Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If You've Never Had the Guts to "Participate" in Combat, Don't be To quick to Condemn US Troops Posing with Dead Afghan Insurgents

Not to condone indiscipline but believe we need put thing into perspective before we convict and condemn these soldiers. Exactly what did they do that thousands in previous wars have not done and did they do anything that violated the UCMJ?

There are 18 photographs taken by troops of the famous 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (4th Brigade Combat Team), 82d Airborne Division in 2010 in Zabul province that show soldiers posing next to Afghan corpses, including the mangled body of a suicide bomber hoisted by his ankles and one of two soldiers hold up a dead man’s hand, extending his middle finger. Of course it was the ultra-Left leaning Los Angeles Times that published the pictures.

Of course SecDef Panetta and the Obama installed senior uniformed leadership have all been quick to throw these Soldiers under the bus as have a host of Democrat members of congress. Even Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI.), a former Army 82d paratrooper and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was quick to chime in. I might add, although he is a West Point Grad, Jack didn’t stick around in service long enough to ever hear a shot fired in anger!

Former Army Captain Andrew M. Exum, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now a Center for a New American Security analyst in Washington, said he doubted the photos would cause a big stir among Afghans. “Speaking bluntly, most Afghans are probably not going to be terribly offended by the body of a suicide bomber being treated in less than respectful ways,” and he noted Afghan public reaction to the Marine urination video was relatively muted.

Colonel George S. Patton III, son of the famous WWII general, was the very effective commander of the 11 Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam and his 1968 Christmas cards from the war zone read: “From Colonel and Mrs. George S. Patton III -- Peace on Earth.” But instead of Christmas appropriate pictures it had photographs of dismembered Viet Cong soldiers stacked in a pile. Patton also posed grinning with his going away present from his men, a guerrilla’s skull with a bullet hole above the left eye. His punishment for all this was he was promoted to the rank of Major General before he retired.

Of course in 1968 Vietnam where US Killed numbered 2000 a month, not 1906 in 10½ years (May 68 alone we lost 2415 killed), we might have been a little more callus but War is Hell and unless you’ve “participated,” don’t be so fast to judge others.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Obama’s Secretary of the Navy Mabus – What’s Next, Selling Navy Ship Naming Rights to Political Contributors as if They’re NFL Football Stadiums?

The 3 April 2012 Fort Worth Star-Telegram had an interesting article by J.R. Labbe commemorating the countdown to the 22 September 2012 commissioning of the Navy’s newest littoral combat ship (LCS) in Galveston, the USS Fort Worth. The christening took place on 4 Dec 2010 and was reportedly “a day of tradition, patriotism and honor -- with special emphasis on tradition.” Bush 43's Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter had selected the name which was in keeping with Naval tradition. The Navy is big on tradition -- from its naming to the keel laying to the mast stepping to the christening – its been done thousands of times before -- or at least that is how things were done before the Obama Administration decided to abandoned all tradition. Instead of naming ships to honor a Service Hero, a significant Military leader or recognize a place or an event that exemplifies the character, spirit and commitment to the Service, the current SecNav, Ray Mabus has decided to substitute time-honored Navy tradition for an exercise in political pandering. Granted the Navy secretary has sole discretion in naming Naval Vessels but this guy has taken politics to a new level. I would not be at all surprised to wake up one morning to find Mabus “selling ship naming right” to Obama bundlers as if a war ship was an NFL Football stadium. Even Mabus’ Wikipedia page notes he is the target of heavy criticism from Military veterans and several members of Congress for abandoning the norms of ship naming protocol to make political statements.

In 2010, Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, named a San Antonio-class amphibious transport ship after deceased Pennsylvania Rep. John P. Murtha -- the defense appropriation's king of pay-to-play who did more to divert scarce Military resources from sorely needed service priorities to political cronies (a la Obama with Solyndra) than any politician in recent memory. Then in May 2011, he named a Lewis and Clark-class cargo ship after migrant labor leader Cesar Chavez. Rumor has it there’s a USS Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a USS Jane Fonda and a USS George Soros in our future.

Granted, Chavez and Murtha both may have once been in the military like millions of others but to be worthy of a ship to bear a person’s name they should have at least demonstrated great courage in actual combat. Then, to add insult this February Mabus decided to name the 10th LCS the USS Gabrielle Giffords after the former Arizona Democrat Congresswoman. Now she may be worthy of admiration and respect for her courage in overcoming her injuries in a January 2011 town hall shooting and she did serve on the House Armed Services Committee but she wasn't exactly any outspoken champion of the Military. In her favor she is married to a now retired Navy Captain (and former NASA astronaut) but so is my wife and no one is talking about naming a ship after her! Maybe a post office or a government building in her Tucson hometown, but a Navy man of war, are you kidding?

Every Veteran ought to be outraged by this politicizing of the Navy and demand that President Obama ask for Ray Mabus’ immediate resignation. With the average life of a Naval vessel almost 50 years, can you imagine one of your grandchildren having to serve aboard the USS Oprah Winfrey?

Than again, with the Obama Five Year Defense Program, this might be all the Navy's bankrupt Shipbuilding Program can afford so maybe a name like the USS Jon Corzine would be appropriate?

Update 24 April 2012: In a letter released today sent to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA San Diego) asks that the Navy name a ship after slain gay activist Harvey Milk who was murdered on Nov. 27, 1978, while serving as a San Francisco supervisor. Milk served in the Navy in the early 1950s but had a rather undistinguished service record.

Now granting Filner’s wishes would be right in character for Mabus who has substituted time-honored Naval ship naming tradition for an exercise in political pandering but this would take it to a new level. A USS Harvey Milk would quickly become the joke of the fleet with the ship's Motto being: “Never Leave Your Shipmates' Behinds!” Does anyone really believe sailors would be clammering to serve on this ship?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

When Obamacare Goes Down in Flames – Who Should Get the Credit? – Attorney General Eric Holder, of Course!

When Solicitor General of the United States Donald B. Verrilli Jr. suffered an episode of Ankyloglossia (aka tongue tied) during his historically inept presentation before the Supreme Court attempting to defend the indefensible -- Obamacare, it just might have doomed the Government's chances of victory. If (or when) the Court strikes it down, the decision is expected to be announced in late June, Verrilli should get his fair share of the credit but Obamacare opponents should be most grateful to Verrilli’s immediate Boss – Attorney General Eric Holder.

It was AG Holder that selected Verrilli to argue the administration’s case for the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and it was the AG and his staff that “prepared” him for the task. Hence, the AG should be hailed as a Conservative Hero for his selecting and preparing the Government’s “legal representative” who is probably the second most gaff prone Democrat in Washington – second to only the “Gaffmister” himself, VP Joe “Five-Deferment” Biden (see previous Bolg articles below: 9 Oct 10 - Joe Biden - The Consummate Gaff-mister and Some of My Favorite “Biden-isms” and 23 Oct 11 - Biden Ties President's Washington Post Four Pinocchios with "Absurd Claims About rising Rape & Murder Rates").

For Liberals, selecting Verrilli was probably AG Holder’s worst lapse of judgment since at least his approving shipping arms to Mexican drug cartels in “Operation Fast and Furious” and maybe even as far back as his recommending to President Clinton that he Pardon International Fugitive Marc Rich on his last day in office.

One thing AG Holder can be thankful for is that the Court did NOT permit C-SPAN to stream live video of the proceeding because the court released audio was bad enough. It was during the second day of proceedings, the day dedicated to debating the constitutionality of the individual mandate, where Verrilli really excelled! He started out by repeatedly pausing, excusing himself and generally appearing lost during his presentation – then things really began going down hill! It was truly painful to hear but watching it was reportedly excruciating.

As a matter of fact, Verrilli performed so poorly in defending the individual mandate that the liberal justices continually interrupted him to help him make his case by beginning their comments with “what I really think you mean to say,” thus underscoring how badly he was struggling to make his case. The obvious question neither Verrilli nor his handlers appear to have ever considered or prepared him to answer was: What is the limiting principle to the Government’s power to interfere into the private affairs of a citizen? The credit for that oversight falls right at the feet of AG Holder!

Now none of this should detract from the brilliant performance of Paul Clement who was representing the 26 states opposing the law but in defense of Verrilli, it’s tough for any advocate to compare well to him in a courtroom, especially when your argument is so weak on the merits. Also, unlike Verrilli, Clement was able to make his arguments without any "assistance" from "friendly" Justices. Any sane liberal or conservative would have to admit that Clement is just about the best in the business — one of the great oral advocates of all times – the William Jennings Bryant of our generation -- and he delivered a slam-dunk performance.

The Court won’t rule solely based on Verrilli’s dubious oratory skills but having both sides in a position to claim credit for overturning Obamacare will be a novel outcome. Clements for his superb arguments while Holder’s and Verrilli’s contributions will be because of an inept presentation and a complete lack of preparation. But among Attorney Clement, Attorney General Holder and Solicitor General Verrilli, Holder deserves the lion’s share of the credit because he was the one that sent Verrilli into a fight with a knife when Clement had a gun!