Category Archives: Book and Film Reviews

Saturday Matinee 2014 19: 5 Days of War (2011)

5 Days of WarThis movie was highly promising. There are some good pros in the cast, whose performances and parts we’ll get to. The director, Renny Harlin from Finland, is an ace at making low-budget actioners, and not bad at high-budget ones like Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger – movies that aren’t especially believable, for any longer than it takes to exit the theater, but are pure joy whilst inside. Moreover, as a movie about real events — the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia, with ethnic cleansing carried out under Russian guns by nominally-independent ethnic militias — it’s potentially applicable to current events in Ukraine, where nominally-independent ethnic militias operate under Russian direction and command, with a view to similar ethnic cleansing.

For this reason, we moved it up in our review queue.

Notice we said, “highly promising,” not “frickin’ awesome.” That’s because the movie is also a propaganda film so one-sided as to be disturbing. Harlin had extensive Georgian cooperation in filming 5 Days of War (a movie also available under other names). The Georgian Army provided both the Georgian and Russian forces for the film; the Georgian Ministry of Culture may have financed it (the then-minister has a producer credit); which should raise your eyebrow. And, while those things alone don’t undermine the credibility of the film, the cartoon Manichaeism does. In the movie, the Russian side is home to all depravity and the Georgian, all nobility, a situation which may occur in some wars but probably didn’t in this one.

Even if you accept that the Georgians were in the right in the war, you have to face the fact that Georgian artillery fired on Russian-sponsored militia in the breakaway provinces, handing Russia the casus belli. In the movie, this fact is absent; the Russians attack out of the blue, neutralizing the Georgian Air Force and a few kindergartens, and, naturally, the wedding that the hero, a reporter, is watching. Because every woman wants strange foreign correspondents at her wedding, right?

The essential plot challenge is for reporter Thomas Anders to get video documentation of Russian perfidy out to his network before the Russians step on him and make him disgorge the evidence. The one brilliant thing in the movie is that the network does not care: much like today’s CNN obsession with the lost Malaysia Airlines flight, then, the networks were

Johnathon Schaech (l.) with Renny Harlin on location.

Johnathon Schaech (l.) with Renny Harlin on location.

Renny Harlin is considered anti-Russian by the Russian, and formerly the Soviet, governments since his very first film, American Born. The Soviets, in fact, exerted political pressure on the Finnish government to censor (several minutes of Soviets behaving like Soviets were cut) and ultimately ban the movie, and later, Russia managed to spike his planned biopic of Finnish war and political hero Marshal Mannerheim, whom Soviet historiography dismisses as a fascist. Harlin could probably make a pro-Russian film and Russian officialdom would hate it, but he didn’t do it this time.

In an interview, Harlin said at the time of the movie’s release:

I guess there were some parallels in terms of coming from Finland, and having lived in a small country next to a superpower, so I could certainly relate to the situation between Russia and Georgia. And I delved into the subject matter, and thought that this was another movie that was a true story, and I could really tell something powerful with it, and about wars that are going on all around the world, constantly. And I felt very passionate about this one.

We are sick of journalists and lawyers as heroes, and the good news is, in 5 Days of War it’s only journalists. Still, Harlin doesn’t agree with us:

I felt that the point of view of the journalists was also interesting, because they are sort of the unsung heroes. People don’t realise that they are in the front lines there and without weapons, and at the mercy of events.

A Russian Mi-24 kinetically expresses Putin's dissatisfaction with Anders's and Sebastian's news coverage.

A Russian Mi-24 kinetically expresses Putin’s dissatisfaction with Anders’s and Sebastian’s news coverage.

The movie skips around slightly confusedly between events with President Mikhail Saakashvili (based on reality), and events around Tskhinvali and Gori, Georgian towns attacked by the Russian Army. Saakashvili is depicted without mercy as mercurial and inconstant; the journalists as brave, but out of their depth; and the Georgian Army gets the most reverential treatment, despite having its ass thoroughly kicked by the Russians. Johnathon Schaech plays a Georgian captain with a knack for deus ex macchina arrivals, who becomes a sort of Georgian guardian angel to Anders. There is considerable religious symbology throughout — Georgia, of course, draws its name from its patron, St. George.

The action scenes punch above the movie’s $12-million-budget and 36-day-shooting-schedule weight.

Acting and Production

"For all I know, Vladimir Vladimirovich wants Ukraine next!"

“For all I know, Vladimir Vladimirovich wants Ukraine next!” Andy Garcia nails Saakashvili’s shell-shocked look.

There are good actors in the film, some of them names. Andy Garcia perfectly captures the stress and wear upon President Saakashvili, a flawed and sometimes noble man who got his country in over its head. Rupert Friend and Richard Coyle are OK as the journalist Thomas Anders and his cameraman Sebastian Ganz. Val Kilmer has an excellent supporting turn as “Dutchman,” the sort of aging war photog wunderkind who remains in the grip of adrenaline addiction. Emmanuelle Chiriqui is the Georgian woman, Katya, who starts off as Anders’s guide to Georgian customs and winds up as his love interest, although it’s a chaste love that would not be out of place in a 1940s Hollywood flick.

Mikko as Daniil acting naught with a Dragunov.

Mikko Nousiainen as Daniil acting naughty with a Dragunov. Nousiainen brings the sinister to the part.

A villain can make or break a film, and 5 Days offers us two: Croatian actor Rade Šerbedžija as a Russian officer, Colonel Demidov, in a most un-Russian-Army scruffy and wrinkled get-up; and Finnish actor Mikko Nousiainen, who has an almost non-speaking but terrifying role as the Russo-Ossetian militia leader Daniil. Covered in prison tattoos, cruel and much more focused than his subordinates, who are distracted by opportunities for plunder and rape, Daniil is someone you really would not want to ever see, except through a riflescope, in which case you’d be doing all humanity a boon by taking up the slack in the trigger and sending him on to the next world.

There is also a young Russian soldier character, a kid who says not a word but shows he’s determined to hang on to his humanity. He’s very deftly inserted in just a couple of scenes.

The script and editing seem to jerk us back and forth, and the movie might have benefited by more focus, more direction, fewer characters, and much tighter editing. It’s a 90 minute movie delivered over a span of two hours.

Since the American reporter is your primary viewpoint character, and he’s a typical monoglot American, the technique of having the Georgians speak Georgian to one another when he’s around is very effective, but it’s a little jarring when we then cut to the President’s office — reportedly, the real President’s office was made available to Harlin — and the inner war councils of the Georgians speak English for the viewer’s convenience.

Dean Cain, an excellent actor, is underutilized as an American PR advisor to Garcia’s Saakashvili. It’s a bit sad that two such talented actors are tossed aside in a subplot that mostly just dumps exposition on us, before we go back to the action we’re truly concerned about, on and behind the front lines of the Russian invasion.

Accuracy and Weapons

Thanks to the Georgian official support, the guns in the film are mostly good, with a few exceptions, rooted perhaps in the double-edged sword of that Georgian support. The AKs, for example, are 7.62; Georgian SOF are using 7.62 AKs also; even the Russians use 7.62 AKs. During the war, the Russians at least used 5.46 AK-74s and Georgian SOF used M4A1s.

The bad guy and the good guy (Nousiainen and Schaech) both carry Beretta 92s, an odd choice. Nousiainen’s character also totes, as seen in the picture above, an SVD.


Generally gunfire sounds and sights are realistic, and even the aerial weapons are close (they’re shown with unrealistic full exhaust trails form launch to target, though).

CGI is used where it need be, when a helicopter must explode, for instance. Unfortunately the pyrotechnics are Hollywood: great gassy fireballs. We continue our lonely fight for realistic pyro, as the producers and directors of the whole industry laugh at us from atop a massive pile of money.

The bottom line

5 Days of War is a decent action film, perhaps 2.5 to 3 stars out of five, hampered by its excessive one-sidedness, that occasionally lapse into propaganda. Of course, you’re not going to get the Russian argument from a partially Georgian production, filmed just two years after the war that most Georgians see as naked, unprovoked Russian aggression.

This Georgian-government-sponsored movie is not the only film about the Georgian war, although it is the best known in the West. There are also two Russian government-sponsored films that we have yet to see, Olympus Inferno and August 8th. Olympus Inferno was made immediately after the war. It has a very similar plot to 5 Days of War, involving film of atrocities which must be exfiltrated, except with the sides reversed: the Ossetians and Russians are the good guys and the Georgians and their American puppetmasters are the bad guys. August 8th is an ambitious 2012 film that tells the story of the war from the dual viewpoints of a single mother and her son, who loses himself in a fantasy world.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • DVD page:

  • IMDB page:

  • IMFDB page:

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page (33%, Rotten):

  • Wikipedia  page:

The Silent Service (TV, 1957-58)

The things you find on YouTube. This is an episode of a forgotten series called The Silent Service which ran for 78 episodes in the late 1950s, we daresay before most of our readers were born. This black-and-white TV show dramatized true events of the United States’s then-diesel-electric submarines and their submariners, principally during war patrols in World War II. American submarines did more than anything, possibly including the nuclear bombing, to bring the Japanese Empire to its knees.

The show was created by California National Productions, which made other TV shows about the military — stirring stuff especially for adventure-oriented boys. Periscope Film (heh), the company that now owns the rights to these classic TV shows, has put several episodes on line.

Each episode starts with Rear Admiral Thomas M. Dykers (Retired), telling you what you’re about to see. Dykens sits at an admiral-worthy desk with a map of the Pacific behind him, setting the stage, as he describes in a Boston Brahmin accent what adventure you’re about to join under the waves. “Tonight, we bring you another thrilling episode of Silent Service stories, of warfare under the sea… as authentic as we can make it.” Dykers promises, as nearly to beaming-with-pride as he can manage without degrading his station in life. He goes on to narrate each story, which combines well-acted reenactments (or dramatizations if you will), with archival combat-film footage.

Here’s Episode 8310, The SS Tinosa Story starring Murray Hamilton, William Phipps, Brett Halsey and Britt Lomond. Periscope says, “The plot unfolds with the USS Tinosa trying to penetrate the sea of Japan using “Hell’s Bells” type sonar to cross the guarding mine fields.”

(Periscope adds: In WWII, Tinosa completed twelve war patrols in the Pacific and was credited with sinking 16 enemy ships, totaling 64,655 tons.).

The Silent Service endured very high casualties, by US standards, although nothing like the near-eradication their German counterparts suffered. In World War II, a sub usually came home to port safely or was lost with no hands, and for its own side, no trace until the world’s navies were able to compare and share data after the war. There was seldom a middle ground.

Here’s Episode 8297, Tirante Plays a Hunch, from June, 1957. The events depicted here earned rookie CO Lt. Cmdr. George L. Street the Medal of Honor, and the ship and her crew the Presidential Unit Citation. The officers of Tirante were a patrician bunch — the XO was Edward L. “Ned” Beach (played by Russell Johnson, a World War II bomber pilot who is best known for the role of the Professor on Gilligan’s Island), and the gunnery officer Endicott “Chuck” Peabody. Whether patriotism or noblesse oblige drove them to volunteer and volunteer again, they served the Navy and the country with true courage and vision in the war.

The skipper says, when Peabody suggests a harebrained scheme, “Most of this crew thought they were being trained as, er, submariners. Not pirates!” Meanwhile, Ned Beach has another harebrained plan, that would require the boat to steam long on the surface, close into the enemy shores and without enough water to dive in. But Peabody’s and Beach’s plans make sense enough that Street gives them his blessing, and we’re off on the adventure with the boat and its crew.

This episode was written by Beirne Lay, Jr. who was a wartime (and prewar) Air Corps/Air Forces officer, and who co-wrote the novel 12 O’Clock High,  and became the solo screenwriter for its equally classic movie and TV adaptations, and for the Jimmy Stewart classic Strategic Air Command.

There are a number of other episodes of Silent Service posted online by Periscope, and some others by third parties, and they’re all time capsules of an era when Hollywood was proud to cooperate with the US military and tell its stories.

Can we get a DVD set? Not officially, it turns out, but a Navy vet has put the episodes online on his website,, and he will sell a DVD for anyone that doesn’t want to take the loooong time to download the episodes in .mp4 format. On a submariners’ Facebook page, several boat vets cite the movie as an inspiration of their own undersea careers.

Saturday Matinee 2014 18: Falling Down (1993)

Screenshot 2014-05-03 02.28.16We were looking for a Michael Caine movie when we found this Michael Douglas movie that we’d never seen before. Not the Michael we were looking for, but two things they have in common are terrific acting ability and a knack for unusual roles. So we grabbed it — and are glad we did. It also features Robert Duvall in an absolutely outstanding supporting performance.


The opening traffic jam scene is an extended quote from Fellini, something that will be lost on all but film nerds. And from the minute you meet our protagonist, you empathize with him and share his frustration.

Yet, as the movie progressed, we found ourselves more and more concerned about how it might end. There was no way it could end well for all the characters we come to understand, and even like. And sure enough, it doesn’t. Although it ends just about as well as could be expected, and really horrible things don’t happen to people who haven’t got it coming. We were expecting a really horrible Hollywood nihilist twist at the end, and we didn’t see it.

After all, it is a movie.

Michael Douglas’s character is a a defense contractor named Bill Foster. “I build missiles,” he says with pride, “that keep America safe.” But he is the Willy Loman of engineers. He has defined himself all his life by family and work, and as we eavesdrop on a very frustrating day we start to pick up, by hints and by inches, how such quotidian frustrations as LA traffic, summer heat, and a failed A/C in his crappy car (a Chevette, of all things, with the vanity plate D-FENS) are more straws on a camel’s back that already has some serious fractures.

Bill is on a mission: to make it across town and see his daughter. It’s her birthday, and he loves her very much.

As his bad day goes on, though, we see Bill transform, from the wrapped-too-tight engineer in white shirt and pocket protector to — well. That would be telling.

One of the best things about the movie is the element of humor, often dark humor.

Acting and Production

Few of the actors fail to deliver a nuanced, believable performance. There are some supporting characters that are two-dimensional, which is a failing of the writers, not the actors. What happens when a Hollywood screenwriter runs out of ideas? Well, that’s when they fall back on the Hollywood Corollary to Godwin’s Law. They actually went there. And the Nazi guy is not the only unbelievable minor character. There’s a pushy-jerk cop who does not miss a single move from the Screenwriter’s Pushy-Jerk-Character Toolbox™. There are two gay guys whose existence in the movie is to be the anti-cat (in Save the Cat! terms): to show us that Nazi Guy is a bad guy because he hates Teh Ghey. For those of you in the cheap seats who didn’t figure that out from him being, you know, Nazi Guy.

Prendergast and Revolver

As mentioned above, both Douglas and Duvall stand out. Duvall’s character is a robbery detective on his last day before retiring, and he plays him with depth and feeling. You believe him, and you feel his joys and his sorrows.

Accuracy and Weapons

Yes, there are guns aplenty. Bill Foster starts off armed only with his briefcase, but he doesn’t stay that way.

Bill Foster

The guns are kind of standard movie guns of the 80s and 90s. (“Oh, look, a Tec-9.”) There’s nothing really special about them, although IMFDB notes that, “he never uses the same weapon more than once.” There is one dramatic scene where Detective Prendergast (Duvall) went for his gun, only to remember that he’d already turned it in (it was his last day, after all). He manages to borrow a gun.

The situations where the guns come up are not the most realistic. Bunch of gangbanging cholos with guns — we could believe that. Except, a gang of cholos with all their guns in a handy duffle bag? Maybe not. (At least Hollywood didn’t inflict that other tinseltown trope, the Multi-Racial Street Gang: you know, the Crips, the Bloods, the United Colors of Benetton (we’re dating ourselves, eh?).

And, even in 1993, the “surplus store with a back room full of illegal weaponry” was an unbelievable Hollywood cliché already. With so much imagination used elsewhere in the movie, it’s just sad that the writers got lazy and fell back on such a follish, hackneyed formula.

The bottom line

We never heard of Falling Down, and based on a trailer probably wouldn’t have gone to see it at the time. The trailer makes it look like, “Yawn, another white-middle-class-guy-snaps-like-a-dry-twig film.” But because we took a flyer on a $5 DVD, we got a good dose of entertainment, despite our quibbles.

Bill Foster is not just a guy who snaps like a dry twig. He’s a guy who does things for reasons. If he obsesses, his backstory tells you why. If he loses is, well, who hasn’t been tempted? And Duvall’s cop, Detective Prendergast? He’s got depth and backstory too, and a very human partnership with another cop, a friend he’s leaving behind on the job. Like Foster, he, too, has a sense of identity tied up in a job that doesn’t necessarily love him back.

We think you’ll enjoy Falling Down, the story of an ordinary guy pushed that one step too far — and the step after that.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • DVD page:

  • IMDB page:

  • IMFDB page:

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page:

(73%, Fresh)

  • Wikipedia  page:

Saturday Matinee 2014 17: Non-Stop (2014)

non-stop neeson dvdOK: here’s the thing. This is supposedly an English-language, high-budget remake of a French anti-American propaganda film, which explains a great deal. The producers? America-hating Frenchmen and Hollywood denizens (same thing, practically).

The director? An America-hating Spaniard. Actors: a mixed bag. The bad guys? A 9/11 victim’s son – yeah, they went there – who is a veteran, what else, and another veteran, what else. After all, we’ve seen a worldwide epidemic of people blowing stuff up and they’ve all turned out to be veterans trying to frame some innocent goat herder named Mohammed… oh, wait.

This is the bad guy.

This is the bad guy, the 9/11 victim’s son who’s going to avenge dad with a terror attack of his own. Which you’ll figure out about 15 minutes in. It continues to puzzle Neeson’s character, though.

The first guy is motivated by anti-government rage, and the second, well, what are all soldiers motivated by, if you’re a Hollywood screenwriter who hasn’t had a family member in the service since they started letting cowards manipulate deferments? Why, of course, money, just like all those mercenaries out on the ramparts now. He wants money so badly he’ll suicide-bomb a plane for it, which indicates how deeply these writers thought about their characters’ motivations.

This is the other bad guy. You pick up on that as soon as Neeson meets him.

This is the other bad guy, the soldier committing a suicide attack for money. You pick up on that as soon as Neeson meets him, even before the other guy.

The suspense? None, once you realize that the bad guys are going to be the ones the director and scriptwriters hate, and anybody who looks like a real terrorist — like the guy in the jihad mandress and wifebeater beard — is really a good guy. If you are on to Hollywood’s inverted value system, you’ll nail this.

Of course, the 9/11-son-turned-soldier-turned-crazed-hijacker gets up shot in the head by Neeson, in jet’s-death-plunge-slow-mo, and his dumb-mercenary-sidekick gets hoist by his own petard, pretty literally, as a bomb that provides one of the plot points in his illogical plot blows him into the ether.

The plot is one of those gimmicky forced-suspense things that hits every Save The Cat! beat to the second, making a movie already based on a dull concept a predictable as crotch rot after three weeks in the field.

It has unfortunately been a box-office success, and unfortunately was still hanging on in theaters when we were looking for some non-chick-flick to see.

Well, it is that. It is a non-chick-flick. Of course, it’s also repulsive anti-American and anti-military propaganda. The entire audience, about seven people at this late date, groaned at the end, but then we were in a town where people go to the airbase to greet soldiers returning from overseas. Without meaning to spit on them. So here, it’s a groaner. Maybe it was big in Ithaca and Cambridge.

Acting and Production

non-stop neeson 3Liam Neeson, whiose career is coasting on the fumes of Schindler’s List as a “serious actor,” is certainly more salable as an action hero than some of the losers that Hollywood has tried to foist on us over the years. He was good in The Grey, but then he had animatronic wolves as co-stars; it was hard not to stand out.

Here, Neeson’s character is one of a team of two air marshals, but his partner’s role ends rapidly with the character’s murder. By Neeson’s character. Because the other air marshal was smuggling cocaine. Sure, they do that all the time.

Neeson’s character, Bill Marks, has issues, entirely apart from mouthing lines from screenwriters whose gage of dialog authenticity is other bad action films. The issues can basically be summed up as the character being a dislikable, boozehound loser. And Neeson stays in character. You never really like him. Of course, as the movie wobbles towards its contrived conclusion, you quickly figure out who the “real” bad guys are, and then you start to really dislike him.

We’re going to give the next few Neeson releases a pass in the theaters. If these are the scripts he’s picking, he needs to be sent to the Netflix penalty box for a while.

Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery have thin female roles. About all you can say for them is that Moore has not aged well.

The bulk of the movie is Neeson changing directions and chasing red herrings as he suspects everybody on the plane, except the actual doers and the guy in the jihad clothes, whom even the booze-soaked Bill Marks realizes can’t be a terrorist in the movies, because he’s an Arab.

The production is the usual 2014 overdone montage of jerky camera angles, gratuitous slow-mo (“I heard Peckinpah did this, I gotta watch one of his films sometime”) and bad, TV-Movie-of-the-Week CGI.

Accuracy and Weapons

The key weapons in the movie are the guns of the the air marshals, the terrorist’s (the veterans’, remember, one of whom is a 9/11 family member) bomb, and their — we are not making this up — blowgun and its darts. They use the blowgun to shoot the pilot in his cockpit (through a hole in the lav wall) and to kill another inconvenient person, using a poison that is just like curare, except it’s delayed-action. “But such a poison does not exist!” the medically savvy among you may not. Well, it’s at least as common as 9/11 victims who hijack planes — in Hollywood’s fevered brains, at least.

The Air Marshal guns are correctly depicted as SIGs, although this may have changed since the last time I checked. Neeson’s partner has the right SIG, a 229, and Neeson has a similar but wrong stainless 226.

At one point, the director manipulates the physics so that the 229 and Neeson are falling through space in different directions. (This is where Neeson gets the shot and, whilst flying through the air, nails the 9/11 victim’s son in the head). Sorry, chico, gravity is not just a good idea, it’s the Law. That scene is offensive to everyone who made it through about sixth grade science. Galileo. Cannonballs. When does the eight pounder catch the four pounder? It also suffered from creeping Tarantinomia, namely, all time slows down except for the physical actions of the fifty-something star. You expect to see physics tortured in the Star Trek franchise, not an overproduced B-script actioner.

The bomb and its effects are particularly phony and fake. It generates a fireball and a ring of fire around the perimeter of the damage it causes. (In Hollywood, script problems are frequently handled with ignited gasoline. They should have put the gasoline on the script this time). Just one more example of the “terrifying” CGI that will bring a laugh out of you.

The bottom line

Non-Stop sucks like a cosmic merger of Oreck and Electrolux, raised to the power of the vacuum of interstellar space. Yes, it’s that bad.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • DVD page:

(For preorder. But please don’t).

  • IMDB page:

  • IMFDB page:

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page:

Yep, it’s rotten:

  • Wikipedia  page:

Two books by Hatcher

On our return to Stately Hog Manor, after a day behind enemy lines in the halls of academe, we found a package awaiting us. Among other things it contained two volumes by Maj. Julian S. Hatcher, a trained engineer (an honor graduate of the Naval Academy) and one time head of Army small arms development. While Hatcher’s heyday was long ago (he lived from 1888 to 1963, and served from his transfer from the Navy to the Army in 1910 to medical retirement from the Army in 1946), he wrote works of a kind and quality not much produced today.

Hatcher’s books are dense, text-rich tomes with a great deal of wisdom in them, and, as befits an engineer, more than a few facts and figures. One of the books was a replacement of what is, as its subtitle claims, a standard reference: Hatcher’s Notebook: A Standard Reference for Shooters, Gunsmiths, Ballisticians, Historians, Hunters and Collectors. We had a copy, which a friend admired, and so it is now his copy, and Amazon duly sent us a new one. The second book was the lesser-known Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers, which Amazon suggested. This lesser-known work was a 1990s reprint for the Firearms Classic Library of the NRA and the National Firearms Museum. We thought the library was defunct, but it appears as a book club at that link. However, that page isn’t linked from the publisher’s main page, meaning, exactly what? We don’t know.

The Firearms Classic Library editions have a sturdy, old-fashioned leather binding with gold leaf letters and gilt-edged pages. A silk bookmark is bound in. Used ones are a good buy, usually, because they tend to be displayed more than read. (Our Pistols and Revolvers showed signs of careful use). That’s the good news. They are also facsimile editions, which is a double-edged sword. What this means is that, apart from some fresh introductory material, which is of necessity freshly typeset, the remainder of the book is reproduced by photolithography from an original book. That means that the type is murky and hard to read, and the photographs very badly reproduced. Accordingly, you are almost always better off with a first edition than with a Firearms Classic Library reprint, if your objective is to read the jeezly book. To show it off….

The major downside of these Hatcher tomes is the same thing that gives them some of their charm: their age. Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers begins with an attempt to catalog available handguns, but it was published in 1935, as an update to an earlier book published in 1927. Therefore, it’s great historical or foundational knowledge, but blind to all subsequent developments. And its historical information is mostly of the period of its authorship, because Hatcher purged the 1927 edition’s historical content to make space for more “contemporary” (1930s) content.

For example, in discussing ammunition in Pistols and Revolvers, Hatcher says that all American center-fire case are made with the primer anvil as part of the primer (which is Boxer priming, invented by the English ordnance officer Edward Boxer, although Hatcher doesn’t call it that, probably because of the purge of “less relevant” history). Conversely, he says that all European cartridges are made with the anvil as part of the cartridge case (which is Berdan priming, invented by the American gun designer and Civil War regimental commander Hiram Berdan, although Hatcher doesn’t call it that either). That was true in 1935, but is less true today as many European (especially Western European) makers have converted to Boxer priming. The two are functionally, and with modern machinery, economically equivalent, in performance, but Boxer cases are conveniently reloadable and Berdan-primed cases are not. (They can be reloaded, but it’s difficult and not especially practical).

And then there’s the statement, true enough in 1935, that pistol velocities were not enough to make the hollow-pointed or “dum-dum” bullets of the day expand much. It can’t stand as an indictment of our spare mags of Speer Law-Man 9mms, which use materials and manufacturing processes unimaginable to Hatcher.

So why read Hatcher 80 or 90 years after the fact? One reason is that some things haven’t changed, and he is a writer of rare simplicity and clarity. In Pistols and Revolvers he describes how cartridge cases are made:

In the manufacture of a pistol cartridge a sheet of brass about 1/8 of an inch thick is fed into a punch press, which first cuts out a little disc of brass and then forms it into a cup shape. These little cups are fed through successive presses, in each of which the cup is forced through a die by a steel punch in such a manner as to elongate the brass cup. When the cup is long enough to have the approximate shape of a cartridge case it is placed in another press, which flattens the head of it so ad to form a rim around it and puts a cup shaped depression in the head for the primer to fit into. The cases then nearly completed. It is afterwards trimmed to length, and the rim is turned to exact thickness and diameter on a machine similar to a lathe. A hole is also punched in the bottom of the pocket for the flash of the primer to go through. After being washed to free it from all oil and residue the case is ready to have the primer inserted.

He then goes on to explain the use of annealing to prevent the work-hardening of the initially soft brass, and gives a similarly simple and clear explanation of the production of lead bullets. We could describe that same process, but would probably be much wordier and less readable than Hatcher. (“A man’s gotta know his limitations” — Harry Callahan)

Of course, some of the anecdotes in Pistols and Revolvers will make one long for the glory days of police work. Describing the long forgotten 38 S&W Super Police cartridge, which was basically a heavy load of the nearly forgotten 38 S&W with a 200-grain bullet, he quotes this anecdote:

A policeman shot a hold-up artist in East St. Louis the other day with this Super Police. He got him square in the center of the back at 75 yards which was a darn good shot. When the corner dug the bullet out of the crook he found it more than halfway through him and flattened on the point to about the size of a quarter. This officer was certainly good. He had two hold-up artists, one of them broke and ran. Without further ceremony he cracked one over the head with his revolver took deliberate aim at the other end made it dead center bull’s-eye on him.

It’s nice(?) to see that East St. Louis hasn’t changed since 1935. But imagine the hue and cry that would ensue if a modern cop dealt with a couple of hold-up artists disadvantaged yutes that way today.

One place where Pistols and Revolvers really comes in handy is when Hatcher includes carefully drawn chamber diagrams for now-obscure cartridges. A cast of the leade or forcing cone with a dimensionally stable medium (Brownell’s sells some good stuff but they’re on our shit list this week) and a dial indicator and you can break the code on some of those old guns with those obscure markings like “Cal. .38 ctg.” that make you go, “Oh, grreat, which one of a dozen .38s was it?” Aha, .38 Super Police.

Unlike Pistols and Revolvers, Hatcher’s Notebook is not all that well organized. But it is a rich historical source, and it contains much information of timeless value. It was, originally, Hatcher’s notes that he used while serving as an ordnance officer, and if you are interested in either US weapons of the first half of the 20th Century (Hatcher had no involvement with later weapons), or weapons design and technical information in general, you need a copy of this.

Part I begins, and ends, with information about what was clearly one of Hatcher’s great loves, the 1903 Springfield Rifle and its variants. While its early development preceded Hatcher, it was the standard issue rifle when he transferred from the Navy to the Army in 1910, and was still a standard or substitute standard weapon for most of his career. The concluding section is primary source material, a comprehensive list of Springfield receiver failures in service that produced the conventional wisdom about the unsuitability of early Springfields to be fired. (The crux of the problem is metallurgy. The Army used high carbon steel for bolts and receivers for the first 300,000-odd Springfields, and two different heat-treating methods. They changed to nickel steel for some guns in 1918, and for all bolts and receivers by 1927, so every serial number from 1,275,767 is safe, every serial number from about 800,000 (SA) or 285,507 (RIS) when the heat treating was improved is probably safe, and earlier ones are a crapshoot).

The Springfield accidents, 68 in all, were not trivial. Three soldiers lost an eye each, six more were seriously or severely injured, and 27 slightly injured. The cause of each accident varied, but a burst receiver was often caused by case-head separation, and occasionally by firing a German 7.92 x 57mm round in the Springfield’s 7.62 x 63mm chamber. (The only

In between there’s a vast quantity of often highly technical information, including practical formulae for calculating recoil impulses, muzzle energy, and other useful figures. We particularly enjoyed the description of the pros and cons of the rifling used in early and late Springfields, 1917 Enfields, and the comparison to the Metford rifling used by some Japanese rifles.  There are first-hand accounts of the development of the Pedersen Device and the US Rifle M1, and a historical study of the chemistry of primers and their effect on bore corrosion.

Part II is, primarily, a concise text on exterior ballistics. Like the formulae scattered here and there in Part I, it is timeless reference material.

For another review of Hatcher’s Notebook see Ian’s review at Forgotten

Bottom line is that we recommend both of these books. If you must pick one, Hatcher’s Notebook is the indispensable one. Not for nothing has it remained in print from 1947 to the present day.

Some Threat Mitigation Theory

threat_modeling_shostackThis ties in very loosely to the physical security project. Perusing a book on network and communications-systems security for an unrelated project (Threat Modeling: Designing for Security by Adam Shostack) we discovered a few concepts worth lifting and sharing.

The lift is from his Chapter 9, and it addresses something that bosses and managers seldom “get” about threats: once you’ve figured out what your threats are, you need to figure out how to mitigate each one. And each mitigation has certain trade-offs involved; in fact, the title of Shostack’s Chapter 9 is: “Trade-Offs When Addressing Threats”.  He suggests you make a matrix or table with each threat listed along with your mitigation strategy, when you execute that strategy, and how. 

The three questions to answer about each threat are:

  1. What’s the level of risk?
  2. What do you want to do to address that risk?
  3. How are you going to achieve that?

He identifies the Classic Strategies as:

  1. Avoiding Risks
  2. Addressing Risks
  3. Accepting Risks
  4. Transferring Risks
  5. Ignoring Risks

Avoiding risks is not always possible, but you might decide, for example, not to do something if the risk is greater than the reward. For example, you can avoid the risk of burglary by not owning anything of value, or keeping all your valuables in a safety deposit box. But you can design to avoid certain risks.

Addressing risks means making design or operational changes – doing something to forestall the risk. For instance, if your neighborhood is at risk of smash-and-grab burglaries, you can harden your doors and windows and add an audible alarm. If you’re at risk of being mugged, you can carry a gun (well, in some places you can. Sorry, Chicagoans).

Accepting risks means you accept all the consequences of the risk coming to pass. This is best used when the risk is both highly improbable and rather inconsequential. It’s also sometimes necessary in combat. For example, the Navy SEAL element deployed as a reconnaissance and surveillance patrol on Operation Red Wings went in accepting the risk that if they were compromised, they were in deep doo-doo. They addressed that risk also, or tried to, with communications and backup. They also accepted the risk that if their QRF was interdicted (as it was, in the end), they were not just in deep doo-doo but in over their heads. As they were, in the end. But you have to accept some risks. If your risk analysis concludes you have avoided, addressed or transferred all the risks, there’s a high probability that you’re actually ignoring a risk you haven’t considered (see below).

Transferring risks is what happens when you fob a risk and its consequences off on another party. For example, GM with its faulty little Chevies transferred the risk to the motorists who bought one (or really, rented it, ’cause who buys those shitboxes?) The trial lawyers of America are salivating at the prospect of transferring the consequences of the risk back to GM.

Ignoring risks is the default position, and what it defaults to is unconsciously accepting the risk. This can take place by denying the risk, or recognizing it but trying to keep it secret (“security through obscurity.”) While obscurity can add an additional veil to any security posture, it’s far too weak to depend upon as a stand-alone method.

This book illustrates how almost any literature on safety and security has something you can take away from it for your own personal purposes. Much of the book is specific to hardening your network protocol stack against bad actors, protecting against spoofing, tampering, repudiation, information-disclosure, denial-of-service, and elevation-of-privilege threats (the STRIDE that network security weenies worry about). Some of those things have zero application to meatworld. But those that do, do, and reading outside your own comfort zone, or at least outside your area of greatest familiarity, can often kick free some unexpected ideas. Another concept from the book that might be a good example of something transferable to protecting you and yours, is the elaboration on the use of Bruce Schneier’s concept of attack trees in Chapter 4. That’s a post for another day, and Shostack’s discussion (and Schneier’s) are probably too academic for the individual looking to protect his family, home or business. But it’s an example of what you can find when you look beyond the bookshelf at Gun-Mart.

The history of Jane’s Infantry Weapons

Jane's Infantry WeaponsJane’s Infantry Weapons is an annual yearbook published by Jane’s Information Group.

The Group started with Fred T. Jane, who was an illustrator of ships. In 1898 he published the first edition of what’s now known as Jane’s Fighting Ships. That became a yearbook, as the Dreadnought-era navies waxed and waned, and was followed, as the world’s militaries took to the third dimension, by Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft. Fred Jane is long gone, and photography replaced drawings for the most part, but the detail and accuracy for which he was respected live on today with IHS Jane’s Information Group.

As demand for curated information on military technology grew, so did the company, and in 1975 they added an Infantry Weapons yearbook. It’s a desk reference used in newspaper offices (not frequently enough), intelligence agencies and other government offices (the main customer base), and defense-contract business development types; I’ve even seen a dog-eared old copy in a novelist’s study. It’s now available as a hardcover and will soon be available as a digital database for, either way, ridiculous money (see above comments on intelligence agencies and government offices). But used copies do turn up, and there’s relatively little churn from year to year. An old hardcover’s price is entirely based on supply and demand, and demand declines for a dated yearbook rather sharply. This year’s yearbook will set you back well over $1,500. Last year’s might still be a thousand dollars. and one from twenty years ago — which, for all we know, might be the one you’d rather have — might be anywhere from two to fifty bucks, plus shipping. 

Jane’s Infantry Weapons is rather good at describing what exists out there, what its broad capabilities are, and who designed it. It’s also quite solid at describing who makes it and where to contact him, which has certain utility to industry. Sometime in the last ten years, a corporate merger drove a title change to IHS Jane’s Weapons: Infantry (as with the other Jane’s yearbooks), but everybody still calls it by the old name.

The initial editor was FWA Hobart, and his successors have included such luminaries as Jon Weeks and Ian V Hogg, who had a long run (1983 to the mid-90s).

The  current editor (since 2004) is Richard D. Jones, whose CV certainly marks him as more than qualified:

Richard D Jones joined the Regular Army as a junior soldier in the 1960s. Enlisting initially in the Royal Artillery, he later became personally and professionally involved with small-caliber weapons and ammunition. After completing Regular Army service in 1994, he joined the UK Ministry of Defence Pattern Room, sometimes known as the Enfield Collection – arguably the world’s most comprehensive working reference collection of small arms, spanning the years 1850 to the present time. Formerly the Custodian and Head of Unit until the transfer of the collection to the Royal Armouries in September 2005, Richard continues to provide a similar service to his former customers at the newly created National Firearms Centre at Leeds, in the north of England.

Richard is married, has two adult children and lives in Nottingham. His hobbies include participation in all forms of shooting, travel and reading, primarily non-fiction. Richard became Editor of  in 2004 (then known as Jane’s Infantry Weapons).

Jones’s co-editor is Lee Ness, since approximately 2005; Ness is a US Army retiree and is more of an armored vehicle guy with an interest in small arms, than Jones who has always been small-arms oriented. (Ness also co-edits an Ammunition yearbook).

A current Jane’s Infantry Weapons is, as suggested above, very expensive. ($1,500 plus for the hardback). But older issues are widely available, for example, on Amazon and Ebay, and they can be found in used bookstores (in the USA, especially in the National Capital Area). We’ve even found one in a Salvation Army thrift store.

Quick Consumer Tip: LOSD book, 25% off

Law of Self Defense Andrew BrancaWe have this book and we paid full freight for it, and it was worth every damn penny. You can get it for 25% off, if you act now.

Did we mention that we liked and recommend the book?

The book, The Law of Self Defense, is by the nation’s leading self-defense legal expert, Andrew Branca, a Massachusetts (of all places!) lawyer. And now you can get it for 25% off, and you can give credit to the CSGV, which is some anti-gun group. (They don’t have much of a real-world presence, they’re just more Bloomberg astroturf, which is why we forget how the acronym breaks out, but it’s something along the lines of Criminals Shooting Guns Viciously, or something like that).

You can get the book here, and put the following code in to save 25%: @CSGV.

Heh. As Andrew said in his Tweet announcing the price break, “No joke.”

So why did he give credit to his readers, in the name of the notorious anti-gun group? It’s like this: they’ve been trying to get him disinvited from the various universities where he’s been speaking on his summer lecture tour this year. They’ve been trying to shut him up. (Lotsa luck with that, kiddies).

Of course, they haven’t had any success; but that’s to be expected. Crazy Uncle Mikey Bloomberg’s money buys more persistence than it does competence.

Plus, he’s selling more books and getting more people at the seminars he’s been holding thanks to the attack. (Hmm. If a cyber attack can come from something we define as a Advanced Persistent Threat, is this inept and backfiring approach to silencing Branca more of a Retarded Persistent Threat? Could be. As he put it in his blog,  “Anyway, I certainly hope they keep it up–I couldn’t possibly afford to pay for this kind of advertising…. Indeed, I’m going to get both those tweets blown up and hung on my office wall, like animal trophies. :-)”

So what is best on a book tour? We don’t expect to hear from Andrew about that until he, and his motorcycle, are back in New England, but we would guess it sounds something like: “To crush your enemies. And hear the lamentations of their women.”

And, don’t forget you’ll be hearing the lamentations of their girly-men, too. So amble on over to the LOSD store, and get yourself (and maybe your pistol-packin’ pals; they need it too) a copy of this excellent book.

Hat tip, the estimable John Richardson at No Lawyers.

Saturday Matinee 2014 15: Gardens of Stone (1987)

gardens_of_stone_dvdUsually, we have no problem either summarizing or forming an opinion of a movie. This one is a rare exception; even after watching the DVD twice, and giving it two weeks of reflection, we’re still not entirely certain how we feel about it.

It’s a powerful film that has several different ambitions: it wants to be a coming-of-age film, it wants to be a powerful antiwar and anti-military statement, and it wants to entertain people. As a result, it motors back-and-forth between different sets of tone, imagery, and feeling. Some of this ambivalence reflects the ambivalence in the underlying source material, the late Nicholas Proffitt’s novel, which is thoroughly tied up in his own rejection of his own military experience. (Proffitt dropped out of West Point and spent three years’ penance in the Old Guard, the Army’s ceremonial unit which guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and performs burial ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery. His long out-of-print novel is beloved of Old Guard vets for its realistic portrayal of their unique ceremonial duties; a disproportionate number of the reviews on the book’s Amazon page are from ex-Old-Guardsmen) .

We found the novel to be pretentious in the way that certain materials beloved of the New York literati tend to be; naturally it was a brobdingnagian bestseller, as it burnished every stereotype the Manhattan crowd has. They are quite certain they understand us military warmongers, despite the fact that most of their families last had a brush with military service when they paid a stand-in for the draft in 1863. They understand us because they read the occasional book by someone like Proffitt who was in the Army — and didn’t much care for it. 

The film is saved from the Looney Tunes shallows of literary novels by powerful performances by names familiar and less-so. We’ll discuss them below.

Funeral Arlington (Gardens of Stone)It’s worth watching if only for the mostly realistic depiction of Uncle Sam’s flash honor guard (all the services maintain a similar contingent, but the Army’s Old Guard, and its partner Pershing’s Own Army Band, have arguably the greatest range of responsibilities). And you’ll see the capable direction of Francis Ford Coppola, who as always draws the best out of his actors.

Acting and Production

gardens of StoneSeveral of the key roles are played by Hollywood heavyweights, including James Caan in an excellent turn as the frustrated career sergeant, Clell Hazard. His best friend and immediate superior is ably played by James Earl Jones. And who’s his love interest, who loves the man but hates his profession? Anjelica Huston. The kid Hazard takes under his wing, Jackie Willow, son of Clell’s old and since-deceased buddy, is played perfectly by D.B. Sweeney. Sweeney is one of those names little heard of today, but he’s worked steadily and is a solid journeyman actor. (He’s also someone known for supporting the military with combat-zone tours, among other things). He’s completely convincing as a youth who wants to go to OCS and Vietnam before the war is over. Caan — in one of the great performances of his life, and a comeback after many years off the screen — and Jones are perfectly convincing as senior NCOs who totally understand the young man’s desire to test himself in combat, and can’t communicate that they’ve been there and it’s not special enough to get your head shot off over.

These deep and rich characters owe a lot to Proffitt’s original story, and his awareness of dynamics and friendships across the enlisted ranks. Other characters that truly come to life include Huston’s anti-war journalist and Dean Stockwell’s hard-bitten company commander, Captain Thomas. Laurence Fishburne does an excellent job with a small part as a junior sergeant.

Accuracy and Weapons

Hazard M14 Gardens of StoneThe movie is highly accurate in its technical details, in part because the Army provided assistance. Some scenes were shot on location at Arlington National Cemetery, with the support of the actual old guard and Pershing’s own. (The Army assistance required Coppola to delete some of the scenes from the book).

Weapons aren’t really key to this film, as the unit is primarily ceremonial unit. The color guards, two guards and other old guard members do carry highly polished and 14s, which is absolutely correct for the mission and the period. In a brief scene of field training (yes, the Old Guard goes to the field), 1911s and an M60 also make an appearance. These are all correct, as are the uniforms. They’re even careful with details like Caan’s character having a star on his CIB (indicating service in Korea as well as Vietnam) and Jones’s having two stars (making him a WWII, Korea and Vietnam vet, not at all unusual for a senior infantry NCO in the 1960s).

Some scenes of Vietnam fighting are grainy newsreel footage. But by and large the Vietnam events take place offscreen, and only impinge on the Washington players through television and letters. This makes for gripping storytelling.

There are some continuity botches: for example, long after we are told it is 1969, Clell Hazard watches TV news reports of fighting in the Tet Offensive of late January to early February ,1968. But by and large the film does an excellent job of evoking an era that was already nearly 20 years in the past when the movie was in production.

The bottom line

Gardens of Stone is an internally conflicted film, and considering that, it’s as good a prism as any, through which to view the Vietnam experience of soldiers, as well as of civilians. Most people, whether they fight in the war, protested against it, or stay home and basically trying to ignore it, have some degree of inner conflict over the war.

Wes effective is the bookend opening and closing which frames most of the movie as a flashback. Since in the opening scenes we see Jack Willow being buried, and his widow receiving the flag of honor, there isn’t much potential for suspense in the movie. Instead, it’s more of a character study.

Personally, we spent 30 years around characters like that, and don’t need to study them. Your mileage may vary. But the film is worth seeing, if for no other reason than to see James Caan at the peak of his powers, and the Old Guard doing their everyday mission, “with the thanks of a grateful nation.”

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • DVD page:

(single movie DVD):

($5 4-pack, but kind of crummy digitization):

  • IMDB page:

  • IMFDB page:

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page:

  • Wikipedia  page:

The End of Enlisted, and some Harvard Whinging

Enlisted brothersWe’ve been big enthusiasts for the Fox light comedy Enlisted, which strikes us as a sort of modern-day F Troop or McHale’s Navy. But as you probably know, the show has been, not exactly canceled, but replaced, which sure looks like “canceled” to us, from outside the industry.

The show got good notices from critics, but never achieved the ratings it needed. It was in a crummy time slot, with a crummy lead-in, but it was a really good, sweet, positive show, which poked fun at the Army without the usual Hollywood nihilism. Maybe that’s why it failed; maybe there’s something in that nihilism that turns into popular viewing. We don’t know.

There are still a few episodes in the can, but it went off the air at the end of March, and we’ll see those episodes who knows where, who knows when. The Wire:

That brings us to Enlisted, which is airing it’s final episode tonight [28 March -- Eds.] before being yanked from the schedule for Kitchen Nightmares. Enlisted has always been a critical darling that didn’t have much chance at survival. The network scheduled it on Friday, a time slot that usually spells doom. And so it has despite passionate advocacy on the part of both TV writers and fans within the military. At Flavorwire, Pilot Viruet wrote: “Enlisted is shaping up to be one of those golden programs that Fox won’t know it has until it’s gone.” The Army Times wrote an editorial asking Fox to save the show. Creator Kevin Biegel insists that the last episodes of the season will air, it’s just a matter of when.

We presume that the cast and crew of the show will move on to other things, and we certainly wish them well and thank them for the many hours they put their hearts into a show that, for too few hours, made us smile and laugh. If there’s a box set we’ll buy a couple copies.

And now for the Harvard whinging. It comes from one other than Steven M. Walt (formerly of Chicago), whose acerbic academic antisemitism has earned him a deanship in Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  For example, in the sort of cold-blooded inhumanity that earns a guy at least an endowed, named professorship, he took the occasion of the murder of an Israeli family, including children of four months, four years, and eleven years old, to condemn the victims and blame Israel’s settlements policy.


Walt, who has no experience of the military and clearly likes it no more than he likes Jews, is whining in Foreign about the lack of comedies that deal with the military.

Since the early 1980s, in fact, mass-market treatments of war and the military have become increasingly respectful, even adulatory. This trend begins with An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), followed by Top Gun, a 1986 film starring the F-14 Tomcat; A Few Good Men (1992); Saving Private Ryan (1998); Independence Day (1996), where the villains are evil space aliens and a sniveling civilian secretary of defense; Black Hawk Down, a 1999 book by Mark Bowden and 2001 film; the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker (2008); and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. You could toss in Lone Survivor, Shooter, Under Siege, Tour of Duty, Call to Glory, JAG, and Band of Brothers — the moral of the story wouldn’t change much. Some of these works include conniving politicians or less-than-admirable commanders, but the core institutions and the troops themselves are portrayed in a consistently positive light. Today, only Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury is still willing to crack a few jokes at the military’s expense, but his main military characters (B.D., Ray, Melissa, and Toggle) are all wounded or damaged in some fashion and the predominant tone is one of sympathy and support rather than satire.

I can think of only five partial exceptions to this pattern — Private Benjamin (1980), Stripes (1981), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and the two Hot Shots! parodies, but these works do not undermine my larger point. Although these films poke some gentle fun at the military (especially in Good Morning, Vietnam, where Robin Williams’s character, Army disc jockey Adrian Cronauer, frequently clashes with his stick-in-the-mud superiors), the broader lesson in each film is a positive one.

Ah, we get it. He wants films where the message about the military is a negative one. That figures.

In Stripes and Private Benjamin, for example, the lead characters ultimately gain wisdom from their military experience and become better people. And Good Morning, Vietnam becomes less funny as the film proceeds, as Cronauer confronts the realities of the war and discovers a Viet Cong agent has duped him. Hot Shots! (1991, 1993) doesn’t really count, as these films are really spoofs of pro-military genre films (especially Top Gun) rather than of the military itself.

Do Read The Whole Thing™ and see if we’ve mischaracterized Walt. We were wondering whether he’d actually heard of Enlisted; it turns out that he dismisses it without seeing it:

It’s true that FOX is challenging this taboo with its new series Enlisted, but its comedy is pretty bloodless, very respectful of the military itself, and it remains to be seen if the series will catch on or not.

Yeah, he doesn’t like it because it was “respectful of the military.” Unlike him. He further expresses his fundamental opinion that “capable armed forces are a regrettable necessity.”

Unlike, for example, the readily disposable luxury of nasty Harvard deans.