Once a Marine...

Once a Marine...
Every year or so, I get together with my Marine Officer buddies. We're not as lean, not as mean, but we're still Marines. That's me, with the long hair.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Advice for College Freshmen

This fall, both my nephew and my godson will be entering the freshman class of Clemson University. If their college experience is like most folks’, those four years will launch them out into the world at the very peak of their intelligence. I mean, was there ever a time in your life when you were smarter than your first year out of college? From literature to economics to politics to leadership, I was the 1985 human-version of Google.

But entering college? Well, that was a bit different. I was entering a new and mysterious world, and the only thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t know squat. And that’s not easy for any high school senior to admit.

So, I’m going to do these lads a favor, and offer them some sage advice—right here, right now. If you’ve got a youngster climbing out of the trenches and assaulting that collegiate machinegun nest, feel free to share it with them as well.

Will and Alton, here you go:

First, the seniors at college will look like grown men—wise and experienced veterans, capable of dispensing important insights on life. They aren’t. If you have a question more important than which Zippy Marts accept fake ID’s, call your Dad.

Speaking of fake ID’s, avoid bars. They are expensive, illegal for anyone under 21, and tend to attract guys who want to fight (and girls who want to be fought over). Push, shove, swing—there goes your scholarship. That’s a call to your Dad you don’t want to take.

In planning for Fall semester, sign up for later classes—it’s cold at 8am. In the Spring, sign up for early classes—when it warms up, you’ll want to be outside.

In high school, you attended classes and played sports from about 8am until 3 or 4pm. If you can force yourself to maintain that schedule, and view college as a “job” from 8am to 4pm, you’ll crush it. You’ll be amazed when other people flunk out.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, good happens after midnight. After 1am, the police start getting involved. After 2am, it’s the ER. Regardless of your classmates’ preferred schedules, have your fun earlier, and be counting sheep when the cops start pulling out the tazers and pepper spray. If you must stay out late, use this rule of thumb: When the clock strikes midnight, think about what you want to do, then do the opposite.

Speaking of cops, there will be times in the next four years when you will feel called to “reason” with them. Perhaps in your own defense, or for a friend who’s crossed the line. This is a mistake. Cops are not reasonable people after 6pm. Until you are 40, the only words you should ever say to a cop are, “Yes, Sir,” and “No, Sir,” and “I’m happy to comply, Officer.”

Along those same lines, college professors are fairly predictable, too. In all liberal arts classes, sit in the front row, nod a lot, ask questions, and—this is key—whenever you are answering a short answer or essay question, be a human parrot. When writing your answer, focus on the question, “What does the guy grading my test want to hear?” As an added benefit, this will be good training should you choose to pursue a career in corporate America.

I’d also encourage you to avoid taking advantage of the fact that most college profs don’t care if you come to class. The only reason for missing a class is if an ER physician is standing over you, holding paddles and yelling ”Clear!”

The most tireless, obsessed, mean-spirited humans on the planet are not radical terrorists—they are meter maids on college campuses. You have been warned.

Make sure your iPod has Andrea Bocelli’s Romanza on it. The chicks will think you are cool and mysterious. If you can stand it, have some jazz, too.

If Clemson has a foreign language requirement, remember that the vocabulary words you learn are considered fair game in later semesters. Don’t kill the brain cells containing those words.

At Auburn, where I went to college, riding a bicycle was considered “driving.” You might want to check on the local laws at Clemson. Just saying.

Sitting around with friends at the library, laughing, texting, or flirting with girls doesn’t qualify as studying. Sure, that may seem obvious—but you’re about to encounter thousands of people who can’t grasp that concept.

You will meet a lot of kids who do recreational drugs. I implore you, don’t go down that road. Make your own decisions regarding beer, but draw a line in the sand with drugs—and seek a reputation as someone who thinks drug users are geeks. You’d also be wise to avoid “trying dip”: I did not, and 25 years later I’m still a nicotine addict.

You will also meet a lot of kids who bet on football. To that, let me say this: Gambling is the surest way to lose everything. Think about it: If Tiger Woods tried to blow all his money on drugs, alcohol, and partying, he couldn’t—because he’d be dead before the money ran out. But gambling? He could lose it all in a week. He could lose it all, plus enough more to have a bookie break his legs. Think about it before you get a taste of the “easy money” that comes with a few innocent bets.

If you want to join a frat, don’t join one that hazes pledges. While the Marine Corps might haze recruits on their way to becoming Marines, it’s necessary. A frat is a beer drinking club—and hardly worthy of demanding some sort of trial by fire. Along those same lines, if you join the Marines, feel free to get a tattoo. Fraternity tattoos, however, are just sad.

You’re also going to encounter lots of kids from different economic backgrounds—there will be rich kids with their parent’s credit cards, and there will be kids who are working their way through school without a dime from their folks. Don’t be quick to judge either—you’ll meet good people in both categories. Just don’t try to run with the rich kids, because their parents’ credit cards aren’t yours. Along that same vein, don’t pressure your less fortunate friends to do stuff that costs money, unless you’re going to pick up the tab.

Remind yourself how blessed you are: Put an index card on your mirror that says, “Today, someone my age, who couldn’t afford college, may die serving America in Afghanistan or Iraq.”

At this point in your life, you have no idea what’s at stake—but it’s a lot. The choices you make in college will impact the rest of your life. You won’t believe how quickly the “real world” will pigeon-hole you into the career you choose, which will likely be based on your major. If you sleepwalk thru college, the world doesn’t mind… in fact, the world doesn’t even care. That’s because while the world needs engineers, businessmen, marketers, teachers, warriors, doctors, and nurses, it also needs ditch diggers. Lots and lots of ditch diggers.

This is your one four-year window to explore the buffet of professions. Talk to peers, adult professionals, professors, and ditch diggers to see what their lives are like, and find a passion to pursue. College won’t go by fast, but it will go by—and when you pop out on the other side, the world will only be your oyster if you know where oysters grow, have a boat to find them, have the tools to harvest them, and have the know-how to crack one open. Remember this: The world and technology have changed more during your 12 years in school than it changed in the previous 1,000 years. The job where you’ll spend your career might not even exist yet. No old dudes like me can help you with this—I come from a generation that could never figure out how to stop the 12:00 on the VCR from blinking. You and you alone need to survey the ice, and skate to where the puck is going to be.

Oh, and go to church. Believe it or not, God goes with you to college.

Considering torture

It all seemed so impossible—the explosion, the gunfire, the shouts. It was an operation that defied logic. No one could explain it. Even his most experienced advisors were stunned into a dull, thick state of shock. The surviving Secret Service agents were talking, blaming, pointing fingers—covering their asses. The President put his face in his hands and tried to think.

Just two hours earlier the day was unfolding as a rare, stress-free delight. He and the First Lady and their two daughters had flown via Marine One to Richmond, where they were making a photo-op visit to an inner city school that was showing promise using a newly-developed curriculum. The children were scrubbed and beaming, assembled on the playground in the shape of a big letter O. The President laughed out loud when he saw it, and treasured the look on his daughter’s faces as they realized what they were seeing out the window.

The helicopter touched down gently. The President stepped to the door and waved, then turned his back as he helped his girls down the steps. It all felt so good that he feared his grin would come across as goofy, but he just didn’t care. This was the change he’d dreamed would come about during his time in the White House.

Following a brief welcome and introduction ceremony by the school’s principal, the first family made their way into the school building for a tour. Each of the girls was assigned and honor roll escort, and the excitement was palatable. The President thought to himself he’d never felt more like the President than at this fine moment.

Suddenly, time slowed down. The President could remember every detail so very clearly, but it seemed to be a bizarre dream—a moment out of a science fiction movie. An overwhelming force threw him sideways, but there was no violent explosion. He felt himself in the air, then felt a blow to his ribs, and the taste of metal in his mouth as his head struck the floor. Panic swept over him like a rogue wave, and his mind could conjure only minor thoughts—Where is my wife? Where are my girls?

In seconds, the room was flooded with men firing automatic weapons. Seconds later, the room was awash in blood, and the smell of gunpowder. A Secret Service agent knelt to shout orders into his ear, only to fall across his chest lifeless before the first command could be understood. The President rolled out from under the dead agent, and rose to a crouch—he scanned the madness, thinking the same simple thoughts. Where is my wife? Where are my girls?

And then, it was over. Men in suits lay across the room, dead and dying. It was impossible to distinguish between the bodies of his Secret Service detail and the attackers. It was a hell he’d never imagined, and for the first time he managed another thought: Why am I alive? What do I do now? And once again—Where is my wife? Where are my children?

A group of men he did not recognize, dressed in riot gear, exploded through the cafeteria doors. How much time had passed? Ten seconds? Two minutes? He willed his mind to work, but the horror of it all was so foreign to him. The men surrounded him, lifted him and carried him out of the door in a well-rehearsed sprint. Back aboard Marine One, The President fought back his feelings of panic, and shouted at the agent who appeared to be in charge, “Where are my kids? Where is my wife?”

The agent spoke briefly into his headset, then looked The President in the eye. “We’re not sure, Mr. President. The React Team is sweeping the grounds—if I had to bet, I’d say their detail has them secured in a side room, waiting for an all-clear signal.”

Once back at the White House, The President struggled to keep his cool. It was obvious that every federal agent within a hundred miles was focused on the situation, but the minutes felt like hours. At last, his security chief approached. “We’ve got to get back aboard Marine One, Mr. President. I’ll brief you in the air.”

Three minutes later, they were airborne. The President was surprised by the relatively few people onboard, but said nothing. His security chief hung up his cell phone, and spoke.

“We got one of them—four blocks from the school, when he was trying to switch cars. He had the first lady in his van; Mr. President, she’s dead. He was planning to leave her there to be found, with a note pinned to her jacket. The React Team has the suspect onboard a helo out of Quantico, and we’re going to rendezvous with them at a CIA facility. We should arrive about fifty minutes after them.”

“Tell me what the note said.”

“It said you have twenty-four hours to resign from office on national television. Or your daughters die.”

The security chief’s phone rang, and The President motioned he should take the call. The remaining time on the flight The President sat in silence.

Marine One landed next to a barn, on what appeared to be a horse farm.

“What is this place?” he asked as the team moved towards the barn doors.

“This place doesn’t exist, Sir.”

Again, The President felt as though he was viewing a wild, three-dimensional movie. They entered the barn, only to find it empty, save for a wall-to-wall concrete slab, and a single elevator. The elevator ride took less than half a minute, and opened into an underground bunker complex. A man dressed in black stood in front of them when the doors opened.

“Mr. President, follow me,” he said. “The rest of you may be seated in the conference room at the end of this hall.”

“I want my security chief with me,” The President announced.

“No, Sir,” the man replied. “You do not.”

The President began to raise his voice when his security chief interrupted.

“He’s right, Mr. President.”

The President followed the man in black down a brightly lit corridor. At the end of the hall, they entered a gray, concrete room—the room was empty except for a six-foot commercial grade tool storage cabinet. The President also noticed a drain in the center of the floor, and a number of eye bolts rising up from the smooth cement floor.

“Here’s the deal, Mr. President. It appears we are dealing with a very organized, extremely professional white supremacist group. This guy looks as cool, and as mean, as anyone I’ve ever encountered.”

“What’s he said?”

“Nothing. He asked for his lawyer.”

“I’m told the note said twenty-four hours. Twenty-four hours before my daughters are killed.”

“I’m aware that, Sir.”

“Well, we don’t have time to get him a lawyer—we need him to talk!”

“I would agree with that assessment, Sir.”

“Can you make him talk?”

“Using the tools inside that tool chest there, I could get Osama Bin Laden to convert to Christianity.”

“Do it,” The President said.

“Sorry, Mr. President. The Attorney General is investigating torture allegations. We have agents that are going to go to jail. I can’t help you.”

“These are my children,” hissed The President. “My children.”

“It’s always someone’s children, Sir.”

“I will grant you amnesty! This is an issue of national security!”

“Let me ask you, Mr. President: Don’t you think national security is always involved in these things? Or do you think we do it to people just for fun?”

The door opened behind them, and a man strapped into a dental chair was wheeled into the room. Without a word, the attendant used come-along straps to secure the chair to the eye bolts, then exited without making eye contact. The man in black checked the restraints, and applied another strip of duct tape on the prisoner’s mouth.

“The good news, Mr. President, is this ain’t rocket science. The key is to get him dislike the pain more than he loves his cause.”

“But he’ll say anything to stop the pain,” The President countered. “How will we know if it’s true?”

The man in black smiled sadly.

“It goes like this: You hurt him until he talks. You tell us what he said, and we go into rescue mode. But, there’s a catch—you keep hurting him until you hear from us that the girls are safe. It motivates him, see? Motivates him to talk early, and give us the fastest way to get the girls back. Just explain the rules to him.”

“I can’t do this,” The President said.

“You’re call. But I’d encourage you to take some time to think it over. If you decide you’d rather get him a lawyer, let me know. I’ll be out in the hall.”

The man in black closed the door behind him, and sat down to wait.

The Enemy is...Me?

It turns out the new enemy of the people is, well, me. Homeland Security recently issued a nine-page report warning law enforcement agencies about right-wing extremists, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to take myself out of the equation—the descriptions they used were so succinct and accurate, even my wife said, “Hey, Prioleau. You’re in the paper!”

I read the story, and in desperation, I interviewed the desperado that is me.

Me: Homeland Security is looking for you.

Me: Why do you say that?

Me: Because they just issued a report saying that right-wing extremist groups are on the rise, and pose a danger to the nation.

Me: Right-wing, extreme—what? Since when am I that?

Me: You’re a white, Southern, Republican, bitterly clinging to your guns and religion. Ergo, you are potential recruit for the KKK and you hate President Obama.

Me: I don’t hate him. I think he’s a socialist and a narcissist, but he doesn’t inspire hate.

Me: Sure thing, Adolph. Aren’t you a veteran?

Me: So?

Me: Homeland Security says disgruntled veterans are especially problematic—all that baby-killer training you got.

Me: I’ve never killed anyone.

Me: But you could. All those ninja skills, and what-not. Plus, you’re angry about the economy. Homeland says economic anger could cause you to lose it—

Me: Who isn’t angry about the economy?

Me: Stephen Colbert. John Stewart. They say lots of funny stuff about it.

Me: Okay. Yes, I’m mad about the bailouts and the spending.

Me: Barrack’s bailouts? Barrack’s spending?

Me: Bush’s, too.

Me: Hmm. So you hate Texans, too?

Me: How can you—

Me: Been buying ammo, haven’t you?

Me: Look—the price of ammo has gone up 100% in one year, and they’re looking at taxing it even more. So, yes. Of course, I’m buying ammo.

Me: Homeland said you would. You’re nothing but a hoarder. How do you feel about illegal immigration—

Me: Ponderous?

Me: Homeland Security has you pegged. You’re a states rights advocate too, aren’t you? Probably think state government trumps federal government.

Me: Dude—does the Tenth Amendment ring a bell? The Bill of Rights?

Me: It’s almost like Homeland Security interviewed you. Name one conservative thought you have that isn’t a cause for alarm.

Me: I think Sara Palin is hot.

Me: That’s going in your file, Misogynist.

You think I’m kidding here, right? You assume I’m exaggerating to make my point, and that the Office of Homeland Security didn’t really issue a report like that. You think I’m, well, a right-wing extremist.

Wake up, Comrade. Do the research, and you’ll find the report widely available, on Homeland letterhead, with on-the-record remarks from the Homeland Security spokesman stating essentially, “This is routine business. Nothing to see here, people—move along.”

Okay, so what difference does this make? So what? Who cares?

I’ll tell why: Because Barack Obama, Rohm Emmanuel, and the strategists of the left are very, very smart. Unlike conservatives, they are patient. The Left has been plotting this peaceful revolution since the Summer of Love, when Hillary was just an awkward co-ed and Bill wasn’t inhaling. They have slowly and patiently inserted themselves into the schools, the universities, the government, the non-profits, and the courts.

They have brilliantly employed the long-standing Radical’s Strategy, which is, “We don’t need to win you over. It’s your grandchildren we need to win.”

Oops. If you take the late Sixties and do the math, guess who now provides the swing vote that put Barack Obama in the White House? Yup—the grandchildren of the Sixties.

Here’s where we get to the rubber and the road: With the American people now genuinely supporting the socialist/federalist approach of the left, Barack and his administration are conducting some brilliantly evil experiments. For instance, not too long ago the PRESIDENT spoke out against an individual American when he told House Republicans, “you can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and expect to get things done.”

Really? Why? Is he an enemy of the people? Are his conservative principles dangerous to the Fatherland?

The President let it drop after that, but the idea was out there: If you expect to get things done with me, you need to stop thinking certain thoughts. You need to give up certain beliefs. You need to abandon this enemy of the people.

Now, just days before millions of angry Americans around the nation will attend April 15th Tea Party protests, Barack’s administration issues a report that states, in no uncertain terms, the kinds of people who will attend these Tea parties are likely enemies of the State. Like the attack on Limbaugh, this issue will soon be dropped.

But it’s out there, now.

The idea’s been floated, and the norming has begun. The PRESIDENT has declared that the peaceful ideas of some Americans and some American groups make them enemies of America. And now it is a-okay for the President to make such public declarations.

It doesn’t take long to norm an idea in America. It wasn’t long ago Congress invented “the hate crime,” a way to provide extra jail time for criminals who “think certain thoughts” during the commission of a crime… as if rape is worse if you do it out of “hate” and not “love.”

Hate crimes gave way to “hate speech,” which the Supreme Court has roundly rejected as a criminal offense, because the Constitution protects your right to be spew idiocy out of your pie hole. Universities, however, seized on the concept, and in the 80’s and 90’s many made “hate speech” an expulsion offense. In short, they’ve normed it as a crime in the eyes of our—anyone? Anyone? Yes, the students. And one of those college students of the 80’s is now—anyone? Yes, serving as President of the United States. And he’ll soon be appointing Supreme Court Justices to rule on the crime of “hate speech.”

Slowly, gently, one-drop-at-a-time, you too will be identified as an enemy of the state. They’ve already got my number, but what’s yours? Are you too rich? Use too much energy? Need too much medical attention? Do you have too many kids? Commute too far? Do you eat too many Cheetoes? Do you love Big Brother enough?

Everyday I thank God I don’t have children. If you do, you have only one of two choices: Get involved personally and financially, or allow your political apathy to be their curse.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

America's Apathy... and Collapse

While no one was looking, and as we the people were pursuing life, liberty, and happiness, our government was stolen. It is gone, and in our current state there is no getting it back.

Fact: Two of our nation’s financial cornerstones, Social Security and Medicare, are a fraud. They are bankrupt, and in their current form will ultimately break the financial back of our nation. There is no fixing them. Yet, in order to buy themselves votes, our elected leaders for the last 35 years speak of them as if they are wounded, and simply in need of “strengthening.” They are liars, lying to buy votes from the aging population.

Fact: For decades our elected officials have conspired to buy themselves votes by spending trillions of non-existent dollars. Regarding the last eight years, the Republicans are now saying, “we strayed from our principles,” as if principles are something you can “stray” from. The Democrats are blaming President Bush, as if the President is the CFO of a family business, devoid of oversight. Both are liars—they are in it together, swapping favors (and hundreds of billions of tax dollars) in order to buy themselves re-election.

Fact: Our elected officials have been bought off by special interest groups, left and right—from big oil to environmentalists to unions to trial lawyers to insurance to farm lobbyists. At this particular moment, the people causing the most “pain to the people” are the environmentalist, who for decades have paid off (via votes, contributions, and media muscle) our elected officials to bow to their many agendas—one of which is to not drill for oil. As they continue to press their agenda, long-time Senator John McCain pretends to be an oh-so-brave “maverick” by announcing it’s time to drill. Senator-- Did it not occur to you twenty years ago that being energy independent might be a good idea? Suddenly, you reverse your stance, and expect a hero’s welcome to reality?

Fact: Our elected officials are trampling on the constitution, daily. Hate speech is unconstitutional. Forced integration of all types is unconstitutional. Laws regulating the keeping and bearing of arms are unconstitutional. Much of the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. Creating de facto law from a judge’s bench is unconstitutional. And a very significant chunk of the federal government’s power is unconstitutional. But we the sheep-le have allowed our elected officials to erode the very document that makes America America.

Fact: John McCain was unqualified to be our President. Why? Because virtually every ill we now endure came about or worsened on his watch. He claims now “to have a plan,” but why has he failed to act on this “plan” during his twenty-plus years in the Senate? Why have tens of millions of illegal immigrants come across the border? Why is gas $4 a gallon? Why is the economy in the tank, despite vigorous (and needed) tax cuts? Why do we continue to kowtow to dictators, from Saudi Arabia to China? John McCain is, and has been, part of the problem.

Fact: Barack Obama is unqualified to be our President. Why? Because his voting record, his positions, and the people with whom he associates reveal him to be a socialist, with perhaps the worst judgment in the history of educated people. Quite frankly, I don’t care about his lack of experience—it is his utter distain for the culture and traditions of our nation that I believe disqualify him. He seeks to be America’s Commander in Chief, but will not wear the American flag on his lapel; he does not place his hand over his heart during the pledge of allegiance; the tail of his campaign jet boasts his logo (not the American flag); his self-described spiritual leader preached sermons stating “God damn America” and referring to America as the “U.S. of KKK,” after which Senator Obama stated he supported the minister—he rebuked him only after Rev. Wright stated words of the effect that “Barack supports my views. He’s just saying he doesn’t because he wants to get elected.” Are these the actions of a man who loves his country? Or a man who loves his country for what it might be after he radically re-organizes it?

Fact: We are so dependent on federal pork that we have resorted to honoring our politicians for stealing on our behalf. How? Well, we can’t actually write them a check—so how’s immortality? How many public buildings in this state were named after Fritz Hollings while he was in office? Strom Thurmond? And why? Because they “fought” for the money to build them? Hardly—they traded money (that didn’t exist) with other state’s Senators (for more money that didn’t exist), in order to build buildings that we the people never had the money to pay for… all the while further bankrupting the nation.

Fact: Our elected officials have created such enormous taxes, fees, and regulations that starting a small business is fast becoming a fool’s errand. In fact, most research indicates over half of small businesses fail within the first four years. Is this due to a lack of drive on the owner’s part? A failure of work ethic? Doubtful. We the governed have allowed our government to bury our dreams in a quagmire of taxes and bureaucracy.

Fact: John McCain stated in his 2000 Presidential race that he felt the “Confederate flag atop the State Capitol” issue should be decided by the people of South Carolina. After losing, he announced publicly, “I lied.” He then explained he did not believe South Carolina had the right to fly the flag, but he wanted to win the state. The insidiousness of this lie puts into question his every public belief.

Fact: An un-elected Al Gore is leading a global effort to reduce carbon emissions, with a goal of forcing Americans to pay a tax based on their supposed “carbon footprint.” Despite his role as Conserver in Chief, his home consumes more than 20 times the energy an average home does, and he travels around the world via private jet and motorcade. This level of blatant, public hypocrisy has not been witnessed since the leaders of the Soviet Union lived in total luxury while their “communist comrades” starved.

Fact: Our elected officials’ failure to approve drilling for American oil has resulted in the current $4 per gallon prices, yet both Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have expressed a desire to seize some of the post-tax profits from those same oil companies. In 2006, oil company income taxes exceeded all of the income taxes paid by the bottom 75% of all taxpayers. The top 1% of income earners in America pay more in income taxes than the bottom 95%. These factors indicate a slippery-slope slide towards socialism and the nationalization of private enterprise. Never before in the history of the world have either of these practices worked successfully.

Fact: Our elected officials have made a conscious decision during the past 25 years to avoid stopping the flood of millions of illegal aliens into our nation. Why? Because the issue wasn’t on the voters minds, so they spent the money needed to fix the issue buying votes at the hog trough of pork barrel spending. They are to blame.

Fact: Almost every problem our nation faces can be linked directly to our national tendency to re-elect incumbent Senators and Congressmen/women. Once given a taste of the fun, power, junkets, freebies, and asskissery that comes with day-to-day life in Washington, incumbents will do anything to keep that job. They ignore the good of the nation, and focus on the pork and the press that will get them re-elected.

Fact: The Republicans blame the Democrats and the Democrats blame the Republicans, but they are all in it together. It is high-stakes professional wrestling, where they each put on a show, then get together for dinner afterwards to discuss the next evening’s choreography.

Fact: Our national politics are moving rapidly towards socialism. John McCain’s beliefs would be almost unrecognizable to the conservative reformer Ronald Reagan, and he is far to left of the Democratic demi-god, John F. Kennedy. Barack Obama has stated proudly, “When one American has a problem, all Americans have a problem.” In Bill Clinton’s inauguration speech, he stated, “We will move ahead together, or not at all.” Both of these sound bites stand in direct opposition to the nation our Founding Father’s created, where one was promised only the opportunity to pursue happiness.

Fact: Empires throughout history follow a predicable and set pattern: Rise, expansion, abundance, selfishness, complacency, apathy, then collapse. For my money, America took from 1776 to the 1950’s to reach its high water mark of abundance. Since then, the ‘60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s are tracking along those down-slope stages like a freight train on tracks forged in the bowels of hell.

Solution: We as a nation must return to the Judeo-Christian ethics that shaped our nation, laws, and constitution-- and at least gently guided our nation for 175 years. We must return our government to the people, where our elected officials journey to Washington begrudgingly as public servants, not giddy McGods rushing back to the next cocktail party and gathering of thong-snapping interns. We must remove from the bench judges who make law, instead of ruling on law. We must slash the taxes and bureaucracy that cripple the entrepreneurial spirit that made us the world’s super power. Via constitutional amendment we must make it illegal for the federal government to spend money on any programs or powers not provided to them in the Constitution.

Achieving this is currently impossible, as our government is held hostage by the liars and thieves who have brought us into this mess. We need a man with George Washington’s character and Warren Buffett’s money to step forward and donate five billion dollars for the formation of a Constitutional Party, and begin the peaceful Voter’s Revolution-- starting with the election of a Constitutional Party candidate to the bully pulpit of President of the United States. The Constitutional party should them begin a nation-wide campaign to defeat every single incumbent, and replace them with citizens who have achieved in their lives—citizens willing to give up time to the nation that has made their success possible. The platform would need to be driven not by left or right ideology, but by integrity, common sense, fiscal responsibility, free market enterprise, care for those less fortunate, defense of our homeland and borders, Judeo-Christian ethics, and the proposition that all men are created equal.

We have faced a crisis of this size one time previously in our nation, when the turn of the century Robber Barons held America in a monopolistic stranglehold. (When bribery, kickbacks, and murder are used as currency, capitalism can be bad). Fortunately, and perhaps due to a “God Thing,” a political outsider named Teddy Roosevelt was President, and he broke the stranglehold that may have led to a communist revolution by the workers of this nation. No, he did not take the Robber Baron’s money-- but he took away their limitless power, and restored order to the nation.

The situations are similar: Today, our Robber Barons are the federal government and the lobbyists who buy their votes and loyalties like okra at a farmer’s market. Just like Vanderbilt, Gould, Morgan, and Rockefeller, they have us under their thumb, and crush any attempts we make to rise up against their rule. Teddy Roosevelt was President by accident—his party viewed him as trouble-maker who refused to “play the game,” and they sought to “bury him away” by making him William McKinley’s Vice-Presdent, figuring eight years of VP obscurity would end his career. An assassin’s bullet changed that, and America was saved.

Today, we need an altruist with the money to buy the people’s attention. No, not a war hero who has been part of the problem. No, not a two-year Senator with a socialist voting record and who refuses to pay respect to the flag so many hold so dear. We need a billionaire, who believes the future of this nation to be more important than the amount of cash in his portfolio.

As a candidate for President, we need an All-American Eagle Scout: Actor Tom Selleck, or Senator Jim DeMint, or former Senator Fred Thompson. Men who would be awed and humbled by the responsibility, not politicians who feel it’s “my turn” or “I’m the only guy smart enough to steer this nation.”

Do you agree? If so, send this editorial to your billionaire friends. Maybe, just maybe, there’s someone out there who cares.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

From 1985 until 1989, I had the honor of serving in the United States Marine Corps. During those four years, I spent virtually every working hour with “my boys”— young enlisted troops ranging from age seventeen to thirty. We served together in garrison, and “in the field” for more days and nights than I care to recall, occasionally onboard Navy ships, and at one point in a little peacetime hell hole called Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan.

I knew my boys, and they knew me. I knew which ones needed the carrot, and which ones needed the switch. I knew which ones were mature, and which ones were still kids. I knew which ones would be stone killers in combat, and which ones would be shaky when the bugle sounded. I knew them better than their mothers, and we were a team.

It was, of course, my job to know them—not because they were fun to know, which they were, but because there might come a time when I would need to order some of them on an attack from which there would be no return. As a peacetime Marine, I didn’t have to think about this too much, thank God—but I can guarantee you there are hundreds of Platoon Commanders and Company Commanders who are dealing with this reality in Afghanistan and Iraq: Higher headquarters is ordering them to carry out extremely dangerous missions, which in turn tasks them with picking which men will go and possibly die.

Today, 20 years after I departed my beloved Corps, I read that Admiral Michael G. Mullen, chairmoron of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it’s time to allow openly gay men to serve in the military. Colin Powell has said so, too. Why? I guess at some point these Generals had to decide whether they would remain warriors, or become political stooges. Clearly they made their decision, which probably explains their fourth star. I hope it was worth it.

So, since neither of these four-star politicos can explain why having openly gay men in my beloved Corps is a bad idea, that leaves it up to me. As I’m a Marine, I’ll opine only about the Marines—but I’m fairly confident that the men who do the actual gun-fighting in our sister services will agree with my logic.

Before I get started, let me address a situation that trips a lot of people up: Integrating the Marines racially is nothing like integrating the Marines with gays. Here’s why: The Marine Corps is, of course, an uber-macho gun culture. As a result, it takes a Dark-green Marine about one day to win the respect of a Light-green Marine. That’s because performance is performance is performance. What you see is exactly what you get. The honor-grad of my Basic Officers Course was a Dark-green Marine, and he was a total stud: Smart, a great leader, maxxed the physical fitness test, a superior marksman, top in the class at Land Navigation—He was the best of the best. And what we saw was what we got—he was one of us, lock, stock, and barrel. On the weekends, he was with us, drinking beer and chasing girls. Had he been waving good-bye to us on Friday evenings as he headed off to gay clubs, I doubt there would have been as much unquestioning admiration.

Is that right? Enlightened? Sensitive? Progressive? I guess not. But why would that surprise anyone—we all joined the freakin' Marine Corps, where our profession revolved around training to kill people and blow things up. I’m sorry that we fail to pass the “soft, warm, sensitive, and vulnerable” test that seems so important these days.

So, wherein lies the real-life problem with gays in the Corps? The issue is easiest to comprehend if you understand the impact gays would have on the good order and discipline of a fighting unit. Not the 22nd Software and Clerks Battalion, but an infantry unit.

The infantry operates mostly as a Marine Company, with a Captain serving as the Company Commander. Under him are four Platoons– three “line” Platoons, and a “weapons” Platoon. Each platoon is led by a Lieutenant. In combat, it is the Lieutenant and the enlisted troops in his platoon who take the hills, plant the flag, and do the dying. When a dangerous mission arises, it is the Company Commander who is burdened with making the decision about who does what.

Example: Hill 101 needs to be taken, and the enemy is a bunch of very bad dudes. In a situation like this, the Company Commander would probably have two platoons (plus the weapons platoon) lay down “a base of fire,” while the remaining platoon charged up Hill 101. The guys actually charging up the hill are likely to get dead.
Problem: No one is in a hurry to get dead—and allowing yourself to be ordered to your death is a tough thing to swallow.

Now, let’s take a look at the makeup of this new, gay-friendly Marine Company.
Company Commander– Openly gay
1st Platoon Commander– Straight
2nd Platoon Commander– Straight
3rd Platoon Commander– Openly Gay.
Weapons Platoon Commander– Straight

Now, it’s time to give the orders, and one platoon must be ordered to charge up the hill—and take heavy casualties. But with this “new” military, the Company Commander has a “new” problem. Does he pick the best leader for the job? Or does he now have to consider the ramifications of doing that?

If he picks the gay Lieutenant’s platoon, will the troops in that platoon think, “He’s picked us because our Lieutenant is gay, and he doesn’t want to appear gay-biased to the higher-ups. He’s sending us to die just to cover his own ass.” Might they refuse to attack?

If he picks one of the straight Lieutenant’s platoons, will those troops say, “To hell with that. He’s picked us because he’s likes that gay Lieutenant, and doesn’t want to get him killed.” Might they refuse to attack?

Do you understand how unacceptable this is in a combat environment? It is literally breathtaking that we as a nation would have the nerve to even consider putting our commanders in a situation like this—a situation that could cause “political doubt” to enter the minds of the troops. Or worse yet, into the minds of their Lieutenant leaders.

People who’ve never served in the military love to say, “That’s an issue of discipline. You have to do as you’re ordered.”

To these civilian arm-chair quarterbacks I say, “Bite me. You have no idea how a Lieutenant feels about his Marines. If I, for one second, thought my commanding officer had ulterior motives when ordering my Marines into battle, he’d need to shoot me in the head and pass the order himself.” I can say that as a fact.

And regarding the troops? Listen up, Mr. Community Organizer: Troops are not robots, and they are not morons. They are men willing to fight and die for their country—and because of that they deserve to serve in scenarios so completely above-board that questions of perception cannot arise. We should never put them in a situation where they have any reason to question the motives of those who lead them. Whether they should question their leader is irrelevant… it happens, especially if the mission looks to be a one-way mission. Again, they are men, not robots.

If you served in a combat arms unit and disagree about openly gay men serving in combat arms units, please post. If you counted skivvies or typed in the military, post away anyway. But if you’re civilian, with no experience whatsoever on the topic on which you want to speak— and were confused by the term "weapons platoon," please-- don't bother. You haven't earned the right to comment.