A Liberal Marines Progressive Perspective

Marines are defenders of the republic and the Constitution. That is our oath, that is our purpose, that is our calling. Many are Democrats. This is the journal of one such Marine. This leatherneck's progressive perspective is as follows...

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Location: Southwest, United States

U.S. Marine,0300 MOS,eight years in,honorably discharged,college-educated. To all the damned trolls, you better believe there are liberal Marines. Read "War Is A Racket" by 2-time Medal of Honor recipient Maj.Gen.S.D.Butler, plus Lewis B. Puller, Jr.'s "Fortunate Son" and maybe then you'll understand. Semper Fi!

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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Dateline 30 April 1975: North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front Forces Enter Saigon, Vietnam War Ends Posted by Hello
Thirty years ago today, South Vietnamese military resistance collapsed, leaving Saigon to capitulate and surrender to overwhelming North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front (the NLF a/k/a the Viet Cong) forces thus ending the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War lasted from 1945-1975 for the Vietnamese people and from 1965-1975 (I say 1965 in that the Marines landed at Da Nang in 1965 as a response to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/vietnam/timeline.php) in terms of U.S. involvement. The war cost the Vietnamese some two-three million people killed and the United States suffered 58,000 killed in action (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4491099.stm). Needless to say, this is a very special day; for those that served in the war and also for those that did not serve but, nonetheless, have a deep sense of the historical and human implications of the struggle that was the Vietnam War. For a war that lasted nearly thirty years for the Vietnamese people as a whole, the end came rather quickly for South Vietnam. With American military personnel no longer playing a significant strategic nor tactical role in the field since 1973 (the year of 'Vietnamization', as President Nixon called it, when the bulk of the reponsibilities of warfighting were phased over from American forces to South Vietnamese forces), the South Vietnamese slowly (but surely) were dispatched by the superior military might of the North Vietnamese Army. Two years after what can only be described (for all intents and purposes) as America's disengagement from the field of battle, the South Vietnamese Army found itself broken, tactically non-viable and unable to withstand the relentless assaults of the armies of North Vietnam. As Wikipedia states (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War): "...by 1975, the South Vietnamese Army (the ARVN) stood alone against the powerful North Vietnamese Army (the NVA). Despite 'Vietnamization' and the 1972 victories against the NVA offensive, the ARVN was plagued with corruption, desertion, low wages, and lack of supplies". South Vietnam found itself in late April 1975, desperately trying to stem the juggernaut-like, southward advance of the bulk of the North Vietnamese Army as swarms of Communist forces, i.e., elements of NVA and what remained of the Viet Cong (Viet Cong pretty much gutted during the Tet Offensive of 1968, but did assist the NVA in the final offensive, http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/central/brush/LocalForces.htm) surrounded the beleaguered South Vietnamese capital and attacked it from all directions. This was all part of North Vietnam's final phase offensive, known as the 'Ho Chi Minh campaign' (named for the revered leader of North Vietnam and the whole independence struggle, Ho Chi Minh, who died in 1969 and thus never saw the victory he had long struggled for). North Vietnam's plan was to capture Saigon by 1 May 1975 before the South Vietnamese could refit/regroup and defend it.The remaining American element (a small number of Americans remained in country in 1975 as a support presence, i.e., advisors, diplomats and Marines on duty at the American embassy...more of a show of moral support for the South Vietnamese government than anything else) in South Vietnam were extracted (along with those South Vietnamese that were lucky enough to exit with them) on 29 April 1975, the day before Saigon fell to the Communists (sidenote: in the early hours of 30 April, the last Marines disembarked from the American embassy as Communist forces began their final assault on the capital, http://www.fallofsaigon.org/lastto.htm). What would go down in history as a devastating defeat and stinging blow to American confidence and international prestige was, for the North Vietnamese (and Communists all over the world), a glorious victory. They had taken on the world's greatest western nation in the field of battle and, not only endured everything the American military arsenal could dish out (save the nuclear option, of course), but defeated it and sent it packing humiliated for all the world to see. To say the defeat in Southeast Asia was traumatic to the American national psyche would be an understatement. It would take the United States years to recover from the defeat of the VietnamWar, both in terms of international confidence and domestic tranquility; and it is very safe to say that many are still recovering from the wounds (both psychic, as well as, physical wounds inflicted on those that "bore the burden") some thirty plus years later. I hope all those that served and/or lost people that served during those terrible years that were the Vietnam War can find some semblance of peace and comfort on this special day marking the end of the longest and most bitter war abroad our country has ever had to endure. Let us also hope and pray that we, as an American nation, have learned some lessons from our Vietnam experience in terms of when, where, how and for how long we will engage our young men and women in terms of placing them in hostile situations and in harm's way. Semper Fidelis

Friday, April 29, 2005

Bush on the Charm Offensive Once Again: Calls North Korean leader Kim Jong Il "...a Dangerous Man..." Posted by Hello
Good morning to all, hope all is well. It's an overcast day here in the American Southwest...kind of hot, muggy and humid. First, I want to say that I am a real fan of the DailyKos website (www.dailykos.com), as I would imagine so many of you are as well. I am also one who thinks that the DailyKos site (www.dailykos.com) is, in fact, coming under frequent attack by (quite probably) hostile, conservative elements bent on muzzling yet another mechanism of fine American progressivism; in other words, I believe the site is being hacked. Hope the leadership at the Daily Kos website is able to counter the threat effectively. Just f.y.i. I wanted to put out there. This mornings topic of discussion is the President's first primetime press conference in over a year, which aired last night at 1900 hrs CDT (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=710801&page=1). I listened to it on the radio and must report that I felt less secure after the press conference than before it started. So many things were disturbing about the President's performance, i.e., how the President tried (without much success I must add) to reach for some sad attempt at humor when he stated, while discussing his anemic campaign to reconstruct Social Security, that he too would be retiring in the not-to-distant future (albeit none too soon) just like so many other baby-boomers. For the President and first-born heir to the Bush family fortune (not to mention the fact that he will be an ex-President of the United States...not too many of those ducks are below the poverty line now are they?) could actually form his mouth to compare his financial state to the financial states of millions of Americans who are going to be retiring in the near future and looking to Social Security as a life-line smacks of an arrogance and hubris unseen since the days of Marie Antoinette and her "let-them-eat-cake" debacle of the late 18th century. I really don't think it's hyperbole to say that this President has no concept (whatsoever!) of what a "fixed-income" is, let alone what it means to be a working American under his watch in the early 21st century. The other two disturbing (at least in my opinion) occurences during last nights press conference was 1) how the President kept calling Vladimir Putin (leader of the Russian Commonwealth of Independent States) "Vladi-mer" instead of the correct pronunciation of "Vladi-meer" (http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/people/A0840582.html). Call me picky, but I think it's telling and goes to show a lack of diplomatic sensitivity/nuance and also is telling (sadly) in terms of how dumb this current President really is...I'm talking dense. Geez, to go from a "Rhode Scholar" (Bill Clinton) to a "no-scholar" (the current President) is very unnerving and a switch so drastic that some might even say it is a change of Shakespearean proportions (especially during these perilous times). Now the last (and most galling, in my humble opinion) fubar of last nights event was 2) when the President, while answering a question about North Korea's nuclear capabilities (sidenote: Defense Intelligence Agency head Vice-Admiral Jacoby stated Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believes the DPRK has the ability to place a warhead on an ICBM thus placing the West Coast of the United States, as well as Japan, in the same "threat box", http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/04/29/news/nukes.php), went on to characterize North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as a "dangerous man". When the President uttered those harsh words, I could hear a collective groan coming from the Korean peninsula as a whole, the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division (http://www-2id.korea.army.mil/), the Demilitarized Zone in its entirety (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/dmz.htm), as well as, the Japanese home islands. Mr. President, the North Koreans are already in an aggressive state of mind and none too happy (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7260366/), why stir the pot? See, it's easy to say that kind of smack when you are holed-up in "Fortress Washington, DC" but it's another thing altogether when you live in Seoul or Pusan and the DMZ (with all of those artillery tubes and troops) is only about 30-40 miles north of you (http://www.gluckman.com/NKBorder.html); or you're living in Tokyo, which would mean North Korea is only a missile flight away (gives a whole meaning to the phrase "reach out and touch someone" doesn't it?). You see, what I'm talking about folks is military science 101: distance makes a real difference (BIG DIFFERENCE) when it comes to perspective. First, we as an American nation had to endure the "bring em on" blunder of July 2, 2003 (and be advised, you better believe the Iraqi insurgents responded in kind and brought it on, http://icasualties.org/oif/) and now this...another mouth blunder with potential dire, not to mention mortal, consequences. See, the great tragedy in all of this bravado is that the President writes rhetorical checks that OTHERS have to cash in blood. How will his verbal ineptitude (and downright ignorance) impact the "Six-Way Party Nuclear Talks" (U.S., Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea) that the President seems so determined to bring about (http://www.voanews.com/english/2005-04-26-voa1.cfm)? Who knows? I think the President's belligerent, rhetorical posture begs the question of whether or not he really thinks diplomacy is the answer to the "Korean problem" (http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/04/29/news/korea.php) or is the President pondering a more aggressive, "1950-1953" kind of solution? By now, the whole world knows (and understands all too well) that Kim Jong Il is the ultimate global "loose-cannon"; but is it really prudent, and in the best interest of global diplomacy and security, to inflame an already delicate situation by goading and name-calling? My short answer is an unmitigated and unequivocal "no"! I've got to tell you, if I had the leader of the world's most powerful military calling me a "dangerous man" and lambasting me before the world, let's just say I'd be feeling a creepy, uncomfortable cringe running up the back of my neck, as well as, not feeling that secure and comfortable right about now. Needless to say, I'd be very concerned as to whether or not the leader of the world's most powerful military was about to drop "the hammer" on me. Talk about throwing gasoline on an oil fire! In short, I believe the President's remarks were amatuerish, insensitive, not thoughtful in the extreme, agitating and indicative of a juvenile mindset when it comes to foreign policy and the consequences of bellicose rhetoric in the hothouse that IS foreign affairs and geopolitical diplomacy. You know, Bush's "big-talk" reminds me of guys that buy big Dodge Rams, HEMI trucks, Hummers, "duallies" etc. Are they really tough or are they trying to convince the world that they are tough? I'm inclined to think the latter instead of the former. Like they say in these parts, if you shake up old sticks of dynamite, you're bound to scrape folks off of the walls. The President didn't have to come out and say what he said last night concerning North Korea, but he did and time will tell whether or not he has aggravated an already disturbed and dangerous situation. Semper Fidelis

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Pain and Sacrifice of War, But the Band Plays On... Posted by Hello
Morning to all. Can someone please help me understand where the country is going? Above is a photo of another parent having to cope with the loss of a beloved child and another brother/sister having to cope with the loss of another brother/sister (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/). What is happening here? Why are good Americans allowing this to continue? How many professional military people (http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030421&s=klare) will it take to explain to the American people that this military campaign in Iraq is as bankrupt as they come? How many generals, experts in the art of war and warfare prosecution, will it take? Officers with "Ph.D's in warfare and warfighting", so to speak. General officers, such as Generals Clark, Shalikashvili, Shinseki, McPeak, McCaffrey, Trainor, Conway, et.al. have all expressed their concerns over the fundamental flaws they see (these are military professionals, GENERAL OFFICERS mind you!) in this warped campaign of oil lust, global hegemony, and empire-quest all wrapped in the illusion of "seeking Iraqi democracy". Is there any sensitivity or historical and cultural understanding within the halls of the Bush II's White House that western-style democracy is an anathema to Islam? In other words, you can't do "cookie-cutter democracy" all over the world, our western version of democracy isn't something you can just transplant; and you certainly cannot transplant the American form of democracy in the Middle East. Even General Powell has hinted that he has serious misgivings concerning the execution of the Iraqi campaign (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3596033.stm). This "don't-worry-be-happy" b.s. philosophy the GOoPers love to relish in just won't cut it! People are dying! Troops are coming home with amputations (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4478134/) ...maimed for life! Scarred emotionally (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/heart/), as well as physically! And for what? Are we REALLY winning (http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2005/s1354279.htm)? Does it really look like we're winning (http://independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1501)? Look, I think the general consensus is that this war in Iraq is a foreign policy blunder of epic proportions, with the good warriors on the ground (the ones actually in the AO, or Area of Operations) trying to fix a problem that was busted from the get-go. Folks, this will probably go down in the annals of military history as one the largest military blunders in the history of this country. Something to think about. Semper Fidelis

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The War Continues: Draft in the Near Future A High Probability Posted by Hello
Morning to everyone aboard this man-o'-war. Feeling a bit better today after sounding off about the little girl in Florida. Got a a good PT session in yesterday as well as today, so some of the angst has dissipated (although what those folks did to that little girl was wrong). This post is a quasi-encore post about the relevance and real potential of an American draft, which is (for all intents and purposes) almost inevitable...at least as far as I can see (http://www.rockthevote.com/rtv_draft.php). As a preface, the picture above demonstrates just a fraction of what a draft means in real terms. And let's be honest, when the draft comes; and it will come, just do the math...5 wars, only three platoons left (figure of speech, we of course have more than three platoons...but not much more and certainly not the amount of forces needed to engage in todays actual and potential military activities)...huh, we need more people by gosh (http://www.house.gov/kirk/news030802_undermanned.html). The D.O.D. (the Department of Defense) is going to be looking for young folks to imitate EXACTLY what the warriors are doing in the picture above...which is lying in the prone and ready to lay down a base of fire when so ordered. Sure, D.O.D. is going to round up a few "support elements", i.e., medical personnel, computer science people, intel bubbas, etc ( http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/164693_draft13.html). But, they're REALLY going to be looking for young people (and the definition of young people are people between the ages of 18-35, although more than likely they'll start with people between 20-35) to serve in the "combat arms": the infantry as grunts, ground-pounders, 0311's, 11B's ("11 Bravos") or whatever you want to call them (http://www.marines.com/enlisted_marines/combatarms.asp). You see, as the photo above illustrates, the draft is going to equal young people getting muddy, grimy, wet, uncomfortable and (of course) being placed in extremely dangerous circumstances. Do you see the muddy deck with all the expended brass and the dirt on the machine-gunners face? Do you understand the look in his eye as the popped green smoke splays in the background? Do you understand that this machine-gunner (and his "A" gunner right beside him) are probably wet and uncomfortable, while at the same time sweat continues to trickle down their backs even though they already sopping wet with perspiration? This is a message to all the good folks that gave a "that a-boy" with a kindly slap on the back and a great big thumbs-up to the current Republican administration and their misguided foreign policy by voting them (and their foreign policy quagmire) back into office. This is also directed to all of those young adults out there that decided not to vote and to all the parents of those young adults that voted for Bush in those screwed-up red states (you can usually spot them driving around in their obnoxiously large SUV's covered with little yellow ribbon magnets and American flags) all I have to say is this: as a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, as a hardcore Marine and as a proud American, I don't want to hear any bitching or complaining when the draft comes down and scoops your youngin' off to fight (and possibly, as a consequence, to be gravely injured or worse) in any number of the jacked-up wars that are now on the Bush horizon. And be advised, when a draft comes, you don't have the luxury of choosing a branch to serve in (as you do in peacetime), it is CHOSEN for you (http://www.njsbf.com/njsbf/student/eagle/winter05-1.cfm). In other words, since these are essentially scheme and maneuver MOOTW's/OOTW's (Military Operations Other Than War/Operations Other Than War, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/pnm/glossary.htm), land assault conflicts now and to come (i.e., Iraq, quite possibly North Korea, Syria, etc.) and not surface warfare or air war evolutions...please be prepared to raise your right hand as you are pressed into service and repeat after me: "...welcome to the US Army and the US Marines boys and girls". Especially now with a fellow jarhead (General Peter Pace, http://www.dtic.mil/jcs/core/vcjcs.html) at the helm of the JCS (http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/04/22/pace.ap/) ...be advised: General Pace is an outstanding Marine with a fine reputation, but putting a Marine at the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is no mistake; although making all Marines proud, it is first and foremost a clear indication and sign of the direction this administration's military policies are headed. In short, a Marine as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs means "zeal"...razor-like zeal for victory by any means necessary; up to, and including, the reinstitution of conscription. Again, see above photo...that's what "the draft" means in plain english. Semper Fidelis

Monday, April 25, 2005

The State Comes Crashing Down on 5-Year Old Little Girl, or, The Trickle Down Effect of the Prison-Industrial Complex Posted by Hello
No, not a good morning at all ladies and gents. The story I'm going to talk about is simply outrageous. A friend of mine (a very close and dear friend) called me Sunday morning and brought this sad news story to my attention after she had seen it on the 'Today' Show (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032633/?ta=y) that same morning. The story being a little, five-year old African-American girl had been arrested (arrested by real police officers, mind you...not school security) in a Florida elementary school a few weeks ago. Now, I'd heard a little scuttlebutt (trickles here and there) about what had happened a day or two earlier, but I think I pushed it out of mind because 1) it was just too painful to comprehend (arresting a five-year old little girl...hogwash, that can't be true) and 2) there must be more to this story (i.e., the little girl must have had a handgun or a grenade or something of similar destructive potential, right?). Of course, it turns out the little girl WAS, in fact, arrested (police officers, handcuffs and all) and that she was arrested for throwing a temper tantrum (*gasp*, imagine that...a temper tantrum...that most sinister, ghastly and deadly of weapons; I mean, whoever heard of a five-year old doing such a dastardly thing...give me a break). My friend was irate and so was I (as, I would imagine, were a lot of people). In fact, the more I think of it, the more p.o.'d I get. First off, what does this say about the teachers and school administrators running the show down there in St. Petersburg, Florida (http://www.canadiancontent.net/commtr/article_772.html)? Are they so weak, pathetic and spineless that they can't handle the temper tantrum of a five-year old girl (you know, temper tantrums/fits? The SAME kind of behavior THEY probably exhibited, once or twice, when they were kids? A**holes)? What are they teaching these so-called teachers/school administrators before they are sent into the trenches of our centers of education? Certainly not patience and understanding; nor are they teaching them the basic tenets of small-children's psychology and child development. This is just ludicrous on so many levels that it is hard to comprehend. The Pinellas County Independent School District (http://www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/), which includes St. Petersburg, should be ashamed of itself (http://wizbangblog.com/archives/005757.php). Moreover,what does this say about the quality of our educators when, instead of knowing how to handle a five-year old child, they resort to calling "law enforcement"? Damn people, what is going on here? I'm not even an educator (just a college-educated jarhead, at your service, trained in the field of political science and history...definitely NOT trained in the field of education) and I'm already thinking there's a good chance this little girl is having difficulties at home and/or (if she's the only African-American student in a school composed of mostly Anglo students...go figure) she might be having some real adjustment problems. But, see to understand those possibilities, one must first have a heart and a sense of compassion at the center of their being...one must have the kind of sympathy, empathy and tenderness that is needed and desired in elementary school teachers (at least, that's what I would think). Instead, it looks like St. Petersburg (http://www.stpete.org/) has a few hard-hearted, jackasses running the education show down there...folks that probably should not have become teachers/educators in the first place! The second point I'd like to make is how this travesty is another "shining" example of how our society has been corrupted by the idea (and manifest reality) of what has been dubbed the "prison-industrial complex" (http://www.thetalkingdrum.com/prison.html). President Eisenhower warned us against the "military-industrial complex"(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military-industrial_complex) during his farewell address to the American people some forty-plus years ago in 1961. The same insidiousness and corrupting potential the military-industrial complex had on our system of government, that President Eisnhower fervently warned us against back then, can be said about this new spector known as the "prison-industrial complex" (http://www.alternet.org/wiretap/12810/). Bottom line is this: we are now living in a society (as my dear friend so adroitly pointed out) that is all about "hammer time", in other words, we are society that is more into punishment than understanding and rehabilitaton. That's probably why it was so easy for those people (probably quasi-racists) in St. Petersburg to call the police on a five-year old little girl and have her handcuffed and thrown in the back of the police cruiser as though she was a common criminal. Just outrageous! And what about the little girls memories of this horrific event? Of her little arms being twisted behind her by those uniformed police officers? Her little wrists handcuffed (shoot, I didn't think they even had handcuffs that could fit the wrists of a five-year old girl)? I can only hope and pray that because she IS a child (and thus super-resilient, generally speaking http://www.ericdigests.org/2001-3/mexican.htm ) she will slough off those painful memories and continue on her lifepath unscathed; rising upward and onward to a successful and happy life. But in the meantime, if I was that little girls parent, I would sue the heck out of the Pinellas County School District (http://www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/) and quite possibly the City of St. Petersburg (http://www.stpete.org/) with all the zeal and gusto I could muster. Semper Fidelis

Friday, April 22, 2005

A**holes Need Not Apply: Bye, Bye Mr. Bolton...Don't Let The Door Hit You On Your Backside Posted by Hello
Good morning to all. Nice day here, sunny and around 70 degrees. Quick post and then I'm out. So happy to hear the news this morning that it's looking more and more like John R. Bolton, the President's uber-flawed nominee for the position of U.N. ambassador, may be on his way out the door. With Senator George Voinovich's (R-OH) stellar performance the other day (a modern day "profile of courage", if you ask me, http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/news/state/11455292.htm) vis a vis shutting down the voting process and putting the brakes on Bolton so Voinovich and his staff could do some more "research" on the nominee ("research" is a code word that means Voinovich wants to dig into whether or not Bolton is really the major league a**hole that everybody is saying he is...trust me, he is!). In fact, Senator Voinovich is quoted as saying the following concerning the Bolton nomination:

"...People are discounting the fact that I say that interpersonal skills and the way one treats their fellow man is important. But it is important. It's important that you know how to get along with other people and that you treat people with dignity and respect...".

Senator Voinovich's actions in conjunction with the White House circling the wagons "all panicky and herky jerk" (just like they did when the doomed nominations of Linda Chavez and Bernard Kerik started to hit turbulence) were already key indicators that Bolton and his nomiantion were wobbling at best. Now, news is coming down that "big dog" (not the actual "Big Dog", Bill Clinton...the other "big dog"...small b, little d) and former Secretary of State General Colin Powell is weighing in (albeit covertly) and it is certainly NOT in Bolton's favor (http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/3147352). With all of this weight bearing down, it's really looking more and more like Bolton's nomination has been gutted and neutralized. What's so fascinating about Colin Powell is that BEFORE he joined the Bush Administration in 2001, his favorability ratings (in terms of the American people) were stratospheric, I'm talking golden (http://www.jointcenter.org/2000_election/2000_NOP.pdf). Of course, some of that gold was tarnished during his tenure in Bush's cabinet as Secretary of State due to the fantastical, byzantine and downright crazy twists and turns the Bush Adminstration put the poor man through, i.e., having to be the front-man for Bush's calamity of a Middle Eastern foreign policy, being paraded before the U.N. (with George Tenet and John Negroponte in tow) to convince the world that war against Iraq was justified, etc. Yet, upon Powell's wise decision to leave the "insane-clown posse" that is the Bush Administration and and returning to civilian life (and his Volvos), Powell's star, popularity and respect level are back on the rise (http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=935). It seems like the American people understand that Powell, who is usually soaring with the eagles was (at the time, unfortunately) dealing with a bunch of GOP/neocon turkeys; the American people seem to sympathize with Powell and his plight and understand he was at odds with the madness of the White House for the most part and, more times than not, was up against the wall and "in the doghouse". In short, this is why I believe Powell's comments and opinions (in terms of Bolton's character and personality traits) have weight, are going to resonate and have a tremendous amount of impact (even moreso than the President's, in this case) and be well-heeded by all those involved. Bolton's defeat will be an amazing victory, not only for the Democratic Party (in showing that we are still a vigorous, vibrant and vital political organization that still knows how to outflank our enemies and cut their legs out from under them)...way more important then that, it will be a victory for the American people who won't have a Wyatt Earp-looking, pompous, arrogant, GOP knuckle-dragging a**hat for a U.N. ambassador. The times we are living in cry out for tough diplomacy to be sure. But, these times also cry out for diplomacy that is also compassionate and sensitive (especially culturally sensitive) and not the kind of brazen, roughshod and a**hole-ish diplomacy that Bolton oozes out of every orifice and pour of his being. Bottom line, the guy is a jerk...much like the guy that nominated him. But, you know what they say, birds of a feather flock together. Bye, bye Bolton, nothing personal, strictly professional; or, don't go away mad, just go away. Semper Fidelis

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Memo to the Bushites: You Can Dig and Dig...the Oil is Going, Going, Gone, or, NASCAR and the SUV Are Already in the MuseumPosted by Hello
Morning to all aboard. The sun is shining, the clouds have dissipated and all and all it looks like a beautiful day here in the American Southwest. Whoops, it's getting cloudy again. Todays topic is the beginning of the end of the oil era. Let me jump right into this. I just finished reading 'The End of Oil' by Paul Roberts (http://www.blackstarreview.com/rev-0153.html) a couple of days ago. Powerful book, just a powerful expose into the realities of the present energy situation...recommend it to everyone out there. The book really sheds light on what is going on when it comes to America's dependance on petroleum and the consequences of that dependence, in terms of the national security, as well as, the geophysical implications and consequences. I see in todays news the House ok'd the drilling in ANWR, or , the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge (http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/6403200p-6282036c.html). I can tell you that the current Administrations whole approach to our energy problem (especially in regard to our unholy alliance with, and dependence on, foreign oil) is all wrong. With the current Administation, the focus seems to be on denying the hard realities of our "oil-addicted" situation (and it is an addiction, a socio-economic addiction on a national scale...just like crack cocaine to a crackhead. You know that's the truth, so why not admit it). Look, the Bushites/neocons can dig and dig and drill and drill until they are blue in the face, the fact remains that petroleum is a very finite source of energy (that takes millions of years to create/ferment and once it's gone...it's gone) and that we have painted ourselves into a corner by not seriously investigating and researching the benefits and economic relevance of alternative fuels. This foolhardy policy has done nothing but guaranteed that we, as an American nation, will have serious complications down the road in terms of our addiction to foreign oil. Here's one to try on, just as an example: say (for instance) Crown Prince Abdullah, the current ruler of the House of Saud/Saudi Arabia (his half-brother, King Fahd, is the actual head of government/state but Fahd has been so ill over the past several years that Abdullah is running the show, http://www.meib.org/articles/0401_saudd.htm ) falls ill and there is a power struggle within the Kingdom? There's a better than good chance oil production will be slowed down considerably (if not halted all together...although being halted all together is probably not likely). That'll put a huge crimp on just about everyone around the world (i.e., people, makets, economies, etc.), but especially here in the United States. The political ramifications domestically will be off the charts (I refer you to the last few scenes of 'Three Days of the Condor' when Cliff Robertson's character is explaining to Robert Redford's character why the rogue element within the organization did what it did...very illuminating and not at all unfeasible, especially now). The point that I'm trying to make is, if a situation like that occurs (and it could, at any moment), the United States will more than likely invade Saudi Arabia to stabilize the situation and secure the oil fields (remember: the United States is like a crackhead when it comes to oil...it's got to have it...to quote Admiral Farragut: damn the torpedoes full steam ahead). Historical note: the only reason (and I mean the ONLY reason) the United States didn't invade Saudi Arabia during the 1974 Arab oil embargo, was because the Soviet Union loomed on the horizon and the Soviets would have certainly countered any American graba** attempt at securing Arabia (and her oil wealth) militarily. Ok, but the Soviets are no longer a real factor anymore; in other words, Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) is no longer a military obstacle of any serious consequence in the region (or anywhere outside of it's own borders/region, for that matter) and thus is not a viable impediment to such an effort if such an effort was so authorized (http://www.irmep.org/essays/ksa.htm). And (as Paul Roberts points out in his book), in this post 9/11 world, there is no way the U.S. would allow Osama Bin Laden sympathizers to have their hands on the world's premier oil spigot (remember: Bin Laden is a Saudi and the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/11/23/saudi.fbi.911/. Of course, you tend to forgive alot when you're a crackhead, just as long as you can get a fix). The United States invasion of Saudi Arabia would go over real big in the Arab world and you don't need me to spell out what I'm talking about...the United States would be jumping "out of the frying pan(Iraq) and into the fire (Saudi Arabia: HQ of Islam)". But, that's the kind of jam we're in now because we have an Administration made up of ex-oil barons and ex-oil company executives (i.e., Bush II, Cheney, Rice, Don Evans, etc., etc. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1138009.stm) that refuse to face the reality of the situation and can only think to dig and drill their way out of the energy mess we're in. But, digging and drilling for more oil is NOT the answer. In fact, in the case of ANWR, if they find anything of any real significance (and that's a big IF), the Arctic drilling will make little (if any) difference. As author Paul Roberts points out in the book, 'The End of Oil' (pg.299):

"...in at best ten years time, ANWR could boost American production by 600,000 barrels a day. As Joseph Romm, the former Clinton energy official, told me you open up ANWR and the only difference is that by 2020 we're importing 62% of our oil instead of 64%..." .

See, this is what I'm talking about. The current Administration simply lacks the intelligence (IQ/brainpower), vision and imagination that is desperately needed to get the United States out of the energy jam that we are in. It begs the question: can the country survive the ignorance and mediocrity that characterizes the current Administration? Where's the vision and the courage? *Sigh* This country so badly needs a progressive Administration in the near future, to somehow turn our ship-of-state around and move us into the right direction. However, in the meantime, as long as we depend on oil, there can be no "energy independence" (real or imagined). It is truly time for a long-term vision when it comes to our Pavolian-like dependence on "black gold" and to counter the serious implications that dependency has on us in terms of our national security and overall well-being as a nation. This is really getting ridiculous...the price of a barrel of crude oil is around $54 a barrel and this is just the beginning (http://money.cnn.com/2005/04/19/markets/oil.reut/?cnn=yes). The price per barrel is destined (guaranteed) to increase over time. Oh yes, the Saudi's and OPEC will increase production (when warranted) to lower the price (you better believe it, and you know the Bush Administration has got those OPEC fellas on speed-dial everytime the price goes up, telling them to increase production), but that's just a temporary fix, a temporary stop-gap. The bottom line is that oil is dimminishing as oil demand is increasing. Doesn't take an Adam Smith to understand what that basic economic tenet means...it means the price, overall, is going to continue to rise. A DIRECT consequence of the oil price increase is that the price of gas at the pump is on the rise...around $2.17-$2.21 a gallon (http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/). In fact, two friends of mine (both owners of Toyotas, like myself) told me a couple of weeks ago that it cost them around $30.00 to fill up. Sidenote: no disrespect, but to all those folks out there (not many, but a few I'm sure) saying I should buy and drive American, let me say this...when American car makers start paying attention (and I mean REALLY pay attention) to fuel-efficiency, then I'll start buying American cars. With our current energy policy bankrupt, our continued and obscene dependency on oil as our main transportation fuel (Middle East oil for the most part) and no real vision coming out of the White House...my only advice concerning our current energy status is to grab your socks and hose and pull...this is just the beginning, so we better get used to that harsh reality. Semper Fidelis

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI: The Beginning of a New Era or the Continuation of the Status Quo? Posted by Hello
Good day and good morning to all. Once again, another cloudy and overcast day here in the American Southwest. Well, there's a new Pope...Pope Benedict XVI. Formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardinal_Ratzinger), the new Pope was a surprise choice...I really didn't think the Catholic Church would select someone from the Northern Hemisphere, in that the Church's strong growth and revival is taking place in the Southern Hemisphere (or, Africa and Latin America). Initially, when word got around that smoke was coming from the Conclave so soon after the first days vote (they vote twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening)...we all knew something was up (like most people who were following the activities of the Conclave). Then, of course, came the "Great Frustration" when no one could discern whether or not the smoke was white or black ...which was extremely nerve-racking. The whole world (generally speaking) was on the edge of its proverbial seat, staring at a small Roman chimney, desperately trying to figure out whether the emissions were white or black...nuts. Then when the big bell started tolling, we all knew...a new Pope was on deck! As stated previously, I was really surprised (and a bit disappointed, I might add) that the new Pope was Cardinal Ratzinger. My choice was Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Cardinal_Arinze), but if he didn't get the nod then (I was hoping) at least a Latin American cardinal would be selected...it would have given the message in the most powerful way the Catholic Church could that Africa and Latin America (and the entire Third World for that matter) are importantly vital and at the very epicenter of the Church's future in terms of converts and the overall health of the Catholic Church. So, you know, they picked a cardinal from Europe (once again) and I guess (in doing so) played it safe. A couple of interesting points though before I shove off: 1) Pope Benedict XVI will be going on a world-wide tour (of course) to "meet-and-greet" all of the world leaders. This is to be expected. However, his first trip AFTER the initial world tour will be the true signal as to where his heart is in regards to the direction of the Church. If Pope Benedict XVI visits Africa or Latin America (or anywhere in the Third World) first, then we'll know his heart and vision are definitely directed towards the future of the Catholic Church in the Third World and that he understands the Church's future lies not in the empty pews of Western Europe but in the zealous fervor of the Southern Hemisphere (http://www.todayonline.com/articles/43639.asp); 2) Pope Benedict XVI, when he was a cardinal, was a strong advocate and supporter of the Third World (especially Africa and Latin America) and was even on record supporting the candidacy of his colleague, Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria, in terms of the Papacy ('Ratzinger speculates on Third World Pope' at http://www.thetablet.co.uk/cgi-bin/citw.cgi/past-00070). So, what does this mean? Well, to me it means Pope Benedict XVI is "down with the struggle" (so to speak) and just may be "the messenger" (a la, John the Baptist) that will set the stage for the first Pope of color in modern times to come along in the not-so-distant future. In other words, before we can have an African or Hispanic Pope, there must first be a Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI to pave the way. As a side note, I really believe Pope Benedict XVI is getting a raw deal in the press (especially the British press) in terms of his participation in World War II. Admittedly, I was taken aback when I learned, a few days ago, that the former cardinal had served with German forces during the war and was actually captured and held in an American POW camp for some time. Yes, that bit of information was disconcerting (and a bit jarring as a matter of fact). But, geez, World War II was over half a century ago, he was all of a teenager at the time (1944/1945 meant he was around 16, 17 or 18 years old) and ALL of Germany was in a "full-court press" and under a "smackdown" of epic proportions (deservedly so) in terms of manpower in that they were losing (and, ultimately going to lose) the biggest war in all of human history...a war they started, to be sure. My take on it is how are the Israeli's taking the news? In other words, if the Israeli's are at peace with it (and they certainly seem to be, http://www.startribune.com/stories/484/5358703.html) then I'm at peace with it. Besides, the blood of Christ has washed all of that away and, as Christians, we believe in new beginnings. So, onto the original question, which is, will Pope Benedict XVI signal a new beginning or the continuation of the status quo? Being a strong friend and ally of the previous Pope, Pope John Paul II (interesting sidenote: Pope John Paul II was Polish, Pope Benedict XVI is German; Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 thus triggering the Second World War. Both took part in the war http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=36242, so both were at one time, enemies. But through Christ, they found the priesthood, found each other and became life-long friends), I would think the new Pope will maintain a conservative strain through his reign (just like his predecessor), but I believe he will really open the door to the Third World in that he understands, although the Europe and the West are important, the REAL future of the Catholic Church is no longer there. Instead, the future of Catholicism lies in the Southern Hemisphere where there is a zeal and fire for "The Word" unprecedented since the days of the early Church. Pope Benedict XVI will hopefully understand this is where the focus of the Holy Roman Church should be as we advance into a new century full of hope, vision and passion. Semper Fidelis

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Wesley Clark, Progressivism and the Democratic Party: The Leadership and Vision For A New American Century Posted by Hello
Good morning, once again, to all aboard the blog. It's a cloudy morning here in the American Southwest, but we will push forward and make the best of it. Today's topic is the future Presidential ambition/ambitions of General Wesley Clark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_Clark) ...is he running or isn't he? First off, I'll stick my neck out and say (based on all of the political intelligence that I have absorbed, i.e, the creation of his new PAC called WesPac at http://www.securingamerica.com/) the answer is "yes, Wesley Clark is running in 2008" (more on this at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/16/23109/8313 and http://www.democrats.com/node/4306). Let me say this: I'm a Wesley Clark nut. Not just a fan, mind you...but an unabashed and unrepentant nut! So there, you know my bias and slant right off the bat. There aren't any words to express my passion for Clark/his vision and the intense loyalty I have for "The General" (who will be 62-63 years old during the campaign and 64 upon victory and inauguration; born 23 December 1944) ...there is simply no question in my military mind that he represents the kind of leadership and vision that will get us out of the monkey grass quagmire (both internationally and domestically) the current, slapstick Administration has led us into. You know, I had the pleasure of visiting Clark's campaign headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas a couple of times during the 2004 race; in short, it was motivating and inspiring to say the very least. His headquarters was located in the old railroad station and on the banks of the Arkansas River. It was really something to see all of those cars parked out front (with license plates from around the country) in the parking lot...representative of the Americans from all over that wanted to be a part of his efforts to claim the nomination...all those folks, just pulling for him. From my standpoint (as a "junior" political scientist/B.A. in Political Science and History), Clark had the organization, the "intelligence assets" (i.e., sharp advisors, staffers, supporters, etc.) and the resources to go all the way...he was only lacking the political experience and "name-recognition" that would have catapulted him into the stratosphere and made him a cinch for the Democratic nomination. However, after coming through the 2004 Democratic primaries, he now has both of these coveted and much needed variables..."name-recognition" and experience. I read his book, 'Winning Modern War: Iraq, Terrorism and the American Empire' (http://www.thinkingpeace.com/Lib/lib028.html), during the primaries and I must report that his analysis of the present situations plaguing our American nation and (more importantly) his solutions to our current problems are both breathtaking and awe-inspiring...so clean and crisp as to blow your socks off! Moreover, he wrote a book (and this is the second book that he has written, http://www.nybooks.com/authors/9848; in addition to all the innumerable articles he has authored)...in other words, Wesley Clark is an author. Can you imagine our current President reading a book, let alone writing one? What is going on in this country? Why are we being led by the "dimmest and the dumbest" instead of the "best and the brightest"? By now, everyone knows Wesley Clark's sterling resume (i.e., first in his class at West Point, war hero, commander of victorious forces during the Kosovo campaign and on and on). Yes, and I know 2008 is a long ways off...heck, we still have to deal with the 2006 races. But, now is the time to get it together, pick sides and get focused. All indices are signaling that Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) WILL RUN in 2008 (no surprise there...you probably can take that one to the bank, http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=562203) and that she already has the nomination pretty much sewn up (or, as sewn up as a Democratic Presidential nomination can be three years out). Make no mistake, I love Hillary Clinton, no question about it...she is awesome to say the very least. But, I'm hitching my wagon (once again) to Wesley Clark early...like right now. And even if he doesn't secure the nomination, Clinton/Clark would be a pretty cool ticket (but so would Clark/Clinton). But, you ask, has Clark hinted that he's even going to run in 2008? All indications are that he will in fact be running again to clinch the Democratic nomination (check out this video from Clark's recent appearance in Los Angeles, http://www.dogfight04.com/WesleyClarkSpeechOnly.mov). My sense is that once you've been bitten by the "presidential bug", it's hard to shake it off...unless you were just obliterated in the primaries or the general election (i.e., Muskie in 1972, Mondale in 1984 and Dukakis in 1988); and General Clark was certainly NOT obliterated (he won Oklahoma) and, in fact, came out of the primary experience battle-hardened and smelling like roses. Good people, be advised: I'm stoked...I'm motivated. Clark is what our party needs in the form of a presidential nominee...exuding excellence, down-to-earth, religious, Southern roots but national (indeed, international) in scope and breadth, pro-military, pro-veterans, bright, photogenic (I know that variable is shallow, but this the age of mass-media and high-definition television, so it's important) and (most important, in my opinion) he has vision and a way of communicating that vision and executing that vision in a way that is easy to understand. My goodness, the man is talking about a hundred-year vision....have you ever heard the like?!? Clark is talking about setting things up with the United States one-hundred years down the road in mind...am I the only one feeling the mojo and getting chills on this? This is what the country should have as its leader and primary representative, especially now at the beginning of a new century. Clark will not only lead through his God-given intellect, but also through his heart (remind you of anyone else, maybe a successful, two-term Democrat from the South?). Montana Governor Ben Schweitzer reinforces that very point in the 'Salon' magazine article by Tom Grieve's titled 'Life of the Party' ( http://www.salon.com/) when he observes all of our SUCCESSFUL Democratic nominees/Presidents in recent memory/modern history have been those that led with their hearts. Oh yes, a new day is coming ladies and gentleman, the sun is setting on the Republican dominance of everything...people can't afford it and are just getting sick of it. The American people know the system can't bear much more of this. DeLay is on his way out, and GOP dominance of the House is no longer a certainty (especially post-Terry Schaivo machinations and with Tom DeLay stinking up the place, etc.)...oh yes, a new day is coming. Let me put it another way: I would gladly let the Republicans hold everything for the first eight years of this new century if we Democrats can get the majority (or, all) of the remaining years. Seems like a fair trade to me, eight years for forty or fifty-plus years...seems fair enough to me. Semper Fidelis

Monday, April 18, 2005

Onward and Into Legend-dom: Captain Frederick C. Branch, First African-American Marine Corps Officer Posted by Hello
Morning to all. Can't say that this is a good morning due to the sad news I learned over the weekend and will now post for all of you. Heard from a Marine officer friend of mine (who emailed me the information) that Captain Frederick C. Branch, the first African-American to become a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, passed away Sunday, April 10 2005 at the age of 82. The photo above is of his actual commissioning as a second lieutenant in 1945 (Quantico, Virginia) and the "pinning on" by his wife, Camilla "Peggy" Branch. When I heard the news of his passing, I was stunned. In fact, I'm still stunned, speechless and really don't know what to say that would possibly do justice to the life and accomplishments of this great Marine. More information can be found at the website of the Montford Point Marine Association at http://www.montfordpointmarines.com/ (f.y.i., Montford Point Marines were the first enlisted African-American Marines to be officially allowed in the organization. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the creation and implementation of African-American Marines in 1942. They were called "Montford Point" Marines because they were trained in segregated units at Montford Point Camp/New River, North Carolina which is now a part of Camp Lejeune, home of the 2nd Marine Division). In fact, here's the post from the Montford Point Marine Association website:

April 14, 2005
Marine Corps African American trailblazer dies at 82

The first African American commissioned officer in the US Marine Corps, Frederick C. Branch, died Sunday in Philadelphia at the age of 82. Drafted into the Marine Corps in 1943 Branch went to boot camp at Montford Point Camp, N.C., today known as Camp Johnson. Montford Camp was a segregated Marine Corps training facility near Jacksonville, created in 1942 to train African American Marines. Branch served with the 51st Defense Battalion in the South Pacific. On November 10, 1945, the 170th birthday of the Marine Corps, Branch was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant becoming the first African American to graduate from Marine Corps officer training. Though a reserve officer Branch served on active duty and was a battery commander with an anti-aircraft unit at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Frederick Branch rose to the rank of Capt. before leaving the service in 1952.
In November 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of his commissioning, Senate Resolution 195 honored Branch for his contributions in the face of racial segregation. More recently, the city of Philadelphia honored Branch at the annual NAACP convention with a proclamation from the Mayor of Philadelphia to honor his service and recognize him as a pioneer. A Congressional Resolution submitted for consideration in February commemorates the service to the Nation during World War II of the African American members of the US Marine Corps like Branch, who came to be known as the Montford Point Marines. The Montford Point Marine Association, Inc. is a nonprofit Veteran's organization, established to perpetuate the legacy of the first African Americans who entered the United States Marine Corps from 1942 to 1949, at Montford Point Camp, North Carolina. The Association has 28 Chapters nationwide.

This is a great, great loss to be sure, not only for the Corps but for the entire nation as a whole. To get some idea and appreciation of the significance of Captain Branch's feat, you must understand that the United States Marine Corps was established on 10 November 1775 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although African-Americans have ALWAYS (for the most part) served in the Marine Corps (officially and unofficially), it wasn't until 10 November 1945, or 170 years after the creation of the Marine Corps, that an African-American was allowed to become an officer in the Corps. Again...almost 200 years after the establishment of the Marine Corps. See, the Navy and the Marine Corps (since the Corps is actually within the Department of the Navy) have always been the "drag-asses" when it comes to racial equality and/or any semblance of integration (hey, let's tell it like it is...or like it was), especially when compared to the Army (first African-American Army officer, Henry O. Flipper, commissioned in 1877. U.S. Army established June 14, 1775 and first African-American made officer in 1877, or 102 years after Army's creation. More at http://www.africanamericans.com/HenryFlipper.htm). As previously stated, Captain Branch's departure from the mortal stage is a true loss not only for the Corps but for this American nation as a whole. I remember when I was at OCS and how the building across from where candidates got their haircuts had been recently renamed Branch Hall, after Captain Branch. Wow, I can't believe he's gone. Captain Branch's accomplishments, by becoming the first African-American Marine officer, inspired and paved the way for so many other minority officers (both in the Marines and in other branches, but especially for minoriy officers in the Corps) to serve their country with strength, honor and conviction in peace and in war...a true gift to the American people. And, as a sidenote, I don't think there is any coincidence that Captain Branch passed into glory via Philadelphia...the birthplace of the Marine Corps. In short, Captain Branch was a "Marine's Marine" and he will be greatly missed. Farewell and Semper Fi, Captain Branch...may you have fair winds and following seas. Semper Fidelis

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Today's Lesson: Truth, Fidelity, Honor Posted by Hello
Good morning to all aboard the blog. It is another lovely, spring day in the American Southwest. This will be a quick post (hopefully) and then I'm out. Just to recap on some recent events and then on to the topic of the day. Yesterday was the worst day in recent stock market history with the Dow falling 198 points to 10,087.51 (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=674129); this is, of course, another glowing indicator of the "bang-up job" the current Administration is doing in regards to the American economy...way to go fellas! Also, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has a blog at his website, http://obama.senate.gov/blog/. Now, Senator Obama is the greatest senator on deck at this time (in my humble opinion) and is certainly THE future of the Democratic Party; however, with that said, I'm hoping he'll add a comments section and get out there with the big dogs...you simply have to have a comments section to garnish any respect from your blogging colleagues. Ok, now on to today's topic: truth, fidelity and honor. To put it succinctly, that's what it's all about folks. We must all be able to count on each other and support one another or this American experiment is doomed to failure. We don't want to see the "Balkanization" of this American republic (http://www.answers.com/balkanization&r=67), whereby we all become cloistered in our own, little enclaves unaware and unconcerned about the plight of our fellow countrymen and women. An ugly and uninspired place where neighbor doesn't know neighbor and we all coexist (or, just exist) in our concave, little independent spheres. What was it that Jesse Jackson said at the 1988 Democratic Convention: "...we all may have arrived here on different ships, but we're in the same boat now". Indeed Rev. Jackson and hear, hear...we are all in this thing together. "Balkanized" communities and confederized social orders (as a rule of political thumb) don't work and are usually precursors to the establishment of a federal system of government(http://search.eb.com/elections/macro/5005/17.html). In fact, we've just celebrated the 140th anniversary of the defeat of the most recent American experiment in confederation, the Confederate States of America (http://www.sutler.net/eventlist.asp); we all know how long they lasted...not long at all. But, the Southern experiment in confederation was doomed to fail even without the Union's Columbiads (a type of artillery for all those scratching their heads, http://www.cwartillery.org/ve/seahow.html) pounding them into dust because the whole premise was based on a "me, me"attitude...selfish and self-absorbed. In confederations, the state's concerns and rights supersede the needs and concerns of the central government. To quote a phrase from Star Trek, "...the needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few..."; without that philosophy (generally speaking) as a guiding governing principle, any and all governments lacking it are doomed. So, again, the words for today are truth, fidelity and honor. We must have these ingrained in our collective ethos as an American nation and we must stick together or all will be lost. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, we must all hang together or we will most certainly hang separately. Words of great wisdom that continue to resonate to this day. Semper Fidelis

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Republic on the Fault Lines: Are We Doomed to Repeat History? Posted by Hello
Good morning. Got off to a late start this morning, so a quick post and then I'm out. Today is another noteworthy day in American history in that our nation's greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, was shot and killed at Ford's Theatre on this day, 140 years ago, by disgruntled, Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. Who knows what direction the 16th President of the United States would have taken the country after the Civil War, but there's a pretty good chance he would have provided a healing balm which would have helped close a fetid, cultural wound that wasn't healed (or, at least, closed significantly) for 100 more years...not until the turbulent 1960's. Because of this, I wanted to recap a point I'd made earlier. Echoes of civil war are, sadly, resounding throughout the land once again, just as they did in the mid -19th century. Have we reached an impasse philosophically, have we reached a "political Rubicon", are we too divergent, we Democrats and Republicans? Are our differences irreconcilable? These are serious questions that must be pondered by all Americans. We as a nation are reaching a tipping point. Be advised, the winds of domestic upheaval are a-blowin'...it's time to choose sides...and this Marine is with the party that has consistently stood with the people and stood for intellectualism as well as utilizing ones strength of intellect along with ones strength of faith to solve the great problems (unlike the current Administration). That party is the people's party, the Democratic Party...and one must always stand with the people. Semper Fidelis

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Ugly, Dark Side of Imperialism: John R. Bolton, Power Consolidation and the Sowing of Geopolitical Winds Posted by Hello
Morning to all. It is another beautiful day in the southwestern United States. FYI, I took the GRE (http://www.gre.org/) in January of this year (pretty hard test, sitting at a computer terminal for hours was no fun...did alright...there's room for improvement, although I beat everyone I know that has taken it). Since taking the Graduate Record Exam, I've applied to graduate school and now I'm waiting on pins and needles for some word on my admissions status. Now, with that said, let me jump right into today's topic of discussion: John R. Bolton (not to confuse him with John Bolton, the British comic artist, http://www.johnbolton.com/) and his confirmation hearings that will (undoubtedly and unfortunately) position him as our representative to the United Nations. In my opinion, Mr. Bolton should be the last choice in terms of someone serving at the United Nations as our chief ambassador and representative and certainly not now in today's sensitive and charged geopolitical environment (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/2976.htm). Interestingly enough, I'm not the only one that shares this opinion (http://www.stopbolton.org/). I must say it is striking (to me, at least) in that this is the first time I actually have a strong, personal disliking for a nominee presented by this President to Congress as a candidate for some high government position. For example, Condoleeza Rice, John Negroponte, Porter Goss, etc...those were situations where it was a "nothing personal, strictly professional" kind of thing; folks like me simply had strong political and philosophical differences with those just aforementioned personalities (as well as those NOT mentioned that subscribe to the same neoconservative, socio-political philosophies and agendas). However, with John R. Bolton, there is something else that is awry. Tell me folks, is it me or can you just tell that this guy is one major-league a**hole?!? It's not just that he is one "Wyatt Earp-looking-son-of-a-bitc*" (I know it's crass, but he does weigh heavy on the eyes after awhile...memo to John Bolton, this is 2005 buddy, not 1905...you dig?) nor is it that he has a reputation for having a bad temper (heck, how many people would that disqualify from the position? Hint: a lot). What really disturbs me about Mr. John R. Bolton is: 1) Bolton has expressed, over the years, a deep animosity, antipathy and contempt towards the United Nations in its current matrix (and quite possibly, the whole concept of the United Nations as a governmental/regulating world body all together). There's just no questioning that nor is there any need for a debate...the man is simply ON RECORD repeatedly and viciously attacking the legitimacy and efficacy of the United Nations, and 2) Bolton is the kind of individual that simply doesn't know how to look good unless he's standing on someone (or, something) else. You know what I'm talking about, we all know these kinds of people and most of us have had the sad experience of running into this kind of personality. In fact, one former colleague of Bolton's at the State Department is on record (just yesterday before Congress) describing Bolton as a "kiss up, kick down sort of guy" (http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4389555) ...geez, those aren't exactly the glowing words of praise or endorsement one would want for a public servant that is being asked to represent the American people before an important world body like the United Nations. In fact, Mr. Carl Ford (the former colleague who described Bolton as such) served in the State Departments Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Mr Ford went on to describe Mr. Bolton's character traits in this way:

“I have never seen anyone quite like Mr Bolton. He abuses his authority with little people.”

and, as a

“serial abuser.”

And to top it all off, Mr. Ford is also on record declaring that he considers himself to be a "loyal Republican". In other words, there are Republicans out there that are seriously concerned about John R. Bolton and the current Adminstration's wisdom in positing him as the UN ambassador nominee. Could this be another Bernard Kerik type situation ( http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/41802.htm) all over again? Is this a White House exercising bad character judgement and faulty character assessment once again? Regretfully, I have to report that it is quite probable that the answer to both questions is yes. You see, what makes John Bolton dangerous is that he is the kind of individual who is willing to compromise his integrity to win and in this case "winning" equals going before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, getting the green light, then going before the full Senate and being approved. That's the game John Bolton is playing right now...the President of the United States has nominated him for this illustrious position (with all the fixings and trappings of the office, of course) and he'll be damned if he is slam-dunked and sent home in shame...he is willing and going to do whatever it takes to secure this position...come hell or highwater. That is why it was so easy for him (before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday) to repeatedly deny any and all negative references or inferences that he has made concerning the United Nations over the last decade (although, most of the references and inferences were recorded and/or made "on the record"). You must understand that to dangerous folks like Bolton, none of that matters now because the ends ALWAYS justify the means; and the name of the game, at present, is neoconservative power consolidation across the board and the establishment of a permanent Republican majority domestically and a permanent American empire (economically and militarily) globally stretching from the North Pole to the South Pole. *Sigh*, Ralph Bunche, Adlai E. Stevenson, Andrew Young, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Bill Richardson...where, oh where have you gone (and let me tell you, Simon, Garfunkel and Joe DiMaggio have nothing on this)? Now THOSE were UN ambassadors...but alas, they have faded from the stage. They were ALL great UN ambassadors that not only represented, but exemplified the interests of the United States honorably and admirably. Where does John R. Bolton fit into this equation? Allow me to express the answer to that question in this way and by turning a legendary phrase made by the great and honorable Lloyd Bentsen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Bentsen) during the 1988 Vice-Presidential debate: Mr. Bolton, I knew UN ambassadors, I consider UN ambassadors to be my friends...Mr. Bolton, you're no UN ambassador. Semper Fidelis

Monday, April 11, 2005

Courage, Passion and Vision...An Unbeatable Combination: Today's Democratic Party and the Spirit of Robert F. Kennedy Posted by Hello
Morning folks. Good news: the GOP is currently "on the ropes" in the eyes of the American people (http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/pressrelease.cfm?id=2621) , i.e., Congress getting involved in the Terry Schiavo tragedy, Tom DeLay's slimy, underhanded dealings, the President sinking fast due to his insistence on pushing his asinine Social Security plan, etc. Because of that, I thought I'd rehash a point that maintains it's freshness, relevance and importance in terms of the Democratic Party taking the offensive and rolling back the Republican onslaught (elections 2000, 2002 and 2004) and kicking a little a** ourselves in 2006 and 2008 (wouldn't that be something). As I was taking in the Sunday talk shows yesterday, intellectually absorbing the information...an epiphany. We are quite probably at the very beginning of a new Democratic resurgence, a Democratic revolution. The American people are thirsty for leadership, are thirsty for vision and passion. This is a time for "Robert F. Kennedy's", this is a time for the kind of zeal and vigor that would have propelled RFK to the White House in 1968 (save the tragic events at the Ambassador Hotel that June night). In a nutshell, the Republicans are at the helm, I mean in total control. They have the "trifecta", as Bush likes to call it (legislative, executive and judicial). But, they are wonderfully showing their collective asses, especially when they tried to retool the ethics rules in the House (simply outrageous) and by the way they are driving the country into a ditch in terms of their shoddy, hare-brained domestic and foreign policy schemes. All the while, the American people are watching all of this unfold before their collective eyes. There is an extremely good chance that 2008 could be like FDR in 1932, the American people (having tested the GOP goods...and not liking the aftertaste) are so fed up and disillusioned that they hand the power over to the Democrats for a generation or more (in terms of the White House and Congress). So thorough was the disillusionment that "Republican" and "GOP" were synonomous with curse words. The American people will once again call upon our party to clean up the huge mess created by the Republicans and their GROSS irresponsibility (back then domestic policy related, this time both domestic and foreign policy related) . I believe that day is upon us again. Let them have their "fun" for now (at our expense, unfortunately). However, the republic will survive this assault, this dirge of American anti-intellectualism will not triumph!!! In fact, the republic is desperately waiting for that new day to come. And, believe me that new day WILL come. Now is the time for the Democratic Party to take a deep breath, refit and retool, because our time is right around the corner! Keep the faith. Semper Fidelis

Saturday, April 09, 2005

140 Years Ago Today: the South Surrenders Posted by Hello
Good afternoon to all aboard the blog. This is another one of my unusual additions in that I usually post in the early morning. However, today has been hectic (alot of activities, in fact I just got finished doing a good PT run... I'm still dripping with sweat) but now a lull. Wanted to make a quick post due to the fact that today is a very special day in military history and, even more so, in American history (and world history, for that matter). You see I'm a bit of a Civil war buff (probably better characterized as a Civil War nerd)...I simply love the history and military tactics/strategies of the Civil War. But, you have to understand that it is not at all uncommon for armed forces personnel (both officer and enlisted) to have a penchant for the history of warfare and warfighting; this is ESPECIALLY the case with Marines. All Marines (by their very nature) are students of warfare, the military sciences and military history all together (be advised: this applies to liberal and conservative Marines alike). I have also found in my experience that every Marine has their favorite subject (or, "jones", http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19961031) in terms of the history of war (i.e., some jarheads are nuts about the American Revolution, while others are absolutely bonkers for the Crimean War, while still others can't get enough information about the British-Zulu Wars of the late 19th century or the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, etc.). Generally, though, leathernecks fall into one of three categories when it comes to warfare study: jarheads that are either nuts about World War II (with the primary focus being the Pacific Theater, of course), jarheads that are nuts about Vietnam (particularly, Operation Hastings, all operations during and post-Tet Offensive with alot of emphasis on Operation Dewey Canyon and everything Force Recon related) or jarheads that are nuts about the Civil War...I fall into the latter category. I've visited a few Civil War battlefields (Petersburg, the Shenandoah Valley campaign area of operations, Brownsville, etc.), but I really haven't scratched the surface yet when it comes to battlefield visits. By the way, the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is breathtakingly beautiful...I'm talking jawdropping! When I first saw it, I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was but I did better appreciate why the Confederates were so desperate to keep it for themselves (of course, Union cavalry commander General Phil Sheridan squashed those hopes when he slammed the door on it for all time by destroying Confederate General Jubal Early's forces in October 1864). I'm hoping to one day visit all of the big Civil War battlefields, i.e., Gettysburg, Fredricksburg (although Fredricksburg was a Confederate victory, visiting Marye's Heights where over 90,000 Union troops assaulted and gave their all to no avail is something that must be seen http://www.nps.gov/frsp/maryehts.htm), Antietam, etc. Sorry, I'm getting carried away, forgive me. Again, this day is an important day because 140 years ago today General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant and the combined Grand Armies of the Republic (the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the James, the Army of the Ohio, etc.) at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia (http://www.appomattox.com/html/reenactment.html) and ending the bloodiest four years America has ever known (http://www.civilwar.com/timebot.htm). Of course, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of the Tennessee had not surrendered, still "hoping against hope" and in-action in and around the Carolina's (Johnston would later surrender his army to General Sherman at Durham, North Carolina on 2 May 1865 ). However, Johnston's forces paled when compared to the Army of Northern Virginia which was, in fact, the Confederacy's "flagship" battle organization (the best the South had to offer, the largest army, the best trained, and best equipped). With the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered, it was understood that the South (now "de-fanged", if you will) could no longer prosecute war against the Union. Thus the war, for all intents and purposes, was over. The actual surrender ceremonies for the Army of Northern Virginia (the rebels stacking of arms, furling their flags forever, saying their farewells, etc.) did not take place until 3 days later on 12 April 1865, as the picture above illustrates. However, this day of 9 April 1865 is the day the Southern aggression against the principles of the Union came to an end at a little hamlet, in a piece of corner of Virginia known as Appomattox Courthouse. We must never forget the sacrifices that were made by so many to maintain this Union. In closing, it is a good day...a sad day for Confederates and Confederate sympathizers, but a good day for us "Union-ites". And, to all the Republican/conservative trolls out there: you all don't have the monopoly on warfare study...there definitely ARE Democrats that love the study of warfare, take the study of warfare seriously and that work very hard and diligently to possess an encyclopedic amount of information on the subject matter...take that parcel of information for what it's worth. Semper Fidelis

Thursday, April 07, 2005

WWJD? Bush To Jimmy: No Carter's Allowed Posted by Hello
Greetings to all. It's early Thursday morning and I'm feeling it. What am I feeling? Let me explain. Did you all here about the massive "dis' strike" the Bush Administration doled out to former President Jimmy Carter yesterday, in terms of not allowing the former President to be a member of the official delegation going to Rome (http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/9939, and http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/44019.htm) to pay last respects to Pope John Paul II? Unbelievable, just unbelievable; at such a time as this, the "Bushites" could not lift themselves up into the strata of greatness nor the rarified air of magnanimity that one would expect under these grave circumstances, i.e., the death and mourning of a much beloved Pope. Geez, I'm afraid their pettiness, hard-heartedness and meanness of spirit knows no bounds. By the way, did you know that former President Carter was in office when John Paul II became Pope in 1978 and was the first U.S. President to actually meet with John Paul II in 1979 (http://www.usa-patriotism.com/photos/015.htm) ...you know 1979, that's about the same time the current President was trying to squeeze every bit of petroleum he could out of the earth with his now defunct oil and gas exploration company 'Arbusto' (to no avail) all the while pulling himself off of the deck after one of his innumerous drunken stupours (http://www.answers.com/topic/george-w-bush). Call me "off the mark", but it seems fitting (at least in my humble opinion) that President Carter, who was the first U.S. President to meet with the now passed Pope John Paul II (http://www.uspoliticstoday.com/news/JimmyCarter), would be a welcomed and cherished addition to such a delegation. But of course, the "Bushites" are calling the shots and they don't see it that way (http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0406pope-presidents06.html). I was so irate about how the 39th President of the United States was dissed by the current Administration that I had to get up and sound off about it. In fact, I was so irritated by what happened that I have posted an unusual "double-post" with an illustration post followed by the regular post (see photo below). Like I stated in yesterday's post...this is some bullsh*t. President Carter is a humanitarian of the first class that did much to help this country and the greater humanity during his time in office, continues to do EVEN MORE good after his Presidency and has done nothing to deserve this kind of maltreatment. Let me break it down this way: President Carter was a midshipman at, and graduate of, the United States Naval Academy in 1947, the only Naval Academy grad to become President of the United States (http://www.americanpresident.org/history/jimmycarter/); President Carter served honorably as a naval officer aboard submarines as well as in other naval capacities (http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq60-14.htm); President Carter went on to become a pro-civil rights governor of Georgia in 1971 (http://home.nyc.rr.com/taranto/south.htm); President Carter went on to become the 39th President of the United States in 1976 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/jc39.html); President Carter helped to restore honesty, morality and a sense of integrity back to the White House after the shalacking done by Nixon and the GOP during the Watergate debacle (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/essays/carter.html); President Carter engineered the 'Camp David Accords' that signalled an end to hostilities between Israel and Egypt, long-bitter enemies, in 1978...'the Accords' are a great international and diplomatic feat that still stand the test of time to this very day, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_David_Accords_(1978) ; President Carter, post-White House, went on to become a philanthropic, global crusader whose name causes hearts to glow the world over (http://www.habitat.org/how/carter.html and http://webpages.marshall.edu/~adkin144/carter.html) ; President Carter recently had a U.S. Navy submarine named after him, the fast-attack USS James E. Carter/SSN 23 (first submarine of the SeaWolf class), http://www.navalsubleague.com/sub_news/02-22-05.htm and http://www.navalsubleague.com/sub_news/02-22-05.htm (the ONLY President to have such an honor bestowed upon him); President Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his many years of service and dedication to the promotion of the welfare and well-being of mankind (http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_725232.html). Alright, now after all of that, I'll posit a question: why wouldn't the current President want a statesman of Jimmy Carter's caliber (a statesman who happens to also be a former President of the United States and thus a member of the same fraternal order as the current President) to help represent the United States at the burial ceremony of Pope John Paul II this Friday? Surely, President Carter would be a fine addition to ANY delegation/committee formed to represent the United States of America and pay respects to a fallen world leader, especially a world leader such as Pope John Paul II. Is my logic sound or is it faulty? Please help me understand... again, how is it that former President Carter is NOT a member of this auspicious delegation...a delegation that includes the current President, the current president's father (the 41st President) as well as his father's vanquisher, the 42nd President? How is it that former President Carter is not being allowed to officially represent our country in Rome in proceedings that mark this very sad ocassion? Why is this the SECOND time (the first time being the tsunami relief effort, an effort that could have been greatly enhanced if the talents of President Carter had been included) that former President Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient no less, has been passed over by the current President and the current Administation (http://www.wcjb.com/news.asp?id=12032)?!? Why? Could it be because the current Administration is comprised of petty, small-minded, miserly, begrudgingly "soft-headed" individuals that (http://www.etruth.com/News/Content.aspx?ID=343250&page) are always looking to settle the next "grudge match"? Could it be because President Carter has been a vocal critic of the Bush Administation's domestic and foreign policies (http://talkleft.com/new_archives/005750.html) and since the Bush Administration is so thin-skinned and cannot handle criticism, they went ahead and slammed the door (hard, I might add) in President Carter's face for all the world to see. I guess what we are witnessing is another illustrious example of the current President's policy of "compassionate-conservatism"? Is this what you are talking about Dr. Olasky (http://www.townhall.com/bookclub/olasky.html) when you postulate on the merits of this, your socio-philosophical brainchild? Well, you can count me out. I think the world now knows the exact dimensions in terms of the length and breadth of the current President's so-called "faith"; like they say in these parts, it's about a mile wide and a half-inch thick. Isn't it amazing how President Bush and his loyal following are forever flashing their "Christian credentials" and talking about WWJD (or, What Would Jesus Do?)...I've noticed they do this especially during political campaigns. Well, Mr. President, I think it's safe to say He wouldn't be doing this; CERTAINLY NOT to a good and faithful servant like former President Jimmy Carter. Semper Fidelis