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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Bush = Hitler, Bush = Caesar
I got the following email from my friend, Joe.

From: My friend Joe
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2005 7:03 AM
Subject: Fwd: Progress Report

My nephew sent this to me.  Thought of you when I was reading it so am fwd for your thoughts since you are a much better student of history than I am.  Can't say that I agree with the writer's conclusion since I do not view the parallels he uses as the same in the present.
Trust all is well.
Check Six!

Here's a link to the article he sent me:


I thought I would share my response in a rant.

The writer has a good general grasp of history, with only one significant error that I would deem worthy of mention. He suggested that Nero was a patron of the arts. This is a bit absurd. He was a patron only insofar as he had a tendency to attend arts competitions and have his pathetic drivel declared the winning entries. Hardly a patron, he destroyed the integrity of Greece's millenia-old art festivals.

Okay, that being said, it's a good history lesson with absolutely nothing to tie it to today. He makes wild accusations about the legitimacy of the election of Bush with no facts to back it up. Of course there are no such facts, the correct and objective understanding is that the democrats tried and failed to usurp the election in Florida, stopped only by the common sense of the US Supreme Court rightfully telling the hacks in the Florida Supreme Court that they exceeded their authority. It's consistent with the past dozen years that the democrats exceed the law and force the courts to correct their power grab. This strategy allows them to either grab power or, failing that, to sling mud at their opponents when they are forced to correct the injustice. This essay is another example of their audacity. Of course, even if the first election were fraudulent, and it wasn't, the second election was certainly not. With nothing concrete to compare Caesar to Bush, they simply do so and give no reasons for doing so. Without giving any reason why the Patriot Act is bad, they simply declare it bad. With no reason for why Bush has an Empire, they simply say he has one.

And I'm not one to say that the Patriot Act is good, but it has hardly been the death rattle of our rights and freedoms that it has been made out to be. There have been far more serious attacks on our rights, such as the War on Drugs, the perversion of the Interstate Commerce Clause, and F. D. Roosevelt's infliction of socialism onto us.

The invasion of Iraq was wildly popular when it happened, with people from most political parties supporting it with enthusiasm. The writer dismisses this popularity by saying that it is nothing more than evidence that the congress has become nothing more than a rubber-stamping machine for the will of the president. Again the writer gives no evidence for this, his argument is simply that the Roman Senate lost all power and agreed to everything that Caesar wanted. The US congress agreed to this war, therefore it must also be subverted.

Essentially, this entire polemic is a variation on the "Bush is Hitler" type of reasoning, except now this man is saying "Bush is Caesar" and he accompanies this slur with a lot of well-written history. This historical background is provided because most people don't know the story of the Rape of Lucretia, or how the military Consuls, starting small with Scipio Africanus usurped the normal constitutional process in Rome. So the reader gleans how Rome was transformed into a dictatorship, and is told without justification that this is the same as what is happening today. What the writer is missing is something showing how the military leaders are usurping or undermining governmental power. All he does is insinuate it, giving no concrete examples.

For instance, he compares our overseas military bases to an empire. Our occupation of Germany and Japan have long ago ceased being coercive, and our other overseas bases exist at the uncoerced invitation of the host nations. With all these bases we have written agreements which limit our actions. This is hardly an empire, by any definition.

The author does one thing right in that he labels himself a political hack by repeatedly calling Bush the "Boy Emperor." He also clearly has a disgust for the military. He's just a slightly more polite man than the jerk who made the news recently for having a website devoted to "forsaking the troops." His political agenda is clearly displayed and hopefully most readers will recognize that he has nothing concrete to base his accusations on. But then, since this is written for "The Progressive Report," where progressive is a modern euphemism for socialism, he clearly is just telling his readers what they want to believe.

It's been popular for a long time to compare the United States to the Roman Republic. This is partly because, like this man points out, our nation was designed by our founders to have an improved version of their government. It's also because we have grown powerful. But rather than point out the unparalleled (until our time) peace and prosperity of the Romans, it is popular to predict doom and gloom. History is not required to repeat itself. Man can improve, and has improved. We will wax and wane in our development, but so far we are rocketing higher and higher in peace and prosperity, to levels undreamed of even a hundred years ago.

Now we are faced with an enemy that cannot defeat us, but nonetheless poses a risk to our peace and safety, and this man wants to compare our struggle against them to the demise of the Roman Republic with nothing to base it on except slurs with no relation to reality.

It's clear that this is written not by a historian, but by a man with a poor understanding of current events and a political agenda.


Silver Star
The CAG was killed in an ambush less than a couple kilometers away. An amtrac hit a mine about 30 meters away. It was totalled. At least seven 120mm mortar rounds landed within 200 meters. Our FAC was shot in the hip and another Marine killed a little bit earlier.

I was outside in the courtyard helping organize stretcher teams, ensuring that the LZ was clear, keeping my Marines focused on the job at hand. Twenty rounds of small arms fire starting cracking by, each one getting closer and closer. The last few were a few feet away, passing betwen two of my stretcher bearers. We finally took cover. The fire was coming from one of two houses past where the mortars hit. From our distance we couldn't tell which one, and as disciplined Marines we knew not to shoot without positively identifying the target. One of those houses likely had innocent families in it.

Nothing we did was particularly noteworthy, only good for a story. As the official verdict goes, we don't even merit a measley Combat Action Ribbon because we didn't return fire. To the Marines, by some strange definition of the term we weren't really in combat.

But if we were with the Army National Guard, if we had returned fire, not only would we rate a combat action ribbon, we'd probably get a Silver Star. In between getting lost and causing Jessica Lynch to be taken prisoner, shirking responsibility for Abu Ghraib, and dealing with mutinous motor transport companies, I guess the National Guard is happy that one of their own actually fired a bullet.
You see, the army has this feminist agenda. They aren't allowed to put women in the infantry, so they put them in Military Police and treat them as infantry. Except that they don't walk. Because if women were required to go on a 40km, week and a half combat foot patrol, they would not come back except on a stretcher. So I guess "military police" is a euphemism for female wannabe infantry.

One of the national guard's partially female so-called MP units got into a small fire fight. They did what was expected and killed the enemy. Good job. In the Marines they'd get a pat on the back. For us, that's just barely above the minimum required just to get a Combat Action Ribbon. Well, we might award them a Navy Achievement Medal, possibly a Navy Commendation Medal. Good work, and definitely something to be proud of.

But now the army feminist movement can crow about how their women infantry, er, I mean military police, are ferocious fighters. They actually use their weapons. And they didn't get lost. And no one mutinied. And no international embarrassment resulted. I guess they should encourage this behavior with an award of some sort.

I don't begrudge these soldiers their medals. They certainly deserve some recognition, and we all know that the army and the army national guard are very loose with their medals. To not give a medal in their culture would be a grave injustice.

But I resent that this incident is being used to call for women to be allowed in combat. The army is disobeying the spirit and the letter of the law by putting these women into combat situations. This is unfair to the women who are recruited with the promise that they would not be purposefully be put in combat, and it is disobedient to the laws as written by our legislators and president, who alone have that authority.

But the price of getting these loosely awarded medals is to be in the army or the army national guard. I'd much rather have the title Marine than a silver star with them.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Who's in Charge?
"Who's in charge here?" I asked. The answer was not quite what I expected. "Sgt X is in charge." But then the answer changed almost as soon as he gave it. "Well, really the corporal there is in charge, he does what the sergeant needs to get done."

About then the sergeant came walking up from a distance. He had been coordinating something at the COC. I recognized him. Nice guy, more likely to hand out lollipops to the little muj kids than to kill their parents. A good, well meaning guy that is inoffensive and most people would like. And as often happens in the Marines, the wrong guy for the job, and everyone knew it.
It happens at all levels in the Marine Corps. A guy gets rank and he gets to be the boss. The people above him get to pick and choose subordinate leaders to a certain extent, but when the number of people available is limited, sometimes we're obliged to go with someone that can't quite do the job. And this is by design.

One of the things that I didn't catch onto when I was going through initial training is that it is usually arbitrary who is in charge. In our six weeks of Officer Candidate School and our six months of The Basic School, our peers for short periods of time would rotate in and out of leadership billets. At the time I thought this to be so arbitrary and unrealistic, but now I understand that this is crucial in our training. It is vital for all of us to change our loyalties at the drop of a hat, when ordered. It is vital for all of us to give unswerving obedience and attention to whoever is in charge, whether for five minutes or five years.

The more we practice changing the guy in charge, the more our teamwork improves. This sergeant may not have been a great leader. He won't likely be the best organizer, maybe he won't even take care of his men as someone else would, but he's in charge. And his Marines will adjust and take care of him in one way or another. In this case, they knew to take much of the burden off of him and lean on the corporal. The corporal knew to stay loyal to the sergeant, advise him and help him. And the platoon will thrive.