Monday, February 19, 2018

Steve Coll, Directorate S

Andrew Bacevich had an excellent review in yesterday's New York Times.

And at Amazon, Steve Coll, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

James Forman, Jr., Locking Up Our Own

Now out in paperback.

At Amazon, James Forman, Jr., Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.

ICYMI: Edward E. Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told


At Amazon, Edward E. Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists

This looks intriguing.

At Amazon, Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists.
If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes...

Barbara Palvin Returns (VIDEO)

At Sports Illustrated Swimsuit:

Blake Lively Fitness


Deep Jennifer Lopez

At Drunken Stepfather, "JENNIFER LOPEZ OF THE DAY."

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Parkland Shooter Nikolas Was Mentally Disturbed

And apparently he's on the autism spectrum and at some point had been taking medications for ADHD.

Leftists now are decrying talk about mental health, claiming it's a ruse to divert attention from "common sense" gun control, as always.

At the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Leftists Turn to Connecticut in Wake of #Parkland Massacre

I guess it's better to push radical policy change at the state level, closer to the people. But this time as previously, mental illness appears to be the single biggest factor contributing to the carnage.

Leftists never learn.

At NYT, "In Wake of Florida Massacre, Gun Control Advocates Look to Connecticut."

Parkland Shooting Survivors Plan March on Washington

Well, we'll see how this turns out. When you "march on Washington," people expect massive crowds, filling the public spaces. We're talking hundreds of thousands of people. That's a tall order, especially to organize in six weeks.

Boston Globe Front-Page on #Parkland Shootings: 'We Know What Will Happen Next'

Hmm, more of the same old gun control hysteria, this time at the Boston Globle: "Parkland. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. Newtown. On and on: In America, mass shootings have become so familiar that they seem to follow the same sad."

Deport Amanda Marcotte!


The Other McCain calls for Marcotte's deportation, on Twitter:

Mandatory Minimum Age Requirements for Gun Ownership

After ruminating on and endorsing the role of firearms in America's civic nationalism, Ross Douthat proposes age limitations on guns ownership: 18 years old on hunting rifles, 21 years old on "revolvers," 25 on "semi-automatic pistols, and 30 years old for semi-automatic rifles, like the AR-15.

He argues these gun control proposals would be specifically geared toward "the plague of school shootings, whose perpetrators are almost always young men."

At the New York Times, "No Country For Young Men With AR-15s."

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

I finished the book yesterday.

It took me almost a month to read, because school started and I had the flu. Besides, it's almost 700 pages. It's good though. Thought provoking. At times powerfully written.

At Amazon, Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook: A Novel.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Eleanor Henderson, The Twelve-Mile Straight

At Amazon, Eleanor Henderson, The Twelve-Mile Straight: A Novel.

ICYMI: Janet Fitch, The Revolution of Marina M.


At Amazon, Janet Fitch, The Revolution of Marina M.

More Than 16 Years After 9/11, Some Americans Say It’s Time to Reevaluate Our Foreign Military Deployments

From Rukmini Callimachi, et al., at the New York Times, "‘An Endless War’: Why 4 U.S. Soldiers Died in a Remote African Desert":

KOLLO, Niger — Cut off from their unit, the tiny band of American soldiers was outnumbered and outgunned in the deserts of Niger, fighting to stay alive under a barrage of gunfire from fighters loyal to the Islamic State.

Jogging quickly at a crouch, Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black motioned to the black S.U.V. beside him to keep moving. At the wheel, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright tried to steer while leaning away from the gunfire. But the militants, wielding assault rifles and wearing dark scarves and balaclavas, kept closing in.

Sergeant Black suddenly went down. With one hand, Sergeant Wright dragged his wounded comrade to the precarious shielding of the S.U.V. and took up a defensive position, his M4 carbine braced on his shoulder.

“Black!” yelled a third American soldier, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, checking for the wounds. Sergeant Black lay on his back, motionless and unresponsive.

Cornered, Sergeant Wright and Sergeant Johnson finally took off, sprinting through the desert under a hail of fire. Sergeant Johnson was hit and went down, still alive.

At that point, Sergeant Wright stopped running. With only the thorny brush for cover, he turned and fired at the militants advancing toward his fallen friend.

These were the last minutes in the lives of three American soldiers killed on Oct. 4 during an ambush in the desert scrub of Niger that was recorded on a military helmet camera. A fourth American, Sgt. La David Johnson, who had gotten separated from the group, also died in the attack — the largest loss of American troops during combat in Africa since the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” debacle in Somalia.

The four men, along with four Nigerien soldiers and an interpreter, were killed in a conflict that few Americans knew anything about, not just the public, but also their families and even some senior American lawmakers.

The deaths set off a political storm in Washington, erupting into a bitter debate over how the families of fallen soldiers should be treated by their commander in chief. In a call with one of the families after the ambush, President Trump was accused of diminishing the loss, telling the soldier’s widow that “he knew what he signed up for.” Mr. Trump angrily disputed the claim, leading to a public feud.

But beyond the rancor, dozens of interviews with current and former officials, soldiers who survived the ambush and villagers who witnessed it point to a series of intelligence failures and strategic miscalculations that left the American soldiers far from base, in hostile territory longer than planned, with no backup or air support, on a mission they had not expected to perform.

They had set out on Oct. 3, prepared for a routine, low-risk patrol with little chance of encountering the enemy. But while they were out in the desert, American intelligence officials caught a break — the possible location of a local terrorist leader who, by some accounts, is linked to the kidnapping of an American citizen. A separate assault team was quickly assembled, ready to swoop in on the terrorist camp by helicopter. But the raid was scrapped at the last minute, and the Americans on patrol were sent in its place.

They didn’t find any militants. Instead, the militants found them. Short on water, the patrol stopped outside a village before heading back to base the next morning. Barely 200 yards from the village, the convoy came under deadly fire.

Four months later, tough questions remain unanswered about the chain of decisions that led to American Special Forces troops being overwhelmed by jihadists in a remote stretch of West Africa.

How did a group of American soldiers — who Defense Department officials insisted were in the country simply to train, advise and assist Niger’s military — suddenly get sent to search a terrorist camp, a much riskier mission than they had planned to carry out? Who ordered the mission, and why were the Americans so lightly equipped, with few heavy weapons and no bulletproof vehicles?

More broadly, the deaths have reignited a longstanding argument in Washington over the sprawling and often opaque war being fought by American troops around the world. It is a war with sometimes murky legal authority, one that began in the embers of the Sept. 11 attacks and traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was expanded to Yemen, Somalia and Libya before arriving in Niger, a place few Americans ever think of, let alone view as a threat.

The ashes of the fallen twin towers were still smoldering on Sept. 14, 2001, when Congress voted overwhelmingly, with virtually no debate, to authorize the American military to hunt down the perpetrators. It was a relatively narrow mandate, written for those specific attacks, but it has become the underpinning of an increasingly broad mission around the globe. For more than 16 years since that vote, American service members have been deployed in a war that has gradually stretched to jihadist groups that did not exist in 2001 and now operate across distant parts of the world.

The result has been an amorphous and contested war that has put Navy SEALs in Somalia and Yemen, Delta Force soldiers in Iraq, and Green Berets in Niger in harm’s way...