocols

Wife of Utah and me shared a nice Chinese buffet dinner a few hours back. We have an unspoken 'no politics at the table' rule but since it was just the two of us conversation did brush up against current events.

It occurred to us that if the United States chooses the Marines to deliver a message there shouldn't be an RSVP number attached.

And that's exactly how it should be.

We also talked about this. As late as a decade ago I used to bust rabbits and other small game with reckless abandon as practice between hunting seasons. I stopped that right around the time my girls became old enough to accompany me on shooting outings. I don't kill anything anymore unless it's for table or to prevent predation. The idea of a virtual visit to the shooting range is kind of novel but not something I'd pony up for; there are four indoor ranges within a half hour of my house. If I want to shoot on my computer there is a whole universe of arcade style or first-person-shooter platforms out there.

On a related note, did you know that our Hellfire missile-armed Predator drones operating around the world are controlled from stateside facilities - probably Special Operations Command down in Florida? I wonder what kind of response DoD would get if they conducted an internet lottery to "push the button" on terrorist targets and sold live-cam access for the surveillance?

I don't support that shooting idea any more than I do the internet varmint schtick.

I'd pay to watch, though. I surely would.

Mail Call II

Alex responded:

Of course, this assumes the Iraqis will in fact take what we are doing as being what we say it is. However much any of us disagrees with these assertions, what ultimately matters is whether the Iraqi people believe them. The insurgents fight at extreme odds with out pay while the Iraqi military and police receive training and a salary. Something must be wrong when the military and police melts at almost every

On the subject of the soldier who shot the wounded Iraqi (insurgent? terrorist? rebel? fighter?) I can understand why he did this. I do not pretend for even a moment that war is a fair, humane thing. It is an expression of extreme brutality. However, the case has been made that this war isn't merely a goal unto itself, that it is in
fact towards achieving certain goals (peace, democracy, freedom, etc). In this respect, I can also understand why this soldier would be punished for his actions. If he is not, the message will be re-enforced that we are immoral people. An Iraqi watching that footage will on average sympathize with the Iraqi, just as we on
average put ourselves in the shoes of the soldier. If we send the message that such actions will not be punished, this will be a powerful recruiting tool for those who oppose the US. They will declare "look at what the Americans do to the wounded, surely they are a barbaric people". War inherently involves sacrificing the lives of ones own side. How is indictment for strategic purposes any different than death for strategic purposes?



Those who oppose us in Iraq say we're being imperialist, that we are part of a wider oppression of Moslems, that we're only there for the oil, etc.

Those are talking points unsupported by any interpetation of history. They appeal to westerners who cling to cherished mulitcultural tenets or to Muslim populations that have lived for centuries encouraged to believe that they are victims of foreign oppression, not domestic despotism. The mystics recognise that our inherently more competitive culture will extinguish their brand of barbaric mysticism within a few generations if assimiliation of ideas takes place in an intellectual environment. They have been attacking us because we aren't like them, or in the cases of the more secular Arab dictators because they recognised us as a useful, slothful target they could attack for domestic political points with relative impunity.

The insurgents fight at extreme odds with out pay while the Iraqi military and police receive training and a salary.

Where did you get that idea? Endemic poverty and unemployment in Islamic societies is the prime recruiting tool for the movement, far and above videos or sermons. That and the fact that the only professional occupation available to most serfs under Islamist rule is the clergy. It's a given that Saddam salted away grundles of cash expressly intended to fund post-war insurgency and that Saudi and Iran are both providing material , personnel, and financial support for the Iraqi theater.

Syria is assisting passage for foreign fighters and funding them with Saddam's own money. Five hundred dollars was only the last bounty I've seen mentioned in our press; scan al Jazeera's morass and you can find more references, too.

Are you one of the 'minuteman' crowd? If that is the case let me know and we can end this conversation. The driving forces behind the Iraqi insurgency are not noble goals of national identity or cultural pride. They are last ditch effort to regain
despotic political power via murder and intimidation on the part of the Baathists. The Wahabbists and remaining secular dictatorships in the region see their end in the event of democratization, so they are fighting as hard as they can to prevent it from happening.

However, the case has been made that this war isn't merely a goal unto itself, that it is in fact towards achieving certain goals (peace, democracy, freedom, etc). In this respect, I can also understand why this soldier would be punished for his actions. If he is not, the message will be re-enforced that we are immoral people.

I'm not sure I understand your implication. What case do you refer to? As far as moral judgement in the eyes of the opposition is concerned, we're already condemned for being infidel - a capital offense they publicize without end. We will submit, or be killed. If defending ourselves from that threat is somehow immoral I fail to see why. Our elected government authorized the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and the plan to reconstruct the infrastructure and politics of the country after regime change. There was nothing nefarious or dissembling about our published intentions for the nation of Iraq...unless your political power depended on the continued acceptance of the United States for 'acceptable strongmen' - the 'realist' school of foreign policy/security thought.

That's over. Say goodbye to all of that.

I contend that the question of whether or not the actions of this Marine can be reasonably extended as some sort of proforma indictment of our entire effort is ludicrous on its face. One, the brutality of the incident has NOTHING to do with the question of whether or not it was justified. An investigation is underway and there will be a finding one way or the other, with which both of us and the rest of the world will be free to support or condemn. We watched a terrorist get popped during clearing operations. Where was the video of Theo Van Gogh's slaughter? I don't remember the last published statement from any Islamic clergy condemning kidnappings, beheadings, suicide bombings, or street corner murders. Maybe they don't run on Fox. Or CNN.

Or even al Jazeera. Maybe they were afraid that this routine display of Muslim activity might serve as a recruiting tool for all those Baptists that have been slaughtering innocent Muslims at work and play for the last fifty years? Maybe not, eh? The reflexive disgust we feel when witnessing the Marine video comes from our unconscious rejection of physical violence as accepted behaviour...but we've come to accept that any random day will provide more footage of Muslim terrorists just being who they are. Where's the outrage there?

Funny thing about the Imperialist intent America has had for the Muslim world; for over fifty years it manifested itself primarily by US force ensuring the territorial security of the Middle East against the Soviet Union (to include the sea lanes by which the only useful commodity exportable from the Mid East had to transit) and us paying their price for their oil. We routinely surrender individual freedoms and customs when doing business inside their countries. Along the way we also stopped Israel from occupying (or possibly nuking?) Cairo and Damascus the last time the Arabs failed to exterminate the Jews, too. Go figure. I mark that decision as a probable mistake here from the Monday quarterback slot.

If we send the message that such actions will not be punished, this will be a
powerful recruiting tool for those who oppose the US.

They'll get more mileage out of this in the west than they ever will on the Arab street. If we determine that the Marine acted in accordance with the Law of Land Warfare in the context of that situation, publish the result, and get back to the business of killing the enemy any genuine outrage (hard to imagine how that is even possible, to me) on the part of the 'street' will be more than outweighed by the despair of the terrorists as they realize one more example of us refusing to allow them to establish the rules of engagement for this war.

If you are wondering about strategic implications on our ability to continue to conduct the ground war, please consider that what happened on that video is not exceptional to any dozen incidents happening every day over the last week in Fallujah except that it was taped, and that the aggressor was an American serviceman. Our people are trained exactly as referenced by Froggy in his original post. Each time a door goes down an entirely unique deadly universe opens up for the troops charged with clearing the objective. There are thousands of rooms cleared every day. We conduct these clearing operations on foot using hand weapons because we have refused to ignore the plight of non-combatants as our enemy does. We are risking our troops lives in order to minimze non-combatant casualties. Given the lethality and complexity of the battlefield, there must be an acknowledgement that mistakes will happen despite our best efforts.

This tape wasn't My Lai 2004, despite the most fervent wishes of the enemy, and our domestic activists who wish it was so. Not even close.

Just a window into one shitty day on the road to victory.

War inherently involves sacrificing the lives of ones own side.

It doesn't involve operating under rules of engagement that arbitrarily disregard the lives of our troops in the hope of not offending editorial observers. We are the side in this fight that observes considerations beyond winning the fight, not the enemy. The second the men and women we are asking to win this fight stop believing that authority places the value of their lives behind political expediency, we will have lost this war and justifiably so.

Our enemy understands this. So does a large segment of the international and domestic political opposition to this war. I will leave it to you to ponder where I stand on this congruence of objectives. The line between loyal opposition and enemy is become thin...very, very thin, in this war, and in more than one place.

How is indictment for strategic purposes any different than death for strategic purposes?

I don't understand your last question.

UPDATE: Did a bit of editing to clean up the format.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Mail Call

The following is an email reply to a commenter on the Froggy Ruminations thread linked in my last blog entry. It was too lengthy to incorporate into the thread:

The question was: "From a strategic standpoint, does it benefit our soldiers to convince the Iraqi people that we are extremely brutal?"


Resist the urge to analyze the Iraqi people through the frame of reference of your own cultural experience.

How many of your immediate family were murdered by arbitrary actions of your own government last year? Coworkers? Friends? How about the year before that? I'd bet that you have both your hands and ears and don't carry a badly healed fracture or scar inflicted by a bored FBI interrogator, either.

You have a voice. You have rights. You live in a society where violence is an abberation. In fact, it's such an abberation that we even incorporate graphic fictionalizations into our most popular entertainment. It's a vicarious novelty to the vast majority of our population because excepting criminals and their victims ,physical violence is unconsciously ruled out as an option among civilized western culture. It happens,yes, but in a democratic republic where the rule of law is based on individual sovereignty and unalienable rights we police, judge, and incarcerate evil doers as much as we can.

What of the Iraqi people? They've never been citizens - maybe subjects. I think they are more accurately described as victims of their own birth, culture, and situation.

We fight the implacable barbarian elements of Ba'athist holdouts and their Islamofascist terrorist cocombatants on one hand while on the other attempting to restore enough security and basic infrastructure for the former serfs to experience the rewards of democracy that we take for granted.

The Iraqis know exactly how the old regime conducted business. They know that in their neighboring countries the same paradigm holds, too, with the exception of Turkey. They also understand more clearly than more than a slim minority (as evidenced in our last election) of our own citizenry that there are some opponents that are immune to anything but brute, naked force.

My stock analogy for the nature of the threat in rebuilding Iraq is this: It only takes one angry drunk uncle with a shotgun to fuck up a wedding reception. Expand that to a community or a nation, and you have Iraq.

The Iraqis are rightfully appalled at what is happening right now. They have no community social memory of peace or security. My own opinion is that they remain unconvinced we won't finish the job, and that scares them worse than any contemporary violence does. The behavior of our occupation forces and the associated reconstruction element has been aimed at organizing them to lead their own country as soon as humanly possible. That effort has been going on for two years, across the entire nation, at the expense of blood and treasure on our coalition's part NEVER seen before in an Arab nation.

I believe there has to be a positive effect to that. Once again, an opinion...but I think it reasonable.

And last but not least, your question was "From a strategic standpoint, does it benefit our soldiers to convince the Iraqi people that we are extremely brutal?"

From a strategic standpoint it is vital that the Iraqis know we will do what is necessary to allow their transition from serfdom to citizenry. That goes for the innocents as much as for the insurgents. To decline conflict with the insurgency would be a declaration that other peoples' freedom are secondary to our comfort and security.

That's not what the Bush Doctrine is about. We aren't going to perform a righteous beatdown on a random group of thugs and walk out of the ring to our own applause like some cheesy WWF stage production. We aren't doing the 'realist' foreign policy anymore. It is in OUR interest that we don't ever go back to Iraq...or Afghanistan...or anywhere else that shits out terrorist movements, leaders, and regimes as a result of despotism or dictatorship. No more pet dictators.

The Bush Doctrine is the most visionary liberal foreign policy initiative ever attempted by a western democracy, just in case you were wondering. That's not opinion, that's a fact. Chirac and Schroeder are conducting their policies on a plane that wouldn't be out of place originating in Liege, Belgium, in the late 1800's. They stand behind the old dogma of masters and slaves.

We want neighbors, thanks.

We face a known breathtakingly dangerous foe with a very vague mailing address. We have at our disposal the most lethal weapons ever fielded by a nation at war...and instead of annihilation of the population from where the threat springs, our goal is liberation.

Liberation of nations and tribes, possibly an entire culture and even a great religion. Only time will tell.

It is in our vital strategic interest that all the peoples of the Muslim arc know and believe that we are committed to protecting ourselves. In all honesty, the last three decades showed the serfs little evidence that we did. Even a shepherd on a hill in Syria understands that aggression unchecked invites more aggression.

You used the word "brutal" to describe our conduct. I agree. I just remind you that that is the nature of war and that brutal, naked force and nothing else is the tool that will bring decision to this conflict. Ignoring the escalation of Islamic violence that began in the seventies - THAT was a terrible mistake on our part.

We beat the terrorists on their ground or we fight them here. It's an easy call for me to make.

With Respect,

A.R. Jones
aka TmjUtah

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Required Reading

Go here. Read it all. Please.

UPDATE: 4:00PM MST 17 Nov -

Froggy Ruminations has the best post on the Marine in the mosque situation. My comment is far down his thread.

h/t: Roger L. Simon

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Fox news is reporting on the incident where a Marine allegedly shot and killed a wounded terrorist in a mosque in Fallujah.

If our problem with Islamic fundamentalism is ultimately, truly, rooted in even just one percent of all the Muslims on the planet, that still works out to over a million jihadis to be taken out. Suiciders, decapitators, car swarmers, and shahids in general aren't going to be lining up to register to vote no matter how badly we beat them in the course of any war short of killing them. The foot troops of Allah have to be wiped out and whether we do it retail by rifle or wholesale by B-52 makes little difference. Draining the swamp by hot-boxing democratic governments is a strategy for addressing the true root causes of terror: despotism, hopelessness, and ignorance. The alumni of the old regimes aren't going to be swayed by political change, just like the SS at Malmedy or the Japanese in the Pacific theater. They have chosen their path. Note that those opponents were state agents, uniformed military formations operating under the aegis of a national command authority.

The jihadi are free agents; the closest historical parallel we can make concerning them might well be the pirates of the Caribbean or Barbary Coast. No nation, no rules, no mercy. There are going to be very few - if any - from this class of foes becoming good neighbors after the political decision of this war. Not from the ranks of the mulhajedeen.

We have battalions of SpecOps/Marines combing the Afghan border looking for more than one Guantanomo alumni right now.

What will be the outcome of this incident? The troop who pulled the trigger and his immediate chain of command will certainly be run through the UCMJ process. There may be convictions, reassignments, or reliefs depending on how far removed from the actual incident each individual was. That's the System, and the form will be followed.

What lessons will be learned? One, that we do operate under rule of law, even on the battlefield. Two, there will be orders reemphasizing correct PW procedures passed down the line. Three, troops will watch and learn and make sure they know where journos are before they get on with the business of making sure they stay alive another day on the battlefield.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Fresh Blood

I have added 2Slick's blog to the Purser's list. He is a serving Army officer who flies Blackhawks and is currently stationed in Kuwait.

I've appreciated his posts (primarily on Michael J. Totten; sorry for no direct link to an example) and today I saw him mentioned on Instapundit.

Welcome aboard, sir.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

On Fallujah

I've been trying to work up the enthusiasm to post on the operations underway in the Sunni Triangle and elsewhere but every time I get close to ready I click on Belmont Club and decide that Wretchard has it covered... as usual.

The fight in Fallujah isn't about Fallujah. We (those on the end of the media information pipe) see images of destruction and are provided with dozens if not scores of eight hundred word essays written for the most part by untrained observers. The journalistic community persists in reminding us of the technological edge we have via brilliant weapons, comms, night vision, and other gadgets and what effect that edge has in isolated combat but seems to run into a Luddite wall when it comes time to extend the effects of our technological expertise beyond mere hardware and into philosophy, theory, and analysis. We've been in combat inside Iraq for almost two years and the media still breaks into scheduled broadcasts to report one 82mm mortar shell being fired in the general direction of the Green Zone while ignoring the fact that a routine call for fire for mortars in a firefight will generate tens of rounds on target on our behalf in a minor skirmish. One or two mortar rounds or a daisy chain of IED's or another beheading video won't win the war in Iraq for the opposition. Those tactis failed to sway our election and that event has probably had even more calamitous effect on the insurgency's rank and file than even the investment of Fallujah. The indigenous resistance has two months to establish themselves politically or they lose any chance at participating in government at all.

The broader strategy of which Fallujah is only a manpower-intensive part is intended to force the opposition, especially their leadership, to move or communicate. By observing communication patterns and changing specific variables such as land access routes and physical redoubts in Fallujah, Mosul, Sadr City, and elsewhere we can add to all the intelligence sources developed over our time in theater, collate the new data, and develop specific strategies aimed directly at the command and control structure that the enemy must have if they are to exert any influence at all on the January elections.

Stacking up bodies in the 'Strong Horse' column of local politics is important, too. The men in black with AK's and RPG's need to be dealt with whenever we find them, regardless of their origin being Sunni holdouts or foreign fighters from Syria, Iran, or elsewhere. They aren't going to be lining up for Get Out The Vote efforts, ever, whether we kill them or not. Eyewitness evidence of coalition forces, to include ING troops, agressively rooting out the insurgency will serve to sway the Iraqi's that we aren't near walking away from them.

I don't know if it will all work. Nobody does. That's what war is all about - uncertainty until the issue is decided. There will be victories and defeats and mistakes and lost opportunities but none of them will fit accurately inside a TV news story or even a multi-part news article.

God bless our troops, and our leaders.

High Point of My Weekend

I've got a wonderful treat in store in about half an hour.

We have to wash one of our cats.

This is akin to honing the blades of a tree chipper/shredder while it runs...while holding the whetstone in your teeth.

I hope your weekend is less eventful than mine. Lots less.

UPDATE 12:00: Ouch.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month.

The guns of the war to end all wars fell silent on this day in 1918.

Well, all the wars except for the Spartacist revolt in Germany, the Russian Revolution, twenty years of JV struggles and interventions across central and south America, intercine communist/nationalist struggles across China, the second war to end all wars which ushered in the third world war that included just about every armed conflict between Korea 1950 to Vietnam to about three quarters of every post-colonial transition during the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The last decade has seen the rise of Islamic fundametalism as a strategic threat to Western civilization and the arrival of narcoinsurgency as a political movement in Colombia and portions of other South American countries, along with the Golden Triangle in SE Asia.

What drives wars of aggression? Conventional wisdom long held that economic differences, post colonial envy, religious intolerance, population pressure, or Tribalism/Nationalism/Fascism/Communism/Capitalism all contributed to conflict.

I don't know. I have witnessed the history of the past forty years as a spectator and sometimes as a participant. My reading and interaction with older folks from around the world has provided windows into the past that are either too cloudy to buy at face value or are too maddeningly large to comprehend at even the third or fourth look. Will there always be wars, or rumours of wars?

I caught a news item about a new paper published by a researcher (a Fellow?) of the JFK School of Government that suggests that terror occurs most often on the cusp between autocratic and democratic forms of government. Read the article, please.

I buy his conclusions. My country finds itself leading a coalition fighting the fourth world war...and my country is the only nation on the planet that puts the freedom of individuals on a higher plane than the powers of government. We are called a violent nation by some of our self-declared 'enlightened' neighbors, but I would point out that what violence we do execute on each other is almost exclusively the product of abberant social behaviour and not the result of political friction. On the larger stage where the actors are nations, the cast memembers of conflicts since the end of the first world war have almost always represented despotism on one side and various levels of democracy on the other.

Freedom is not being dependent on government for subsistence or even more importantly, opportunity. Freedom is pursuing your hopes and dreams free of unreasonable government interference. Freedom is operating on the baseline assumption that the individual is the prime ingredient behind success in life and the corollary to that is a inherent respect for other individuals - the Golden Rule as a given. The moment an individual submits to external authority as the arbiter of his beliefs and actions the stage is set for violent conflict.

In spite of the worst waking nightmares of western Leftists infesting America and other western democracies, our government is controlled by our electorate and backstopped by our constitution. We prosper as we do not because our multinationals are more ruthless than their multinationals but because the combined results of millions of personal rewards for personal risks manifest themsselves as individual wealth and high standards of living. We maintain a paltry military when viewed as a component of our population, and it's a volunteer organization to boot. Yet we are by no honest measure an empire, and only by stretching definitions can you label us a hegemon.

We work. We aren't perfect. We aren't annointed - not by any stretch of the imagination. We have used the precepts of individual liberty, coupled with a healthy distrust of the potential for tyranny in ANY form of government, and arrived here in 2004 as the undisputed 'last' (titles are so fleeting) superpower. Why is that?

I propose that we are unconcious of any upper limit to what we may achieve as individuals and that that subliminal acceptance tends to discourage the kind of nationalism or tribalism that lends itself to state aggression. Our military exists to keep others from trespassing on our pursuits not to enforce our government's agendas. Our people serve based on contracts with clearly defined obligations, not under coercion. And again, it works well enough.

I believe that victory over Islamic fundamentalism will take decades and must of necessity be marked by more military preemption - Iran at the very least. I also believe that at some point the war will have to widen (either by diplomacy, economic maneuvers, or naked force) to address nations or any other transnational terror movements that still embrace forms of communism if we are to ever have a hope of declaring victory at all.

Yeah, China looms large in my mullings on the future.

This brings us back to wars, and rumours of war, doesn't it? We'll see where we are next year and speak of this again.

I'm off - time to put the Colors up.

UPDATE: 4:00 p.m.: And thanks, Vets, for all that you've given in the past and what you are doing today.

This Just In:

Yassir Arafat is dead. In bed, in a french hospital.

I guess they finally got the account numbers and passwords.

I'm off to clean out my cats' litterbox. It seems like the right thing to do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Rum Punch And Pink Gin For All Hands...

...or two warm beers per man.

The United States Marine Corps celebrates 229 years of being there first today.

I am honored and grateful to have served my time in the Corps. I spent a considerable portion of my tour with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, to include two WesPac deployments. We were the Beastmasters, and operated best on San Miguel beer in a driving rain;or maybe it was warm Bud in the Mojave in August? Time fills...

In eight years I managed to see most of the world worth seeing (and quite a few places not worth seeing at all) and even learned a thing or two about being an American while I was at it.

I will never serve with a finer group of men and women again.

Special thanks to SDI GySgt Westenberger, DI Sgt Presas, DI Sgt Roberts, DI Cpl De La Rosa,Top Niskala, GySgt Kelley, GySgt Seright,GySgt Nurse, MGyst Pierson, SgtMaj Campbell, Gunner Trexler, Lt McKinney, Capt Voneida, Maj Lennnnnny Supko (later Colonel in charge of 12th Marines, and I pray he stayed around long enough to run a Division)...and more names pop up the longer I sit here...

Rincon, Knobjob, Langlois, Lee (Don't fucking call me WENDELL), Westy, Big House, Glassman, Doc Holiday, DK, Stewbo, Att, Big Bird, Gopher, Sweetness, Sugar Time, Rammer, Tonee (aka T, buddyro...), Baltimore, Haggard, Vork, Smooth Sam, Tex (there's always one), Paz, Hayseed, Churo, Lute, OddJob, Wicketman, Pinche'P, AaaaaHern, Gardella...

The Professor hopes you are well wherever you are.

Semper Fi, gents.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Life Calls

I haven't been around lately. The reasons for that include all of the following, in no particular order:

1. Followed the elections from about 6 p.m. local until almost two in the morning. Up at 0345 to run my sister in law up to SLC to catch her flight. More 'net surfing through the aftermath...Fatigue meltdown early Wednesday afternoon.

2. Caffeine overdose Thursday morning, leading to disastrous evening remodeling experience. Harsh words were exchanged between Mrs. TmjUtah and me. Yes, I spent twenty years of my life laying out highways, dams, and bridges, but I couldn't locate a light switch cutout on a sheet of drywall to save my life.

3. Paying bills, contacting lawyers, seeking investment advice and other loathsome paperwork details involved with estate planning. This is ongoing, and dammit, we live a simple life here. Bright side note: most advisors have praised the reforms on corporate dividends enacted by Bush so far.

4. Preparing to assemble the tools and implements for a small forge. More on that later, after I finally get the huge dead travel trailer off the pad I need for the forge. Hopefully there will be knifeblades to play with in the not-too distant future.

5. Preparing to accept two four week old kittens for fostering...after finding out that one of our cats has ringworm. That means setting up an isolation kennel and EVERYTHING that can go in a washing machine has to be washed before 1100 tomorrow.

6. And I'm speechless as to the Democrat reaction to the election. Moonbat is too kind a word for much of what has appeared in print or across the airwaves. Many months ago I posted somewhere that there are people that you convince and then there are people you just have to beat.

Looks like the Democrats, at least a large percentage of them, fall in the latter group. The Elder, posting at Fraters Libertas sums it all up quite well. Note: Not work safe, profanity.

And to end on a serious note, all indications are pointing to immanent action in Iraq. Please remember our Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen in your prayers or good wishes. We are in a war, and we reelected our president largely because he pledged to win it. The tactical pause necessary for him to weather the coordinated attacks by the disloyal Left, their media and entertainment surrogates, and to prepare the battlefield is coming to an end.

Now we can get back to draining the swamp.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Log Extract

I have the pleasure to report the ship I am honored to command engaged, in accordance with standing admiralty orders, an enemy sail of equal strength shortly before dawn on 2 November instant.

Action commenced with a cannonade at six bells in the morning watch. Fire was continuous throughout the daylight hours with only a few brief respites necessary to repair rigging, conduct essential repairs, and replenish shot and cartridge upon the decks. I held the weather gauge from the onset of the battle and suffered losses only in sails and minor rigging; at this time the surgeon has reported no deaths, nor any wounds thought to be mortal. The list of wounded is in the margin.

Darkness found the enemy dismasted and pumping strongly, but still maintaining a sporadic fire. I determined the risk of a night boarding action to not be worth the probable cost to my ship and withdrew to windward to conduct repairs and await the dawn.

At fifteen minutes past five bells in the morning watch on the 3d instant I fired a ball across the bow of the enemy as we moved to board. The enemy then fired a blank gun to the lee, struck her remaining ensign (which had been nailed to a spar fished to the stump of their mizzen mast) and hailed to request assistance as they could not keep up with their pumps. My first lieutenant and a party from the starboard watch took possession of the prize and I received their captain's surrender on my quarterdeck, allowing him to retain his sword in honor of the spirited manner which he conducted his crew and ship in battle. The purser's list of captured officers, men, and casualties of the enemy is included in the margin.

I report with regret that in spite of heroic efforts on the part of our Master Carpenter Mr.Karl Rove (who I mention for your particular attention) and crew, the prize sank shortly before two bells in the forenoon watch. In the brief interval between taking possession and the subsequent loss of the prize, my First Lieutenant James Gheragty, Esq (also mentioned for your particular attention) was most Enterprising in the searching of the such ship's papers that survived, and the cabins in spite of their much confused and shattered state. By my order he will depart this ship directly in the blue cutter to transmit this letter and the fruits of his discoveries (under confidential, separate cover) to the Lords of the Admiralty.

The officers and men in my charge conducted themselves in the highest traditions of the service throughout the engagement. Particular attention is paid to the conduct of Mr. Roger L. Simon, secretary, Dennis T. Peasant, Sailing Master, Ms. Lady Katherine of Academia, carried as a passenger but who fought both sides with gusto and had to be forcibly restrained from boarding the enemy, and lastly Ms. Terrye Farmer, a colonial guest who served with distinction as captain of the third gun of the larboard battery after that man fell in battle.

The bosun's, carpenter's, and purser's returns are all satisfactory. I have fifteen rounds per gun and five rounds per carronade remaining and sufficient powder for same. I intend to rendevous with the fleet within the week, at which time I will reprovision with haste in expectation of further orders from same.

I am your obedient servant,

etc, etc...

Captain, commanding.

Wind variable ESE/E moderate, clear skies. Course NW sailing large under courses w/2 reefs.

God Save The King.


The eastern sky turns gray, then pink. A swelling spark breaks the curve of the horizon, casting shadows across the deck. Salt water sluices away the last of yesterday's blood. The ship that met the night under tattered sails and trailing ropes meets the dawn crowned with fresh white canvas and taut rigging humming with the freshening breeze. Tired, dirty men snatch biscuits and water as the broken shape to leeward grows clearer in the light.

Five bells strike in the morning watch.

"Gunner, double shot the larboard great guns and load the carronades with grape. At the word the starboard watch will board amidships, the larboard watch will house their guns and stand by to support."

"Master, lay us alongside the enemy at pistol shot."

The last movement in the day long dance is a gentle curve following the wind down toward the shattered wreck. Across the narrowing gap men are seen to stir beneath a tattered ensign lashed to a spar above the enemy's quarterdeck.

"Number one gun, put a round across her bows and let us see what what they decide. Men, if they do not strike we will give them three rounds brisk and BOARD THEM IN THE SMOKE!"


Ah...we face pirates.

There will be no prize money for a captured hull; no captured ship to join our line. They will not see beyond defeat. They will not strike. And dawn will find the guns at work again until we see them sunk, burnt, or destroyed.


Turn the glass and strike two bells. A tot for every man, aye, and every boy, too - and the wounded noted by the purser so to take their allowance later.

There is work yet to do. It is what we came here for, and it will be done.

Six Bells in the Morning Watch

The enemy is dismasted and drifting on the lee.

We draw away to knot and splice, careful to stay to windward.

Will they strike?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Two Bells into the Dogwatch

The conflict has been fierce all day. Smoke chokes out the setting sun and flags are unreadable through the fog.

Nobody knows yet who fortune smiles upon this day.

I've kept away from election news most of the day. A cursory blogscan at five o'clock showed all sorts of uproar about conflicting exit polling, most notably from the NRO Corner. I can't link to K-Lo's meltdown directly; NRO won't come up for me right at the moment.

Please, folks - who in the blogosphere takes any MSM polling at face value on a normal day, much less before noon eastern on election day? I posted my thoughts on exit polls on my favorite blog, Roger L. Simon.

I hope you all had a fine day. We did in Utah.

Action Commenced at Six Bells in the Morning Watch

Mrs. TmjUtah and I arrived at the polls ten minutes before the doors opened. Weather was clear, tempature about 23F. There were about a dozen people waiting at the doors ahead of us.

One of the people in front of us asked for and received a provisional ballot. He voluntarily produced a picture I.D. and was vouched for by a registered neighbor, neither of which is a statutory requirement. There were three poll workers at the table and one poll watcher - I assume that was her function based on a different format name tag and the fact I've never seen the form she was filling out before this election. There was a media representative present; apparently media has a pool system set up to observe the balloting. Her name tag had logos from CNN to FOX to NPR printed around its border.

What a fine day. It felt like stepping off the ramp into cold water all over again. Now let's just see if we can make it up the beach and into the trees.

I would appreciate any stories you might have of your voting experience. This day is the distillation of all that makes us a great nation. If you don't leave a least get out and vote for your candidate wherever you are. There are more issues at stake than just the presidency, and this is your day to make a difference.

Let's make this one count, people.

UPDATE at 0800: I forgot to mention that by the time we had voted, the line behind us for our precinct was about thirty or forty deep. Our local CBS radio affiliate has reported that a poll watcher was ejected from a polling station in Salt Lake for screaming at people. Go figure.

UPDATE at 0815: The age spread at our polling place (three precincts vote at the same school tended toward seniors, but only barely. Lots of twenty-somethings mixed in with the crowd.

Dawn: Enemy in Sight

It's just after six a.m. here in Utah. Mrs. TmjUtah and I will be in line to vote in about fifteen minutes.

Via Instapundit, we get a glimpse of the awful majesty of the enemy's line of battle: a thousand M-Class BMW's swarming around courthouses across the country

Courts and lawyers, or the vote of the people?

Which party trusts YOU to protect our nation?

Time to beat to quarters, I think.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Who Knew?

In the early 1980's the standing orders for most Marine sentries on armed posts (exclusive of MP's and 'red line' posts) dictated that the sentry's weapon be carried unloaded, with his ammunition carried in two magazines in the pouches on his belt. I experienced this regulation personally, both on the Island of Okinawa and later at MCAGCC 29 Palms as a sentry on interior guard at the respective armories.

The seventies and early eighties were a very tough time to be in service in any branch. The response of the DoD and services to the aftermath of Vietnam was to retract and retrench within their own bureaucracies. The willful ignorance of the federal government at the highest levels and resistance by the same to address the problem of the hollow force that evolved in the seventies caused military procedures to be oriented to almost babysitting standards. The leadership and philosophy from the national command level that managed to make it down to the troops sent a clear message: in the time of detente, boots and rifles count for little or nothing in the big world picture. We were an afterthought - an annoying subculture that was tolerated when not outright ignored. Even as a boot I wondered who exactly we were supposed to be a threat to - the Sov's or our own society?

I enlisted in 1979 and arrived at my first duty station in 1980. I volunteered to take another Marine's orders to Okinawa in an effort to escape the drug culture entrenched at Camp Pendleton. My first regimental formation on the Rock was called to publicize the arrival of the first two new M151A1 jeeps to be accepted for delivery into our motor pool in over three years. The regimental motor transport chief addressed us from the hood of one and gave us all the word: he'd personally rip the nuts off the driver who rolled, wrecked, or allowed any parts to be scavenged from either jeep. We stood in a periodic monsoon rain for an hour to get that message. The time wasn't entirely wasted. My section managed to steal two truck batteries from the Regiment stash in the confusion following being dismissed. That meant that we could finally operate our section truck without having to get a jump every time the motor stalled.

We were a bunch of sad sacks.

Things began to look up as my time on Okinawa drew to a close. Reagan's administration envisioned military preparedness as a key to restoring national pride and an essential component to counter the relentless expansion of the Soviets. If you were born after 1970 you may not remember just how the scorecard of freedom v. Communism was trending. Cuba (and covert Soviet) troops were active in Africa, Central and South America, and in the Caribbean. Half of Europe had been under Soviet rule since the end of World War II. The best and brightest of public policy, punditry, education, and media all defined the friction between communism and democracy as an insurmountable competition between 'different economic philosophies'...except for Reagan and the conservative movement.

The Soviet Union, the PRC, and all their surrogates, were the enemy in a war that would end only with the complete and utter defeat of one side or another. Reagan laid out the case that the seeds of the defeat of the Soviet Union were inherent in its structure BUT that they would only fall if they were defeated by the conscious resistance of the free world, lead by America. If you were born after 1980, you were probably taught in school that the Soviet Union 'liberalized' on its own hook.

That's a lie. They were forced to compete militarily and economically, and they collapsed under the weight of their own fatally flawed system. Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had everything to do with the fact that today there is only one communist regime in the Western hemisphere (I don't count Canada, outside of Quebec, or San Francisco/Berkeley/NYC)and that most of the Warsaw Pact nations are now NATO members. I watched the Soviet Union collapse from the living room of my San Diego apartment...and was proud to have been a miniscule part of the reason it happened.

My kids don't practice hiding under their desks for civil defense like I did...but today they do carry contact cards to get in touch with either the wife or me, or our closest friends locally. They also have numbers for relatives on the other side of the country. Just in case.

This presidential election is a referendum on our national policy toward Islamist terror. George Bush came to power from Texas after almost two terms as governor. His most notable accomplishments before the presidency were the modernization of the state bureaucracy, improvements in the public school system, and his acknowledged ability to achieve bipartisan progress in a traditionally contentious state political environment. He has since delivered action on every campaign agenda he ran on. Since 9/11, The Bush Doctrine he authored has been published: terror will be confronted and defeated, and he has led a coalition of allies in a world war to transform the swamp that breeds our enemy. The challenge is global, the stakes are deadly.

Today two nations have been rid of odious dictatorships, one has held the first democratic elections in its history, and in Iraq January will see those people hold their first free elections since the 1950's. Libya has agreed to divest itself of WMD materials and programs. Pakistan is an ally in our efforts to defeat the remnants of the Taliban and in the pursuit of Osama bin Ladin. North Korea has been forced into multilateral talks, and our military presence in the Republic of Korea has been changed from that of a sacrificial speed bump at the DMZ into a viable, potent deterrent to North Korean aggression.

All of our successes since 9/11 have been built on an unambiguous policy that the United States will not negotiate, will not tolerate, and will not relent in the pursuit and destruction of Islamic terrorists be they individuals, groups, or nation states. If we send the message that we are too timid to fight, too bored to care, or lack the will and faith to see the transformation of the Muslim arc into democracies through to success, we will have surrendered the initiative in this war to our enemy.

John Kerry is the distilled remnant of the political culture that defined our country during my adolescence and early adulthood. I am not going to critique his conduct as a Naval officer or speculate on his motivations after Vietnam. In his senate career he has consistently voted against almost every improvement of national security that came before him. Ditto tax reform/cuts. Ditto welfare reform. Ditto opposition to communist expansion. Ditto second amendment issues. Ditto federal education reform.

His politics served him well in a liberal enclave. His votes to gut intelligence capability during the eighties, his opposition to U.S. action in Desert Storm, and further attempts to cut intelligence appropriations after the 1993 WTC attack were the actions of one senator pandering to his Massachusetts machine constituency in a body of one hundred . We could afford that. We cannot afford that behavior in our national executive. Not only is Kerry profoundly lacking in the vision, character and principle demanded by these times, he has surrounded himself with persons equally lacking.

The duties of the president are just that - duties. They are not a minor aspect of a position of privilege and power, as I fear Kerry, his peers, and supporters view the office. We already spun the wheel based on the end of history, and it didn't work.

And now it's time to wrap this up. Where's the "Who Knew?" in all of this, you ask?

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was attacked with a truck bomb in April of 1983. Sixty three people, including the entire CIA staff and CIA middle east section chief, were killed. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility; they used a van stolen from the embassy motor fleet the year before to deliver the estimated one ton bomb. Six months later, the Marine guarding the gate to the U.S. peacekeeping mission at Beirut International Airport watched as a familiar yellow Mercedes truck approached his post. This morning, it was driven by a Hizbollah fighter and carried an estimated 12000 pounds of explosive. The truck crashed through a wood and wire barricade, past the sentry, and toward the concrete tower housing the off-watch personnel of the Batallion Landing Team of the 24th MAU.

After being in Beirut for months, after the U.S. Embassy had been bombed, after being shelled, mortared, and sniped at daily, the Marines in Beirut were still prohibited from carrying a weapon with a chambered round. The rules of engagement prohibited them from returning fire without express command authority, including in cases of self defense. That was the conventional wisdom of the national command in 1983.

The sentry who had witnessed the truck crash though the barricade frantically dug out a magazine for his M-16, inserted it, cycled the action, and attempted to disable the truck as it lumbered away.

The rifle clicked on an empty chamber. The magazine fell free of the rifle and clattered to the ground. In the heat of the moment it had been inserted upside down.

The truck drove against the face of the barracks and exploded. Eventually, 244 deaths would be attributed to this attack.

The only CIA entry for Beirut that morning was an observation that the Iranian Embassy had been evacuated with haste about two hours earlier.

The SOP in place at the gate that day made perfect sense to politicians and commanders half a world away from the shooting. What's a few troops here and there, right? Right? Who knew there would be a bomb there on that day?

Those were the 'good old days' when terror was just a nuisance.

I want a leader who will fight to win. Not a dilettante seeking power for power's sake.

So yes, I'm voting for Bush tomorrow. I don't think the election will be nearly as close as the pundits and MSM have sold it to be, either. I will not be surprised by widespread fraud, or legal challenges, but in the end Bush will win with more than 300 ECV and a sizeable PV margin over fifty percent. My earlier prediction of 57% PV is probably too high given the amount of fraud we are going to see in urban areas, but Bush will pull better than 53% by tomorrow night.

Be a citizen. Vote tomorrow.