BlackFive: Campus Radicals Harass War Vets

08/30/2005: None of this surprises me. Most of the humanities professors I knew in my undergraduate days were basically dope smoking freaks who were too busy screaming, “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh” in between hangovers during the 1960s. All that marijuana had converted most of their neurons into morons.

If you spoke the truth about the Soviet Union, Red China, Cambodia, and North Korea, you were considered too “judgemental”.

And I went to a university that was quite centrist compared to state colleges and universities, and “liberal arts” colleges.

By the way, Ben Shapiro does a fine job exposing this in his book Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth. While I think he should consider serving in our military–once he finishes his law degree–he definitely serves a good purpose here as a writer. God knows we need people who can make the case for conservatism on the national scene, and Shapiro does that.

My Enlistment Status

08/29/2005: 20 years ago, I enrolled in Army ROTC at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I loved it: the field training exercises (FTXs), the PT, dealing with the Sergeant Major. I was looking forward to a career as an Army officer. In fact, I qualified for a 4-year ROTC scholarship.

Unfortunately, my childhood asthma disqualified me from receiving it, hence I was banished to civilian life.

After September 11, I attempted to join the Air Force. I figured that–as a distance runner who had completed several marathons–I had a reasonable chance of securing a waiver for my childhood asthma. At 34 and pushing 35, I was over the age limit for enlistment, but the cutoff age for a direct commission was 35. I was in the process of applying for a direct commission when I turned 35. At that point, I was age-ineligible for all branches of military service.

This past March, all of that changed. The cutoff age for enlistment was raised to 40 for both the Army National Guard and Army Reserves. Given that I’m still in reasonably good shape at 38, I decided to look into enlistment.

To get the asthma waiver, I have to get a civilian doctor–and the Army–to agree that I’m asthma-free. Toward that end, I took a pulmonary function test (PFT).

I passed it.

I’m awaiting the medical records from my gall bladder surgery from 1999 and a knee injury in which I received a large gash that required stitches. I’ll be submitting that–with my college transcripts–to the recruiter. Hopefully, I’ll get an affirmative answer from the Army.

If I get the clear, I’ll be hoping to enter Basic Training in February or March. I’m wanting to aim for one of the following MOSs:

(1) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)
(2) Combat Engineer
(3) Aircraft Structural Repairer

I’m wanting to go EOD because I figure that’s where our troops are having the darndest time. If I can help get those IEDs the heck away from our troops, then more of them will be able to come home with all their limbs intact.

Combat engineering and aircraft structural repair would be compatable with my undergraduate degree (aeronautical engineering). I took mostly structural analysis classes for my electives, and would love to put some of that to use helping our troops.

Of course, all of this is contingent on getting the official “okie dokie” from the Army.

We shall see.

Vox Day v. Ben Shapiro

08/29/2005: Vox Day and Ben Shapiro are now in the midst of a cyber-brawl. The two WorldNetDaily columnists are fighting over the use of the term “chickenhawk”, an epithet used by the left on pro-war leaders who have never seen combat (such as Bush. Rumsfeld, and Cheney). Vox Day is a Christian libertarian who opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Shapiro–a law student at Harvard–is a rising young star in conservative ranks. Shapiro has written two fine books: Brainwashed and Porn Generation.

While I will defend their rights to use that word, I agree with Shapiro on this: calling conservative leaders “chickenhawks” is a strawman argument. While it would have been better if Bush had served in Vietnam, his National Guard service hardly qualifies him for “chickenhawk” status. After all, he survived Air Force Officer Training School (OTS) and Undergraduate Pilot Training, neither of which are for the faint of heart. In the Air National Guard, Bush flew F-102 fighter planes, whose pilots had a higher fatality rate in peacetime than many Vietnam soldiers did in their tours of duty.

Similarly, Rumsfeld was a Naval aviator before the Vietnam war: making carrier landings would hardly qualify him for “chickenhawk” status. (Cheney, on the other hand, deserves scrutiny over the draft deferments he received.)

However, Vox Day is right about one thing: people who are able-bodied and believe in what we are doing in Iraq need to consider serving in our armed forces. We have soldiers doing three and four tours of duty in Iraq because we do not have the troops to rotate into their places.

If you support the war, your enlistment may help get one of these fine men or women a chance to come home to their families.

(At least, that’s my rationale for wanting to enlist: if I clear the medical, I’m enlisting in either the Army Reserves or the Kentucky National Guard. If I qualify for the MOS that I want, then deployment to Iraq would carry a high likelihood in either case.)

Vox is right about the “practice what you preach” approach with Iraq, and my hat is off to our men and women who are in the service. I hope to join them. My only gripe with Vox on this matter is this: knock it off with the gay baiting! His first paragraph reads:

For all I know, [Shapiro] may have a weak heart, a wooden leg, a predilection for San Francisco bathhouse sex or some other condition that prevents him from joining the military.

Vox: that comment on “San Francisco bathhouse sex” is lower than a bottom-feeder. You forgot about the “Christian” in the “Christian libertarian” label that you ascribe to yourself. Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew with whom I have conversed via e-mail quite frequently. He’s quite insightful, and I agree with him a heck of a lot more often than I agree with you. I’d wager a month’s salary to the charity of my choice that Shapiro is straight as an arrow.

Then again, I just remembered: you are a Southern Baptist (as am I). The convention is full of people who love to play the baiting game. Quit following them.

Anti-Gay Scumbags Ruin Soldiers’ Funerals

08/28/2005: The not-so-reverend Fred Phelps (pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas) is showing exactly why he and his “God hates fags” cohorts are bona fide scum. Yesterday, his little army of cowards demonstrated at the funerals of two Tennessee National Guard soldiers who died in Iraq. They claim God is killing the soldiers for defending a nation (America) that harbors homosexuals. They carried signs saying “God Hates Fags” and “God Hates You.”

Who do these guys work for? Pat Robertson?

As a Christian–and National Guardsman wannabe–this royally infuriates me.

Before I begin bloviating, I want to set the record straight:

(1) I am very much opposed–Biblically–to the homosexual lifestyle. However, that need not be the topic of every sermon. (Jerry Falwell: are you taking notes?)

(2) I absolutely oppose giving government the ability and power to peer into people’s bedrooms to make sure that all couples are locked in the missionary position. A government that big and that powerful is nothing but bad news. Haven’t we all had enough of Stalinism???

Now, back to Phelps…

He should be thanking God that those two fine soldiers–SSgt. Asbury Fred Hawn II and Spc. Gary Reese Jr.–were busting their butts, making the ultimate sacrifice so people like Phelps can run their mouths like bloomin’ idiots! If I were Pat Robertson, I might suggest “taking Phelps out.” However, I support Phelps’ right to be an idiot. In America, even the scum of the earth has rights.

You wanna know what it’s like being a soldier in Iraq? According to a friend of mine–a Marine who took part in the battles for Fallujah and Najaf–here are some key pointers:

(1) Just try going a month without flushing your toilet or taking a shower.
(2) Sleep outside–in your driveway.
(3) Try to sleep while your next door neighbor is spraying an AK-47 at the side of your home. (I can do that for you if you sign a waiver releasing me from damages to your home. ;))
(4) Have your next door neighbor throw some hand grenades at 2 in the morning, just for the noise value. (Sorry…I can’t do that for you. ;))
(5) As you drive to work, stop your car every 50 yards so you can get out to check for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Make sure you check anything that is in the road: dead animals, bags, small boxes. Also remember to check the ditches for such objects. You may need a spotting scope to check for anyone monitoring the traffic: terrorists like to wait until you are at the right spot, then set the bomb off by cell phone.

And look at the bright side: in spite of all of that, we are winning. The terrorist groups in Iraq–mostly made of Syrians, Jordanians, Iranians, and Saudis–are frustrated with our resilience. In spite of kidnappings, beheadings, IEDs, burning of our contractors, America is steadily beating the exsurgents back. Iraqis–especially the Shiites and Kurds–have bought into democracy. Even the Sunnis are vying for a piece of the pie, and are regretting their non-participation in the January elections.

Just think: in January, Iraqis turned out to vote: 60 percent of them. They did so in spite of snipers, IEDs, car bombs, and Mafia-style threats to their families. With their purple fingers, they gave the terrorists (and the New York Times, and the Academic Left) the finger! If they ratify their Constitution this year, they will have accomplished in two years what we did in four. (Our Constitution was not finalized until 1787, 4 years after we received a formal surrender from the Brits.)

On top of that, the removal of Saddam–a genocidal dictator–has brought prospects for peace among Israelis and Palestinians. Saddam financed terrorism in Israel, paying families of suicide bombers $25,000 per bomber. No peace deal had a chance while Saddam was pulling such antics. Since his capture, suicide bombings in Israel have declined remarkably.

None of this would be possible without the sacrifices of soldiers like Hawn and Reese. Some might ask, “Why did God allow them to die?” To that, I have no easy answer. I do know that–even in the Bible–good people did not always die of old age. (Jonathan, Josiah, Stephen–even Jesus–come to mind.) Some things may remain unresolved on this side of eternity. To speculate on this person or that person is arrogance.

Phelps–and his “God Hates Fags” followers–are deplorable and abominable for spitting on the deaths of soldiers who showed more honor in their deaths than Phelps has in his life.

When is Assassination Right?

08/27/2005: Pat Robertson’s “fatwa” against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has prompted angst from most sectors of the Christian and secular world, and support from a small fringe of hacks. Robertson’s stupidity does raise an important question: when is assassination right (if ever)?

The biggest problem I have with Robertson in this matter is he was promoting the idea of killing someone simply for not being on our side. Stalin (13 million dead, not including World War II), Mao Tse Tung (more than 40 million dead), Pol Pot (2 million dead in the killing fields), and Saddam Hussein (over 400,000 dead) provided similar justifications for their killings. By calling for Chavez’s early demise, Robertson effectively carried the same logic toward anyone in our hemisphere who is cool–or contrary–to American interests.

Genocide tends to arise from the Robertsonian school of thought.

Robertson also fails to grasp the law of unintended consequences. He seemed to think that by knocking off Chavez, that we would create a better situation for Venezuelans. This is hardly the case. If Chavez is getting help from Castro now, is it not reasonable to expect that–if Chavez is killed–that Castro would simply continue his efforts to advance Communism in Venezuela? That being the case, whose responsibility would it be to stop that from happening? In the end, we would be required to commit military troops to clean up a mess that we created. (This would probably require a reinstitution of the draft.) We would then have large numbers of American troops in Venezuela, committed indefinitely.

And if you think the deaths in Iraq are bad, it will be far worse in Venezuela. Our soldiers would end up fighting locals that are well-financed with drug money (armed by Castro), have outstanding intelligence networks, are well-versed in kidnappings, assassinations, torture–all the things we used to do with our CIA.

Which leads to exactly why we got out of the business of using the CIA–and even military special operations groups–for such dirty work. Sure, we still do covert operations. Most of that is reconnaisance: low-level intelligence gathering, surveillance, setting up listening posts, at worst diverting money to political allies. But assassinations? Nope…that went out the window in 1975. President Ford decided–rightly–that assassination is not America’s preferred way of implementing foreign policy. By executive order, he took the CIA–and our military–out of the business of conducting assassinations.

That said, is there ever an acceptable reason for carrying out an assassination? Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario #1 (with apologies to Tom Clancy): America is hit with a nuclear attack by terrorists. In our ensuing investigation, we get concrete proof that a certain head of state helped provide logistic and technical expertise to the terrorists. Assuming we have a near-negligible chance to take him alive, would it not be better to assassinate him rather than start a war with his country?

Scenario #2: We are at war with a genocidal dictator who has a very large army. Casualties on both sides are staggering. While we are winning, we are doing so at a very high price. Let’s say we get some actionable intelligence that he–and his military leaders–are having a strategy session, and they are considering launching a nuclear attack on the United States. Let’s say that our intelligence includes the very GPS coordinates of his whereabouts.

If I were President, I’d order my Joint Chiefs of Staff to remove that dictator–and his collaborators–from the gene pool.

When it comes to killing people (especially heads of state), the bar for justification is–and needs to remain–very high. This is why we took Manuel Noriega alive. This is why we took Saddam Hussein alive. This is why Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, Ayatollah Khameini, Bashar al Assad, and Charles Manson are still alive. This is why Police are not allowed to shoot first and ask questions later. This is why soldiers have rules of engagement, and are drilled about them before every mission. This is why we have a judicial process that governs the use of capital punishment.

When the threat is grave enough and decisive action is needed to stop or prevent genocide, then I’d try to take the subject alive. If that is not possible–and mass lives are on the line–then killing is justified.

So far, Chavez has rigged an election and destroyed his country’s economy. That makes him a reprehensible leader for his country, but hardly qualifies him for capital punishment. The last thing we need is a quasi-Christian “leader” like Robertson trying to lower that bar.

Besides, what if Chavez is assassinated? Guess who might end up on trial? You guessed it: Hurricane Pat!

Hurricane Pat Eats Some Humble Pie

08/25/2005: Pat Robertson is having to eat some humble pie for a change.

The other day, Robertson had called for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. His Random Act of Plain Stupidity earned backlash from evangelicals, the State Department, the Bush Administration, and most respectable fronts in the global scene.

Chavez–a Marxist who is buddies with that former aspiring baseball star in Havana–is a pain in the posterior for America. However, being such a nuisance hardly qualifies him for corporal punishment, let alone capital punishment. After all, we took Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein alive.

The bar for justifiable killing is very high, and with good reason. President Ford signed the executive order prohibiting the assassination of heads of state. Failing an extreme compelling reason–hard evidence of genocide, terrorism support, planning an attack on the U.S., aiding and abetting those who are, etc.–we need to stay the heck out of the business of killing heads of state. Even when we need to “take them out”, we should make the effort to take them alive.

Besides…why kill someone when you can sentence him to watch Ronald Reagan movies for the rest of his life?

Yesterday, Robertson first denied that he had in fact called for the “assassination” of Chavez, but merely said he wanted to “take him out.” In fact, he did use the word “assassination”. Confronted with that reality, Robertson finally apologized.

I must confess up front: I’m not a fan–nor ever have been a fan–of Pat Robertson. In 1988, I broke ranks with my evangelical friends and opposed Robertson’s run for Presidency. (His representatives openly courted people in the church at which I attended). I have significant differences with his business model, into which he has embedded a semblance of evangelical theology. Those, however, are topics on which I will bloviate on another day.

Hopefully, Robertson will take this as a wakeup call to be driven more by principle and less by ideology. When you are driven by the latter, then there is no limit to the depths to which you will sink.

Stem Cell Alternatives: This is How Science is Done Right

08/23/2005: While the secular, academic left–and intellectual lightweights such as Johns Edwards and Kerry–have done a fine job ridiculing conservatives for opposing federal funding of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research, Harvard researchers appear to have found a way to create stem cells without creating and destroying human embryos.

THIS is how you advance technology without devaluing humanity.

Robertson: You Don’t Speak for Me!

08/23/2005: In 1988, Pat Robertson ran for President. After his strong showing in the Iowa Caucus, there was considerable speculation over the possibility of “President Robertson”.

Thankfully, Americans woke up and smelled the napalm: we need a Robertson presidency like we need jock itch. Robertson–to his credit–continues to prove exactly why.

Robertson’s latest shock comment–promoting the assassination of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez–is the dumbest thing he’s said since he endorsed Red China’s forced abortion policy.

Chavez is no friend of America, and no friend of freedom, and is an outright disgrace to the Western Hemisphere. That said, it is his prerogative to spew whatever nonsense he wishes. If I were President, I would support–peacefully, but behind the scenes–opponents of Chavez who support free markets, more liberties, who will be better for both Venezuelans and Americans.

However, Chavez should die of old age, not from a sniper’s bullet.

If the Venezuelans wish to seek regime change, then we should support them as they do it for themselves.

Now don’t get me wrong: if we had conclusive evidence that Chavez was actively recruiting and training terrorists–or helping Castro or bin Laden develop WMDs–then he would be fair game. At that point, it would perfectly acceptable to send that message that we will not tolerate those who seek to inflict mass slaughter on Americans.

However, I’d go after him like we did with Noriega: try to take him alive.

But simply killing a hostile leader whose views and visions are loopy? When you start down that road–killing people just because they don’t fit your ideology–that’s how Stalins, Maos, and Pol Pots are born.

Don’t go there Pat.

Able Danger and 9/11: Some Observations

08/20/2005: I have never been a fan of President Clinton. I didn’t vote for him in 1992. I didn’t vote for him in 1996. I won’t vote for his wife in 2008. I supported his impeachment. With the exception of his support of free trade agreements–one of which, NAFTA, was negotiated by Reagan and Bush–almost nothing he did was good for America. While I wish him a nice recovery from his bypass surgery, I hope he and his wife never enter the White House (in an elected capacity) again.

That said, I’m not about to blame him for September 11, even if key policies that led to it were formulated by people in his cabinet.

Why do I say this? It’s simple: there is no way any President–Republican, Democrat, or anyone in between–has any idea what micro-level policy decisions are made on a day to day basis by people who are in an operational capacity. The only gripe I have with him on that front was his choice of Attorney General: Janet Reno was arguably the most inept AG in history. She made Ed “Sleaze Factor” Meese look like an Eagle Scout. Even the Miami Herald–hardly a stalwart of conservative causes–couldn’t stand her.

Because Reno was inept, she relied on her key deputies–such as Jamie Gorelick–to make policy. Unfortunately, Gorelick was also helping to formulate DoD policies regarding intelligence sharing. (This was an egregious conflict of interest.) As a result, we were left with The Wall, to which AG Ashcroft referred in his testimony before the special 9/11 Commission.

Quite frankly, The Wall killed us. While many critics rightly blasted our intelligence networks–who are struggling to fight elusive and mutating threats with a Cold War infrastructure–our intelligence prior to September 11 was actually good. A special military intelligence unit–Able Danger (which brings shades of Tom Clancy’s Op Center)–had tagged Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, the WTC suicide pilots, one year before September 11. As flawed as our intel agencies were, they actually did their job.

Unfortunately, the policy wonks let us down badly. The information was there, but there were too many legal blockades that prevented the timely dissemination of critical information. If there is a legitimate national security threat, then there is no Constitutional reason to forbid the left hand from knowing the affairs of the right hand. (Besides, when Jesus issued that command, He was referring to almsgiving in public, not national security policy.) With proper intel policies, 9/11 was very preventable.

Even worse, the September 11 Comission let us down. From day one, it was a forum for political grandstanding, with Commissioners releasing a report that focused on political neutrality and ignored key facts. Each member of that Commission–Democrat and Republican alike–should be prosecuted. They tried to cover up the fact that they were briefed by the Able Danger team.

Jamie Gorelick had no business serving on that commission; she should have been a witness. That same Commission went to great lengths to get Condoleeza Rice–who had been on the job eight months prior to 9/11–but failed to depose Gorelick, who was a key policymaker for eight years prior to September 11.

While Able Danger showed us how high technology–such as data mining–can help identify terrorists, our human intelligence (assets on the ground collecting information from direct sources) is terribly lacking. It is appropriate to question President Bush and CIA Director Porter Goss what they are doing to (a) bolster our human intelligence assets in hostile arenas and (b) ensure that critical information–such as that obtained by Able Danger–does not fall victim to policy bottlenecks.

This is not simply about hiring more CIA agents and training them to speak Arabic. This is about playing the dirty, bloody game of intelligence gathering: recruiting people with blood on their hands, who have abused the rights of others in the past, but who have–and know who has–critical information. In the intelligence community, there is no such thing as peacetime.

Similarly, intel policy is not simply about passing an executive order declaring The Wall null and void: Bush needs to promote a culture of teamwork and openness among agencies. If somoene has reliable, credible, actionable intelligence, then it needs to be fast-tracked. We cannot afford to have committees spending months deliberating over a credible threat, or a two-star General telling an intelligence operative to shut up.

Of course, data mining success brings up the reality and effectiveness of profiling. The Israelis have used it effectively for decades; in the course of tracking down potential terrorists, it is a perfectly reasonable function of government. It is one thing for a cop to pull somoene over simply for being black; it is another matter for inteligence analysts to focus on people with Middle Eastern names (such as myself). I have no problem with the latter.

Surely the Left, which has extrapolated Constitutional provisions for confiscating and redistributing wealth where no such provisions exist, can see a Constitutional provision for threat profiling. After all, the key word in the 4th Amendment is unreasonable.

It is reasonable to search Arabs (or even Arab-Americans) named Mohammed and Abdullah. It is far short of reasonable to seach 80-year-old Aunt Matilda from Tulsa.