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November 05, 2013

A Few Good Men (and Women)

Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.

- John Stuart Mill, 1867

Last week, the Blog Princess alighted from her editorial high horse long enough to address rumors that Barack Obama - whose interest in being Commander in Chief is so weak even the NSA can't detect it - has put aside his long list of number one priorities to lay waste to the armed forces in a manner reminiscent of John Foregainst Kerry.

This is a man famous for talking... and talking... and talking about all the miracles he'd perform if only those dumb, bomb-throwing terrorists in Congress would stop giving him wedgies and stealing his lunch money. For some reason, the Smartest President Ever, despite being the most intelligent person on the planet (and possibly the multiverse) is continually rendered helpless by far less capable beings. Obama was using this excuse even before drooling hordes of barely sentient Republicans took over the House in 2010. That durned GOP kept... opposing him! With obviously stupid, ignorant WORDS! Sadly, his genius-level IQ was no match for their moronic arguments. He couldn't be blamed, and it was all just too hard, and anyway he inherited a real mess from that incompetent moron Bush.

It didn't help that some time around the time Obama took office, the country officially became ungovernable. Problems formerly used to demonstrate Bush's inability to lead suddenly became Signs of a Deeper Problem Too Big for Even the Anointed One to overcome. At long last, change had come to Capitol Hill and it wasn't good.

No one could possibly have foreseen the obstacles Barack faced: gridlock, partisan sniping, malfunctioning teleprompters. Joe Biden's big mouth. Blah, blah, blah.... lather, rinse, repeat. Occasionally, The Lightworker's own rhetorical brilliance temporarily overwhelmed him and he "misspoke"... 20, 30, 40 times in a row. Sometimes, the misspeaking went on for years without the smartest President ever gaining the slightest clue that he had just... misspoken.

Again. Using exactly the same words.

Fortunately, in the hands of a natural born politician history is infinitely malleable - if you don't like the first draft of history, simply call for a rewrite.

Let's be clear about this - if Obama had a superpower, it would be bullsh**. Or perhaps the ability to utter ream upon ream of frankly unbelievable promises:

Heal the oceans. Or was it the planet? Hell, he's got 8 years now. Why not heal both?

Single handedly restore American moral legitimacy in the eyes of the global community.

Bring enlightenment and democratic values to Egypt and Libya.

Go through the budget line by line, eliminating wasteful spending with a single stroke of his Imperial Pen. Or maybe just send down a budget capable of getting more than 0 votes from his own party.

Close Gitmo.

Bridge the racial divide and end sexism.

Ensure that Evil Dictators don't use chemical weapons on women and children (we're good with the non-chemical weapons).

Stop Bad Apple Insurance Companies from cancelling your policy.

Enact game changing gun control legislation.

Obama is good at making promises. He's not so good at keeping them.

On those rare occasions when our President bestirs himself in style majestical, it is to give the earnest appearance of caring doing something without actually doing anything. After it's too late to do any good, the press dutifully discover that Obama has delegated the hard work (and conveniently, the blame) to one of the throng of inexperienced yes-men-and-women he surrounds himself with. You know, people who are beneath him (and who can therefore be easily thrown under the bus). On those rare occasions when the White House actually does do something, it's done so badly that even Obama's most ardent supporters find themselves closing their eyes and thinking furiously of England.

Given his well established track record of extravagant promises followed by inertia/incompetence, it came as quite a surprise to learn that the President has suddenly sprung into action. Last week, he was trying to force the Marines to wear diaphanous pink tutus and regrettable headgear with a LGBT version of Hellooooooooooo Kitty replacing our beloved chicken on a beach ball.

In the ensuing week, the Editorial Staff read reports that Obama is purging the military of leaders who won't promise to fire on American citizens. Why, he's personally fired 9 senior commanding generals (isn't this redundant?) this year alone!

As we pointed out last week, some of those 9 "generals" were actually admirals, but no matter. You can totally trust the accuracy of these stories. Of course, several of these "generals" supposedly fired for ideological reasons had committed offenses junior officers or enlisted personnel would fry for committing. If holding senior leaders to the standards they get paid to enforce is "ideology", this former Marine wife hopes there's lots more ideology where that came from.

Obama has been accused of snatching the Navy Jack patches right off the uniforms of helplessly blubbering Navy Seals. How do we know this? An article in The Daily Caller cites an unsigned email by an Unnamed Enlisted Advisor. And here we thought that rules like this were why everyone (including officers) hates officers.


This President can't even get his signature legislative accomplishment right or make sure the Healthcare.gov website works, but suddenly he has time to edit Army training manuals and forbid active duty military personnel from supporting Christian groups? Has the military outsourced their mistakes and stupidity to some offshore location? In the past, we were perfectly capable of making our own mistakes (and fixing them). That last part - the part about fixing mistakes - is what makes our military so wonderful. Because we all make mistakes. It's where you go from there that matters.

During the Evil Bu$Hitler-Cheney years, left wing blogs and discussion forums were full of rumors about Bush taking over the military. There were rumors of loyalty oaths and the imposition of martial law. Bush wasn't going to go quietly at the end of his 8 years - he had his own private army of blindly loyal baby killers who had cut their teeth on raping and murdering innocent Afghans and Iraqis and were now going to be set loose upon the American people in some sort of demented rape-and-murderpalooza.

Allegations of war crimes, torture, and sadism were a dime a dozen. And every time, our answer was: these are good people. People who have sworn to uphold the Constitution. Men and women - our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, and parents - who are willing to give their lives to defend the dream that is the United States of America. "Let the system work", we argued. Have faith. Haven't they earned a little faith from you?

I read the swirling conspiracy theories - many of which are virtually identical to ones I remember reading during the Evil Bush YearsTM - and I wonder: whatever happened to trusting that system? Do we really believe that things like this are going on every day and NOT ONE active duty man or woman is brave enough to come forward and put a stop to it?

Really? Not one? Did they all lie down and meekly surrender without a fight?

During the last few years of the Bu$hReich, the Spousal Unit worked on the Joint Staff. Even then, DoD were talking about downsizing the Marine Corps, which had grown top heavy as the armed forces were pared down. The last thing to be pared down were the top ranks:

By almost any measure, the military is more top-heavy an institution than it has been for decades. Today, there are 40 four-star generals and admirals -- one more than in 1971, during the Vietnam War, even though the number of active-duty troops has shrunk by almost half.

The number of active-duty generals and admirals of all rank, meanwhile, has increased by about 13 percent since 1996.

These changes have been in the works for years. I remember, because I recall my husband talking about these plans before the 2008 election was even held:

As the military downsized after the Cold War, the ratio of general and flag officers to lower ranking personnel grew. Now, in the face of at least $350 billion in cuts to national security spending over the next decade and criticism of a top-heavy force, the Pentagon is culling its highest billets.

By the end of 2014, 103 general and flag officer positions will be eliminated, according to Senate testimony this month by senior military representatives.

The overall size of the Army and Marine Corps swelled in the last decade to meet the demands of ground combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the twilight of those conflicts, both services are planning to reduce their numbers through attrition. The Navy and Air Force, meanwhile, are forcing some into early retirement.

Look, I understand suspicion of this administration. Their conduct has been anything but confidence inspiring. What I don't understand is the suggestion that a White House that hasn't managed to focus on anything - including its signature legislative accomplishment - for more than 20 or 30 seconds between fundraisers and golf games has suddenly directed its laser-like focus on destroying the armed forces.

We survived the Clinton years, and many of the same rumors were floating around then. Oh, and that Navy Jack story?

A number of concerned readers contacted Navy Times to determine whether these claims were true.

The Navy has thus far been unable to confirm the validity of the email from the senior official. If it’s legit, then someone in in the spec-ops community got their wires crossed.

“As of September 2013, all Naval Special Warfare personnel are authorized to wear the U.S. flag and the “Don’t Tread on me” uniform patches,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty told Navy Times. “In the past, NSW did not authorize wearing either patch unless one was deployed or in a work-up cycle. However, NSW recently sought special permission from the Chief of Naval Operations staff to wear the patches within the continental United States.”

Now that my husband no longer wears a uniform to work, I don't write as much about the military. He still works for the Marines as a civilian, but I am no longer a part of that proud tradition. But one thing I brought with me into this new life is a deep faith in the honor and integrity of our armed forces.

As with any profession made up of fallible human beings, the military has its share of shirkers and bootlickers. But they also have more than their share of good, honest, hardworking men and women: soldiers, Marines, and airmen who would literally rather die than let their country down. They know the difference between right and wrong, they share a culture and a proud tradition of holding each other accountable. They have earned some small measure of confidence in their ability to stand watch over our freedoms. Too many of them have given their lives to defend our ideals and prosecute our foreign policy objectives.

By all means, watch this administration carefully. Their track record has made it far too easy to believe ill of them, but that doesn't mean we should abandon rational skepticism of unverified stories.

Keep watching, pay attention, and always ask to see the evidence. And try trusting that, as happened with the Army story about Christian extremism, the military can be trusted to police itself when problems come to light.

Posted by Cassandra at November 5, 2013 07:56 AM

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Veterans Day is on the near horizon. Many of us will go to the local watering hole for a free entrée served by teenagers many of who do not know what to think of a room full of war veterans. I wonder if the cognitive dissonance emanating from their expressions belies any feelings of betrayal from their liberal professors teaching revised history? One would hope that the hollowing out of our military in the face of resurgent Russia, betrayed Israel, pissed off Saudi Arabia, al qaeda et al on the march, a disingenuous POTUS scares them. How much can they take before they realize our peril economically and militarily? We shall see how much abuse they can tolerate.

Posted by: vet66 at November 5, 2013 06:06 PM

Trust but verify, yes. But this is the third or fourth(?) year in a row that the Army has had to police itself due to anti-Christian, anti-patriot, pro-Islam rheotoric in it's training manuals being exposed to the light of day. That gets my attention. After policing themselves, they allowed it to happen again and again. That is not the Army that I've known my entire life. That concerns me.

Posted by: DL Sly at November 5, 2013 06:12 PM

this is the third or fourth(?) year in a row that the Army has had to police itself due to anti-Christian, anti-patriot, pro-Islam rheotoric in it's training manuals being exposed to the light of day.

Yes, and repeated abuses (sometimes criminal ones) came to light during the Bush years, too. And were dealt with, sometimes very slowly.

Rules don't prevent bad things from happening. Any group of human beings - yes, even the military! - has its share of criminals, jerks, zealots, and fools. When rules work, they make it easier for bad things to be handled properly. And it appears that the military is doing exactly what it did during the BushReich - when abuses are brought to their attention, they actually do try to fix the problem.

Look at the mission of groups like DEOMI. Its original name (too lazy to look it up) was something along the lines of the Defense Race Relations Something or Other. Its sole purpose was to teach people how to be more sensitive to people of other cultures and races.

And frankly, that's not a bad thing to do. It's just that there are always a few zealots in the woodpile who get religion (though they'd hate to have it framed that way because as we all know, religion is Judgmental and Hate-y) and start testifying all over the place.

Their whole mission is to teach people to think about their racism/sexism/whateverism and root it out. And that's actually not a bad mission, or at least it wouldn't be if men and whites weren't always painted as The Bad Guys, Hogging Their Unearned Race and Gender Privilege All To Their Ownselves.

I doubt, for instance, that any of us would complain if DEOMI starting teaching about black on white racism, or sexist discrimination against men. It's the uneven application that rankles. It feels like the government is taking sides because it IS taking sides: acknowledging only some racism and some sexism.

I guess what I'm saying is, the system appears to be working. People seem to think that a good system prevents bad things from happening, but no system we'd want to live under will ever be able to do that effectively. We know the system works by how it reacts when bad things happen.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 5, 2013 06:46 PM

If he were just lying about what he was going to accomplish, I'd be more likely to chalk it up to overcommitting.

What I'd can't swallow is lying about the harm he's going to refrain from doing while he's supposedly accomplishing something else. It's like a doctor saying, "I'm going to treat your left arm, but I promise not to cut off your right leg while I'm at it." I might not blame him if he didn't prove up to the task of curing my left arm, but if I wake up from anesthesia and he's taken off my right leg anyway, I'm not going to be in a forgiving mood. Not even if he explains that he just had to do it, in order to achieve some even greater goal.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 5, 2013 06:56 PM

Tex, I would be the last person on earth to ask you to forgive him.

It takes a lot for me to accuse someone of lying, especially in politics. Ordinarily, I'm not in favor of the tactic as I've seen far too many people twist the term to unjustly label differences of opinion and values as "lies".

But this is just so offensive - so grossly wrong -that I can hardly believe what I'm hearing.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 5, 2013 07:02 PM

Obama is clearly the worst CIC since Carter, and I say that in full knowledge that Clinton was a ratshit draft dodger that despised our military . . . he was careful to avoid feeding that meme precisely because he knew our military was more highly respected than he was.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at November 5, 2013 10:12 PM

"a few zealots in the woodpile" , Spits coffee all over yet another keyboard.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at November 6, 2013 08:12 AM

*digs around the cabinet for keyboard cleaner, hands it to CAPT Mongo*

Keep it, you'll need it the more you hang around here. We have a tendency to do that..on purpose and not.
BTW, do you like candy?

Posted by: DL Sly at November 6, 2013 03:03 PM

BTW, do you like candy?

Perhaps if the two captains are ever in Subic Bay together, Mike can introduce them.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 6, 2013 04:05 PM

Excellent article, thank you. On one hand i'm glad I'm out. On the other I wish I could keep a closer eye on things.

Posted by: Glenn555 at November 6, 2013 05:03 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Glenn :)

The Spousal Unit says, "Boy am I glad I don't have to deal with this nonsense anymore..." at least once a month.

Posted by: Cass at November 6, 2013 05:53 PM

"BTW, do you like candy?"

Candy who? ;-)

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at November 6, 2013 09:13 PM

Addendum: "Most" of my time in Subic Bay was spent at the Christian Science Reading Room on Magsaysay Circle (fingers crossed behind back).

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at November 6, 2013 09:22 PM

Cass, just a word to Spousal Unit: The Best Marine is a SUBMARINE! Still, glad I get to lurk here everyday.

Posted by: Glenn555 at November 7, 2013 06:54 AM

Capt. Mongo, I thought I recognized you!

Posted by: Glenn555 at November 7, 2013 06:56 AM


I was the serious, studious one in the corner. Well, maybe not entirely ;-)

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at November 7, 2013 11:49 AM

Not entirely studious? Serious? Or in the corner? Inquiring minds and all....

Posted by: DL Sly at November 7, 2013 12:32 PM

In my day it wasn't WHIV,SIV, but Olongopo was rarely spoken of when back from WESPAC. BTW, I never brought anything back to the boat that couldn't be washed off.. we had great Corpsman on submarines. For a very good reason.

Posted by: Glenn555 at November 7, 2013 01:19 PM

I've read your blog for years and have always enjoyed your opinions, insights, and experiences. I don't entirely disagree with the basic premise, but believe that you failed to consider all the implications. I've been through years of downsizing at different times in my industry, and those on the edge in terms of age or performance are usually the focus when staff cuts come. What you didn't take into account is the influence of base human nature driven by grudges and ideology. Economics might drive the reductions, but never think that grievance/ideology aren't steering the car. That is all the explanation needed to understand the seemingly inexplicable attack on Christian and Catholic faith, the ideological PC drive to align with progressive and anti constitutional viewpoints that keep making their way into the news.

Posted by: Clayton at November 10, 2013 10:34 AM