Archive for the Opinion (Political) Category

The weakened warrior

Posted in Opinion (Political) on November 10, 2010 by AN Security

A post by Facebook group ROE (Rules of Engagement) on contractor fraud waste and abuse as told by former Halliburton employees living and playing in luxury while soldiers in the field lived in tents and waited long hours for meals or drank and bathed in contaminated water (that’s actually a well-documented truth). There are two sides to every coin and like all dilemmas what the eye sees up front appears to be one thing turns out to be another. Reality is perception. I’m not saying that complaints addressed here were not legitimate in the beginning but my question is why is this an issue again many years later? For every former employee who speaks out 7 years after the fact I’d like to ask: “What did you do to stop it?” Everyone is a volunteer in this war.  Think about civilians augmenting what military people do

That goes way back to the beginning of the war. There are still some problems but overall there is more oversight now. One sad perspective here is that military higher-ups are just as involved in frad as anyone else. Power and resources gone unchecked will tempt many into misconduct. Soldiers, with the exception of some bases, have their own rooms with showers, internet, phones, and other amenities I find far too comfy for a war zone; but here it is. We’ve become so soft that we expect to get a meal served in ten minutes not thinking of how that food got there. They’ve been desensitized to reality. PXs, MWRs, you name it. When I deployed for the gulf war and before that, most of us expected to live in GP tents which we did. It was a blessing to have the Seabees hook up power so that we could have electricity and running water for showers. There were no parents demanding that tents have ACs because it’s hot in the desert. No shit, you think? No one who served in the field or deployed anywhere expected these comforts; that’s because there was a standard of living and we all expected it without further inquiry. Not today.

This is a symptom of a bigger problem and it is within us; comfort comes before duty. I’ve known of the process that keeps the war machine going with few glitches, trash pick-up, laundry, meals, fixing that doorkbob that keeps breaking. You name it, it’s done by some civilian. Sometimes they become part of the background in such a way they become invisible. When civilians or even soldiers complain about not getting enough apples they clearly dismiss the concept that the food isn’t bought or grown locally; it has to be transported. This isn’t you and mom driving to Safeway to get groceries.

Bad guys love to hit convoys, which means that someone’s going to die just so we can get food and other needed supplies. That’s the nature of warfare; destroy the enemy’s lifeline (fuel also, look at those NATO fuel attacks in Afghanistan) and paralize them before they get you. Few people view this issue of fraud waste and abuse any deeper than contractors (well, actually the executives) and without direct accountability yeah, we’re going to have fraud. Here’s another side of the coin no one sees; your kid writes home complaining it’s hot or cold or favorite snacks not available at the PX or the food service is slow. There should be no cafeterias, no Greenbeans or Cinnabon, or Taco Bell or salsa night (no, I don’t make this up) which is actually stuff the military demands AFEES or contractors to provide!

Stop your complaining. How about we look at other chronic fraud waste and abuse within the Pentagon or how the current administration has helped Iraqi politicians perpetuate a culture of cronyism? You all know our taxes paid for these people to run a dishonest government of spending out of control. Sounds familiar? I don’t hear much outrage. The president heads to India to experience the Festival of Lights while many in America wonder how they’ll feed themselves, soldiers wage fierce battle in Afghanistan and face unknown peril while downsizing in Iraq. Our enemies are watching and studying our mistakes and waiting for that opening. Hell, the hole is getting larger by the minute. We’re broke. We’re headed for a state of weakness to permeate our culture, national pride and honor and our future.

You know what? When someone tells you ‘do it and look the other way’ you’re one of the bad guys. These are people who are disgruntled and want to exact some revenge for their own reasons. Those who stepped up to the plate and at least screamed bloody hell and pointed at the injustice get my sincere respect. Those who have known nothing but comfort in your lives only to sign up for a career in the military you should know or try to know this isn’t a resort. Why have we become so dependent on perks? Every clogged toilet, broken door handle, road we drive on, clothes washed and dried; there are civilians making that happen. It is the great machine keeping the war going. Hardly anyone pays attention to that except those in the top leadership.

Never mind. You’d have to experience life in a war zone to understand it before making general statements about what goes on.

Contractors are not military. They are not trained to function in the same way as soldiers do. Wake up. We’ve become dependant on perks and creature comforts and totally disregarded the loss of our courage and resolve.

A wartime Carol (Guest post by Amelia Hamilton)

Posted in Opinion (Political), Political fiction on November 3, 2010 by AN Security

This is election day eve 2010. I hope you enjoy this short story.

A WARTIME CAROL

 

President Obama settled into his couch in the Oval Office, watching for the third time a speech he had made earlier in the day. On the screen, he walked onto a stage erected at an army base. He wondered why the audience was so… less than enthusiastic. “Must be a military thing,” he mused “they are always such a stoic audience.”

As the speech drew to a close, Obama mouthed along to the words that he spoke on the television “As Abraham Lincoln said ‘In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed. There is more involved in this contest than is realized by every one.’ And that is why we must pull our troops out of the Middle East. Their government is at risk and we have no business endangering American lives trying to impose our will on their people. We may not agree with their style of governing, but we must accept it. If we had done so from the beginning, they would never have attacked us on September 11th. Let me be clear, I am not blaming America for that tragedy, I am simply saying that we could have avoided such an unprecedented attack.” Satisfied that he had gotten his message across, the President switched to MSNBC to see what the American people thought of his speech. While listening to the dulcet tones of Keith Olbermann, Obama drifted off to sleep on the sofa.

He awoke with a start, glancing around the room, and saw Abraham Lincoln standing near him. Obama sat up, smiling, and Lincoln said to him “Hello, Mr. President.”

“Abraham,” sighed the president “I can’t believe you are here. You’re my hero, I talk about you all the time.”

“Yes,” said Lincoln “I have heard that you often speak of me. Unfortunately, you misconstrue the meaning of everything I say. Although, like you, I never wanted a war, I did understand that it is sometimes necessary in order to create a stable and lasting peace. Wars can free people, make them safer. When you undermine the mission, you undermine the troops. These are the very men and women who are fighting to protect freedom, and that is unacceptable.” Obama looked at him, bewildered. He blinked.

“What are you saying? That I should abort the mission and bring the troops home?” Obama asked. Lincoln shook his head with a sigh.

“No, Mr. President. You need to do that which needs to be done. You need to make an unpopular decision because it is the right thing to do, and trust history to prove you right. You need to look after those who look after our country.” At Obama’s bewildered stare, he continued “In three days, you are scheduled to give a speech on the wars in the Middle East. Before that time, you will be visited by three veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect America. Hopefully they will be able to get through to you better than I could. God bless you, and God Bless America.” With that, President Lincoln vanished. Obama looked around the room, telling himself it must have been a dream. With a shrug, he headed off to give his next speech.

Later that night, President Obama lay in bed, dozing as he read The Audacity of Hope. Feeling cold, he reached for a blanket only to realize that the window was open. He crossed the room to close it, but a hand reached out to him and suddenly Obama was flying through the night. Landing gently, he looked around trying to get his bearings.

He found himself in a snow-covered valley dotted with hastily built wooden structures. As he watched, men dressed in strange uniforms seemed to be going through military drills. Was this one of those reenactment groups? He looked to his escort, who was also dressed as a soldier. “What is this place? Who are you?” He asked, his breath creating an icy cloud in the air.

“Private Daniel Lyon, Continental Army. The year is 1778, and we’re at Valley Forge.”

Obama shivered “It’s freezing out here.”

“Indeed it is, Mr. President. I brought you here to show you what we revolutionary war soldiers were willing to endure for the sake of freedom. The freedom that seems to mean nothing to you. You’re complaining about the cold, but you’re bundled up in your cashmere robe and your fleece-lined slippers. Look at the soldiers, see what they have.”

Obama looked around at the ragtag group. These men were wearing worn uniforms, and many had only cloth wrapping their bleeding feet. They were gaunt, as though they hadn’t had a decent meal in weeks.

“What are they doing?”

“Training. In a few months’ time, we will move on from here and continue the fight for freedom. We must ensure we are a better army when we leave Valley Forge than we were upon arrival.”

Obama watched the men as they stoically went through their paces, training in the snow. He imagined that these men had homes, families, things to get back to. Why wouldn’t they just leave? How could morale be this high?

As though reading Obama’s thoughts, Lyon continued “When we arrived, we were a weary bunch of men. We had been fighting against men who were better trained and better equipped than we were. There were those who would have given up. We all probably thought of it at one time or another, but we knew that that for which we fought was bigger than any one of us. We couldn’t subject future Americans to a tyrannical government. They would not be taxed beyond reason and taken for granted as we had been. It is beyond what a reasonable man can endure. So here we wait, cold and hungry, and here we train to give us a better chance at victory. We would not sacrifice freedom for our lives, let alone our comfort. This army is made up of volunteer militias, Mr. President. We are here because we choose to be here.”

Obama considered what he had just heard, and felt sadness well up inside of him. If only they had considered a more diplomatic resolution, they surely could have worked out their differences.

“Why didn’t you take your grievances to King George?” he asked “Explained the situation, negotiated for freedom?”

Private Lyon looked heavenward, as though seeking patience. “We did, Sir. Unfortunately, war was the only way to secure our freedom. To protect our God-given rights, we had to take up arms against the British. We fight this battle so that future generations will not have to do so.”

Obama nodded, grateful that diplomacy had changed so much in the more than 225 years between then and now. Surely Americans today would never think of taking up arms against their government. They would never have reason to go to such extremes. These days, we have the constitution to provide general guidelines and, when it didn’t seem to make sense to him, he’d just work around it. America sure was lucky to have Barack Obama looking out for her.

Private Lyon shuffled his feet awkwardly for a moment before speaking “Excuse me, Mr. President, but might I ask you a question?” At the president’s nod, he continued. “Will you remember what you’ve seen here today? This is what America is all about. These are regular men willing to sacrifice everything to give their children a better future. A future of freedom. Please don’t forget, and don’t let America forget that this is something for which real patriots fought. Never let them take their liberty for granted. We must remain ever vigilant, or the flame of freedom will slowly dwindle. Please don’t let that happen. Will you remember?”

The president looked at him with condescension. The poor fella didn’t realize that, in the twenty-first century, that was a pretty old-fashioned way of thinking. Freedom was all well and good, but it wasn’t the only concern.

Reading Obama’s expression, Private Lyon was disappointed, knowing that the President had not taken his words to heart. With a shake of the head, Lyon reached out to hold the President by the sleeve and they were once again flying through the night.

Obama was set down on his bedroom floor with a thunk. His feet sank into the deep carpeting and he looked around. The window was closed and there was no sign of Private Lyon. There wasn’t even mud on his slippers to suggest that any of it had really happened, but Obama couldn’t shake the thought that it had. He told himself he must have just somehow fallen asleep where he stood. Of course, Lincoln had told him that three veterans would come visit…but Obama had assumed that they were coming to thank him. No, this must have just been a bad dream. He climbed back into bed and wondered if the ghosts would appear.

He was relieved when he awoke in the morning to discover that it was full daylight and, as far as he was concerned, he had been not visited by one single ghost. Maybe the visits by Lincoln and Lyon had just been dreams after all. At least, that’s what he told himself.

Obama’s day was business as usual. The regular schedule of press conferences, interviews and magazine shoots seemed to fly by, yet Obama was distracted. He had lost his place on the TelePrompTer a few times, and he just couldn’t find his rhythm wondering when and where his first ghost would appear. Even if they would appear.  

In the afternoon, Obama wrapped up a meeting with Reid and Pelosi. They agreed with him on all kinds of ideas he didn’t realize he’d had, and promised to move forward with his agenda. He took Bo outside to toss the Frisbee around and get some fresh air. The Frisbee flew into the air and Bo ran after it, speeding towards the Rose Garden. Obama jogged behind but found himself in a desert rather than in the Rose Garden. After a moment, he realized that he was in Iraq. He recognized it from pictures he had seen in the New York Times and the few days he had spent there in person to rally the troops.

A soldier was walking towards him, and Obama squinted to make her out in the harsh glare of the sun. He could see the heat shimmering above the sand and already felt himself sweating. Obama tugged at his collar and rolled up his sleeves as the woman approached. “Welcome, Mr. President. I heard you would be arriving today, I’ve been expecting you. I’m Lieutenant Jessica MacKenzie. President Lincoln asked me to show you around, answer any questions you may have. I understand that you visited the Revolutionary War last night, and now I’d like to give you a glimpse of what is going on in Iraq.” Obama was beginning to accept that Private Lyon’s visit was real. Why would he be in Iraq, though? Understanding dawned.

“Listen, Jessica, I need to get something off of my chest. This war…well, I know we shouldn’t be here, and I’m working to bring you home as soon as possible. President Bush was completely out of line. I’m sorry you’re here, Saddam Hussein wasn’t the one who attacked us.” He stopped, satisfied that this was the message Lincoln had wanted him to send.

“With respect, Mr. President, neither did Hitler, but it didn’t stop America from fighting in Europe. The thing is, sometimes you need to take on the entire problem to prevent it from spreading. Not only was Saddam’s regime spreading hatred of the west, of everything we stand for, they were even killing their own people. Genocide is genocide and we must stop it from spreading to protect ourselves as well as to help others. We don’t mind being here, Mr. President, but we will mind if you don’t let us finish the job. We don’t want our children to have to come back here and fight again.”

The President looked at her, considering all that she had said. “But what about diplomatic measures?” he asked in a weak voice.

“We tried them. They didn’t work! Sometimes, when you’re dealing with evil, diplomacy just won’t work. Saddam had been uncooperative with the UN for so long, it was obvious that he was abusing diplomatic means as a stall tactic. Meanwhile, he was ruling as a tyrant and murdering innocent people. We need to help free these people, help them to have the opportunities like you and I did growing up. We have something in common, Mr. President. We came from humble beginnings and made something of ourselves. Do you think there are those kinds of opportunities here in Iraq? Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to get home but, until the job is done, I am staying right where I am.”

“We can’t just fight everyone that we disagree with, Jessica.”

“No, but if we show our strength, our willingness to defend freedom, maybe we won’t have to. We are sending a very clear message to the world that we will not be threatened, and that we will respond to aggression with strength. That is important far beyond Iraq. It is so important that I am willing to stay here until we succeed in freeing these people.”

Obama tried another tack.  “That’s very admirable, Jessica. I’m sure most service members can’t wait to get home, though.”

“Well, every branch of the service has been consistently meeting their reenlistment goals the past few years. We really do believe in this mission, Sir.”

Obama took a moment to soak that in. He thought about the speech he was giving in a matter of days, a speech in which he would lay out a plan for bringing the troops home. Surely MacKenzie couldn’t be right. It was time to hand over control to the Iraqi people and get out of there. He could admit to himself, in the privacy of his own thoughts, that it was hard to tell what would happen to those people. It was likely that their future held punishment for helping the Americans and a new dictator to rule them with fear. This new leader would probably even tell them that the west didn’t care about them, had left them to fend for themselves and foster more hatred of our way of life. Well, he figured, the Iraqi people couldn’t count on America to solve everything, they would just have to figure this one out for themselves. Obama knew that he was universally loved, so he wasn’t afraid of possible propaganda against him. The sound of a Humvee approaching shook the President out of his reverie. He turned towards the sound, only to find himself looking at Bo, proudly carrying his frisbee through the rose garden. Warily, Obama checked his surroundings, but everything seemed to be completely normal. Even the secret service detail wasn’t alarmed, which seemed to be their natural state. Shaking his head, as though to clear what he had seen, Obama headed back to the Oval Office to meet with his writers regarding the big war speech coming up.

The following day, President Obama boarded Air Force one to have a quick lunch with UN leaders on the state of the Middle East. He’d fly back to New York in a few days to meet with Al Gore on global warming, (sorry climate change, he corrected himself) but each meeting deserved its own trip. He sat back in his seat, and propped his feet on the seat facing him. He pulled out his BlackBerry and prepared to answer some e-mails, but soon found his thoughts drifting to his visits from Lyon and MacKenzie. Could Lincoln have been right, could these have been visits from ghosts? Was it possible that these ghosts might be right, that war was sometimes the only way? It didn’t seem possible, but maybe there was something to it. He’d have to discuss that with his cabinet when he returned home. Text needed to be uploaded to his TelePromTer ahead of speech time, so he’d have to meet with his speechwriter soon if he wanted to tone down his anti-war, apologetic rhetoric. Nervously, Obama twisted the top on and off of a bottle of Pellegrino, completely forgetting to take a sip. With a deep breath, he pushed these thoughts from his mind, took a gulp of water, and focused his attention back to the BlackBerry.

Obama couldn’t make sense anything he was seeing on the screen. It looked more like a radar screen than an inbox. Confused, he looked up. Not Again, he thought to himself, realizing that he was in the cockpit of a fighter jet. It looked space-aged and innovative, with 3-dimensional holographic gauges and dials. Some of them measured things he had never even heard of. However, they blinked on and off and there was too much static to read anything with any degree of certainty.

He turned to the pilot, ready to get this next ghostly visitation over with. At least, this time, he had the comfort of knowing that this would be the last he would have to endure. The pilot said to the President “Just one moment, Sir, we’re nearly ready to land.” Obama saw the aircraft carrier approaching.

They came screeching to a stop, and the pilot turned to introduce himself.  “Captain Daniel Lyon, Sir, of the American Air Force.”

“You mean the United States Air Force?”

“No, Sir. The year is 2176, and states were eliminated more than a century ago in favor of a strong central government.”

“Maybe you’d better fill me in on what I’ve missed.”

“In the twenty-first century, we sank deeper and deeper into debt to China. Around the turn of the twenty-second century, they called in our debts and we simply couldn’t pay them. Our economy grew weaker and weaker as we tried to keep up with the payments, and now China is seeking to exert control over our country. Nearly all available resources go to them, which doesn’t leave much for us. The American people rose up and decided to take our country back for ourselves. Now we are a country at war, once again fighting for freedom.

 “Mr. President, we are in the middle of the Second American Revolution. 400 years ago, my ancestor fought against Britain, and now I’m fighting against China. A different enemy, but the fight is very similar. We want freedom. We simply want the government to leave us alone, let us live our lives.”

Lyon and Obama climbed out of the cockpit and made their way to a ready room. Over the next couple of hours, he laid out the situation in pretty stark terms for the President.

 “Captain, as advanced as your equipment looks to me, it sounds like it is far inferior to what the Chinese have, and even I can tell that it is in disrepair. How did this happen? We were the most powerful country on Earth. The last remaining superpower.”
“Well, Mr. President, it started back in 2009. Defense budgets were cut, new technology was considered non-essential and we gradually fell behind. This gap grew wider and wider until we were no longer a superpower. Now we’re left with old weapons and old equipment while the Chinese have the best of everything. Since you pushed through the Climate Change Reforms in your third term, we haven’t been able to build any factories. Even those which already existed have been torn down by now. We don’t even have the infrastructure to build equipment for ourselves, we just have to rely on what we already had.”

“Well, I never thought I’d say this, but maybe it’s a good thing Americans have the right to bear arms.” Said the President.

“Well, Mr. President, you actually revoked that. The weapons we have are what we were able to sneak into this country, or what people buried and hid over a hundred years ago when you banned all privately owned firearms.”

“With lesser equipment and antique weaponry, why do you think you can win? Why fight?”
“We think we can win because we have the fire. We are fighting for something that we believe in, and it’s not just for us. We used to be that shining city on a hill, and the American armed forces want our country to return to that. We need to create a better country not only for us and our children, but so that the oppressed have a safe haven.” He glanced at the clock. “Mr. President, I wish I could stay and talk with you further, but I need to go back up now. Care to join me?” The President nodded silently.

As the plane rose into the sky, the president was lost in thought. Suddenly, the plane shuddered and began to fall back towards the ocean. Lyon looked panicked, sweat trickling down his brow. “We’ve been hit by the Chinese. We’ve been hit!”

“Where? I didn’t see another plane.”

“Advanced cloaking devices. The Chinese planes are virtually invisible.”

“Get a parachute!” The president screamed

“We ran out of those years ago.” Replied Lyon “Brace for impact.”

The President braced himself as the plane hit the water. Suddenly, a flight attendant was walking towards him, in his regular seat on Air Force One. “Sorry about that, Mr. President. We had a little unexpected turbulence, but we should be out of it now.”

The president took a shaky breath and waved her away. He was not entirely surprised to be back on Air Force One, but he was surprised at the thoughts racing through his head. It seemed as though he was having a complete change of heart, that maybe his opinion wasn’t necessarily the right one. Maybe war was sometimes the only way to achieve peace, and maybe freedom was the only way to ensure that it lasted.

When Obama returned to the White House, he immediately summoned his advisors and speechwriters. They were surprised that he wanted to meet so late at night, but he had said that it was essential to the next day’s speech. As they took their seats around the large conference room table, they could tell that something was up. Obama look excited and nervous. What could this meeting be about? The speech for tomorrow had been written for days, it was already uploaded to the TelePrompTer.

“Thank you all for coming on such short notice, but I’m afraid that this couldn’t wait. Tomorrow, as you are already aware, I am giving a speech regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Serious rewrites are needed and we need to get to work.” His staff shifted nervously in their chairs and shot each other covert glances. Nobody looked directly at Obama.

“Mr. President” one of his advisors started hesitantly “We’ve discussed this. It really would be political suicide for you to give the speech as you originally wrote it. If you say that President Bush should never have gotten involved in those wars and that you’re pulling all troops out immediately, your approval ratings might have a temporary bounce, but they are bound to decline as the situation in the Middle East deteriorates. Your numbers are already too low, Mr. President. More importantly, there’s no telling how many innocent people in those countries will die if we leave them in chaos. It is extremely likely that we would end up back there in a few years. Maybe we can come up with some kind of a compromise…?”

Obama cut him off. “That’s not at all what I had in mind. I have some new content to run by you.” With that, he laid out his new talking points.

The next morning, the world heard Obama’s speech. It was like nothing the public had heard from him before.

He began “Abraham Lincoln wrote in a letter to Henry Pierce ‘Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.’ If we were to leave the Middle East, we would be allowing freedom to be denied to others, and we would not deserve it ourselves. It is time to make some changes.” With that, he set out new plans for Iraq and Afghanistan, including more troops and increased funding.

Obama’s speech signaled the beginning of a new era for America, a move back to what the Founding Fathers intended. As Americans lived out their dream of freedom, government was simply there to ensure that things ran smoothly. It took time, but the system worked as it should. There were those who wished for the old ways, who wanted to pass the blame and rely on government. In time, however, it became clear that the American way was the best way to live. America had her freedom back thanks to the veterans who reminded the President what freedom really means.

Of puppy mills and terrorists

Posted in Fire Jim Moran, from guantanamo to alexandria jim moran, letter to jim moran, Opinion (Political), Virginia District 8 election, Virginia politics on November 1, 2010 by AN Security

Why Jim Moran thinks he’s doing you a favor by running again.

Yes, the venerable Moran made a formidable effort to sell a crowded auditorium at the Arlington Hospital believe why he’s the only man for the job. What job that is he thinks he’s doing involves his extensive history of grifting earmarks for those who want everything on a platter. That’s not his only sin of course. Election day is upon us and one can only wonder what goes on in a man’s head when he touts his talent for finding money. I’m still pissed about Moran wanting to please master Obama and soil our lovely city with the trial of a monster like the Bali Bomber. How about raising money to fund worthless and needlessly costly projects (BRAC, anyone?), is eager to raise money to help muslim extremist groups grow in numbers in NOVA – along with pundit Jerry Connolly (he needs to be a one-term type, best of luck to Keith Fimian) and fighting to the death to protect the rights of puppies being abused in mills.

Though I find myself to be a rather astute and informed expat overseas with access to media and news, I was not aware that Virginia, District 8 in particular, had a problem with puppy mills. All I know is that on this evening in Arlington as Moran struggled to sell his tired brand of politics to his audience we could all see the fear. It’s all in the eyes; or the lack of juice, either way he’s run out of his usual rhetoric.

By frequently saying ‘my opponent lacks credibility’ he means he’s the defending champion on his last fight; the younger fighter hungry for that title belt.   His senses are right on target, and Moran should have relinquished the belt long ago. Not that he’s a winner, far from it, but someone who has managed to maintain the liberal illusion of prosperity while setting up Virginians for financial demise. Tim Kaine is gone. Jim needs to go.  Patrick Murray is taking a huge risk and earns my respect for challenging the Democrat stronghold. Moran is like the hooker stating to the client what she/he can do. It’s pretty obvious that he’s into politics for his own gain.

This post isn’t meant to go beyond my personal disgust at Moran’s lengthy tenure. Naturally, someone who thinks that military service isn’t public service never lived life – at least not in our reality. I had the opportunity to meet Murray while at home and he seemed sincerely ready to tackle our troubles. It’s going to take a lot of work. If tomorrow yields just enough votes to give Moran a good scare we will have to continue working on getting him out of office. Voters still select him each time because of name recognition, usual liberal stupidity and liberal give-me-what-I-want attitudes. The vicious cycle will have to be broken. How we’ll do that will manifest on November 3rd after the dust settles.

Whatever you do, please don’t vote for Moran because he loves puppies.  Have some damn decency and courage and vote with your head; even if you have to bash it on that voting screen to make real change happen.

Welcome to Oharmony

Posted in Opinion (Political) on September 23, 2010 by AN Security

There is one thing I can say about dating sites; I hate them. It appears that other people feel just the same but for other reasons so don’t feel so isolated anymore. An online friend has an interesting approach to the dating thing and I wanted to present her point of view. This is Amelia Hamilton’s view of dating in Obama’s time. She hangs out on Twitter. Check out her witty humor sometime.

A friend of mine recently met a guy through an online dating service, and it got me thinking. Why should she have to pay for something that others are able to get for free? It seems completely unfair. To remedy this terrible injustice, I propose that the government go into the matchmaking business. That’s right; I think it’s time for Oharmony.

Of course, there will be significant departures from the way online dating works now, all in the name of equality. There will be no photographs, for one can’t allow special treatment due to an accident of genetics.  Nor will there be written communications, lest you judge someone on their spelling. It’s not their fault they didn’t have the advantage of an ivy-league education, but they still need love, you know. No, you will tell the great and powerful Love Czar what you’re looking for, and he’ll see what he can do.

And then brace for the waiting list. It’s likely that your hamlet isn’t overflowing with eligible members of the opposite sex, or you would have found one already (of course, Oharmony 2.0 will make such free-market matrimony illegal, but that is a story for another day). Be prepared to wait a good deal of time for one of these eligible specimens to become available in your area. If you have, by that time, settled into spinsterhood, that is simply too bad. You’ve missed out on your chance, and will just have to deal with that.

Worry not, my single friends, Obama has thought of everything! Oharmony is hard at work on their patented exchange program. In this program, towns with too many men may trade their surplus to towns with too few and vice-versa. Easy peasy! You will have no say in being sent to a delightful village wherein everyone is related or a town of thugs, but you will be matched up with a government-sanctioned partner. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, you chose to look for love, and the government will provide!

If you find yourself wondering, during this process, how Obama found the gumption to interfere with such personal matters? Where were you when congress voted on health care? Is who you date really more personal than your medical care or more important than life or death decisions? Naturally these hard questions are best left to government employees, who are more qualified to decide who we spent the rest of our lives?

Oh and, in case you were wondering about that guy my friend met, he turned out to be a dud. But, hey, that’s the luck of the draw. Had she sought help from a state-operated dating agency she probably would have found a better match. What are you, some kind of dudist dud-o-phobe?

Summer of lies and truth

Posted in Opinion (Political) on September 13, 2010 by AN Security

The journey was long as usual but more importantly the event beckoned me to return home and like any other calling I did what was expected. Metro was an odyssey but crowds were patient and helped each other out. Amazingly so Metro didn’t add more trains nor their station personnel showed up to help out of town folks purchase their tickets. That was okay; the rest of us pitched in, thanks Metro. It was a full house at Pentagon City station around 9 AM but again, crowds were polite and somehow we all managed to make the short ride to L’Enfant Plaza then off to the Smithsonian.

In spite of all the controversy and the fears of violence the August 28th rally at the Lincoln Memorial was wonderfully boring. The National Mall, the World War II memorial and every shady spot under or top of a tree; masses joined by hundreds more as they walked from the Metro or other monuments forming the sea of humans we saw that day. I don’t like large crowds but this place helped people in the hundreds of thousands to converge calmly and politely over the course of the day. Many of us were happy to have a comfy spot at the bottom of the hill by the Washington memorial but after walking a good portion of the mall; carefully weaving in and out of tight crowds to hear   part of the speeches.

I hate speeches. Most of the event is a blur to me and  know I can view the whole thing online. The real experience was to observe so many people come out on that sunny day, many who brought their families and incurred great expenses for travel just to be there, would behave. I am a keen observer of humans. I also wanted to study my own reaction. This rally was more like church to me which is fine; that is one thing this country could use, not religion but closeness to God. Coming out to celebrate honor and service of those who are fallen in the name of those very qualities was the purpose. The crowds were diverse; and no I was not going to document their presence by taking pictures. Being there was their choice. Those who were paid to hold up Obama/Biden signs and staged lame anti-anyone but themselves displays and played recorded speeches by Al Sharpton you looked hungry, scared and way out of your league. You were schooled in the art of civility by so-called right-wing nuts who are said to be violent only in your tiny minds.

For those who know me who dared ask if there were people of other colors at the rally gave me pause; this is precisely the kind of question we should not be asking. In a way that would be bad pride in that we’re focused on making some quota that the presence of such people of their own volition to me, has become shallow. The pictures I took are all the same so I took only a few. Everywhere we looked there would be more and more people. This is Washington DC; it’s like a huge museum filled with history and so many things to do and the occasion was proper for all that to happen. Many of us were just amazed at how many people showed up. It was overwhelming to me I know that much.

Now we have some idiot enjoying his freedom of speech by riling up people everywhere; a nobody in this country can get that much publicity for himself. Imagine trying to do that in other countries. Perhaps a gulag would fix that right up. The thought of a holy book which represents the torturous spectacle of murder and terror taking place at the twin towers that fateful morning pales in comparison to the 9/11 attacks. It was one of those turning points in life when one sees that there’s more than our pathetic little lives; that there is more out there that can harm us. That was the death of innocence. So for this idiot to play games with his koran burning threat only shows how great we area; he’s still entitled to his stupidty. I had waited 2 years to get cleared to attend the NCIS class at the Dept of Justice downtown and I was excited to be in class. Around 9:15 one of our officers walked into the classroom and whispered to another in class. They walked out into the hallway. They came back. He took his seat. The officer came back in a few minutes later and asked him back out. I wasn’t paying attention to class anymore. Next the class was stopped and we were all ordered back to headquarters on 9th street.

Driving in the cage car was hell as all streets downtown were clogged with traffic. I mean, the attacks had just occured and panic had quickly set in as news blasted on radios across the city. I noticed there was a short cut on 7th street and told the officer driving to punch it and cut across traffic. That was a lucky shot. Secret Service had been rumored to have moved Cheney near by and most of us watched the sky like idiots waiting for something to come from the sky. There were power struggles. I yelled at drivers trying to make third lanes where there were only two. There are only 3 ways out of downtown and they’re all clogged. Then later on in the HQ lounge everyone huddled in the big room and watched people leaping to their deaths from the twin towers. I stood in the doorway. I had just argued with one of the sergeants that me and the other guys had been on duty since 0600 for class and had gone over our hours. He wanted us to go back to nights. I was pissed. Then the people were leaping, the man and woman seemed to be holding hands on their way down to their deaths.

They made the choice; the last choice they had as Americans.

Eventually driving home I had to take some different routes through Arlington which was teeming with check points. I flashed my badge. The guys waved me through. I wanted to go see some of my former colleagues at the Pentagon. It was dark, the air smelled of death and smoke and the big building I once knew so well had a gaping hole in it. A good section of it used to be Navy I thought. The helo pad. Everyone I knew was okay some hurt during the rescue.  It was tense. Going on patrol was no fun. Daily people would slow so much on the road they were like zombies. It was as though the world had been shut down; souls had vanished. People working the Red Cross at the Pentagon when I visited less than two weeks later were talking of reliquishing everything just to make it all go away. Well guess what Virginia; justice is gone I said. Careful what you wish for. Here we are. Nine years? This is my first 9/11 anniversary, if that’s even a proper term for this day, since I left home.

I went to the 9/12 rally this weekend. There was the 8/28 rally weekend before last. We’re a good people and principled people but anger is easy and feels good when remembering the lies of summers past. The big lie here is represented by the opposition’s zeal in painting true patriotism into something is not and that those of us who take to the streets to show our collective displeasure with mounting tyrannical rule are painted as violent savages by leftist violent savages. We couldn’t be more civilized if we tried but there’s a limit to everything. There will be divisions even amongst the good people. There will be pecking orders being exercised in the name of patriotism; and at some point we’ll have to plug our noses look over shoulders one more time and take the plunge. The truth eludes me still but after seeing the acts of civility on our side of the great argument – whether government has become too large and too insatiable to be trusted even on small things – Americans will continue to show their character. That is the truth.

Naturally the media will give soft coverage of this non-event and pass it up as it does each time but no matter. There was a good feeling about today that I was not expecting; the November election will be crucial but not final in dealing with our troubles. I’ve said this many times, liberty is a full-time job and soon after we get our people elected we click our heels and go back to doing what we do. You know better than this America. You can’t let the hired help make its home in your place and tell you how to run it. Just don’t drive to the store for milk when strangers are in your house. Don’t be angry your stuff is gone. That’s my take on this weekend but the past nine years, given where I’ve been and what I’ve done and witnessed I have to say big shocking things will happen. That mid-term election is a start and not what worries me but continuity of governance and greater accountability. That does not happen alone. We’d better get past the feel-good stage and start cranking up the heat as our current monarchy grows fat, scared, and utterly addicted to our livelihoods. God bless America; she needs it.

West Point, leadership and chorus lines

Posted in Opinion (Political) on September 5, 2010 by AN Security

I was a Girl Scout once, for about 6 hours before I walked out on my first pre-mission arts and crafts class on that fateful Saturday morning. That outfit was way too rough for my taste. To this date I could not figure out where the martial arts and weapons training had gone and so I parted with that sweet dream. Clearly my perception of the Girl Scouts was not in concert with reality.

And so I joined the military. I was certain to find true leadership. So let us examine another issue with our military to follow-up on my previous piece. What exactly can new recruits and new officer cadets expect when entering service? Are they receiving the same education as their fathers or are we dealing with a new set of rules? Ask the folks at West Point.

There is no leadership program at West Point. At least that is what the head of its Behavioral Science Department, Colonel Tom Kolditz – author of In Extremis Leadership: Leading as if Your Life Depended on It  – said in a blog commentary on the Washington Post column ‘On Leadership.’ Even though every time I read the Post I have to don full HAZMAT gear and reach for the atropine; something in this blog got my attention. Colonel Kolditz’s analysis and discussion of a speech given by General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt following Mr. Obama’s speech in March pointed at the kind of education provided at the academy. Though a tough act to follow, as a gracious Mr. Immelt commented – the “Enemy Camp” speech to paraphrase a drooling Chris Matthews – Immelt had done a fairly decent job of addressing the importance of focused leadership during ambiguity. Like that’s not business as usual in the military, but I found the statement to be strange due to his position. Maybe there is something about West Point that is not well-understood.

“Systems thinkers who are comfortable with ambiguity”

I’m not taking away from the pep talk given to our future leaders but it was Kolditz’s dissertation on leadership (also take a close look at the great comments left on this blog post from wonderful Washington Post communists, it’ll warm your heart) that bothered me. Backtracking to March 2010 to Obama’s original speech prior to the sending of troops to Afghanistan (Obama’s Afghan policy speech at West Point)  Mr. Obama appeared to be just that; a man forced to take action when he’d rather be doing something else. Still, Kolditz claimed the academy has no defined leadership training program yet he’s the head of the program. Confused?

Kolditz extolled the virtues of a certain lady in his commentary, a true leader of the business world and the first civilian to hold a seat in Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point. She held this seat during General Eric Shinseki’s tenure after retirement from the Army. If we’re going to address the quality of education of future military leaders then let’s take a look at the people who are directly involved in education and their personal and professional values. My issue is the overall mentality of the people who teach at the military academy and how that mentality will be instilled in our future leaders. Will it be the Army’s core values? Will they serve with honor above their personal needs in defense of this great nation? Or will many a young officer go into the battlefield someday with a completely inappropriate overview of military life?

One of Kolditz’s heroes is the former supreme commander of all girl scouts: Mrs. Frances Hesselbein.

‘Two things that make America great are public education and West Point.’

While it is a documented fact that West Point has produced some great patriots and leaders this remark about public school education seems rather odd. There is little redeeming quality to public education so what is she saying? Frances Hesselbein is considered in the business world as a business community leader. Kolditz goes on about Mrs. Hesselbein’s standing in the business community (another organizer?) and according to the original press release she brought “an element of diversity to the role” that of course only the first woman to hold this position could only bring to West Point.

Let’s talk about diversity. This is a recurrent theme isn’t it; perhaps diversity is truly the change that brought about the demise of the services or is closer than ever in accomplishing it. Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Casey’s  remark following the horrific terrorist massacre at Fort Hood said it all;

“As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well,”

Interesting right? Diversity supersedes the need to mitigate a serious security breach and the most devastating. So if we applied this kind of mentality to how we train military officers

Note on defense/war funding has ‘education’ bills attached. What education?

It was heartwarming to read just how excited Kolditz was after a visit to Rosie’s Broadway Kids  the way the program runs was so well organized my jaw dropped. I just can’t compare the fine cadets at West Point, high achievers and future leaders of this nation with people in the performing arts. I know this because I was once brought up in such an environment. When it comes to audition time it’s an individual’s achievement not team work that gets you the lead. It’s not unusual to see big time histrionics, back-stabbing, people who sing badly but loudly over others; all campaigning for leads. You name it; it’s all a cut-throat business. The objective of an artist is to entertain, not necessarily to inspire people but I suppose this depends on the particular work and audience.

I’m certain that Rosie and anyone associated with her will never come close to knowing what great courage and determination any person in uniform will ever experience in their lifetime when faced with adversity, ever. The fact that Rosie hates military people (support the troops but not the war and what about Abu Ghraib?) should make this physician and professor of behavioral science sick to his stomach but he’s the one singing the praises of her work. Incredible. Does the US Army advocate this type of thinking? Because you know that what he thinks will permeate the classroom and young cadets can be influenced to be leaders who only see themselves in the center of things or they can strive, as many a great leader has, to give their subordinates the best example possible.

I spoke with a friend of mine who is now retired from the Navy and he always said that his best accomplishment was the success of his people because of how their efforts made him look good.  It seems to me that the new age of leadership in our services will be driven mostly by what feels right, when the individuals achieve collective understanding, kind of like a Montessori thinking pattern. I can see it now:

“But sir, the enemy is advancing on us. We need to strike now!”

Easy does it; I’m still waiting for the consensus from the other officers…

The battle for the feminization of our armed forces continues in earnest and it is going to be even more challenging to reach the next generation and help them understand that what is going on is meant to weaken our defenses. Anyone who thinks we’re still living in the same country with the same values and aspirations of yesteryear I’ve got a box of cookies I want to sell you. It’s only a song and a dance; but for a limited time.

The meaning of courage

Posted in Honor, Opinion (Political), patriotism on July 22, 2010 by AN Security

This isn’t necessarily a deeply philosophical dissertation but how does a word like that appear in any human language is a mystery to me. My theory is that honor per se is attained through: 1- conscious thought and introspection, 2- a heightened sense of altruism and 3- the ability for detachment. That means these qualities would be exhibited in such a way as though there is no specific objective; the person knows his actions can affect positively or adversely and adjusts to accommodate others. Of course this is most impractical but plausible.

The counter-argument

Then there is reality; each small attribute existent within this word cannot be exhibited by a person no matter what their upbringing; humans have it in their nature to adopt a behavior only to replace it by a complete opposite depending on whether they feel safe or threatened, happy or sad, it doesn’t matter what it is, a person can change quickly but is it a permanent change? Can the good go bad and vice versa? I’m too much of a cynic but then what evidence is there that man has the ability to follow such a high standard of moral and spiritual prowess? Maybe there is no conscious quest for honor; perhaps I’m looking at this topic all wrong.

Man in general struggles in choosing his preferred behavior he will either gain from it or suffer from it. I think it is safe to state that man’s quest is not in itself the attainment of honor for the sake of honor but that of fighting against and surviving his own nature, which is constantly being bombarded by external and internal threats that motivate him to make a choice for himself. I still wonder if each man ever thinks of this before he acts. I say man in general terms so please don’t chastise me for not being PC. Surely this has been the ideal standard throughout the ages as we see in examples of extreme honor and altruistic traits in historical personages emulated in literature:

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, otherwise known as El Cid is one good example of a historical figure turned national hero and practically rock star of his time; the very representative of the highest principles of living and conduct. I realize the man was a professional soldier either by decree or as an entrepreneur – okay, a mercenary, which does not bother me nor does it affect my analysis of his conduct – and that perhaps this view of mine could assign military men the very qualities I am attempting to dispute are even possible in human beings. My objective is to point out how we seem to aspire to and admire those who succeed in adopting this behavior. El Cid exhibited some of the elements encountered in the word Pravda in that even as a professional warrior, he was open to his men’s input and encouraged them to study and perfect their skills through education. His leadership style brought out the best out of those serving under him. He’s a close one alright. The stories usually feature a particular theme or conflict which is resolved in its conclusion with a moral lesson.

Honor or Pravda can sometimes even make a man go insane.

However, in the Quixote’s mind the quest is really not about finding honor, for he already believes to possess it, but rather to live the honorable life of the warrior that drives his antics. Whether this behavior – as depicted in the first part of Cervantes’ oeuvre – is a sign of a deep delusional state or the obsession that comes from greed and lust over power, perhaps is up to the reader to find. I do not believe this the case with the Quixote since in spite of all his frustrations there is the constant humming of his character, always the gentle soul ready to help others and stern but fair master to Sancho. Of course Sancho is far from willing to live the same life in order to achieve greatness but then all good guys must have a counter character to balance things out.

Are some humans drawn to achieve this state of life because of the rewards of good behavior or for their own spiritual development? That would mean that regardless how much the honorable life rewards an individual the life patterns do not change to achieve more rewards but rather to learn regardless of how one’s own actions affect others ever so positively, one does not ever deviate from the course. That is still a challenging endeavor.

Even high-profile historical people can feel at odds sometimes deciding what is good and what is evil and choosing their path. Maybe hate goes hand in hand with this transformation.

Lawrence of Arabia comes to mind.

I don’t usually subscribe to film versions of books or of biographical works (T.E. Lawrence) but I’m going to make an exception with this character because of this bigger-than-life persona built around him. It is also the expression in the man’s face that is most gripping. A crucial battle scene in this movie, as interpreted by the talented Peter O’Toole; T.E. Lawrence is seen struggling with his emotions. The character is overwhelmed as he stands in the midst of the carnage, his revolver in one hand, his body twitching with excitement, teeth bared and wondering whether it was the taste of human blood and finally engaging his enemy in a good fight or sheer terror…or both.

Honor is certainly an abstraction. Those who exhibit such traits are not usually consciously being honorable as self-respect and courage go hand in hand and part of their upbringing. It is a way of life. Our greatest and bravest people are so because they believe in right versus wrong, look after the weak and are protective of those values. They inspire others to be just like them. To be asked to restraint great courage in order to fulfill some sick perception of right and calling it the new courage is to sponsor cowardice.  There is great good in our warriors. Not everyone is perfect but Americans are a great people; and wherever we go we engage in good deeds. Perhaps now military people are not regarded with the same euphoric admiration as in Medieval times but it would be a disservice from all of us if we did not recognize their sacrifice. 

Worse yet is each generation born will learn less about this country’s greatness, about its courageous people and history and continue on their journey into utter obscurity.