"...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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Blue Irony, Did Tony Carr Deem the USAF Fascist?

In a recent blog post entitled, Creeping Fascism in the (un?)American Air Force?, retired Lt Col Tony Carr takes issue with the alleged action of a flag officer, who reportedly told others that communicating certain concerns or opinions with their elected representatives amounted to "treason."  Tony's self-described "media/news/publishing" Facebook page has also demonstrated a marked increase in the use of the term fascism to describe the modern day Air Force.

The irony of Tony's new diction is staggering and plentiful.  Now, I must be careful what observations I share and what opinions I express, because Tony has previously communicated to me that he may sue me for slander (libel would have been the correct term), and that as a law student he has some resources.  Further, he has informed me that he may contact my commander should I post something that he finds problematic.  He has also indicated that he thinks my responses to his public opinions should be more respectful, because he is both older than me and also because he outranked me.

Was he trying to intimidate me, by threatening to engage the machinery of the Air Force due to my speech response to his public speech on the world wide web?  Did he threaten to punish me at my place of work if I exercised rights he did not like, as a couple of individuals I am suing did years ago?  In comes the first serving of irony...

In his latest blog post, Tony chides an Air Force flag officer for suppressing free speech.  On his media Facebook page, he reminds airmen that they should voice their opinions and not be afraid of retaliation from what he deems an increasingly fascist modern day Air Force.  Tony writes:

Military members do not give up the right to free speech when they volunteer to serve. They are subject to certain limits on political activity while in uniform and may not allow themselves to be construed as speaking for the service when they opine on partisan political matters (which do not include arguments about choices in the defense budget), but they are no less entitled to express themselves or to interact with legislators than any other citizen. In fact, some might argue that they’ve done more than most to earn that right. If the Air Force doesn’t understand this at the highest levels, it’s time for hearings on Capitol Hill.

Rights are not earned, of course, and to suggest otherwise demonstrates an ignorance of what rights actually are.  The main serving of irony, however, is that Tony would choose to use the word fascism to describe another person, as though he himself disapproves of fascism.

In a discussion of the Constitution I had a couple years ago with Tony, he informed me that he thought our government could ignore rights codified as supreme law in our Constitution, without amendment mind you, so long as government thought what it was doing was the will of a majority of the people.  He stated that our Constitution contained no rights that were "inviolate."  In other words, he expressed the opinion that government can violate the rights of Americans at will, and does not need to follow the law and the restrictions the American people have placed on government power.  As Benito Mussolini wrote in 1932 in his work, The Doctrine of Fascism

The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative.

The emphasis on government power over the rights of the people, regardless of the law the people laid down to restrict the government and protect their rights from it, is the hallmark (or keystone) of fascism as I view it.  Therefore, Tony Carr is himself a fascist.

I have previously blogged about Tony Carr and his approval for unchecked government power over the American people, on multiple occasions.  Nearly a year ago I asked him to correct my understanding of his viewpoint and to debate me publicly, and he responded that there were a few mischaracterizations in my post but that instead of commenting on my blog, he would instead blog about the issue over on his side of the internet.  I have yet to see him do that.  Twenty-five days later, however, Tony banned me from his media page and assured his readers that I was the only person to be banned from it.  The number of those he has banned has grown since.

Later still, Tony had the gall to call me a "traitor" on Facebook.  Was he suggesting that I was making war on the American people or providing aid or comfort to our enemies?  Why did he he use that word?  Perhaps his answer on why a two-star reportedly used the word would be illustrative.  Tony writes, "Not because [airmen] were cowardly in the face of adversaries or gave aid and comfort to the enemy, but because they dared to speak..."  Yes, that seems to fit.  Tony used the word to insult me because I expressed views he did not like, about his ideas.  He didn't use the term properly to accuse me of treason.  He knows far better than that.  He was simply misusing the word as an insult.  After I blogged about his comment on Facebook, he then deleted it.  And yet in striking similarity, Tony lambasts a General Officer for allegedly doing the same thing that Tony himself did.

There are two things I have observed about Tony Carr over the course of our purely digital, ideas-based interactions.  In my estimation, he is unprincipled and often claims two contradictory positions as though he has no issue expressing a viewpoint (with passion and fervor) that he doesn't actually believe.  And in my observation, he demonstrates ambition, insecurity, and a love of power.

Tony once informed me that fidelity to a service member's oath of office should never be questioned, that to do so was to hit below the belt.  Yet later he publicly told one of his readers that if they didn't care about the "no religious test" language of our Constitution, that they should leave the service.  Tony has professed a viewpoint that it is okay for the government to break its contract with a minority of Americans by violating their constitutional rights, so long as it thinks it's performing the will of a majority, but he decries government breaking its promise to a minority of veterans by cutting retirement benefits in order to save money for a majority of citizens.  He chides a service member for allegedly misusing the word treason, but does the same thing himself when he wants to insult.  He repeatedly decries so-called abuses of power like a commander in South Korea not allowing some service members to drink or a squadron commander being fired, but maintains a view that government does not have to restrict its actions according to the law of the American people.  He claims to be a champion of free speech and to disdain using the machinery of government to silence it, but will inform a service member that he may call their commander on them depending on what they write about him in the future.

In my opinion, Tony expresses views, not because he believes them, but in order to shape a message and build a base.  Like a politician.  And he contradicts himself, frequently.  Like a politician.

It is readily apparent to this humble blogger that, despite his claims otherwise, Tony Carr is trying to create a political career.  Those who love power gravitate toward it, and will say most anything to attain it.  At any rate, Tony engages in public discussion about military public service, as do I.  So I hope he won't mind if I disagree with him and offer a criticism here or there on his professed viewpoints.

I certainly hope my latest free speech isn't overly problematic for him, such that he decides to call my boss and tell on me for expressing views he does not like.  But if he does, I may have to borrow some of his words from his media page:

The kind of fascism we've seen rise up over the last several years thrives on fear. It depends on airmen taking the attitude that if they speak up, they'll be crushed. But if enough of them are willing to stand on principle, the system will be forced to shift.

Of course, I'd add that such fear depends on airmen taking the view that if they speak up and get crushed, that it somehow matters, and that such risk should sway their decision to speak up.  Public service means we don't put our careers in the center of our service.  Those who say otherwise quite simply do not serve anything but themselves.

At any rate, it sure would be cool if Tony stopped by and corrected my understanding of his fascist point of view.  Kind of strange that he doesn't.  Strike that.  It's not strange at all.

Whether Tony graces this post with his presence or not, I remain ready to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, until the very last day of public service, and always ready to go the distance.


  1. I need to arrange a conference in Oslo so that you and Carr can work out these petty differences and create a podcast together. Seriously Rynearson, you're both articulate, intelligent, experienced dissenters and we'd benefit immensely from a weekly podcast. Yeah, you and Carr don't see eye-to-eye on everything, but that's a good thing; we (your audiences) benefit from a variety of opinions so long as they are countering the bullshit narrative from the USAF propaganda outlets. Give it some thought and let me Jimmy Carter that shit in Norway next month.

  2. It would be an entertaining podcast for sure, and I think it would make for better discussions and debate and idea development. However, I'm not sure it would work. Tony would chide a general officer for trying to dent alcohol issues next to an enemy miles away, and I'd give him a facepalm look, then he'd take the microphone away before I could say anything and when I wrestled it back he'd have me evicted from the studio. I can't even get him to debate me here after multiple invites.

    The arrangement we have now is likely the best to be hoped for. While he likes to dissent from the party line, and gather and organize and stoke and channel dissent under his umbrella, he is most certainly no fan of somebody dissenting from his own professed views and values. He has his corner of the internet, and I have mine.

    Of course I'm not actually a dissenter. I'm as party line as it gets. We in the armed services have, by regulation, as our first function and duty even before the bombs and bullets, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. Until a person can get that basic function and duty correct, they are the dissenter from the party line.

    We cannot offer anything of substance on the topic of of defense, if we don't first understand what we are defending and why. That's what I'd talk about in that first podcast.

  3. See Rynearson, this is why I keep coming back to your blog; you cherish the Constitution and the sacred liberties it protects with an uncommon zeal. While most of our peers in the officer ranks treat the Constitution as an antiquated shred of parchment that we swear an oath to protect in some meaningless rite of passage, you treat it as your bible. Until I discovered your blog years ago, I thought there were only 3 or 4 of us left.

    Carr does a good job holding lousy leaders accountable for their ineptitude, abuse, and/or mendacity. His blog helps ensure accountability among our senior officers via public shaming. Regardless of his alleged political aspirations, this is a sorely needed service he is providing.

    I also want to extend my sincere appreciation for your courage in fighting the Border Patrol on their egregious civil liberty violations. What you did took a lot of balls and I am grateful that you are among our ranks.

    I know that convincing Carr to dual-host a podcast is a long shot, given your bitter feud; however, I do sincerely hope that you consider launching something solo. I'm sure this has crossed your mind in the past, right? As a follower of your blog, I'd be willing to assist in any way.

    Keep fighting the good fight, amigo.

  4. I appreciate the sentiments. Of course I'm only doing what is my professional duty to do, what I get paid to do. This blog is my attempt to mentor and it started at the request of our service.

    It has likely had no impact whatsoever, however, in getting other officers to commit to the oath they said they committed to when they first raised their hands. Should an illegal order come down upon them, one they can obey in the comfort of secrecy or perhaps even one out in the open, there is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority will obey it. I'd wager that in nine out of ten cases, every one of them would obey it. Even if they know it's unlawful. Even if they are one of the "good" ones who mouth platitudes about the constitution in their coffee shop conversations and give the impression that they really value the document.

    My lawsuits are also just a professional duty, and what effect they may have is likely going to be a limited positive at best, like a couple of drops attempting to ascend against the water of a massive waterfall. In my opinion, our judicial branch is our most superior branch of government by far, and yet it has been dismantling the legal recognition of our rights for decades, and has accelerated this dismantling greatly since 9/11. There is little left that is recognized as a right, or a limit to government power, to be found in a court room today in my estimation.

    Our rights are even less recognized in that thin space that separate ourselves from those in government we arm and pay, to protect our rights on the side of the road or to do so on the land, in the sea, space or air, and most certainly in cyberspace.

    My feeble attempts at mentoring are done because Americans pay me well as a military officer, and because I swore before them and God that I would support and defend their rights. I personally don't think the majority of Americans would care if I didn't make good on my oath. I don't think they value their rights whether they be left or right, conservative or liberal. And we see the evidence of this all around us, every day, in ways I never thought I would live to see.

    Regardless, I'll no longer be a public servant within a year and a half from now. And then the burden of public service ends. I'll have the luxury of giving up my rights for convenience in an attempt to avoid unlawful arrest, or to relegate my deep verbal "commitment" to the constitution to the realm of mere words in pleasant coffee conversation rather than in damaging, expensive, and tiring actual action. When my public service ends, it ends. I will be done serving the public.

    I'll publish a book not long after I leave office, on what I think public service as a military officer means, and the role I believe the constitution plays in that service, and on the importance military officers play as checks and balances in government operation. That will be my parting gift, then I'll say thanks for the fish, and then my burden will be over.

    So, in conclusion, I'm a bit too short for starting a podcast. But I'll listen to your podcast and read your blog if you're still serving and feel so inclined, and I'll be happy to support you in your efforts to mentor your peers on how to be professional public servants who defend America, rather than uniformed politicians who simply take advantage of her.