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January 2008

Stuck in the middle

I am going to have to retrench myself in the screw 'em all position as far as supporting any political candidates for national office. I had hope for the Fred, but he campaigned like the Sleepy Bear Jamboree at Disneyworld, the Maverick has taken to lying about Romney's reasonable statements about Iraq and acting crotchety. I have no beef with Romney, but he seems such a chiseled from conservative proto-flesh android he puts me off. I know Romney's a wonderful man but no one right of the right is going to vote for him.

So, clowns to the left, jokers to the right, same as it ever was. I guess I should support Hillary, because I can be much meaner to her as President than I can to the lightweight from Ill a nwah. I'm done snivelin' now and will atone for this weakness by doing a mean video about Hillary and Obama.

Someone You Should Know...

As the guy on the right there standing next to the Marine...

34036537This man is Dr. Bill Kristoff, now to be addressed as LCDR Krissoff, United States Navy Medical Corps.

His story should give anyone who is getting on in years and thinks they have no more contributions to make some pause and reflection on what exactly they can still do to make the world a better place.

The story, over at InstaPinch is truly inspiring.

Dr. Bill Krissoff was commissioned Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Medical Corps on November 17, 2007, at the age of 61. His decision to apply to the Navy Medical Corps to care for Marines came in response to the death of his oldest son. In December 2006, his son First Lieutenant Nathan Krissoff, USMC, who was serving as a Counterintelligence Officer with the 3rd Recon Battalion in Iraq, was killed in combat.

Inspired by his son’s commitment and dedication to serving his country, Dr. Krissoff decided to apply himself. Initially told by his recruiter that it was very unlikely that he would qualify because of the age limit, Dr. Krissoff did not give up. 

I will say that again for those in the cheap seats; Dr. Krissoff did not give up.

Continue reading "Someone You Should Know..." »

SOTU- The line W came to deliver

He just made it worth listening to. He led up to it beautifully, and he delivered it with strength.

Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaida is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated.

That says why I voted for him twice just fine. He has always been fighting a long war and I thank him for that.

CJTF-82 No free speech for Dutch politician Wilders

I am stunned by something I just read at the CJTF- 82 website. Before you read what I think, go read what they posted on an official US military website.

Whoever is responsible for writing this and posting it on their site is so far off the reservation I can't believe it happened. In the barest terms we have the operational staff of a US combat unit telling a Dutch politician that he might want to cut back on exercising his free speech rights.

WTF? Once again this is US officers writing an Op-Ed on an official military site calling an allied politician and his followers fanatics.

While Wilders and the Party for Freedom stir the hate by blaming an entire religion for the actions of extremists, they also attract more of their own “fanatical” followers, increasing their own power.  The headlines that resulted from the violence, the fear generated in communities around the world, an increase in “suicide bomber recruiting” all further the terrorist’s goals.

If that doesn't chill your blood I don't know what will. I can't think of a single way this could possibly be kosher and I am more worried that somehow an attitude that would produce such sentiments would be allowed to fester. Let me be perfectly clear to those deluded folks who put this out. It is not now, nor will it ever be the job of the 82nd Freakin' Airborne to write ill-advised, ignorantly-reasoned, and UCMJ & Constitutionally non-compliant, polemics about the free exercise of speech by the politicians of our allies or our enemies for that matter. Your job is to conduct military operations in support of national security objectives. I realize the State Dept sucks Hoover, tough shite, they shouldn't be appeasing the Religion of Perpetual Outrage either. Which moves me to the important point.

The folks at CJTF-82 seem to think the world should adapt to the sensibilities of those who can kill over cartoons. Sorry there gentlemen you have that exactly bass-ackwards, they must adapt to a world that reserves the right to mock your god or anyone's. Geert Wilders is doing exactly what these confused officers swore to protect and defend. It may make it more difficult as you attempt to balance kinetic operations, counter-insurgency and cultural sensitivity, but tough shite. You don't start telling our friends what to do with their own freedoms.

I am not in any way interested in learning how I can live the rest of my life without somehow crossing one of the barbaric, arbitrary and yet fatwa and murder-worthy outrage lines they have drawn in the sand. Matter of fact I am interested in purposely causing outrage from time to time to make sure people understand, in a free country the right to cause outrage trumps the right to claim offense and silence or sanction me. Mark Steyn is suffering the fate the staff at CJTF-82 contemplates for all who might offend the local populace they must work with.

One more time with emphasis, freedom isn't free and we know you pay the hefty fee, but stick to your job.

SOTU preview- What a difference a year makes

I just finished a blogger's conference call with Brett McGurk, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan. He previewed the portions of the President's speech tonight dealing with those two countries. He noted that the President was going to invite Congress back one year when they  were howling for withdrawal and declaring the war lost. He will remind them that he told them of a change in strategy to Counter-Insurgency (COIN) and that he sent additional troops to help implement this policy. Then he gets to pull the judo throw of contrasting last year with our current situation.

Heck I spoke with Andrew Lubin from Camp Victory today and he is working on getting himself to Afghanistan so he has something to write about. Now that doesn't mean we have won in Iraq, far from it and that will be the President's point. We have made tremendous strides in security and even the start of some political progress with the Re-Baathification bill, but this is a Long War and we need to finish strong. Did you hear me Obama?

Pete Hegseth of Vets for Freedom also has some SOTU preview thoughts.

(Washington, DC) Last year, President Bush used his State of the Union address to make the case for a “surge” in Iraq, in order to regain the offensive and defeat Al-Qaeda.  One year later, sectarian attacks and deaths in Baghdad have decreased more than 90%, Iraqi civilian casualties have dropped 75% throughout the country, and monthly coalition casualties have dropped dramatically.  Political progress has sprung up at the local level, and national-level reconciliation is beginning to take place.  Without this bold move—and bold speech—America would not be succeeding in Iraq today.

As the President prepares to address the nation tonight, and as the brave men and women who wear our nation’s uniform continue to pursue victory in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the battlefields of the Global War on Terror, Vets for Freedom proudly supports the Commander-in-Chief as he continues to do everything he can to pursue a more peaceful world, and a more secure America

Continue reading "SOTU preview- What a difference a year makes" »

Leadership: Top to Bottom

Today there are a couple of items which caught my eye. Leadership is one of my favorite subjects. Men and Women who have what it takes to stick it out, in hard times and good times, to achieve the mission in various conventional and non conventional ways.  People who have what it takes to make an example of themselves and lead by that example.

Worlds are changed in such ways by these folks. Those who know me, know that I believe the way to change anti-American behavior by nations, when all other actions have been tried unsuccessfully, is to show our enemies the American Fighting Man and place him squarely on the necks of our enemies. There is no finer ambassador of the United States than the American GI with an M-16 in one hand and candy in the other. Europe and Japan, indeed all the World of the 1940s and 50s, was changed by just those types of Men.

The first post to catch my eye was Michael Totten's current post on Fallujah. The Men of the Marine Corps and the Iraqi Police Transition Teams have done wonders in that place. There is no better example of what it takes to change radical Islamic culture than this post. In order to change the Islamic/Arab/South Side Snake Handler (or whomever the enemies of America will end up being)mindset that America is evil, and the source of all that is wrong in the world, you give them the example of your average American neighbor, proficient at his job, willing to teach others his skills, compassionate and understanding, but firm in his convictions that you have to do the right thing....even when no one else is looking. Mr. Totten's post is full of examples of Marines and Texas National Guardsmen, and even courageous upstanding Iraqis who are dragging their world out of the Stone Age and towards the 21st Century. (The Iraqis are in the 18th or 19th century in some cases, but that is better than the 7th century AD, ain't it?)  Read all of this one.

Next, I saw the post at Gateway Pundit of the family that fights together, winning together. This Mom and Son story demonstrates that the average American who is willing to take matters into their hands and act on what needs to be done, is what makes Leaders in our country. And members of our military have all volunteered to serve their country since 9-11, making them the finest examples of Leadership in the face of adversity and war, in our country. Mom must be a right tough thing if she can join up when Junior joins up, and serve beside him in the worst places in the world right now. And she is just the latest example of patriotic Americans to do so.

Finally, at the top, is a story about how Leadership is frequently a lonely business. Sometimes you just have to know your way is right, and despite every naysayer in the world, you have to insist on Victory instead of walking away from a bad situation. It is eye-opening just how many of his advisors were ready to give up on the Iraqis and allow them to participate in a killing frenzy until they had worn themselves and their culture to a nubbin, just because no one, (except this Leader) thought that Winning was possible. It appears there were very few who thought winning was possible, and almost none inside the administration.

Men like Sir Winston Churchill knew that failure in the face of tyranny and evil, was not an option. The very existence of their country and their way of life depended on hanging on when everyone else was defeated, demoralized, and/or dead. Whatever you feel about this Man, you cannot deny he is a Leader. You may not like the way he leads or where he leads, but the final judgment that matters is whether he was correct and victorious in the end, or whether he gave up because too many cowards, skeptics, and laissez faire strategists said the job couldn't be done.

And then, we all hope fervently, he will be remembered as the Man who took the job which couldn't be done, ..... and just did it.


Carhartt, Inc. Will Help Paratroopers to Stay Warm in Afghanistan

Via Concrete Bob, TankerBabe writes about a company that deserves our thanks for supporting paratroopers in Afghanistan:

...Now, about one week later, we have learned that Carhartt, Inc. is donating 750 pairs of heavy weight thermal underwear and 5,000 pairs of wool hiking socks to the 173rd, 2-503.  Their donation exceeded our requested amounts. 

I hope all of you reading this will join us in thanking Carhartt, Inc. for their more than generous donation.  Additionally I hope that you will go to their website or to any retail store that sells their durable, warm and comfortable clothing and order from them the next time you need the type of clothes and accessories they manufacture and sell.  Carhartt, Inc. didn't have to choose to make a donation at all and they certainly didnt' have to make one the size they did.  They asked what the NEED was and we told them.  As a result they fulfilled the entire need. 

The Sky Soldiers have been notified and are overwhelmed by the generosity they have received from each of you and will be receiving from Carhartt, Inc.. While our brave Warriors are fighting the difficult fight on the front lines it takes all of us working together as a team in order to accomplish the mission...

More over at TankerBabe's place.

[You can send Carhartt a thank you note at this site.]

The Public Editor Responds to "Trail of Death" Caused by Veterans

The New York Times Public Editor responds to accusations from us about their "War Torn" series:

...The Times was immediately accused — in The New York Post and the conservative blogosphere, and by hundreds of messages to the public editor — of portraying all veterans as unstable killers. It did not.

But, the first article used colorfully inflated language — “trail of death” — for a trend it could not reliably quantify, despite an attempt at statistical analysis using squishy numbers. The article did not make clear what its focus was. Was it about killer vets, or about human tragedies involving a system that sometimes fails to spot and treat troubled souls returning from combat?

Finally, while many of the 121 cases found by The Times appeared clearly linked to wartime stresses, others seemed questionable. One involved a Navy Seabee accused of arranging her ex-husband’s murder during a bitter child custody battle, and another involved a soldier who was acquitted of reckless homicide in a car crash after a jury concluded that his blood alcohol level was below the legal limit and that many other accidents had happened on the same stretch of road...

The end of the piece discusses the motivations of the reporters - concern for veterans returning from a war zone.  As all of us know, the system doesn't work very well and many vets are not cared for.  There are lots of reasons for this - and certainly there are very many dedicated people in the VA trying to help - but the VA needs money and, most likely, a new plan.  A "Surge" for veterans care, if you will.

I, for one, believe the New York Times reporters were concerned about the vets.  But I am also inclined to believe that they were pushing a stereotype, one that began with Viet Nam vets, and their stories fit their own mental narratives.  Obviously, I cannot prove that.  But it does ring true for anyone who's experienced that kind of bias before - "Soldiers and Dogs Keep Off the Grass".

In the end, I think we can all agree that war sucks, it affects everyone, and that our vets deserve all of the support that we can afford to give.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are NOT being addressed at the level that they need to be addressed.  I don't know anyone who believes that our veterans are being effectively treated.  No. One.

One of you readers sent me a very compelling email but asked me to withhold it.  Bottom-line:  If you have a lot of veterans who have been trained to kill and they are all very likely to become unhinged, there would be a lot more murders than less than 121.

If you've been around here long enough, you know that I've tried to help a few returning vets who've wound up in prison.  In most cases, they did the crime and need to do the time, but they also need support to help them recover (they don't get medical and mental support they need in prison).

To be fair to the New York Times, I reached out to the reporters, Lizette Alvarez and Deborah Sontag, and I'll put the reply from Lizette Alvarez after the Jump.   

Continue reading "The Public Editor Responds to "Trail of Death" Caused by Veterans" »

A Nation's Flight of Honor

Russ Vaughn reminds us that many of the WWII vets have not seen their own memorial on the Mall.  His first post about the issue is from 2006 and is a must read.  It's a call to action to get the vets to DC to see it.  Now, there is a group taking up the challenge.

A Nation’s Flight of Honor


Think of it this way: there’s a terrible epidemic raging which is taking 1200 American lives every day; no cure exists but there is a palliative treatment available which makes the passing of these thousands much less painful, affording them a way to go to their graves with a sense of fulfillment, a sense that, yes, they really did make a difference. Knowing this, would you want to see more of these 36,000 Americans who are dying every month have access to such palliation to ease their passing?


Of course you would and there is a way you can. These legions of dying are our WWII veterans, most, like my father-in-law, are now octogenarians, very fortunate octogenarians to be sure, who share the good fortune of having lived through the cataclysmic world events of the 1940’s where hundreds of thousands of their brothers gave up their lives to defend our world against fascism.


And they are among you, these dying survivors. You don’t see them as much any more as you once did, walking through Wal-Mart or sitting in the Legion hall with those brightly festooned baseball caps that proudly proclaimed their membership in that brotherhood of Americans who put their lives on hold and went off to exotic foreign shores to do the right thing. I love those caps and the men who wear them. They provide a foundation for the pride I feel in wearing my own Vietnam veteran caps. As the young would put it nowadays: been there, Dude, got the T-shirt.


So no, you don’t see them as much now because so many of them are enfeebled, confined to moving about in wheel chairs, or for far too many, confined to their beds, whether in their homes or in the many facilities that shelter our old. Oxygen devices anchor many of them to their beds or favorite recliners, limiting their range to that which is essential.


There is a common symptom of this epidemic shared by far too many of these old warriors: they have never seen the memorial erected in their honor on the National Mall in Washington D.C., more than fifty years after their service and sacrifice. As is so often and so sadly true, we Americans belatedly got around to building a memorial to the deserving, and a truly beautiful memorial it is, its circular design and generous use of water and fountains poignantly evoking the global, transoceanic theaters of war in which they served. I was there with my father-in-law on a gorgeous summer day a few weeks after it opened and I can assure you, as taxpayers, this time we got our money’s worth, although most of the construction costs came from private donations.


I said you could help and you can. Honor Flight, an organization created by an inspired physicians assistant working in a Veterans’ Affairs clinic, who recognized that far too many of these old veterans simply could not afford to make the trip to Washington to receive the thanks of their nation. That PA, retired Air Force captain, Earl Morse, has managed to scrabble together sufficient donations and volunteer assistance to transport more than 7,000 of these veterans to their long overdue memorial, cost free, affording them an opportunity to bask finally in the warmth of our nation’s gratitude before they leave us. Having been there with my own Dad, I assure you that as you move through the various campaign areas of the memorial, seeing and listening to the almost joyous camaraderie of these old warriors you quickly realize that this is a far better form of thanks than handing a sobbing widow a carefully folded flag with a murmured, “With the thanks of a grateful nation.”


Please, go to their website http://www.honorflight.org/ and give them what you can, money of course, but also your time. Volunteer some time to make this program grow. Start a local chapter, serve as an escort or simply spread the word. Most of these old warriors are not Internet savvy and have no idea such an organization exists. And they don’t live in environments where it is likely they will ever hear of Honor Flight unless we all make an effort to take it to them.


Remember, you won’t have to do it forever: we’re losing them at the rate of 1200 a day.



Russ Vaughn