Saturday, September 23, 2017

U.S. Navy Won't Punish Vice Admiral Stripped Of Security Clearance During 'Fat Leonard' Probe

Carl Prine at the San Diego Union-Tribune offers a piece on the “Fat Leonard” Navy bribary and fraud scandal.

Fretting about his possible role in the “Fat Leonard” bribery scandal, in late 2013 the Navy stripped the security clearance of its top spy, destroying the career of Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch (seen in the above photo).

On Friday, the Navy closed its review with what it called appropriate administrative action for Branch, the former director of Navy intelligence.

The U.S. Department of Justice — which has handled the prosecution of those who took bribes from contractor Leonard Glenn Francis (seen in the below photo) and his Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia — brought no charges against Branch.

"The Department of Justice declined to prosecute Vice Adm. Ted Branch and forwarded his matter to the Department of the Navy's Consolidated Disposition Authority,” said Navy Fleet Forces Command spokesman Cmdr. Mike Kafka in a written statement. “After completing a thorough and detailed review of the evidence, the CDA took appropriate administrative action. This matter is closed."

Administrative action can include a non-punitive letter of reprimand or an oral counseling chiding a sailor for questionable conduct. Unlike other judicial or military sanctions, administrative action cannot take pay and privileges from a shipmate.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dean Martin's Daughter Reflects On Father's Music Legacy, Funny Encounters And Rumors

I'm a huge admirer of singer, actor and entertainer Dean Martin.

He was one cool guy.

Stephanie Nolasco at offers a piece on Dean Martin’s daughter, Deana, who is also a performer, and the author of a book on her memories of her late father.

Deana Martin knew she wanted to be an entertainer when she sat in the front row of the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel and saw her father Dean Martin entertain all of Las Vegas.

 “My dad would walk out in a tuxedo with a red pocket square,” the 69-year-old told Fox News. “He would sing and he was funny. He looked great and the audience loved him. It was like magic. So I always wanted to be an entertainer.”

Deana, who’s traveled the world performing beloved jazz hits, recently unveiled her new album “Swing Street." The release was recorded at Capitol Studios, the same place where she watched her father record his first number one hit, 1955’s “Memories Are Made of This,” which is also the title of her memoir.

… “He was an Italian father,” she said, chuckling. “He would go, ‘These are the rules. You make your bed in the morning, you clean up, you come straight home after school, you do your homework, you’re on time for dinner. And this is it. If you don’t want to live by those rules, there’s the door.’ I would go, ‘Dad, I’m 9!’ He’d say, ‘Come on! Rules are rules!’ We never wanted to do anything to disappoint him.”

And there were plenty of perks to being one of Dean’s beloved daughters. Deana considered the Rat Pack as her uncles, who were constantly over at her Beverly Hills home. On Christmas, she sang carols with Rosemary Clooney and as a teen, met some of her rock idols.

You can read the rest of the piece and watch videos of Dean and Deana performing via the below link:

Note: You can learn more about Dean Martin in Nick Tosches' Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dream.    

My Washington Times Review Of 'The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, The Hemingway Library Edition'

The Washington Times published my review of The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, The Hemingway Library Edition.

I’ve been an Ernest Hemingway aficionado since I was a teenager and read all of his novels, but it was not until a few years later that I discovered his short stories, which were even more powerful than his great novels.

In the mid-1970s I was in my early 20s and serving on a U.S. Navy tugboat at the nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland when I came across several paperback collections of his short stories in a Glasgow book store. Like his novels, the interesting and insightful stories were about crime, hunting, fishing, boxing, bull-fighting, rugged individualism, grace under pressure, and love and war. To use a simile that Hemingway, a boxing aficionado, might approve of, his short stories deliver like a right cross.

… This collection, edited by Hemingway’s grandson, Sean Hemingway, with a foreword by Hemingway’s son Patrick, is the fourth in a series of annotated editions of his work. The book offers some of his best known stories, such as “The Killers,” “Fifty Grand,” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” (three of my favorites), as well as a few unpublished stories and his early drafts and notes.

“Ernest Hemingway is widely recognized as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His writing, with its powerful, understated prose and economy of words, has influenced countless writers,” Sean Hemingway writes in his introduction to the collection. “More than any other writer of his time, Hemingway changed the course of literature and furthered the written expression of the human condition. His novels, such as ‘The Sun Also Rises,’ ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls,’ have entered into the canon of world literature, but it is arguably his contributions to the art of the short story that are his greatest literary achievement.”

… In the book is an early draft of “Fifty Grand.” The story has a beginning that Hemingway removed prior to publication based on a recommendation from fellow novelist and friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway later regretted the cut.

“Up at the gym over the Garden one-time somebody says to Jack, “Say, Jack, how did you happen to beat Leonard anyway?” and Jack says, “Well, you see Benny’s an awful smart boxer. All the time he’s in there he’s thinking and all the time he’s thinking I was hitting him.”

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Missing From Ken Burns' 'Vietnam': The Patriotism And Pride Of Those Who Served

Former assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan and Marine Vietnam veteran Bing West (seen in the below photo) offers his take on Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War documentary series in the New York Post.

To understand Ken Burns’ 18-hour Vietnam documentary, listen to the music. The haunting score tells you: This will be a tale of misery. And indeed, Burns and his co-author Geoffrey C. Ward conclude their script by writing, “The Vietnam War was a tragedy, immeasurable and irredeemable. But meaning can be found in the individual stories . . .”

The film is meticulous in the veracity of the hundreds of factoids that were selected. Everything depicted on the American side actually happened. But that the chosen facts are accurate doesn’t mean the film gets everything right. Indeed, the brave American veterans are portrayed with a keen sense of regret and embarrassment about the war, a distortion that must not go unanswered. And the film implies an unearned moral equivalence between antiwar protesters and those who fought.

Burns’ theme is clear: A resolute North Vietnam was predestined to defeat a delusional America that heedlessly sacrificed its soldiers.

… An American lieutenant who fought there in 1965 is quoted at the end of the film saying, “We have learned a lesson . . . that we just can’t impose our will on others.” While that summarizes the documentary, the opposite is true. Wars are fought to impose your will upon the enemy. If you don’t intend to win, don’t fight.

Our civilian and military leaders were grossly irresponsible. At the height of the war in 1968, Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford is quoted as telling President Lyndon Johnson, “We’re not out to win the war. We’re out to win the peace.”

Our senior leadership granted the enemy ground sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam and bombing was severely restricted.

The North Vietnamese were superb light infantry. The film points out that we grunts called the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) the Dead Marine Zone because we were pounded from North Vietnam and forbidden to attack. The real lesson: Never fight on the enemy’s terms.

… The film casts the antiwar movement in a moderately favorable light. Air Force pilot Merrill McPeak is quoted as saying, “the antiwar movement itself, the whole movement towards racial equality, the environment, the role of women . . . produced the America we have today, and we are better for it.”

Are the protesters the real heroes here? What about the valiant US soldiers, 75 percent of whom were volunteers?

This documentary succeeds in vividly evoking sadness and frustration. But that is not all there was to the story. “The Vietnam War” strives for a moral equivalence where there is none. The veterans seem sad and detached for their experience, yet 90 percent of Vietnam War veterans are proud to have served. So there’s a large gap between what we see and the attitude of the vast majority of veterans.

Their sense of pride — so vital for national unity — is absent from the documentary. And that’s a glaring omission.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

On This Day In History Benedict Arnold Commits Treason

As notes, on this day in 1780 American General Benedict Arnold committed treason.

On this day in 1780, during the American Revolution, American General Benedict Arnold meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, a former American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor.”

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

'Raging Bull' Boxing Legend Jake LaMotta Dead At 95

Bob Fredericks and Laura Italiano at the New York Post report that former middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta has died. LaMotta, the author of Raging Bull: My Story. was 95.

Boxing great Jake LaMotta – who was memorably portrayed by actor Robert De​ ​Niro in the flick Raging Bull — has died at the age of 95, his family announced.

“Rest in Peace, Champ,” De Niro [CQ] told ABC News.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

My Washington Times Review Of Nelson DeMille's 'The Cuban Affair'

The Washington Times published my review of Nelson DeMille’s The Cuban Affair.

In October 2015 author Nelson DeMille and his wife toured Cuba. Mr. DeMille made good use of his field research trip and in his new action-adventure novel “The Cuban Affair” we are offered his wry observations and running commentary on Cuba via his fictional character, Daniel “Mac” MacCormick.

Mac, a U.S. Army veteran who served as a combat infantry officer in Afghanistan, has settled in Key West, Florida. Mac, like Mr. DeMille’s other well-known character, John Corey, is an irreverent, laid back and wisecracking tough guy.

Like Ernest Hemingway’s Key West character Harry Morgan in his novel “To Have and Have Not,” Mac is a charter boat captain. And like Harry Morgan, Mac’s boat is hired for a trip to Cuba by some shady characters.

Ernest Hemingway looms large in this novel, as Mac discovers that the late, great writer is revered publicly in communist Cuba and there are statues, signs, T-shirts and photos of him in nearly every bar and restaurant he was said to have frequented when he lived there in the 1940s. So much so, that one Havana bar advertised proudly that Mr. Hemingway, “did not” drink there.

… Mac is asked to join a Yale University tour of Cuba with Sara, who offers the boat captain 50,000 dollars to also have his first mate take his boat to join a fishing tournament in Cayo Guillermo, Cuba.

“It was a favorite deep-sea fishing place of Ernesto,” Carlos tells Mac. “Hemingway, not Guevara.” Must be an old Cuban joke, Mac thinks.

In addition to the charter fee, she offers Mac two million dollars if he will travel with her on the tour and help her recover the 60 million dollars her Cuban grandfather banker hid in a cave in Cuba before he fled Castro’s revolution. Once they’ve recovered the money, her plan is to meet up with his boat and escape from the island with the loot. Mac and Jack sign on.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link: