28 May, 2011

“Let us Remember!”

Let us pause amidst the picnics, parties, and all the baseball games

Reflecting on those no longer among us, to remember and revere their names.

As we relax and revel in various times and places

Of those who are not amongst us, let us recall their faces.

For unlike other festivals what we call Memorial Day

It is not mainly for merriment and surely not for play.

It is a time for remembrance of what has gone before

For recalling, those who bravely fought in each and every war

So let us pause a moment in our eating and our drinking

Let us ask ourselves, “What might they have been thinking?”

As they heard the sounds of battle and saw the flaming guns

Did they wish that they were elsewhere and not the chosen ones?

As the ferocity of fighting grew ever more intense,

Did they understand their value in any historic sense?

Let us hope they understood and in some way that they knew

The gratitude of the many that would flow to these hallowed few

In olden times many were drafted and others served by their free choices

In the tumult of our parties, let us listen for their voices.

For they are gone, but not forgotten, at least I hope that it is true

They gave everything someone could give for the sake of me and you.

As we begin our summer tanning to lose this winter's pallor,

Let us spare a thought for those whose common virtue was uncommon valor.

So let us pause amidst the picnics, parties, and all the baseball games

Of those who are no longer with us, let us reverently remember their names.

21 May, 2011

You Must Follow Your Dreams

Daringly journey wherever they lead.

Do not be dismayed by any dastardly deed.

Shelter them; nourish them; help them grow.

Cherish them deep in the heart of hearts that you alone know.

Follow your dreams, Chase them with rigor.

Dreams are too precious for anything but vigor.

Be courageous; be loyal all day and all night

Refuse to give up; fight the good fight.

When the battle is raging and all may be lost,

Bear every burden and pay any cost!

Disregard worry and weariness; never give in!

To betray your dreams is the ultimate sin.

This bitter truth, has been well said,

“We are bound for the grave when our dreams are dead.”

Though you may be scorned or covered with scars,

Keep moving forward and reach for the stars.

The fire in your heart will incinerate doubt.

Whatever it takes, don’t let it go out!

For only the dreams you most ardently pursue

Those dreams alone will someday come true.

19 May, 2011

Ode to Pat Toomey

When our would be leaders play tricks with the truth,

What will become of the idealism of youth?

If facts are not honored but subject to choice,

How will we ever speak with one voice?

If those appointed to know raise the alarm in their efforts best

While elected rivals dismiss their concerns as a jest,

What will become of our country, our children and all of the rest?

Any of us with a smidgen of sense see the danger that looms,

However, partisan prevaricate in crowded speech rooms.

As economic catastrophe hurtles our way,

“No need to worry” these mountebanks say.

When we go to the polls and use the franchise,

For the love of our country, don’t be tricked by these lies!

Each time we vote in the spring and the fall,

We vote for our children, for our country, for us and for all.

Despite all the money, clever slogans and endless snake oil,

Too many candidates seek and speak only to foil.

They crave the power and run for office again and again,

Yet they don’t give a damn what danger we’re in!

We’ll have another chance in Two Thousand Twelve,

Let’s return these miscreants to the seventh layer of Hell.

15 May, 2011

Real Americans and True Patriots love their country and see to its need. They challenge it to rise up and live out the full meaning of its creed.

Real Americans and True Patriots pledge to the flag, and even more to the Republic for which it stands. They are bothers in arms with open hearts and helping hands.

Real Americans and True Patriots know the flag consists of cloth, dye, and thread while the Republic grows from the conviction and valor of both living and dead.

Real Americans and True Patriots fight for self-evident truth with the wisdom of age and the passion of youth.

Real Americans and True Patriots risk their fortunes their honor and their lives. They do so freely so their country thrives.

Real Americans and True Patriots cherish the colors of red, white and blue; they accept one another regardless of size, shape or differing skin hue.

Real Americans and True Patriots stand for freedom and serve with fortitude. They want nobody in involuntary servitude.

Real Americans and True Patriots serve the cause of the greatest good from suburban enclaves to the urban hood.

Real Americans and True Patriots fight for the right without question or pause. They will march into Hell for the Republic’s just cause.

Real Americans and True Patriots unite through unbreakable trust. They have no truck with jealous greed or vicious power lust.

Real Americans and True Patriots will win or die in the attempt. They look upon turncoats and traitors with open contempt.

Real Americans and True Patriots love the ideal of America more than the land; for its purpose and promise they make a firm stand.

Real Americans and True Patriots know the home of the brave and the land of the free must keep its words to you and to me.

Real Americans and True Patriots believe united we stand while divided we fall; we must be indivisible, one nation with liberty, equity, and prosperity for all.

07 May, 2011

Justice Done, Justice Delayed, Justice Denied

It took almost a decade but a mass murderer met a merited fate at the order of the duly elected President of the United States and our courageous warriors.

On May Day 2011, President Obama made this announcement –

“Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”

He did this with an appropriate demeanor and through well-chosen words. This was a solemn message and it was delivered in a befittingly dignified manner. American citizens watched and listened to their President honorably fulfilling the role and the office. Not only the news, but the delivery of the news is something that should gladden the hearts of all patriotic Americans and swell them with justifiable pride.

As I watched this and enjoyed a strong thrill of admiration for the people who carried out this, dangerous and noble mission as well as the man who gave the order to undertake it. I reflected on something else our President had said before he gained the office. This came in an October 2008 debate with Senator McCain the Republican candidate:

"What I have said is we're going to encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our non-military aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants. And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act, and we will take them out.” A promise made and a promise kept.

The preceding administration made relentless use of bellicose language and bravado. They exploited the 9-11 tragedy for partisan advantage at every opportunity. They and their Congressional henchmen enacted the grossly misnamed “Patriot Act”; they launched a preemptive war against a nation for whom they held a grudge. They prematurely celebrated “Mission Accomplished” before they coherently stipulated what the mission was. They lied the nation into war and refused to commit the forces necessary to capture or kill bin Laden a month and a half after 9-11 in the battle of Tora Bora. United States Central Command refused to commit the troops requested by the CIA team leader as necessary to prevent the escape of bin Laden through snow covered mountains in the area of Parachinar, Pakistan. The CENTCOM commander was Tommy Franks; the Secretary of Defense was Donald Rumsfeld; the Commander in Chief was George W. Bush.

Neither Franks, Rumsfeld, nor Bush ordered U.S. troops into Tora Bora to capture Osama Bin Laden right after the Afghanistan invasion. Instead, they relied on warlords who were of dubious loyalty and ability to find Osama bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda in that mountainous region. Later, when Iraq became this administration's priority, it shifted Special Forces from Afghanistan to Iraq.

What Bush said about bin Laden at varied, depending on how he was trying to spin things: First, capturing Osama Bin Laden is the number one priority - :

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." G.W. Bush, 9/13/01 and UPI: Bush said he wants accused terrorist leader Osama bin Laden "dead or alive.” Washington Post, 9/17/01, “I want justice...There's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive,'"- G.W. Bush, 9/17/01, UPI

A few months later the Decider commented on bin Laden "I truly am not that concerned about him. It's not that important. It's not our priority." "...Secondly, he is not escaping us. This is a guy, who, three months ago, was in control of a county [sic]. Now he's maybe in control of a cave. He's on the run. Listen, a while ago I said to the American people, our objective is more than bin Laden. But one of the things for certain is we're going to get him running and keep him running, and bring him to justice. And that's what's happening. He's on the run, if he's running at all. So we don't know whether he's in cave with the door shut, or a cave with the door open -- we just don't know...." - Bush, in remarks in a Press Availability with the Press Travel Pool, The Prairie Chapel Ranch, Crawford TX, 12/28/01, as reported on official White House site.

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." - G.W. Bush, 3/13/02

"I am truly not that concerned about him." - G.W. Bush, responding to a question about bin Laden's whereabouts, 3/13/02.

The cowboy president had flipped from ‘I want justice” to “I have no idea and really don't care” in the space of six months.

Over a period of 31 months, the current president had held steady to a solemn promise made as he sought the highest office in the Republic. There is something to laudable about intelligence and diligence and true Patriotism. In 1789, a group of wise and daring men, founded a truly novel form of government for six purposes, among them to establish justice. On May 1, 2011, our President gave us another example of what fulfilling this purpose looks like in practice.

There was a welcome, but all too brief, out pouring of unity among Americans. Partisanship receded and citizenship surged to the fore. Unfortunately, the news cycle had hardly completed a full turn when the scrambling for credit began.

One odious aspect of this struggle to grab credit for this accomplishment was the drive to justify torture due to its alleged productivity in gathering information that put the intelligence community on the right track. This claim stems from the apparent fact that a Pakistani-born detainee named Hassan Ghul provided the first hint in the long chain of evidence that led to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Mr. Ghul reportedly revealed the nom de guerre of an al-Qaeda courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. A phone call by this courier to a person monitored by U. S. Intelligence launched the chain of events and actions that ended with a SEAL team raiding the compound and killing bin Laden. Based on this sequence, apologists for torture are saying, “See, it worked. But the truth is that there’s no proof — and not even any legitimate evidence — that torture cracked the case.” [http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/torture-wasnt-the-key-to-finding-bin-laden/2011/05/05/AFsacD2F_story.html]

Problems abound with this assertion. First, expert interrogators generally assert that torture produces so many fabrications and unreliable claims that it often makes finding the truth a proverbial “needle in a hay stack” endeavor. Second, the experts contend the19 techniques permitted by law specified in the Army Field Manual [AMF] are not only effective, but also more effective than those methods euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
[http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1873897,00.html#ixzz1LZtZjwvF] The AMF does not require subjects to be treated with kid gloves, but it does prohibit torture. Interrogators are encouraged to use clever and manipulative methods to get terrorist suspects to reveal their plans, objectives, associates and other useful information. Because matters of life and death are at issue, this seems reasonable and reasonably humane.

The real problem with this retrograde action to rehabilitate torture is that is fails to do justice to the people and procedures that genuinely worked. Furthermore, “torture is a violation of U.S. and international law — and a betrayal of everything this country stands for. The killing of bin Laden resulted from brilliant intelligence work, for which both the Bush and Obama administrations deserve our thanks and praise.” However, It does not justify torture. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/torture-wasnt-the-key-to-finding-bin-laden/2011/05/05/AFsacD2F_story.html.

For the better part of a decade, the Republican leaders of the federal government had violated all our traditions of spy craft; they had authorized a betrayal of solemn international commitments we had taken the lead to forge; and they started wars that had nothing to do with the core of the quest. Then, in two years, three months and eleven days the target was located and eliminated once a Democratic administration restored the old rules and sound procedures. This serves to remind us that real world intelligence gathering and operations usually are not those portrayed by the dashing James Bond, but those depicted by the dumpy George Smiley. In other words, intelligence work consists of hours, days, month and years of tedious effort culminating in a few moments of frenzy.

Now that the 9-11 mastermind is dead, justice demands that American citizens and politicians celebrate the victory of hallowed ideals and honorable efforts rather than contend for prestige and grapple for partisan advantage. Our President gave his CIA Director explicit instructions to make this achievement the Agency’s top priority in the early days of his first year in office. The Secretaries of State and Defense and the Vice President refrained from dictating to the diplomatic, military, and intelligence professionals what they wanted to hear and gave them the room and the resources to do their jobs to the limit of their capabilities. All of these people played a proper role in bring this fortunate result about and they deserve full faith and credit for doing so.

One final aspect of the denial of justice at work after SEAL Team Six found and killed bin Laden is the quibbling about why he was not taken into custody rather than killed. It is hard to take this seriously, but the President’s detractors will take any opening to besmirch everything he and those working with him do. Mr. bin Laden was killed because he had planned and ordered the cold-blooded murder of nearly 3,000 non-combatants. If it were next to impossible to try lower level al-Qaeda operatives in American courts, how would there have been a trial for Mr. bin Laden? In addition, this was happening in the midst of hostile territory. The members of SEAL Team Six were at risk for death and capture. Therefore, they found the archenemy of the United States, a mass murder of thousands globally and they executed him. “Justice is a certain rectitude of mind whereby men do what they ought to do in the circumstances confronting them.” In these circumstances, these men did justice.

Now is no time to bicker about the relevance of methods and measures that were never in line with America’s best traditions, ideals, and practices. Justice was delayed. Now justice has been done. In the aftermath of this victory, we must not deny justice to the people and procedures that brought it about. We must “Render therefore to all their dues” as the members of SEAL Team Six rendered to bin Laden his due on behalf of the people and the Republic of the United States.