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July 2009

Step Up For Valour-IT -- Especially as PayPal Won't

The Gun Blogger Rendezvous has long been a supporter of our troops, and most especially our wounded.  In particular, they have been and are big supporters of Project Valour-IT.  This year is no different, save that courtesy of the hard work of The Smallest Minority and Para USA there will be a pistol raffled; and, courtesy of the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, there is a four-day training session being raffled as well. 

All good things, right? 

Well, not according to the freedom loving folks at PayPal.  Because they hate, nay loathe, the thought of you exercising your rights as a citizen, in particular your rights under the Second Amendment to the Constitution. How dare you rabble dare think of yourselves as citizens, don't you know that you are mere serfs for your betters? 

What has this wolf's hackles up in regards the CSWs at PayPal? 

There's this from Chuck Ziegenfuss

There this from Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority

There's this from Bill over at Castle Argghhh!

My thought:  I plan to buy a raffle ticket or three even.  I also hope that one and all will politely let PayPal know what you think of their actions.  If a new company starts up to compete with PayPal?  Well, let's just say that if they love freedom, liberty, and basic rights, they will sure get my business... 


UPDATE:  Looks like Blackfive and I pulled the trigger at about the same time.  Go read his post too

UPDATE II:  As Chuck notes in the update, this has turned into a bit of a PR mess for E-Bay/PayPal.  It won't hurt anything if they get a few thousand polite voicemails/calls to (408) 376-7458 saying that while we don't think they hate our wounded troops, it would be nice if they could confirm that...  My own thought is that a hefty donation to SA for f*****g them over during an unrelated fund drive to get Christmas to the troops would not be a bad idea on their part. 

Meantime, I've taken the PayPal link off my site and begun the steps to close down my account with them regardless of what they do, and am going to see if I still have an E-Bay account, and if so it will go away too. 

Raid on Iranian exiles camp in Iraq

It was widely reported that Iraqi forces conducted a brutal raid on the camp of a group of Iranian dissidents the Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK). This group had been protected from Iraqi reprisals by US forces until the security agreement had them removed from cities. The raid highlights the influence Iran has on the Iraqi government and the waning of direct US control of Iraqi security activities. I spoke to someone who was there and heard that while the action was quite brutal it was not as bad as portrayed in many reports. It seems the Iraqis wanted to establish a police station in the camp and were opposed by the MEK. My source says there were apparently no fatalities although the MEK claims four were killed. I will update as further information becomes available.

Anti-Gun PayPal shuts down Soldiers' Angels Contributions

I received notice from Chuck Z of "From My Position...On the Way" that some gun bloggers were holding a charity shoot and raffling off a gun for Soldiers' Angels as part of their charity iniatives. Soldiers' Angels provided their PayPal system to take donations from the raffle and PayPal has shut down ALL donations to Soldiers' Angels because of it.

This post is from The Smallest Minority:

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

OK, I'm livid.

As most of you know, the fourth annual Gun Blogger's Rendezvous is fast approaching (43 days away as I write this), and this year I planned to make a special contribution to support Project Valour-IT - a gun giveaway that would be for even those unable to attend. But I'm not a 501(c)(3) organization, or any other kind of tax-free charity, so I couldn't actually run a charity raffle. Besides, I'm not really set up for it and wouldn't know how. So, with the aid of Rendezvous organizer Mr. Completely, arrangements were made with Soldiers' Angels to provide on-line ticket sales. Tickets went on sale Friday, July 17. We were ON!

Soldiers' Angels uses PayPal for their on-line donations. PayPal even has a "Case Study" of Soldiers' Angels' success (PDF) using PayPal, bragging:

Today Soldiers' Angels' biggest online contributions go through PayPal. "It's trustworthy to people and so they donate," says (Founder Patti) Patton-Bader. "There's a confidence that donors feel – that it's a safe way to make a donation. There are not many companies that inspire that kind of trust."


Coincident with the Gun Blogger Rendezvous Raffle, Soldiers' Angels had also started a fund drive for other projects that same weekend. PayPal put a stop to that...

Please go and read the whole story at The Smallest Minority. There are numbers for you to call if you would like to help fix this issue with PayPal and get Soldiers' Angels returned to their proper status.

More at a post by Bill T over at the Donovan's.

Problems at Arlington?

I am back in DC after gallivanting about the country for a while, and yesterday I sat on a panel on media coverage of the war on terror at the Conference for Army Historians. Fun and entertaining topic, panel and crowd and I got to joust a bit with CBS News & 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan. Another panelist was National Correspondent for Salon.com Mark Benjamin, and he has done a fair amount of reporting on soldier and veterans issues including an ongoing series about Arlington Cemetery. He has found what seem to be some serious issues about operations there. I think all larger organizations have problems, but we don't have ground much more hallowed than this so I think it is well worth looking at. Apparently so does the military as an investigation has been ordered. Take a look at his pieces and please let me know if any of you can shed any light on this.

The Salon articles exposed tangled burial paperwork at Arlington that has contributed to confusion among the graves. Former and current employees claim that, among other things, the cemetery doesn't know the location of all the remains. Other remains may not match the headstones placed above them. The articles also showed that the cemetery, which is administered by the Army, disposes of photos, letters and other artifacts left on graves in the section set aside for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, even as similar artifacts left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are preserved.

Soldier Demands Apology from Congress

Here's an interesting concept:

That's a sense of "what government is for" that is almost entirely off the radar of the American people; and so far off Congress' radar that it might as well not exist as a concept. 

Still, he's fought for the Constitution, so he's certainly got a right to be heard on the subject of what he thinks it says.

For what it's worth, I agree that we should return to enumerated powers, and hard limits on government's authority over the citizenry.  I'd also like to see a repeal of existing unconstitutional delegations of legislative authority by Congress to the Executive branch -- all these billions of rules, many with the force of criminal law, that were created by executive agencies rather than by Congress.

That's just my opinion, though; and the video is his.  Congress' opinion is what counts, and they see it a bit differently than we do.  I don't expect to be receiving any apologies.

Trading Terrorists for Corpses

Bill Roggio, our good friend at the Long War Journal, is posting at the Weekly Standard blog:

...U.S. forces released Laith as part of a deal to get the five Brits freed. In return, the terror group turned over two dead Brits, who were killed months earlier. Their bodies were returned with gunshot wounds.

Earlier this month, the U.S. military turned over five Qods Forces officers, including Mahmud Farhadi, perhaps the most dangerous Iranian operative captured in Iraq. Farhadi was the Qods Force theater commander in northern Iraq and directly supported operations against U.S., Coalition, and Iraqi forces...

Read the whole piece here at the Weekly Standard.  There is a learning process that does not seem evident when you keep trading some of the most evil men on the planet for british corpses.

Be sure to check out the Long War Journal every day.

[Here is Jimbo's commentary on a LWJ piece on the Iranian releases here.]

Releasing Iranian terrorist leaders, and hiding it

Releasing the Irbil 5, who Iran claimed were diplomats and we were certain were not, was problematic. Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal reports that it was not just these "diplomats" who were cut loose, but a known Qods Force commander, and that he was slipped into this exchange to mask the fact that he was deeply involved with planning and execution of attacks on US troops.

A senior Qods Force officer who led one of the three commands in Iraq assigned to attack US and Iraqi forces was one of five Iranians released by the US military on July 9.

Mahmud Farhadi, the leader of the Zafr Command, one of three units subordinate to the Qods Force's Ramazan Corps, was among five Iranians turned over to the Iraqi government and then subsequently turned over to the Iranians.

A spokesman from the Iranian foreign ministry identified Farhadi as one of the five men released on July 9, according to a report on Iranian state-run television.

Reports initially indicated that five Iranians who were captured by the US in Irbil in northern Iraq in January 2007 were released from custody. But US military intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that Farhadi was disguised as one of the Irbil Five to soften the blow of the release.

The US had previously released two members of the Irbil Five in November 2007, according to The Associated Press, but the report received little attention. This "left room for Farhadi to be pawned off as one of the Irbil Five and snuck out the back door," one official told The Long War Journal.

Make sure to read the entire piece as it contains the usual deep background on the extent of Iranian actions in Iraq and the fact that they were directly responsible for the deaths of far too many US servicemembers and Iraqi civilians. Iranian actions such as these exposes their operatives to detention as terrorists. The fact that we are now releasing them is shocking and needs to be discussed far more vigorously. Some of this is driven by our security agreements with Iraq, but it seems likely that some is to push negotiations with Iran on multiple issues. They have been complaining that we hold and must release their operatives and it seems we are putting the desire for talks with Iran above the safety of our troops and Iraqi civilians.

Major Dan Gade - SYSK Follow Up

Here are links to our stories on Major Dan Gade - first, second and third.  Dan was wounded in Iraq and doctors had to remove his entire leg to save his life.  Since his recovery, he's worked for the White House, now pursuing a PhD, he and his wife Wendy had TWINS!, and now he's competing in Triathlons.

From Soldier to Triathalon rene-GADE

...Gade had participated in some triathlons and marathons before he was injured while stationed in Korea. About a year ago, he began training again, competing in a handful of triathlons where he did two of the three disciplines.

"When I got hurt in 2005, I really thought that that part of my life - doing marathons and triathlons - was over," he said. "I thought that endurance sports beyond swimming were going to be beyond my capability."

But Gade persevered, trying out a hand cycle which he uses during the bicycle portion of the triathlon and getting his first racing wheelchair for the running part this past spring.

His equipment is mostly supplied by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Army is sponsoring him this weekend since he is an active-duty soldier. His other funding comes from a non-profit, Challenged Athletes Foundation and Operation Rebound.

"What is interesting about Dan is whereas some people would maybe give up based on what happened to him, he has really used this as a platform to reinvent himself," said Mike Lenhart, founder and president of the Getting2Tri foundation. "He wants his boys and his daughter to grow up seeing their dad, who may have what some call a disability, using that and still having an active lifestyle."

Gade swims without his prosthetic leg, primarily using his upper-body strength...

Go here for photos of Dan crushing the triathalon.

As a friend of Dan's, I can't say that I'm surprised.  Proud of him, damn proud, but not surprised.

[Forget the triathlon, Twins would kick my @$$]