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April 2011

Phelps Family Film Festival

Louis Theroux is a British journalist who specializes in documentaries of deeply weird people, none of which have been released on American television, sad to say, because they look pretty funny.  If your focus is on the weird, the creepy, the borderline insane, you are naturally drawn to the odious Phelps family and their despicable Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, which Theroux covered in this 2007 documentary for BBC 2, called "The Most Hated Family in America,"an apt title.

Continue reading "Phelps Family Film Festival" »

Love Missile or Missile love

No seriously. This is just fun.

It started out with a leggy, bikini-clad avatar. She said she was a missile expert — the “1st Lady of Missiles,” in fact — but sometimes suggested she worked with the CIA. With multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, she earned a following of social media-crazed security wonks. Then came the accusations of using sex appeal for espionage.

Now everyone involved in this weird network is adjusting their story in one way or another, demonstrating that even people in the national security world have trouble remembering one of the basic rules of the internet: Not everyone is who they say they are.

“I think anyone puts pictures out online to lure someone in,” the woman at the center of the controversy insists. “But it’s not to lure men in to give me any information at all… I liked them. They’re pretty. Apparently everyone else thought so too.”

This is a strange, Twitter-borne tale of flirting, cutouts, and lack of online caution in the intelligence and defense worlds. Professionals who should’ve known better casually disclosed their personal details (a big no-no in spook circles) and lobbed allegations they later couldn’t or wouldn’t support (a big no-no in all circles). It led to a Pentagon investigation. And it starts with a Twitter account that no longer exists called @PrimorisEra.

Go read all that the Attackerman has to enjoy

The Yellow Rig Redemption

OK so the Milblog Conference kicks off tomorrow night with a reception at the Navy Memorial. I had an unfortunate, or perhaps fortunate, fashion crisis not too long ago that resulted in me owning a pair of (quite) yellow pants. That prompted the video below (F-bomb or two).

But in an attempt to wrest victory from the jaws of stylistic disgrace, I will muscle through by wearing the rig seen below to the cocktail party. Obviously I can pull off this bit of sartorial boldacity, so it ought to be entertaining.


Yes is No, Right is Wrong, Up is Down....

When you are over the drop zone of PC, watch out for the rabbit holes because there is no certainty of where you will land .

If a Marine spots two men in his battalion kissing off-duty at a shopping mall, he should react as if he were seeing a man and woman. If he turns on the television news to see a fellow Marine dressed as a civilian and marching in a parade with a banner that reads, “Support Gays and Lesbians in the Military!” he should accept it as a free right of expression.

Let's try this technique in some other scenarios:  If a man goes to buy a Chevy Truck and the salesman shows him a Ford, he should react as if it is a Chevy, or if a man sees a woman wearing a green shirt, and he doesn't like green, he should just react as if it is blue.

I am going to use this the next time I pay my bills, buy gas or come to a stoplight; I will just react like I already paid the bill, the price is 3 dollars less and that the stoplight was green in my direction.

For those who oppose the new policy, the Marine Corps says it doesn’t expect anyone to change their personal beliefs. Still, everyone must follow orders.

Nope, don't have to change your mind in this man's Marine Corps, just shut your pie-hole and do as you are told.  You will be trained which way is the "correct" course of action and which is not "correct."  What do you want to bet that my personal belief and the expression thereof would go like this; If I protest the ban, it is freedom of expression; if I protest removing the ban, I am guilty of a hate crime.  Orwell couldn't have written this better...

The nugget that these PC trainers don't get is that this isn't transitioning the Marines from the M-60 Machine gun to the M-240B Machine gun, it is about what you believe as a person.  Just telling me to react like I would if I saw a man and woman kissing is telling me to change my personal beliefs.  I don't generally want to heave when I see a man and woman kissing.

My sexual perference never mattered at Firebase Olaes, and that is how it should be.  Mark my words; continuing this trip own the PC rabbit hole will have a detrimental effect on the retention of combat vets and warfighters, warfighting in general, and our society as a whole.

American anti-leadership

J. E. Dyer has an excellent piece at Hot Air talking about the new balance of power and what American superpowerdom hath wrought.

As a superpower, the US has functioned as an alternative to the formation of blocs, which coalesce chiefly around the dynamics of aggression and security fears.  America’s ascendancy has mitigated the tendency of regional collectives to become blocs, which they do by succumbing to unipolar leadership and organizing “against” the nations outside of them.  The EU has been a relatively benign entity because of the existence of the United States as a superpower.  The same can be said of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Asia or UNASUR in Latin America, formed in 2008.  None of these entities would have formed quiescently, as a collective of political equals, in the absence of the US as a superpower.

The dimension of military force is key, and in a way we rarely think about except in the breach.  Under liberal Western leadership, expeditionary force has been the prerogative of national governments, and is to be used sparingly and deliberately, for explicit, auditable purposes, after consultation with other stakeholders and a relatively transparent decision process.  This principle is premised above all on the recognition that expeditionary force is disruptive, disjunctive, a breach of order.  It is not a form of police work; it is destabilizing, and while it may sometimes be necessary, is not to be undertaken lightly.

There is much more and it is well worth your time. We have some serious choices to make about how the US will act on the world stage. Obama would have us sing fifth tenor, or better yet serve as stage hands. Seems kind of a waste, eh?

Atheist “chaplains” in the military?

So atheism is now a religion?  What am I missing here?

Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military.

Ok, then don’t believe – but why in the world does a group of nonbelievers need a “chaplain” to represent them in the military?  Well according to them it would make things more convenient, I guess:

Joining the chaplain corps is part of a broader campaign by atheists to win official acceptance in the military. Such recognition would make it easier for them to raise money and meet on military bases. It would help ensure that chaplains, religious or atheist, would distribute their literature, advertise their events and advocate for them with commanders.

“Official acceptance”?  You’re a nonbeliever.  Who has to “accept” that?  Be what you are.  You need others to help spread your literature and advertise your events?  Why?  It’s about not doing something isn’t it?

The whole point is lost on me – except the fact that these are militant atheists who have made their nonbelief into a sort of pseudo-religion, and, as Saul Alinsky taught, want to use their opponents rules against them.

As for the military chaplain ploy, here’s their problem:

But winning the appointment of an atheist chaplain will require support from senior chaplains, a tall order. Many chaplains are skeptical: Do atheists belong to a “faith group,” a requirement for a chaplain candidate? Can they provide support to religious troops of all faiths, a fundamental responsibility for chaplains?

The answer to question one is “no” if you ask most real atheists.  The answer to question two is also “no”.  So they are 0-2 on the requirements necessary to be a chaplain.  As  a kid I grew up in non-denominational army chapels that conducted faith based services.  How does a atheist do that?  They don’t.  In fact, atheists don’t hold services at all, faith based or otherwise.  That’s kind of the point, isn’t it?


Military atheist leaders say that although proselytizing by chaplains is forbidden, Christian beliefs pervade military culture, creating subtle pressures on non-Christians to convert.

Which is interesting since what the atheists are trying to do is set up a mechanism where they can proselytize their nonbelief – something they claim to hate about religions.  What, not enough atheists to suit them?

Seriously – this is an absurdity that true atheists all over should denounce. 




Adam vs. The Man

Which in this case is me, the man I mean. Adam is Kokesh of whom Jonn Lilyea has a long and fruitful acquaintance. He has a new show on RT and it was time for me to infil and check it out.

The topic was whistleblowers and I couldn't understand why they kept bringing up Bradley Manning. The other dude was the same Voters for Peace & Propaganda guy from Monday although he was in studio this time. I did actually shush him at one point and would have wiped the spittle away if I had a tissue. We start at the 7:40 mark. My favorite comment from the YouTube page.

"Wow! Knocking it out of the park! Great show! I even enjoyed the token warmonger.

Cowboys and Soldiers...

MattAndMark001 B5 and TSO.  Photo courtesy of Jeff Bader

So Mark Seavey, TSO from This Ain't Hell and Mothax at the Burn Pit (pictured above with me), and I traveled to Montana to take part in the Montana Horses Annual Round Up and Horse Drive. We were honored by being given two spots on the trip as most people have to apply (and get turned down).  It's not an adventure for amateurs, and yet that's exactly what Mark and I were.  Total greenhorns.

Jeff Bader co-founder of Soldiers' Angels and Kyle Hausman-Stokes of Blue Three Productions (and an OIF vet) traveled to Montana to help cover the event for SA's Heroes & Horses.  We were joined by Jeff Pappas who is one of the principals of Heroes & Horses and a very experienced horseman and his son, OIF vet, Mike Pappas.

Our hosts were ranchers Kail Mantle and Renee Daniels-Mantle, owners of Montana Horses and the Mantle Ranch.  Also, were Mark and Jean White who own the neighboring ranch to the Mantles and were sort of Mark Seavey's and my adoptive parents on this trip.  The Mantles and the Whites are also principals of the Heroes & Horses program.

While we were there to participate in what would become one of the most fun and exciting (ie crazy) things I've ever gotten to do, we really wanted to document and validate the experience for the Heroes & Horses program.

Mattandmark002The weather was perfect!

It started out cold and wet (33 degrees and raining). Seavey got the most tame and gentle animal named "Meg".  I got a mustang with 'tude named "Goblin".  We got along well enough at first, but "Gobbers" always wanted to run, full out, and never stop.  He also tried to get rid of me more than a few times.   

MattandGoblin Me and Goblin. Photo by Jeff Bader

However, as with most problems with riding, it's not the horse but the rider's fault.  Soon enough, I was able to put Goblin's speed to good use.  Both Seavey and I learned how to ride fairly well, not really because we wanted to, but because we HAD to. 

MattRidgelinePatrol copyFrom my iPhone on our ridgeline patrol.

The first few days was spent chasing 350-400 horses around 8000 acres of some of the most beautiful land I had ever seen.  Two water crossings, ridgeline patrols, full speed loping across the Montana open country.

Horsedrive010Jeff Photo by Jeff Bader

We were told we probably did about 9 miles that first raining and miserable day.  No roads.  All country.  Cold, wet, tired and hungry, we pulled back into our camp in a canyon and gathered around the fire for dinner.  I brought a bottle of Lagavulin 16 Double Matured and it was appreciated by our group.

Kail brought out a guitar and began singing non-PC cowboys songs that soon had everyone singing the refrains and laughing.  One of his songs was about the disappearance of the Old West.  Since we were there to experience exactly that, we all paid rapt attention to it.  It was called, "You can't see it from the road".  The meaning is you have to leave the road behind to find that freedom that you can only find in America - the life of the cowboy.

Saturday, we got out of our cots gently...frozen and sore all over, we were getting ready for the 15 mile drive all the way through downtown Three Forks.  We were fed really well, but I have to say that the coffee was some of the best I've ever had.

MattandMarkColdBreakfast Cold but delicious breakfast.  Photo courtesy of Jeff Bader.

Unfortunately, not more than a mile or two into the drive, I lost my left spur, not once but twice.  And as soon as I did, Goblin knew he had me and tried for the 100th time to get me off of his back.  Without a spare saddle, I watched from the truck with Goblin in the trailer as the others drove the horses through Three Forks.

That night, at the Sacajawea Hotel ("the Sac"), we had a fantastic dinner and a few cocktails.  Some of the cowboys danced, but Seavey and I nursed our drinks and went to bed.  If you're ever near Three Forks or Bozeman, the Sacajawea is a FANTASTIC hotel.  The very friendly staff rivaled any of the best hotels I've stayed in around the world.

Finally, Sunday was the last day of the drive.  We had about 12 miles to go from the Sacajawea pasture to the horses' home in the summer pastures of the White and Mantle Ranches.  The weather was beautiful and we were ready to go.

  MattAndRoger001 Photo courtesy of Jeff Bader

The wrangler assigned to us was Roger Young who kept us from falling getting stomped being thrown dying a few times.  He's pictured above with me.  On Sunday, Roger knew I wanted to make up for lost time from the day before.  I had a new saddle and Roger didn't waste anytime.  "Up front, now, Matt!"

My job on the last day was to ride ahead of the herd and close any holes in the fence line (or where there were no fences, to actually be the fence).  We never really slowed down slower than a trot and the 12 miles or so went by quickly.

MattonGoblin001 Trying to race ahead of the herd.  Photo courtesy of Jeff Bader.

With the head waters of the Missouri river on one side and a gorgeous high cliff on the other, we made the final mile or two at a full on lope down railroad tracks.  When we arrived at a break in the cliff where the summer pasture was located, I wasn't ready for the view.  It was probably the most beautiful piece of our country that I had ever seen.  You'll have to wait for those photos from Kyle as he was in an airplane filming us and I couldn't take the time or the risk so high up (altitude) and moving to get a photo. 

And of course, we all shared a celebratory flask.

There were a few wrecks and some injuries, but all in all it was an extremely successful horse drive despite the handicap of two amateur horsemen joining the team.

So what did we discover, aside from becoming decent horsemen in a few days of riding across southwest Montana?

Cowboys are a lot like Soldiers.

I'm not talking about the propensity to create new swear words on the fly or the ability to deal with being miserable or having a good laugh at your own expense.  Those are definitely similarities we share but not the ones we thought we might find.

You guys know that thing that you miss that you can't put you're finger on.  You try to tell people about it but they don't ever get it so you stop even trying.  The guys from Ranger Up posted this clip from Blackhawk Down and while it may be really Hollywood, it gets the point across:


That's what it's all about and the cowboys get it. It's why Mark and I, and Jeff and Mike and Kyle are working to bring vets out to Montana. 

I believe that we have succeeded in bringing that adrenaline rush, coupled with the dependence on your team mates, about as close to that bonding experience (as we can without getting shot at) that we all miss as vets.  This summer, Heroes & Horses will bring combat vets out to the Mantle Ranch to work on horsemanship and packing for a trip up into the mountains.  There will be intense hands-on training, some danger, a lot of hard work, and some team work involved.  And the veterans' reward will be a great trip with one of the best outfitters in the world, Mark White, and a view that only a very few people ever get to see. 

Mattandmark003 Photo courtesy of Jeff Bader.

For more on this horse drive and our experiences, check the Legion's Burn Pit and Jim Urquhart's blog at Reuters.

To support Heroes & Horses, go here.

Last, the American Legion put together this video of Kail's song and Jeff Bader's photos...it's completely appropriate: