I’m not a big fan of the movie critique site Rotten Tomatoes, and this weekend’s viewing of Suicide Squad further confirms my feelings about them. I’m about to sign the petition to request that Rotten Tomatoes be permanently shut down. The movie rocked, and the critics sucked.
Suicide Squad with Jared Leto as the Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot and introducing Margot Robbie as Joker’s love interest Harley Quinn was about as good as can be, knowing that it is about very bad people doing a little good. According to the aforementioned critique website, it ranked 25% from the critics and 75% of audience members loved it. That means the critics thought it sucked and of course they were wrong. Dead wrong. In every category that mattered, Suicide Squad is a huge success. Please, if you are a movie critic that has contributed to Rotten Tomatoes, take my advice. Maybe you should find another job, perhaps in manufacturing? Talking about movies clearly isn’t your thing.
The only movie that I liked better than Suicide Squad so far this year is the documentary from conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza entitled Hillary’s America. I’m still burning about that one, which earned a critic score of 5% and a fan rating of 85%. I guess when it comes to Hollywood, conservatives suck and their movies should be panned. I don’t know what their motivation is with this movie, but clearly they aren’t good judges of a movie’s character.
Here is what I observed. Jared Leto as the Joker is scary, haunting and humorous at the same time. I thought he was actually scary. Leto truly picked something dark out from down deep and he showed it to us, to our horror. Not since Heath Ledger have we enjoyed and been horrified by the comic book character this much. He’s on the edge and if I might say, I really hope this Joker isn’t a one off like Ledger’s. I really want to see this character again. Someone get Leto a shrink and monitor his vitals. We don’t want what happened to Ledger to swallow him too.
Insanity with an AK!
Robbie’s depiction of Harley Quinn is amazing. She makes bad look really, really good. Most of the time when you leave bed sheets in a cage, the prisoner offs themselves. Not so with Quinn. She ties the sheet across her cell like a hammock and entertains her captors in Circa Solei like performance art. Every time she walks across the screen wearing extra short sequined blue short shorts and wielding a baseball bat, she commands the attention of ever male in the house. The crazy love affair she has with Leto’s Joker is amazing and her interaction with her fellow homicidals is funny and frightening at the same time.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
Will Smith’s performances is always solid and I liked the interplay between the evil of a paid serial killer and a father who loves his daughter and wants to look out for her welfare. Another noted performance was that of Joel Kinnaman as Colonel Rick Flag. I thought his character was sufficiently complex to drive the plot. Tomatoes predictably gives him a splat of no more than 26%, another reason they suck and should go away. Indeed, Tomatoes has not been kind to Kinnaman. He gets the splat for most of his roles with a couple of notable exceptions. He gets high marks for a role he played in the English version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and for his TV series work as a detective Stephan Holder in The Killing. We liked the Killing and we can’t believe the transition from that skinny strung out and jaded character to the forceful and confident special ops colonel. It makes you wonder what Tomatoes is smoking.
I should also mention Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne. I’m beginning to think that Christian Bale has competition for the best Batman ever in Affleck. He only has a few short scenes, but he demands the screen whenever he is there. His interaction between Smith’s Deadshot is believable and cool. And his extra scene with Viola Davis’s character of Amanda Waller makes you wonder what the franchise has in store for the future. I can’t wait.
Bottom line up front, I loved this movie, and Rotten Tomatoes sucks. They should pack it up and go home. Homeless bums in the Walmart parking lot would have better judgment as to what makes a good movie than these professional writers. We should hire them and get them off the street while letting the critics take their place with the signs.
Oh, by the way, according to Forbes Magazine, the movie raked in $65 million on Friday alone, which included about $20 million in previews and $5.8 million in IMAX tickets. That should tell you something. That documentary I liked, that made about $4 million total it’s first weekend. Just saying. Go read the Forbes article here. Or better yet, go see the movie.
Here is everything you need to know about what Jeremy thinks about the DNC this week. Also included are some thoughts about the RNC, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump et all and some interesting insight into Philippine politics and their new President, strongman Rodrigo Duterte. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment below. We would love to hear from you, the reader.
Dinesh D’Souza, the Indian immigrant to the United States turned patriotic filmmaker, has produced the most fantastic comeback in recent history as his newest film debuts in theaters this weekend. Severely punished on trumped up charges of violating campaign finance law, but really for roundly criticizing president Barack Obama, D’Souza defies government abuse of power and comes back fighting!
I watched two great films this weekend, both with great themes. One was an exciting Sci-Fi action thriller Star Trek Beyond, which included a lovely tribute to the old Star Trek cast, especially the recently deceased Leonard Nimoy, the intrepid Mr. Spock. The other film was the patriotic historical film by D’Souza called Hillary’s America, based on his best selling book. I want to talk about the latter one for just a minute.
You will remember that D’Souza’s last film about Barack Obama, 2016: Obama’s America became the second highest grossing documentary film in American history. I predict that this latest edition, Hillary’s America will have a running shot at smashing that record! This is the first installment in film of Indian-American immigrant Dinesh D’Souza following his conviction and re-education after a politically motivated judge attempted to silence him with trumped up campaign finance violation charges. D’Souza uses his time in prison to reflect on what happened to him and incorporates it as a theme in his latest film.
Most of the time when you run amok of campaign finance laws, you are given a tongue lashing from a judge, given community service and forced to pay a fine. But, if you are a conservative filmmaker who dares to criticize an African-American president and his party, you get the book thrown at you! D’Souza received 9-months in jail and had to undergo re-education i.e. brainwashing, and psychological counseling. You’d think he’d murdered someone! But D’Souza was undaunted, and used his time to study and prepare for his next book and film, one targeting the corrupt Hillary Clinton and her deceptive Democrat party!
Interviewing the fellows he was incarcerated with, many of them hardened criminals; he learned the art of the con. There are steps, you see, to becoming a good career criminal and they are these: make a plan; recruit people to help you; make the pitch; execute the plan; and lastly, never give up the con! Petty thugs, organized crime, use this criminal formula and as D’Souza quickly came to realize, corrupt politicians do as well.
The American Democrat party has been a party of criminals and the Clintons, Hillary and Bill, are no exception. They have a plan to steal the wealth and power of America and pitch a well-orchestrated con to the American People in an attempt to convince them that they are only working to provide the basics of life for them. That is the big lie. They convince people that they are looking out for the little guy, they get their vote, and then when they get into office, they take their victims for everything they have.
D’Souza goes on a journey of discovery into the secret history of the Democrat party and takes us along for the ride. He explores the early days of the Democrat Party to the days of president Andrew Jackson, the racist slave owner and Indian fighter. Jackson is the hallmark of the Democrat party then as now. As a slave owner, he stole the lives and work of African slaves to benefit his own greed and lust for power. D’Souza illustrates this ideology with the phrase, “you work, I eat”! As a landowner, Jackson was a brutal master, stealing the labor and lives of his slaves and punishing them for the slightest malefactions. As president, he drove the Native American peoples to the brink of destruction and then forced the remainder of the Native Peoples onto tiny reservations of worthless land where he continued to degrade and enslave them.
This summer I was at Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota with my wife. Carved in stone higher than Mount Rushmore is the face of defiance, Chief Crazy Horse of the Oglala Lakota Indians! There is a popular theme associated with that monument, a phrase quoted from Chief Crazy Horse himself. When asked where his lands were after the triumph of the white invaders, Crazy Horse pointed and said, “My lands are where my people lie buried!”
“My lands are where my people lie buried!” -Chief Crazy Horse
There is another theme that can be seen there, if you are observant enough to look. This is from prominent Chief and Native American activist Red Cloud who said, “(The white man) made many promises, more than I can remember; he never kept but one, he promised to take our land, and he took it!”
“(The white man) made many promises, more than I can remember; he never kept but one, he promised to take our land, and he took it!” Chief Red Cloud
The Democrat Party, the Party of Slavery and the Trail of Tears, has taken everything from Native American Peoples and from the Africans they imported here as slaves. They’ve not changed their ways, but only come up with a new con. Meanwhile the Republican Party has been the party that resisted slavery and championed the rights of the first nation of people on this continent. D’Souza takes us on a historical journey with his film, showing us that the conflict of the Civil War was not one of North and South, as told in the text books, but one of the Republican Party vs. the Democrat Party.
Democrats take credit for the civil rights movement, but before they became ‘champions of social justice’ it was the Republican Party that championed that cause and does until this day. The Democrats dragged their feet all the way, instituted the KKK to intimidate blacks from owning guns, voting, or opposing their rule. Indeed, many were lynched by this hideous organization, the military branch of the party, but blacks weren’t the only ones; in addition to 3,000 blacks murdered by the KKK, 1,000 white anti-slave Republicans were also murdered. You don’t hear that in the history books!
When the Republicans eventually won the argument and it became clear that the Democrats would soon be relegated to the obscurity of history, for the sake of their own survival, they came up with a new con. They switched sides, but only in public. They would claim to be the new champions of civil rights, economic equality and social justice, while secretly they would be up to their old tricks, stealing that which they did not earn from their unsuspecting victims.
Like good con-artists, they would entice their victims, mostly minorities and the very vulnerable, with talk about how they would be the party to help them get a better life, the American dream. What they really were after were the votes to get and keep them in power. When they took over the levers of control, they used them to empower themselves, not the people they espoused to help. That is why the Democrat Party wants to undermine the national immigration laws. They bring people in in great numbers, put them in Ghettos and “reservations”, make promises they don’t keep and then swindle the people they bring in. No one can get out of the ghetto and their one role and purpose is to forever vote for the candidate with a “D” beside their name.
Fast forward to the present day. Barack Obama learned from the best Marxist teachers, including progressive hero and con artist Saul Alinsky. Hillary Clinton too was a pupil, she wrote her college thesis about her mentor; but Hillary surpassed her mentor in skill and ability, she took her knowledge past where she found it. It wasn’t enough to continue to push against the government, the leftist progressive movement had to BE the Government!
From the onset of Bill and Hillary’s political life together they have been a team for political and criminal corruption. Hillary married Bill full well knowing what he was, an unrepentant womanizer. But it didn’t matter because Bill’s suave air and skillful political speech could woo any crowd and it was what she needed to get what she wanted, which was everything. In exchange for serving to get and keep him elected, she would pounce upon anyone of his detractors, namely the women he had harmed, and destroy their reputations. She was very, very good at that.
Together the Clintons built a political machine that could not be opposed. They used their tax-exempt foundation, The Clinton Foundation, to build wealth in the name of charity and they used it to fill their personal coffers. They then used that capitol to help them fight and win political campaigns and gain even more wealth for themselves. One of the most egregious examples of this was the horribly destructive earthquake in Haiti. Ruined by the devastating quake, the Haitian people cried for help. What they got was Bill and Hillary Clinton. The political power couple appealed for cash donations of even the smallest amounts, wired directly to their foundation, and they kept 90 percent of it for themselves. What infrastructure they did bring to Haiti was to corrupt business ventures that directly benefited friends of the Clintons. Today outside the Clinton Foundation in New York, Haitian immigrants still protest the fraud that is Bill and Hillary Clinton.
D’Souza’s film is well-shot, visibly interesting and full of well-documented facts. Courtroom scenes, jail scenes and other instances were clearly filmed as recreations, but there are plenty of newsreel and direct historical quotations to back up the filmmakers’ claims. The film is so well made that even the most casual fans of history would enjoy it. Everyone should see this movie, especially minorities and long time Democrats. Indeed, Democratic leaders should fear this movie as it comes out directly following the Republican National Convention and directly preceding the Democratic National Convention.
There is a poignant moment towards the end of the film that comes with a call to action. D’Souza is in a high school gymnasium converted to a polling place. The poll booths are set up in preparation of an election. A visibly distressed D’Souza stands in front of the poll booths. He is eager to vote in the election, but cannot. Despite his concern for his new home country, he cannot vote in its elections. His felony conviction prevents it!
“I cannot vote in the upcoming election!” he says. “But you can!”
D’Souza does a lot for his chosen nation, the United States. He became a citizen here to escape the corruption of his home nation of India, only to find corruption that threatens to swallow the nation that he loves. He admits he made a mistake. He attempted to help a friend as she was running for public office. He broke the law. It was not intentional. But the Obama administration could not let an opportunity go to waste, and the court made an example of him, the punishment far outweighing the crime. It is the opinion of us here at The American Millennium that D’Souza, with his political activism, his patriotism and love of country, and his community service, that it is time that D’Souza is recognized for his contribution. His rights to vote and own a gun should be returned and the next president of the United States, I hope it is Donald Trump, should honor D’Souza with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
That is unlikely if Hillary wins. Indeed, all of us will suffer if the Democrat party wins this election season. The Democrat Party hasn’t changed. They’ve just changed the con, and if they continue to be the party in power, all of America will be its victims.
I rate this movie very highly. If you want to see great action, go see Star Trek. If you love America and are concerned for its future, go see Hillary’s America!
D’Souza recently attended the RNC in Cleveland where his film was pre-screened. Watch this great interview with Brian Engleman of The New American Media below.
Bob is a truck driver from Iowa who has been driving for many years. He drives in lots of dangerous areas, so he’d like to carry a concealed handgun for self-protection. He’s got his permit, but his employer has told him that he is forbidden to carry it in his truck due to federal law.
One day he’s on the job when he parks late at night in an industrial park. He’s pulled up to the warehouse late at night where he is to make his delivery and he’s just waiting for the employees to come out and tell him they are ready to receive his shipment. In the mean time, he locks himself in his truck and tries to get some shuteye. He’s been on the road for a long time and feels like he needs a nap while he waits.
Later, he hears a tap on his door. Thinking it’s the ground crew come to tell him they are ready to unload, he opens the door. To his surprise, it is not the people he was expecting from the warehouse. It’s a thug with a gun demanding money.
Bob has a dilemma that plays itself out in different forms all the time for interstate truck drivers on the road. He’s got a tire thumper, a miniature baseball bat, under the seat, but against a drawn firearm, it’s useless for self-protection.
Bob keeps a fake wallet filled with a few dollars and cancelled credit cards for just such an occasion. He hands the wallet to the robber, who is satisfied and leaves. A colleague in another truck is not so lucky. Faced with same scenario, the other driver resists, and is shot in the head and killed. The memory of these events gives Bob nightmares as he grieves for a friend lost.
Scenarios like this one play out all over the country as interstate drivers struggle with the question of whether or not to go against their company policies and carry concealed in their trucks. Many companies re-enforce their anti-carry policies with the threat that truckers caught carrying would be subject to federal law. There’s just one problem. There is no federal law regarding the carry of a firearm in a commercial truck.
Wendy Parker is a writer for Overdrive Magazine, an industry magazine and website for professional truck drivers. She discusses this very issue in her article November 2012 article entitled “Navigating Gun Laws for Truckers”. You can read the whole article here.
Parker says, “The question of carrying a gun for protection is one that comes up often, and there’s a lot of murkiness and misinformation regarding actual laws for commercial drivers. First and foremost, start with your company’s policy. If your company doesn’t want you to carry a gun and you do, you could get into trouble and potentially lose your job. That’s common sense. For owner-operators, it’s up to you.
Parker quotes the NRA/IRA law which in essence says that truck drivers are not prohibited by law from carrying guns, unless they are convicted felons or some other legal reason prevents them from carrying.
Similarly, Parker says, the individual states determine their own carry conceal laws and it can be a legal minefield truckers to navigate and figure out what is legal where. A gun permit issued by one state, may not be good in another. An interstate trucker is left to figure that out on their own.
Gary Slider has a website that is kept up to date and has information regarding current handgun reciprocity laws. You can check it out at http://www.handgunlaw.us/. Slider is known to answer personal questions posed to him on this topic in email correspondence.
So if you are an owner operator, you can probably get away with carrying right? The problem is that many warehouses and companies where you may make deliveries may have rules against firearms. So if you are making a delivery, you are effectively left defenseless while you wait. Many of these companies are in states unfriendly to gun rights where carrying a weapon of any kind can lead to prosecution.
Things have gotten so out of hand that there has been a recommendation for a universal carry law for truckers, called Mike’s Law, named for truck driver Mike Boeglin who was murdered in his truck and his truck burned. This law would circumvent state laws for interstate truckers allowing them to carry concealed while they are working.
The problem here is, why should there be a need for a special permit for anyone? VIPs and politicians, actors and famous people, all have armed bodyguards. They don’t seem to have a problem in any state they visit. Why is it made so hard for legal gun owning citizens to protect themselves with their own firearms? The constitution provides for the right to carry in the Second Amendment. It’s literally written into the constitution from the founding. Laws preventing lawful carry are unconstitutional. Yet people are prosecuted all the time for having an otherwise legal firearm in an anti-gun state. In places like New York, New Jersey and California, you can be charged with a felony for carrying your firearm.
Federal law provides limited protection for travelers traveling through different states by plane, but even then lawful gun owners can run amok of local laws if they are caught in possession of their firearm in an airport. Jason Hanson writes about this scenario in his article for USA Carry entitled: Why People Get Arrested at Airports with Firearms. He gives some advice tips, which you can read here.
Hanson advises that if you are traveling, you are covered if you keep your gun in a locked case, separate from your ammo, and check the firearm in the belly of the plane. If you miss a connecting flight, you have the natural tendency to try to retrieve your firearm if you have to stay overnight. Don’t do that! The firearm is covered as long as it is in possession of the airport where you find yourself temporarily stranded. Once you retrieve your weapon however, you run amok of the law if you try to check it again when you get a new flight. People have been arrested and charged with felonies, their weapons confiscated for just that reason. I would recommend that if this happens to you, don’t get back on the plane. Buy a bus ticket or rent a car.
For decades the liberal left has been attempting to erode our Second Amendment rights. There has been some progress made in reinforcing those rights, but much still needs to be done. The left is constantly trying to force upon us even more restrictive gun laws, ending ultimately in confiscation. Ultimately if that happens, no one in this country, other than the rich politicians and public figures, will have the right to self-defense. If you can’t afford a bodyguard, you are out of luck.
For the traveler, tourist or truck driver, the problem remains. At the end of the day, I feel, citizens have to push for a national constitutional open or concealed carry law forever cementing your right to personal protection. Until that happens, people will continue to be vulnerable when they travel.
The true unbelievable story about the writer behind Stanley Kubrick’s Epic War Film – Full Metal Jacket.
The American Millennium Online
Gustav “Gus” Hasford from archival photos at GustavHasford.com
“The praise I seek from my readers is that they finish my books. After being alternately damned and praised for equally invalid reasons, I am content to trade fame for accuracy of interpretation. Fame, for a writer, is like being a dancing bear with a little hat on your head.” –Gustav Hasford, author of The Short-Timers
On Feb. 1, 2016 Netflix re-released for it’s subscribers director Stanley Kubrick’s epic war film Full Metal Jacket starring R. Lee Ermey and Matthew Modine. I watched it again late last month. Curious about the movie’s origin, (there is always a good book behind the best movies) I did some research, and found a story that blew my mind.
I don’t think I’ll ever discover many details about the life of obscure English major Matthew Samuel Ross, but the facts I do know are these. Ross received his undergraduate degree in 2006 from the University of Los Angeles. In 2010 he was attending his master’s degree program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and chose to write for his master’s thesis about the life and art of Gustav “Gus” Hasford, the author of The Short-timers and the Phantom Blooper. The Short-timers is the now out of print manuscript that is the basis of Kubrick’s Film Full Metal Jacket.
Whoever Ross is, we owe him a debt of gratitude that readers of war fiction can never repay because he has given us what I believe is the only written account of biography concerning the obscure and amazingly talented writer Gus Hasford. Ross’s thesis entitled, An Examination of the Life and Work of Gustav Hasford is elegant and detailed and worth the time of reading. In his 107-page manuscript he gave me an appreciation and fondness for this obscure writer and fellow veteran, who lived a sad, lonely life and died alone and forlorn in a shabby Grecian hotel room. You can read Ross’s full thesis here.
Full Metal Jacket came out in theaters in August of 1987. Overshadowed a little by the release of another war film, Oliver Stone’s Platoon, it was still met with a great deal of economic and box office success and continued to propel Stanley Kubrick’s career in filmmaking. Sadly, the principle screenwriter and author of the novel that was the movie’s basis was barely a footnote. According to Ross, Vietnam veteran and former Marine Hasford was thrilled that Kubrick had chosen his novel for his next film project and forever after regretted having to work with Kubrick at all, even considering legal action against the filmmaker to even get a mention as a scriptwriter. The relationship between Kubrick and Hasford was very tense. They spoke on the phone many times and in fact only met in person on one occasion, Ross recounts. It’s not clear who was at fault for this very tense working relationship but at the end of the day, Kubrick profited greatly from the success of Full Metal Jacket while the scriptwriter Hasford, barely nominated for best script and losing out, faded from the limelight soon after.
Hasford was born in Russelville, Alabama in a very rural setting. He loved reading and loved books and wrote for his high school paper. When the Vietnam War rolled around he volunteered for the Marines, embracing the reality that he would likely be drafted anyway. His experience in journalism garnered him a slot at the Defense Information School, then located at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana where he was trained as a military journalist. (Ross mistakenly calls it an Army school. In point of fact it is a joint Department of Defense School open to all branches and their associated civilians, and always has been. I attended DINFOS myself in 2008 long after the school moved to its present location at Fort Meade, Maryland.)
Following his training at Parris Island and Fort Benjamin Harrison, Hasford worked as a public affairs specialist, writing for various military publications such as the Marine magazine Leatherneck and Pacific Stars and Stripes among others. In his last 10 months of service after a personal battle with superiors he was shipped to Vietnam as a volunteer. His first novel is said to be semi-autobiographical in nature as the main character, Private James T. Davis, aka Private Joker, has many of the same characteristics as the author. Both were military journalists in Vietnam and both were involved in the battle of Hue, (pronounced Way. I know, Vietnamese to English translation makes no damn sense at all. )
Did you know that the first draft of Hasford’s novel had werewolves in it? It did, in fact. Happily that manuscript is dead and buried, while it is not clear which was true, did the Marines turn into werewolves in order to kill North Vietnamese soldiers or was it the other way around. The final draft that turned into the film did have werewolf references in it though. Interesting.
Regardless, the novel based loosely on Hasford’s experience, while not a financial success on it’s own, soon garnered the attention of Kubrick. He was looking for material for a Vietnam War flick and depended heavily on the writing of his friend Michael Herr and on the talents of Hasford for the script. Hasford wrote a much-acclaimed Vietnam book entitled Dispatches based from his experiences as a war correspondent for Esquire Magazine. Herr, who contributed little to the overall adaptation of the script never the less benefitted from his relationship with Kubrick, while Hasford was mostly on the outs. The three men never met in person to discuss the script, but instead were required to send their pages remotely to be edited by Kubrick for the final project.
At one point Ross recalls Hasford was so upset with director Kubrick that he feared the film was never going to see fruition at all. He and some friends donned tiger-stripped green camouflage uniforms and infiltrated the film location to indeed validate that the movie was actually in progress of being made. Ross recounts Hasford bragging to the staff at a commissary tent that the movie being shot was based on the book that he wrote. The staff, not knowing who Hasford was, mistook him for Herr, and praised him for his work on Dispatches. Hasford soon left the film location in disgust.
A little before the film’s release, Hasford finished his second book, the Phantom Blooper, which was a sequel to his first novel. Phantom Blooper continues where the first novel leaves off. Following the battle of Hue City, Joker, a sergeant, leaves his base to locate and kill another former Marine now fighting with the enemy. The Marine, known as the Phantom Blooper, is apparently to blame for killing some of Joker’s friends with an M79 grenade launcher, called a blooper gun. Joker fails to find the Blooper and instead is captured by the enemy. Phantom Blooper as seen through the eyes of it’s main character, seems to humanize the enemy for the reader where the fist novel, The Short-timers, seems to destroy the image of Hollywood war films and the role of the federal US Government in sending young men to war. You can see in both novels Hasford disdain for John Wayne style Hollywood war films and what he feels like are false representation of what war is really like.
Hasford’s life falls in disarray shortly after the release of Full Metal Jacket. His dust up with his publisher Bantam over the publication of his second book leads this writer to the belief that it was Hasford’s attitude that was largely to blame for his lack of success and not just Kubrick’s greed, although that might have been a contributing factor. Hasford refuses to endorse other works of fiction outside his own. This leads to a bitter dispute with Bantam, who retaliates by failing to properly promote the book, which leads to the ultimate failure of the novel commercially.
Hasford’s trouble with filmmakers and book publishers are the least of his problems. Hasford is accused by library officials in California for allegedly stealing thousands of books and storing them in a private storage locker located on a university campus. Hasford refutes the charges but eventually pleads guilty as part of a plea agreement for the theft. The judge in the case makes an example of Hasford and charges a huge fine and shockingly, a six-month prison term for the book thief.
The jail term is the last straw for Hasford and slowly his mind starts to deteriorate. He abandons longstanding friendships and moves to Greece after completing his last book, A Gypsy Good Time, a parody on cheap crime and detective novels. He dies alone of untreated diabetes probably brought on by his poor diet and alcoholic lifestyle. The eccentric writer is said to mix beer, milk and wine, which he imbibed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yuk!
While it is somewhat of an oversimplification to say that Hasford’s two first novels is a window into the world of the Vietnam veteran, all veterans’ experiences are not the same, it can be said that his novels are a window into Hasford’s experience. When taken with other fiction and non-fiction on the Vietnam war, one can get a picture into the shared consciousness of all veterans post Vietnam era.
Hasford’s last novel, having little literary value, probably is more valued in that it gives us a sense of the deteriorating mind and spirit of this writer, former Marine and Vietnam veteran.
Hasford’s work and art deserves our appreciation and respect. While this veteran didn’t agree with everything Hasford has to say about the war, he respects his work and his opinion. (Hasford is a little too easy on the communists for this writer’s tastes. While hammering the US for their mistakes, Hasford gives the communists a virtual pass on their atrocities during the war.) Hasford is a victim of his era. His rejection by his audience is emblematic of the rejection many Vietnam era veterans faced when returning from that war and attempting to re-acclimate to civilian life. Indeed, the effects of that war and the disrespect of many veterans by the nation and the VA hospitals charged with treating them is evident today in the national headlines.
Hasford’s life is a cautionary tale for writers. In order not to be cheated by greedy filmmakers who want to profit from your story while leaving you out in the cold, get an agent who will represent your interests. When working with a publisher, be nice. Don’t be an ass. And, if you have a debilitating disease, listen to your doctor and follow his advice.
If you are trying to find copies of either the Phantom Blooper or The Short-timers, good luck starfighter. They are hard to find. Independent sellers on Amazon will attempt to sell you a hard cover for $140, while beatup paperbacks will fetch $90 plus. The Saint Paul Public library’s online inventory says there are a number of copies in their inventory on shelf; some are even printed in English! I’ve not yet made the pilgrimage from Rochester to see if that is the case. Regardless, you can go online at several websites and download a pirate version if you are interested. I’ve included links below. I wouldn’t even bother with A Gypsy Good Time. If you find a copy in a University or public library, honor Gus’s memory –and steal it!
The political season is in full swing. The democrats just recently had a debate. The republicans have another debate on Thursday, the last one before the Iowa Caucus. One of the candidates, the frontrunner Donald Trump is skipping out because he thinks Fox News, specifically Megyn Kelly, has been unfair to him. All of this gave me an idea last night. What if God and The Devil had a debate, with all of us as the audience?! Who would moderate? What questions would they ask?
I imagine God the Father would be too important and too busy to show up to such a debate, but perhaps His son Jesus would accept his invitation? The Devil would no doubt show up, after all, he’s got a huge ego and probably wouldn’t trust any of his reprobate minions to give a good showing on his account. So there you have it, the candidates are set.
For the sake of argument, I’ll play the part of the moderator. We can have the debate at our own Rochester Civic Theater here in town, a small intimate setting.
I have no idea what the candidates would answer, so I’m not going to speculate. I’m just going to put out a couple of questions that came to mind last night.
This one is for both the candidates, 1. The Devil, and Jesus. Of the current candidates competing for the presidency of the United States, which one do you like the most? Which one do you like the least?
2. This one is for Jesus. Everyone says you are coming soon, but when exactly will that be, and what does that mean for the people of the Earth?
3. This one is for the Devil. They say you are a liar, a thief and a murderer. How do you respond to those charges and how can anyone believe what you say here today?
4. This one is for both candidates. Some people think that you are both mythical characters, made up out of the imagination of religious men. What would you say to such people?
5. Another question for both candidates. How old is the Universe, and the Earth specifically? Did it take a literal six days as it says in the Bible or did it take much longer?
6. Another one for both candidates. Who are the angels, and the demons? Are they the souls of humans gone to the other side, or are they something different?
7. This one is for Jesus. What will your followers be doing in the afterlife? Is Heaven really as great as they say?
8. For the Devil. What about your followers? Will they be cast into eternal punishment in Hell with you as their ruler, or will you all be cast down for eternal punishment in the lake of fire?
9. Here’s one for Christ. What did Lucifer do or say that got him and his followers kicked out of Heaven? Is there anything he could do or say to get himself back into the good graces of The Almighty?
10. For the Devil. How do you respond to the answer Jesus just gave? If offered amnesty, would you and your followers ever return to the fold, or would you continue your rebellion such as it is?
11. For both candidates. Did evolution happen, and is it happening now? What does that mean for the progression of life on this planet, both animal and human?
12. For the Devil. If for whatever reason you were to win this rebellion and take over as a god, what would your new domain look like? What would that mean for the people of the Earth?
13. Jesus, please respond to the answer Lucifer just gave.
14. For both candidates. The Crusades. During the time known as the Crusades, Christianity and Islam fought for centuries and there was a lot of bloodshed. Who was right in that conflict, or did both sides share in the fault?
15. This one is for Jesus. They say God is good and can do no wrong, but He allows a lot of bad things to happen here on the Earth. Wars, plagues, suffering. If God is good, why does he allow all of these bad things to happen?
16. The Devil, please respond to the answer Jesus just gave.
17. Back to the Devil for this one. They say you are the ruler of the Earth and are responsible for all the bad things that happen here. You prey on the weakness of men’s minds and cause them to be tempted to be selfish and cruel to one another. Is that true, and if so, what is your motivation?
18. For Jesus, please respond to the answer The Devil just gave.
At the end of the debate I would of course allow a 3 minute time span for each candidate to wrap up their comments. I think that would be very interesting to hear the candidates give a three-minute spiel on whatever topic they wanted.
What other questions would you ask Jesus or the Devil if you had them in a room together? Write us a note and give us your question or just comment on this article. Tell us what you think. The new email address to this blog is email@example.com.
We look forward to hearing from you.
FYI. There is little likelihood of such a debate as I imagined above taking place in real life. But we have the next best thing. On February 3, liberal professor and Obama ally Bill Ayers will debate conservative film-maker and author Dinesh D’souza on a live stream. Information is available here. In this day and age, that’s the best we can do people. Apparently these two men have debated before. I’ve not seen the debate, but it is apparently available on You Tube, here. I think I might watch it, since I will likely miss the next one due to work. If you see it, let me know and give your comments. It will be interesting to see since D’Souza just got out of prison after serving 8 months for violating campaign finance laws. Ayers of course was a member of the infamous Weather Underground responsible for bombing the Pentagon and a judge’s house. It should be an interesting debate.
You can contact us at our new email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul takes the stage at US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids Iowa. The presidential candidate took part in the Freedomworks Rising Tide Summit Saturday. -photo by Jeremy Griffith
by Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium
This Saturday the conservative think tank Freedomworks hosted a successful Rising Tide Summit in Cedar Rapids Iowa, an event that drew over 2,000 participants and included five Republican Presidential hopefuls.
The Freedomworks event took place at the US Cellular Center in Downtown Cedar Rapids. Conservative presidential candidates Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Dr. Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina spoke to a receptive crowd.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul opened the event. As comfortable in his own skin as he his in denim jeans and shirt sleeves, Paul wowed the crowd with classic libertarianism themes, mostly aimed at young people. Paul remains one of the big mysteries of the 2016 presidential season, bringing in low approval numbers overall, but appealing to small crowds where ever he appears in public. Indeed, you would have thought a rock star had entered the stadium as enthusiastic supporters shouted chants of “President Paul” over and over as they waived Rand Paul campaign signs while waiting in line to enter the arena in the Center atrium.
Paul’s comments brought in some of the most enthusiastic and boisterous applause amongst the Iowa conservatives, second only to Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Despite his standing in the national polls, Paul remains one of the most important people in government today. He has been consistent in his opposition to a big government bent on depriving citizens of their constitutional rights for the sake of security while continuing to spy on personal emails and cell phones. In the age of global terror and the NSA, Paul supporters show they are big fans of the Kentucky senator and no fan of government intrusion in their personal lives.
But, the Kentucky libertarian would not overshadow Texas Senator Ted Cruz. In a dark suit and reddish brown cowboy boots, the big Texan also established is bone fides as a rock star of the conservative movement, being greeted by thunderous applause. Cruz focused his comments on recent tragic events in San Bernardino California, security and the continuing war on terror. In his comments he promised to destroy ISIS through “carpet bombing” of their desert strong holds.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz is is greeted by an enthusiastic Iowa crowd in Cedar Rapids Saturday. -photo by Jeremy Griffith
“I don’t know if desert sand glows,” bragged Cruz, “but we’re going to find out!”
The Iowa crowd didn’t find much they didn’t agree with in Cruz, showing their appreciation over and over with loud applause.
Each of the candidates were presented with three questions, usually one or two from a peer over video on the jumbotron screen, and maybe one or two from a live questioner at the event. First District Congressman Rod Blum was a co-host of the event and asked each of the candidates a question. Blum was recently elected to the First Iowa district and has already established himself as an enemy of the establishment Republicans through his opposition vote to House Speaker John Boehner.
Other questioners of the candidates present included Louisiana Governor and Presidential Candidate Bobby Jindal, Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and CKE President and CEO Andrew Puzder, among others.
Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds rallies the Iowa conservative troops. -photo by Jeremy Griffith
The Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds made an appearance to rally local voters to the conservative Republican cause.
Conservative radio talk show host Andrew Wilkow did a great job as MCEE of the event, impressing the crowd with his light hearted sense of humor and his gracious and skillful introduction of the various candidates.
Dr. Ben Carson was well received at the event as well, delivering a message of personal responsibility and achievement as a way for Americans to bring themselves out of tough economic situations without the help of government. Carson proved he still has a sense of humor regarding criticism of his quite manner and lack of “fire”. “I don’t do that sort of thing,” he said, “because that’s the kind of attitude that scares children!” Not a good way to behave if you’re a pediatric neurosurgeon, he joked.
Dr. Ben Carson was met by an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. Over 2,000 people participated in the Freedomworks Rising Tide Summit Saturday. -photo by Jeremy Griffith
Carson drew a clear distinction between him and President Barack Obama, calling the media “rabid dogs” for their intense criticism of him, while largely ignoring the blatant flaws of the current president.
Carson provided two of the more awkward and silly moments of the event Saturday. Operating under instructions of his Secret Service Protection Detail, Carson left the stage too early before the question and answer session. He had to be drawn back through the tactful nudging of event MCEE Andrew Wilkow who gently chided the Secret Service agents by saying, “are we done with the questions and answer portion?”
Radio Talkshow Host Andrew Wilkow (right) introduces Baptist Rev. CL Bryant. Bryant made an appeal for funding on behalf of Freedomworks while Wilcow lent his talents as MCee. -photo by Jeremy Griffith
The video taped question from another presidential candidate, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana to Dr. Carson was a second awkward moment. Dr. Carson was turning to answer the question when Governor Jindal, in his pre-taped question, launched into a second question.
“Yeah, yeah! We got it Bobby!” said Carson, to the amusement of the crowd.
Carly Fiorina promises an interesting debate between herself and Hillary Clinton. -photo by Jeremy Griffith
International businesswoman and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina made an appearance at the event, proving to the crowd that she is a force to be reckoned with in this crowded Republican field.
“Admit it to yourselves,” Fiorina said. “It’s a guilty pleasure for you to think about the possibility of a debate between my self and Hillary Clinton!” Fiorina promised to take Democrats and Republicans to task in her administration, once and for all accomplishing what she promises instead of endlessly talking about it and making promises.
“It’s time to take our country back,” she said.
Rick Santorum touts his National Defense credentials. -photo by Jeremy Griffith
Rick Santorum made an appearance at the event, touting his experience fighting and defeating the Clinton machine. He also attempted to establish his credentials in national defense where he has a proven track record. Through the course of the evening, however, it appeared that the crowd was not as enthusiastic about a Santorum candidacy as they were for the candidacy of other contenders who appeared on stage. Santorum’s comments were met with polite applause at several moments but not at the same level as the response to some of the other candidates.
Runaway Slave filmmaker Rev. C.L. Bryant made an appearance on behalf of Freedomworks fund raising efforts. He asked for the continued support of the think tank and talked briefly about the unusually high incarceration rate of African-Americans in the United States. Bryant’s comments were well received but also provided the other two more awkward moments of the evening. In the midst of his comments about the incarceration rate and the current state of the United States, Bryant promised a bit of good news. During a pause in Bryant’s comments, a young person in the crowd volunteered the question, “Obama’s Dead?!” The comment seemed to fluster the speaker and was met with quite and a few snicker of nervous laughter. A woman behind me in the upper deck could be heard saying, “not cool” echoing the feeling that the crowd supported the defeat of the current president and his policies, and not personal harm. The Secret Service, quiet professionals, were not amused.
Secret Service not amused by random crowd comment: “Obama’s dead?!” -photo by Jeremy Griffith
In reply to the random comment from the crowd, Bryant replied, “I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole!”
“You know the Secret Service is here!” Bryant warned.
Overall, the Freedomworks event was well received minus the few random moments of awkwardness. The only other criticisms I have are these. The Secret Service and TSA presence at the beginning of the event for the purposes of screening the public, while understandable, delayed the event as the participants trickled into the hall at a maddingly slow pace. That said, the young agent of the Secret Service that I encountered, the one who wanded me and checked my camera bag, was courteous and professional. In the future I would think that Freedomworks would warn participants to come early and expect the kinds of delays a security screening will guarantee.
Iowa First District Congressman Rod Blum signs Freedomworks pledge to champion conservative values in his state. Talk Show host Andrew Wilkow, left, looks on. -photo by Jeremy Griffith
(Highlights of Fort Snelling CVA event. Video by Jeremy Griffith, American Millennium Online.)
by Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium Online
Madison Rising performs at CVA event at Fort Snelling MN 9-12-2015. – Photo by Jeremy Griffith.
This weekend my girlfriend and I attended an event in Minneapolis for veterans sponsored by Concerned Veterans for America. We had good food and entertainment, with a call to action at the end.
This was apparently the last stop of CVA’s Defend America 2015 Tour. Registration was free and they served hot beef and pork sandwiches and pop to those who attended. CVA’s Pete Hegseth headlined the event, flanked by Gold Star Mom Karen Vaughn, Army Ranger Captain Sean Parnell, Jason Quick, and popular musicians Ayla Brown and Madison Rising.
Pete Hegseth talks about the failures of the VA. – Photo by Jeremy Griffith.
Hegseth interests me because we have somewhat of a shared story. We served in the Minnesota National Guard together in the same division around the same time. He served in Afghanistan while I served in Iraq. I met him one time when he was running for congress. I covered his campaign for this blog. He’s gone on from that loss to become an advocate for veterans and a successful radio and TV pundit, now contributing to Fox News on a regular basis.
Hegseth high lighted the recent failures of the VA and proposed a way to change it and hold it accountable. He handed out a proposal to those of us who were interested prepared by expert advisors called Fixing Veteran Health Care. The veterans he said have been the victim of a horrible government monopoly where the customers are not valued for who they are: heroes. The employees are secure in the knowledge that they can’t be fired or held in any way accountable for failing to provide adequate service. As I drove to the venue there at Basecamp, located on the unsecure side of Fort Snelling, I pondered this issue as I observed several signs posted right on Fort Snelling property addressing this very issue. They said, “The VA Lied, Veterans Died!” I didn’t get to see what group published the large billboards.
I’ve heard it said on Facebook and elsewhere that over a third of all veterans waiting for health care from the Veterans Administration have died while they’ve been waiting. Some of them, too many, suffering while they wait have chosen to commit suicide rather than wait any longer. This is unacceptable to me and many veterans and is one of the reasons I was curious about this rally.
Hegseth says their proposal is the beginning of a bill that will be presented to congress to hold VA employees accountable for providing inadequate, (or no) care, giving administrators the ability to fire those employees who under perform, providing the administration has the political will to do so. I’m not convinced that they do provided their history. So far the VA head has resigned, and two people have been fired but none have been prosecuted, problematic considering that administrators in the Arizona VA actually purged patients names on waiting lists so as to make their numbers look better.
Outlaw Platoon Leader Sean Parnell. – photo by Jeremy Griffith
The Defend America tour seems like a political rah rah rally to get veterans fired up to take political action on their own behalf. Interesting if true. Hegseth says he wants to create an Army of veterans who don’t hang up their uniforms and stow their boots after they leave the service, but continually serve their country in the interest of the nation. I have to admit, I’m intrigued by the prospect. I think a lot of veterans of my generation are not interested in the current veterans organizations, who offer a club to drink beer and eat burgers and pull on pull tabs while telling war stories with other veterans. We want something a little more involved. This might be it. I signed on for grass roots training later this month. I’ll let you know what I learn.
This week was the anniversary of 9-11 and many of us remember that fateful day with sadness and loss. I remember it for another reason. On this day last year, my girlfriend turned fiancé passed her test in Minneapolis to become a US Citizen. Emigrating from the Philippines 8 years ago, she has settled in to the American way of life such as it is. She often says, watching the news of the day, that America isn’t the America it once was and I agree. This was a good way for us to celebrate her anniversary. She was all smiles that evening and it was great to see.
New friends made at CVA event at Fort Snelling , MN. -photo by Jeremy Griffith.
We sat across from new friends we’d just made. She met a Filipina married to an American gentleman and they became Facebook friends on the spot. Across from me, talking about weird coincidences, sat John, a former Command Sergeant Major from my old unit. I retired in January of this year from 1-340th Training Support Battalion there at Fort Snelling. He had served as that unit’s Sergeant Major until his retirement in 2005. Small world. I think everyone enjoyed the show and learned something new.
Army Veteran Sean Parnell spoke with passion about his unit’s service in Afghanistan, telling about one harrowing day of battle there where everyone in his small platoon sustained injuries fighting off Al Qaeda forces. Parnell is the author of The Outlaw Platoon, which is now going to be on my reading list. His story of courage was very moving.
Ayla Brown performs. – photo by Jeremy Griffith
Country Singer Ayla Brown and patriotic rock group Madison Rising performed at the event. The most interesting moment however was when Gold Star Mom Karen Vaughn got up to speak. She is the mother of fallen Navy SEAL hero Aaron Vaughn, a member of SEAL Team 6 who died with some of his colleagues on Aug. 6, 2011. Her story of her son’s courage and determination was riveting and made everyone’s eyes water. You can watch her testimony on You Tube and see for yourself.
Gold Star Mom Karen Vaughn talks about the sacrifice of her son, Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn. – photo by Jeremy Griffith.
I actually had low expectations of this event but I was actually pleasantly surprised. I’m eager to learn more about this organization. I will let you know more as I go. Attached you’ll find links to the highlights I shot of this event plus You Tube video of previous events on this tour.
(Video from Concerned Veterans For America – Defend America Tour, Austin Texas 2015.)
Jeremy Griffith, the creator of The American Millennium Online.
Two thumbs way up for the first two episodes of The Fighting Season by executive producer Ricky Schroder. All through the two first episodes I was shouting at the TV non-stop and cheering the Soldiers and their leaders and booing their vile opponents. I felt like I was watching a melodrama, except the action was very real!
The Fighting Season is following elements of the 10th Mountain and the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan as they have a two fold mission there, roll up the carpet and leave things to the local nationals, and continue to fight the enemy insurgents until their last day in country. I appreciated the vignettes transitioning from the warfighters on the ground actually putting rounds on target and taking fire from insurgents, to the American Colonel mentoring the Afghani National Police, to the officers and staff planning the operations. Every aspect of the war effort is covered in this documentary. It is taught and insightful and brutal.
I appreciated one scene early on that was part of an interview with a young captain who was the brigade intelligence officer. He was explaining that the fight we are involved in now in Afghanistan is not against an insurgency that wants to win back their nation and drive out invaders. These opponents are a brutal mob who wants to gain control of the country and restore the brutal regime that was in place before; the one that prevented girls from going to school, who had women in basic slavery day in and day out and would kill Soldiers and civilians, anyone that doesn’t bend to their regressive point of view.
Watching this extraordinary documentary had me emotional even as I think of recent events in Iraq where I served as part of the surge back in 2007. The fall of Ramadi in Iraq is a significant set back for the United States and the world. ISIS is now on the door step of Baghdad and as such, will no doubt take over the country very soon. It illustrates clearly how the successes gained through the blood and tears of our fighting men and women can be so easily lost by short sighted and arrogant politicians.
This is not about war, this is war! – quote from the Ricky Schroder made for TV documentary “The Fighting Season”.
But we are 14 years down the road, I get that, and people are tired of sending young men and women to die in foreign theaters. I get it. In the end of the day, Afghanistan and Iraq has to fight for themselves and maintain the gains that we have given them, we cannot safeguard them forever. So it’s heart-rending to watch the news as thousands of civilians flee ISIS on foot in the heat even as their military and police forces drop their weapons and run.
I think about and fear for the lives of three hundred plus Marines currently stationed at Al Asaad Airbase in Iraq who are there to train the Iraqi Army and police and find themselves surrounded by ISIS. I wonder if they will find relief soon, able to leave their mission before they are unable to leave and are overwhelmed by the terrorists, forced to fight to the last man. Remember that this administration has left people die before, abandoning Ambassador Stevens and four of his brave protection detail in Benghazi, Libya. Will this administration do that again to the Marines and other support personnel now in Iraq?
I worry about the 3rd BCT, 4th ID now stationed in Kuwait out of Fort Carson, Colorado. Is this heavy brigade going to go over the berm into Iraq to relieve those Marines? What dangers will they face? Or will Barack Obama keep them in Kuwait doing training exercises and watching over the berm with bated breath? Will Obama unleash the dogs of war or will he keep them chained?
Ricky Schroader and his team of producers and documentarians have in my mind created the greatest war documentary since Restrepo andBrothers At War. In the first and second episodes I could see, actually see AK-47 rounds pass between the Soldiers and the filmakers as they are taking cover behind thin trees and tall grass. Meanwhile, many miles away, an army Major and his staff at the tactical operations center is listening to radio traffic and watching the action through the eyes of drones even as they try to direct air support to relieve the besieged platoon on the ground.
“This is not “Call Of Duty”! -quote from “The Fighting Season”
In another Vignette, an Army Colonel mentoring the Afghan National Police is driving in convoy with his men and checking checkpoints to make sure the locals are executing their duties properly. Traffic is intense and the Soldiers heads are on swivels, looking out for trouble. The colonel gets out of the vehicle, to the chagrine and horror of his men and he engages local businessmen in the bazaar, buying fruit from the vendors and talking to them about local issues. The men chastise him, fearful he is putting himself at risk unnecessarily. The colonel just laughs them off saying, “you can’t do this job staying in the car! They have to see you doing the job.”
A female Army captain speaks at one point about her work with Afghan women. The strict rules of conduct in that country forbid men to search or even talk to strange women, so the nation is training women police officers and female Soldiers like this young Army Captain is mentoring them. The captain talks about her role as an advisor and shares her admiration for the leader of the local police, a woman of renown, who has championed women’s and human rights in the country.
Meanwhile, at one of the Forward Operating Base, the commander of a brigade combat team of the All American 82nd Airborne is planning an op in a beleaguered part of the country. The snow has melted in the mountains and foreign and local insurgents are returning to fight, the fighting season has begun. The colonel coaches his men through the Army’s military decision making process, MDMP as they come up with courses of action for the spring and summer campaign. He rejects the early COA he receives and tells the staff to go back to the drawing board. The colonel presents a final draft of the plan to his boss, a one-star general who is the deputy commander of the task force. Problems are found in the air logistics piece of the plan; the unit is taking too many turns, about 8 round trips, in helicopters to get to the objective. The brigadier is concerned that the unit might be telegraphing their intent and making themselves too easy a target for insurgents with rocket propelled grenades. The planners of the 82nd are pushed back to their offices to revise the plan once again.
Meanwhile, a female First Sergeant, in charge of logistics for the upcoming mission, is trying to figure out how to best provide material support. She’s loading containers of supplies and equipment for air movement and the containers have become too heavy. She’s got to double check the packing list inside to see what’s in there and what can be removed, and one of her knuckle-heads has misplaced the key to the container lock. She’s pissed, swearing up a blue streak to subordinates on the phone. They better get this right or there will be a woman’s wrath and Hell to pay.
I really like this series and I can’t wait to watch the last three episodes on this week on Audience on Direct TV. I highly recommend it. I covers all aspects of the operations, from the Soldiers on the ground to the planners and leaders, and to the logisticians who almost never get credit for their very important work in providing support for the meat-eaters and trigger pullers. I like how the filmakers are hardly ever heard from in the movie and they allow the stories to be told from the point of view of the servicemen and women.
Mr. Schroder and his small team took enormous risk with this documentary, putting themselves in harm’s way to film it. The film is beautifully shot and amazingly dramatic. This should win an award and I recommend anyone see it who has had a loved one in a combat zone and has asked the question, “what is it like over there?” This series answers that question beautifully and I can’t wait to see the rest. Huah!
Recently I watched a video documentary on Ferguson entitled Ferguson: A Report From Occupied Territory produced by documentary film-maker Orlando De Guzman. I was initially skeptical after listening to an interview of Guzman on MPR. I have recently watched the whole documentary and would concede some points as potentially valid. Some of what Guzman said, however are a matter of dispute.
The Ferguson documentary begins with an analysis of what has happened between an on duty police officer Darren Wilson and a black American 18-year old Michael Brown who the officer shot and killed in a confrontation. The documentary goes on to much more than just this confrontation and explores alleged structural racism in and around St. Louis, Missouri. The problem I had with the initial set up was that De Guzman seems to gloss over important facts about the confrontation between the officer and the deceased suspect; namely that he was the suspect in a strong armed robbery of a local convenience store, that Brown had man handled an Asian American store clerk, refusing to pay for a box of cigars that he purposely stole, and that when confronted with a police officer, instead of obeying the lawful orders of the police officer, Brown attempted to overpower the officer, potentially to kill him with his own gun and that during the melee, the officer prevailed in defending his life and as a result, shot Brown dead.
Now it’s too much to say that this matter is not in dispute, but if you were to dispute it, you would be arguing with grand jury testimony with which the officer was cleared of wrong doing, much of it given by black American witnesses living in the neighborhood, grand jury witnesses who actually saw the events as it happened and reported truthfully as to what they saw.
In light of this testimony and the forensic evidence, including the bullet fragments found in the officer’s car and retrieved from the body of Michael Brown, and video evidence of the strong armed robbery, I come to the conclusion that the grand jury came to, that Michael Brown had committed a crime and compounded his crime by refusing to surrender to an officer and in doing so contributed to his own death. That I think is pretty cut and dried. And when you know those facts, the substance of the argument that an innocent man was randomly gunned down in the street for being black quickly erodes.
Robbed of that argument, the film-maker does what the Eric Holder Justice Department did, and that is to look for problems elsewhere. They could not convict Darren Wilson, although his reputation has been ruined. Instead they went after the local institutions of government and law enforcement and they may have come across an interesting nugget.
Apparently, the municipalities around St. Louis, MO have been targeting largely African-American populations with horrendous fines from anything from jay-walking to seat-belt violations. Night courts filled with white officers and legal personnel preside over large numbers of black people who are forced to pay onerous fines for very slight malefactions. In poor neighborhoods people have to make decisions on whether or not to pay the fines or buy bread. And that has caused a lot of anger in the black community, and rightfully so. I don’t agree with the practice of creating revenue for municipalities through fines issued by law enforcement. Municipal government may be at fault. Unable to meet their budgets, they find other revenue streams that are not appropriate and thus alienate the poor in those areas.
De Guzman claimed that this is because of racism. Perhaps. Ultimately it can be demonstrated that the black community suffers the most and that angry blacks have an argument to make to state and local authorities. I fail to see how this problem is an excuse to burn cars and businesses and to shoot police officers in the face, which has happened in Ferguson and was not covered in the documentary.
It seems to me that the film-maker, while making some valid points, only picks and chooses those facts that fit a certain narrative. The truth is much more complex and difficult. It’s not, dare I say it, a black and white issue. It should be noted that St. Louis proper still rates among the highest in violent crime including murder. If you are of the middle class and you can move, why wouldn’t you move to a less violent and crime ridden community? An awful lot of blame is laid on white people who don’t want to stay in violent neighborhoods because Racism!
Ultimately I think the documentary is thought provoking and beautifully shot. De Guzman is obviously a very good story teller. But there are facts that don’t fit the narrative that are glaring to the informed and it gave me a bad taste in my mouth after listening to the interview and watching the documentary. Yes problems exist. These small municipalities seem to be preying on the poor with onerous, ridiculous fines to increase their revenue. That has to stop. There is another thing that has to stop. Disobeying the lawful orders of police officers, violence and crime, including burning cars and stores, ruining livelihoods of people who are not involved in the violence, or the municipal policies that target blacks. Had the documentary been more honest about those problems, I would have rated it higher. I’d like to see this documentary shown to the public in other venues and then have discussions on what people saw. I’d also like to see the documentary play about Ferguson by the playwright Phelim McAleer based on the grand jury testimony. Given these multiple sources and others, I think a clearer more complete view of what has happened in Ferguson will begin to emerge that will not be tainted by only one person’s narrative viewpoint.
Also, you can watch the interview of The Blaze’s Dana Loesch with playwright Phelim McAleer here. We’d love to hear your thoughts so, don’t forget to leave a comment below. Tell me if you think I’m off base or on point.
The British retreat after the battle of Lexington-Concord
by Jeremy Griffith
American Millennium Online
Today is the 240th anniversary of the Revolutionary War’s battle at Lexington and Concord. To celebrate, my girlfriend and I participated in an Appleseed Project Event here in Rochester, learning how to shoot like true riflemen and learning about the events of that historic battle.
The Appleseed Project is a group of volunteers who train citizens on basic rifle marksmanship. Their weekend events take place annually and all across the country. It’s a fun two days of instruction and training, and the volunteers mix in a little history during the breaks.
Highlights of this weekend included a gentleman who war period clothing, carrying a musket, who spoke on those early days of the Revolutionary War. There were three events, or three strikes of the match that led those early Americans, who considered themselves Britians, to take arms against their own regular troops and revolt. Eight bloody years of war followed those days and the outcome was not at all certain. We know how it ended, but many of us do not know the details of that day.
Two stories told over the weekend made a major impression on me. Following the battle for Lexington and Concord, another young rider sounded the alarm for revolutionary militia to defend their homes. On April 26, 1775, 16-year old Sybil Ludington, the daughter of a veteran colonel of the French and Indians War, Henry Ludington, set out on a journey twice as long as the journey of Paul Revere, about 40 miles, to sound the alarm for local militia. She rode her pony Star, and tapped on the windows with a stick to wake up the men. At one point she beat off a highwayman (robber) with that same stick. Her heroism earned her the praise of revolutionaries and George Washington himself. He epic ride is commemorated in a foot race in Carmel, New York.
Another story that impressed me this weekend was of the oldest veteran of that battle and the war. This veterans name was Samuel Whitmore. At 78 years of age, he was a very old man at the time of the battle of Lexington and Concord. A veteran of the King George’s War and possibly the French and Indians War, Whitmore was a trained rifleman. He took up his weapon and fired several times at British troops from behind a brick wall. His fire was so deadly accurate that the Brits took off after him and between vollies, was able to get close to him. Whitmore was shot in the face at close range and bayoneted many times. The Brits left him for dead, but Whitmore survived that day. When revolutionaries found him bleeding on the ground, it is said he was attempting to reload his weapon. Whitmore survived the war and died at the age of 98.
From old to young, many risked their lives for freedom against the tyranny of King George. Today many of us don’t take enough time to appreciate their sacrifice.
Rose and I didn’t not score enough in the weekend of shooting to become riflemen, this time. But we got good pointers and are well on our way to bettering our marksmanship. Rose, a Philippine immigrant and new American citizen, learned a lot about our history during the weekend’s event. Many of you have no doubt read about her journey to citizenship from an earlier blog post. This weekend was good reinforcement to what we studied up until the time of her swearing in back in September of last year. Now I’ve got her addicted to shooting. She complained bitterly about the old tube fed rifle I loaned her and now she wants to buy her own modern rifle. I don’t blame her. It was a lot of fun.
I am grateful for the instruction and coaching from all of the volunteers, especially Marta, who helped Rose so much these past few days. It could not have been a better weekend.
I was so busy concentrating on my shooting that I did not shoot a single video or photo. I’m told though that photos of our event will be posted on the Project Appleseed-Minnesota Facebook page shortly.
If you are looking for a fun event for all ages. I highly recommend one of these events. A schedule is posted on the Project Appleseed website for your area.
Netcentric Hubris and the Challenges of Netcentric Leadership, a War College Thesis by Kurt Schlichter invokes in the mind of the author the image of the novel Ender’s Game and it’s associated movie; conjuring images of child generals using technology to pull the strings of the automaton soldiers below.
by Jeremy Griffith
Creator of the American Millennium Online
Kurt Schlichter, conservative columnist and close friend of the late Super-blogger Andrew Breitbart.
Recently I embarked on a journey to test FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act, probing the government like a curious kid with a stick, stabbing at a gator. What I’ve found stunned and surprised me, as so far I have found the government gate-keepers I’ve dealt with amazingly helpful and uncharacteristically polite.
Let me backtrack to the beginning. In a previous missive I wrote on Storify, I wondered out loud and with amazement how easy it is for the New York Times and Judicial Watch to obtain and publish online the graduate work of one General El Sisi of Egypt, now that nation’s president. While still a military officer, El Sisi attended our own US Army War College and wrote a thesis as his final project where he opined onDemocracy in the Middle East, a document the New York Times obtained and published without comment. Intrigued I wondered how I would fair as a poor blogger who does not buy ink by the barrel. I selected a document I wanted by an author I knew, not knowing the exact title or even if the item requested in fact existed. I expected to be sandbagged by the government, and frankly I was ready to blast their inefficiency for what I believed would be a long and winding run-around course.
Not so. I was after all, dealing with the US Army War College, and apparently, they do things differently there. After sending a couple of stray e-mails to departments who had nothing to do with my request who had no idea what I was talking about, I was politely directed to the right “desk”. The reply I got was timely and polite. “Yes Mr. Griffith,” the fellow said. “You can have that. Would you like it in digits or on paper?” It was like the gentlemen was a clerk at Walmart asking if I wanted paper or plastic.
Two days ago I received the document I had requested and since then I have devoured the contents with glee and was not disappointed. The accompanying note read, almost apologetically, “Not sure if this is the final draft. It was all I could find. Regards!” I tore open the plain envelope and perused the thesis I found inside. I was a kid at Christmas.
I knew anything written by this author had to be good. Kurt A. Schlichter is known to me and is probably well know to you as well from his popular, snarky columns on Red State and Townhall. In my previous edition, I even theorized aloud what the title of the project would have been, something patriotic and heartwarming to conservatives who love America and equally disgusting and stomach wrenching for those who don’t. I reflected that feeling in the title of that article, a little tongue in cheek. I found myself learning something new just discovering the actual title of the document, which was not a disappointment. And yes, It was about leadership, just as I knew it would be.
(in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.
Net-centricor netcentric refers to participating as a part of a continuously-evolving, complex community of people, devices, information and services interconnected by a communications network to achieve optimal benefit of resources and better synchronization of events and their consequences.
In military connotation frequently associated with terms “Net-centric Operations (NCO)” and “Net-centric Warfare (NCW)”. Many people use the terms “net-centric” and “network-centric” interchangeably. Some consider “network-centric” to refer to activities within a particular network and “net-centric” to refer to activities that cross networks.
Many experts[who?] believe the terms “information-centric” or “knowledge-centric” would capture the concepts more aptly because the objective is to find and exploit information, the network itself is only one of several enabling factors.
A great read. I found out from COL Schlichter that the Army with all its technology and information systems is better able to micromanage its junior leaders, something Schlichter believes is a habit to be resisted. Leaders at the top are using the tools at hand to micromanage, working the levers of control and making dancing automatons out of their captains, lieutenants, and sergeants. Like marionettes on a string, those junior leaders execute the plans of their masters and introduce no decision making of their own.
Schlichter masterfully illustrates in his argument that the Army should refrain from this practice, instead leaning upon the time tested leadership style of centralized planning and decentralized control. Yes, the leader at the top can better see the battlefield from where he stands in the OP Center. But is that sight picture true? Does it cut through the fog of war? No. Instead, the leader must accept a certain amount of risk, depending on the junior leader to make the appropriate decision at his level. I was so impressed with the logic of this document that I published it online for you to read for yourself. There are the footnotes at the end, like breadcrumbs. You can follow the trail to the source, where you can read for yourself, testing for yourself if the author’s conclusion is true. Unclassified? Yes it says that at the top, so no problems there.
The experience I’ve had with the War College is like going on a camping trip with your family to the source waters of the mighty Mississippi River. You pile into the family station wagon and you go. When you arrive, you park, and you walk down to the river. You cross the narrow inlet, where the water slows to a trickle. Dipping your hand into the cold rushing water, you lean down and drink. Cool. Refreshing. Clean.
It’s like the Army is saying. “Yes citizen. You can have the final projects of our warrior leaders, and at no charge! We are proud of what we do here and in the leaders we train. You have the right to know what it is we are doing in your name. Read the words of the warrior leaders we’ve trained, be enlightened, and enjoy.” Wow. Just, wow.
I get an altogether different feeling when I try to find the educational documents written by some of our political leaders, which are as elusive to find as the Holy Grail.
To their credit, Mother Jones, that leftist publication, has done a little footwork for us. Very little. They got half of Ted Cruz’s Princeton Undergraduate work, Clipping the Wings of Angels: The History and Theory behind the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. A doughnut stained operative wandered into the Princeton’s Mudd Library to the place where student theses are stored and with camera phone in hand, photographed 48 pages of the 115 page document. It’s like the operative didn’t want the conservative politician’s undergrad thesis bad enough to get the whole thing! Was he/she interrupted during their surreptitious photography session by a roving security guard? One wonders. Maybe they were just too cheap to pay the $0.35 per page fee to get the whole thing? “That’s enough of this pro-constitution, flag-waiving crap! Our readers will get the point. Cruz is a juvenile, nationalistic scumbag. Let’s go.” Is that what they told themselves on their way out of the library, angry security guard in pursuit? Hmmm. Well, fear not, dear reader. I’ve paid the fee and hopefully I will get the full document here shortly.
Check out what one commenter said about the Cruz document at CNN iReport here!
Meantime, good luck trying to FOIA a similar document from Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama II. The president apparently did some kind of project for graduation when he matriculated through his various schools.FactCheck.org assures us that is so. But it wasn’t the kind of thesis that is required to be retained by the school and indeed, the professor who advised the young Barrack on this thesis doesn’t even retain his copy. Lost it in a move, he says. Oh well.
Hillary’s thesis on the other hands isn’t quite so difficult, to get your hands on, but a little bit of a challenge, at least according to Bill Dedman, MSNBC Investigative reporter, who details his adventure with the seldom seen document. (Dedman? Good name for a writer who accidently crosses the Clintons. One wonders why an investigative reporter is necessary to find this document of Hillary’s? Wouldn’t the Lifestyle editor be better?)
Dedman admits in his article from May of 2007 that Hillary’s thesis, based on an interview with vaunted socialist thinker and activist Saul Alinsky, was sealed for a brief time for convenience when the goddess Hillary was in her role as First Lady, at her own request. But since she started running for office of President the record was unsealed once more so the peasants can view it, if they can afford the plane ticket from Rochester Minnesota or Phoenix Arizona or where ever you’re from to come to the library and seek an audience with the aforementioned manuscript. Like a high priest going into the temple, Dedman has graciously volunteered to read the holy scripture for us, a line of rope tied around his ankle in case for whatever reason he upsets the gods and is struck dead in the process. He has pierced the veil to enter the holy of holies for us and has interpreted the document to save us all the trouble and hassle. How good of him.
You and I can’t judge for ourselves the tenure and structure of the article for ourselves, that is just too awkward. We’ll just have to take Dedman’s word for it. Footnotes? Really, what good are they? Why test the research acumen of the goddess, what Hubris you have, peasant? I like that word, I learned it earlier.
No there seems to be a definite trend here that is not surprising. If you are a right wing wacko bird like Ted Cruz who is running for president, or a war-mongering former comedian turned lawyer, columnist like Kurt Schlichter, an operative of the left will get your documents and use your own words to smear you. But, If you are Barack Obama, or Hillary Rodham Clinton, special care is taken by the gate-keepers to protect your college work so as to tamp down the unfair criticism of the unwashed masses.
And that really is the point right? There is a ring around the leftist prophets of progressivism that doesn’t extend to the lovers of the constitution. No, not for you. But there is still hope. We are told that Hillary and Barack got Ivy League educations and are more than qualified to be our leaders, even though we can’t judge their work for ourselves. We can judge them. Both have works of literature that has been edited and vetted and put out for the masses after the approval and polish of the acolytes. And we have their promises and words on the TV. Yes we can judge them and we will.
Happily Barack is not running for office again, although I predict he’ll be around in the wings for quite some time. As for Hillary, if she gets past her current dilemma with the press over her missing emails and private server, with the help of the press, then she is well on her way to be the presumptive nominee.
The democrats have cause for concern this time around, however. The GOP has a deep bench filled with conservatives as well as a moderate or two and with luck the right guy or gal will rise to the top to challenge the goddess. Ted Cruz, cum laude from his respective institution of Princeton and a champion debater with a record for excellence, leads the way. I can’t wait to see a debate between Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz. It’ll be better than fireworks.
Credit: Jim Norman for The New York Times Caption: Ginger Gordon fills the tank of the 2001 VW Jetta with fresh soybean oil.
by Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium Online
My favorite media personality was illustrating a point on his show yesterday about how far we’ve come technology wise and what his vision or prediction of the future will be. Radio and Television star Glenn Beck utilized a fleet of cars, old and new to show the progress we’ve made just in the realm of transportation.
It’s a disturbing fact and maybe you’ve noticed it that cars of the past used to be so simple that someone with rudimentary skills could understand and repair or service their own vehicle. No longer. Now the highest end cars have so much complicated technology that only a specialist can work on it, and at great cost too.
Glenn Beck sees this as an unfortunate turn of events. He’s on the fence in regards to technology, nostalgic about the past but hopeful for the future. With technology like this, he said, no one will be able to understand or even tinker with their cars or their basic technology, like the high priest or priestess, we will be beholden to the mechanic or technical subject matter expert, Beck said.
I disagree. I see a different future. While many who are wealthy may want the hands off, don’t mess with the settings future, many more I believe won’t be able to afford that lifestyle and will try to go backwards for more affordable and manageable outcomes. I think technology will help them do that, so there is no need to convert to being Amish. Let me illustrate.
Glenn demonstrated with a newly minted 1911 .45 pistol, the results of 3D printing, fully made of metal and capable of use on the firing range. Amazing. It used to be a short time ago where 3D printing only came up with cheap looking useless toys made from plastic polymer. No longer, now you have a real metal gun that fires .45 cal ammo, just like a normal gun would. Politicians are calling these ghost guns are already making move s to ban them, even though there is no proof that a printed gun is more likely to be involved in a crime than a over the shelf firearm.
The applications are enormous and could revolutionized manufacturing in the United States and the world. A man in Japan was arrested created his own fully functioning fire arm from plans he adapted on the Internet. The applications go far beyond the personal liberty of creating your own fire arms however. I foresee a future in which the customer builds his own car with the help of subject matter experts.
Imagine a new car company unbeholden to the unions, where the employees own the company and where they help you manufacture your own car from scratch to your specifications. Maybe you want a small replica of a Mini-cooper. You’d even like to pick the color. A technician helps you build the design and loads the data into the computer. Then the 3D printer fires up. A metal framework for the car, with plastic printed body parts that will never rust. Maybe you want a carbon fiber exterior? Great.
Now fit it together on the assembly line. Don’t just stand there! With the help of a robotic arm and a helpful technician, you are helping to rivet your machine together.
Now comes the engine, a specially designed engine melding the past with the future, uncomplicated and easy for the owner operator to maintain. It drops right in and bolts in to the chassis. I prefer mine to be a diesel engine. The car will run on a mixture of cooking oil and diesel. The diesel tank will be used to start the motor, then after fifteen minutes, when the cooking oil is warmed up, the driver switches tanks. How much does the cooking oil cost to run? $0! So now I have a little green car that’s good for the environment and easy on my wallet. Restaurateurs will be only too happy to part with their used cooking oil for free since it would cost them money to dispose of it normally. I hope you like a car that smells like freshly cooked French Fries!
This may be a bit of a stretch and it is, but not much. My former co-worker Beth has owned two cars that have had this type of diesel/cooking oil operating system. Now she has to buy an old beater sedan or truck take runs on diesel. She doesn’t care about how it looks, she just wants a runner that gets her to work and back. What if there was a car company that could give her a new car that does exactly what she wants it to do, and looks nice at the same time! A company out in Milwaukee will outfit her with the system, she just has to supply the car. Sure it costs her $3,500 or so to install, but when you bought your car for less than $8,000, who cares?!
Instead of recycling that old car and going through the extra hoops to get it outfitted, what if there was a company that could do it all cheaper and more efficiently right in one location? Wouldn’t that be great. I envision such an entrepreneurial endeavor the not so distant future. F-you car companies!
How often have you bought a car at great expense with a huge loan only to hear years later that it was a recallable death trap that the union oppressed car companies didn’t bother to tell you about. Abandon those overpriced, taxpayer bailed out disasters and go with a company that actually serves the consumer needs. Have it your way isn’t a slogan just for hamburgers any more.
What if you wanted a car with a more retro-look, like that classic muscle car you had, or lusted after when you were a kid. Now you can. Just load the specifications into the computer and Whalah! Want something more futuristic? No problem. We have that too.
Something go wrong with your car that you can’t figure out. We’ll come get your car, pull it in to the shop and sort it out together. Eli Whitney designed the assembly line to make manufacturing easier. The unions used it to destroy manufacturing, over engineer vehicles and pay themselves $75 an hour to put in a single rivet. Now you will be able to assemble your own car with a little help form a trained SME.
You see, capitalism, real capitalism, with always find a way to get around the system. Crony capitalists will hire expensive lobbyists to bribe congressmen and women to get their public funding. A real capitalist will find a need and fill it, employing people in useful work and rewarding them for their effort. Eventually with companies like the one I’ve just described will create a shadow economy that is below the radar of traditional socialistic, crony capitalistic governments. Why do we need to pay taxes when we get no benefit from their “services”. Small enclaves will sprout up world wide of like minded people who want to be left alone, immune from the power hungry governments that tax and spend their economies to death.
In a future column, I intend to show how the Internet, in a similar Libertarian vain, will revolutionize education, freeing the parent and students from the failing socialistic government schools we see today.
In the meantime, envision a world where technology is freeing, where 3D printing will help the consumer solve their personal needs. Veterans will get new 3D printed limbs, a bike manufacturer will come up with an inexpensive pedal assist motor, helping the customer avoid high gas taxes and intrusive government taxes, a teacher will help struggling students in a home far away from her office with the help of the internet. Eventually there will be a separate Internet created that is privately owned, maybe several, that will be outside the reach of any overzealously intrusive government.
So there is hope for the future, not a dystopic Ayn Rand kind of future, but a brave new world where the entrepreneur defeats the power hungry bureaucrat, using hard work and technology.
Do you find this post useful, informative or entertaining? How about helping us produce more stories you like. Messages us on Facebook and donate to DIY journalism. Send us tips on stories you would like covered. Visit our website and comment or donate now at AmericanMillenniumOnline.com.
In a press conference recently near the Federal Medical Center prison in Rochester Minnesota, congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn challenged his opponent, incumbent Tim Walz on his policy to accept the importation of prisoners of war from Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba to the facility in Rochester.
Hagedorn, the Republican challenger in the local District 1 race called Walz’s support of President Obama’s policy to close GITMO and import terrorists into prisons in the continental United States as reckless, unnecessarily endangering citizens of the country.
The first duty of an public official, Hagedorn said, is to protect the citizens of his state and nation, something Walz doesn’t seem to understand, Hagedorn said.
How much do you trust your government to do the right thing with your privacy and your freedom of speech? British citizens are finding out now that the answer to that question should be, “not very much”! It seems that a super-secret British spy agency is publishing a menu of options they have to provide politicians to hack into the social media accounts of citizens in the name of national security.
I learned about this first listening to Glenn Beck and have found creditable confirmation on a number of other websites. You can see Glenn’s comments on this issue here. Glenn Greenwald has an article here with a full description of the British government’s Internet capabilities. I’ve included the list here verbatim:
• “Change outcome of online polls” (UNDERPASS)
• “Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign” (BADGER) and “mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign” (WARPARTH)
• “Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.” (SILVERLORD)
• “Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.” (MINIATURE HERO)
• “Find private photographs of targets on Facebook” (SPRING BISHOP)
• “A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” (ANGRY PIRATE)
• “Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website” (GATEWAY) and “ability to inflate page views on websites” (SLIPSTREAM)
• “Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)” (GESTATOR)
• “Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers” (PREDATORS FACE) and “Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG” (ROLLING THUNDER)
• “A suite of tools for monitoring target use of the UK auction site eBay (www.ebay.co.uk)” (ELATE)
• “Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity” (CHANGELING)
• “For connecting two target phone together in a call” (IMPERIAL BARGE)
Now it would be great fun if you were computer hacker employed by the British or American governments monitoring the Internet activity of groups like Al Qaeda or ISIS. After all, they love to post videos of their exploits against the West there, videos for example of them blowing up American Soldiers or lopping off the heads of Christians and Jews and plopping them on spikes! Wouldn’t it be great if instead of going to the intended video posted by the terrorists, you would instead be misdirected to a video of an old lady power walking or Afghani Muslims humping a goat before getting blown up by a JDAM laser guided missile? I think it would be hilarious, but that is not likely to happen given the current political climate.
Instead of the above scenario, imagine something a little more realistic. Say you are a conservative blogger who doesn’t like Barack Obama much. Perhaps you don’t like the way he plays golf as the world burns; he sides with Palestinian terrorists instead of a free and democratic Israel; he allows Russia to run amok in Ukraine while shooting down Malaysian airliners; he invites millions of undocumented immigrants to flood the border while selling guns and other weapons to the drug coyotes who are bringing them over; he’s destroyed the economy with Obamacare; allowed an innocent Marine to rot in a Mexican prison and allowed his IRS and Justice Departments to target people who don’t agree with him. Because you have a dream of an idealized America with freedom for all, you’ve taken it upon yourself to remark on the many arrogant missteps of your government in your $5 blog and now you’ve raised the attention of the NSA, whose boss is the very president who you’ve been criticizing all this time, and he doesn’t like it.
So now the NSA or its British equivalent if you happen to be a Brit, has a solution to shut you up. They can use government paid hackers they retain on staff to hack your computer and implant hours and hours of child porn, while the FBI or IRS fabricate a reason to get a search warrant for your house and computer. And bam, you’re sitting in front of a judge and a jury with your government provided defense attorney who is late for his golf game with the president defending yourself against a child porn rap while all the time maintaining your innocence. Scary huh? And your only defense to a skeptical jury is, “I don’t look at that crap! I have no idea how it got there!”
Nice huh! And it’s not out of the way too much to imagine is it. See, when it’s just you, who is going to believe that you don’t look at child porn, or that you’ve hatched a scheme to overthrow the government or that you are cheating on your wife or whatever. You’re just you. In the meanwhile the government has all the legal machinery available to them in the form of any number of alphabet soup type agencies with which to go after you: i.e. the IRS, the DOJ, the NSA, the FBI. You’re bad and you’re fellow citizens will see it and you’ll be thrown into jail. You’re a nut who needs to locked up. It’s a communist dictator’s dream.
The only solution to this problem in my view is for everyone to get a gun and a blog and start writing. They can’t get us all, and when they go after one of us, they go after all of us. The IRS may have destroyed all of those emails and hard drives, and the DOJ won’t press any charges against the Lois Lerner types, but then the confidence in government will never be the same as long as the average citizen is an enemy of the state just for exercising his freedom of speech. Eventually the American Spring will happen and the end of progressive government will come to an end. The faster, the better. Our founders gave us a great, accountable, limited form of government. Progressives continue to try to take that away. They say the Constitution is too limiting, it’s a list of negative rights, whatever that means. We’ve got to send a message to our government that we reject being spied on and monitored, or free speech rights being curtailed and if they keep it up, we the people are going to throw them out of office and into jail.
In Great Britain, new organizations like News of the World, owned by billionaire media tycoon Rupert Murdoch went down in flames when it was discovered that reporters were listening illegally to phone conversations in order to get the scoop on dirt in the lives of celebrities so they could print their stories first in their latest editions. You can find information about that scandal here. People went to jail for that and New of the World was forced to shutter their doors. If’ it’s illegal for journalists to threaten the privacy of citizens, then why is OK for the government to do it. It’s not, and western governments need to know it’s not OK.
Who do they think they are anyway?
Now comes the conspiracy theories! Imagine if the News of the World scandal was a made up scenario by the government to punish conservative media. It cost Murdoch and friends serious loss of reputation, money and people went to jail over it. How do you prove your government sabotaged your media organization? What if Sen. Weiner’s Twitter account was actually hacked in order to shut him up for who knows what reason? See, there is a slippery slope developing here.
By the way, if you suspect you will eventually be caught doing something illegal on the Internet, maybe you’re running an illegal scam, or you’re in charge of an online gambling ring, or the aforementioned child porn racket, just hire a conservative blogger to create a cover story for you. And save copies of everything. You may have a plausible alibi when you’re case comes to trial!
When the government and thieves alike have the power to hack into your accounts through the Internet or listen to your phone calls, no one is safe from people with nefarious intent. If someone doesn’t like you, and has these tools at their disposal, they can destroy you, your reputation, your life.
I suspect the private sector will be coming with a solution for this. Phones will have anti-listening or jamming software on them so that no one can listen in, Internet capable computers will have anti-spoofing software included, and there will be online reputation protection services cropping up dedicated to defending you in case you’re computer is hacked.
The bottom line is there is a lot of awful things happening on the Internet. Lots of great things too. The fact is that in a free society, information needs to be freely transmitted, the good with the bad. That is the marketplace of free ideas. When that capability is shuttered, bad things happen. It is better to tolerate the bad, then let the good be silenced.
In a free society, when the truth is given an equal footing, the truth always wins. That is the concept of the Free Marketplace of Ideas.
It looks like a giant fish hook floating upright in the ocean, but if this dream reaches fruition, the Sea Orbiter will become a vessel and mobile aquatic lab that will give scientists and researchers new unrestricted access to the wonders of the sea.
Like something out of Jules Vern, the Sea Orbiter is the brain child of French architect Jacques Rougerie. An info graphic and story about the orbiter appears in June’s edition of Popular Science in an article by Ajai Raj. If fully constructed, the orbiter will act as a mobile lab that gives researchers 24/7 access to the ocean. Part of the vessel will be submerged so that sailors, under pressurized conditions called saturation, won’t have to resurface every time they are done with a mission, so they can stay under water and continue their work for longer periods.
So far the $44 million project is little more than an idea, but the Raj article says that funding has started through crowdsourcing web activity and construction on the above the water line portion of the vessel, known as “The Eye”, has begun.
The lab will have a crew who operate the vessel, above water researchers and below the water divers who will work in concert to gather data about our oceans. They will also have media personnel who will parse the data and create educational content that can be transmitted through multi-media, presumably to classrooms around the world. This is to raise awareness of the issues revolving around the preservation of the natural researchers of the sea.
Scientists know more about the surface of the moon and Mars than they do about our own seafloor. -Ajai Raj, Popular Science
I love the idea of the vessel and its mission. If used appropriately, it can vastly improve our knowledge of the oceans that is sorely lacking. Raj writes: Scientists know more about the surface of the moon and Mars than they do about our own seafloor. With projects like this one, things are about to change. Unlike the surface of the moon and Mars, the sea may hold the answer to new medicine and technology, and perhaps even energy exploration.
It would however, be floating the open seas in a world that is less than ideal. With terrorism and piracy increasing in our world’s oceans, I would think that the investors in this project would have to insist on armed escort vessels that would support this observational platform with armed security aimed at protecting the crew, ship and the investors’ capitol.
Take a look at the websitefor more information on the Sea Orbiter here, or pick up a copy of Popular Science.