Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just read the Army Times today, about how they are upping the payments for retirees promised free health care for life, in part because people like Dr. Gail R. Wilensky think they need to
make the military health plan more acceptable to the general public. She acknowledged that some of the fees, like the $10 a month proposed for older retirees in the Tricare for Life program, are not designed to cover any specific expense and would barely make a dent in the bottom line. “Having health care appear to be free is a bad signal,” she said.
Not like those retirees have sacrificed for it or anything, right? Speaking of great free medical care, there's a tipoff going around the internet (I got it from Madtom at This Fucking War) that a Marine who served in Iraq and died from having his melanoma dismissed by a medical doctor as a harmless wart. I can't independently verify it, but apparently CBS evening news will be broadcasting about his death from Stage 4 melanoma today, Thursday, at 6:30 EDT. Also about the fact that in cases like that, the family has no recourse: can't sue the military after all.

I am continually amazed that people think free healthcare is the way to go, when I see how lousy it is for the military. For those of you not aware, the best doctors don't tend to take Tricare, because Tricare, the military medical insurance, only reimburses doctors for what they think the procedures are worth. Normally this isn't a problem for doctors, who just charge the patient the rest, but doctors are prohibited from doing that for military members. So they end up losing a lot of money, which means the top-of-the-line docs don't want to work on us for huge paycuts. We end up getting pretty incompetent doctors overall.

Also, in what I'm sure will be no surprise to anyone, it is crappy bureaucracy and fear of soldiers and marines with weapons that's behind our guys getting treated like shit at Oakland. Because really, if soldiers and marines had weapons, what they would most like to do with them is let loose on an airport terminal. Guns automatically mean danger, right? It must be a miracle that these dangerous people survived their own plane flight without shooting each other! I swear, f-ing civilians. Also, I'm greatly amused that it's communication problems with the Department of Homeland Security, given that the sole reason the DHS was created was to stop communication problems between government agencies.

Also, apparently Marine Gunnery Sgt. Benny Fontenot at the Haditha Dam is rocking the casbah when it comes to food. Anyone feel like checking this out for me? You can call it research, even! It's true, though, you always have your favorites . I remember one sergeant who had his chowhall do ethnic days, one day a month, it would be food from a different culture. Nobody knew what it would be, but it was always awesome. Of course, it's true that you can only really do that kind of thing at small places, but still.

Also, from Madtom, it's good to know the U.S. Airforce always keeps its eyes on the real enemies: the U.S. Army and Navy.

I'm way too pissed to write about how the Army is apparently telling the VA not to help soldiers with their paperwork at Fort Drum right now, so I'm going to post about that tomorrow, and instead, post some light stuff to help you (and I) get rid of rage.

Madtom, who rocks the casbah, posted this video:

It's good, but I still love the classics, because they prove what I've suspected for years: that the Brits are fucking insane .

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Bit of Culture

I'm sure my detractors will somehow find a way that this 1931 film clip was made specifically to smear OIF/OEF veterans. Because that's how they roll.

However, if you haven't seen it, you absolutely should. Even if you have, you should watch it again. This is an incredibly powerful piece-though in my opinion, it really gets going only after Joan Blondell stops singing. However, I know there are those of you that love the blondes that won't complain. If you don't do anything else, forward to 3:25 and watch the thirty seconds that follows that. Truly amazing. Why can't they make stuff like this now? Words aren't even necessary. I think they had more acting skill then.

I remembered about this after watching "Suddenly", with Frank Sinatra. (Let's hear it for $1 DVDs) I'll be honest, though, and admit that this post was written a day or two ago. I've just been pretty busy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gambler's Fallacy

From Disaffected and It Feels So Good, an OIF/OEF veteran blogger, with permission:

Is Iraq worth what we are paying? No.

Does leaving cheapen the sacrifices of those who have served and those who gave the final full measure? Maybe...

But it's a vulgar gambler's fallacy of irrational escalation used by Chickenhawk Warmongers to tap into the raw emotions of those who have lost loved ones or those who have served and want to, need to believe their government didn't send them into a war for profit.

I think that is in fact what is my greatest issue with the way a lot of people argue in favor of the war. "We have to stay there, because people have died there, and we have to honor their service." Well, if we stay because people have died there, then we're going to be staying forever, because more people will continue to die to ensure that those who have died will in some way not be mistreated.

We've all seen the smaller version of this. The guy who keeps buying lottery ticket after lottery ticket, because he's already thrown so much money away that it would be wasteful if he didn't keep it up until he won. Or the guy who goes to Vegas or Atlantic City and winds up losing everything, because he didn't want to quit the table while he was behind. He had to have a win to save face, and now when he comes home, he'll be sleeping on the couch for months.

That's essentially where we're at. In a manner reminiscent of "I won't be the first president to lose a war", nobody wants to be the guy who rains on the parade, admits that primary sources show we were lied and misled into war, and says it's time to cut our losses and move out. That our 'goals' are unrealistic, and there is in fact no winning condition for Iraq.

I challenge everyone reading this-and yes, I even include the radical right-wingers who drop by. Can you provide me a criteria for winning that includes specifics in two sentences or less? A criteria, after which it is met, US troops will be able to leave because the job is done? "Don't quit until the job is done" only applies if there is a valid and reachable job to do. It does not apply if your only motivating factor is "not to look weak".

Because it's not just money being thrown away by some guy in a casino that's happening now. Oh, money is certainly being thrown away-thrown away on contractors, thrown away on mistaken goals, thrown away on projects that fail, pointless new uniforms even the Army acknowledges have issues, buying more bad weapons that produce cringe-worthy dust tests.

Now it's soldier's lives being tossed away on this never-ending bad wager, in the hope that somehow, someday, a big win will come out of it. It is a sobering reflection of how much death has been occurring that the Army has authorized Gold Star lapel pins on the uniform. We don't even know the real cost of the Iraq War in people, because the figures that would be most important aren't being released. What about the figures of the wounded? What about the figures of the people who come back psychologically damaged and no longer able to function effectively as a normal person, upping our already awful divorce statistics? What about the suicide rate?

Soldiers aren't chips on a gambling table, and they shouldn't be treated that way by uncaring politicians who have no personal investment in ending the war.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bits, Pieces, and a Present

Recently I've been introduced to the fabulous VetVoice, a collection of milbloggers and veteran bloggers. If you haven't gone there, you really should: the front-page writers in particular are amazing, from RockRichard talking about how the mass media has forfeited its integrity or writing hysterical open letters to Bill O'Reilly to Brandon Friedman commenting on how the Iraqi Parliament has really got that useless-legislation thing down. And of course I would never want to forget LT Nixon, who they've had the good sense to give a front-page billet to as well, though I've linked his blog for a while.

I've also found a great article on why we're bleeding good officers and NCOs, as well as one on why Army recruiting is starting to bring us crummy recruits. Mmm, you'd almost think that the Army might wake up and realize that seventeen crappy soldiers do not one good soldier make. Of course, that might interfere with 'getting warm bodies for the Iraq war'. Probably not, in that case.

I see in the photos of the burnt IVAW bus that one of the casualties was a fake mink blanket I donated to keep folks warm on the move. It's a shame. It'd be more of a shame if those things weren't the national export of just about every foreign country we have soldiers in. In fact, if Jim gets a new bus like he's trying to do, I will officially donate yet another of them. Hopefully, this one won't be a casualty of disputed fires.

Remember, anyone that's active duty, guard, or reserve: Winter Soldier is free to attend, and if you're financially strapped, transportation will be arranged. Also, the invitation to milbloggers to cover the event is still open.

A buddy of mine, tired of being unable to accomplish what he needs to in the NCO corps, has decided to go officer so that he can point and laugh at those of us still slogging it out with the crap soldiers they're letting in the door these days.

So I figured I'd give him a present. Okay, buddy. This one's a little old-fashioned, but all for you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Winter Soldier Bloggers, and Why Iraq Is Destroying The Army(Pt1)

First of all, I'd like to say thank you to the veteran bloggers who've been responding to the invitation for bloggers to attend Winter Soldier. Everyone who's emailed has been highly courteous, and one of you (who will be identified only at his own request) has actually sent in his DD214 way ahead of schedule and made my life infinitely easier. Remember: while active duty military and veterans will have preference, we are offering opportunities to ordinary military-related bloggers as well-we're just not assisting with travel for them.

Also, I'd like to identify and thank the following bloggers who have linked to or otherwise mentioned the offer. Castle Argghhh!, Obiter Dictum (who even has updated, thank you), Another Voice, Fuzzilicious Thinking, This Fucking War, This Ain't Hell and several others that I'll track down and put up tomorrow, or I'll never get this post started. While these obviously may have their own thoughts or feelings about the event itself, they are at least passing the invitation on so that everyone can get the chance to go, instead of hoarding it.

Remember, active duty, get those leave forms in soon! There's a little less than two months left, and you don't want to be left out by the S1 or your company orderly room's cutoff.

And now for a little clarification on Iraq.

There are a lot of reasons to dislike the Iraq War. Just because I post about one today doesn't mean it's the only one. It means that it's the only one I'm going to talk about today.

Why the Iraq War is Destroying the Army

A lot of this will be no surprise to those of you still in the service. These are things that everyone complains about, but that largely don't make it to the public for several reasons. One is the 'camouflage wall of silence', similar to the police's 'blue wall', which translates in the vernacular into a lot of 'Only I can beat up my brother'. Military members have years to start disliking the press, and believing that civilians can never understand their issues. And to be honest, a lot of the issues are pretty hard for civilians to understand.

Such as the No Specialist Left Behind program. Yes, the Army was hurting for good NCOs, particularly NCOs that had seen combat. The Army was bleeding good NCOs like nobody's business. They saw the way the wind was blowing, and many didn't want to stay in. Big Army, in its infinite wisdom and under pressure to deliver in Iraq, decided that the answer was clearly a problem promotion system. The problem wasn't that there weren't enough NCOs! The problem was that good, deserving specialists were somehow languishing in obscurity! Well, you don't have to listen to me tell you that was a bad idea. You can listen to the retired CSM tell you at the link above. Or you can listen to me tell you that when you promote people who aren't ready for it, you get bad, inexperienced NCOs, who are going to lead their troops to trouble. I had to teach one of my NCOs once how to fill out a basic 4856. One of my NCOs. Not one of my specs bucking for their stripes, one of my existing NCOs. And the problem doesn't stop there-when you see some units making four-year staff-sergeants that can't find their own ass with both hands, you know that things are broken.

You know things are hurting when the Army is so desperate for new bodies to send to Iraq that new kids coming in, who haven't even made it through Basic yet, can sign up for $40,000 bonuses, while twelve-year combat veterans go begging looking for some chump change to give the next eight years of their life to the military. I'm not saying it's all about money, because it's not. But I'm saying that we're setting the wrong priorities there.

Especially when we're hurting for bodies so badly that we don't let our drill sergeants do their jobs and impart discipline to the soldiers. Got a buddy on the trail? Talk to them next time about how much they're pushed to let dirtbag would-be soldiers squeak through, because the Army can't afford to replace them. Or talk to a recruiter friend about how much they're pushed to make quota, and the consequences if they don't.

If you want to make a grown man cry, ask a first sergeant about who he's allowed to kick out of his Army these days. Yes, sure for the nitpickers about to jump on me, he's not the one who does the chapter, but you and I know that really, the 1SG is the pulse of a company if he's doing his job right. The answer, for those of you that weren't aware, is almost nobody. It takes years to kick people out. Even dirtbags. Even people with multiple Article 15s, people that have pissed hot, or people that weigh 300 pounds. Even people you wouldn't want in your Army for love nor money. Why? Because they get looked at negatively, and the company gets looked at negatively, for getting people out of the Army who need to be out of the Army, in a time of shortage.

And that's not even talking about where all the money isn't going. You thought Walter Reed was a scandal? You have no idea about the amount of Army facilities all over the world going to ruin because there isn't enough money to repair them. How much training isn't getting done because the units don't have the money. Where's that money going? Better thank Mr. Rumsfeld's privatization of the Army. It's sure not going into grunt's pockets or their unit's pockets. It's sure not going to their equipment.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

IVAW Bus, Possible Arson

Initially, I wasn't going to post about this, given the fact that it's been posted all over the place and seemed to be an accepted fact, but since TSO decided to be a bit of a jackass, I will in fact take it on. Briefly, because I'm still feeling like hell.

Also, while checking this out, I found yet again, traces of the mysterious ArmySGT commenting on this. ArmySGT, please identify yourself to me! I know I'm far from the only active sergeant in IVAW, but I'd like to know who else is out there.

Anyway, to the point of the post, starting with things which are hard facts and personal observances. You're smart people, I bet you can figure out which is which.

Jim Goodnow has been running the Yellow Rose, also known as the IVAW bus, for a few years now. As someone else pointed out in another forum, it is his baby, it is his home. It wasn't simply a bus-it had multiple fold-out beds and could easily house twenty five on a moment's notice. Jim is a good man, who has put his resources at IVAW's hand several times, often on a moment's notice. He's a conscientious man, well aware of minutae about laws about his bus, and also the proper care of items on his bus. He's never let anyone else be careless in it, and I severely doubt he would ever be so himself.

Jim states that he pulled over at a rest stop to take a nap, and awoke to find that he was inside a bus on fire, about twenty minutes after her parked it, at around 9:30 pm, Friday night, 1/11/08.

Now, TSO, and the Vets For Freedom writer who submitted this to Portland indymedia with precisely the same language (which may be a key to the fact that the two are the same, or may simply mean that one of them was lazy) believe this was criminal stupidity.

I, obviously, disagree, for a lot of reasons. Yes, indeed. Let us use Occam's Razor. Is the simplest explanation the one wherein a cold engine bearing no previous signs of trouble magically turns fiery? Or is the simplest explanation that other agents may in fact have been at work?

I have no trouble believing that someone gave Jim's bus trouble precisely because of what it was. Do I think it was part of a planned, organized, effort? I don't know, and to be honest, I doubt it. I rather suspect this took place as a result of a couple people of violent political persuasions, who happened to see the target, said "That Ain't Right" and decided to do something about it. Spontaneity explains why the fire was able to be put out, and why Jim was able to escape. I don't think there was a deliberate attempt to murder Jim, but I suspect that the culprits, if in fact my theory is correct, likely didn't give a thought to his presence either way.

As someone who's done a lot of long driving, I have to say, I'd have fallen asleep a lot less at rest stops if I had known there was a reasonable and fair chance my engine might magically catch fire and trap me in a flaming heap. In fact, if the theory of 'natural failure' were the case, I should perhaps be lucky. I've been taking my life into my hands all too long! Here I thought that cooling the engine off would make it less likely to catch fire. How little did I in fact know.

As is usually the case, I strongly suspect that the answer lies in between the two competing and highly polarized schools of thought. No, Jim is not a careless and 'criminally stupid' owner/operator simply because he happens to have long hair and support IVAW. No, he probably wasn't followed down the highway by a ninja squad of right-wing Blackwater operatives, hell-bent on his murder. Again, it was most likely a cruel and violent act, perpetrated on the spur of the moment by ignorant people. I think if people looked at it from the other side, they might see that. If it had been a bus decked out with pro-war regalia, and had magically burst into flames, I have no doubt some of the more right-wing blogs would be shouting about those damn property-destroying radicals.

And you know what? I suspect that once again, it's going to be the polarizing people making a huge deal out of things that is going to spoil the investigation. On both sides.

Can you all please kindly stop now? Whether these people had devious and dastardly plans or not, they still deserve to be found and charged.

Edited to add: Apparently, I am crazy. I saw 'Veterans for Peace' and read 'Veterans for Freedom'. That's a very weird story up at indymedia, but TSO seems to have accidentally mimicked the odd story rather than having written them both. Quotes next time! They're your friend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Piece and Parcel

Alright! What you get after me being hideously busy and foully ill over the last few days, is not a long and thought out philosophical piece, and it's not a highly political piece that The Sniper can try to pick apart. It's a lot of bits and pieces of what I've noticed over the past few days, that may be of interest to you.

First, because I don't want anyone to think it's somehow falling off the table, I reiterate: Bloggers are wanted for Winter Soldier, of all political stripes. Active duty military may get transportation paid if necessary, whether you agree with the war or not.

Next: New York State's Governor Promises Soldiers the Benefits Congress Just Can't Seem To Pass. Full SUNY or CUNY tuition isn't something to sneeze at, folks, and if every returning soldier to New York actually got that, Eliot Spitzer would be getting letters of appreciation from me so often he'd think I was a crazed stalker. The problem with this as I see it? 1) Eliot Spitzer does not actually make the laws, so New York natives, don't get your hopes up yet. 2) I have a feeling when he realizes how many soldiers actually come from NY, he's going to limit it to National Guard and Reserve. 3) Others may argue that the GI bill covers that, and thus, it will never come to pass. However, I'm looking to be proven wrong on this one! Really!

And I know that some of you are obsessive Adam Kokesh watchers. Well, I've got something new for you. Something so new, so shocking, you just won't be able to contain yourselves, with your expressions of hatred and loathing. That's right, Adam Kokesh...visited Walter Reed and gave blood for wounded soldiers. No doubt some of you, in order to reconcile this strange, strange happening in your minds, are convincing yourselves as we speak that he secretly poisoned it first. No worries. Whatever you have to believe to sleep at night. I'm sure a bunch of people will now start crying, "Oh, he did it for political reasons". You know what? I don't care, and I don't think any soldier recipient of that blood will care either. I know if I'm wounded and need blood, the first thing on my mind is not going to be, "Hey, did the guy who donated that blood make political capital off the donation?" It's going to be, "Hey, doc, am I going to live?" And I rather suspect much the same goes on for most of the rest.

Also, all of you nitwits that moaned and groaned about how "In the Valley of Elah" was so unrealistic and anti-soldier, even though it was based on real events? Well, hey, looky-look, it's happened again, this time in Colorado Springs, at Fort Carson. Can anyone seriously now say that the stuff doesn't happen? It shouldn't happen, you're absolutely right, it shouldn't. But unfortunately, it does. And I think we need to figure out why.

That's it for a while, folks: and as always, please to remember that all hate/love mail should be directed to And spambots. I'm sure spambots are full of the love too. Go ahead, do your worst!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Holy Amazing, Batman.

Warning: PTSD triggery. Depicts results of violence and combat.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wanted: Bloggers, especially Military

One of the amazing things about the internet is the changes it offers. One of these is the new media, the blogosphere. Able to be more politically opinionated and more personal at the same time, answerable to no editor, they can be powerful forces for good or ill-and they tend to follow a free-market model. No one is forced to read anyone else's blog, and you're certainly always provided with an array of other options and opportunities.

Bloggers are breaking into more and more of the 'traditional' news world. They were at the presidential conventions. They were present at the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justices. And yes, Denis Keohane, they will be present at Winter Soldier.

In fact, we want them to come.

I can almost hear the protestations from here. People are probably readying their typing fingers now, getting ready to blog all about how IVAW will only be choosing their personal favorites, established anti-war bloggers.
If so, I have to say: you could not be more wrong.

We welcome bloggers, regardless of political affiliation or stance on the war

IVAW believes that Winter Soldier will stand on its own merits. We have no need to preach to the choir-we think that this testimony is and needs to be an important part of the dialogue about the war.

Preference will be given first to active duty military bloggers. Active duty military bloggers, regardless of their stance on the war, will have a seat. Active duty military bloggers unable to afford the financial burden of transportation to DC but still wishing to attend, please contact me at . It will next be given to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and following that, all other veterans. This is an event by military and former military, and we want to help as many of you get there as possible.

There will, of course, be some criteria and ground rules. If you are active duty, some are waiverable.

1. This is nonwaiverable: you must not be associated or have endorsed radical violence, in your blog or in person, against idealogical opponents. This is for both sides of the political spectrum and war dialogue. If your words have suggested you will be unable to control and behave yourself with a gathering of your fellow bloggers and/or a large group of veterans with differing political views, you will not be permitted to attend said gathering.

2. You must have an established and regularly updated blog.

3. You must be willing to provide bonafides, particularly at the door, and especially if you claim military service for preference. (Nonwaiverable)

4. Many active duty members and veterans will be attending but not testifying at the Winter Soldier hearings. They are not the news, and they are not fair targets for blog attack. You must be willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement about these people and these people only-that you will not reveal audience members or publish audience words without their explicit consent.

5. Opinions are great. Diversity in ideas is welcome. It is by having the best ideas, not by distorting the facts to match the ideas, that success is possible. You must at least demonstrate the capability for an open mind-and have demonstrated via your blog that you are committed to the factual accuracy, whatever your personal spin.

6. You must have displayed a capacity for making arguments other than ad hominem attacks, and kept personal bile against military members and veterans to a minumum. For entirely fictitious example: saying "Army Sergeant was taken into custody by the police once for animal abuse, thus making all testimony suspect." is fine. "Army Sergeant is a filthy moonbat commie dog-kicker and should burn in hell" is not fine. Remember that whether you believe them or not, whether you believe in what Winter Soldier is trying to accomplish or not, the fact remains that everyone testifying has raised their right hand and swore an oath to their country. Many of them will never be the same again, and some may in fact suffer from PTSD. They do not deserve that kind of treatment.

Please feel free to repost this anywhere and everywhere. The widest circulation will promote the greatest amount of diversity in viewpoints and experiences. I would ask that you at least provide a link to this post, or to the email provided above, so that those sincerely interested can comment and ask questions. If there are other important concerns or items that I am not bringing up, please feel free to email or comment and I will have an answer for you and edit the post accordingly.

I cannot take responsibility for anything else outside of the limits of what I can touch. I am not responsible for all of Winter Soldier itself, and cannot answer questions about its entirety. But I give you my word, as a soldier, as a citizen, and as an NCO, that I will do all humanly in my power to make this piece of the puzzle as fair and just as I can possibly make it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Help a Battle Buddy And Look At Pretty Women-What More Could You Guys Ask?

Alright, guys. Just to provide a little bit of a break from the hard-hitting stuff, and also because I've seen it on some other milbloggers' sites and think it's a worthy cause-and hey, let's face it, you know it would have been by popular request if I had said, "Hey, everyone who wants me to post pictures of pretty Army girls, raise your internet hand"...

Hailing from the National Guard, 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment, Sgt Jill Stevens is Miss Utah, and will be competing for Miss America on Jan 26 in Las Vegas, Nevada. While we're sure she'll take it on her own, I'm sure, just in case the judges are too big idiots to recognize the military awesome, there's also an opportunity to take a finalist position by popular vote.

I am told she has released the following statement:

"America's Choice! Battle Buddies,I need your help!
This year, America has the opportunity to select a surprise 16th pageant finalist with "Miss America: America's Choice", an online competition that allows viewers to vote for their favorite Miss America contestant. I could really use all the support from my battle buddies in the Army family to help me stay in the fight."
- Sgt. Jill Stevens

To vote for Jill - click the link, click on Utah and follow the directions.
You can vote once each day now through January 26.

Let's help this battle buddy take the prize-and come on, Army guys, you know you've been complaining about the proportion of pretty women in the service, well, here's a chance to prove you all wrong. And she's toting a gun, too, which should make the rest of you happy.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Done with Gathering of Eagles. Buddy, you owe me a beer.[Edited]

Some of you with a little more experience than me in this arena may be shaking your head just about now that I wouldn't have known this, but I'm not ashamed to man up and admit it: even despite the actions Gathering of Eagles members have taken, I still thought there was a potential the entire organization was not full of crazy.

My first introduction to Gathering of Eagles was on September 15th, when one of them decided to rip a picture of Carlos Arredondo's dead Marine son off of Carlos Arredondo's coffin and run away with it. Carlos went to retrieve it, and about five GoE members jumped on him. One is unrepentant, the others claim that they didn't know what was going on and hugged him afterwards. I'm highly doubtful, but that's just because I saw Carlos' injuries.

Yet even then, I was still open to the possibility that it was just a few 'bad apples'. After all, in theory, it was an organization that was created for the purpose of defending war memorials. That's not a bad idea-I support defending war memorials myself. A buddy of mine tried to talk me into giving them another chance. They were about more than I thought they were. They respected all servicemembers and their families.

That, at least, was the working theory when I signed up to discuss in the GoE forums, to find out what it was about. I was astounded by the sheer level of venom leveled at anyone who happens to be against the war publicly. The general attitude seemed to be "It's okay to b*tch to yourself and your buddies, but don't you dare say it out loud where others can actually know how you feel." And that was the rational ones. Buddy, you are so, so wrong, and only beer can make this up.

I was told that I was a 'traitor', and a 'moonbat', whatever the hell that is. Also a commie. There was no way I could be in the Army, and if I was, I wasn't 'real' Army. Some told me they wished I would desert, others tried to get me to quit. So much for patriotism. And I was trying to keep the discourse civil. They, of course, insisted that they would cheerfully piss in my beer. I kid you not! I wish I had screenshots. That, and them threatening Adam Kokesh. I don't know what Kokesh did to piss in their cheerios, but it must have been something awful, because they sure seem to have a hardon for saying some really foul things about him.

The funniest part to this is after two days, they deleted my account, and all previous posts. Apparently, the so-called champions of democracy aren't able to live up to the challenge of free speech. They haven't yet learned that the best way to defeat your opponent is not to stifle his ideas from getting out, but simply to have better ideas. Not to accuse people of lying whenever they disagree with you, but simply to disagree civilly. It's really not hard. For example, despite Thus Spake Ortner over at The Sniper's slowness to publish retractions and his love of nitpicking, I respect the man. I wouldn't think he'd lie. I just think he has an opinion which is different than mine.

Is this really such a radical concept?

Edited to add: I don't feel like going through 32 pages of enlistment documents and using spraypaint in Paint. If I'm an NCO, I had to be in the Army at the time, obviously, so you get my promotion orders.
Edit 2.0 :madtom of thisfuckingwar points out that MS spraypaint can be taken off by software. I'll be returning the pic once I foolproof it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

True Respect for the Flag

Until the war began, it was easy for me to keep my illusion that the majority of the American people understood and respected the flag. What it meant, what it stood for. My family respected it, and raised me to do the same. My friends and their parents also knew what the flag meant: who had died for it, and why it was important. It was never 'just an object'. I believed firmly that the rest of America felt the same way that I did about it.

Then the war began, and I started seeing flags everywhere. Flags on bikinis. Flags at Walmarts and gas stations. People putting tiny plastic flags on their cars.

Some may not know how closely a soldier is tied to the flag. I raised my right hand and swore my oath with the flag standing by-in fact, no oath of enlistment or reenlistment is legal and valid unless there is a flag standing by, that symbol of honor to ensure that America is watching over the pledge you make to it. Most days, I wake up early in the morning, and the first thing I see before the dawn breaks is the flag, proud against the dim light, raising as it always will when there are soldiers to lift it. The first thing I do to start most days is to execute a brisk salute. As old as I get, I do not think I will ever forget how to do that.

A lot of people have been talking about seeing upside-down American flags in protests against the Iraq War. Some of them think it's disrespectful. Often it's the same people with the American Flag undershirts and the American flag printed on their beer steins. The same people who raise those flags to try to pretend to patriotism, to attract business by appealing to your love of country. I've tolerated it for a while, getting angrier and angrier. But at last, I've decided: I can't take it any longer silent. I need to speak out, and hope someone is listening.

You see, a lot of people don't realize this, but there's something more than just personal opinion dictating how to treat the flag. There's actual law about it. The United States Flag Code, Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1. And it dictates what can and cannot be done to show respect.

Flying the flag with the union down? (Upside down) May not be done- except as a signal of dire distress. Dire distress is certainly a good word for how many people feel about this war- a war being waged against our honor and for purposes not related to defense of our nation. It is not disrespectful-it is precisely how the flag code lays out that it should be displayed.

Now let's talk about those so-called "patriots".
The flag should never be used as wearing apparel (8d, US Flag Code) That's right, folks. Every time one of you makes another god awful T-shirt with a flag on it saying "Support the troops", or "Freedom Isn't Free", or "Don't Cut And Run", or any of the other garbage you happen to be espousing at the time, you are disrespecting my flag . Every time one of you wears another ball cap with an American flag on it, you are disrespecting my flag and breaking the code .

Let's look at some more US Code on this. The only people who are authorized to wear the flag as part of their clothing, and the only way they may do it, is expressed as follows:
a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel,
firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.

A flag patch. PATCH.

Now all you people displaying flags? Displaying flags everywhere and anywhere, getting shredded and tattered and torn, displaying them day and night, in all weather? You are killing those flags. I would say murdering, except I hope that it's not intentional. Strong language, you say? It's just a flag? Let's go back to the flag code. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.

You do not display it tattered and torn, or on your pro-war signs so that you can seem patriotic. You do not display it at night without lighting. You do not display it in hail or snow unless it is a storm flag, otherwise referred to as an "all-weather" flag. You do not put it on your bumper sticker with some words about "staying the course". You do NOT let it touch the ground.

I know that you people probably won't listen to me. You've got a bad habit of only listening to the ideas you already agree with. But next time, before you attempt to say that a former service member is somehow dishonoring the flag or disrespecting the flag by flying it upside down, try to remember that no one who really loves their country would ever disrespect it-and read the Flag Code yourself. Stop using the flag to make yourselves seem patriotic. Burn those ballcaps and T-shirts so the flag can rest in peace. Take down those wind-torn flags you've been displaying in the dark-carry them gently, they have seen hard service-and cut the stars and the stripes apart. Do what's right-and know your own country's history, traditions, and rules. Not just what some pundit told you to think-think for YOURSELVES.