The Last Full Measure

In your city, it’s been eleven years since a firefighter was killed in the line of duty. Your department is busy, but you are good at what you do and it’s rare to see one of your own die in service.

A week ago, the unthinkable happened. Now you’re burying your brother.

You aren’t used to standing at attention for long periods. It’s been a long time since you did that. Three minutes doesn’t sound like much until you have to hold a sharp salute for that long. You didn’t even want to think about it because you didn’t want to face reality.

You’re called to attention. You snap to. Heels together. Feet planted at a 45-degree angle. Knees slightly bent. Shoulders back. Chest out. Hands closed, thumbs lined up with the seams of your trousers. You’ve been trained by the military, so you can assume that position without thinking.

“Pre-sent…ARMS!”

Four-count up; open your right hand as you bring it to your eyebrow. Keep your hand perfectly bladed. Straight line from your elbow to the tips of your fingers. Upper arm at a 90-degree angle to your body. Don’t waver, no matter how tired your arm may be. If, God forbid, a tear makes its way down your face, it must go unattended. Your muscles are screaming. Do not break your salute.

“Order…ARMS!”

Four-count. Drop your hand slowly, closing it again when it returns to your side. Hike to your rig, already parked in position for the procession. When you get in, you talk and joke a little bit to try and take your mind off of the gravity of what you’re doing; you do it every day after rough calls so it’s second nature by now. This isn’t the movies – you sit and wait 45 minutes for the procession to begin. After 20 minutes you thank God that the techs fixed your air conditioning yesterday.

The procession winds its way through the city. The entire route is lined with people. It seems as if the city has emptied to pay their respects. You didn’t know that so many still cared. This isn’t a parade, they told you, but you can’t help it. There are kids in the crowd. You wave back. At every intersection closed to make way there is a fire unit, its members lined up beside their rigs. Police squads, even the ones normally off duty during daylight hours, are crisply lined up along the route, standing and saluting your brother.

At the end of his final tour, you line up with your brothers and sisters for a long time, patiently waiting for everyone in the procession to arrive. His flag-draped casket is lowered from the engine. The captain calls everyone to attention.

“Pre-sent…ARMS!”

Four-count up. Hold it. God, it’s hot. My buddy would be laughing and calling me an pansy right now if he were with me.

“Order…ARMS!”

Four-count down.

The bell tolls 333 – three rings of the bell three times.

“Ceremony…REST!”

You relax. The honor guard folds the flag. You see his young wife stunned to the point of being nearly expressionless. You think about how brutally unfair it is to her. You think about what an amazing father he would have made. You silently berate God as the flag is presented. Why him? Why now? He’s too young!

Then you realize: there is never an acceptable time. Ten years? Twenty years? It would still hurt in ways that you don’t even want to imagine. Why him? Because he was a good man willing to put himself in harm’s way to try to make the world a better place.

It’s going to hurt. There is no way to stop that, but you know that your hurt is nothing compared to his wife, parents, and family. There is no way to stop the pain. You know that death is a part of life, but you can’t stop it from hurting – and you know you shouldn’t try.

A lone bagpiper begins the strains of “Amazing Grace.” After one verse, the full pipes and drums join in. You tell yourself to hold it together. When the full corps falls silent the lone piper, still playing, walks away, the fading cry of a familiar hymn echoing through the silence.

You hear the last call. You pretend you aren’t affected. The dispatcher – whom you know personally – calls him by name three times, then calls his final resting place by its address, and you wonder how he does it without losing his vocal cadence. The dispatcher calls the address of the cemetery and announces that your brother’s resting place is exactly where you are standing.

“Atten-TION!”

Snap to.

“Pre-sent….ARMS!”

Four-count up. The bugler plays Taps. This is where you always lose it – at every military and police memorial you have attended in uniform, tears always begin spilling down your face at this part. Today is no exception. Don’t move. Hold your salute, no matter what.

“Order….ARMS!”

Four-count down.

“Dis-MISSED!”

As you walk back to the rig to return to the station, you suddenly feel a pang of desperation. You’re leaving him here. The finality hits you in a way it hadn’t before. You remember when you tripped over your own two feet one night and bit gravel, then heard his voice behind you chuckling just before he ran to your side and playfully did a mock patient assessment, saying, “don’t worry, I’m here to help!” Then he pulled you to your feet and clapped you on the shoulder. He didn’t have to ask if you were okay, because he knew from experience that even if you were hurt, you wouldn’t have admitted it.

With that happy memory, you walk to the rig without looking back. In 48 hours you’ll be back, and you’ll wish he was there. You still have all your other brothers and sisters with you. You’ll carry each other. You’ll never forget his promise, no matter what the cost, to pay the price. You silently make the same promise.

It’s My Life

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. ~ C.S. Lewis

Very few people outside the gay community know the truth behind the famous Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick. I dare say that very few inside the gay community know what really happened – in fact, I’d guess most don’t even know what the case was about at all. Way back in 1982, homosexuality was still very taboo, and when an Atlanta police officer saw Michael Hardwick throw a beer bottle away in a trash can outside a gay bar he got involved. Drinking in public (meaning outside of a bar or home) is still illegal in many places; the cop who saw him throw the bottle away immediately cited him for drinking in public. He originally wrote “Wednesday” as the court date but later scratched it out and wrote “Tuesday” – so when Tuesday rolled around and Hardwick hadn’t appeared, the cop immediately went to serve an arrest warrant at his home. He wasn’t there, and when he found out there was a warrant out for his arrest he instantly went to the court to pay the ticket and quash the warrant. The court clerk claimed that the warrant hadn’t even been processed yet. The cop, however, went again the very next day to arrest him (with no warrant) and saw a guest sleeping off a hangover on his couch. He was arrested for sodomy.

What resulted was Bowers v. Hardwick. The decision was that homosexual sex between consenting adults was considered a morally bankrupt act and could not be protected by any law governing privacy rights. 21 years later, it was overturned.

In September of 1998, after my family had moved to Phoenix, a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy entered an apartment in Houston with his gun drawn and arrested John Lawrence and Tyron Garner. A neighbor who had a previous relationship with Garner, Robert Eubanks, had called in a false report that there was a man with a gun “going crazy” in the apartment. The deputy entered an unlocked door to find the two engaged in sex. The pair were charged with sodomy. Eubanks, when the lie was discovered, served a pittance – 15 days in jail. Lawrence and Garner ended up more than $1000 out of pocket for bail and fines. After substantive disappointments in Texas courts, the case went to the US Supreme Court, where in 2003 it was decided in a 6-3 decision to overturn Bowers – they determined that sodomy laws flew in the face of equal rights protections in the Constitution. It’s worth noting that Sandra Day-O’Connor wrote an opinion for the majority; she had also voted with the majority in Bowers. She reversed her own decision.

I told you that story to tell you this one.

The Democrats today under President Obama would have us all believe that bigger government and limited individual liberties are the only thing that will make this country stable. They tell us that they know better – we just need to quietly agree and do what they say. You can’t make your own decisions. You can’t determine whether to buy incandescent light bulbs or CFL’s; we’ll make that decision for you. You don’t get a choice in which appliances you have in your home; there are laws that say your refrigerator, washer/dryer, microwave and toilet must all meet certain energy and water standards. You are required to purchase health insurance now, regardless of the cost, and if you don’t you’ll pay a hefty tax penalty that you couldn’t afford in the first place (and when you don’t pay it, you’ll find your wages being garnished).

Congress is supposed to serve the people, yet the people have no say in whether they get a raise. There are term limits for the presidency but not for the Senate or House of Representatives, leaving the door open for politicians to make a career out of their “service”. The same lawmakers who continually vote themselves raises tell us that we have no right to make sure that those who are voting are legally eligible. We shouldn’t have to show ID at a polling place to put a person in office who might not be honest. We don’t get a say in whether the laws of this nation are upheld, and if we try to assert one, we are branded racists.

The reality is that this is still America, and we still have a say whether the liberals want us to or not. They are currently pushing Ron Paul and Mitt Romney through their puppets in the MSM in an effort to fracture the conservative movement. Obama has set up an administration full of radicals who want to see this country give up its freedom and embrace communism so that the ruling class – wealthy liberals who use their own brand of morality as a weapon – can take over power once and for all. Then we really won’t have a say.

I will stop breathing before I allow that to happen to my country. I will die on my feet before I live on my knees. Our founding fathers would have been the first to admit that they weren’t perfect. There were some things they didn’t get right, but many others that they understood perfectly, and were they to see the liberties that we have given up they would rouse a new revolution on the spot.

The quote I opened this missive with was added to an article written by Kelly Grayson, a man well-known to the EMS community all over the world. Grayson wrote an article about three paramedics in Florida who have recently been fired for something they did at home, on their own time. The medics had, for years, been employed by a private EMS company called EVAC, who had no rules about smoking at all. Volutia County decided to take over EMS services, however, and their rules were now in effect: all uniformed public safety employees – including police, fire and EMS – were barred from smoking of any kind, including tobacco. Those employees (only uniformed employees are affected, everyone else is allowed) are held to a different standard and are now required to pass a nicotine blood test. Three veteran paramedics failed the test and lost their jobs.

So this is for those in power who think I can’t make my own choices. If you’re itching for a fight, shut up and bring it – I will not slowly boil to death like a frog in a pan. I am officially pissed. You will not take my freedoms one at a time, because I have long noticed it and now the pendulum is about to swing the other way. (I’m sure that uber-liberal Jon Bon Jovi would be mortified that I would use his anthem to raise my middle finger to the ruling class, but I think it’s appropriate.)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-oL8PzM_XE]

God Bless America

Here in Arizona, we’re winding down the last hour of the 235th birthday of our country. It rained in the Valley of the Sun, so fireworks were cancelled. We had our own natural version: constant cloud-to-ground lightning, which I’ve never been a fan of. Where I grew up that was usually a sign of a coming tornado.

I talked to a man today who is celebrating his first year of American citizenship. He still speaks with an accent, but you can see the joy on his face and hear it in his voice…he is proud as all hell to finally be an American. He went through all the legal channels. He applied for a visa, got a job, changed his visa with sponsorship, went to school, and went through the long process of becoming a naturalized citizen. He knew things that I was surprised at, facts about this country that most people don’t know (I just happen to know them because I’m a total nerd, apparently). This man was positively beaming for the Fourth of July. He knew that our Declaration of Independence was actually ratified on July 2, and it took two days for the news to filter out to the rest of the colonies. He knew that the US Flag that we know was flown then was not all that important at the time, and different regiments fought under different flags depending on where they were from. He even knew that our Founding Fathers still considered themselves good Englishmen, and that their ideas were not novel for the time (having been, in fact, based on English Common Law).

He had no judgment for where America is today. He was simply happy to be here. He wasn’t independently wealthy, he was a working-class man who wanted a better life for himself and was willing to work for it.

Rick Rescorla was born in England in 1939 and, during the Allied push against the Nazis, he idolized the American soldiers based in his hometown of Hayle. After serving in the British army as a paratrooper, Rescorla came to America and enlisted in the US Army. He fought with the 7th Infantry at the Battle of Ia Drang and earned the nickname “Hardcore” from other members of the platoon. He, too, worked to earn his citizenship and eventually found his way to a position as the director of security at Morgan Stanley at the World Trade Center. In 1992, he warned the Port Authority that terrorists would have a perfect target in the WTC – specifically, he said that any terrorist worth a damn would put a truck bomb between the pillars in the parking sublevels. A year later, after the PA ignored his advice, Muslim extremists did exactly that. Rick led the evacuation of both towers and refused to leave until every other soul was out.

Eight years later, Rescorla was supposed to be on vacation but remained on to attend a meeting about Morgan Stanley’s lawsuit against the PA for the security lapses leading up to the 1993 bombing. He was preparing for that meeting when Tower 1 was struck. While the PA advised everyone to remain inside the buildings, Rescorla moved forward with the evacuation of all of Morgan Stanley’s employees from Tower 2. With a bullhorn in his hand, he called on everyone to “be good Americans!” and “be proud to be an American!” He even sang patriotic songs to lighten the tension. He managed to evacuate nearly all of Morgan Stanley’s employees and even a few other floors before the second plane ever hit, saving nearly four thousand lives in the process. He was last seen hiking the stairs somewhere around the tenth floor as the tower began to collapse. He had refused to leave until he’d found everyone. His remains were never found.

I think he’d be saddened if he could see that we’ve learned next to nothing from that day. However, like him, it doesn’t matter what happens – I may be unhappy with where my country is right now, and I may fear the direction she’s headed in, but I’m still damn proud to be an American. Nobody will ever be able to take that away from me.

It was Americans who invented the light bulb, the telephone and a host of other things that we take for granted today. America has led the way in medical research, having at one point eradicated diseases such as polio and leprosy within its borders (thanks to unchecked illegal immigration, that has gone by the wayside). Americans invented the automobile. While the French erupted into the emotional meltdown/temper tantrum that they called a “revolution”, Americans were showing how much one nation can accomplish in a short period with reason, education, and an even temperament.

We haven’t always been perfect but we are America. It will forever bring a tear to my eye to see that pride light up the eyes of those who love this country. God bless America.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSiRUSjSJnQ&feature=related]

Do the Right-Wing Spin

It irks me when liberals add their own spin to a piece of legislation to drum up emotional support for a cause. I receive newsletters from groups such as Change.org, Townhall.com, and a host of others – both left and right – so I can keep myself appraised of the pulse of both sides of the political debate. I see so much spin from the left that it almost makes me nauseous. However, I do also see it from the right – and because of how irritating it is when I see it from liberals, it absolutely infuriates me when fellow conservatives do it.

This morning I got a “partner” email from Townhall.com. Public Advocate of the United States, an extremely social conservative, uber-right-wing organization, is calling on conservatives to fork over donations to help stop what they are calling the “Homosexual Classrooms Act.” That’s just their spun pet-name for it…it’s actually known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and PAUS is making some pretty obscene claims about the act.

Here is what they claim the Act will do, directly from the body of the email:

*** Require schools to teach appalling homosexual acts so “homosexual students” don’t feel “singled out” during already explicit sex-ed classes;

*** Spin impressionable students in a whirlwind of sexual confusion and misinformation, even peer pressure to “experiment” with the homosexual “lifestyle;”

*** Exempt homosexual students from punishment for propositioning, harassing, or even sexually assaulting their classmates, as part of their specially-protected right to “freedom of self-expression;”

*** Force private and even religious schools to teach a pro-homosexual curriculum and purge any reference to religion if a student claims it creates a “hostile learning environment” for homosexual students.

Here’s the rub: only one of those points has any truth to it at all, and that truth is miniscule. So much so that I am appalled that Townhall.com is supporting this “partner”.

The first three points are outright lies. I don’t appreciate being called a liar and I am careful about using the label unless I intend to accuse a person of deliberately misrepresenting the facts – or fabricating them entirely – in an effort to willfully mislead people to a false emotional conclusion. That’s exactly what PAUS is doing here, and as a gay person, I am beyond insulted. I am enraged.

If you go to the organization’s website (linked above), you see absolutely no distinction between different gay groups. There is no mention of the fact that there are gay conservatives out there who believe in family values, limited government and fiscal responsibility. We are simply referred to as “child perverting deviants”. The group was founded in 1981 by Eugene Delgaudio – and he’s been caught fabricating his talking points before.

But hard work is not enough. Items like mail, stamps, and even this email cost money.

That is why I ask you to make a generous donation after you complete the American Morality survey today.

One stormy night I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I’d heard something was up and wanted to see for myself.

As I rounded the final turn my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses.

Trembling with worry I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined.

Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling.

My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press.

Suddenly a dark-haired man screeched, “Delgaudio what are you doing here?” Dozens of men began moving toward me. I’d been recognized.

As I retreated to my car, the man chortled, “This time Delgaudio we can’t lose.”

Driving away, my eyes filled with tears as I realized he might be right. This time the Radical Homosexuals could win.

You see, even though homosexuals are just 1% of the population, if every one sent a petition to Congress it would generate a tidal wave of two or three million petitions or more.

Hundreds of thousands of pro-homosexual petitions will soon flood Congress , and my friends in Congress tell me there’s virtually nothing on Capitol Hill from the tens of millions of Americans like you who oppose the radical Homosexual Agenda and the Gay Bill of Special Rights.

That was an exerpt of a very long fundraising letter sent out by Delgaudio’s group just one year ago – this wasn’t during the Clinton administration, this is the kind of garbage being mailed out today. There has never been anything like a “Gay Bill of Special Rights”. If there were, not one of the contributors on this site nor any member of GOProud would ever support such a thing.

Here’s the body of the bill he’s talking about. If you read all seven sections, you’ll find nothing about graphic homosexual sex acts being taught in sex-ed classes. You’ll see nothing about the introduction of lessons to experiment with the homosexual lifestyle, nor will you find anything remotely like it. You sure as hell won’t find a single word of law exempting GLBT students from punishment following claims of sexual harassment. In fact, the only grain of truth to any of these claims is the very last talking point. Delgaudio claims that private schools would be forced to take on these things, too. In fact, the only part of the entire bill that could possibly include private schools is a section that covers both public schools and “any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” That means any school in which students receive grants, loans or vouchers. A public school can refuse such things from the feds and bypass the whole mess.

Delgaudio also made an outrageous claim about the TSA after the agency released its hiring non-discrimination policy: “It’s the federal employee’s version of the Gay Bill of Special Rights… That means the next TSA official that gives you an ‘enhanced pat down’ could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission.” That’s not to mention the fact that the TSA official who pats me down might not be a straight man getting pleasure from feeling up my double-D rack. I suppose that would be perfectly acceptable to Delgaudio. Now, I don’t like the TSA and I think their powers to blatantly violate our Fourth Amendment rights are a travesty, but accusing them of all being gay? That’s not just a stretch. It’s absolute hysteria – the same kind that I point out in liberals when they claim that conservatives are all Nazis, bigots and hatemongers.

For the record, gay conservatives – like all conservatives – disagree with this legislation. We disagree with any overreaching federal power grab, and that’s all this bill is. It was defeated last year and will hopefully be defeated this year. As long as Delgaudio is so blatantly lying about it, however, he’s only making the liberal case for them on this issue. The states should be left to govern education as it is a power not specifically granted to the federal government.

We, as conservatives, are supposed to be above this petty emotional power play. It angers me to see groups calling themselves conservative and producing this kind of tripe. It angers me more to see legitimate conservative groups supporting them. Eugene Delgaudio is just two short steps away from being Fred Phelps. He’s no better than lefties who wish to bring this country down; he’s just using a different ideology to do it. I call on all conservative groups to distance themselves from this charlatan now, before his idiocy is used against us all in the coming election.

Delgaudio claims his work to be “for the family”. It’s how he signs all of his fundraising rants.

I only have one thing to say to you, Mr. Delgaudio.

Exodus 20:16.

Standing on Our Own Two Feet

In the past couple of months, I’ve been Aunt Mel pretty well constantly. I’ve gone from playing hero to playing house, playing kid-friendly songs on my guitar, and playing horsie. Aunt Mel briefly became a mountain to climb, then became the rescue crew for a game of, “oh no, I’m falling!” Today, just a tad earlier than expected, my two little grasshoppers – along with my brother and sister-in-law, naturally – started the journey to a duty station in Europe. They were supposed to go to Maryland, but that changed as things frequently do in the military. If Bill Cosby were still doing his remake of “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, he’d have made a small fortune with my niece and nephew. Today my nephew turned one year old, and over the past couple of months we’ve had many conversations (usually consisting of either “da” or me shaking my head and going, “aaaaahhhhh!” while he laughs at me). My niece will be three in July. She’s been walking for a while; my nephew, however, took his first real steps during their time with us and eventually began walking around all on his own. It was pretty cool when one of his early independent walking streaks was directly towards me (and the phone in my hand).

I love my brother and his sense of honor in serving our country. I love my sister-in-law for supporting him no matter what. I just wish they weren’t going to mainland Europe.

There are so many things going on right now that make me question whether this country is headed in the right direction. Just in the past week, here in Arizona, two illegal immigrants have committed serious crimes – one shot a police officer, the other allowed his 8-year-old son to play with his handgun and shoot a 2-year-old. The cop killer had been in a California prison and was incorrectly classified before release, so he wasn’t deported. According to US law, he was illegal, therefore not allowed to possess a firearm; that’s not to mention the fact that he was also a convicted felon, so legal or not STILL would not have been allowed to possess a firearm.

The other case saw a man in this country illegally possessing two .22-caliber guns, one handgun and one rifle. The handgun was on the floor next to a stuffed animal when his daughter saw it and thought the gun was a toy as well. It wasn’t until her 8-year-old brother shot her 2-year-old daughter in the face that she realized the gun was very real. The gun’s owner, as an illegal, was not allowed to possess a firearm. All of this happened in the space of a week.

Now, we have President Obama – the Big O, as I refer to him – claiming that the border is secure enough that we can “start the legalization process.” Really? How do you plan to pull this off? How are you going to talk a House Republican majority into going along with it? I promise, if an executive order is issued, you will immediately alienate all of the middle-of-the-road voters who pulled for you in the last election. It’ll also be the quickest way to get every conservative voter who didn’t vote last time to get out and make sure you’re booted out next time.

We still have drophouses being found in Phoenix. We still have massive drug busts going down involving illegals. We still have murders being committed by illegals. We’re talking about an entire community working to hide each other in plain sight and doing far more than washing dishes and picking crops (that’s what the liberals would have us all believe, that these folks are here to do the jobs that Americans supposedly “wouldn’t do”). They’re not just Mexicans, they’re not just from Central and South America. They come from all over. Here in Arizona, however, they happen to primarily be Latino. That’s not racism; it’s plain-and-simple fact. We’re just a few hours’ drive from the Mexican border.

I often wonder what kind of country we’re leaving for the next generation. What will they inherit? A justice system gone from being in crisis to being in shambles? Insurmountable debt that will be a drag on their hopes and dreams? Indoctrination of liberal, altruistic beliefs that charity must be forced and not from the heart? Laws that prevent them from defending themselves?

My nephew didn’t start walking overnight. He’d already taken his first steps before they got here, he’d just never walked without help before. It’s a difficult process; his little legs are still getting used to it. He’ll walk several steps, then fall flat on his butt. Sometimes he gets back up but more often than not he’ll just get on all fours and crawl. He never cries when he falls. He actually laughs. Sometimes he even does a little dance where he sits before crawling toward whoever he was headed for. He doesn’t give up, though. When he decides he wants something he goes for it until it’s in his tiny, slobbery little hands.

I once worked with a guy who had come out of a hardscrabble life. He’d grown up in poverty, resisted pressure from his family to quit school early and get a job to help provide for the family, worked his way through college, and ended up graduating at the top of his class and getting job offers from top-notch companies…all without owing a dime in student loans or taking a single red cent in government funds. He is, to this day, extremely proud of his accomplishments. I can only hope that the spirit that drove him – the true American spirit of standing in the face of adversity – will be absorbed by my niece and nephew. Men like my brother and my friend are willing to do what needs to be done to make this world a better place. Nothing in our Constitution guarantees that the government will be there to make the experience of working toward success easier.

It gives us the freedom to stand on our own two feet.

Geronimo is Down

The road to the custom-built million-dollar fortress in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that housed 9/11 financier and mastermind Osama Bin Laden began sometime in August 2010. For the first time, it has been revealed that Osama refused to allow any phones or computers near him. He fell off the grid, using age-old runners to relay messages rather than give anybody the ability to discover his whereabouts.

The compound? It was built in 2005 – and it’s practically across the street from Pakistan’s military headquarters, far removed from the mountainous area along the border with Afghanistan.

It was Osama’s personal runner that US intelligence officers wanted. The man was known of, but it took forever to find him. Al-Qaeda operatives being held at Guantanamo Bay and other so-called “black sites” gave up a lot of information while being interrogated – Osama’s runner, however, was a subject they were vehement about protecting. So much so that CIA operatives were convinced that if they found this guy, known then as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, they’d find Osama.

It was a phone call made by the courier to an Al-Qaeda operative being trailed by US intel that finally identified and located him. His real name was Sheikh Abu Ahmed, born in Kuwait, currently holding Pakistani citizenship. They followed him to the compound in Abbottabad. The compound was unlike anything any CIA operative had ever seen before – two security gates, walls of staggered height ranging from seven to eighteen feet – all topped with barbed wire, a security structure and a main structure, and absolutely no telephone or internet lines anywhere near the place. They couldn’t be certain that Osama was inside. What they did know was that an Al-Qaeda operative of very high value was holed up inside. They wanted whoever it was. They hoped it really was Osama.

Navy SEAL Team Six was tapped for the raid. After months of preparation, more than twenty SEALs boarded four helicopters for a surgical strike on the compound on April 24. The entire raid lasted less than forty-five minutes; Abu Ahmed was killed, as was his brother. Osama, codenamed “Geronimo”, was hit by a SEAL bullet just above his left eye. Once his death was confirmed the SEALs communicated that Geronimo was down. Pakistani leaders were not warned about the raid and are now angry, but they have only themselves to blame.

Osama’s body was removed to the USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian Sea where Muslim traditions regarding the preparation of a body were afforded the man who had absolutely zero respect for any other faith and would never have offered anything resembling the same respect. He was wrapped in a white sheet, given a Muslim funeral, and buried at sea in the blackness of the pre-dawn hours. The burial has angered Mideast clerics, who say it was an insult that he was not buried with his head toward Mecca. The reason is simple: we do not want his grave to become a rallying point for jihadists. If I’d had it my way, he’d have been cremated and his ashes strewn across the Arabian Sea to make absolutely certain that his remains could never be recovered by anybody, EVER. But that’s just me.

Contrary to what some would have us believe, this was not solely the work of Barack Obama’s team. Osama’s death is the result of years of work on the part of our military and CIA – and the tools they were finally given, including “enhanced” interrogation techniques and black sites. President Obama wanted to shut down Gitmo and all of the black sites, wanted to end the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, and released classified information about US nuclear defenses. Hopefully now the Democrats see the importance of the PATRIOT Act and other policies put in place after 9/11.

Someday, when my brother and I are retired and watching his grandchildren grow up, I may get to finally hear about his experiences being deployed with Special Forces in Afghanistan. I hope we survive to see it.

Mission (Finally) Accomplished!

The news tonight is almost surreal. According to Fox News, Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and multiple other bombings – including the 1996 bombing of the WTC – is dead. US authorities are in possession of his body and have confirmed that Bin Laden is dead.

He was killed during a firefight with US Special Forces in Pakistan.

With a member of my family serving in the Army as an intel analyst, I am elated that his hard work has helped pay off in such grand fashion.

I might remind our readers that had Gore – not Bush – been in office on 9/11, we never would have gone to Afghanistan. Osama never would have had to run. In the end, we still wouldn’t have him because no Democrat would have had the balls to fight back. Lord bless our troops and their bravery, tonight especially for the Special Forces soldiers who did their job so well. Thank you. Get some rest, boys, you’ve done a tremendous job.

Westboro’s Comeuppance

I’ve only posted once here in the past three or four years about Westboro Baptist Church and their lunatic ideas. I will repeat what I said then: that they aren’t trying to recruit, they are comprised entirely of the extended family of Fred Phelps, Sr., and the best thing to do with a group like this is often to simply ignore them. They’re after attention and deliberately trying to incite people to violence so they can become honest-to-Fred martyrs.

That said, I can’t blame the military families and friends who have nearly become violent with them. According to ihatethemedia and thehayride, the folks of a little town called Brandon, Mississippi, found a whole new way to deal with the Phelpsians.

Now, a little piece of the public safety worker in me doesn’t want to condone the first part, but the hot-blooded American that I am can’t help but feel some justification for it (if it’s true). There is a claim floating around that a male member of WBC was assaulted after he ran his yap at a gas station; if this had really happened, I promise they would have bleated it from the highest skyscraper in America and demanded justice. Instead, the members are denying that anyone was assaulted on the WBC website (no, I will NOT link it here). I can’t find much news about it – actually, I can’t find any verifiable reports on national media just yet – but that very night, before USMC SSgt. Jason Rogers was laid to rest in his hometown, a whole ‘nother form of peaceful counterprotest took place.

The Phelpsians woke at their hotel to find all of their vehicles boxed in. What’s more, the sole police wrecker in town was apparently busy and couldn’t tow the vehicles that were blocking them. A handful eventually made it to the funeral to protest, but they were escorted away by police. Reports that I’m getting say they weren’t arrested, they were merely asked to come in for questioning.

So, if you wanna know how to deal with WBC, just wait ’til they come to your town, find out where they’re staying, get a hundred friends or so and block their vehicles in so bad it’ll take a tow truck hours to dig ’em out. I don’t think there’s anything illegal about that.

The Lesser Rights of Heroes

I have two other posts in the works – one is my continuation of my series on the lessons of Nazism, the other is a review of a new movie starring Sigourney Weaver – but tonight I wanted to bring to light the situation of a US Army Ranger who is about to spend another Christmas away from his family for no reason other than defending himself from a known terrorist.

Lt. Michael Behenna joined the US Army in 2006 after graduating college; he joined the Rangers and deployed to Iraq in 2007. On April 21, 2008, his convoy was hit by an IED and two of his men were killed. The incident weighed heavily on the young officer, yet he continued to lead his men as only a soldier can. On May 5, Army intelligence reported that they had identified the insurgent leader responsible for the IED that killed his men: Ali Mansour. Lt. Behenna’s platoon was sent to arrest Mansour at his home; they found more than they might have expected. He had an RPK machine gun (similar to the AK-47; larger and with a little more oomph), a large stash of ammunition, RPG’s, material to make IED’s and multiple illegal passports – including one from Iran.

Two weeks later, Army intelligence inexplicably decided they didn’t have enough evidence to keep Mansour and ordered Behenna’s unit to return the terrorist to his home. En route to Mansour’s residence, Behenna ordered the convoy to stop; he took Mansour out of the vehicle, away from the convoy, and over to a culvert and bridge where he threatened to kill Mansour if he didn’t confess to planning the IED that had killed his men. The interpreter, known as Harry, later testified that he didn’t believe Behenna would actually kill Mansour. At some point during the questioning, Behenna turned briefly to Harry and Mansour attacked. Behenna was forced to fire a controlled pair of shots in self-defense and Mansour was killed. Behenna’s NCO, Staff Sgt. Warner, decided to hide the evidence; he placed an incendiary grenade under Mansour’s head, pulled the pin, and walked away. Behenna panicked and failed to properly report the incident. That is the worst that can be said of his actions on May 16, 2008.

Three days later, Army intelligence issued a “kill or capture” order for Mansour. They didn’t know he was already dead. His naked and burned body was discovered still in the culvert and an investigation was launched, at which point Behenna told the truth about what had happened. In November he was shipped back to Fort Campbell for desk duty to await prosecution.

SSG Warner was offered a plea deal (although what kind of deal I haven’t been able to find) to testify against Lt. Behenna. Harry, the interpreter, also testified – he claimed that Lt. Behenna stripped Mansour naked, sat him down on a rock and executed him. The forensic evidence, however, proved he was lying. Both Iraqi and American forensic experts – including the prosecution’s own expert, Dr. Herbert MacDonnell – agreed that when Mansour was shot, he was standing, with his arms raised. He was shot while in an attack position.

What will blow you away is what happened next. Army prosecutors sent Dr. MacDonnell home without having him testify. Dr. MacDonnell told Lt. Behenna’s lawyers as he was leaving that he knew Lt. Behenna was innocent, but that because of his contract he couldn’t say why; they needed to ask the prosecutors. Before the case went to the panel (jury) for deliberation, defense attorneys specifically asked prosecutors if there was any exculpatory evidence that they needed to enter into the record.

Prosecutors at that point said NO. Then, after the verdict was reached, upon Dr. MacDonnell’s insistence, prosecutors finally turned the evidence over. This incident turned up a very damning piece of information: Army prosecutors had deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. When Dr. MacDonnell told them that Lt. Behenna was telling the truth and that all of the forensic evidence pointed to that fact, prosecutors sent him home and refused to pass his findings on to defense attorneys. Such actions are a blatant violation of the rules of the court and have led to immediate nullification of several major convictions over the years. Lawyers have been suspended, even disbarred for this kind of infraction. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys are required by the Supreme Court verdict in Brady v. Maryland to hand over any evidence that is considered important to the guilt or innocence of the accused; such evidence is called exculpatory, or is known as “Brady material”.

In this case, a further horror was laid on Lt. Behenna and his family when the judge refused to grant a mistrial and order a new trial. Despite the open and willful flaunting of criminal law by prosecutors, the judge let the verdict stand and sentenced Lt. Behenna to 25 years at Fort Leavenworth Prison. Two different panels have since taken time off of his sentence, reducing it to 15 years.

Regardless of the reduction, the entire episode is an unspeakable injustice against an American hero who did nothing more than defend himself against a known terrorist who tried to attack him. Since the death of Ali Mansour, not one single justice has been afforded the Behenna family; not one person in the government has stopped to acknowledge the cruelty of the situation. Untold numbers of Americans, including elected Congressmen, have insisted that the original verdict be overturned and a new trial ordered. Despite everything that has happened, despite the evidence, despite the expert testimony and despite the outrage that Army prosecutors committed in the courtroom, yesterday the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, denied Lt. Behenna’s request for clemency. He refused to give this hero a single day of clemency.

Even worse, when the appeal hearing was held just a couple of weeks ago, Army prosecutors backed away from their original narrative – that Lt. Behenna had executed Mansour as he sat naked on a rock. Now they’re claiming that the instant Lt. Behenna pointed a loaded gun at Mansour, regardless of the reason, he forfeited his right to self-defense.

That is the most incredibly ludicrous argument against self-defense that I have ever heard in my life. It’s being made by the Army against an exemplary soldier. There can be no forgiveness for such deliberate injustices.

This Saturday, Lt. Behenna’s parents, brothers and girlfriend will visit him for Christmas. They and their supporters are doing all they can to help lift his spirits. Three different Oklahoma agencies have promised him a job when he is released and members of the Oklahoma government, all the way to the governor, have written letters to plead his case. It may be 15 months before a decision is made on the appeal. By that time, Lt. Michael Behenna will have spent his third Christmas in prison, wishing to be free, to hold his girlfriend, hug his mother, and celebrate with those he loves.

Visit www.defendmichael.com to find out how to help the Behenna family, write to Lt. Behenna, and see further news on the case. Write to your Representatives and Senators to plead for intervention and stop the injustice being repeatedly visited upon this family of civil servants.

(Keep your eyes peeled for that movie review…we’ll have a contest to give away a free copy!)

Liberal History Lessons

I couldn’t decide which I wanted to post more about, so I’m writing about both (and neglecting other important tasks at the moment).

I had a very interesting conversation with a liberal who thinks I have lost my mind. She is one of the many who can’t understand why I’d be conservative when so many liberals believe that all conservatives are anti-gay hatemongers. If that were the case then Ann Coulter would have refused to appear at Homocon last week. But, I digress.

Republican Congressional candidate Rich Iott was recently snapped with friends wearing a Waffen SS uniform. Several liberal outlets immediately jumped on it, and liberal commenters went completely monkeynuts over the photo. They screamed bloody murder about how he’s a racist and his opponent, incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur, has seized on the story. Nobody noticed the friend standing right next to him in a Scottish military uniform from WWII – and liberals refused to believe the truth. Iott was, for several years, involved in several organizations that re-enact historic battles from all of the wars that the US has been involved in. Iott has uniforms from both sides of nearly every war.

The liberal I was talking to said, “I don’t see why people don’t choose wars that aren’t over racist, ethnocentric issues. Why not do reinactments of World War I, where it was more of a war just to demonstrate all their cool new weapons.” (BTW, all comments from this person are cut and pasted directly from the conversation itself.)

I couldn’t understand the shallowness of the comment, and I let it be known. She told me I was rude and said, “I was in AP European and U.S. History. Yes, I’ve learned it. Considering the fact that all Arizona high schools require you to take both World and American history in order to graduate, you should know t…his. Unless, of course, you grew up in the stone age. I’m quite aware of why the Civil War was started. I don’t agree with any war re-inactments. See, in World War II, 12 million people died who weren’t actually a part of the war. That includes, 6 million of my ancestorage. Have you ever noticed that most people who engage in re-inactments are white people, usually not of a minority religion or ethnicity? Before WWI everyone had come up with nuclear weapons and “fun” new machinery. They were waiting for any excuse to go to war. Then Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, who incidentally, most of the Austrian nobility didn’t want in power, it was an excuse to go to war. Some experts theorize that assassination was organized by the Austrian government, but I’m assuming you know that, since apparently you think you know everything. You seem to think I’m unaware of the connection with WWII. You do realize that anything that occurs has an effect, right?”

Okay…did you catch that? First she was upset because she felt Iott needed to find another war to do re-enactments of – one that was supposedly less “racist.” Then, she changed her tune and said battle re-enactments should NEVER be done. THEN, she says that BEFORE WWI, “everyone had come up with nuclear weapons and ‘fun’ new machinery.”

If this is what’s being taught in AP History in Arizona, then I have one more reason to move back to Texas.

The Civil War was, if nothing else, based entirely on racism. It was fought because the belief that blacks should remain slaves was so strong among some and the belief that they should be treated as humans was so strong in others that half the states tried to cede from the nation to defend what they felt was their right to keep slaves. When has there ever been a war fought that wasn’t based on some form of ethnocentricity? Even WWI was.

Then comes the remark about nuclear weapons. This is what much of her case is built on. I wrote a paper once about the use of nuclear weapons, so it’s a subject I know something about. I spent days poring over books on the subject. Here’s the basic history: radioactive elements were first discovered by Pierre Curie in 1898. Different parts of atoms were not discovered and laid out until 1911. In 1932, for the very first time, American physicists split an atom. The notion of an atom bomb was not considered until 1934, when Leo Szilard discovered the ability to cause a chain reaction while splitting atoms, though he hadn’t discovered how to actually do it yet. In 1939, nuclear fission was successfully discovered – that was the key to weaponizing the atom.

It wasn’t until July 1945 that a nuclear weapon was successfully detonated. One month later, two were actually used. The problem with her argument is that WWI ran from 1914 – 1918…long before nuclear weapons were even tested.

She’s not the only one who needs a history lesson. Just a couple of days ago, Sarah Palin warned her Tea Party supporters that the election isn’t over – “don’t party like it’s 1773” until the District is owned by conservatives, she warned. Within minutes (I’m pretty sure you can set your watch by the liberal responses to Sarah at this point), the liberals were guffawing joyously. DailyKOS writer Markos Moulitsas, former State Department employee Matt Ortega, PBS airhead Gwen Ifill and wine critic Steve Paulo all piped up on Twitter to mock Palin’s remark. They forgot their history, too – Paulo even said, “WTF happened in 1773?!”

Well, on December 16, 1773, colonists angry about taxation without representation boarded ships in Boston Harbor and dumped entire crates of tea overboard. She was referencing the original Tea Party – at a Tea Party Express tour stop. Oops.

There’s more to the Tea Party than liberals like to acknowledge, too. In 1698, British parliament gave the East India Company a near-complete monopoly on importing tea. Several foreign companies sold it in the American Colonies; but in 1721, the British crown passed a law requiring the Colonies to ONLY import tea from Britain. With the EIC paying a 25% tax to the crown on all imported tea, smuggling tea from Holland became popular – it provided much lower prices for tea lovers. In 1767, parliament passed the Indemnity Act, refunding that 25% tax to the EIC to drive prices down on tea sales in Britain; at the same time, they enacted the Townshend Revenue Act, which imposed greater taxes on several goods in the American Colonies. This went well for some time, providing competition for the tea smugglers. Then, in 1772, the Indemnity Act expired. Parliament brought back a lower tax against EIC, a 10% tax – but EIC passed this rise on to the consumers, and with the rise in price tea sales took a stiff nose-dive. The EIC didn’t stop importing the stuff, though, and ended up with a massive surplus of tea that nobody had the money to buy; this caused a crisis of mass proportions for the EIC. They were arguably Britain’s most important company; the country depended heavily on the East India Company (are we seeing the parallel yet?).

The EIC tried to have both the new post-Indemnity Act taxes and the Townshend Act taxes repealed, but parliament believed it would be viewed as a weakness and refused. After several possibilities were eliminated, the EIC managed to worm a different deal out. Parliament passed the Tea Act, which stopped the 10% tax entirely. It also allowed the EIC to directly import tea to the Colonies (previously they had been required to sell tea at wholesale only in Britain, where other companies shipped it to the Colonies, creating higher costs for the EIC). Parliament also kicked up the tax on this surplus tea, a tax to be paid by individual colonists rather than merchants. As the Townshend tax was meant to allow parliament to pay colonial governors and judges in an effort to keep them loyal to Britain rather than accountable to colonists, parliament refused to back down. The Boston Tea Party was considered the shudder that started the avalanche. Sound familiar?

I certainly hope we all have a better understanding of history now.