Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
That dissent is wholly justified given the realities on the ground. The Taliban, by one account, has a permanent presence in 72% of the country and is closing in on the capital, Kabul. Unlike Iraq, the militant groups here have a connection to the local tribal communities - they are not solely foreign fighters imposing their will - and they are determined not to make the same mistakes as Al Qaeda in Iraq, even loosening its doctrinaire extremism to accommodate the locals and multiple insurgent groups. The plan floated to "restart the surge" by enlisting tribal groups to fight the Taliban won't work with coalition forces targeting them at the same time:
The response to additional troops in the region will clearly be additional violence. This is particularly the case if civilian casualties continue, increasing anger among the local population. The US plan appears to be to focus their troops in the Kabul region, which is incredibly ominous, suggesting that the countryside is being given up for the time being. And the supply lines connecting the region have been breached. [my ems]
So what; we're gonna build an 'enclave of democracy' in Kabul? A centralized target on which attacks from the outside can be directed? A place where none can leave the city limits without being targeted?
What we are seeing is there is no real plan for Afghanistan. Fortifying Kabul (an obvious attempt to protect the Karzai government) will merely create an island in a sea of anarchy. We have painted ourselves into a corner.
We are resorting to a strategy used 500 years ago, a 'siege mentality' where the defenders hope their fortifications withstand bombardment from without until the enemy runs out of supplies or gets tired of the fight. This is not the way to 'win' a war.
Like the firebases and airfields in Vietnam Gord showed us the other day, our troops (and the civilians in Kabul) will come under constant fire, the aircraft and runway in particular, for we really have no other way to resupply. Think Berlin Airlift but with anti-air going up at the transports and mortar fire coming down on the runway. It'll be a mess.
Afghanistan is a place best left alone; ask the British and the Russians. We cannot occupy it (the terrain making it logistically impossible), we cannot democratize it (the tribal culture will not support a centralized government), and we cannot buy their cooperation (there isn't enough money in the U.S. Treasury to guarantee their loyalty to us). And then there is the complication of Pakistan (namely the tribal areas of Waziristan), whose government has neither the stomach or the army to clean up the 'safe haven' for Afghani militants on their side of the border and cannot allow the U.S. to do it and survive politically.
Our occupation of Afghanistan (if history is any guide) will end about as well as the British and Soviet versions did. We will leave (when the costs become too high), eventually, after declaring victory, and Afghanistan will return to being the way it always was. It's time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan as well, not send more, and promise them that the next time some idiot in a cave decides to attack the United States, the nation of Afghanistan will be nothing more than a smoking hole in the ground. When dealing with a population still living in the 8th Century, you cannot use a 21st Century strategy. In Afghanistan there are two constants; life and death. Allow them the first and promise them the last if they misbehave. Any other alternative is nothing more than a waste of lives and money.
Cross-posted at the Brain.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The possible strategy behind the picks.
Finally, we have unity between conservatives and progressives. Unfortunately it is a unity based either in stupidity or deceitfulness.
Both sides are tripping all over themselves to criticize Obama's picks for his cabinet and advisers. Progressives in particular seem to be livid that moderates figure so prominently and conservatives, who want change less than they want a salt filled straw in the eye, are falling all over themselves pointing out that Obama's picks seem to be at odds with his campaign mantra of "change". One side is being incredibly shortsighted and the other is being blatantly disingenuous. Both are being patently ridiculous.
Barack Obama will face challenges upon taking the oath like no president in recent times has seen and possibly, no president ever. I certainly have no contact with or special insight to the Obama mindset but, it is obvious what he is doing. Given the current economic crisis and the wars that have so far been idiotically prosecuted, team Obama will have to hit the ground running. Among the things he wants to avoid are contentious and drawn out confirmation hearings. He also simply does not have the time to wait for an entire crew of fresh minded Washington outsiders to learn the whos, whys, and hows of the Washington system. It is almost an impossibility that many of today's picks will not start to need to spend more time with their families in two years or whenever things start to get better. I fully expect them to be replaced with those who would be considered outsiders today. They will be working for current picks and/or will have been apprised of their position on the list and will have been given study materials plus, they will not all start at once. It would be irresponsible, even if it were possible, to institute al the desired change at once. It must be instituted over time.
However, all of that is pretty much secondary. There is an old saying that "the fish stinks from the head". The Clinton appointees will not do as they did under Bill Clinton. They will have the knowledge and experience but they will have a leader with a a different agenda. What seems to be forgotten is that Bush did not hire stupid people to work for him. He hired smart people(of perhaps questionable moral character) and he led them to do stupid things. The fish stinks from the head. Anyone who doubts that Barack Obama could take the exact same crew who helped bush screw the nation and achieve significantly different and positive results is simply not paying attention.
So what say we give Obama a chance to lead. What say we withhold judgment until we have some evidence. It may be that he can't fix this but then, it may be that no one or group can fix this. For sure his chances will not be improved by building his team entirely out of rookies.
cross posted at www.meanderthal.typepad.com
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Where were you, 45 years ago, when you heard the “news?” This was the first really big dose of reality in my life. I had been in the Navy over five years, was in Washington, D.C. on 20 Jan 1961 when John Kennedy was inaugurated and married with one child.
But I was not prepared for the news that came over the TV while I was eating lunch at the Acey-Duecy Club at the Naval Training Center on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The assassination of the President of the United States was a foreign concept. It was not in realm of the possible for me.
So, at 1215 22 Nov 1963, my world changed (as did a lot of other people’s worlds.)
Where were you ? ?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Today I would like to put politics aside and honor the Warriors.
The Sentinels Creed
My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect.
His bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.
This is for Jerry Maguire.
Mag's First love...
Who, only six weeks in country
Was shot in the head
While walking point.
God Bless You
Today we'll visit the wall
here in Philly
and drink a beer with you.
United States Army
Once, Always. Forever
For My Own...
While the weapons may have changed over time, one thing remains the same, the Marine who wields it.
The Final Inspection
The Marine stood and faced his God
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as brightly as his brass.
Step forward now, oh, Devil-Dog,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?
The Jarhead squared his shoulders... said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't,
'cause those of us who carry guns
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
'cause the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills just got too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fear.
"If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
So if you don't, I'll understand."
A silence fell all 'round the throne
Where Saints had often trod,
As the Marine awaited quietly,
The judgment of his God.
Step forward now, My Fine Marine,
You've borne your burdens well,
Walk your post on Heaven's streets,
You've served your time in Hell.
Sleep in Peace, Brothers.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
"I've just begun reading David Halberstam's book on the Korean War, and in the front matter of the book he has a listing of military terminology, of military units, from largest to smallest: Army, Corps, Division, Regiment, Battalion, Company, Platoon, and Squad. He says:
An Army is comprised of 2 or more Corps and is normally commanded by a full General.
A Corps is comprised of 2 or more Divisions and is normally commanded by a Lieutenant General.
A Division is comprised of 3 Regiments and is commanded by a Major General.
A Regiment is comprised of 3 Battalions and is commanded by a Colonel.
A Battalion is comprised of 4 or more Companies and is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel.
A Company is comprised of 4 Platoons and is commanded by a Captain.
A Platoon is comprised of 4 Squads and is commanded by a Lieutenant.
A Squad has 10 or more soldiers in it and is commanded by a Staff Sergeant.
Does the above accord with your experience of military hierarchy?"
Friday, November 7, 2008
This story, as much of a huge tragedy as it is, is difficult to know where to begin writing about. The end of the story reflects my initial thoughts.
Pietrzak's mother said she can't understand how Marines could have committed such a crime.
"Don't the Marines screen out people like this?" she said. "Didn't they know they had murderers under their roof?"
I was a Navy recruiter for three years. Only a recruiter or ex-recruiter can understand the extreme pressure that is applied to find "warm bodies."
The up-front cause of this tragedy may have a strong racial component, although I read that two of the accused are white and two are African-American, or maybe not. But I believe the underlying cause will be shown to be the recruitment of people that have no business being in the U.S. military and are only there because the military is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Cross-posted at the Brain.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Nick Morgan, a former Army Sergeant was trampled, knocked out, and had his face crushed by the hoof of a horse.
On October 15th, the third Presidential debate was held at Hofstra University in New York. A group of Veterans from the peace activist group Iraq Veterans Against the War, or IVAW, assembled peacefully and asked to deliver questions for the candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, about Veterans issues.
Ten members of IVAW were arrested with one Veteran trampled by a police department horse. His cheek bone was crushed and he required stitches on his face. You can read the Whole Story right here. It is complete with pictures. Some of these photos are graphic and there is blood so be aware of that.
Please read the whole article. It seems that these Veterans are saying that they assembled in a peaceful manner. They claim the injured protester was not given any medical attention until it was demanded by the other Veterans in their midst. They go on to claim the police harassed the injured Veteran while chaining him to a bench at police headquarters.
I am a member of Veterans For Peace. I attended the annual convention and met many IVAW members. Their mantra and behavior during RNC was stellar as far as practising peace was concerned. When conventional methods of trying to negotiate through proper channels is ignored, the protest march and requests in person might be one of the only avenues left. Men and women in uniform, attesting that they are indeed Veterans and want to peacefully assemble and ask questions of our future leaders, need not be attacked and thwarted without cause by authorities.
We have come to a time when the people we are to trust need to protect themselves with heavily armed guards, some who are private contractors such as Blackwater, just to stand and tell us how good and trustworthy they are.
The article published phone numbers of the appropriate department heads to complain, ask questions of or just put your two cents worth in about such treatment of peaceful Veteran protesters wanting issues pertaining to all Veterans to be heard. I urge anyone concerned to call and voice your concern.
While you're at it, the RNC 8, the group of people arrested under the Patriot Act and charged with "suspicion to commit terrorism" could use a few letters and phone calls as well. My friend, who was arrested during the RNC is not one of the RNC 8, but he did get arrested and detained. He was released but had to wait a ridiculous amount of time for his personal belongings. Here is is, in a strange town, without money, credit card, cell phone, transportation or clean clothes, waiting for the bumbling farce of a police force to process him, only to find out that now, a month and a half after the event, his case is still pending charges. All the while, the City of Saint Paul raking in the 50 million dollar "fee" to hold the Republican Convention in a city where no Republican wanted to be. That's another rant and I may have made that one already previously.
I have bowed out of the politics thing. It is obscene to me. The money being spent to attack another candidate. These politicians are no better than the government as far as spending, no, wasting, millions of dollars to get elected. I am voting for the lessor of two evils. I think that my vote will end the current regime in Washington if the candidate I choose wins. But both are serving the interests of big money contributors and special interests.
The bottom line for me here is to call attention to the fact that there are many issues on the table during this presidential election. The issues for Veterans returning from this illegal and immoral war are as real as they get. When the police attack and beat back people, Veterans, who simply want to deliver a message, in this case questions of concern about Veterans issues, those law enforcement entities are the problem and stand for what America has become. It is no less a police state than what Americans were told about East Germany and the USSR during the cold war.
In my opinion, since there has been no report by either the McCain or the Obama campaign intervening on the behalf of these Veterans proves they are out of touch and not worth a pile of shit, either of them.
Sometimes I truly believe we shouldn't vote, as it just encourages them to think that we really want them as leaders. Most of the time, we are voting so the more evil of the two gets elected. The "real" candidates are lost and forgotten. The good messages and strong support towards a real sense of peace and justice for all people is forgotten. We are told that a vote for and other party is a lost vote and will surely allow the other candidate to win. All we really want is a balance of the issues that are unfair to be shifted either to the right or left so as to bring peace and real justice to all Americans and to the citizens of the Sacred Earth Mother that this country has forsaken with their bombs, money, one-sided self-righteous foreign policy and arrogance.
By the way, I got my absentee ballot in the mail and there are no less than nine candidates for President. The choices are there, but our bought and paid for media mentions none of this. We are suppose to be represented, but only the high rollers are mentioned. The Republicans and the Democrats.
Seems the Green, Libertarian, Socialist Party USA, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Independent, Constitution and We The People parties don't exist in the news, but have candidates on the official sanctioned ballot.
Please make your calls about these Veterans. And when you're done there, read THIS ARTICLE.
This article also appears at Round Circle
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Most people probably would not give this a second thought, but today is a B-I-G day, a very memorable day for the Ol’ Chief.
7 Oct 1958
Fifty years ago today, I left home for the first, and last, time to go into a somewhat wider world than Hanover, Massachusetts to seek my fortune. That I was far more successful than anyone could have imagined cannot be argued. That I have not made my first million yet is also true.
Yet how many people can say they were responsible for the maintenance of all United States communication equipment for a whole continent? The above picture was taken at the South Pole a long time ago.
So we mark this day, and we celebrate this occasion, in a quiet, peaceful way that befits a senior citizen who has accomplished much and is enjoying his “golden” years.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It is with heavy heart I report on the passing of Chester M. (Whitey) Mack, Captain, USN (Ret.). Knowing in advance the end was so near makes this announcement no less sad for me. No other person in my life impressed on me the worth of trust and the advantages gained by surrounding oneself with superior talents. In my mind I can think of no greater position of responsibility than that of ship captain. It is not that Whitey may have been the greatest captain of all time, or even of his time. But, Whitey took us into harms way and brought us back home. That was his task and he did it well.
Whitey passed at 1819 EDT, Sept. 25, at a hospice near Englewood, Florida.
Say a prayer tonight for the soul of Whitey Mack and for God's blessing on Joan and their children. "Oh hear us when we call to thee, for those in peril on the sea"
Rest your oars Whitey Mack.
I recieved this e-mail from a former shipmate who served on board USS LAPON (SSN-661), a nuclear fast attack submarine made legendary in the "silent service", thanks to this man, Captain Whitey Mack, who commanded this fine boat a few years before I had the honor to serve aboard her. I never had the privelege to meet Capt. Mack, and I would not venture to suggest that the Captains I served under were made of the same steel as this man. Regardless, I feel the same loss as every crewmember of this submarine does, and I want to thank Capt. Mack for his service to our country. I can only hope that generations of warriors and politicians that follow do not shame this man's memory, as they threaten to do now.
"They go down to the sea in ships...."
Rest your oars, Captain, My Captain........
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Members of Veterans For Peace alert at their occupation of the National Archive in Washington DC.
I received this in today's E-mail from my local Veterans For Peace Chapter 27 in Minneapolis, MN. Just wanted the members of the API to know that action is being taken to defend our Constitution. Now I'm wondering if I should go to DC and be with them, if not actually on the ledge, but to support them by my presence. After the Veterans For Peace National Convention and the RNC and all the turmoil I have been witness to right here in my own town, I am reluctant to go and put myself in the midst of more actions, yet a part of me tells me that the fight of a true Warrior will never end until justice is served. In any event, I will be thinking hard about this and whether I go or not, the fact will remain that these people standing up for our Constitution are courageous individuals.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 23, 2008
Contacts: Elliot Adams 518-441-2697, Ellen Barfield 410-948-8023, Tarak Kauff 845 249-9489
VETERANS OCCUPY NATIONAL ARCHIVES BUILDING
“Arresting Bush and Cheney for war crimes will honor our oath to the Constitution,” vets say.
On Tuesday morning, September 23, 7:30am, at the front of the National Archives Building on Constitution Ave. in Washington, D.C., five military veterans will risk arrest as they climb a 9-foot retaining fence and occupy a 35-foot high ledge to raise a 22x8 foot banner stating, “DEFEND OUR CONSTITUTION. ARREST BUSH AND CHENEY: WAR CRIMINALS!”
The group has declared its intention to stay on the ledge, fasting for 24 hours “in remembrance of those who have perished and those still suffering from the crimes of the Bush administration,” according to a written statement. With a portable PA system, they will broadcast recorded statements from prominent Americans for the impeachment and/or arrest of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. “Citizens Arrest Warrants” will be distributed to people waiting in line to enter the National Archives.
The veterans emphasized they are taking this action because “Bush and Cheney’s serial abuse of the Law of the Land clearly marks them as domestic enemies of the Constitution…they have illegally invaded and occupied Iraq, deliberately destroyed civilian infrastructure, authorized torture, and unlawfully detained prisoners. These actions clearly mark them as war criminals…accountability extends beyond impeachment to prosecution for war crimes even after their terms of office expire.”
“We take this action as a last resort,” their statement added. “For years we have pursued every avenue open to good, vigilant citizens to bring these men to justice, to re-establish the rule of law, and to restore the balance of power described in our Constitution. We are not disturbing the peace; we are attempting to restore the peace. We are not conducting ourselves in a disorderly manner; our action is well-ordered and well-considered. We are not trespassing; we have come to the home of our Constitution to honor our oath to defend it.”
pg. 2 VFP National Archives action
Those participating are all members of Veterans For Peace and include Elliott Adams: 61, NY, VFP President and former Army paratrooper in Viet Nam; Ellen Barfield: 52, MD, former U.S. Army Sgt., full-time peace and justice advocate; Kim Carlyle: 61, NC, mountain homesteader, former Army Spec 5, 828-626-2572; Diane Wilson: 59, TX, shrimp boat captain, former Army medic, 361-785-4680; Doug Zachary: 58, TX, VFP staff, former USMC LCpl discharged as a conscientious objector, 512-791-9824; and Tarak Kauff (ground support) 67, NY, painting contractor, former U.S. Army Airborne.
Founded in 1985, VFP has 120 chapters throughout the country and has actively protested the Afghanistan and Iraq wars since their inception. Membership includes men and women veterans of all eras and duty stations spanning the Spanish Civil War, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. VFP is an official Non Governmental Organization (NGO) represented at the UN.
"May the innocent find peace; may the dead find grace; may the wounded find healing; may the homeless find shelter; may America find forgiveness; and may justice find the guilty." - Veterans For Peace Ch. 39
Friday, September 12, 2008
and copied below. "Honor" and most especially the lack thereof is the single biggest reason that I cannot and will not vote for Sen. McCain for president.
- SGT MAJOR MYERS's diary :: ::
Throughout my life growing up in a military family and in my military career one predominate trait or quality was emphasized and driven home by both my family and every leader I have ever met. That trait or quality was honor. Just to refresh your memory the dictionary defines honor as, honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions: a man of honor.
From the time that I had what I believe was probably my very first logical thought about the subject I do not believe that there was ever any doubt in my mind of what the meaning of honor was nor was there ever any doubt of what actions honor required. There was a second thing that I never had any doubt about and that was that once ones honor was compromised it was a permanent and oft never fading blemish. I know this from personal experience and my own personal failures against which I struggle to this very day. I point that out because I believe that even the most honorable and well intentioned people with the most hard earned sense of honor can fail and that they can be guilty of being dishonorable and I believe that that has happened in the presidential race.
I have known of and about John McCain for as long as he has been in the public eye. I have, as a fellow soldier and as a fellow citizen, respected him for his extraordinary military and public service. In fact I believe we as a nation should respect and appreciate and yes honor what he has done for our nation. I believe his have been the actions of an exceptionally brave and historically honorable man.
However there is something else that I believe. I believe that past honorable service and dedication to duty and country does not immunize one against poor judgment, failure or even from doing the wrong thing. I believe that ones honor is not something one does once and then puts it on a shelf where it shines forever. Honor is second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour and year by year. It is only as untarnished and undiminished as ones past and ones last action.
It is with great sadness that I say to you that John McCain is not an honorable man today. The reason I say this is because I am observing and hearing reported by every major news organization in this country that he and his running mate are participating in and personally articulating blatant lies. These are not the actions of honorable people. When one is aspiring to the highest and second highest public offices in the land it is incumbent upon one to speak truth and only truth and to communicate about those issues that are vital and of importance to the citizens of the nation. It is not honorable for individuals to speak lies to the citizens and make unproven accusations against those whom they oppose. When one opposes another person in vying for public office it becomes even more important to insure that one speaks the truth and deals with issues and substantive differences and not innuendo and accusation.
The fact that John McCain is a former Naval Officer and a sitting United States Senator makes this lack of honor horribly reprehensible. But I think what makes this lack of honor so disgusting and even more vile is that he would lose himself to the point of using his own sacrifice and service as a shield to commit such petit dishonorable acts of lying. Conservative, liberal, or Independent, share his beliefs or not, it would be morally reprehensible for anyone to support someone who displays so little honor. Sometimes we must call them like they are. Prisoner of war or not service to country or not there is a line and John McCain and his running mate have crossed the line.
This nation has endured eight long years of lies and deceptions from the two highest ranking public figures in the country and virtually their entire administration. Our honor as a nation is not just blemished but in tatters and we cannot endure another four or eight years of the same. If for no other reason than the fact that John McCain and his vice presidential running mate have publicly lied and continue to lie this nation needs to insure that he does not occupy the office of the president. Our nation needs honor above all else at this crucial point in our history. With honor comes respect and from these come all else.
Cross posted at Liberty Street.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The 'western' forces in Afghanistan have huge logistic problems. To put two feet on the ground they need twenty feet or more behind them shuffeling papers, organising and feeding the logistic queue. Their way of existence and fighting is incompatible with the country they are in. Too many trucks will not come through. The logistic lines are too long and to insecure. The road war will kill their mission.
What do I always say? Amateurs talk strategy and tactics, experts talk logistics. Don't matter how many great plans you have, if you can't support your operators, the plans ain't worth a shit. Ask the Russians about how many of their convoys got ambushed in the Hindu Kush. Ask their men how many helicopters were taken out by a buncha goat-humpers with AKs shooting down at 'em from the surrounding heights.
We shoulda learned from the Brits (read Kipling) and the Soviets. You cannot take and occupy Afghanistan; it's almost an impossible logistical nightmare. There should never have been 'boots on the ground'. We should have exacted a price for 9/11 (bombed everything into gravel and killed as many of 'em as we could) and then called it a day.
Cross-posted at the Brain.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
What was left me was the "culture" of modern America, with all it's evolving sense of power, superiority, and entitlement. After all, I was born only ten years after the "sleeping giant" had been awakened by the Japanese, only to surmount an almost impossible victory against fascism and imperialism, to turn the tide and become the world's greatest military and economic superpower. It could only get better, and I had every expectation, even without the guidance of family or mentors, to benefit greatly. I believed all those rosy predictions of moon bases, universal peace, and a cure for all diseases. Fast-forward half a century, chock full of more advances than any previous era, and where am I? Where are WE?
The seeds of our own downfall were sown immediately after the signing of the articles of surrender of the former Empire of Japan aboard the Battleship U.S.S. Missouri. Within that decade we would attain our highest pinnacle in manufacturing, finance, innovation, and social evolution. We still had the social contract, only enhanced; we were sending a wave of young men, ex-citizen soldiers, to college, to become our new hope for the future, leaders of a whole new tomorrow. And we were determined to make the lives of our children, like those generations before us, better than our own, that they might never again know deprivation or the horrors of war. And we failed miserably.
We failed so utterly due to that very toxic characteristic of any great civilization.....ENTITLEMENT. Yes, we had cheap gas, cheap automobiles, ever-increasing wages (thanks finally to strong unions), increasingly advanced health care, cheap food, the suburbs with a quarter-acre of grass and a picket fence, and this ida that everybody else in the world wanted to be just like us.
Only everybody DIDN'T want to be "just like" us. On top of that, our first generation of children after WWII increasingly found reasons to not even like their own parents. It was then that all our shortcomings in the area of ethics and human rights began to show themselves in the faces of our own kids. Capitalism, that economic model that promised to deliver the goods to every corner of the land began to divide us ever more increasingly into the haves and the have-nots. Racial equality, something we were supposed to have taken care of courtesy of the bloody war between the States, wasn't even CLOSE to being reckoned with, only now it was GOING to be reckoned with, one way or another. And before we knew it, all the rules we had been raised with were going out the window in favor of a new freedom of thought and expression that did not want to recognize boundaries or responsibility.
What the Democratic Party fought so hard to establish that would truly make us that "shining city on the hill" would soon be turned upside down by a new generation of righteous nay-sayers, disillusioned with the loss of social order and strict rules, who began to be manipulated by "Conservative" party bosses to try and contain this populace who were trying to throw off the yoke of the rich and powerful, by calling upon religion and fear to power a backlash which would destroy the American dream from the inside out, all the while feeding the coffers of increasingly wealthy king-makers, even starting wars to distract us and have us fight each other for the right to claim a purer practice of patriotism. Thus, in order to form a more perfect union, we fed the beast our children, and our hopes for a free and democratic future for our grandchildren, who instead face the very extinction of our species.
I want all of you to understand that it's not the commies, or the terrorists, or the pinko-fags that brought us here; it was each and every one of us, thanks to our worship of the devil himself...ENTITLEMENT. Thanks to entitlement, we have a healthcare system which isn't working for us anymore. Thanks to entitlement, we can't get enough gas and can't afford the gas we get. Thanks to entitlement, our cars are bigger than they ever had to be. Thanks to entitlement, we will heat up our planet faster than we can wean ourselves off our poisons, and our grandchildren, if we even HAVE any, will curse us for our avarice. After all, weren't we supposed to make THEIR future better than our own, rather than cutting it short altogether?
Make excuses if you want. I'm sure you're entitled.
P.S. To my readers; please do not think I direct this at you unless you recognize within examples of your own complicity, as do I. Most of those who remain within my readership I would hope have recognized the truth of what I say already and would not take offense at such self-examinations. For those of you entirely new to my pontifications, I invite you to rail against what is said here by turning your rage into positive action rather than denial, even if it means something simple as changing out all your house lights to fluorescents or car-pooling when possible. Hope is Hope; denial is nothing but death.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Anyway...I'm finally starting to feel a little better. I'll try to add to the conversation whenever I have anything important to say.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Here's the piece I was telling you about.
Attach any additions that you think of to the following list and
continue to forward it to your friends. You can also send it back to
me. I'm interested to see what other people might add.
If you know anyone that shoots YouTube videos, I think that it could
make a great video with people standing up and declaring that "I am a
conservative..." and re-framing the definition by context.
Conservative: tending or disposed to maintain existing views,
conditions, or institutions : traditional b: marked by moderation or
caution, a conservative estimate marked by or relating to
traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of the freedom of assembly.
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of the freedom of speech.
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of the freedom of the press.
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of the right to privacy.
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of the right of
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of civil liberties
and rights granted under the constitution.
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of small businesses.
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of natural resources.
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of quality education.
I am a conservative...I believe in the conservation of the family farm.
I am a conservative...I believe in conserving the separation between
church and state.
I am a conservative...I believe in conserving a woman's right to choose.
I am a conservative...I believe in conserving the middle class.
I am a conservative...I believe in conserving representation for taxpayers.
I am a conservative...I believe in conserving cultural diversity.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
According to this post at Raw Story, at least two Marine units will have their tours in Afghanistan extended. According to the article
Asked about Gates' decision, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the secretary was responding to a request from the commanders.
Gates "is always pained to have to extend tours. He understands the effect that has on the families of our forces, but he also appreciates our commanders' need to make additional progress while the weather is still good in Afghanistan," Morrell said.
I would suggest that Gates has no clue to the effect that extending a deployment has on the service member and that member's family back home. It reduces the retention rate for those on their first enlistment and cuts short those senior enlisted members careers who just might have stayed past the minimum retirement of 20 years service.
And, it is not the danger that they face on a daily basis in Afghanistan that affects their decision. No, it is the loss of faith in those in positions of leadership to be able to stick to their promises, their commitments.
It is like saying, "You're doing such a good job, that we are going to reward you by letting you stay here a little longer."
Cross posted at Liberty Street.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I suppose they must think that because these kids volunteered to put on the uniform, then they must know the full measure of what they could be used for. Of course, those amongst us who actually live on the streets of America versus it's ivory towers know full well that from an 18 year old perspective, the prospect of a college education, veteran's benefits, and the respect that (at least USED to) comes with having served your country totally crowds out any thought of putting their flesh and bone on the line for what could be a totally unethical use or their service; i.e. the occupation of a nation for no rational reason other than making money for certain twisted individuals in positions of power. I know in my case, I was not having grandiose dreams of bringing the communist juggernaut to it's knees through superior American morality and firepower; I just wanted a place to be, a way to feed my belly and expand my horizons after finding out I was soon to be turned out of my home and not enough credits earned to graduate from high school. I also had the specter of the draft hanging over my head, with no college to save me from dying in a far-eastern rice patty for no good reason any kid my age could fathom. It was 1973, and I didn't know a hell of a lot about politics or human nature in my short 18 years of life. But the next four years was going to provide me with a unique education.
Now, all these years later, I have to endure the bullshit spouted by people who in some other universe might be considered good, patriotic Americans. People who haven't "Been" there, or had and where coddled, or simply enjoyed being a soldier to the exclusion of any kind of human empathy for anyone beyond immediate kin. People who have been indoctrinated by their fundamentalist ministers to equate shallow patriotism with being God-fearing, totally ignoring the concept I was always told Christ tried his damnedest to promulgate; that you don't hate anyone for any reason, much less "kill them for Christ". People who use these perhaps genuinely caring and religious salt-of-the-Earth type of citizens to further their capitalistic agendas, using them to harp this "love it or leave" mentality that dares to suggest to the rest of us that we don't belong here if we can't buckle under to authority. Sounds suspiciously like communism, if truth be told, only your average redneck could never understand that.
Well, I've had about enough of this, this fake, yellow- ribbon- on- your- SUV- bumper patriotism. I've had enough of this willingness for the masses to do the bidding of the intelligent and sly architects of this disaster in the Middle East which has already consumed over 4000 of our finest and our good name throughout the world. If ever I regretted one thing, it's that these individuals will probably never be brought to justice, that they will leave laughing to enjoy their insanely generous government pensions, and that they will retain Secret Service protection till the day they draw their last criminal breathes, thus I can never entertain the idea of kicking Karl Roves' ass on a street corner of our choosing. I might be a shrimp of a guy, but you'd be amazed what the right motivation can accomplish.
But what shames me the most is that I entertain these ideas as a Wiccan, whose code of conduct decrees that "An it HARM NONE, do as thou will". If the Christians can constantly find exceptions to all those commandments, why can't I find wiggle room in my simple creed? I can't, but a guy can dream............can't he?
Friday, August 1, 2008
Here is a site deserving of much more attention. This is a site, perhaps a little biased, that at least is shining a light on the Senator’s failings. I particularly like the part about his less than stellar career as a Naval avaitor.
The part of his life we never hear about, is the lady he was married to before and during his extended shore duty in Hanoi. Read more here.
My question to you is: Just as McCain abandoned his first wife after an automobile accident left her less than perfect, will he abandon us when the going gets tough in the White house.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
One of the projects that I was involved with was The Longest Walk II. This is a commemorative walk from San Francisco to Washington DC of the original walk that took place in 1978. The purpose of the walk was to bring forth, in a positive way, concerns about pollution of Mother Earth, the idea that all life is Sacred, Peace and Justice, the degeneration of the people from sickness, the failure of the government to adhere to treaties and to keep Sacred sites Sacred.
Read all about the Longest Walk II, see the pictures and read the stories at this site:
One of the purposes of the walk was to assemble a Manifesto and deliver this document to Congress. The ideas set forth in the Manifesto were from the actual lives of people across the United States as we walked.
As a Veteran, my duty was to prepare a piece to address the growing concern over benefits and benefit changes to soldiers returning home from the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters of war.
The entire Manifesto is also available to read at the above listed site. Here is the article I presented to Congress on behalf of my Veteran Bothers and Sisters:
Manifesto For Change
“All Life Is Sacred”
THE COST OF WAR: Message from a Veteran
By Joe Spado, member of Veterans For Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War and The American Patriot Institute.
As we crossed the United States, we on The Longest Walk II heard many concerns from a wide variety of citizens. Most of these concerns dealt with environmental problems like poisons or cancer causing substances in the drinking water, or pollution of water supply reservoirs and air quality. Problems related to health issues and access to adequate healthcare. Problems with the cost of food, gasoline and drugs. Problems dealing with discrimination based on skin color or spoken language for jobs and/or housing opportunities. Problems with the treatment of areas and sites that are considered Culturally Sacred, or actual burial sites of family members and ancestors of the Native Indigenous people of America.
These matters are of extreme importance to the individuals that are exposed, but affect all people in one way or another. Another problem that needs to be addressed is the treatment and access to benefits for Veterans who served in the armed forces of the United States. The Veterans from wars of the past, World War II, Korea and Vietnam and returning Veterans from the current war activity in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As I spoke with Veterans I heard their accounts of rejection for benefits and the long waiting period even the denial takes. One Veteran told me he was refused health care as his home was being foreclosed upon.
It is hard to get benefits. The application process is flawed and inaccessible to many. The bureaucracy and long waiting periods, rules and regulations make it hard for Veterans to make and keep appointments or persevere in their attempt to see their claims through to a fair conclusion.
In most cases, the burden of proof lies on the shoulders of the Veterans to prove they were even in a battle zone or that they were injured while on active duty. Laws have been changed and benefits have been reduced or taken away from Veterans.
When I speak of benefits, I am talking about health care as a priority, but also benefits relating to job seeking and job keeping skills, the teaching of real life technical and liberal education and readjustment counseling after a Veteran has served in a combat zone or in any theater where combat and the violence and destruction that goes along with it are present. I speak of housing benefits, educational benefits, mental health treatment benefits and other benefits that were implemented to help the Veteran get back to a normal life after serving in the military.
I speak of legal help and relief from creditors. Many Veterans were taken from their everyday routine and put into repeated tours of duty, disrupting their income. They return to face bankruptcy or credit problems so severe there is no escape.
Obviously, one solution is to sign onto law the needed bills to rectify these problems for Veterans. This would cost money to the taxpayers. In an attempt to keep taxation low, benefits were cut and measures taken to reduce the cost of care for any Veteran. But spending less on war and war related armament and activities would offset the additional cost that would be needed to take proper care of our Veterans.
Another solution is to work harder and create laws that allow for peace and peaceful settlements of disputes with other countries and adopt this as a main ideal in our framework of foreign policy.
As a member of Veterans For Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and having fought as a combat infantry soldier in Vietnam, I speak from the first hand experience of being in war and seeing it up close. Peoples’ lives are shattered, both the lives of the soldiers on both “sides”, and the lives of their close friends and family members. The lives of the civilians caught up as war has its collateral damage and their close friends and family members.
The death and destruction to people and property. The after effects of wounds received and inflicted, both physical and emotional wounds. The obvious and blatant war profiteering by the arms companies and others that partake in such crime. The continuing effects of weapons and arms left behind like unexploded bombs and depleted uranium armaments. The destruction of lives from the behavior that results from such trauma, like drug addiction and alcoholism, spousal brutality, anxiety, anger, depression and panic attacks.
Society decides and allows war, through the officials they elect. It is societies burden then, to pay for it before it starts, while it is happening and when the conflict is over. The cost of war isn’t the billions that the President asks for from the legislature to fight the war. It is ongoing as the wounds of war to the people of the world never cease, even years after the conflict.
A first shot should never be fired by our Nation. We should stand ready to defend, but not be the reason for war. Standing as the worlds strongest Nation has a responsibility to the rest of the world, and that is to help promote peace at all costs.
The cost of war is staggering in dollar value, but the cost to humanity is even more as lives lost and the lost lives of the survivors can’t be counted with dollars. The best and easiest investment is in real peace through diplomacy and negotiations. The best and easiest solution to the problem of providing for our Veterans is peace.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Well, one organization, the Disabled American Veterans, have told VP Cheney to take a hike and do not bother to come to their convention in Las Vegas in August.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Reminiscent of Kiplings poem Tommy (which can be found here), we have the Republican nominee trying to balance the budget on the backs of the veterans, the very people he supposedly understands.
From a post at Blue Girl In A Red State comes this
Blue Wren, a blogging buddy and a female veteran who served in the Air Force during peacetime, writes:
John McCain, a Vietnam war veteran and POW who has supported Bush Administration cuts in VA health care funding and service for veterans in the past, has a new bright idea about how to save America money.
"Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s call to "concentrate veterans’ health care on those with combat injuries" is raising questions about the Arizona senator’s commitment to funding the ailing VA system."
Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., said a system that treats combat veterans and non-combat veterans differently is inherently unfair. “We can care for both combat veterans and non-combat veterans if we just decide it is an important thing to do,” Filner said Thursday, one day after McCain talked at a Dover, N.H., town hall meeting about the need to concentrate veterans’ health care on people with injuries that 'are a direct result of combat.'"
It's infuriating that people like Bush and McCain would even consider trying to economize by refusing or delaying health care to veterans who've served their country honorably and in good faith while at the same time spending billions on a war that was started through dishonesty, hubris and greed.
Count me in among those who responded to this news with an emphatic "You've got to be shitting me."
Read the rest of Blue Wren's post, McCain would ration VA medical care. Make sure you read the comments, too.
McCain touts himself as a support the troops person, visit the troops, photo ops shaking hands with the troops but in his left hand is the knife with which he is stabbing the troops in the back.
McCain has turned into a lying, sniveling coward who will do anything, say anything in his pathetic attempt to win the general election in November.
As a retired career member of the U.S. Navy, I would much rather serve under an honest person who never wore the uniform, such as Senator Obama, than a boot licking appeaser like Senator McCain.
Cross posted at Liberty Street
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Thanks for all of your support.
Iraq War Veteran
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
A photograph taken in the first days of the war had made the medic from New York's Long Island a symbol of the United States' good intentions in the Middle East. When he returned home, he was hailed as a hero.
But for most of the past five years, the 31-year-old soldier had writhed in a private hell, shooting at imaginary enemies and dodging nonexistent roadside bombs, sleeping in a closet bunker and trying desperately to huff away the "demons" in his head. When his personal problems became public, efforts were made to help him, but nothing seemed to work.
This broken, frightened man had once been the embodiment of American might and compassion. If the military couldn't save him, Knapp thought, what hope was there for the thousands suffering in anonymity?
In July 2007, Dwyer checked into an inpatient program at New York's Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He stayed for six months.
He came home in March with more than a dozen prescriptions. He was so medicated that his feet flopped when he walked, as if he were wearing oversized clown shoes.
The VA's solution was a "pharmaceutical lobotomy," his father thought.
"And so it's a dance between the clinicians and the patient."
Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, feels the VA is a lousy dance partner.
Rieckhoff said the VA's is a "passive system" whose arcane rules and regulations make it hard for veterans to find help. And when they do get help, he said, it is often inadequate.
"I consider (Dwyer) a battlefield casualty," he said, "because he was still fighting the war in his head."
There are tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of cases out there like Specialist Dwyer's, and more to come. We don't hear about them until someone investigates and reports on them, and not all of them will end like that, of course, but even one is too many.
Until more than lip service is given to fixing the problems in the military and VA mental health care systems, the problem will exist until all the Iraq Vets are dead.
It's going to take more than yellow ribbons on cars. It's going to take guilt and anger by millions of people to fix the aftermath of a warmongering imperialistic ideology that is still sending Americans to a criminal war and then throwing them away in repayment for their service.
Crossposted at Alternate Brain.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Young men seek the uniform, the weapon, and the attendant glory, for they will live forever, with stories of glory to pass on to their children, and put to rest any accusations of less than manly character. But the ranks swell with those that look no further beyond this characteristic hormone storm; very few that seek the whys and wherefores and context of their adventures. Most, I think thankfully, will have the impact of their actions realized as their friends drop beside them, or return home with pieces missing, or have children drill looks of hatred into their soul for having taken their parents. This is a price needing to be paid if we are to remain citizen soldiers called to defense of our own, rather than centurion mercenaries who find death a mere commodity. and become accustomed to the stench the rest of us could never tolerate.
Politicians who never served, who never went in harms way, who never stared down a barrel or bomb sight or periscope need not imagine themselves capable of crafting policy that will place warriors at the reapers disposal, yet they do, and the results of such blasphemy is now evident in the mounting toll of this big mistake we call a war on terrorism. The learned warrior knows a twisted truth, and will speak against it at first opportune. Not enough learned warriors seem to be with us these days, and that is the shame we will suffer for, for generations to come.
No, I did not wear gold braid upon my shoulders. No, I did not happen upon circumstance which would have branded me with valor. And no, I was not tested in such a way that I dare not dream for the horrors it could visit upon my slumbers. But I remember the mission, I remember how we carried it out, and I now know of the honor I wished we had realized in those days spent on a razor's edge. I am a learned warrior after the fact, and I second-guess with reckless abandon, and will continue to do so with confidence in my right and ability to do so, until such time that a learned man steps to the forefront and puts right this waste of lives and waste of honor which is Iraq. I am a veteran, and I stand by my judgement.
Monday, July 14, 2008
A yearlong examination of military and civilian records by The Sacramento Bee involving hundreds of troops who entered the services since the Iraq war began identified 120 cases of people whose backgrounds should have raised the suspicions of military recruiters, including felony convitions and serious drug, alcohol or mental health problems.
Of those, 70 later were involved in controversial or criminal incidents in Iraq.
The 70 were among the tens of thousands of military personnel recruited or retained as the armed services, entering the sixth year of the Iraq war, lowered educational, age and moral standards and granted a growing number of waivers to applicants whose backgrounds previously would have barred them from serving.
That's it. Take violent, anti-social offenders, hand them a rifle, and tell 'em it's okay to kill brown folks. And we wonder when shit like Abu Graib happens, or when they come home and commit violent crimes against American citizens.
These clowns shouldn't be allowed to possess a BB gun, let alone be put in a war zone, and is a testament to how badly the situation in Iraq has crippled our military. The latest line from the White House this weekend is that there will be "a drawdown" of troops from Iraq, but that's only to send them to Afghanistan because we don't have the reserves to fill in the gaps (though Afghanistan was treated like the red-headed step-child from Day One) our half-assed commitment created.
... The Bush spin machine was quick to declare that the administration is considering increasing the pace of the pullout from Iraq (as if they were actually considering "pulling out" in the first place), not as a reaction to Maliki's invitation to pack sand, or because the force is collapsing from the deployment tempo, but because the extra troops are needed in Afghanistan.
The real moral waiver came when the U.S. Congress gave these assholes carte blanche to start this war and continue to fund it into its sixth year. Unfortunately, the way things are going, any grip we get on Morality is a long time coming. As long as insane foreign policy is considered mainstream, we will continue to field a military made up of convicts, gang bangers, and low lifes. Atrocities will continue and American credibility will continue to circle the bowl.
John McCain wants to stay in Iraq forever? Answer me this. Where is he gonna get the troops? Or is he just gonna empty out the prisons?
Cross-posted at the Brain.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
By all accounts, the news coming out lately about Iran is scary. Iran is testing more missiles, and the Bush administration is promising swift retribution for any attack on the US or our allies.
To top it off, John McCain keeps joking about killing the Iranian people—discussing rising U.S. exports of cigarettes to Iran, he joked, "Maybe that's a way of killing them." And we all remember McCain's infamous, "Bomb Iran" song. (See video below)1
War is not a joke. The truth is that the Bush-McCain policy of reckless saber-rattling and threatening doesn't work—it just makes things worse and increases tensions in the region. What we need is serious, tough, and smart diplomacy—not another war.
Right now, Congress is considering bills that could clear the way for escalation or war. But they can act to make sure President Bush and John McCain don't lead us into another reckless war. Can you sign this petition asking Congress to push for diplomacy and demand Congressional authorization before getting us into another war? Clicking here will add your name:
The petition reads: "Saber-rattling and threats towards Iran without diplomacy is not working. Please support a new direction towards Iran and demand President Bush get Congressional authorization before getting us into another war."
For years, the Bush administration's policy has been the same—tough talk and no real diplomacy. So far, that hasn't helped curtail Iran's apparent nuclear ambitions or advanced American interests.
Unfortunately, John McCain's belligerent comments only make matters worse—at a moment when the Persian Gulf is on the brink of war because of leaders who dehumanize and demonize folks on the other side, John McCain is offering more of the same old approach.
As NPR reported this morning, "McCain believes that the Bush administration's approach has been the right one."2
What we need right now from this administration, and from our next president, is serious diplomacy. As Barack Obama said, "The United States has to gather up others in the region, as well as internationally, to apply pressure on Iran. But it's very difficult for us to do so when we haven't shown a willingness to engage in the sort of direct negotiations with Iran that would give them carrots and sticks for a change in behavior."3
We don't need more saber-rattling, belligerent rhetoric or jokes about killing Iranians.
Too many lives—American, Israeli, and Iranian—are at stake. Please click here to tell Congress to help avoid another war:
Thanks for all you do.
–Nita, Wes, Peter, Eli and the rest of the team
P.S. Check out Video of McCain's comments:
1. "Bad Joke," Progressive Accountability, July 9, 2008
2. "Candidates Diverge On How To Handle Iran," NPR, July 10, 2008
3. "Iran Tests Missiles Able To Reach Israel." US News and World Report, July 10, 2008
Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 3.2 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.
Monday, July 7, 2008
WASHINGTON - Congress should repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy because the presence of gays in the military is unlikely to undermine the ability to fight and win, according to a new study released by a California-based research center.
The study was conducted by four retired military officers, including the three-star Air Force lieutenant general who in early 1993 was tasked with implementing President Clinton's policy that the military stop questioning recruits on their sexual orientation.
"Evidence shows that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order, discipline or cohesion," the officers states.
Now, let' em fucking serve if they want. There is no reason to marginalize any segment of our population, in any capacity, let alone denying them the chance to serve the country they love.
Great thanks to Mr. Aravosis for the link.
Cross-posted at the Brain.
Friday, July 4, 2008
However, the world that all this angst was flavoring was a different one than the ones our fathers and grandfathers served, for this was not the life and death struggle between two distinct philosophies brought to a head, but a slow, simmering bickering between two superpowers with Armageddon at their disposal. Then, it was us or them. In this new "cold war", it could easily be us AND them. Our superiors knew it, we knew it, and perhaps that knowing kept us from having a hair trigger. None of us savored the possibility of our own families suffering their own private Hiroshima.
On top of all this posturing of man and machine above and beneath the waves, was the entanglement that the United States found itself involved with in Vietnam. I can safely say that a good portion of the ranks of both the Navy AND the Air Force was filled with patriotic young Americans who were not quite patriotic enough to wish to find themselves wading through rice paddies with no earthly idea who their enemy really was. The fly boys dropped their bombs on coordinates; THAT was their enemy, and most of the time they never had to actually SEE that enemy. Likewise, out here in the oceans, our targets were ships of designs different than ours with a different flag flying from the mast. Our torpedos would seek out a THING, a great big STEEL thing that was going to kill us if we didn't kill it first. We could not afford to worry about the flesh and bone within those steel hulls, just as they couldn't afford to worry about us. So, you had at least ONE branch of the service facing down an easily identifiable enemy, a cadre of sailors who felt much more comfortable risking annihilation by an easily understood enemy than those in Vietnam who increasingly found themselves BECOMING the enemy, against all those ideals they thought they had been raised with and measured by.
I was just one of a crew of a hundred-odd individuals who found themselves in a decade of transitions, who didn't quite understand the history they were making, who in a very human way were more worried about running out of cigarettes on a long deployment and getting laid back in port than they were with the geopolitical implications of the missions they were participating in. It wasn't until long after I had satisfied my active duty requirements and did a few years of Reserve duty did I finally come across a book that spelled out in startling detail some of the dangers I had been exposed to and didn't even know it. You see, loose lips sank ships, and there was so much secrecy involved in OUR branch of the Navy that half the time we didn't even know ourselves half the stuff we weren't allowed to talk to anyone about, including our own spouses. If you want to know how fast and how deep my submarine could go, you can find out in this book, but we were never allowed to divulge that information, no matter how common knowledge we suspected it might actually be. So, years after the fact, instead of the disaffected Personnelman who served aboard two nuclear attack submarines who could not wait to get back to civilian life in order to find some sort of respect, I have become the enlightened veteran, who had no idea that yes, I actually played a major part in contributing to the ultimate downfall and disillusion of the Mighty Soviet Empire. Contrast against those fine young men who survived a FUBAR only to watch the North Vietnamese Army drive a tank through the gates of the South Vietnamese Presidential Palace. How do you come to grips with THAT?
The decades since have passed beyond us much faster than any of us imagined they could. WE are now the older men, with memories to pass on to younger generations who perhaps think of us more as the baby boomer hippies rather than the young men out to change the world for the better, who both utterly failed and succeeded beyond our wildest expectations. Old threats vanquished, we now face new and confusing challenges, and once again finding those in power failing us and this fresh new generation paying THEIR price for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The mantle has been passed to US; shall we stand idly by while caskets draped in American flags continue to return across oceans that no longer protect us, while people in places most of us can't find on maps learn to hate us for manufactured reasons having nothing to do with who we are as a people? America STILL can stand for something precious in this world; it remains to us to lend voice to that truth.
My brothers, thank you for finding me worthy to join you here, practicing with full force the rights we served to protect, in one capacity or another. You will find me a harsh practitioner of those rights, for I have lived long enough to actually think that I could be called to arms to protect those same rights, only this time from DOMESTIC threats, which I never in my wildest dreamed imaginable. No, I doubt very seriously that any of us will find ourselves becoming involved in some sort of insurgency against our own brothers, as we did back in the civil war, but I do believe that those now here will utilize this amazing and powerful forum to speak out and shine the bright light of reason on these outrages perpetrated by our present administration and those in congress who enable them to do such damage to our precious constitution, our armed forces, and the prestige that we once enjoyed around the world as that "shining city on the hill".
So, once again, thank you, and you can be rest assured they can shut me up when they pull this keyboard out of my cold, dead fingers.