Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Memoriam

Thanks to Ink Spots for reminding me of this ode.......

Fiddler's Green

Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green
Are the Souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddlers' Green.

Marching past, straight through to Hell
The Infantry are seen.
Accompanied by the Engineers,
Artillery and Marines,
For none but the shades of Cavalrymen
Dismount at Fiddlers' Green.

Though some go curving down the trail
To seek a warmer scene.
No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so rides back to drink again
With friends at Fiddlers' Green.

And so when man and horse go down
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head
And go to Fiddlers' Green

A seldom heard push back against the script

It is the Soldier not the reporter, who has given us Freedom of the press. It is the Soldier not the poet, who has given us Freedom of speech. It is the Soldier not the campus organizer, who has given us the Freedom to demonstrate. It is the Soldier not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the soldier, who salutes the Flag, who serves beneath the Flag and whose coffin is draped by the Flag, who allows the protester to burn the Flag.

Columns of drums beat as a solemn white male voice -- Sam Elliott? -- recites each line, indicting those who don't fall to their knees at the sight of a camo-painted Hummer or a Predator drone cleansing some Haji-infected neighborhood.

Stirring stuff. Gets the wood nice and stiff. Only thing is, it's bullshit.

Of all American manias, military worship is particularly noxious. Much of this fetishizing comes from civilians who've never worn the uniform, but who get excited at the idea of others Kicking Ass. They believe that the military is a sacred religious order to be obeyed and revered without question. But there are those who've worn and wear the uniform who feel pretty much the same way. It's drilled into them from boot camp on. It appeals to those who have little else in their lives.

A seductive pitch. So I understand where this mindset originates, how powerful it is to those who desire some kind of power in their lives. But even a general glance at American history shows us something else.

The claim that the "Soldier not the reporter" gave us freedom of the press, and the "Soldier not the poet" gave us free speech, while reassuring, is mostly wrong. Actually, war, the threat of war, and post-war periods often deliver the opposite of free press and speech.
 Read the rest here

Your guide to being offended

Now all of your worries about pinko, commie, anti-American subversion's are compiled in one handy book. You can get your panties in a twist and be all butthurt in the course of a weekend.
The TV series Friends undermined family values; Sesame Street taught ethnic minorities about civil disobedience; Happy Days had a subtle anti-Vietnam subtext; and the 1980s cop show MacGyver tried to persuade pistol-packing Americans that guns are bad. That, at least, is the considered opinion of Ben Shapiro, an investigative author and right-wing columnist who will publish a detailed exposé tomorrow telling how Hollywood producers, writers and actors have been secretly using TV to promote what he calls a "radical" left-leaning political agenda.

Shapiro's book, Primetime Propaganda runs to 416 pages and revolves around comments by 70-odd industry heavyweights who he approached for interviews. The book promises to "profile the biggest names in showbusiness over the past 50 years" and includes a series of "gotcha" moments, in which the architects of the best-watched TV shows of modern times tell how they tried to use the medium of broadcasting to, as Shapiro puts it, "shape America in their own leftist image".
The Independent

Friday, May 27, 2011

Allen West fails to understand the difference between the Taliban and Al Qaeda

Or terrorists and insurgents for that matter, but we find out for the 4,750th time, that he served in the military.
Obama plans to begin withdrawing some forces in July, and he aims to have most of them out by 2014. And while the efforts to speed up his  timetable are expected to fail, thanks largely to strong opposition from Republicans, the votes could be close.

Some members, though, remain steafast: Florida Republican Rep. Allen West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who trained Afghan officers, soundly denounced efforts to withdraw, calling the threat there a "multi-headed Hydra.

"Is the Taliban still fighting? I spent 2.5 years in Afghanistan. Just because you kill Osama bin Laden does not mean that the Taliban has stopped fighting," he said. "Now can we fight a little smarter? Absolutely."
Asked about efforts to curb U.S. involvement, West said, "I would take these gentlemen over and let them get shot at a few times and maybe they'd have a different opinion."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Harry Reid is a dangerous hypocrite

Regarding extension of the USA PATRIOT Act. In 2008:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., accused the president and Senate Republicans of being more interested in politicizing intelligence than resolving the debate.

Reid said the issue would not even be before Congress if Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, "in their unyielding efforts to expand presidential powers," had not created a system to conduct wiretapping, including on U.S. citizens, outside the bounds of federal law.

"The president could have taken the simple step of requesting new authority from Congress ... but whether out of convenience, incompetence, or outright disdain for the rule of law, the administration chose to ignore Congress and ignore the Constitution."

"If the senator from Kentucky refuses to relent," Reid said earlier Wednesday, "that would increase the risk of a retaliatory terrorist strike against the homeland and hamper our ability to deal a truly fatal blow to al-Qaida."

Yes Harry....Rand Paul "would have required audits on the use of surveillance authorities and required the government to provide more proof of a link to a foreign group or power to obtain sensitive library circulation records and bookseller records."

How damaging irresponsible. You statist fool.....

This is why religion can be just as irresponsible as beneficial

Harold Camping, the Doomsday prophet who falsely predicted that May 21, 2011 would be the End of the World, said at an Open Forum on Monday that he is not responsible for the suicidal acts committed by deceived followers.

Lyn Benedetto of Antelope Valley, Calif. slit the wrist and throat of her two daughters and then slit her own, claiming to prevent them from going through the “Tribulation” on May 21, 2011. However, her neighbor discovered the attempted murder and suicide early enough for ambulance to take them to a nearby hospital to be treated.

At the Open Forum of Family Radio in Oakland, Calif. on Monday, Camping said he was not responsible for the acts committed by his followers. And he was also not prepared to tender any public apology or admit that he had made a mistake about his Doomsday prediction.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Billboard of the Day

All American Week

That time of year again.

When Allen sees this, he may experience some internal conflict on whether or not he truly  misses Division.

The Pragmatic Libertarian

A pretty good sale on Gary Johnson by The Daily's Shikha Dalmia. Give it a read and tell me what you think of Johnson.....not his chances of winning, but his platform, and how those ideas could eventually take hold in D.C.
Independent voters hankering for a genuine alternative to Barack Lyndon Roosevelt Obama on the left and Fox News flunkies on the right might have their man. No, it’s not Ron Paul, the Texas Republican congressman who electrified them last election cycle. It is arguably someone better: the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson.

Johnson, who became the first to declare his candidacy for the 2012 Republican nomination last week, is the most consistently pro-liberty Republican or Democratic candidate in living memory. Like Paul, he is anti-war, anti-big government and pro-civil liberties. But unlike Paul, he is pro-choice (except for late-term abortions), pro-immigration, pro-trade and untainted by bizarre conspiracy theories that NAFTA is a prelude to the dissolution of North American borders. Nor does he have Paul’s racist newsletter baggage. His signature issue is not abolishing the Fed or returning to the gold standard. Rather, it is avoiding the impending financial collapse by cutting government spending on everything by 43 percent — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense — a plan bolder than any that either party has proffered.
But more impressive than his winning office is what he did in it. A fiscal hawk, he slashed government spending, something that none of the other governors leading the pack of GOP hopefuls has done. Mitt Romney destroyed his own fiscal legacy by enacting a universal health coverage program that is now devouring the Bay State’s budget. And Sarah Palin, notwithstanding her fairy tales, presided over a 31 percent spending hike in Alaska. By contrast, Johnson cut in half the 10 percent annual growth his state budget had been experiencing. He vetoed 750 bills, a third of them Republican, privatized government services and trimmed public-sector employee rosters. He lowered taxes and still exited with a tidy budget surplus.

None of this is to deny that his candidacy faces impediments of Mount Everest-like scale (a mountain which, incidentally, Johnson has climbed). He has little name recognition and no money. That might change if he makes a serious showing in the first few primaries. But that’ll be difficult given that the GOP’s primary process is stacked against anti-establishment candidates like him who refuse to pay obeisance to agricultural subsidies in Iowa, the site of the first contest. His strategy is to win New Hampshire, where his pro-liberty message has more resonance.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The internet brings the idiots out of Mommy's basement and into the virtual world

Anyone who has engaged in online debate with the intent of learning, disabusing pre-conceived notions or challenging one's assumptions has come across those who never fully matured; those who never developed norms of social behavior; and those who are merely entrenched in the political game to such an extent that all of their ire and angst is bottled up and pushed down to the point that it bleeds out uncontrollably every time they encounter someone on the internet who doesn't play be their framework.

There are 25, but I'll post the first 15 for brevity.

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it — especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.
2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the ‘How dare you!’ gambit.
3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method which works especially well with a silent press, because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such ‘arguable rumors’. If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a ‘wild rumor’ from a ‘bunch of kids on the Internet’ which can have no basis in fact.
4. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.
5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary ‘attack the messenger’ ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as ‘kooks’, ‘right-wing’, ‘liberal’, ‘left-wing’, ‘terrorists’, ‘conspiracy buffs’, ‘radicals’, ‘militia’, ‘racists’, ‘religious fanatics’, ‘sexual deviates’, and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.
6. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain criticism, reasoning — simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent’s viewpoint.
7. Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could be taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.
8. Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough ‘jargon’ and ‘minutia’ to illustrate you are ‘one who knows’, and simply say it isn’t so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.
9. Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues except with denials they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.
10. Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man — usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with – a kind of investment for the future should the matter not be so easily contained.) Where it can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually then be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues — so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.
11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions. Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the ‘high road’ and ‘confess’ with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made — but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities which, ‘just isn’t so.’ Others can reinforce this on your behalf, later, and even publicly ‘call for an end to the nonsense’ because you have already ‘done the right thing.’ Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for ‘coming clean’ and ‘owning up’ to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.
12. Enigmas have no solution. Drawing upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to solve. This causes those otherwise following the matter to begin to lose interest more quickly without having to address the actual issues.
13. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards or with an apparent deductive logic which forbears any actual material fact.
14. Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely, a ploy which works best with issues qualifying for rule 10.
15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.
 Washington's Blog

You can't make up comedy like this

Family Radio was looking at the Bible in too much of an earthly fashion when it preached a great earthquake on May 21, 2011 as the beginning of the Day of Judgment, President and General Manager Harold Camping said Monday night. 

Rather, May 21 was a day when God's judgment came on the world spiritually, Camping said. But Family Radio is sticking to its original assertion that the world will literally come to a fiery end on Oct. 21, 2011.
Harold Camping, Family Radio

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rapture Excuse Bingo

I respect everyone's right to faith and worship, but.......

When you attempt to dictate my life, my liberty and most egregiously our foreign policy by your belief in an invisible omnipotent being.......

You earn my disdain and ridicule.
"I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States . . . [W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle."
Michelle Bachmann

Friday, May 20, 2011

Support our Snipers

Oh look....both sides can agree on legislation after all!

When it concerns the expansion and consolidation of state power. Note the bold portion:
Top congressional leaders agreed Thursday to a four-year extension of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act, the controversial law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks that governs the search for terrorists on American soil.
The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner calls for a vote before May 27, when parts of the current act expire. The idea is to pass the extension with as little debate as possible to avoid a protracted and familiar argument over the expanded power the law gives to the government.

From its inception, the law's increased surveillance powers have been criticized by liberals and conservatives alike as infringements on free speech rights and protections against unwarranted searches and seizures.
God forbid we have a debate on such intrusive legislation.

Some helpful tips for the about-to-be raptured

From The Swash Zone:
For those of you who are sure you're actually going to be raptured, I'd suggest you wear sky blue clothing since many of us will be down here with shotguns and itchy trigger fingers and not only Ted Nugent. Don't be an easy target. Don't dress like a duck or a zombie.

Here are a few tips:

1) Refrain from drinking liquids after 3:00 PM, there are no rest stops along the way and God doesn't like to pull over.

2) Say goodbye to us sinners before leaving the atmosphere. In Space, no one can hear you scream.

3) Bring a firearm. There will lots of traffic and that means road rage.

4) And behave yourself -- don't make God stop the car and come back there!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For those getting raptured on Saturday....

I'm in the market for a 4x4 late model pickup, an iPod and any solar power equipment you might have on hand....hit me up, I'll take good care of it.

COIN versus CT, and it's applicability to Afghanistan

It seems appropriate to revisit Marc Sageman's testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2009 in light of ObL's demise, and the hopeful prospects of realistic discussion on our presence in Afghanistan. The predictable conflation of Taliban [and assorted other groups] with trans-national terrorism is an unfortunate reflection of the level of intellectual curiosity in our nation today. This of course is usually accompanied by the 'never say lose - stay as long as it takes' crowd. This crowd becomes strangely silent when pressed on the salient points of the issue, preferring rather, to confine their capacities to easily digestible rhetoric.

The reliance on politicians, pundits or invested strategists [such as the Kagan's] yet seemingly utter ignorance of peer reviewed experts like Sageman, Pillar, Kilcullen, the folks at the Institute for Defense Analysis, Strategic Studies Intsitute, NYU's Center for Law and Security, and others represents a failing of our media to present academic analysis of the issues, as opposed to left/right divisive commentary.

Some points from Sageman:
- The dramatic increase in global neo-jihadi terrorism in the first decade of the 21st Century has come from al Qaeda inspired autonomous groups with no link to formal transnational terrorist groups. This is especially true since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which has inspired local young Muslims to strike out against the West. It seems clear that this invasion has created more terrorists in the West, refuting the thesis that “we are fighting them there, so we don‟t have to fight them here.” The fact that these plots peaked in 2004, one year after the invasion of Iraq provides empirical support linking the two events.

- The dichotomy of the present policy options between counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency is a false one. The choice is not between counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, but between counter-terrorism and counter-terrorism plus counter-insurgency. No matter what happens in Afghanistan, all Western powers will continue to protect their homelands with a vigorous counter-terrorism campaign against al Qaeda, its allies and its homegrown progeny. The policy option really boils down to, what is the added value of counter-insurgency in Afghanistan to a necessary and continuing counter-terrorism strategy worldwide?
- The proposed counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan is at present irrelevant to the goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda, which is located in Pakistan. None of the plots in the West has any connection to any Afghan insurgent group, labeled under the umbrella name “Afghan Taliban,” be it a part of Mullah Omar‟s Quetta Shura Taliban, Jalaluddin Haqqani‟s Haqqani Network, or Gulbuddin Hekmatyar‟s Hezb-e Islami. There has not been any Afghan in al Qaeda in the past twenty years because of mutual resentment between al Qaeda foreigners and Afghan locals. In the policy debate, there is an insidious confusion between Afghan Taliban and transnational terrorist organizations. Afghan fighters are parochial, have local goals and fight locally. They do not travel abroad and rarely within their own country. They are happy to kill Westerners in Afghanistan, but they are not a threat to Western homelands. Foreign presence is what has traditionally unified the usually fractious Afghan rivals against a common enemy. Their strategic interest is local, preserving their autonomy from what they perceive as a predatory corrupt unjust central government. They do not project to the West and do not share the internationalist agenda of al Qaeda or its allied transnational terrorist organizations.
- The second prong of the proposed counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan is the prevention of al Qaeda‟s return to Afghanistan through a military surge. The assumption is that the return to power by the Taliban will automatically allow al Qaeda to reconstitute in Afghanistan, complete with training camps and resurgence of al Qaeda‟s ability to project to the West and threaten the homeland.

a. The possibility of Afghan insurgents winning is not a sure thing. Twenty years ago, it took a far better armed and far more popular insurgency more than three years to take power after the complete withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Unlike 1996, when the Taliban captured Kabul, the label Taliban now includes a collection of local insurgencies with some attempts at coordination on a larger scale. The Taliban is deeply divided and there is no evidence that it is in the process of consolidating its forces for a push on Kabul. Local Taliban forces can prevent foreign forces from protecting the local population, through their time honored tactics of ambushes and raids. General McChrystal is right: the situation in the countryside is grim. But this local resistance does not translate into deeply divided Taliban forces being able to coalesce in the near future into an offensive force capable of marching on to Kabul. Command and control frictions and divergent goals hamper their planning and coordination of operations. They lack popular support and have not demonstrated ability to project beyond their immediate locality.

b. Taliban return to power will not mean an automatic new sanctuary for al Qaeda. First, there is no reason for al Qaeda to return to Afghanistan. It seems safer in Pakistan at the moment. Indeed, al Qaeda has so far not returned to Taliban controlled areas in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda‟s relationship with Taliban factions has never been very smooth, despite the past public display of Usama bin Laden‟s pledge of bayat to Mullah Omar. Al Qaeda leaders seem intimately involved in the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, less so with Mullah Omar‟s Quetta Shura, and even less with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar‟s forces. Indeed, the presence of al Qaeda in Afghanistan divided Taliban leaders before their downfall. Likewise, loyalty for Taliban leader Mullah Omar also divided al Qaeda leadership. This complex relationship between al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban factions opens up an opportunity for the U.S. Government to mobilize its political savvy based on a deep understanding of local history, culture and politics to prevent the return of a significant al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan.

c. Even if a triumphant Taliban invites al Qaeda to return to Afghanistan, its presence there will look very similar to its presence in the FATA. Times have changed. The presence of large sanctuaries in Afghanistan was predicated on Western not so benign neglect of the al Qaeda funded camps there. This era is gone because Western powers will no longer tolerate them. There are many ways to prevent the return of al Qaeda to Afghanistan besides a national counter-insurgency strategy. Vigilance through electronic monitoring, spatial surveillance, a networks of informants in contested territory, combined with the nearby stationing of a small force dedicated to physically eradicate any visible al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan will prevent the return of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The proper military mission in Afghanistan and elsewhere is sanctuary denial.

Confessions of a Vulcan

An insightful read about the run up and prosecution of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq from one of the founding advisers to the GW Bush campaign.


CDC blogs about the Zombie Apocalypse..........uh, should we be worried?

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

OK, I realize they are suing this as a vehicle to inform the public on emergency preparedness...just seems kind of ironic...in a conspiratorially creepy sort of way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The problem with Democrats....condensed version.

From an exchange between Andrew Napolitano and Charlie Rangel:
Finally Napolitano was upset that no President seems to be able to live within their economic means, and could not understand the rationale behind voting to borrow more money in the future. Rangel made a valiant attempt to convince the Judge, which prompted Napolitano to tell “big government” Rangel, “I commend you for the force with which you defend that nonsense.” Rangel laughed and responded, “it’s a great government, why not be big?”

I am sooo not getting prostate cancer!

From the Harvard School of Public Health:
Coffee contains many biologically active compounds, including caffeine and phenolic acids, that have potent antioxidant activity and can affect glucose metabolism and sex hormone levels. Because of these biological activities, coffee may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Now if they can just find a health benefit with quality ale and single malt Scotch....I'm golden!

Of course the rapture is this Saturday......it's the gays fault!

Q: How many will be Raptured?
A: Campbell estimates 200 million. The remaining nearly 7 billion face a grisly fate - crushed in the quake, burned by sulfur, turned into pillars of salt, etc.

Q: Why May 21?
A: Camping calculates May 21 is exactly 7,000 years from the date of the Noah's Ark flood. In his book "Time Has an End," Camping writes. "The year 391 B.C. is the year when the Old Testament was finished, and 2,011 + 391 - 1 = 2,401, or 7 x 7 x 7 x 7." There you have it.

Q: Any other reason?
A: Yes. Gay Pride and same-sex marriage. Camping says God will punish America and the rest of the world for Gay Pride and same-sex marriages, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were punished with fire and brimstone in the Old Testament.


Badass Quote of the Day

"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" - Isaac Asimov
I'm becoming quite the fan of Ed Brayton's Badass nuggets, as he posts them regularly on Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My vote is mine...it's all the power I have...and it's worth it's weight in gold.

The next time someone tells you that you are 'throwing your vote away', ask them why they would vote for a candidate who did not reflect their views of which direction the nation should be oriented? Ask them the last time a sitting US President [or even a candidate] pursued a policy of restraining the Federal Government to it's enumerated powers....or where he or she placed the sovereignty of the individual above the consolidation of state power? Or weighed the liberty of the citizenry against the egregious waste of money [and many times, lives] in enforcing prohibitions against victimless crimes? Or where they didn't engage in the predictable and obsequious pomp and ceremony of religious deference? Or where they didn't worship at the altar of Exceptionalism.....use military power wantonly...and have blow-back as their [or their successor's] prize?

When was the last time your candidate stood for what was right instead of standing for the gaining and/or maintaining of political power for their chosen party?

Whether or not I vote for the Libertarian Party candidate or the snowballs-chance-in-hell campaign of Gary Johnson, you can be damned sure that I'm not throwing MY vote away. I'm not settling. My vote must earned, it will not be bartered away for the lesser of two evils. That more people don't vote their conscience is exactly why we are continually burdened  with the same cast of statist, centrist and uninspiring empty suits...whether they reside at 1600 Pennsylvania or on Main Street.

That's why I'm still intrigued by Gary Johnson. He won't get the nomination....but he can broaden the debate. He can force some inclusion of the principles that this nation preaches, yet all too seldom practices.
Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico and a likely candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, is talking about hookers.
"It's never been a consideration that I would enlist the services of a prostitute, myself personally," he says. "But if I were to do that, where would I want to enlist that service? Well, it would probably be in Nevada, where it's legal, because it would be safe." 

When's the last time Mitt Romney engaged in a hypothetical like that? But Johnson doesn't even blink. It's not like this is the only topic on which he risks offending the GOP's base. He also favors legalizing pot, supports abortion rights, and opposes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Oh, and he doesn't go to church. "I don't think you'll ever hear me invoking God in anything I do," he tells me. 

It is an incongruous foundation from which to seek the mantle of a party whose last president, George W. Bush, famously claimed that his favorite philosopher is Jesus Christ. 

Johnson faces other obstacles, too. Aside from his low name-recognition, he has no discernible power base. After eight years on the job in Santa Fe, he was term-limited out of the governorship at the end of 2002 and stepped back from public life thereafter. Fundraising will be arduous. And his ambitions are the object of outright scorn from the Washington establishment.

The Military versus the Media

Interesting post from a former PRT Leader in Iraq. Captures some of the pitfalls of getting objective reporting from embedded journalists.
What is it about the military that turns normally thoughtful journalists into war pornographers? A reporter who would otherwise make it through the day sober spends a little time with some unit of the U.S. military and promptly loses himself in ever more dramatic language about bravery and sacrifice, stolen in equal parts from Thucydides, Henry V, and Sergeant Rock comics.

So, take my word for it, it’s really, really hard to write about the military objectively, even if you try. That’s not to say that all journalists are shills; it’s just a warning for you to take care when you’re hanging out with, or reading, our warrior-pundits.

And yet having some perspective on the military and what it does matters as we threaten to slip into yet more multigenerational wars without purpose, watch the further militarization of foreign affairs, and devote ever more of our national budget to the military.  War lovers and war pornographers can’t offer us an objective look at a world in which more and more foreigners only run into Americans when they are wearing green and carrying weapons.

I respect my military colleagues, at least the ones who took it all seriously enough to deserve that respect, and would not speak ill of them. Some do indeed make enormous sacrifices, including of their own lives, even if for reasons that are ambiguous at best to a majority of Americans. But in order to understand these men and women and the tasks they are set to, we need journalists who are willing to type with both hands, not just pass on their own wet dreams to a gullible public.

Civilian control of our military is a cornerstone of our republic, and we the people need to base our decisions on something better than Sergeant Rock comic rewrites.

Monday, May 16, 2011

And late night talk show hosts and comedians wept.....

Trump is not running for President.

Apparently the world is going to end......

sometime before 6:00 pm Eastern time this Saturday.


At least it's a good excuse for some bacchanalian carousing Friday night!

Maybe you've seen the signs of the apocalypse.
One was spotted in New York. Literally. The kind with lettering. Next to a sidewalk squatter, not far from the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. This wasn't a vague the-end-is-nigh warning. This guy knew when: May 21, 2011.
Billboards scattered around the country, from Vineland, N.J., to Nashville, also proclaim that's the date of Judgment Day, when Jesus Christ returns.
The message comes from California-based radio evangelist Harold Camping, who did the math and calculated the time left to "turn away from your sins and humbly beg, beseech, and implore God for forgiveness," he writes at his familyradio.com.

About 200 million souls will be saved, but the other 6.5 billion or so are doomed when the planet turns to crispy cinders on Oct. 21.
That should end all those worries of obliteration on Dec. 21, 2012, as allegedly predicted by the Mayan calendar, or of Donald Trump being elected president.

All of this becomes moot if, as predicted by the movie Terminator, Skynet becomes self-aware at 8:11 p.m. Tuesday and Judgment Day arrives a week from Thursday.
Those skeptical or nervous might take solace in knowing that Camping has been wrong before, as has anyone else who previously set a date for Armageddon.

"We have indeed already taken bets on the end of the world on many occasions without, as yet, paying out!" said Graham Sharpe, spokesman for British bookmaker a William Hill. ". . . We may have to settle winning bets in Heaven - but we do have branches in the alternative destination as well."
Also comforting is that NASA hasn't released any planet-evacuation plans (yet) - or found any killer asteroids.

Todays reason to love dogs

Dedicated to 'Blue'....the faithful mutt at COP Gator, Baghdad. I hope he's safe and happy, but the odds are against him.
Dogs have been used as implements of combat for centuries. But their presence on the battlefield still seems to captivate and even mystify many of us. Why? While they serve important and unique functions on the battlefield, many of us seem to have not just personified dogs, but ‘super personified' them. We establish bonds with dogs, it seems, far faster than we do with other humans. ‘Rex' and ‘Rover' are easily adopted into the family -- and if that family consists of non dog lovers, Rex and Rover typically flip their sentiments 180 degrees post haste. And dogs remain ‘family members' even after peeing all over the $5,000 imported rug. Cousin Chester got banished forever from the family for snaking out on a loan for a couple hundred bucks to dad. They're sweet, intelligent (mostly, and ‘dumbness' in dogs is far more endearing than it is a hindrance), insightful, and most importantly, tuned in to our moods. Aren't they above war? What if Ostrich had the same olfactory prowess as dogs, and we saw images of giant birds loping along dusty, rutted dirt roads alongside squads of Marines, pecking in the air in the direction of IEDs they just sniffed? We'd probably laugh, but we wouldn't get on the edges of our seats, worrying about them setting off those IEDs, like so many of us do when we see images dogs on those dusty, rutted dirt roads -- and like we do when we see images troops on those dusty, rutted dirt roads. 

But not all dogs in war are ‘tools' used by the human combatants of that war. Most, in fact, are just there when war happens. Many actually get adopted by the combatants themselves, and not to perform a function like Henryetta did for Special Forces and then Marines of Camp Blessing against opposing combatants, but for something that commanders, at least officially, frown upon as a ‘hygiene issue:' they become pets. Like Hamchuck and Henryetta, these dogs walk into a base, but there they often stay -- or I should say, are kept -- bringing a warm semblance of home to the austerity of deployed life.
Tom Ricks - Foreign Policy

SEAL Team Disney?

When the world discovered that a group of Navy SEALs called "SEAL Team 6" was responsible for killing Osama bin Laden, it's not likely that many people thought, "how can we trademark 'SEAL Team 6' to make money off of it?" Fear not, though: the Walt Disney Company did think just that.

FishbowlNY uncovered three trademark applications that Disney made in early May to claim the rights to the phrase "SEAL Team 6." 

The applications cover "entertainment and education services," "toys, games and playthings" and "clothing, footwear and headwear."

It remains to be seen what products will come of these trademarks, but the bin Laden raid video game and pajama set has to be just around the corner.

Iraq Dossier scripted to make the case for war? Say it ain't so.......

A top military intelligence official has said the discredited dossier on Iraq's weapons programme was drawn up "to make the case for war", flatly contradicting persistent claims to the contrary by the Blair government, and in particular by Alastair Campbell, the former prime minister's chief spin doctor.

In hitherto secret evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Major General Michael Laurie said: "We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence, and that to make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence the wording was developed with care."

His evidence is devastating, as it is the first time such a senior intelligence officer has directly contradicted the then government's claims about the dossier – and, perhaps more significantly, what Tony Blair and Campbell said when it was released seven months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Laurie, who was director general in the Defence Intelligence Staff, responsible for commanding and delivering raw and analysed intelligence, said: "I am writing to comment on the position taken by Alastair Campbell during his evidence to you … when he stated that the purpose of the dossier was not to make a case for war; I and those involved in its production saw it exactly as that, and that was the direction we were given."

That doesn't stop proponents from taking the few instances of Gulf War era [Sarin and Mustard] artillery and mortar rounds being found/exploited in Iraq as justification for the invasion and occupation.

2nd Badass Quote of the Day

“Gingrich 2012: He will always love America. Unless it gets cancer.”

 Outside the Beltway

Badass Quote of the Day

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."
-- Marcus Aurelius
Posted at Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A point of light in the darkness?

Could it be that I could vote for a major party Presidential candidate? After years of supporting the never-going-to-win-the-White-House-in-my-lifetime Libertarian Party [of which I am still a member, despite their misguided electoral strategy].....there may be a candidate worth my vote.

Oh sure, I like Ron Paul.....but his fundamentalism really turns me off. His candidacy is beneficial to open the debate to idea's of actual change. But he's not going to win, and probably shouldn't.

Admittedly, he is new to my political radar, having heard his positions for the first time in the South Carolina GOP debate. But I'm intrigued and hopeful....and who knows....a GOP candidate may once again have earned my vote.

And to top it off.....he's a fellow competitor in the Bataan Memorial Death March - Heavy Division!

Check him out and tell me what you think of Gary Johnson.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Unexceptional American Exceptionalism

Thoughts I've echoed for some time now.......the reliance on this chimerical quasi-religious adherence to a justification for all we do as a nation.
The emblem of this culture is the term “American exceptionalism.” It has been adopted by the right to mean that America, alone among the nations, is beloved of God. Maybe so, but on some days it’s hard to tell.
The term “American exceptionalism” has been invoked by Mitt Romney, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and, of course, Sarah Palin. I would throw in Michele Bachmann, since if she has not said it yet, she soon will because she says almost anything. She is no exception to the cult of American exceptionalism.

The phrase has an odd history. As Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz reminds me, American exceptionalism once applied to the hostility that the American worker — virtually alone in the industrialized world — had toward socialism. Now, though, it is infused with religious meaning, which makes it impervious to analysis. Once you say God likes something, who can quibble?

What God prefers should not be monkeyed with. But certain kinds of exceptionalism raise certain kinds of question. For an industrialized nation, the United States has a very high murder rate and, no surprise, a very high execution rate. We have a health-care system cleverly designed to bankrupt the average person and a political system so dysfunctional that we may go into national bankruptcy, blaming one another for spending too much or taxing too little, but not both. God indeed works in mysterious ways.

More reasons to love dogs

Check out the great military working dog photo essay at Foreign Policy.

Does this mean the Taliban have sold out?

The Guardian reports that Alemarah Web, the official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, now has its very own Twitter feed. There were 224 followers when the article was published, but it now seems to be up to 652. The majority of tweets are in Pashto, but there are some occasional updates in English such as "11 US-NATO invaders killed, 11 wounded in clash amid 'Operation Badar'". 

Almost more interesting than the feed itself is the group of feeds that it's following. These include @Kavkazcenter, the media arm of the North Caucasus insurgency, as well as less expected feeds such as an Afghan children's charity and a U.S. Air Force logistics officer. 

It's not quite clear from the feed or the Guardian story who is actually writing the feed and what connection they have to the Taliban's operational commanders. Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin's wonders whether the account will "be able to get that little blue 'Verified' account badge."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Suicide in the Trenches

I KNEW a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
     .     .     .     .
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go. 
- Siegfried Sassoon 

The Survivors

NO doubt they'll soon get well; the shock and strain
  Have caused their stammering, disconnected talk.
Of course they're 'longing to go out again,'--
  These boys with old, scared faces, learning to walk.
They'll soon forget their haunted nights; their cowed
  Subjection to the ghosts of friends who died,--
Their dreams that drip with murder; and they'll be proud
  Of glorious war that shatter'd all their pride...
Men who went out to battle, grim and glad;
Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and mad. 
Siegfried Sassoon

Newt for President?

Probably wouldn't be any scarier than Bachmann....but I love a couple of responses from the pundit-verse:
Ever been stuck on an airplane or at a dinner party next to a humorless, opinionated know-it-all who won't shut up? If you enjoyed that, I imagine you'll be voting for Newt Gingrich. And I'm guessing you won't have much company.

Gingrich is a fount of ideas, most of them not nearly as good as he thinks, but he is sorely lacking in some qualities Americans like to see in their presidents: sober judgment, a bit of humility, personal charm. Gingrich has none of these. On the contrary, he's a verbal flamethrower with a grating sense of his importance.
Chicago Trib 
So the man who crucified Bill Clinton over his cheating in the 1990's is about to announce that he will run for president despite having enough skeletons in his closet to fill a college anatomy lab. Newt Gingrich, whose penchant for extra-marital vagina is well-documented, the man who said he's previously cheated out of patriotism, will officially announce his candidacy Wednesday, planning to turn a lifetime of tail-chasing into a political asset. 

I for one am thrilled that Gingrich is running, as I promise to be on him like a Republican Congressman on a House page. We'll relentlessly hound him for cheating on and shamelessly dumping two ailing wives. For having an affair with his much older high school teacher and his 22-years younger aide. For asking wife #2, Marianne, to "tolerate" his tawdry affair with future wife #3 Callista in some sick, kinky open-marriage fantasy. We'll resurrect the 1982 House Banking scandal and his 22 bounced checks. We'll remind everyone of the 1984 and 1995 book scandals and dust off the GOPAC scandal and illegal use of non-profit funds for political purposes. We'll expose his family-values hypocrisy 'round the clock like a McDonald's drive-thru, and slap him so hard with his lewd past that he'll feel like he went 15 rounds with Mike Tyson.

Marc Thiessen is at it again

This century's foremost torture apologist has once again taken to the stage in order to rehabilitate his former employer:
The evidence that CIA interrogations played a key role in the operation that got Osama bin Laden is overwhelming. Countless intelligence officials, including CIA Director Leon Panetta, have confirmed that detainees interrogated by the CIA provided information that helped lead us to bin Laden. But the CIA deniers continue to insist it is all a “big lie.” Despite this testimony, and the mountains of documents declassified by the Obama administration in 2009, they contend that CIA interrogations did not work.

No, Marc....people aren't denying that information that was eventually corroborated and developed wasn't in part due to CIA interrogations.......they are stating that it didn't come from enhanced interrogations torture. The overwhelming evidence points to exactly that.

I would love to see Marc go point by point with Steven Leinman:
I would submit that in normal times, Mr. Thiessen's column would have offered an interesting albeit primarily subjective perspective on the issue of interrogation doctrine. In the current context surrounding the finding, fixing and finishing of Osama bin Laden, it instead co-opts a critical discussion with partisan rhetoric, and does so insidiously by conflating disparate facts to fit an unsubstantiated position.

While Mr. Thiessen is correct regarding President Obama's action to end the CIA's interrogation program, he failed to disclose that the president concomitantly established the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), which brought together and re-focused the personnel and resources of several agencies within the U.S. Intelligence Community, including the FBI, CIA and Department of Defense. Not only was this a prudent move to instill much-needed discipline into an interrogation effort that had fallen into entropy, it also took the bold - if long overdue - step of creating a robust research capability that has already begun to provide policy makers and operators alike with an unprecedented, evidence-based understanding of the complex dynamic that is interrogation. Through this synergy of science and objective field research, the type of anecdotal arguments Mr. Thiessen offers will be quickly dismissed in light of a more meaningful understanding of the craft's complexities.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Accidental Guerrilla

I can't remember if I have mentioned this book previously, but I ran across a review of it that I thought was compelling, especially in light of the recent targeting of Osama bin Laden. Kilcullen was a senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to Gen Petraeus during the Iraq Surge. Though my opinions of our engagement in Iraq are well known, I hold David Kilcullen in high esteem for his critical thought process concerning insurgencies.
David Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerrilla is at once an intellectual memoir of the author’s field research, a contribution to the academic discourse on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, and a prescription for the Western establishment to manage more smartly the many smaller conflicts included in the so-called war on terror. Kilcullen — a former Australian army officer who has served as a civilian adviser to the US government on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, including during the 2007 surge of US forces in Iraq — argues that the vast majority of persons the West faces in these conflicts had no initial intention of fighting but instead were moved to action by an extremist minority. Therefore the West should pursue courses that counteract the conditions that allow extremists to manipulate segments of populations into becoming “accidental” guerrillas rather than targeting certain individuals or groups. Engaging conflicts in the way Kilcullen suggests would have profound implications for intelligence.

Kilcullen examines recent activity in several theaters, primarily Afghanistan (2006–2008) and Iraq (2006–2007), and to lesser extents East Timor (1999–2000), southern Thailand (2004–2007), the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan (2006–2008), and immigrant communities in Europe. Though not all of Kilcullen’s case studies are in Muslim areas, Islam figures prominently because of the frequency with which insurgent or terrorist activity is a function of takfiri Islam, which professes conversion to Islam by force and death for the unwilling — as a recurring script for violent resistance.

In looking at these cases the author uses a medical analogy suggesting phases of an infectious disease: “infection” — the entry of extremists into a vulnerable area; “contagion” — the spread of extremist influence; “intervention” — the engagement of establishment, often Western-partnered security services; “rejection” — the hoped-for elimination of the insurgent or terrorist group by the population.

What does Kilcullen suggest? Western intervention — if done at all — should be low-profile and should demonstrate that the West is advocating the well-being of populations and not imposing outside systems — no matter how altruistic or rational in Western eyes. Strategies should emphasize the population: building trust, creating good governance, establishing credible security services, maintaining relationships with local officials, and marketing the success of all of the above to those in the population who are wavering. Overwhelming use of force and search-and-destroy techniques that risk high collateral damage and rally locals in opposition should be avoided — though he does not dismiss selective operations against terrorist or insurgent leaders.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wow.....a refreshingly sane Republican on Afghanistan....

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) believes that the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden in Abottabad, Pakistan has provided the United States with a "relationship-changing opportunity" to reassess its dealings with Pakistan and perhaps Afghanistan.
In an interview with the Memphis Flyer published Tuesday, Corker expressed some of his strongest skepticism to date about the direction of the war in Afghanistan. 

"The fact is, if you travel through Afghanistan, as I've done many times, and you talk to our military leaders, they're unbelievably frustrated, because they're fighting a war in a country where our enemies are not," said Corker. "And on the other hand we're providing aid to a country where our enemies are. To me, and this is what I really pressed hard in this last hearing on, this is where our focus needs to be."

Corker noted that he has been "very skeptical about the efforts there [in Afghanistan] for some time," but he is willing to show patience through the summer fighting season, as Gen. David Petraeus has requested.
"But -- our men and women in uniform, I hold them in highest esteem in carrying out their mission, but much of what they're fighting there is just criminality," added Corker. "I mean, one of the areas I was in, there was a prison nearby, there was about 1500 folks locked up there, and only 80 of them were extremists. The other 1420 were there because of criminality. So much of what our soldiers are fighting there is criminality. Again, the head of the monster, if you will, exists in Pakistan."

Obama snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

A pretty compelling dissertation by Tim over at Free Range International, on how the Obama team muddled what should have been a momentous opportunity to both capitalize on the killing of ObL and to pursue a stratagem to knock Al Qaeda again while they are down.
In Afghanistan, the reaction to Osama’s death was the same as it was Salida, Colorado; nothing.  I was in Zaranj when the news broke and aside from being congratulated by my Afghan and Pakistani project managers, not a peep from anyone around me.  Killing bin Laden was a huge victory for Americans because it was personal for us but the Afghans, having a much more pragmatic view of the event, immediately concluded  that killing bin Laden will make it easier for us to leave.  They are correct, but they don’t know how this is going to play out, and neither do I.

It doesn’t have to be this way; we should be letting the successful hunting down and killing of bin Laden re-energize our efforts and refocus our mission while leveraging this impressive achievement with our political “allies” Pakistan and Afghanistan.  But we lost control of the story because the administration has too much invested in the on-going investigation of the very intelligence people who extracted the information that started this hunt.  The administration has too much invested in the narrative that George Bush and Dick Cheney were off the reservation, acting illegally and recklessly when they set up the enhanced interrogation program. Now the president lectures us about the Osama death photos, saying “We don’t need to spike the football”  that as Americans “we don’t do that”.  Don’t do what?  What the hell is he talking about?
An experienced leader would know a thing or two about how not to let a huge victory go to waste.  He would also know that those photos will leak at some point in the future and frankly there is nothing he can do to stop it.  President Obama might well have used this remarkable event to elevate his stature and to seal another election victory, but only if he was big enough to act like the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.   As the leader,  he could have focused his praise on the people who worked years to put us in the position where we could launch the raid.  Months ago when the mission started to come together, he could have told the Attorney General to quietly drop the investigations targeting the very people who performed the enhanced interrogations.  He could have positioned himself to use this victory as a blunt instrument with which to forward the goals of the United States throughout this entire region.  What other country can work ten years at tracking down one man and when they find him fly stealth helicopters into the middle of another country to shoot him in the face?  We’re so bad ass that we sent sailors to do the shooting – that’s how deep our bench is.

Monday, May 9, 2011

How Osama bin Laden won

It's always nice to see my long standing points concerning the 'war on terror' validated, albeit indirectly. The salient point being bolded below. I have abridged the bullet points to those specific issues that I've raised before. 
In The Looming Tower, the Pulitzer-winning history of al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11, author Lawrence Wright lays out how Osama bin Laden’s motivation for the attacks that he planned in the 1990s, and then the September 11 attacks, was to draw the U.S. and the West into a prolonged war—an actual war in Afghanistan, and a broader global war with Islam.

Osama got both. And we gave him a prolonged war in Iraq to boot. By the end of Obama’s first term, we’ll probably top 6,000 dead U.S. troops in those two wars, along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans. The cost for both wars is also now well over $1 trillion.

We have also fundamentally altered who we are. A partial, off-the-top-of-my-head list of how we’ve changed since September 11 . . .
  • The government launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign implying that people who smoke marijuana are complicit in the murder of nearly 3,000 of their fellow citizens.
  • The government illegally spied and eavesdropped on thousands of American citizens.
  • Presidents from both of the two major political parties have claimed the power to detain suspected terrorists and hold them indefinitely without trial, based solely on the president’s designation of them as an “enemy combatant,” essentially making the president prosecutor, judge, and jury.
  • The Congress approved, the president signed, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a broadly written law making it a crime to advocate for any organization the government deems sympathetic to terrorism. This includes challenging the “terrorist” designation in the first place.
  • Flying in America now means enduring a humiliating and hassling ritual that does little if anything to actually make flying any safer. Every time the government fails to catch an attempt at terrorism, it punishes the public for its failure by adding to the ritual.
  • American Muslims, a heartening story of success and assimilation, are now harassed and denigrated for merely trying to build houses of worship.
  • Without a warrant, the government can search and seize indefinitely the laptops and other personal electronic devices of anyone entering the country.
  • The Department of Homeland Security now gives terrorism-fighting grants for local police departments across the country to purchase military equipment, such as armored personnel carriers, which is then used against U.S. citizens, mostly to serve drug warrants.
I’m relieved that bin Laden is dead. And the Navy SEALs who carried out the harrowing raid that ended his life have my respect and admiration. And for all the massive waste and abuse our government has perpetrated in the name of fighting terrorism over the last decade, there’s something satisfying in knowing that he was killed in a limited, targeted operation based on specific intelligence.

But because of the actions of one guy, we allowed all the bullet points above to happen. That we managed to kill him a decade after the September 11 attacks is symbolically important, but hardly seems worth the celebrations we saw across the country last night. There was something unsettling about watching giddy crowds bounce around beach balls and climb telephone polls last night, as if they were in the lawn seats at a rock festival. Solemn and somber appreciation that an evil man is gone seemed like the more appropriate reaction.

Yes, bin Laden the man is dead. But he achieved all he set out to achieve, and a hell of a lot more. He forever changed who we are as a country, and for the worse. Mostly because we let him. That isn’t something a special ops team can fix.
The Agitator

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hat tip to Tina.....one damn fine song......

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A National Strategic Narrative

With the demise of Public Enemy #1, and talk of what this means for the 'war' on terror.....it's actually a good time to think outside the conventional paradigm about what components encompass national security. Two eminent military strategists do exactly that in a recently released paper, that's well worth a read.

Some traditional advocates of stout military deterrence will likely deride it as a wasteful expenditure of time, money and effort. But the bottom line is that we can continue the current policies [which I find misguided] and embark on a new path. They are not mutually exclusive, and the points Mykleby and Porter lay out don't seem to have a down side where it concerns resource management and homeland security.
This Strategic Narrative is intended to frame our National policy decisions regarding investment, security, economic development, the environment, and engagement well into this century. It is built upon the premise that we must sustain our enduring national interests – prosperity and security – within a “strategic ecosystem,” at home and abroad; that in complexity and uncertainty, there are opportunities and hope, as well as challenges, risk, and threat. The primary approach this Strategic Narrative advocates to achieve sustainable prosperity and security, is through the application of credible influence and strength, the pursuit of fair competition, acknowledgement of interdependencies and converging interests, and adaptation to complex, dynamic systems – all bounded by our national values.
It is time for America to re-focus our national interests and principles through a long lens on the global environment of tomorrow. It is time to move beyond a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment (sustainability); from an emphasis on power and control to an emphasis on strength and influence; from a defensive posture of exclusion, to a proactive posture of engagement. We must recognize that security means more than defense, and sustaining security requires adaptation and evolution, the leverage of converging interests and interdependencies. To grow we must accept that competitors are not necessarily adversaries, and that a winner does not demand a loser. We must regain our credibility as a leader among peers, a beacon of hope, rather than an island fortress. It is only by balancing our interests with our principles that we can truly hope to sustain our growth as a nation and to restore our credibility as a world leader.
A National Strategic Narrative

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Still a good day

Somewhere there is a guy......

Who went through Indoc, Basic Underwater Demolitions School and the rest of the SEAL pipeline.....who has been cold, wet and miserable beyond our comprehension; who may have questioned his commitment and resolve many times over....but endured.

He graduated, pinned the coveted 'Budweiser Badge'....and continued a life of adreneline, heartache, courage and sacrifice. He has continued to be cold, wet and miserable more often than we care to think.

But yesterday, he lived the moment for which millions of Americans would have sacrificed everything they owned.

Yesterday, a Navy SEAL represented the desire of those millions and spoke for them with a single voice. That voice came in the form of a round of ammunition through the left eye of Osama bin Laden.

My only further desire is that the last image Osama bin Laden saw before meeting his judge, was the velcro American Flag on the front of that SEALS' plate carrier, as the muzzle flash heralded his last breath.