We Were Soldiers

By: Garry L. Hamilton

Typical of Day One Chemo, sleeping is a losing battle. So I figured, why not a movie?

We Were Soldiers.

I watched it. Gritted my teeth. Wept.

And I wept for Joe. It hit me when he was overwhelmed by freshly showered, wide-eyed, “grown-up” emo journo clowns, stepping off the Sikorsky in a now-safe LZ with questions like “how does it feel?” and various inappropriately loaded questions. And all he could do was stare at them.

And I grasped one of the fundamentals of PTSD watching Hal Moore exhort him to tell the story and confessing his subjective guilt.

And I realized that, of all the war movies I’ve watched, two stand out as “PTSD inducing in the perceptive viewer” class of movie. Yeah, there are others, but two stand out.

The other, for me, is Saving Private Ryan.

They’re messy, shocking, unrelenting, emotionally wrenching, ultimately heroic, but with a horrific price.

The first involves people my own age. I relate way too well to them. They are the reason I did my best to sign up for something non-combat and not over there. And I understood how the active fight against communism (as a general vector, and as the actual foe in real life), while won in numbers on the ground in open combat, was lost to the embedded communists in our own society who succeeded in turning our own culture against our own soldiers, ultimately losing a war the soldiers had actually won.

It brought home my own petty “survivor’s guilt” (yes, something experienced when meeting in person those who did the fighting and the dying, realizing that I was little more than a dabbler in a life and death context) but allowed me to realize that the drive to survive is not a sin, especially when the conflict is largely a politically contrived one. Still, that’s hard to shake if you can’t bring yourself to examine it as raw fact.

The other matter is the punchline of Saving Private Ryan: “Earn this.”

Yes, it was a demand by an individual to an individual, but it can also be the exhortation of those who paid the ultimate price to those of use who would inherit the victory.

And the question one may then ask is, “have we earned it?” Followed by, “are we willing to earn it again, on our own soil if need be?”

We’re the survivors. What we have was bought by our fathers and grandfathers.

Are we willing to forfeit what they bought, accepting the sophomoric sophistry that somehow, by accepting this staggeringly expensive gift, we are de facto unworthy because [insert badly constructed Marxist argument here], and [additional Marxist slogans here] because it’s impolite to respond resolutely (and with violence if needed) against the gleeful, carefully engineered violence perpetrated against us, the heirs of those victories against the tyrannies of the moment?

Can we that easily be persuaded by specious argument that we “don’t deserve” that gift?

Is it really that easy to accept that we should just “hand it over” to the latest band of thugs simply because the thugs in question happen to have staged the battle on our own soil?

The fact that they’ve spent 60 years and billions of dollars building up to this point, infiltrating education and achieving through subterfuge what they could not through a frontal attack, does that legitimize their claim to the prosperity we built in the wake of those conflicts? Simply by slandering us all with ridiculous and entirely false accusations? By hard-selling the specious argument for “the [imaginary] sins of the father …” and therefore those of us who have committed no crime somehow owe a debt to those who have had no crime committed against them?

Against this kind of wholesale dishonesty and targeted violence, are we really ready to roll over and just give the bully what he wants?


Did we earn it?

Or didn’t our progenitors pay enough?

Yes, I know there’s a carefully constructed network of laws that, ironically, can be construed to favor the criminal in this matter, but eventually it will boil down to our cultural ethic and morality and confronting the idea that we can be fenced out of our freedoms and liberties by a tangle of lawyerly contrivances.

Have we become this soft? Are we really no longer worthy?

David Burge (Iowahawk) observed, some time back, something I call “the skin suit proposition,” to wit:

1. Target a respected institution,
2. Kill & clean it,
3. Wear it as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

And the targeted, respected institution has become the American culture as a whole.

In his observation, “kill” is metaphorical.

The metaphor is no longer the shield it was. It has morphed into a more literal proposition.

Where is the threshold? At what point do we reach the cultural equivalent of “fearing for our lives?”

Do we get there while there is still time to act, or when, finally, we are staring up at the barrel of a gun? A real one, not metaphorical?

Flip through a bit of history — the last hundred years should do — before rendering your answer.

And then contemplate, did we earn it? Are we willing to earn it again?

<< This ramble brought to you by Movies And Too Little Sleep. Enjoy. >>


When Will We Be Ready?

By: Garry Hamilton

It was a Tuesday. The sun wasn’t really up yet. I was getting ready to head over to the east side to do the paperwork for a new job. It was a three-month contract, but that’s how things were in late 2001, in the early trailing edge of what people were calling the “dot-com bubble.”

“Hey, babe? You might wanna see this; they’re saying a plane just hit the World Trade Center. There’s video.”

I wasn’t really dressed yet, but I couldn’t get a straight answer to “what happened?” and I figured the video would give me a better idea.

Fumbling with the tie. I’d almost gotten back in the habit while I was coding over at the Supreme Court. At least that was west-side downtown, unlike this new job in Tempe with its 45-minute commute.

Summer was “officially” over, but those of us driving across the west Phoenix valley floor knew better. We still left our windows open a bit, covered the steering wheel, and parked in whatever shade was available.

Yup, sure enough, there was a big ass hole near the top of one of the towers, smoke billowing out, some flames … no, this was not a “small craft” collision. Something big made that hole.

“Damn, babe, that had to be an airliner! Jesus! What a mess!”

“What…? There’s another…? What the hell?”

“That sunnofabitch flew that straight in! That was no accident! Holy shit!”

Things are a little blurry after that. By the time I hit the road, the first tower was down.

Later, while I was filling out paperwork, the second tower fell. The mood was a bizarre mixture of disbelief, anger, and confusion, all while maintaining professional composure. Nobody really had any appetite for work, we were just going through the motions, eyes spending more time on the TV — little black-n-white thing up in the corner — than on the paperwork itself.

I headed home. I would spend most of the evening in front of the TV. And the next night. And the next.

Tomorrow would be my first day on this new job, writing language extensions for an interpreter running on Unix, something I’d never done before. It would be interesting work. Challenging.

But right now I couldn’t seem to get my thoughts marshaled for that.

All I could think of was that someone had attacked us, using a “b-movie plot” lifted from a Tom Clancy novel. And we weren’t ready.

And I wasn’t ready.

The ensuing weeks were surreal. I went to work, I came home, I went to work. My wife suddenly became a researching blogger in addition to her client work. Eventually, this would become a new way of life for her. I would continue to work for people whose businesses made a point of not having a position about it.

The events of that Tuesday would change who our friends were, and the kinds of conversations we’d have.

It’s been 17 years. We’ve marched off to war. We’ve engaged in ever increasing security theater.

It’s been expensive, political, unifying, divisive, and exhausting.

I’m still not convinced we’re ready.


Obamacare Ruling

By: Garry L. Hamilton

I’m doing my best not to speculate too much on this.

Ever played Bridge?

You bid the hand in such a way that certain things are communicated to your partner, and then you trust that your partner will understand the bidding and play correctly. During play, you play your cards both in response to what the opposition plays and in such a way as to take advantage of your partner’s position.

Bridge is a complex game with a significant trust component.

I believe Roberts is playing Bridge here.

I’m guessing (yeah, I said I’m trying not to speculate) that his reading of the liberal justices was such that if he sided with the manifest majority, and struck down only the funding vehicle, the law would survive and be shored up through other, more devious measures.

By correctly classifying the funding vehicle as a tax, he has played a card that exposes the liberal reality and invites a response from Congress as well as the electorate.

By acknowledging that the *electorate* is responsible for its political choices and therefore its politicians and therefore, ultimately, its laws, and by making it clear that bad law and bad policy may not, in fact, violate the Constitution, since the Constitution was not written with the explicit injunction that “legislators may not write stupid laws,” he plays the card that clarifies the path to eliminating not only the heinous Health Care Sabotage machine, but also the fools and crooks who gave it to us.

Roberts is looking across the table at us now.

He has to trust that the electorate and Congress will look at the cards and play correctly to win the hand and ultimately the game. He can’t signal us with a kick under the table or tap out a strategy with his pen or convey in any fashion what he meant by his play.

Play now moves to us.

He has given us clarity: Obama lies, taxes rise. Repeat that loudly.

He has stated the uncomfortable truth: SCOTUS can’t save you if you insist on voting in stupid legislators and evil presidents; your salvation lies entirely within your own hands.

It must have been tempting to side with the other conservative justices and strike down the vulnerable parts of the law, but that just allows the now injured monstrosity to limp along, doing massive damage as it tramples the economic structure of the nation.

In Bridge, there’s a play error known as “trumping your partner” where you play a card in “trumps” to win a trick that your partner would have won anyway because your opponents have no higher value in the suit he played. It’s an error because you give up a play that would have won a later trick with that same card. It can make the difference in winning the hand.

Let us not trump the Roberts decision with a bunch of emotional chaff that hands the ultimate victory to the fools and crooks.

Our play is simple, really: change out the president, change out the bulk of the Senate, increase the House majority. Hey, I said simple, not easy.

With the right legislators in the chairs and the right president in the Oval, the whole damned Health Care Sabotage law can be expunged. That, and a whole host of other fires this administration has started can be extinguished.

SCOTUS can’t save us from stupid. That’s our job.

Consider it a “shovel ready” job and start digging.

Update: Did Roberts just give Obama the bird? – UPDATED

“I believe Roberts is playing Bridge here”

Congress not only can tax anything that moves, it can tax anything that doesn’t move


President Obama Grants Executive Privilege to Eric Holder Over ‘Fast and Furious’ Documents

Read more at The Blaze…

Garry Hamilton:

Administration claims executive priviledge in a matter it supposedly knew nothing about.

This is what we, in the data analysis community call “contrary facts.” In other words, one datum (“we knew nothing”) contradicts the other (“we will not reveal what we knew”).

Expect the Media Myth Generators to offer a package of “reasons” explaining how you can deny knowing and yet still claim “priviledge” to protect the “nothing” that you know.

Head them off at the pass. Call them on it.




To us.

Never mind lying to Congress. They are lying to the entire population.

“Lying to America” may not be a crime on the books, but I reckon it’s a crime nonetheless.

Let us then mete out the appropriate punishment.


Bless Us Every One

By: Garry L. Hamilton

Was a time in my life when Christmas was simple and unconfused: it was all about the toys.

As life plodded onward, there was less clarity but more stuff: it was all about the gifts — to whom you gave them, from whom you got them. And, oh, BTW, Happy New Year.

A little farther down the road, it was less about the stuff, more about the festivities and companionship, and the general “good time” of it all. And where did all these pounds come from, anyway?

But eventually there is clarity.

Clarity is not necessarily kind, but illumination is nonetheless good for the soul.

May this day shine upon the year’s successes, and may the next year offer only those challenges and mountains within your ability to learn and grow and so overcome them.

May the shadows of imagined failure be shown for the illusions that they are, and the radiance of your triumphs light the way for others.

And may you have young to learn from your example and friends with whom to share the struggle and the losing and the winning of it all.

And may you find renewal and new beginnings in this season for you and yours.

I hope that some day someone will learn as much from me as I have from you.

Merry Christmas, guys.


A Life Worthy of Notice

By: Garry L. Hamilton

Every so often in passing we hear of someone’s having lost a friend and we send our condolences.

Occasionally, however, while the event — in and of itself — may not be particularly “newsworthy” to the world, the man in the event is quietly larger than life.

I serve as a moderator on The High Road (a Second Amendment oriented forum), and we have a surprising breadth and depth among our staff. We have young guys and old guys, shooters, hunters, pilots, policemen, soldiers, engineers, computer geeks, a scientist, and… missionaries.

One of our staff, Brian, is currently in Cambodia with his wife on mission there. He received word yesterday that an old friend of his, a fellow missionary and mission pilot named Paul Westlund, had died in a crash in Indonesia. He shared a video Paul made of some of the flying they do over there. There’s another related video from that same locale, a montage of missionary bush plane landings in Indonesia. (For you geeks, that’s a Pilatus Porter.) Twenty five years of doing that. I am simply awed.

I am of the opinion that when this guy gets where he’s going he won’t have to “earn his wings.” Issued on arrival, I should imagine.

The intro to Paul’s video has this caption: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. To which I can only say, amen. The song that accompanies that video (When It’s All Been Said and Done) is touching. I got all wet-eyed about it.

For those of you who pray, I offer a remembrance for Paul, a man of God, a man who lived his life doing what he loved, and doing it for others. There really is no higher calling. I knew him not, yet I am profoundly glad he lived.


Raising the Colors – 10 Years Later

By: Garry L. Hamilton

A former Marine, and a man I’m proud to call friend, recently had a flag raising ceremony at his home in Pennsylvania. The flag raising was attended by Ken’s friends and neighbors (one of whom — a Vietnam veteran himself — helped with the heavy lifting), and an active duty Marine Sergeant Major. They raised three flags: Old Glory, the Marines Standard and the flag of a Pennsylvania Rifles regiment, to the accompaniment of the music appropriate for each, and a musket volley salute. Two days after the flag raising ceremony, the Stars and Stripes flew at half mast, in honor of those who died in an act of war on American soil ten long years ago.

In and of itself, raising a flag generally merits little notice, however a twenty-five foot flagpole installation at the domicile of one of American’s finest — one who has stood on the wall that most only hear of in metaphor — is considerably more than a token hat tip to patriotism. It is our nation’s guidon, front and center before the world. It is unabashed and unashamed pride in what makes our nation exceptional and the greatness of those who have fought and bled to keep it free.

More than this, the flag in question rises on the tenth anniversary of, among other things, a modern day of infamy. And it says to all who see it, “We are still here and we still stand tall.”

I asked Ken if he would be so kind as to pen something to express his own impressions and he obliged.

Here it is then, in his own words.

Ken O’Donnell – Far Right

By: Ken O’Donnell

On September 9th, I hosted a party for a Flag Raising Ceremony at my house. Garry asked me to touch on a few thoughts about why I decided to have a party to dedicate a flagpole, remember the Marine Corps and to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. It seems an odd thing to celebrate, a tragedy, doesn’t it?

One word sums it up. Heritage.

As a young Marine, I learned all manner of names, dates and important events that the Marine Corps feels both defines it, and that young Marine recruits need to know before they can graduate and earn the title of United States Marine. We gained this knowledge in formal classes. We learned it from our Drill Instructors. We had to pass a written test demonstrating we knew who Archibald Henderson was; when and where the Marine Corps was founded.

To most Americans, such things might be little more than trivia. A college student might memorize the material, pass the exam and promptly discard it from memory as he prepares to repeat the exercise next semester. But to Marines, this is our legacy. It is our heritage. We draw upon the deeds of those who came before us for strength and inspiration.

Take for example the Marines and Navy Corpsman who raised the American Flag on Mount Suribachi. I would wager that there exists no other picture in American history that an American wouldn’t recognize, know what that picture was of and what it meant to the war effort in WWII. For decades afterward, the men in that picture were regarded as heroes and Marines to this day draw inspiration from them.

However, if we dig down past the hero label and into the lives of these men, we find that they were ordinary men who performed extraordinary things. And for me, their true life stories are a source of great strength. Of the six men depicted in Joe Rosenthal’s picture, three (Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block and Michael Strank) did not survive the battle; the three survivors (John Bradley, Rene Gagnon and Ira Hayes) became celebrities upon the publication of the photo.

Sergeant Michael Strank, born in Czechoslovakia, immigrated as a child with his family to Cambria County, near Johnstown, PA. He joined the Marine Corps after serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public relief program for unmarried, unemployed men whose families had been hit hard by the Great Depression. It was hard, physical labor that prepared him well for life as a young Marine.

He was the oldest and most experienced of the six men in the picture. He was a veteran of the WWII era Marine Raider Battalion’s amphibious landings in the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal and the hard fighting that took place in the Battle for Bougainville. Six days after raising the flag on Mount Suribachi, his squad came under heavy fire and took cover. While forming a plan of attack, he was struck and killed by friendly naval gunfire. Corporal Harlon Block, who looked up to Strank, as all of the squad did, took over command.

Corporal Harlon Block idolized Strank and followed his every instruction without question. L.B. Holly, who served in his squad and who was with him when he died, said of Strank, “He was the best Marine I ever knew.” Corporal Harlon Block, of Texas, was killed in a mortar blast only a few hours after his squad leader, Sgt Strank.

A third member of Sgt Strank’s squad, PFC Franklin Sousley from Kentucky was killed on Iwo Jima 26 days after helping to raise the flag. As the terribly bloody battle for control of the island raged on, he was shot by a Japanese sniper in the back.

Rene Gagnon, of New Hampshire, was not a member of Sgt. Strank’s squad. He was assigned to the Battalion Headquarters as a runner. In fact, Ira Hayes despised Gagnon. Communications up the hill that day were faulty and Gagnon got orders to carry walkie talkies and batteries to the forward position. As he was leaving, the Battalion Commander gave him a larger flag to take along with him up the hill and with orders that, “Colonel Johnson wants this big flag run up high, so every son of a bitch on this whole cruddy island can see it.”

For years after the war, Gagnon tried to capitalize on the fame he had from the War Bond tours. During the cross-country tours, businessmen, politicians and government officials – all caught up in the drive of winning the war and the euphoria of meeting a “genuine war hero” – promised him lucrative work and notoriety. Those jobs never materialized. He unsuccessfully tried to break into movies and television. “I’m pretty well known in Manchester,” he told a reporter. “When someone who doesn’t know me is introduced to me, they say, ‘That was you in The Photograph?’ What the hell are you doing working here? If I were you, I’d have a good job and lots of money.”

Gagnon died at age 54 of a heart attack. He was an alcoholic and worked at menial jobs, but was fired from most of them. In his last job, he had worked as a janitor at an apartment complex in Manchester. As recorded in the book Flags of Our Fathers, in his latter years Gagnon only participated in events that praised the flag raising at his wife’s urging. He said she enjoyed the limelight, whereas he, by that time, no longer did.

While Rene Gagnon sought after fame, Ira Hayes, Pima Indian from Arizona, ran from it. He made Gagnon swear an oath not to reveal he was one of the men in The Photograph. Gagnon kept to that oath until he was ordered, then threatened under punishment, to reveal Hayes’ identity. Hayes was immediately recalled from the Pacific to tour with Doc Bradley and Rene Gagnon.

When men called Ira Hayes a hero, he said the only heroes he knew were the men he served with. After the war, Hayes accumulated a record of 52 arrests for public drunkenness. Referring to his alcoholism, he once said, “I was sick. I guess I was about to crack up thinking about all my good buddies. They were better men than me and they’re not coming back.” On the morning of January 24, 1955, Hayes was found dead, lying in his own blood and vomit, near an abandoned adobe hut in Sacaton, Arizona. He had been drinking and playing cards at a bar on the reservation with his friends and brothers the night before. He died at age 32.

Doc John Bradley was the only of the three survivors who managed to lead a healthy, long life. He did his best to put the war behind him, but his wife said he’d cry in his sleep for years after the war. He never spoke of it to his eight children. They never knew he was one of the six in The Famous Photograph. And they never learned he had won the Navy Cross until after his death, when a family friend told them what their Dad had really done in the war.

The stories from Antiquity give us legendary heroes. The Greek and Roman tales speak of gifted men and children descended from gods. The English and European myths and fables give us stories of Beowulf and King Arthur. Heroes serve as conveniences for telling stories to our children at bed time. They teach lessons and epitomize the good qualities, rarely having any of the bad, found within human nature. Such men are so extra-ordinary that we cannot draw upon their stories for strength when we need it. They’re not real.

I like to believe that the reason the Marine Corps wants its young Marines to know about those before them, including their flaws, is so they can draw upon their stories for strength. Admiral Nimitz said of the men on Iwo Jima, “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.” Ordinary men did extraordinary things. I won’t call men like them heroes; they wouldn’t – and didn’t – want that label.

I’ll call them inspirations.

What ordinary men and women did the morning of September 11th, 2001, also gives us inspiration. Those people did what Americans do. All across the Northeast: high in the skies of the World Trade Center; on the ground at the Pentagon; in the air over Pennsylvania – ordinary people did extraordinary things. The first blows were struck back at the terrorists when the passengers of United Flight 93 fought back. The nation was unified and in the days after, we showed the world what sort of character Americans had. We mourned; some mourned while they worked. And we vowed not to tremble. Just as Japan awoke a nation and discovered what a determined America could accomplish, so have the Islamic terror groups.

Ordinary people performing extraordinary deeds – this is our heritage and those who did them serve as our inspiration.

The video of the ceremony is in three parts, and can be found on YouTube:

  • Part 1, in which Ken makes some extemporaneous remarks,
  • Part 2, in which the three flags are affixed to the yard, and
  • Part 3, in which the flags are raised and saluted.

And, yes, the ceremony was held after dark. Sometimes, when you assemble a cadre of working stiffs and active duty troops, evening is all you’ll have. However, 9/11 was a fine day. Perhaps just a little more somber than it was ten years ago.

The Plaque Beneath the Flag

Thank you, Ken.

‘Tis a fine thing you’ve done.


A Thought On The Socialist

By: Garry Hamilton

So, I was thinkin’ about the mindset of the Socialist.

Not the man-in-the-street socialism beneficiary, but the architect and implementor of socialism. Like, for instance, Big O and his masters and minions.

They insist that the end result of their planning and your sacrifices will be the realization of an ideal, a perfection of sorts.

Unfortunately, if they simply came out and told the truth about their objectives and their methods and the actual consequences of it all, very few of those whose sweat and blood fuel this ideal would want any part of it. And so the Socialist is obliged to lie, for it is the efforts and toil of the productive that must provide the wealth that powers the engine of benefit for the unproductive, and the industrious man will not abide it. Eventually, the engine of socialism will not only provide benefit for the unproductive, but also the force needed to extort the needed wealth from the now reluctant producers.

So it is that the Socialist insists that his perfection can be attained by defrauding socialism’s benefactors until they are no longer able to withstand the forces that will enslave them.

Fraud and slavery are, on their very face, no part of anything perfect.

Thus the Socialist is both dishonest and deluded: he knows he must lie to attain his perfection, bought with coercion of the labors of the honest and diligent which — in his perfect world — they would willingly contribute, but which he knows they never will and which, therefore, he must take by force.

In this fashion, he hopes for the ultimate in justice: equal benefit for all, provided by the gentlest possible slavery of the productive few.

Justice built on injustice. An oxymoron that’s the product of a commitment to an impossible ideal.

Socialism. Brought to you at gunpoint by delusional liars.

Update: The narcissistic delusions of Leftists *UPDATED*



By: Garry L. Hamilton


That’s how they intend to sell this thing? A cute name and a slogan? Don’t we already have a cute name for this? SPAM?

Hmm, let’s see . . .

…cell phones equipped with special chips and software.

Media trying to sound competent. The “special” chips will be part of any current production smart phone.

And . . .

…the importance of getting clear and accurate information to the public during a crisis

Given the very recent “presidential” information disseminated by the Executive Branch in the wake of the Bin Laden episode, does anyone else find this just falling-down-funny?

For now, the alerts are capable on certain high-end cell phones but starting next year, all cell phones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts.

Yeah. That was predictable. Well, at least that will drive the cost of cheap cell phones up. I was really troubled by the preponderance of cheap junk phones on the market. They’re doing their best to help solve that problem.

So who was at the helm when this happened?

This new emergency alert system is part of the Warning Alert and Response Network Act that was approved by Congress in 2006.

Was that before or after the election cycle of 2006?

So, let me think a minute, using what little I know about cell phones…

To make this work, you would need either a list of the cell phone numbers in the target area (a subscribed list) or you would have to have a central monitoring point that is “always aware” of what phones are in the area. This isn’t that hard, considering that the cell tower hand-off protocol requires that the tower system be able to identify phones moving through their zone in order to make a seamless hand-off to the next tower, so the data is already in the tower farm. The phone switching network has to keep track of this as well, so that phone calls can be routed. In truth, the phone system always knows (in general) where your phone is, otherwise you couldn’t receive calls or text messages. So the “central monitoring point” already exists (phone switching), all you would need for an emergency SPAM broadcast is a way to inject messages into the system to “all currently active phones” in a region.

Now, that’s not a two-way Big Brother thing, that’s a one-way “announcing” conduit. However, in the spirit of Orson Welles, it occurs to me that there are ways to abuse a one-way conduit. Imagine what you could do with a little ear piece that allowed you to “talk” directly to each cow in a herd. As the “cow whisperer” you could direct them, soothe them or stampede them. And so it is with something like this. Only now you’re the “mob whisperer” with the ability to inform, alert, soothe, or stampede the population of a region. Not that anyone would ever broadcast misinformation/disinformation or incite panic using a system like this.

Now, if I allow my imagination to run a little with this, I could contrive some way for this to permit spying on citizens, but that would be gilding the lily: the systems for spying on folks using their phones are already in place. All they have to do is “wonder” loudly enough if you’re involved in terrorism, and the existing laws and phone tracking systems are sufficient to that purpose.

I’m more concerned with the “mob whisperer” aspect. That, and this other little thing: security.

In the hands of a benign agency, a tool that reaches virtually everyone (better coverage than either radio or TV) can do some good. However, given that we’ve had ne’er-do-wells hack into places like the DoD and Pentagon, I worry that the system could be hijacked by malicious pranksters.

I will admit, though, that there is a significant “creep” factor in this.


Regarding The Delicate Sensibilities of War

By: Garry L. Hamilton

Without wishing to get into the partisan “gotcha” politics of “which politician is the bigger liar,” I do have a view on this.

Knocking down the WTC twin towers was an act of war. The 1993 WTC bombing was an act of war. The USS Cole attack was an act of war.

With a little research, I can probably come up with a dozen more incidents that qualify for the “act of war” title.

For some reason, there is a mindset — and an evidently popular one at that — which prefers to call such attacks against the nation’s resources “criminal acts.” Once you buy into that line of thinking, your ability to effectively deal with the enemy is hosed. Not “criminal,” but enemy.

In an age of asymmetrical warfare, you don’t get nice neat declarations of war enacted by nation states and following the Marquess of Queensberry rules. Or, for that matter, the various (Geneva, Hague) conventions and treaties for the conduct of armed conflict.

When the global “bully” shows up and whacks you upside the head, punches you in the gut, or stomps on your foot, you don’t “fight to be popular.” You fight to win. And “win” is not a nuanced-compromise-so-they-will-all-love-us thing. “Win” is where you have the enemy on his knees begging to be spared and promising anything you ask as long as you let him live. Failing that, “win” is when the enemy has ceased to exist.

Asymmetrical warfare does not require that all the parties are nations. If some bunch of fanatics, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, decides to wage war on you, then you’re an idiot if you don’t quickly adjust your warfare paradigms to include effective counters to “nationless” adversaries. If the current rules and treaties don’t account for the proper defense of your nation, then you quickly get some new treaties in place that allow you to be effective. If you can’t get those new treaties, you must nonetheless be effective. Popularity is not your objective. Respect is all that works here.

Why don’t groups like al Qaeda screw with Russia? Is it because Russia is just too universally loved and popular? No, it’s not. Russia is one absolutely bad-ass adversary and they will relentlessly pursue you and kill you, and they won’t give a shit about the rules. China may be more subtle, but they too will crush you if you mess with them. Protocols? Rules of engagement? Yeah, I’ve got yer f****n ruelz of engagement right here, asswipe. And that is why fanatics don’t play “pin the airliner on the tower” with Russia and China.

Let’s take a hypothetical example.

Let’s just say — for the sake of discussion — that a group of fanatics flies a plane or two into a huge, expensive landmark and kills more than 2,900 in the engagement, and that — again, just for the sake of discussion — these fanatics claim to have done this in the name of a very large and widespread and recognized religion. Absurd, I know, but stay with me.

Well, since we are only interested in a fast, effective, overwhelming response, calibrated to make anyone else swear off even trying this kind of insanity, we want to use a big hammer on a big target. Well, since the fanatics claim to represent a religion, and show every sign of observing the tenets of that religion (despite the whole mass murder thing), it would seem prudent to sit down with the leaders of said religion and offer them a deal – something like this:

Hi, Ahmed, been a while since we talked. How’s the wife? How’s little Ahmed Jr.? Great. Look, we have a problem. Some guys killed a couple of our favorite buildings and thousands of people along with them. They claim to be with you and your church, and from what we can tell, that seems to be on the level. Now, we know that’s just crazy and that you would never condone somthing like that.

So here’s what we’re willing to do. You dig up these assholes and hand them over to us, alive or dead (we don’t much care), and confirm that you got them all and promise us that this kind of thing will never happen again in any act associated in any way with your church, okay? You have ninety days. After ninety days, we’ll drop a MOAB on Mecca.

What? Unfair? Look, Ahmed, I like you. We’ve always gotten along well. But these assholes attacked us and we just don’t let that go unanswered. They’re doing it in the name of your religion and they are unfortunately credible in that claim.

Yes, I know it’s absurd, but it really comes down to this: you can round them up and hand them over (or kill them and hand them over) and make the world know that this is what happens when you murder people in the name of the church, or you can just allow us to believe that the church somehow endorses that.

Ahmed, baby, you know that you don’t want to piss us off. Japan did that and we smacked them hard. Now they play nice. I would really, really prefer that we didn’t have to go through all the unpleasantness of hitting something you love with a hammer that big. Simplifies things a great deal if you just play nice and help us out on this.

What? You need more time? Well, how much? Okay, we can do six or eight months, but let’s not drag things out. Just to be clear, we don’t care who gets in the way. These bastards have to be brought down and it has to be noisy and public. Okay? With me on this? Glad to hear that. Hey, why don’t you and the wife come over for dinner next week? We’d love to hear your stories about that last cricket match you guys won. Don’t be a stranger.

Wait! No! We can’t be at war with a religion! True, true. That would be crazy, no? But a bunch of fanatics belonging to a religion can attack us and declare war on us and do it in the name of their religion and nobody seems to want that to be true.

Do you imagine for one moment that, if a crack team of Italian Roman Catholic commando priests launched an attack on the Empire State Building — and did it in the name of the church and all the saints — that anybody would cut slack for the Catholic church? Hey, Pope, you need to denounce this now and give us a hand with rounding up these assholes. Religious sensitivities? Don’t make me laugh.

Now, the entire implausibility of the above scenario aside, my point is that, as a nation, if you take crap from other nations or extra-national groups and you don’t execute an immediate and convincing smackdown, you become everyone’s international bitch. Global ridicule.

For this discussion, I have not attempted to address non-military attacks, like Soros-style currency demolition (like the British Pound Sterling and Bank of England). That requires a little more thought. But bombs? Planes-as-missiles into buildings? Crap like that? “SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!

And, sadly, I’m afraid that anyone actually captured on the battlefield in an engagement against non-state actors isn’t going to get to squeal “I have rights!” and get any love at all.

When the enemy has abandoned the field, has surrendered, has been obliterated, or whatever the unequivocal representation of victory is, only then do you back off.

Occupy your country? Ahmed, why the hell would we want to do that? Look, the bad guys are dead and their organization is now out of business. We trust you. If more of them show up, we know you’ll deal with them so that we don’t have to. Resources? Sure, we’ll sell you what you need. Heck, we’ll even help train your guys. No, that’s not a freebie, you’ll be paying for those services.

In the end, you establish that you are the baddest, meanest, implacable MoFo to have as an enemy, but having us as a friend is smart business.

You establish that you don’t take shit from anyone — even assholes pretending to be religious.

And that is how you secure the nation. Well, that and effective border security, but that’s a topic for another day.

Pursue the chief bad guy to the ends of the earth? Cap his ass when we find him? Hell, yes. Make excuses? Observe the “religious protocols” of the church he pretended to represent? Screw that. Light him on fire and drag his ass through the streets behind a Humvee? Well, that does seem to be a local custom for dealing with slain enemies . . . well, okay, when in Rome . . .

Naturally, there will be some terribly civilized folks who see all this as utterly barbaric and, actually, I agree. It is barbaric. The problem is, you see, when you’re dealing with barbarians, that’s pretty much all that will register with them. Just for clarity: anyone who would, unprovoked, fly a plane full of jet fuel and passengers into a building, killing thousands of people not involved in any “struggle” with the killers, is a barbarian.

You wanna be civilized about the way you conduct war? You will wind up where Greece and Rome did: conquered by the next big civilization.

You don’t want that outcome? Then behave like you’re in a goddamn war and get the job done.