Monday, June 30, 2008

Comical Ignorance

Except it isn't funny. Pitiful perhaps, dangerous maybe but, funny it aint. "It" is the response of the reich-wing bloviators I half heard on CNN late at night responding to General Wesley Clark's well considered denunciation of the idea of flying and/or crashing a fighter plane as qualifying one for the job of POTUS. I suppose it will come as a shock to no thinking person that General Clark is waaaaaayyy more likely to be right when it comes to military issues than the chickenhawk guild. However, there are a couple of points worth expanding.

In the USN, unless you are the CO or XO of a squadron, a pilot is in command of nothing. (S)He does not lead men and flying is not generally considered a command path. Even the term/job "plane captain" does not refer to the pilot but instead, to the enlisted (wo)man who has the responsibility for just damn near everything on the bird except when it is actually in flight. Yes, pilots are officers but, few of them turn out to be leaders. Their training focuses on what they can do to avoid costing the U.S. and USN a shitload of money by giving gravity primary control of an airborne plane.(Such training apparently did not take with McSame as evidenced by his time as a POW.) They also receive some training on delivering death, destruction and mayhem on command. As a general rule, with acknowledged exceptions, O3 and below flyboys know less about leadership and command than your average E6 and up. Yea, sure the E6 will have to salute the O3 but that is more tradition and general orders than it is respect.

"Line" officers are the command path officers. They learn to drive boats and head up divisions on a ship and they cross train in a lot of different shit. In running a division, they will be the leader of the enlisted men who make up that division (if the Chief lets them) and they can dream of their own command. Interestingly enough, John Kerry was a line officer with command experience. When he was being unfairly dissed and outright lied about by veteran and chickenhawk alike, such experience wasn't especially valuable to the GOP. Even to the point of the rank and file rethugs making graphic fun of Purple Heart earners at the national convention.

In short Barack Obama has just as much command experience as John McSame. Both have "commanded" political campaigns. It is comical ignorance indeed to believe that all military service is the same or that all military jobs are command prep. But, these comically misinformed individuals have huge misinformed audiences. Even worse, none of them seem to even want to know the truth. The relevant truth here is that Clark is right. Flying and/or crashing airplanes is in no way, shape, form, or fashion, suitable or significant preparation for the job of POTUS. Serving as a POW does not give one special insight into how to prosecute a war or, how to lead the nation in times of peace. Physical suffering for one's nation does not entitle one to high political office. It just doesn't.

I interacted with a lot of officers during my time in the military and, like just damn near any other enlisted puke, I learned to size them up pretty quickly. If I was being recalled into the military tomorrow and I had to choose one of the two presidential candidates to be the officer I reported to, the nation would be in trouble because with my life on the line, I would pick the intelligent, analytical, clear-headed, quick thinking one of the two. I'd pick Obama.


cross posted to meanderthal

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Since I haven't as yet written an API piece on the meaning of patiotism, I've spent some time recently reading and thinking on the subject. Given the abusive, dangerous, and very oppressive home that I grew up in, I abhor authoritarianism and the tyranny with which it stalks, traps, and devours its victims. The "Embrace Democracy" flag above expresses my view of patriotism in full.

The Embrace flag measures 61/2 '' by 4". We have two of them. One is magnetized so reminds everyone here daily of the basics involved in maintaining a participatory democracy - it is the largest magnet on our refrigerator. The other, a plastic window decal, is the only flag decal that has ever graced one of our cars. Remember that John Prine song....

Your flag decal won't get you into heaven any more
It's already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Jesus don't like killin' no matter what the reason for
Your flag decal won't get you into heaven any more.

The "Embrace Democracy" flag says it all. We all took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. We along with non-veterans are all charged with protecting the freedoms and rights alloted all of us by the founders of our democratic system. Debate, Dissent, and Question translate into three of the most powerful arms every American can and should bear when threatened by authoritarianism. We are under threat now, and have been throughout the worst, most destructive presidency this nation has ever experienced.

On Thursday, June 26th four of us from San Diego Veterans For Peace met with two of congressman Duncan Hunter's staff members to voice our opposition to H. Con. Res. 362. This dangerous proposal, if passed, would demand that the president order a blockage against Iran. A blockade is considered by international law, to be an act of aggression. This administration may be hoping that by passing Resolution 362 they will be able to provoke Iran into a war with the United States.

The meeting at Hunter's office was a new experience for me. My fellow vets had done such visits before. One acted as the lead and then we each in turn spoke. As the only female present I chose to speak from that perspective so attempted to give voice to the victims, both Iranian and American, of an expanded war. I learned from our visitation and will put what I've learned to use in the future.

On one hand, it seemed access to our elected representative was as close and open as the corner store; on the other, the president and the congress have been taking our money and screwing us for years.

We went to speak truth to power but when I thought about it later, I realized that speaking truth to power doesn't apply in a democracy. The people are the power in a democracy - so arm yourselves, my brothers, Debate, Dissent, and Question!

Life has been a whirlwind lately and I've had one heck of a case of writer's block. I think the Hillary/ Obama thing did a real job on me. Still dealing with some health issues but nothing major and doing OK. I hope that all of you are well and that life is being good to you.

Catfish and I are going to the Veterans For Peace convention in Minneapolis from August 27 - 31. Will any of you be there? We are scrimping and saving to afford it but looking forward to taking part.

I tried to put the new photo map on my page but it wouldn't work - I don't know why. I'll try again tomorrow.

That's it for now,

Meet Michael

These Thoughts Escape Me is authored by Michael, a ne’er do well of my long acquaintance. In addition to being an excellent writer, Michael is a patriotic American who is not reluctant to speak out against the assaults on our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and the questionable actions of some of our leaders.

Michael also served honorably in the U.S. Navy. I offer his name for membership in the august ranks of the American Patriot Institute.


Thank You, from VoteVets.Org

Dear Supporter,

Yesterday, I represented at a press conference with leaders in the Senate, before the body passed the bipartisan GI Bill for the 21st Century. It was an honor to be there, but I wasn’t just representing my fellow veterans, I was representing each and every one of you.

30,000 petition signatures. Tens of thousands of letters to Capitol Hill. Thousands and thousands of letters to the editor. Donations that allowed us to air national TV ads on the bill. That’s what you did to help pass this bill, in the name of, and that’s why I was invited to stand with Senators as the bill was brought up for consideration.

More importantly, your work made passage of the bill a reality.

Now, the bill will go to the President’s desk, and he has signaled he will sign it. It wasn’t so long ago that the President had threatened to veto the legislation, with Senators like John McCain backing him up on that decision. The President’s reversal can also be attributed to just how much you worked to pass this bill. The President and those in his party know that there could be nothing more unpopular than vetoing increased education benefits for those who serve in war, in a time of war.

That’s why I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. What you have done is make the American dream possible for so many of us. Many of us who couldn’t afford college will now be able to. We’ll go on to become doctors and lawyers and teachers, and have the chance to raise families in the American middle class. It was a promise made to us by Franklin Roosevelt, and your work has restored that promise.

You are truly patriots, in every sense of the word.


Brian McGough

Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Department of Justice Corrupted by Bush Administration

Proof is emerging that the Bush Administration has done everything in it's power to pervert the Department of Justice by politically profiling candidates for the position of Attorneys General. This is despicable and shows how far the Always Wrong Right will go to maintain their death grip on our country. Talk about shredding the constitution! Please copy the video below and post it since Keith Olbermann seems to be the only one, (as usual), in the main stream media willing to talk about it. Anyone who thinks that the fight to regain our America will be easy needs to watch it.

Now pardon me while I go puke.


Post Script: The above makes it clear once and for all, (at least to me), that this Administration is neither bumbling nor incompetent, but rather, a Mafia-like family, bent on controlling our nation for their own gains, in a cold, calculating way. They will use any means possible to maintain this control and protect their asses. Face it, we have been taken over by Facists, and anyone who doesn't think so has their head up their ass.

This makes the upcoming Presidential Election more important than ever. With the collapse of our Democratic led Congress on Telecom Immunity, Impeachment, the Plame "incident" and other vital issues, we may never know how far reaching their crimes are, but a clean sweep in November, DINO's (Dems In Name Only), as well as Republi-cons, would be a great start.

Also posted at deuddersun says...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hail to the Chief

This week and up to July 1, 2008, chiefs across the Navy and the nation are in stand-down reflecting on heritage and traditions, and enhancing knowledge and skills. On the yard specifically, the senior enlisted are reflecting on the privilege of service, development of future leaders, humility, equal opportunity, and the value of diversity.
The rank of the Chief Petty Officer was established in the Navy on April 1, 1893, with Masters-at-Arms, Boatswain's Mates, Quartermasters, Gunner's Mates, Machinists, Carpenter's Mates, Yeomen, Apothecaries, and Band Masters serving as the first Chief Petty Officers.

One hundred years later, on April 1, 1993, then-Chief of Naval Operations ADM Frank Kelso II said, "The example set by Chiefs for the last century inspires our young men and women of today. Indeed, what Americans see in our impressive young Sailors is the tradition of devotion and dedication the first Chiefs established with their sacrifices and valor."

Now, 15 years later, those words still ring true. Today, Chief Petty Officers serve in many vital roles at the Naval Academy.

They are Senior Enlisted Leaders within Bancroft Hall. They are Craft masters aboard the Yard Patrol Craft. They are instructors in Engineering & Weapons, and in Seamanship & Navigation. They are leaders within the Naval Academy Band. They lead Sailors in mission-accomplishment, ensuring the YPs and sailboats are ready to train; ensuring medical staffs are ready and able to provide high quality care to active duty, family members, and retirees; ensuring the Sailors standing watch at our gates are trained and equipped to carry out the mission. These Chiefs serve every day as role models to thousands of future Navy and Marine Corps officers, providing the standard of excellence in leadership we should all expect from our superiors.

There is a common tale about the critical role of Chief Petty Officers that has roots back in the days of ADM William "Bull" Halsey, Class of 1904, Fleet Admiral and Commander of the Third Fleet during the Pacific War against Japan. At the end of World War II, legend has it that the city of Los Angeles had a ceremony on the steps of the county courthouse to honor their home town hero, which included a line of sideboys. According to the story, the sideboys were all active duty and retired Chief Petty Officers who had served with ADM Halsey. ADM Halsey approached one of the retired Chiefs, and they winked at each other. At a cocktail party later on in the evening, one of the guests at the event asked the Admiral about the wink he shared with the Chief.
The story says that ADM Halsey explained, "That man was my Chief when I was an Ensign, and no one before or after taught me as much about ships or men as he did. You civilians don't understand. You go down to Long Beach, and you see those battleships sitting there, and you think that they float on water, don't you?"

The guest replied, "Yes sir, I guess I do."

To which ADM Halsey stated, "You are wrong. They are carried to sea on the backs of those Chief Petty Officers!

As we honor the 115th birthday of the Chief Petty Officers, please take a moment to reflect upon the significance of those fouled anchors and the years of experience, wisdom, and deckplate leadership they represent.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Veterans Used To Test Suicide-Linked Drugs

ABC News

Mentally distressed veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are being recruited for government tests on pharmaceutical drugs linked to suicide and other violent side effects, an investigation by ABC News and The Washington Times has found.

If the WT is involved, it means even the wingnuts are pissed-off at this one. Good. This kinda shit crosses party lines.

In one of the human experiments, involving the anti-smoking drug Chantix, Veterans Administration doctors waited more than three months before warning veterans about the possible serious side effects, including suicide and neuropsychiatric behavior.

"Lab rat, guinea pig, disposable hero," said former US Army sniper James Elliott in describing how he felt he was betrayed by the Veterans Administration.

As much as I've been helped by the VA, and they helped me save my own life, it's getting harder and harder for me to respect them. One unconscionable stupid fuck-up after another and so on and so on will do that.

Months after he began taking the drug, Elliott suffered a mental breakdown, experiencing a relapse of Iraq combat nightmares he blames on Chantix.

"They never told me that I was going to be suicidal, that I would cease sleeping. They never told me anything except this will help me quit smoking," Elliott told ABC News and The Washington Times.

On the night of February 5th, after consuming a few beers, Elliott says he "snapped" and left his home with a loaded gun.

Go read the rest of this.

Pfizer maintains that "the benefits of Chantix outweigh the risks" and that it continues to do further studies on the drug.

The FAA has prohibited commercial airline pilots from using Chantix because of its possible side effects.

Just...swear words.

Note to the next President: Barry, you fix this first thing. Clean house over there and get some Veterans in charge of it.

Crossposted at Alternate Brain.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Federal judge gives smackdown to McCain and Bush

Stolen in toto from Badtux:

Federal Judge Samuel Conti accepts into evidence an email suggesting that it was official Bushevik strategy to deny veterans' PTSD claims.

If he'd already made up his mind to believe the Busheviks, he wouldn't have done this. Which leads me to believe that he is about to lay down a major smackdown in the fraud trial where the Busheviks are accused of denying care to PTSD patients by deliberately misdiagnosing them...

-- Badtux the Veterans Penguin

Thanks, bud.

Crossposted at Alternate Brain.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

New Image Map Available

Thanks to scroff, of Any Which Way, the new image map for The API is now available. The new map includes the "baby pictures" of Chief and Cafkia. Simply click on the link below. The image map links each picture to that person's website and is undeniable proof that we are who we say we are, veterans of the Armed Forces of The United States of America dedicated to defending the Constitution of the United States of America, against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic.

Please update or post this in the sidebar of your website, if possible.

American Patriot Institute

Want this code?

Semper Fidelis,


Sunday, June 1, 2008


Gitmo, to me, is, perhaps, similar to a relationship one has with a (former) significant other, in that your memories of that time are sweet and positive, but today the relationship, if there really is one, is negative.

Gitmo is one of those places where I learned to be an adult and assume adult responsibilities.

For about an 18 month period, Early Spring 1961 to late Summer 1962, I was in and out of Gitmo many, many times on two different Navy ships. The first ship was a WW2 Sumner class destroyer. I was a third class Electronics Technician, ET3 in Navy speak who maintained radars and equipment associated with Combat Information Center or CIC. I also stood underway watches in CIC. The height of my proficiency was the ability to radar navigate out of Gitmo harbor.

Normally, the folks on the bridge control the movements of the ship. But as a exercise to prepare for foggy weather, the ship uses radar to navigate so everybody can be experienced in this maneuver. That was the Radarman’s job (Operations Specialist in today’s Navy), but I had gained the skills, working outside of my rating to be able to give the orders to navigate using radar out of the confines of the Guantanamo Bay harbor. Of course, everyone on the bridge was watching shore line and bouys and would have taken over If I goofed up. But I got us out safely.

But from the Bay of Pigs to the Berlin Wall crisis in 1962, I had far too much familiarity with Gitmo. But, you know what? I take a lot of pride in my accomplishments during that period of my life, not the least of which was a great deal of “personal growth.” I got married and eventually we had our first child on the way. Of course that helps you grow up real quick.

But the responsibilities I had thrust on me and which I mastered helped show me how an adult is supposed to conduct themselves.

Those are very fond memories and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is a large part of those memories.

Today “Gitmo” is a mark of shame. A place that I wish my country was not involved with. A concept of holding people prisoner in a place where”we” can make any law we want to. It is a concept that is foreign to my idea of what Constitutional government is supposed to be. It is akin to the Russian gulag or a Nazi concentration camp.

Dear Supporter,

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Hagel sent a note to us, thanking us for our work to pass the Webb-Hagel GI Bill. I wanted to share it with you, because whatever has accomplished, it was only because of your hard work and support. So, this note is for you:

Dear Jon and Friends,

As you know, the Webb-Hagel GI Bill passed both Houses of Congress with overwhelming bi-partisan support. The Senate's vote last week (75-22) was a big win for us. We could not have made this progress without your organization's strong support.

Thank you for your commitment and leadership in ensuring that we get this legislation passed and signed into law.

This effort is not over. I will continue to do all I can to see the Webb-Hagel GI Bill become a reality for America's deserving veterans. Thanks again to you and your colleagues for all your help. We're getting close!

Best wishes.

Chuck Hagel

I think we all thank Senator Hagel back, for his leadership and commitment to speaking for our service members. It's something he wrote about very poignantly in his new book (which, incidentally, my mother just bought me for my birthday - it's a great gift!).

In "America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers," Senator Hagel writes, "In my mind, patriotism is about asking the tough questions, not avoiding them. It is unpatriotic not to question a government's policies before the first life is lost. Of course I want our country to "win," but we must ask precisely what does "winning" mean and we need to ask that question before the first shot is fired. You can question and criticize my judgment-or any elected representative's judgment."

The name of the chapter that passage is from is "Who Speaks Up For The Rifleman?"

Thankfully, for us, Senator Hagel speaks up for the rifleman, and is one of the best friends that troops and veterans have ever had in Congress. And you all, for your hard work on the GI Bill and other issues, are some of the greatest friends and supporters that the troops and veterans have ever had in the American public.

Thanks for all of your support.


Jon Soltz
Iraq War Veteran