"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Keep The Faith!

In November of 2011, I blogged about some dramatic "force shaping" measures the service had recently taken, and I predicted that the Air Force would go after continued officers and kick them out just before they could retire.

I discussed the 157 majors who were booted at the fifteen year point, on one specific promotion board.  I'm not sure if the service was simply testing the waters with that board to judge a reaction, but for some reason they didn't repeat the bloodshed on subsequent boards.  It's strange that one group of individuals would be targeted in that manner, but they were.

I have no doubt that this next year will be incredibly interesting, and I suspect the service will come back around and make another pass at that very same year group.  It would make no sense.  That year group is the bottom of the bathtub during a time of underproduction, and it was the only year group to see 157 officers booted at the 15 year point.  Yet I suspect it will get targeted again.  I'm also guessing that whatever policy targets it specifically, will be discontinued after the outraged media reports of officers being kicked out with more than 17 years of service, mere months before they hit the protection of sanctuary.  I am guessing it will be the ultimate example of using people and then throwing them away.

I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt that I am.  If I'm correct, it will be a real sight to see.  Especially as other services provide Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) retirements to those being shown the door with 17+ years of service.  It's difficult to believe anybody could make the decision to take somebody with nearly two decades of a war time career, and then throw them out on the street with nothing to show for it during an economic recession, but it happened with this year group two years ago.  I believe it will happen to them again in 2014.  And it will have a devastating effect on keeping talent for decades to come as the younger folks understand that the service may take everything it can from them, and then discard them at the very last moment.

Keep the faith!  In times like these, that might be your only option.  If you don't keep it, they can't break it.  I recommend kicking faith to the curb and focusing on the evidence.  Of course planning doesn't hurt either.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What is Coming Out of the Academies is Shameful

Don't I know it, Chief.  Somehow we have to get these people to do right by their nation.  It is shameful how those taking the oath today, and in recent history, are doing so without any semblance of the principle and integrity required to make good on their sworn promises.  Of course I'm not just talking about police - it's all of us in the government paid to wield lethality.  There is a serious, very serious, crisis.  The arrogance and ignorance is astounding within the profession of arms.

Good on this police chief for getting the word out.  Let's pray it does some good.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Fourth Estate

In previous posts I've discussed the increasing importance of the internet as a key to the struggle of ideas.  Journalism, which has changed significantly in my lifetime, is sometimes referred to as the Fourth Estate and is a vital component of a free society and democracy.  It's likely not coincidence that the freedom of the press was enshrined in our very first amendment in our Bill of Rights.  Unfortunately, as I look around the internet and listen in to conversations, I can easily see the root of so many of our problems as a nation.  People are quite simply uninformed and there has been a serious degradation in the quality of debate and discussion among Americans.  It seems to me that a large part of this is the result of corporate owned media that has replaced professional ethics in the pursuit of financial gains.

One investigative journalist, Ben Swann, is attempting to break away from the corporate owned and managed media style, to instead report directly and objectively to the people.  He is using a grass roots campaign in this attempt, and anybody interested can read more about it on the Liberty is Rising Truth in Media Project at KickStarter.Com.

I think it's worth checking out.  The Fourth Estate is critically important for the security of America.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Grey State

I enjoy seeing military veterans who continue to serve their nation after leaving the service.  Two such military veterans are using their skills to create an independent grass roots fictional movie, that will provide Americans with a glimpse of what their apathy and cowardice might help bring about.  Some of the scenes may be uncomfortable given current media revelations.

The movie trailer is shown above.

I like a good flick, but I'd like to think that American servicemen are too principled and too grounded in the liberties they swore to support and defend, to ever let such scenes play out in reality.  While it's fine for the silver screen, I would like to be confident that, even should our three branches of government collude and fail in their responsibilities to check-and-balance, the ultimate check-and-balance would remain steady.  I'd like to believe when all else fails, the American fighting man armed with lethal force and their oath to our Constitution, would refuse to use violence against his neighbors while justifying it with "we just follow orders."  I would desperately like to think that, but I know better.  You might say I have trouble when it comes to suspending disbelief.

I look forward to seeing what these two veterans create with their project, and I hope it can be used to make our military service stronger as people better appreciate what exactly they are paid to fight for.  To learn more about this grass roots project, check out: http://graystatemovie.com/pages/gray.html

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ain't No Party like a Censorship Party Cuz the Censorship Party Don't Stop!

Perhaps the only reasonably fair moderator, at my top love-to-hate social media spot, recently made a remark on that forum defending the practice of censorship and banning-for-disagreeing with "authority" (the moderators).  He makes a good point, bringing up the fact that the public discussion forum is private property.  It is private property.  Therefore, legally, no defense is needed and I firmly believe private property rights should be respected.  Of course, when private property makes money in a public setting, as this particular forum does, then it does subject itself to customer opinion.

He likens the forum to a house party.  Everybody is invited, but if they don't like you because you're the vocal dork, or because you "attack" the hosts, then they can toss you out of the house.  Fair enough, I can't argue with that.  However, I do think the house party is just a bit different from what is described and could be a bit more accurate.

The house party is populated by guys from work at your government job, where people know each other professionally.  When you show up, they make a bit of money off the paintings put up on the wall by various advertising agencies.  You get to the party and everybody is talking about work.  One group is talking about the boss they hate, another is talking about the latest batch of stupid policies, while a third group is telling some local kids how great their job is and how only the best get to work in their department in between doing keg stands.  You join one of the circles of people and join in a conversation, saying that things aren't going all that well at work, and how you think folks need to prepare themselves for a crisis you see looming.  Somebody from the keg stand circle comes over, with the blue colored alcohol dripping down the front of their shirt, and loudly disagrees telling you to "shut your man pleaser or else!"  You try to explain your viewpoint, while noticing some young girl getting sexually assaulted in the corner after her turn at the kegger, and you respond, "I just don't think we're morally focused on doing the right thing, and I think we have lost our way and need to re-cage."  More importantly, you refuse to shut up about it in the face of the drunk.

"Get out of my house!" says the drunk.  You notice he's a bit older than everybody else and doesn't even work in your department anymore and you wonder why he's throwing the party.  But you don't focus on that too much as he pushes you out the door and slams it shut.  Then you get barraged through the window by the crowd of drunks, "You're crazy!  You're a lunatic!  You shouldn't be working in government if you think it's so bad!  I can't believe they let you have keys to the building!"  You shout, "but I can explain if we just have a rational discussion..." but it's too late.  The doors are shut and the crowd can't hear over their fever pitch insults.

As you walk away, you can't help but notice the guy smoking a cigar next to the curtains succeeded in setting the house on fire, as you can see the flames getting a little higher and brighter.  You recognize the fire will likely take down the neighbors house and the house next to him and perhaps the whole neighborhood.  It's one of the driest seasons ever, and the news repeatedly warns of the epic fire hazard.  You think, "man, these morons could really do some damage."  Your first instinct is to call the fire department.  Then you realize most of the fire department was at the party.

Reminds you of a couple of comments you overheard on your way out:
VERTIGO:  So you think it's ok for a mod to change someone's post to something completely different than the original text, then when called out for it by other users on the site, completely erase any evidence of your douchebaggery.  Nice standards.

KARL HUNGUS:  Yep.  Complete hypocrisy, from one of our so-called "leaders."  Hard to take you seriously...when you don't man up.  Not at all surprising, really...  Par for the course for you and your peers.  I'm sure this post will be deleted soon.

JOE1234: I'm sure even talking about this will lead to a ban... The PM's were rather threatening and...emotional, and I took this to mean I'm not allowed to talk about guns, ever...I wouldn't call this place a bastion of free speech...

Ain't nuthin' but a gangsta party!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Secrecy, Coercision, and Control & The All-Talk Punk

It's no secret that knowledge is power, and that controlling knowledge is a key to controlling people and nations.  Interestingly enough in modern history, the internet has so far existed as a great equalizer to those who would control speech and discussion.  While it was easier at one time for governments or elements within a state to control the mass media of their populations with little threat, like perhaps media from others states also being accessible, the internet has been hailed in recent history as a democratic force allowing people to communicate and share ideas without the suppression of an iron authoritative hand.  We can see some governments have recognized the internet as a potential threat, such as China, and have made great efforts to control the internet and to censor that which is not state approved.  Similar control measures have also been proposed in the United States, and the recent revelation of the NSA conducting warantless spying on American citizens leaves little doubt as to the chilling effect such a revelation will have on even "private" conversations between people online.

As an MIT graduate and software engineer, Michael Salib, states in his article, Secrecy as a Means of Control: Coercion versus GroupThink:
In a society where knowledge is power, the ability to control the distribution of knowledge, what people know and when they know it, becomes the ultimate power. Secrecy is thus a means to an end: the end is controlling other people by controlling what information they have (or do not have)... In some cases, secrecy became the ultimate bargaining chip, giving a privalaged few the right of the censor: the power to decide who is permitted to speak and what they are allowed to say. In other cases, secrecy facilitated control by creating insular, psychologically isolated environments in which individuals were cut off from both the consequences of their actions and the value system of the larger community. These environments became incubators for a new group identity in which morality was redefined to serve the purposes of the group. Secrecy plays a vital role in the creation and maintenance of these isolated group identities. In other words, secrecy can be used to control either by making speakers beholden to censors or facilitating the creation of a group identity.
Some may find it interesting that Mr. Salib would write such a paper as a software engineer.  However there is a real intersection between software and communication, and the internet has truly taken center stage and become a real battle ground in the realm of ideas and opinions.  So much so, that people are actually employed to disrupt or guide conversations to fit a particular agenda on popular websites.  In fact, our own military has developed software making this easier to do where various online personas target social websites and spread a particular message while disrupting competing messages, although the professed targets are foreign and not domestic.  Of course many will understand that such capability, once it exists, will at some point be likely used internally, just as recent revelations are making clear about other technologies.

What I find far more interesting, however, is how some people take it upon themselves to do the same in their private discussions.  They demonize those with a different viewpoint, and they disrupt unpopular views (no matter how valid, well cited or orthodox those views might be).  In these self-styled star chambers, the uniformity of opinion and lack of rational discussion is often as obvious as the unsupported demonizations made of non-approved opinions.  While certain views may be allowed to be professed in order to give the illusion of open discussion, those views may only be allowed to be presented ineffectively, or by those who will not defend them when given the signal to shut up and color.  On other sites, a tenuous connection to the target audience for little if any recognizable gain, brings into question the motivation for community moderation and leadership and brings front and center the goal or purpose of any particular social media site.  In many cases the goal is financial, but the message, and controlling it, can also be a goal and can also be financially rewarded.  The internet, like any battle ground, can shift and become more complex and recent history shows this to be the case.

The internet is an important battle space for ideas and is becoming increasingly so as more Americans turn off the TV and instead boot up their laptops.  People should be cognizant of the dynamics of a place they digitally frequent, and be on the look out for closed information systems that have an agenda that does not involve uncensored discussion.  Fortunately, despite the best attempts of those who wish to control the messaging, it is typically apparent when such a system is encountered, as one viewpoint will be declared bad or invalid, by another person who censors that opinion and refuses to spar in a debate.  Power over substance is a hallmark of a closed system.

Like two NBA basketball players who have a disagreement over who is the better basketball player, it can be obvious to see who is interested in putting-up, and who is interested in merely shutting-the-other-up.  Imagine if one of those players wanted to settle the dispute on the court, and the other refused to suit up, and instead got his fans simply to heckle the other player.  It would be obvious who lacked the courage of his conviction and who was, ironically, an all-talk punk who couldn't hang.  And knew it.

Two Wolves and A Lamb

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch." - Ben Franklin

Sometimes I hear folks equate America and liberty and fairness with Democracy.  America is something more than majority rule, however, and a brief glance at history and a look at the track record of mob rule shows why this is important.  One can imagine how most of the folks of Salem, Massachusetts would have voted during the witch trials as they singled out the neighbors that they held personal grudges with, and of course the majority votes in Germany in the 1930s showed how easily a majority would oppress a minority if given a nudge through the state sponsored press and helped along behind the scenes with clever censorship and intimidation.

As the quote attributed to Ben Franklin illustrates, the majority can itself be a terrible oppression.  This wasn't lost on the Founders, and certainly not on Patrick Henry who was one of the most vocal advocates for a Bill of Rights.  The idea was that there were certain rights that all Americans had, which would be a red line in the sand that was not to be crossed by anybody in government, to include during times when backed by even a democratic majority.

It's not difficult to understand how a state that controls the message, and that operates the strings of mass media behind a curtain, can manufacture consent and give the illusion of a democratic process.  Even the most transparently authoritative societies around the world, typically have employed a "democratic" component to provide some measure of legitimacy to a foregone conclusion.  Perhaps most famously, the German fascist himself was well known for promising, in his public speeches, to keep with the constitutional processes of Germany.  Indeed, he knew such was required to steer the herd publicly and also that such lies would play into his image around the world, and most importantly, in Britain and America.  Hitler was a master of placing supporters in various crowds around Germany and Prussia, to incite a mob or to make a speech that could be quoted in his own fascist media as illustrative of the mind of the majority.  Despite his promises to be fair and democratic in public, as an insecure fascist bent on controlling the message and above all the results, he broke each of his promises from the shadows and took steps to ensure the majority would proclaim what he wished them to.

In America, the first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights attempted to combat this weakness of human nature.  Free speech, of course, was enshrined in the very first of those amendments, along with the freedom to worship and freedom of the press.  The majority, real or otherwise, and the ruling class never have any reason to fear and suppress simple speech and a differing perspective, unless they are up to no good.  Certainly the suppression of speech in an arena that allows that speech to be challenged by other speech and logic and cited facts, is the ultimate sign of insecurity, weakness, and a shady intent to control.  Likewise, other amendments were also red lines in the sand not to be infringed by anybody, majority or not.  The Second Amendment comes to mind and those who are familiar with the quote attributed to Franklin, are no doubt familiar with the rest of it.  "Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."  The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures is yet another such inalienable right.

Still, this same speech suppressing maneuvering is evident today.  The previous presidential election made it very clear that the media was not at all adverse to demonizing a candidate as "crazy" or "kooky", and then by denying that candidate serious coverage.  The mainstream media has been guilty of shaping the message during our electoral process, rather than simply reporting on it.  Perhaps the only good result in the most recent election was the comedic criticism it evoked from Jon Stewart as he pointed out this fact.  Even more recently, critics have discussed the problem with the reported NSA warrantless spying on American citizens, and have highlighted that the program is done in secret, but that when challenged in court by the ACLU, the government maintained the ACLU had no standing because they could not prove that they had been spied upon.  The common thread is a manipulation behind a curtain to prevent a transparent fact based discussion.  Fascists know that a free discussion must be quelled at all costs, and in their message-controlling actions they unwittingly admit their wrongdoing.  It's the classic fascist tell.  If they really thought they were correct, they would welcome the open discussion and the chance to put concerns at rest.

It's important for people, if they are to value America, to understand that our nation is more than a simple democracy.  Rights were enshrined to protect even the minority of one, from a majority that is either manipulated and manufactured by a small man behind a curtain, or from an actual majority filled with the ignorant and hate filled mob.

These rights are non-negotiable and they are vital to a free society, a lesson that seems to be increasingly lost throughout both government and the mob given current events.  It's incumbent on all of us who care about our country, and certainly the future of our children, to get back into the vault and figure it out.  Especially those of us who have lived quite some time, and yet have never understood the country we were lucky enough to live in.

We are losing these rights, because we do not truly value the principles that gave birth to such rights.  This is something all good Americans should endeavor to correct at every opportunity.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

M2 - The Fascist of BaseOps.Net

Give a guy a little bit of authority, and if he is of poor character, he will abuse it.  This is seen with bouncers, mall security guards, cops and even internet moderators.  Take for example M2, a retired military officer who moderates FlyingSquadron.Com, and who consistently threatens to ban those who share views he does not approve of on the forum he did not create.

When I see his handle I think the M must stand for monarchy, the authoritarian government he cherishes.  I imagine the "2" must stand for the two things he deserves most from America.  The first being tar, and the second being feathers.

M2 only bans people for crazy views, of course.  Views like that military officers have to abide by the oath they took to the Constitution, and the view that state laws passed which violate the Constitution are null and void.  M2 will not tolerate views like these, nor will he tolerate the opinion that a jury of senior military officers likely got a decision correct during a court martial.  He also doesn't approve of outrage over the fact that an American was arrested while passing through a certain state, while moving to a new state, because he had legally owned firearms in his private vehicle where he was found sleeping at a rest stop.  In the mind of M2, the man deserved the arrest and the five year prison sentence.  Of course, M2 never fails to mention that after every firearm purchase he makes, he plans to lose them in a boating accident.

He may not be quite consistent, but he is consistent in one area.  If you disagree with M2, then you are a "troll" pure and simple, and you will be banned.

FlyingSquadron.Com likes to talk about having a thick skin.  And yet the board is moderated by an insecure three year old in an old man's body, who can't tolerate those who disagree with him.  Especially not if they do so intelligently.  He absolutely hates that.  He's an insecure idiot with a diploma-mill fake degree, and a government job (of course).  He has little going for him.  He is this guy.  Except he acts like that online.

He is M2, by God, and he's from the great state of Texas!  Except mentally, he would be more comfortable in the heart of New York City, or perhaps Chicago.  His views are un-American, and his values are most certainly not of the Texan variety.  He gets confused and thinks otherwise because of his "get a rope" style love of law enforcement and the display of government force against citizens.  He works with them regularly, and he likes a "stop resisting! get on the ground!" approach from government.  He's learned to "take control of the situation" as a moderator, and put those skills to use.  There will be no "contempt of moderator" on the board he took over, after its creator passed on.  "What did you say, boy?  You think an Air Force jury did the right thing?  You getting smart?"

M2 defends the cops who violated the law and disarmed a veteran who was legally exercising his rights.  He will tell you that Army veteran is worthless.  The hatred and the venom bubbles from his mouth, as M2 discusses the veteran who complains about his rights being violated by armed police.  He thinks that guy deserved everything he got and should have quietly and submissively, accepted the government force used against him despite the fact he had broken no laws.

M2 is quite simply a fascist, like those our grandfathers fought in World War II.  M2 loves to collect guns, and I would imagine somewhere in his collection he's probably got one or two from that war of the German variety.  I bet he celebrates those pieces of his collection above all the others.  M2 respects a "strong" government, he despises our Constitution, and he is ever so annoyed by talk of liberty and rights and oaths, blah blah.  M2 has no time for that nonsense.  Rather, he worships at the altar of government force and if the government is using force against an American - then that American deserved it.  Period.  You can see his fascist commitment to government against its citizenry when he moderates, as he trains young officers to be submissive online by demanding they change their views or censor their views to fall in line with this viewpoint.  M2 makes sure any discussion remains "state approved."

In a perfect world, every time he grabs his retiree military ID, it would burn his North Korean hand.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Great American Public Servant - Judge Alex Kozinski

"Those of you who've had the good fortune to be born in the United States simply have not known the absence of freedoms..."

- Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

It's always a good exercise to listen to and celebrate faithful public servants who remind us of the importance of our Constitution, and the importance of our liberties.  Judge Kozinski's story is particularly interesting, as he grew up in a time when political dissidents from other countries left to escape their governments, and to seek asylum in America.  This is in striking contrast to the news today, where an American citizen has left America to escape the American government, and is seeking asylum in a foreign country.  The experiences of this great American federal judge are very relevant to America today, and he shares his views on our Constitution and the Fourth Amendment and surveillance and privacy, after about twenty minutes into the video interview above.

The bio presented on the YouTube video introduces the judge:
Born in 1950 to Holocaust survivors, Kozinski grew up as a committed communist in Bucharest, Romania. On his first trip outside of the Iron Curtain, in Vienna, Austria, he experienced forbidden luxuries like bubble gum and bananas. It was his first taste of freedom, and it caused him to become, in his words, "an instant capitalist."

Today, Kozinski is responsible for some of the most influential - and controversial - legal decisions in the United States. Kozinski's rulings have challenged the Obama administration over the issue of same-sex marriage. In a case that tested the limits of parody and artistic expression, he has weighed in on whether a Barbie doll qualifies as a sex object. In one of the most influential dissents in recent memory, he caused federal prosecutors to drop all charges against a defendant who'd been convicted of smuggling of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexican border.

Kozinski sat down with Reason editor-in-chief Matt Welch during Reason Weekend in Las Vegas for a wide-ranging discussion about freedom and the law. How do mobile phones and cloud computing affect our right to privacy? Why do judges interpret the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution so broadly? What's wrong with the practice of jury nullification?

Kozinski, a self-described libertarian, answers these questions, and many others, with the insight and wry humor that comes from decades of experience on the bench - and a childhood under communism.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ghostriders In The Sky

I often find myself missing the days of chasing the devil's herd across our endless skies.  Salute to the brave men and women who spent many days away from their families, making it happen, and vanquishing our enemies.  When the American people need to break the emergency glass, Spooky and his biggest fans are ready to go to work.

And rest in peace, Johnny Cash.  You were one talented veteran of our air service, one amazing American songwriter and singer, and you are missed.  I sung your song in Spain in a bar, after some Scottish professional golfers began singing their standard bar songs, and while I have no lyrical talent, they certainly recognized the American spirit.  There was a lot of yippee! and knee slapping going on.

To the Ghostriders.  Thanks for what you do.