Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Reflections

SSgt John Campisi, of Covina CA. That's who I think about first on every Memorial Day since 1990.

SSgt Campisi served our country in the 55th Organizational Maintenance Squadron (OMS) at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. I served as a SSgt in that unit as well, just down the road. I was a PMEL troop (test equipment calibration) with a cushy job in a environmentally controlled building. John was a flight line maintainer. We were roughly the same age. I was nine years married, and John was married with four children - two girls and two boys.

The 55th OMS deployed recon aircraft (and maintainers) within hours of Sadaam Hussein's troops crossing the border into Kuwait. John deployed. I performed my national security task from Omaha and - though I was ready to deploy - did not.

SSgt Campisi is listed as the first death in Operation Desert Shield. He was not killed in combat, but in a truck accident as a hazard of working long hours on a strange airfield at night. Tragic.

SSgt Campisi served his country in peacetime and, suddenly, in war. He deployed when called without question. He did not come home to his family. I think about his family now and then, and certainly on Memorial Day. How is his wife? Do his children know about him?

My prayers go out today to John Campisi's family. My gratitude today to all of the men and women who served and did not come home. We remember them.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Movies that are Tea Party, not Occupy!

What is it with Hollywood actors getting the politics of a movie wrong? It's aggravating. It happens more than I like.

I watched Les Miserables tonight on DVD. Having seen the stage musical 4 times, you can say I'm a fan. I enjoyed the movie version in the theater at Christmas, and then again tonight. I particularly enjoyed Hugh Jackman's role of Jean Val Jean, to which he brought an incredible portrayal of brokenness and redemption and mercy. True depth.

Ah, but then I made the mistake of watching Hugh Jackman the man opine in the special features about how timeless Les Miz is, and how the French Revolution and the Occupy movement started the same way. (Cue the documentary filmmaker who made the special feature to show glowing photo montages of the Occupy crowd).

Oh, heck no.

Did Jackman not watch the film he was in? The stage musical and the movie are conservative through and through. Tea Party conservative even. Certainly not representative of the Occupy Wall St phenomenon, which was organized by athiest Marxists.

Set aside that Les Miz is a spiritual musical / film which protrays and respects faith and personal redemption and charity. Just take in the early scenes of JVJ's treatment at the hands of the state versus his treatment by the Bishop of Digne, who saves his soul for God and transforms his life to a life of service and charity. A conservative vision indeed, and thoroughly un-Marxist.

Yes, Les Miz is a story about the wretched poor and their plight compared to the royal class. `But the solution to their poverty is not found in the failed revolution. It's found in the capitalist factory run by the mayor. A factory that he established using the capital of the silver given to him by the Bishop. JVJ sings it well in his inspiring self-examining solo "Who am I" when he sings "...I am the master of hundreds of workers, they all look to me. Can I abandon them, how will they live if I am not free?"

Indeed, Fantine starts her death spiral when she's forced to leave his factory and survive in the streets. Before that, working in JVJ's factory, she had the means to pay for the care of her daughter Cosette. After, as she died, she was forced to lean on the personal charity of the redeemed Christian man to rescue her little girl. Occupy Wall St. has nothing on that.

I had this same unsettling experience with actors last March when "The Hunger Games" came out. I had read all three books, and was eagerly anticipating the movie. Then I had the misfortune of watching Donald Sutherland compare his movie to Occupy Wall Street.

Oh, heck no.

Did Donald Sutherland even watch the movie he was in, or just read his lines in the script? The Hunger Games is not about New York City and Occupy Wall St. It's not about the 99% being oppressed by bankers and the one percent.

The Hunger Games is a Tea Party book. You can compare the Capitol in THG to our actual Capitol in Washington DC. The Capitol residents live in wretched excess just like our permanent political class does in DC, where the richest zip codes in America are. They play golf 128 times and are feted with top talent concerts in the West Wing while people out in the states (the "Districts") battle joblessness, layoffs, and inreasing taxation.

Note to Hollywood actors: Les Miserables and The Hunger Games are not leftist Occupy analogies. If anything, they are Tea Party conservative. Watch them again.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Benghazi Matters

I had a conversation with a co-worker this week. It went like this:

CW: "What's a Benghazi?"

Me: "It's where a terrorist attack ocurred last year on the anniversary of 9/11, and our ambassador was murdered."

CW: "Benghazi is a city?"

This is a college graduate asking me this question. 27 years old. A go-getter, good at her job.

This is a complete failure of media in our country.

I tried this week, as I traveled on business, to catch news of the Congressional hearings featuring the Benghazi whistleblowers. It was hard to find. No major media except Fox News carried the testimony of the whistelblowers live. Much of the media dismissed it all as "Republican talking points" or as the GOP "politicizing" a tragedy.

It's the other way around, actually. The Obama administration "politicized" their policy failures in Libya and Benghazi two months before a presidential election. They told a story to the American public about what happened that was false, up to and past a presidential election. Did I mention that there was a presidential election at stake, and that it was inconvenient to acknowledge that al-Qaida types carried out a coordinated attack that murdered our ambassador ON AN ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11 when the campaign narrative was "al-Qaida is decimated and on the run". That's politicizing, hardcore.

I've been outraged by Benghazi since before the attack on 9/11. Many of my online friends are not still, and mock it. But it matters.

It was foolish policy from day one of this misadventure. It was foolish for the Obama administration to jump into Libya's civil war as the "Arab Spring" was roiling North Africa. It was outrageous to commit lethal weapons use on behalf of the United Nations but not our Congress. It was outrageous to provide lethal weapons to al-Qaida affiliated "rebels" in a misguided effort to depose and kill a nation's leader without a vote of Congress. It was incompetence and malfeasance to send an Ambassador into an undersecured "Special Mission" (not an embassy or consulate), and to deny his pleas for more security in an area that was "Flashing Red" according to the bipartisan Senate report on the attack.
It was outrageous that there was no military response to rescue our exposed staff during an 8-hour long firefight in two locations in Benghazi. Two ex-special forces operators ignored orders to stand down and went to the aid of their colleagues. They died while providing cover fire on a roof at 4am from mortar fire while no one came to their aide. What good does it do to have Commanders-in-Extremis Forces (CIF) that can't - or are not allowed to - respond to an Ambassador in extremis in one of the true hot spots on the planet ON AN ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11?

The whistleblowers were in Congress this week testifying to denied security measures and to stand down orders on a military rescue. Who was listening? Were you listening? Who covered it, and who mocked it - and treated the brave witnesses as hostile witnesses? That's telling.

What will unravel, of course, is the cover-up. It always does. President Obama offered one generic reference in his speech on 9/12 to "no act of terror" will go unpunished. After that speech, he climbed on Air Force One and flew to a fundraiser in Las Vegas - making that day a political day in an election campaign. View his remark in that context.

After 9/12, every statement after coming from key players in the Obama Administration - from Obama, Clinton, Rice, etc. - downplayed terrorism as the cause and implicated an anti-Islamic YouTube video as the cause of a demonstration that became an attack. It's not true. Nor is it true that the administration didn't have evidence of a coordinated tIn errorist attack. So, why then did they tell that story? Why did the White House / State Department send Susan Rice on 5 Sunday talk shows to blame the video, using talking points altered by a political team in the midst of a presidential election to remove the intelligence about an attack by al-Qaida affiliates - who we had armed?

So, was President Obama telling us the truth on 9/12 when he said "no act of terror" would go unpunished? Consider the statement of the mother of Sean Smith - who was murdered in the attack alongside of Ambassador Stevens - on the O'Reilly Factor this week. She told the story of Hillary Clinton talking to her in front of the 4 flag-drapped coffins as their bodies returned from the site of their murder. "We're going to get the maker of that video", Hillary and others told Smith's mom. And they did. The video maker was arrested, and is in jail still. Not so much any al-Qaida types who carried out the attack in Benhazi.

We armed al-Qaida type "rebels" in Libya - specifically in Benghazi. Ambassador Stevens was there as our point man supporting the "rebels". Hours before he was killed, Ambassador Stevens met with the ambassador to Turkey - coincidentally a country through which we are now sending arms to the Syrian "rebels" to help take down Assad in their civil war. It's a continuation of foolish - and deadly - policy. Stop it already.

Benghazi is not the worst scandal in the Obama Administration. There are many, including this week's reveleation that his IRS was tartgeting Tea Party members, and on and on and on.

But Benghazi is outrageous on many fronts. And it matters.

The media, complicit with Team Obam during the election, is doing their best to dismiss this story. But, cover-ups unravel. And this cover-up is beginning to. Wake up, my friends.