color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: February 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Truly Honoring Our Dead

Dear Secretary Gates and President Obama (and the media):

For the past week or so, many milbloggers have been discussing the media's request for you and the President to reconsider the ban on photographing the flag-draped coffins of military members killed in service to their country as they arrive at Dover, DE.

I have commented on a number of these blogs, and now I weigh in here.

If you read my blog, you would know that in Oct. '05, our youngest son, Noah had the honor of escorting his good friend and brother SPC Thomas Byrd to his final rest. He accompanied Tommy from Dover to Chicago to Tucson. He and I spoke a number of times before, during and after his mission. He spoke (and I blogged) of the kindness and the respect of those he came in contact with on his journey. I told the story of Tommy and Noah's last journey together HERE HERE HERE and HERE.

Because our son had been wounded and returned stateside a few weeks before, he was not there when the IED took Tommy and four other brothers in his squad. When he first learned that he had been granted the honor of taking Tommy home, he told me that when they all went off to war, they promised each other that they would bring each other home. "This isn't how we thought it would happen, Ma." To our son, the opportunity to greet his friend at Dover and have that private reunion with him and the interactions as they transferred between planes and when they reached their final destination were moments that would not be -- nor could they ever be -- the same if the media were present and snapping away.

The final minutes with his friend were solemn and special and private moments that are -- and should remain -- reserved for those who understand the sacrifice. They do not have to personally know the soldier, but they do have to BE a soldier or family to understand. And understanding in this case is just not the same as knowing. You will find many of those moments recounted in "Taking Chance" (be sure to read all the links -- it will be worth your time) and in Jim Sheeler's "Final Salute".

As I have said in any number of comments on this story of reconsidering the ban, what is to be accomplished by lifting the ban? Will it somehow make the death(s) more meaningful? Will the image of a flag-draped coffin on the front page of the local newspaper or the New York Times or on the local television station somehow ease the grief of the families? Or could the release of such photos for any all purposes demean and belittle the sacrifice of the dead and their families?

Those who say that it is a "right" for all Americans to pay their respects for those who made the sacrifice and should not be a right held exclusively for the families, I say it is a right that SHOULD be held exclusively for the families. If a family wishes the media at their soldier’s arrival, fine… but otherwise the media should remain barred. To those who say they wish these photos so that the "public" can show their respect for the dead, I say, if it takes photos of flag-draped caskets to inspire someone to mourn our war dead, “respecting” the dead is not their intention.

We do not hide our heroes. We speak their names. We tell their stories. We celebrate their lives. We mourn their deaths. Any who wish to honor those who have died may join us in those undertakings. However, photos of the caskets are so singularly subject to misuse and abuse — to demean their deaths, to undermine the cause for which they willingly served, to serve purposes for which the dead have no say — THAT is why the ban should remain.

Is there some monetary or political profit to be made on the dead? Yes, I see. Maintain the ban.

I have sent my comment, but ask that you share your thoughts with Secretary Gates:

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

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Loose Lips... & Ships??

This just makes me (and the DH) absolutely head spinning CRAZY!

WASHINGTON - For the third consecutive year, a classified Pentagon assessment has concluded there is a significant risk that the US military could not respond quickly and fully to any new crisis, the Associated Press has learned.


Senior military officials spoke about the report on condition of anonymity because it is a classified document.

What part of CLASSIFIED did they not understand??!! (Not confidential... not embargoed info to be published at some later time -- but CLASSIFIED!!!) Find the "senior military officials", try them and then HANG them or put them IN FRONT of a firing squad. I bet that would end these "anonymous" leaks PDQ. It's not that I think the information that was leaked (or at least published) is not something we all know (generally), but let's start with the PRINCIPLE of classified... Perhaps we need to dumb down the instructions: CLASSIFIED means SECRET information that you do not discuss with the media, the public or anyone that does not have the appropriate SECURITY clearance (as in secure... as in keeping us safe...)

On the other hand, if the report really isn't classified in the sense that those in the military or the [professional] Intelligence community might understand (that would exclude DiFi HERE and HERE among other places calling her out) but is, instead, only confidential until sent to Congress (whose members can't keep a secret and haven't the wherewithal to parse through more than the media's opinion of legislation and all things governmental (the Congressional Recovery Assistance Program, for example) and this report has been leaked to underscore the stupidity and folly of calling for budget cuts to force readiness initiatives in the DoD budget... well, then OK. But CLASSIFIED?? CLASSIFIED??

And lastly, the truly important part of the assessment isn't that the military is stretched thin, but these:
The assessment finds that the United States continues to face persistent terrorist threats...
This year's assessment finds many of the same global security issues as previous years - ranging from terrorist organizations and unstable governments to the potential for high-tech cyber attacks.
"This is a chairman who looks around the world and sees - right now, today - immediate, near-term problems like North Korea, the larger questions of Pakistan and its future, Iran and what is going on there, Russia and Georgia, Venezuela, which has a close relationship with Russia and is buying arms all over the place, and Cuba," Goure said.

In case you can't suss the message in those quotes: you cannot get rid of crime by getting rid of the police or reducing the weapons available to them. I was going to say that it was not a suggestion that the U.S. be the policeman of the world, but then it occurred to me: "If not us, then who??" (Just a gentle reminder that WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS! even if imanutjob, hugobaby, vladimir, et al. don't seem to think so.)

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Monday, February 16, 2009


Our friend CJ at a Soldier's Perspective (h/t Greyhawk) has a MUST READ posting of some of the things in the Congressional Recovery Assistance Program (as Mike Huckabee so aptly calls it)... and a friend sent this to me this morning:

Written by Senator Tom Coburn
Tuesday, 10 February 2009

[Senator Coburn recently gave this speech on the floor of the Senate]

We are going in exactly the wrong direction. We ought to be standing on the principles that made this country great.

There ought to be a review of every program in the Federal Government that is not effective, that is not efficient, that is wasteful or fraudulent, and we ought to get rid of it right now. We ought to say, Gone, to be able to pay for a real stimulus plan that might, in fact, have some impact.

I would be remiss if I didn't remind everybody that next week we are going to hear from the Obama administration wanting another $500 billion. Outside of this ["stimulus" bill], they are going to want another $500 billion to handle the banking system.

I want to make sure the American people know what is in this Stimulus bill. I think once they know what is in this bill, they are going to reject it out of hand. Let me read for my colleagues some of the things that are in this bill.

The biggest earmark in history is in this bill. There is $2 billion in this bill to build a coal plant with zero emissions. That would be great, maybe, if we had the technology, but the greatest brains in the world sitting at MIT say we don't have the technology yet to do that.

Why would we build a $2 billion powerplant we don't have the technology for that we know will come back and ask for another $2 billion and another $2 billion and another $2 billion when we could build a demonstration project that might cost $150 million or $200 million? There is nothing wrong with having coal-fired plants that don't produce pollution; I am not against that. Even the Washington Post said the technology isn't there. It is a boondoggle. Why would we do that?

We eliminated tonight a $246 million payback for the large movie studios in Hollywood.

We are going to spend $88 million to study whether we ought to buy a new ice breaker for the Coast Guard. You know what. The Coast Guard needs a new ice breaker. Why do we need to spend $88 million? They have two ice breakers now that they could retrofit and fix and come up with equivalent to what they needed to and not spend the $1 billion they are going to come back and ask for, for another ice breaker, so why would we spend $88 million doing that?

We are going to spend $448 million to build the Department of Homeland Security a new building. We have $1.3 trillion worth of empty buildings right now, and because it has been blocked in Congress we can't sell them, we can't raze them, we can't do anything, but we are going to spend money on a new building here in Washington.

We are going to spend another $248 million for new furniture for that building; a quarter of a billion dollars for new furniture. What about the furniture the Department of Homeland Security has now? These are tough times. Should we be buying new furniture? How about using what we have? That is what a family would do. They would use what they have. They wouldn't go out and spend $248 million on furniture.

How about buying $600 million worth of hybrid vehicles? Do you know what I would say? Right now times are tough; I would rather Americans have new cars than Federal employees have new cars. What is wrong with the cars we have? Dumping $600 million worth of used vehicles on the used vehicle market right now is one of the worst things we could do. Instead, we are going to spend $600 million buying new cars for Federal employees.

There is $400 million in here to prevent STDs. I have a lot of experience on that. I have delivered 4,000 babies. We don't need to spend $400 million on STDs. What we need to do is properly educate about the infection rates and the effectiveness of methods of prevention. That doesn't take a penny more. You can write that on one piece of paper and teach every kid in this country, but we don't need to spend $400 million on it. It is not a priority.

How about $150 million for a Smithsonian museum? Tell me how that helps get us out of a recession. Tell me how that is a priority. Would the average American think that is a priority that we ought to be mortgaging our kids' future to spend another $150 million at the Smithsonian?

How about $1 billion for the 2010 census? So everybody knows, the census is so poorly managed that the census in 2010 is going to cost twice what it cost 10 years ago, and we wasted $800 million on a contract because it was no-bid that didn't perform. Nobody got fired, no competitive bidding, and we blew $800 million.

We have $75 million for smoking cessation activities, which probably is a great idea, but we just passed a bill, the SCHIP bill, that we need to get 21 million more Americans smoking to be able to pay for that bill. That doesn't make sense.

How about $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges? I mean, did we talk with Dell and Hewlett-Packard and say, How do we make you all do better? Is there not a market force that could make that better? Will we actually buy on a true competitive bid?

No, because there is nothing that requires competitive bidding in anything in this bill. There is nothing that requires it. It is one of the things President Obama said he was going to mandate at the Federal Government, but there is no competitive bidding in this bill at all.

We have $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas. Well, that will put 10 or 15 people to work. Is that a priority for us right now?

There is $6 billion to turn Federal buildings into green buildings. That is a priority, versus somebody getting a job outside of Washington, a job that actually produces something, that actually increases wealth?

How about $500 million for State and local fire stations? Where do you find in the Constitution us paying for local fire stations within our realm of prerogatives? None of it is competitively bid.

Next is $1.2 billion for youth activities. Who does that employ? What does that mean?

How about $88 million for renovating the public health service building? You know, if we could sell half of the $1.3 trillion worth of properties we have, we could take care of every Federal building requirement and backlog we have.

Then there's $412 million for CDC [Centers for disease Control] buildings and property. We spent billions on a new center and headquarters for CDC. Is that a priority? If we are going to spend $412 million on building buildings, let's build one that will produce something, one that will give us something.

How about $850 million for that most ``efficient'' Amtrak that hasn't made any money since 1976 and continues to have $2 billion or $3 billion a year in subsidies?

Here is one of my favorites: $75 million to construct a new ``security training'' facility for State Department security officers. We already have four other facilities already available to train them. But they want theirs. By the way, it is going to be in West Virginia. I wonder how that got there.

So we are going to build a new training facility that duplicates four others that we already have that could easily do what we need to do. But because we have a stimulus package, we are going to add in oink pork.

How about $200 million in funding for a lease - not buying, but a lease - of alternative energy vehicles on military installations?

We are going to bail out the States on Medicaid. Total all of the health programs in this, and we are going to transfer $150 billion out of the private sector and we are going to move it to the Federal Government. You talk about backdooring national health care.

Henry Waxman has to be smiling big today. He wants a single-payer Government-run health care system. We are going to move another $150 billion to the Federal Government from the private sector.

We are going to eliminate fees on loans from the Small Business Administration. You know what that does? That pushes productive capital to unproductive projects. It is exactly the wrong thing to do.

We are going to spend $524 million for information technology upgrades that the Appropriations Committee claims will create 388 jobs. If you do the math on that, that is $1.5 million a job. Don't you love the efficiency of Washington thinking?

We are going to create $79 billion in additional money for the States, a ``slush fund,'' to bail out States and provide millions of dollars for education costs. How many of you think that will ever go away?

Once the State education programs get $79 billion over 2 years, do you think that will ever go away? The cry and hue of taking "our money" away, even though it was a stimulus and supposed to be limited, it will never go away. So we will continue putting that forward until our kids have grandkids of their own.

There is about $47 billion for a variety of energy programs that are primarily focused on renewable energy. I am fine with spending that. But we ought to get something for it. There ought to be metrics. There are no metrics. It is pie in the sky, saying we will throw some money at it.

Let me conclude by saying we are at a seminal moment in our country. We will either start living within the confines of realism and responsibility or we will blow it and we will create the downfall of the greatest nation that ever lived.

This bill is the start of that downfall. To abandon a market-oriented society and transfer it to a Soviet-style, government-centered, bureaucratic-run and mandated program, that is the thing that will put the stake in the heart of freedom in this country.

I hope the American people know what is in this bill. I am doing everything I can to make sure they know. But more important, I hope somebody is listening who will treat the ``pneumonia'' we are faced with today, which is the housing and mortgage markets. It doesn't matter how much money we spend in this bill. It is doomed to failure unless we fix that problem first.

Failing that, we will go down in history as the Congress that undermined the future and vitality of this country. Let it not be so.

Too late... too late, America...

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Three dead bodies turn up at the mortuary, all with very big smiles on their faces. The coroner calls the police to tell them what has happened. The Coroner tells the Inspector:

"First body is a 72 year old Frenchman. He died of heart failure while with his mistress. Hence the enormous smile."

"The second body is an Irishman, 25 years of age. He won a thousand euros on the lottery and spent it all on whiskey. Died of alcohol poisoning, hence the smile."

The Inspector asked, "What of the third body?"

"Ah," says the coroner, "This is the most unusual one. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, 66, struck by lightning."

"Why is she smiling then?" inquires the Inspector.

"Thought she was having her picture taken."

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Walking in a....

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

people will never knowingly adopt socialism

If we forget history, we lose a very valuable tool!

Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 - December 19, 1968) was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

The Socialist Party candidate for President of the US, Norman Thomas, said this in a 1944 campaign speech:
"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of 'liberalism,' they will adopt every principle of our socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without ever knowing how it happened." He went on to say: "I no longer need to run on the Socialist Party ticket because the Democrat Party has now adopted our platform."
As the Wall Street Journal opinesabout the "stimulus" bill,

There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

$600 million more for the federal government to buy new cars. Uncle Sam already spends $3 billion a year on its fleet of 600,000 vehicles. Congress also wants to spend $7 billion for modernizing federal buildings and facilities. The Smithsonian is targeted to receive $150 million; we love the Smithsonian, too, but this is a job creator?
Another "stimulus" secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments -- that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There's $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don't pay income tax. While some of that may be justified to help poorer Americans ride out the recession, they aren't job creators.

As I said to my [Republican] Senators and to my [Democrat] Congresswoman (who should be ASHAMED for voting FOR the friggin' "plan"),


and if you want to know how those politicians who want to spend a TRILLION DOLLARS think, it's just like these Verizon employees who do not know the difference between CENTS and DOLLARS!! (or who just don't care)

Here is a place to find your Senators' fax numbers and emails just in case you'd like to tell them to JUST SAY NO

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