Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's that time of year again........

Although I wear a silver bracelet every day that is inscribed with his name, the location and the date he died, September 29th is always the day I try to remember the personal conversations and bitch sessions we had together....and the little girls he left behind. Three years ago today, Jim Doster lost his life to an IED. Three years ago today, he died in the company of his men, but his last thoughts were surely of his women.

Although my encounters with IED's were close and personal, the IED that detonated three years ago today in East Baghdad will be the one I remember most. In a strange twist of irony, today I found myself training Explosive Ordinance Disposal soldiers in Puerto Rico....EOD being the guys who most often detect and eliminate IED's. Continuing the Irony, the Company Commander of this unit was a Platoon Leader supporting my Brigade in Baghdad during the surge. We spent quite a bit of time talking........I did more walks down memory lane today than I had counted on when I awoke this morning.

I'm not sure if I had ever posted this before, but I ran across a Proclamation issued by the Governor or Arkanasas (Jim's home state) a week after his death:


WHEREAS: Sergeant First Class James Douglas Doster, born on November 19, 1969, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was a dedicated and courageous soldier, who was deeply loved by his family and many friends, died September 29, 2007, while serving his country on combat duty in Iraq; and

WHEREAS: James was the beloved son of Billie K. and Charles C. Doster, Jr. of White Hall, Arkansas; the loving husband  of Amanda Doster of Wamego, Kansas; the adored father of daughters, Kathryn and Grace; the devoted brother of Robert Doster of Albuquerque, NM; as well as a cherished member of his family and a loyal friend to scores of people from across the world; and

WHEREAS: James graduated from White Hall High School, where he was known to be caring and well-organized, and joined  the United States Army during his second year at Hendrix College, serving in Operation Desert Storm in one of the first tanks to cross the battle lines; and

WHEREAS: As a Sergeant First Class and convoy leader, Doster sacrificed his life in Iraq as a member of the United States Army, assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kansas, receiving numerous awards and decorations; and

WHEREAS: All Arkansans and United States citizens owe James a lasting debt of gratitude for his bravery and his heroism and should pay tribute to his faithful service; and

WHEREAS: Citizens of this State and Nation extend deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones of Sergeant First Class James D. Doster;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, MIKE BEEBE, Governor of the State of Arkansas, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of the State of Arkansas, in tribute to the memory of James Douglas Doster and as an expression of public sorrow, do hereby direct that the state  flag of Arkansas be flown at half-staff on Thursday, October 11, 2007.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Arkansas to be affixed this 8th day of October, in the year of our Lord 2007.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Is it time to pledge or apologize?

From the LP:

In response to the recent Republican "Pledge to America," Libertarian Party executive director Wes Benedict released the following statement:

Instead of a "Pledge to America," the Republicans should have written an "Apology to America." It should have gone something like this:

"We're sorry, America. Sorry we grew the federal government budget from $1.7 trillion to over $3 trillion. Sorry we added $5 trillion to the federal debt. Sorry we doubled the size of the Department of Education. Sorry we started two incredibly costly foreign wars. Sorry we supported the absurd and costly TARP bailouts. Sorry we created a huge and costly new Medicare entitlement. Sorry we did nothing to end the costly and destructive War on Drugs. Sorry we did nothing to reform the federal government's near-prohibition on immigration. But hey, at least we helped you by shifting a lot of your tax burden onto your children and grandchildren."

There are so many lies, distortions, hypocrisies, and idiocy in this document that it's hard to know where to start.

It is deeply insulting to see the Republicans refer to "America's founding values" on their cover. The Republican Party has no understanding whatsoever of America's founding values. They have proven and re-proven that for decades.

The document talks a lot about "tax cuts." Unfortunately, the Republican "tax cut" proposals would really do nothing to cut taxes. All their proposals achieve is to defer taxes, pushing the burden onto our children and grandchildren. The only real way to cut taxes is to cut government spending, and the Republican document does almost nothing in that regard.

The Republicans say they want to "roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels." In other words, to re-create the situation near the end of the Bush administration, after Republicans had massively increased federal spending on almost everything.

Republicans must love it when Democrats expand government, because it gives them the opportunity to propose small "cuts," while still ending up with huge government.
One shocking aspect of the document is that it actually includes subtle Republican proposals to increase government spending.

The Republicans offer no plan whatsoever to reduce military spending, America's foreign wars and nation building, or our military defense of rich foriegn nations. On the contrary, the Republicans apparently want to increase military spending, promising to "provide the resources, authority, and support our deployed military requires, fully fund missile defense, and enforce sanctions against Iran."

The Republicans also appear to want to increase government spending on border control. They say "We will ensure that the Border Patrol has the tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border," a costly proposition.

Furthermore, as expected, the document complains about "massive Medicare cuts," implying that Republicans want to make sure Medicare is kept gigantic.

The bulk of federal spending is in three places: Social Security, Medicare, and the military. The Republicans propose absolutely nothing to reduce spending on these three things, or even to slow down their growth.

A Diet of Fear

Spot on commentary from John Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute:

America is in the midst of an epidemic of historic proportions. The contagion being spread like wildfire is turning communities into battlegrounds and setting Americans one against the other. Normally mild-mannered individuals caught up in the throes of this disease have been transformed into belligerent zealots, while others inclined to pacifism have taken to stockpiling weapons and practicing defensive drills.

This plague on our nation—one that has been carefully cultivated and spread by the powers-that-be—is a potent mix of fear coupled with unhealthy doses of paranoia and intolerance, tragic hallmarks of the post-9/11 America in which we live. Everywhere you turn, those on both the left- and right-wing are fomenting distrust and division. You can’t escape it. We’re being fed a constant diet of fear: fear of terrorists, fear of illegal immigrants, fear of people who are too religious, fear of people who are not religious enough, fear of Muslims, fear of Christians, fear of the government, fear of those who fear the government. The list goes on and on.

The strategy is simple yet brilliant: the best way to control a populace is through fear and discord. Confound them, distract them with mindless news chatter and entertainment, pit them against one another by turning minor disagreements into major skirmishes, and tie them up in knots over matters lacking in national significance such as whether a Christian pastor should burn a Quran or if a mosque should be built two blocks away from Ground Zero. Most importantly, keep the people divided so that they see each other as the enemy and screaming at each other so that they drown out all other sounds. In this way, they will never reach consensus about anything or hear the corporate state as it closes in on them. This is how freedom-loving people enslave themselves and allow tyrants to prevail.

This Machiavellian scheme has so ensnared the nation that few Americans even realize they are being manipulated into adopting an “us” against “them” mindset. Instead, fueled with fear and loathing for phantom opponents, they pour millions of dollars and resources into political elections, hoping for change that never comes. All the while, those in power—bought and paid for by lobbyists and corporations—move their costly agendas forward, and “we the suckers” get saddled with the tax bills.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Has tyranny truly arrived in America?

"The Obama administration urged a federal judge early Saturday to dismiss a lawsuit over its targeting of a U.S. citizen for killing overseas, saying that the case would reveal state secrets."
So what the Obama DoJ is saying, in effect, is:

1. We get to decide if you are a "threat" without showing you or anyone else the evidence and your U.S. citizenship is no defense, i.e. you have no due process of law with regard to the charge.
2. We get to decide what to do about that, up to and including assassinating you. Again, we need not show any evidence of why you need to die, so you have no recourse there, either.
3. And if you or your proxies have the temerity to challenge us in court, we will simply refuse to meet you there, citing State Secrets.

Three strikes, you''re out.

Or dead, as the case may be.

This is insane.

The Constitution expressly forbids the U.S. government to take life or liberty "without due process of law" and this is supposed to be a government of laws, not of men.

Why, why, WHY are we not rioting in the streets about this?

If this is not tyranny, what is it then?

Read the rest at MilPub

Never shall I leave a fallen comrade.....

MARJA, AFGHANISTAN - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. Army flight medic SGT Tyrone Jordan of Charlotte, NC attached to Dustoff Task Force Shadow of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade carries Marine LCpl. David Hawkins of Parker, CO to a MEDEVAC helicopter after he was wounded by a blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) September 24, 2010 near Marja, Afghanistan. Task Force Shadow is responsible for evacuating wounded Afghani and Coalition forces as well as local nationals throughout southern Afghanistan.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bumper sticker of the day

"Be nice to America......or we'll bring Democracy to your country."

h/t Reality Zone

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gays as abused spouses

Bravo to the Libertarian Party in making a firm statement today that both major parties treat gays like battered spouses.

Like abused spouses who keep returning to their aggressors, gay voters keep handing their votes to the Democrats who abuse them.

The Libertarian Party (LP) wants to break this self-destructive behavior and offers LGBT voters a better alternative.

"President Obama and the Democrats had almost a year of complete control of the federal government: the Presidency, the House, and a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate. They could have repealed 'don't ask don't tell.' They could have gotten rid of the Defense of Marriage Act. But they didn't do either of those things. That's a complete and total betrayal of all the promises they made to gay and lesbian voters for years.
"After a carefully orchestrated failure in the Senate, the Democrats are now blaming Republicans for blocking the repeal of 'don't ask don't tell.' Of course, three Democrats just voted against it too, including Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid claims he voted for procedural reasons, but the whole situation seems calculated to look like they're trying to help, while making sure they don't actually help."

Unlike the Democratic and Republican Parties, the Libertarian Party believes that gays and lesbians deserve equal treatment under the law.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I guess we can now put the canard to rest........

that the Bush Administration explored all options and invaded Iraq only as a last resort.

Declassified Documents Show Bush Administration Diverting Attention and Resources to Iraq Less than Two Months after Launch of Afghanistan War

Washington, D.C., September 22, 2010 – Following instructions from President George W. Bush to develop an updated war plan for Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered CENTCOM Commander Gen. Tommy Franks in November 2001 to initiate planning for the “decapitation” of the Iraqi government and the empowerment of a “Provisional Government” to take its place.
GWU National Security Archive


"[A]s I travel around the country, someone will tell me, 'I'm a fiscal conservative, but I'm not a social conservative,'" Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a Tea Party booster, told the Values Voter audience. "I want to straighten them out a little bit this morning, because the fact is you cannot be a real fiscal conservative if you do not understand the value of having a culture that's based on values."

Well Jim, I value a culture based upon the values of freedom and liberty, why don't you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So, Senator McCain........

Is the Army's Special Forces 18 X-Ray program worthwhile?

Well, in my travels among various SF groups during the last couple of years, the general consensus would have been no. Bringing them in too young, not enough 'big Army' time to mature tactically....and just one of those things the old breed didn't care for.

There are unarguably however...exceptions.

On Oct. 6, President Barack Obama will present the Medal of Honor to the family of a fallen Special Forces Soldier for his heroism and valor in combat while  serving in Afghanistan in January of 2008.

President Obama will honor the extraordinary courage and selfless sacrifice of Staff Sgt. Robert Miller by presenting his family with our nation's highest award, the Medal of Honor. This will be the third time the Medal of Honor has been presented by President Obama.

Only 24 years old, Miller impressed everyone on his team. Although the youngest member of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C., he quickly earned a reputation for taking on difficult challenges and leading from the front according to numerous interview with other Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) Team Members.

Miller's unwavering courage and selfless actions embodied the highest principles of the Special Forces community, and are a testament to the Army values he lived every day. This was his second combat tour to Afghanistan, the first being from August 2006 to March 2007.

On Aug. 14, 2003, he enlisted in the Army as an 18 X-ray, Special Forces candidate, with the hope of becoming a Green Beret. He graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course on Sept. 26, 2004.
Army News

Today's dose of Crazy

"I'd like to hear Barack Obama come out and renounce Lucifer, I don't recall hearing him do it."

-Jerome Corsi, right-wing nutjob


Save us from Idiots and Fools

Led by a conservative majority, the Texas Board of Education is stepping into the national media furor over a rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, gearing up to vote later this week on whether or not "pro-Islamic bias" should be banned from school books.

Granted, there's not any previously existing "pro-Islamic bias" in Texas texts, nor are there any Muslims on the board of education, let alone in the state's government.

"But the possibility that could happen is a concern for conservative activist Randy Rives. He ran unsuccessfully for State Board of Education this year," reporter Nathan Bernier explained in a recent audio segment for KUT, Austin's public radio station.

"Rives wrote a resolution that was put on the State Board of Education agenda this week by some socially conservative members of the board.

"'There’s a lot of people that think that, and I think rightfully so, that the key to terrorism comes from this jihad philosophy,' Rives said. 'We want to make sure there’s not something in our textbooks to influence our young people’s minds that takes them toward a path we don’t want them to go,' he said. When asked specifically whether he meant jihad, Rives answered, 'Yes.'"

The board's director, Don McLeroy, told Houston news station KHOU that he too is worried Texas history books carry an anti-Christian bent.

"It’s that great idea, that radical idea of Judeo-Christianity, that man is created in the image of God," he reportedly said. "So if you have world history books that downplay Christianity – Judeo-Christianity – and it doesn’t even make it in the table of contents, I think there’s a great concern."

The resolution before McLeroy's board claims there are more lines dedicated to Islam than Christianity in a particular text that has not been used since 2003. Members specifically cite instances where Christians embarking on the crusades were described as "invaders" and "attackers."

This is of course true, considering that the crusades, between the 11th century and the 15th century, were wars of aggression waged by European Christians.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dudes....can't we all just get along?

h/t to Joe My God

On Sept. 7, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors gave $10,000 to a committee opposing Proposition 19, the measure that would change state law to legalize pot and allow it to be taxed and regulated. The California Police Chiefs Association has given the most to the Proposition 19 opposition with a contribution of $30,000, according to Cal-Access, a website operated by the secretary of state’s office. Rhonda Stevenson, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors political action committee’s coordinator, was out of the office on Wednesday. Nobody else from the group was available to comment. “Unless the beer distributors in California have suddenly developed a philosophical opposition to the use of intoxicating substances, the motivation behind this contribution is clear,” Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in statement. “Plain and simple, the alcohol industry is trying to kill the competition. Their mission is to drive people to drink.”

Awesomeness from across the pond

ENGLISH fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett says he was so excited after being knighted by the Queen that he decided to make his own sword to equip himself for his new status.

It was not enough, however, simply to find some metal and get a blacksmith to bash it into shape.
Pratchett, believing the sword would not truly be his own unless it was made from metal he had produced, found a field with deposits of iron ore near his home in Wiltshire, west of London.

The author, 62, who has sold about 65 million copies of his books, which include the Discworld series, said: "Most of my life I've been producing stuff which is intangible and so it's amazing the achievement you feel when you have made something which is really real."

With help from his friend Jake Keen — an expert on ancient metal-making techniques — the author dug up 81kg of ore and smelted it in the grounds of his house, using a makeshift kiln built from clay and hay and fuelled with damp sheep manure.

Pratchett, who has Alzheimer's disease, also said he had thrown in "several pieces of meteorites — thunderbolt iron, you see — highly magical, you’ve got to chuck that stuff in whether you believe in it or not".
After days of hammering the metal into bars, he took it to a blacksmith, whom he helped to shape it into a blade, which was finished with silverwork.

Pratchett has stored the sword, which he completed last year, in a secret location, apparently concerned about the authorities taking an interest in it.
He said: "It annoys me that knights aren’t allowed to carry their swords. That would be knife crime."

Monday, September 20, 2010

How to Kill America

By Erica Payne @ Huffington Post

Koran-burning and mosque (ahem, community center) protests may provide fodder for recruiting and violence, but so do any number of other things we do on a daily basis and we are unlikely to rethink our foreign policy paradigm as a result. Nor should we. Like it or not, we will be living with terrorism for the foreseeable future. It will ebb and flow on any number of factors, the behavior of our wack-nuts least among them. The Defense Department, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and a whole slew of other departments will deal with it. That's their job. 

In the meantime, we citizens need to deal with the biggest threat to America. And contrary to popular opinion, the greatest threat to America is not what a terrorist is going to do to us, but rather what we are going to do to ourselves (either because of what they did to us in the past or what we think they might do to us in the future). In short, terrorists aren't the biggest threat to America, we are.

Consider this: We are the world's only superpower. We have 309 million citizens and control 3.79 million square miles of land. At $14.3 trillion, we have the world's largest economy. We make up two-fifths of the world's military spending. It is virtually impossible for our enemies to beat us physically. Even if by some unimaginable turn of events terrorists were able to destroy every building in the country, the citizens who remained would just move to West Texas, stick a flag in the sand while singing God Bless America at the top of their lungs and start to rebuild. We're just like that, we Americans. 

So since you can't destroy the land that is America; in order to destroy us, you must kill the idea that is America - the principles that brought us together in the first place and that bind us now, even when we fall short of realizing them. Our worst enemies don't want our body. They want our soul. Like the devil, the only way they can get it is if we give it to them. Unfortunately, politicians are racing to sign the dotted line.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

No witty title necessary

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17th is Constitution Day

Were you aware of that?

Hoist a cold one for the military!

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., has said there is support among military leaders for proposed legislation to allow service members under 21 to drink beer and wine at base restaurants and clubs.

Kingston said military brass are reluctant to publicly express their opinion, but that they unofficially agree with the proposal.

Kingston said he plans to hold public meetings on the issue. The legislation would prohibit the consumption of alcohol anywhere other than designated establishments on bases.
Kingston said about 60 percent of sailors serving on nuclear submarines are between the ages of 18 and 22, and active-duty soldiers have a 90 percent chance of being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Army Times

Please read this now....

Seriously, put down whatever you're doing and take a moment to read this. Facebook will still be there when you finish.

A very thought provoking article on the relationship between the Citizen and the Soldier:

The U.S. Army now begins its 10th continuous year in combat, the first time in its history the United States has excused the vast majority of its citizens from service and engaged in a major, decade-long conflict instead with an Army manned entirely by professional warriors.

This is an Army that, under the pressure of combat, has turned inward, leaving civilian America behind, reduced to the role of a well-wishing but impatient spectator. A decade of fighting has hardened soldiers in ways that civilians can't share. America respects its warriors, but from a distance.
The consequences of this unique milestone in American history are many -- the rise of a new warrior class, the declining number of Americans in public life with the sobering experience of war, the fading ideal of public service as a civic responsibility.

But above all, I think, is a perilous shrinking of common ground, the shared values and knowledge and beliefs that have shaped the way Americans think about war. Without it, how will soldiers and civilians ever see this war and its outcome in the same way? Are those faded "Support the Troops'' magnets enough to guide us through what is likely to be the murky and unsatisfactory conclusions and aftermaths of this era's conflicts?
Read the rest at Politics Daily

A rally I can get behind

I may actually have to get off my ass and attend this!

The Ethics of Compulsory Service and Morality with or without God

I'm knocking out a long overdue Humanities credit for my degree, and the course is Ethics. I figured I'd post some submissions here once in a while, and invite readers to weigh in on their opinion, if they're so inclined.

The nation is at war, and your number in the recently reinstated military draft has just come up. The problem is that, after serious reflection, you have concluded that the war is unjust. What advice might Socrates give you? Would you agree? What might you decide to do?

There appear to be two distinct schools of thought on compulsory military service. The first would state that if the state was an institution of freedom and liberty for all her citizens, then mandatory military service is antithetical to that very ideal; in a word, hypocrisy. The very premise of being a free citizen, yet owing a term of service [sometimes indefinite in time of war], where one’s life is demonstrably at stake, can be seen a very real contradiction.

On the other hand, the second school of thought, and one that Socrates would likely adhere to, is that it is an essential duty for a citizen to give back and serve the state that has provided him a home. Though citizens compensate the state through taxation and maintaining a law abiding existence, the duty to serve in a physical capacity is seen by many as either the epitome of serving the state or at the very least necessary for the security of it. In the question of the unjust war, Socrates states that “you must either persuade it [the state], or else do whatever it commands; and if it ordains that you must submit to certain treatment, then you must hold your peace and submit to it: whether that means being beaten or put into bonds, or whether it leads you into war or be wounded or killed, you must act accordingly, and that it what is just.”

The caveat to this deontological reasoning is that virtue ethics may contravene the actions of the state, as we have witnessed in the case of tyrannical regimes pursuing unjust and genocidal wars. Ultimately if I have concluded that the war is unjust, it will be on the grounds that the endeavor is so flagrantly in violation of the morals and principles that all societies must hold dear to be considered free, that I could in clear conscious opt out of serving in a manner that contradicted the laws of the state.

Is it possible to be moral without believing in God? Why or why not?

To state that morality cannot exist without god completely disregards the concept of free will. Free will is a necessary component of individual liberty. This not to say that the two concepts are not interchangeable and overlapping. Many of our laws are based on the tenets of the Judeo-Christian faith. But it is also easy to argue that these laws also have secular value, meaning that they require and reward citizens for being moral [as in not violating the law], irrespective of their belief or disbelief in a god. Conversely, many actions committed by people who profess a profound belief in god, can be seen as immoral by fellow citizens, when those actions restrict the liberties of others. For example, concerning gay marriage, proponents of faith may state that their moral compass is guided by their belief in god, while proponents of individual liberty will state that it is ultimately moral to allow freedom of action in what they believe is both biological and created by god and what is a fundamental tenet of freedom.

Steven Cahn writes that “some would argue that if god exists, then it at least follows that murder is immoral, because it would be immoral to destroy what god with infinite wisdom created”. He then states a flaw in this argument by stating that god [if he exists] created the capacity in humans to commit murder.

Teleologically, some may gravitate towards one side due to the possible consequences of god existing, who then rewards morality or punishes immorality. Deontologically, the argument splits between those with a clear to duty to god, and those with a duty to the moral laws of the state [which can again be the same at times]. But this discussion ultimately rests in virtue ethics in my estimation. Though this issue is deeply personal for many people, there can never be a consensus of opinion, because religion is an internal and outwardly unprovable concept.

Get your own Kenyan Birth Certificate!

Step right up.....don't let the batshit crazy birthers have all the fun! You too can be a Kenyan, or at least if irrationally accused of being one, you can watch their heads explode when you produce your own Kenyan BC.

Here's mine:

The tea party hangover

The GOP civil war is rather interesting to view from the sidelines. Karl Rove first came out against the tea party success, being the old school Republican stalwart that he is. Then by all appearances, took an on-air drubbing by Rush Limbaugh....and conveniently softened his position.

The problem I have with O'Donnell and others of her ilk is that her platform appears short on substantive solutions for energizing the economy and long on social issues. Being anti-condom for AIDS ridden regions is nutty, but I could give her a pass in that she probably wouldn't have an effect on programs such as that. But when she states:

"it was a misconception that you, quote unquote, can't legislate morality."

The reality of that statement is that if you don't legislate one morality then you are legislating somebody else's morality," she said. "So you can't get around legislating morality."

Does she not understand the concept that legislating a moral point of view that takes away from some citizens freedom of action is not equal to legislation that doesn't?

The fact that Sarah Palin is advising her to only speak through Fox news and that she apparently won't debate Chris Coons without receiving the questions beforehand further detracts from what luster she has.

Oh crap, there I went....I used a word that had 'lust' in it.....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th......Mourn or Celebrate?

On this day which is more appropriate....mourning the senseless deaths of the victims or celebrating their lives and the actions of those who perished so that others may live?

I know which path I choose.

I may have posted this before, but it deserves repeating. Rick Rescorla was one of those who gave his life in the rescue of others. He was a Vietnam Veteran, and a veteran of the Battle of Ia Drang Valley [chronicled in We Were Soldiers Once, and Young]. On September 11th 2001, he was vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, in the WTC. From a definitive expose of his heroism at Greyhawk:

In St. Augustine, Dan Hill was laying tile in his upstairs bathroom when his wife called, "Dan, get down here! An airplane just flew into the World Trade Center. It's a terrible accident." Hill hurried downstairs, and then the phone rang. It was Rescorla, calling from his cell phone.
"Are you watching TV?" he asked. "What do you think?"
"Hard to tell. It could have been an accident, but I can't see a commercial airliner getting that far off."
"I'm evacuating right now," Rescorla said.
Hill could hear Rescorla issuing orders through the bullhorn. He was calm and collected, never raising his voice. Then Hill heard him break into song:

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can't you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors' pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield! 

Rescorla came back on the phone. "Pack a bag and get up here," he said. "You can be my consultant again." He added that the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.
"What'd you say?" Hill asked.
"I said, 'Piss off, you son of a bitch,' " Rescorla replied. "Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it's going to take the whole building with it. I'm getting my people the fuck out of here." Then he said, "I got to go. Get your shit in one basket and get ready to come up."
Hill turned back to the TV and, within minutes, saw the second plane execute a sharp left turn and plunge into the south tower. Susan saw it, too, and frantically phoned her husband's office. No one answered.
About fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. It was Rick. She burst into tears and couldn't talk.
"Stop crying," he told her. "I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I've never been happier. You made my life."

Susan cried even harder, gasping for breath. She felt a stab of fear, because the words sounded like those of someone who wasn't coming back. "No!" she cried, but then he said he had to go. Cell-phone use was being curtailed so as not to interfere with emergency communications.

From the World Trade Center, Rescorla again called Hill. He said he was taking some of his security men and making a final sweep, to make sure no one was left behind, injured, or lost. Then he would evacuate himself. "Call Susan and calm her down," he said. "She's panicking."

Hill reached Susan, who had just got off the phone with Sullivan. "Take it easy," he said, as she continued to sob. "He's been through tight spots before, a million times." Suddenly Susan screamed. Hill turned to look at his own television and saw the south tower collapse. He thought of the words Rescorla had so often used to comfort dying soldiers. "Susan, he'll be O.K.," he said gently. "Take deep breaths. Take it easy. If anyone will survive, Rick will survive."

When Hill hung up, he turned to his wife. Her face was ashen. "Shit," he said. "Rescorla is dead."(2)
The rest of Rick Rescorla's morning is shrouded in some mystery. The tower went dark. Fire raged. Windows shattered. Rescorla headed upstairs before moving down; he helped evacuate several people above the 50th Floor. Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, said at a memorial service in Hayle that Rescorla was spotted as high as the 72nd floor, then worked his way down, clearing floors as he went. He was telling people to stay calm, pace themselves, get off their cell phones, keep moving. At one point, he was so exhausted he had to sit for a few minutes, although he continued barking orders through his bullhorn. Morgan Stanley officials said he called headquarters shortly before the tower collapsed to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.
John Olson, a Morgan Stanley regional director, saw Rescorla reassuring colleagues in the 10th-floor stairwell. "Rick, you've got to get out, too," Olson told him. "As soon as I make sure everyone else is out," Rescorla replied.

Morgan Stanley officials say Rescorla also told employees that "today is a day to be proud to be American" and that "tomorrow, the whole world will be talking about you." They say he also sang "God Bless America" and Cornish folk tunes in the stairwells. Those reports could not be confirmed, although they don't sound out of character. He liked to sing in a crisis. But the documented truth is impressive enough. Morgan Stanley managing director Bob Sloss was the only employee who didn't evacuate the 66th floor after the first plane hit, pausing to call his family and several underlings, even taking a call from a Bloomberg News reporter. Then the second plane hit, and his office walls cracked, and he felt the tower wagging like a dog's tail. He clambered down to the 10th floor, and there was Rescorla, sweating through his suit in the heat, telling people they were almost out, making no move to leave himself. 

Rick did not make it out. Neither did two of his security officers who were at
his side. But only three other Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

About Damn Time!

There have been several examples of uncommon valor from our forces during the last 10 years......culminating in some posthumous Medal of Honor awardees. Finally, a living soldier will receive this honor.

A young Army specialist, Salvatore A. Giunta, took a bullet to the chest, but was saved by the heavy plates of his body armor. Shaking off the punch from the round, he jumped up and pulled two wounded soldiers to safety, grabbed hand grenades and ran up the trail to where his squad mates had been patrolling. 

For his valor during that October 2007 mission, the White House announced Friday that the 25-year-old sergeant, of Hiawatha, Iowa, would become the first living service member to receive the Medal of Honor, the military’s most prestigious award, for action during any war since Vietnam. 

There, he saw a chilling image: Two fighters hauling one of his American comrades into the forest. Specialist Giunta hurled his grenades and emptied the clip in his automatic rifle, forcing the enemy to drop the wounded soldier. Still taking fire, he provided cover and comfort to his mortally wounded teammate until help arrived.
“It was one of the worst days of my life, and when I revisit it, it kind of guts me a little bit more every time,” the soldier, now a staff sergeant, said Friday.

President Obama said ‘thank you’ for what I did,” Sergeant Giunta said in an interview from his current post in Vicenza, Italy, after getting a call from the president. “My heart was pounding out of my chest, so much that my ears almost stopped hearing. I had my wife by my side. She was holding my hand. When she heard me say, ‘Mr. President,’ she gave me a squeeze.” 


Sal, I salute you!

Scholarly review of our wars....

So sadly lacking in today's media, Michael Brenner, Professor of International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh spells out our dilemma.

Supposedly, the Obama administration has submitted Afghanistan to two systematic reviews. The latter three months long exercise is being promoted by Jonathon Alter as the most perfect text book policy exercise ever conducted. Nice compliment for an author cultivating inside sources but wholly fallacious. Previous posts have demonstrated why in dismaying detail. Certainly, if such heights of governmental competence had been scaled, we – and Washington in general – would not be spending the Labor Day weekend trying, once again, to divine what’s it all about. So let’s begin with aims and ends. 

One thing (and only one thing) is plain: we do not want the United States to be exposed to another 9/11 type operation organized, directed or executed by al-Qaeda using Afghanistan as any sort of base. Once we get beyond that commonsensical declaration, a thick fog sets in. President Obama is the main culprit since 1) he is the man in charge; 2) his public statements have obscured more than they have clarified. Above all, he casually mixes together al-Qaeda and the Taliban. That is fatal. For were the objective to eliminate Taliban in its several guises as a force in Afghanistan that controls any sizeable territory or enjoys any substantial measure of freedom of action, then we might as well sign the contract now for some firm to strike the 25th, 50th and 75th commemorative medallions for Operation Forevermore. That is one.

Next is the issue of how much tolerance we have for what measure of risk as may remain. That in essence is a two-fold question: how much of a Taliban residual presence can we live with? and what constitutes acceptable odds that links of any kind with al-Qaeda would be inconsequential? A conception of the future situation that allows for perpetuation of the Taliban in some form or other (the precise terms being itself a valid, important matter) opens possibilities that do not exist in current thinking. A conception that acknowledges the possibility. however slight, of nominal contact between elements of future Taliban and future al-Qaeda (again, the modalities are important) widens the intellectual breakthrough. Then, we can visualize all sorts of political outcomes as tolerable. That is especially true so long as we retain the means to strike directly at any terrorist group’s physical assets if they were to reappear. That is two.

Pakistan is the ‘spanner’ in the works – as General Kayani might say. Do we conflate Afghanistan with Taliban/al-Qaeda infested areas of Pakistan? If so, it becomes harder to sketch an acceptable state of affairs in accordance with the terms outlined above. There we must take into account three additional sets of factors. First is the political jurisdictional demarcation line that does not coincide with the ethnic, tribal, philosophical and political facts on the ground. Two, it is crucial to ascertain whether the agenda of Taliban in Pakistan is identical to that of Taliban in Afghanistan. The latter’s leadership under Mullah Omar is highly unlikely to let the concerns of their Pakistani brethren constrain them insofar as a truce/peace settlement with Kabul/Washington is concerned. But the same cannot be said for Pak-Taliban attitudes toward the residue of al-Qaeda holding on in the Hindu Kush borderlands. Third, what are the intentions and capabilities of the Pakistani authorities? They seem to be at war with some elements and in cahoots with other elements – although I personally am dubious that anyone in the CIA, their off-the-book foreign legion of auxiliaries or Central Command can appraise this with any confidence. After all, Musharaf played them all for fools for six years. From the American perspective, the best we can hope for is that the Pakistanis, through a combination of guile and coercion, contrive to achieve a Taliban/al-Qaeda divorce that sends the latter party packing. At the present, the Pakistani Taliban appear to have raised their sights to target the Pakistani regime itself. Their violent campaign may make use of al-Qaeda assets. A blunting of that campaign, therefore, should result in a commensurate devaluation of their al-Qaeda ties and improve the odds on a divorce.

Finally, there is the key issue of American tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. Those traits are not in our national make-up. We like crisp wars with clear outcomes. We are not into ‘managing’ problems or ‘coping’ with complicated, awkward situations. Surely not exercises of the kind that extend over years. Quite the opposite. We are a ‘can do,’ ‘pro-active’ people. Reinventing our collective mindset may not be possible. Yet, unless we are prepared and able to change our ways, we are fated to bleed ourselves dry while failing in pursuit of the impossible dream.

As to Iraq, much of the above applies. We never had a legitimate, compelling mission. We still don’t. Our leaders seem convinced that it is desirable and possible to turn Iraq into a deferential ally who will support us in tangible and intangible ways while we pursue other adventures in the Greater Middle East. This, too, is pie in the sky. Any Iraqi leadership that wants to survive will promote its own interests. Those do not include playing the role of an auxiliary to American might a la Egypt or Jordan. The latter need us for economic reasons and, to their minds anyway, to contain a domestic challenge from salafists. The Iraqis will not need us. They have oil, and will reach their own accommodation with radical Sunni fundamentalists or crush them. Washington insiders talk about ‘partnering’ with the Iraqi military to protect the country from Iran. That, too, is our vision of things – not theirs. All the camaraderie Fort Leavenworth has to offer won’t change that hard reality. Nor will innumerable sorties by Pentagon brass wearing out the red carpet in Baghdad. Time to egress the hall of mirrors.
National Journal

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Must see TV

The Colbert Report does Been there, Won that.....The returnification of the Americ-can-do Troopscape.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


First there was the discovery of dozens of bottles of 200-year-old champagne, but now salvage divers have recovered what they believe to be the world's oldest beer, taking advertisers' notion of 'drinkability' to another level.

Though the effort to lift the reserve of champagne had just ended, researchers uncovered a small collection of bottled beer on Wednesday from the same shipwreck south of the autonomous Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea.

"At the moment, we believe that these are by far the world's oldest bottles of beer," Rainer Juslin, permanent secretary of the island's ministry of education, science and culture, told CNN on Friday via telephone from Mariehamn, the capital of the Aland Islands.
"It seems that we have not only salvaged the oldest champagne in the world, but also the oldest still drinkable beer. The culture in the beer is still living."
Juslin said officials had talked to a local brewer about whether the new-found beer might be able to yield its recipe after experts decipher the brew's ingredients.

The newest find came as divers unearthed bottles separate from the earlier champagne find. While lifting a few to the surface, one exploded from pressure. A dark fluid seeped from the broken bottle, which they realized was beer.

All the cargo on the ship -- including the beer and champagne -- is believed to have been transported sometime between 1800 and 1830, according to Juslin. He said the wreck was about 50 meters deep (roughly 164 feet) in between the Aland island chain and Finland.
The cargo was aboard a ship believed to be heading from Copenhagen, Denmark, to St Petersburg, Russia. It could have possibly been sent by France's King Louis XVI to the Russian Imperial Court.

Steven Colbert honors 'honor'

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Geese Witherspoon
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

In an amazing display of perverted machismo........

The Constitutional Insurgent brings you.......

The Bacon Bra! Combining the two greatest things known to man.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A New Way Forward?

The Afghanistan Study Group has released a report detailing the war, it's pitfalls and a plan to extricate ourselves while installing some form of legitimate governance in Kabul.

At almost nine years, the U.S. war in Afghanistan is the longest in our history, surpassing even the Vietnam War, and it will shortly surpass the Soviet Union’s own extended military campaign there. With the surge, it will cost the U.S. taxpayers nearly $100 billion per year, a sum roughly seven times larger than Afghanistan’s annual gross national product (GNP) of $14 billion and greater than the total annual cost of the new U.S. health insurance program. Thousands of American and allied personnel have been killed or gravely wounded.

The way Forward:
A five point approach

1. Emphasize Power-Sharing and Political Reconciliation
2. Scale Back and Eventually Suspend Combat Operations in the South and Reduce the U.S. Military Footprint
3. Keep the Focus on Al Qaeda and Domestic Security
4. Promote Economic Development
5. Engage Global and Regional Stakeholders.

The United States should by no means abandon Afghanistan, but it is time to abandon the current strategy that is not working. Trying to pacify Afghanistan by force of arms will not work, and a costly military campaign there is more likely to jeopardize America’s vital security interests than to protect them. The Study Group believes that the United States should pursue more modest goals that are both consistent with America’s true interests and far more likely to succeed.
Read the full report

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Talking points once again rear their head on the "Fair and Balanced" network

Chris Wallace of Fox [I refuse to include the word News], in discussing Obama's speech on Iraq last week, stated:

In that speech, to say “my central mission is to restore the economy,” is it unfair to say that this a president whose heart doesn’t seem to be into winning the war on terror, no matter what it costs?

Well, he has been in office long enough to have invaded yet another nation that contains a fleeting glimpse [if at all] of Al Qaeda. Doesn't he know that real American icons represent the swagger and pomposity that enabled terror attacks against us in the first place?

Fareed Zakaria - 1, Mouth Breathers - 0

Fareed Zakaria has been garnering some intellectual credibility least from the likes of me. First, he returns the award he had received from the ADL, due to the misnomered 'ground zero mosque faux-controversy, then he pens a piece in Newsweek which exposes the truth to the harsh light of day.

Nine years after 9/11, can anyone doubt that Al Qaeda is simply not that deadly a threat? Since that gruesome day in 2001, once governments everywhere began serious countermeasures, Osama bin Laden’s terror network has been unable to launch a single major attack on high-value targets in the United States and Europe. While it has inspired a few much smaller attacks by local jihadis, it has been unable to execute a single one itself. Today, Al Qaeda’s best hope is to find a troubled young man who has been radicalized over the Internet, and teach him to stuff his underwear with explosives.
I do not minimize Al Qaeda’s intentions, which are barbaric. I question its capabilities. In every recent conflict, the United States has been right about the evil intentions of its adversaries but massively exaggerated their strength. In the 1980s, we thought the Soviet Union was expanding its power and influence when it was on the verge of economic and political bankruptcy. In the 1990s, we were certain that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear arsenal. In fact, his factories could barely make soap.

Of course predictably, the fascist corners of the blogosphere is apoplectic. It seems their tender sensibilities are offended when something is opined that differs from the standard fare of the Hanni-bots and ditto-heads. So I comment on one such blog, because the obscenity laden intellectually retarded screed was such that, out of curiosity, I simply had to ascertain if any logic resided in the authors brain housing unit. His work of art [which I won't link to here] was essentially an excuse for every invasion and occupation that the United States has committed. The apparent rationale being...well, we're America, so suck it! [cue Team America theme song and requisite chest thumping and background vocals of the chant USA!, USA!]

Of course, he didn't actually refute anything that Zakaria had stated, that would require a grasp of truth and knowledge....but he does know how to type all of his curse words. Good job little guy!

I was perplexed at how somebody so oxygen deprived could operate his own blog.

I commented to him: Al Qaeda isn’t in Afghanistan. Mission Accomplished!
We now expend billions of dollars and American lives, while Al Qaeda laughs at us in Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, etc..
Amusing screed however…..

His mentally stunted response was : Any other time, I would not give this reply the light of day. But, I want it to be here; just so real Americans who read this blog, can see just much of a stupid fucking moron you are. 


(Oh, and by the way, I removed your URL…. go pimp that lame ass Liberal shit blog somewhere else!)

Golly......I'm not sure if I should be proud or offended that the same style of intellectual dwarfism was used towards me, as was used in his original rant. I suppose people have to use what they've got. So, anyway, apparently I'm not a 'real American' and I'm now a 'liberal' to boot. Strange that he then informed me that I had violated his site rules, though they clearly state otherwise, and deleted my next comment. No worries, I was merely killing time and have little energy for proto-fascists who hide their ignorance and jingoism behind the paper shield of patriotism.

I just find it amazing that so many of my fellow countrymen are so utterly stupid. They believe if you're not an US, your a THEM. If you don't call yourself a Republican, then you have to be a Democrat. If you acknowledge what the rest of humanity knows of our hypocritical and damaging foreign policies, you're a not a 'real American'. I suppose 'real Americans' think in a linear, two dimensional, stunted paradigm.

According to the closing of his tirade when he states "on the behalf of all the Soldiers" [given my background of military service], he's either speaking on behalf of me or to me, when he says 'shut the hell up'. Apparently, I just may be a terrorist appeasing, asshole, liberal retard. I'm so confused....

Anyway.....there's your daily dose of crazy. Don't expect it daily, or I'd never get anything else done.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

For Labor Day Weekend.......the Labor of War

Abraham Lincoln referred to the "terrible arithmetic" of war, meaning that sometimes a general or statesman would have to accept large numbers of casualties in fighting that would bring the conflict to an end and thereby save even more lives.  Whether Lincoln’s war really needed to be fought at all is debatable, but most Americans would accept that war has sometimes been necessary throughout history for a nation to survive when confronted by enemies.  When a war must be fought, the key objective should be to end it as quickly as possible and with a minimum loss of life.  We Americans of the twenty-first century are now experiencing our own "terrible arithmetic," but an arithmetic that goes on and on without end.  Worse, we are engaged in several conflicts that have nothing to do with national survival and did not have to be fought.  At least Lincoln hoped that his bloody battles would lead to an end to killing.  Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama appear to have had no such expectations and instead have been and are accepting of permanent American engagement in the Middle East and Central Asia.  Both have contrived the necessity of fighting a long war against an enemy they can hardly identify and repeatedly have failed to understand.

-Philip Giraldi

Read the rest

Friday, September 3, 2010

Kudos Associated Press!

AP: 'Combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is'
Memo from the AP's standards editor
From: Kent, Tom
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 5:30 PM
Subject: Standards Center guidance: The situation in Iraq


Many AP staffers are producing content that refers to the situation in Iraq. It might be a local story about Iraq veterans, an international diplomatic story that mentions the Iraqi conflict or coverage on the ground in Iraq itself.

Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.

To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.

As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country." 

However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.

In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.

Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.


Stay classy anti-mosque bigots....

These are the people who want to "Restore Honor"