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Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

You just can’t stop the images from flooding into your mind.  The death and destruction.  The faces of fallen friends.  The faces of the women and children killed.  You see danger behind every tree or wall or fence.  The fear grows with every step you take.  Your eyes are glancing from side to side looking for the danger.  You are on edge.

That isn’t taking place in Iraq or Afghanistan or even Vietnam.  It is happening as you take a walk down your street in your hometown.  Something triggered all of the memories of those conflicts.  Sometimes it isn’t even war that brings these memories.  It is natural disasters or plane crashes or even boating accidents you worked.  Something that you have witnessed while serving is suddenly flooding back into your conscious memory.

Even after you realize you are home, the dread lingers.  The guilt of having survived while others were not so lucky.  The thought of your friends killed while you lived haunt you.  Survivor’s guilt is what they call it.  It is real.  It is affecting everything you do.  It affects your ability to sleep or work or even laugh.  It affects every fiber of your existence.

You begin to feel like “damaged goods”.  You begin to feel like you aren’t worthy of living anymore.  You begin to feel like your family don’t want you around in “polite” company anymore.  You begin to shrink from society and shelter yourself away from others, including those who love you.  You never fully realize what is going on.  You think that somehow you are the cause of the problem.

Far too many times, you settle these internal conflicts with what you believe to be the only answer that is best for all.  You commit suicide.

That is just a very brief and incomplete example of what is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD affects millions of our veterans everyday.  It is something that haunts memories and lives.  There are many ways veterans cope with PTSD and most of them are self-destructive.  Many will seek help from the VA.  Others too often turn to alcohol or drugs.  Anything that will “make me feel better” at least for a while.  But, they don’t help, they make things worse.

According to statistics, 22 veterans commit suicide every day!  That is 154 veteran suicides every week or 8000 per year.  Why, you ask, don’t these troubled souls get the help they need?  That is a fair question.  Many don’t get the help they need because they don’t fully understand what is happening to them.  Many don’t seek help because they think it is admitting a flaw in their personality.  Real vets don’t feel this way, they think.

Most try to cope with PTSD by themselves.  As a result, they don’t seek the help they need, and eventually push their families aside.  Especially when their family tries to convince them to seek help.  Psychological problems are difficult for anyone to accept.  People with psychological problems have been shunned by society for hundreds of years.  Besides, they don’t need help because they are “heroes”!  Heroes don’t need to be helped.  They are above all of these problems.

How do they know they are heroes?  Because every single day, someone is calling them a hero.  Every single day they hear the term used like “we want to thank all of our heroes for their service”.  In their own minds they start to become mythical.  They buy into the hype and never get the help they need.

That is how a simple word “hero” can affect people.  I know that everyone who uses the word thinks they are paying a compliment to those who have served.  They have risked everything in defense of our country.  They deserve the compliment.  But, sometimes, the simple word “hero” actually de-humanizes veterans.  It puts them on a pedestal that they are afraid of falling off.  They start to believe that if they seek help, they will no longer be a “hero”.  Heroes don’t have flaws.  They suck it up and move on.

We need to see our veterans for what they really are.  They are humans who served our country in some of the most god-awfull circumstances.  They have seen things that most people will never see.  They have lost some of their friends.  They have seen carnage we don’t want anyone to see.  It will affect them!  It will change them!  It will haunt them!

When people start using words like “hero” to describe our veterans, they don’t think about what that may mean.  They don’t understand that it can taken an excuse to “thank you” and then forget you.  No one means to be like that.  No one means to forget veterans.  But, all too often it happens.

I know very few veterans who need hero-worship.  We need respect.  We need jobs.  We need to take care of our families when we finally hang up the uniform.  We simply need to be a “normal” part of society.   What we do not need is to be called a “hero” and then forgotten.

 

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As we look around the world, we see very troubled times.  We see wars and dissatisfaction.  There is civil war in Iraq.  There is civil war in Syria.  There is civil war in Ukraine.  There is civil war in many countries in Africa.  The Israelis and Hamas are warring again.  This is nothing new.  There have been wars among people since we first learned how to use a club as a weapon to kill someone else.

At first, wars were fought over hunting grounds.  Then they turned to agriculture and water areas.  As man evolved, war became more personal.  Power was the name of the game.  Empires needed to be built and war was the best way to achieve that.  As we evolved more, gods became the rallying cry.  In every civilization, the gods of one people were considered superior to the gods of another.  That led to the justification that we can kill in the name of our gods.

That justification has remained right up to today.  “God is on our side” is the rallying cry to justify waging war against another culture with different religious beliefs.  Now, all wars are not based purely on religion.  They are mostly based on power.  Yet, we justify our desire for that power through religion.

It is this justification that makes it so dangerous for us right now.  The Conservative Christian Cult is sounding the war cry again.  We need to send troops into Syria.  We need to send troops into Iraq.  We need to send troops into Iran.  We need to send troops to help the Israelis in their war against Hamas.  We need to send troops to the Ukraine.

The Cult and their talking heads at FOX News are the ones calling for war again.  They use phony excuses like the President hasn’t been tough enough.  But, what they are hiding is their true reason for these wars.  They actually want to start another world war.  They will even be thrilled to have a global nuclear war break out.  That is because in their fantasy world, they won’t be around to see the consequences of such a war.

The Cult and their talking heads want to start a holocaust.  They want to see Armageddon take place in our life time.  They have been working for years to make it happen.  Now, they figure they have the right opportunity at the right time.  They just need to get their people in power so it can begin in earnest.

Since religion became such a large part in people’s lives, Armageddon has been seen as the “cleansing” of the world from sin.  Those Cult members who truly believe in Armageddon believe it is their duty to bring it about.  That is why they are so eager to get involved in foreign conflicts.  Especially foreign conflicts that involve those “other religions”.  Have you ever wondered why the Cult is so aggressive toward the Palestinians and so forgiving of the Israelis for building settlements in Palestinian Territory?  It is because they know that more Jews living in Palestinian Territory will heighten tension and start the blood flowing.

They aren’t worried about the end of the world.  They want it to happen.  They don’t worry about it because they have fallen into the fallacy that they won’t be around for it.  In the 1800’s a young Baptist farmer named William Miller (1782-1849) predicted the end of the world.  He even went so far as to say it would happen on October 22, 1844.  But, not to frighten his followers, he came up with the “rapture” to protect them.  According to Miller, just before the world ended, the true followers would be whisked into heaven and not face the tribulation the rest of the world would face.

Of course the world did not end on October 22, 1844.  We are still here.  Since many of his followers sold off everything they had this prediction is still called “The Great Disappointment”.  But, the Cult has latched on to this fantasy of the “rapture” and keep telling their followers they needn’t worry about the end of the world since they won’t be around.  When you think about it, it is really scary stuff.  They will tell you that it is god’s will.  Which is a nice excuse so no one has to take the blame.  This is why they are so keen on getting the conflict started.  Their warped belief that their god is stronger than your god has led them to believe they are immune.

One year, a co-worker came to me with a list of candidates he liked.  He suggested that I vote for all of the candidates on his list.  When I asked him why they were so great, he commented that they “were all good god fearing Christians.”  I thanked him for the list.  After the election, he asked if I used his list.  I assured him that I did.  I voted for every single opponent of everyone who was on his list.  I never got another list after that.

Unfortunately, that is the mindset of the Cult.  They want us to elect their followers to office so they can get things started.  They are so wrapped up in their own little make-believe world, that they have no compassion for anyone else.  That is why their fight to gain control of the government is so frightening, and why we need to make sure they don’t get the power they so crave.

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As I had feared, the mess at the Veteran’s Administration has fallen to the back burner.  Obviously, it doesn’t stand up to the “sexy” tag that the news media needs to cover a story.  The political stunt of Boehner suing the President and the border crisis have top billing.  In the meantime, millions of veterans are still left in the dark alleys and not getting the help they need.

Then, all of the bills that are being proposed to “fix” the VA won’t actually fix it.  They are going to throw money at the VA, and they are going to pass laws that make it easier to fire people.  One allows those more than 40 miles away from a clinic or hospital to seek treatment at a private doctor or hospital.  But none of that is going to “fix” the VA.  It is time for an overhaul of the Veterans Administration.  I am not talking about taking the agency away, nor about privatizing it.  I don’t even think it needs to have everyone fired and restart over.  But an overhaul is necessary.

There are a lot of problems that the VA faces.  One is money.  But, that isn’t the only problem.  For example, in 2000 lawmakers passed the Veterans Claims Assistance Act.  A well-intentioned bill to help veterans with claims.

The law required that the VA tell a veteran what to do to prove a claim, help the veteran obtain necessary records, and inform the veteran when the VA could not obtain the information it needed. The law required the VA to retrieve the veteran’s service medical records and provide exams when the VA did not have sufficient evidence to substantiate a claim.

But the law was ambiguous and left much open to interpretation, which had to be fought out in the courts. It wound up adding several additional layers of bureaucracy to an already clunky VA claims process without appropriating additional funds or human resources to manage the increased workload.

As a result, things didn’t get better, it only made it more complicated.  There is a very good reason for the backlog.  There are more veterans needing help than there are people to help them.  Very few rural areas of the country have VA clinics or offices.  That means vets have to make, oftentimes, arduous journeys just to get the help they need.  Yes, they can often use the internet, but that doesn’t always help the situation and a face-to-face exam is necessary.

The quality of service at VA Hospitals and Clinics is excellent.  Most veterans will tell you that.  The problem is that there aren’t enough Hospitals and Clinics to properly treat all of the veterans who need treatment.  Additionally, there are thousands upon thousands of job openings at the VA and its hospitals and clinics.  They can’t fill all of the open positions they have.  One reason is money.  Though professional medical providers are paid well, they are not paid what they can get in the private sector.

The two wars that G.W. Bush laid on us also contributed to the backlog.  Especially when you consider that early on, the department was publicly counting only about a third of the casualties stemming from the War on Terror. That was because the Department was only counting servicemen and women immediately targeted in the department’s wounded-in-action statistics. That accounting method left out those who were not targeted but were wounded nonetheless, such as troops injured when they were riding two trucks back from one that was hit by a roadside bomb, or those hurt in training or transportation.

The problems at the VA go back decades.  At least to the Kennedy years.  The VA has always been the ugly step-child of the country.  We are keen to send our young men and women into harms way to “protect” our freedom.  But, once they have protected that freedom, they are forgotten, even shied away from.  If you want proof, look no further than the Wounded Warriors Project.  This is a very good organization that is trying to help our vets.  I commend them for their work.  But, I ask, why are such organizations even necessary?  Why isn’t the country taking on this responsibility?  Because no one wants to fix the VA, they just want to use tragedies like we have recently seen as political points.

Since the so-called “War On Terrorism” started, everyone seems to be happy to “thank a vet” for their service.  You see it everywhere.  At sporting events.  At concerts.  Everywhere people are gathered there is the phrase to “thank a vet” or “in honor of our men and women in uniform”.  Those are nice sentiments, but they are not what veterans need or even want.  They need and want proper medical treatment and help!

If you want to truly thank a vet, demand from your Representative that veterans stop being treated like they don’t exist by the very government they served.  Demand from your Representative that real, meaningful changes and fixes are made to the Veterans Administration so all veterans get the help they need.

We should not be headlines for political gain.  We should not be invisible.  We want to be respected for our service and treated so we can properly “heal” from the physical and mental wounds we have received.  Make that happen, and you will really be thanking vets for their service.

If not, “thank you for your service” are just meaningless words.  Sorry, but that’s the truth.

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You are at something like a Chucky-Cheese having a birthday party for your little girl.  All of her friends are there, and people are having a good time.  The kids are playing and having fun.  Parents are sitting around and having some small talk.  It is a really nice afternoon for everyone.  Then, a bunch of people walk into the restaurant.  All of them are openly carrying guns.  Some have rifles, other have hand guns.  The kids see the guns and run to their parents in fear.  The parents are shocked that anyone would bring a gun into a restaurant like this.  Everyone is worried that either a robbery or some kind of terrorist act is about to take place and they are caught in it.

If you were taking part in that birthday party, what would you be thinking?  A day that is supposed to be one of the happiest for your little girl just got interrupted by a bunch of gun-toting adults.  I seriously doubt that the first thing in you head would be “well, that is just ‘open-carry’ group demonstrating their right to bear arms.  I believe very few sane people would think that.

But, these open-carry groups want you to think they are law-abiding citizens who just like carrying guns.  At least that is what they profess to want.  They claim that they want to “educate” the public and teach them not to fear people with guns.  As Open-Carry Texas puts it, the goal is to:  “condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry (guns).”  Sorry, but that is an absurd “goal”.

We have had several mass shootings in the country.  Most people have come to look at people carrying weapons as a threat.  Which they are.  The right-wing nuts want us to believe that carrying weapons will stop these killings.  They want us to believe that they are the ones protecting us from other gun-toting nuts.  They even believe that schools should have teachers armed to the teeth to avoid school shootings.

But, what they are really saying is that they want control over everyone else.  They want to decide when and where they can openly carry their guns.  They don’t care if it scares the living shit out of everyone around.  They claim to have the “right”.  Sorry, but in my opinion, they are delusional!

I have written about this before.  I got the usual comments from people claiming that I am “living in fear of guns.”  I have been told I needed to “go to the range with one of them so they can teach me about guns.”  I have been told that these “law-abiding citizens are our heroes, and that we should thank them.”

Well, I don’t need to be “taught about guns.”  I served 20 years in the military.  I know all about guns and how to use them.  I do not live in fear of guns.  I have handled them and shot them.  I do not consider people openly carrying weapons to be heroes.  I consider them as people on a power trip looking to garner attention for themselves.

Frankly, whenever I am told about the “fear” factor, I cannot help but believe the only people really living in fear are the ones who think they need to carry a gun with them everywhere for “protection”.  Having to carry a weapon everywhere you go is a sure sign of outright terror as far as I am concerned.  Yes, there are bad people in the world.  But, I refuse to let them dictate my actions.  I refuse to live in fear.

Besides, how can the average person sitting at a birthday party know which nut with a gun is a “law-abiding citizen” and which is a “wacko looking to kill a lot of people”?  They can’t.  As a result, they are afraid for themselves and their families.  Their right to live without fear in a civilized world is being violated by these idiots.

No, these groups are not really interested in “educating” the public about guns.  They are simply interested in scaring everyone because they believe they have the “right” to scare everyone.  They are, in my opinion, degenerates who are simply looking to fill some psychotic need of theirs.  Bluntly speaking, I consider people walking into a restaurant, bar, church, store, or any other public place packing open guns to be domestic terrorists.  There is no other reasonable explanation for their behavior.

If this kind of behavior from these groups continue, I can foresee a time in the very near future, when someone else who is lawfully carrying a concealed weapon will see them walk into an establishment, believe they are robbers, and open fire on them.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.  The end result will be a lot of innocent people wounded or killed because an open carry group decided to terrorize everyone at a restaurant.  Then, the blame-game will start.

It is time for this nonsense to stop!  Someone is going to get hurt or killed if it continues.  To put it frankly, it is time for open carry groups to crawl back under the rocks they came from.  They are becoming a real threat to public safety.  No one will be safe with nuts like these running around with their guns.

One of my instructors when I was learning how to handle, shoot, and maintain my weapon said that guns are necessary to protect oneself in dangerous situations.  But, they are not toys.  They are serious tools needed by serious professionals to accomplish their jobs.  He also said that outside of professional need, the larger the gun, the smaller the ……  You can fill in the blank.

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Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  It is a day we celebrate our nation’s birth.  All across the nation we will hear the national anthem being sung and end with the words “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”  Others will stand and say the pledge of allegiance.  It includes the words, “with liberty and justice for all”.

The right-wing will proudly stand tall and sing, or say these words loudly.  They will utter them with false conviction.  They will go on the podium and give speeches rallying their base to “fight for liberty”.  They will use hallow words like “we want to thank all of our men and women in uniform for their service”.  They will utter all sorts of patriotic slogans.  At the end of the day, all of these words and slogans will ring as hallow as they do today.

In Afghanistan our troops will be on patrol.  Fighting for our country.  In Iraq, newly arrived troops will be helping to train the Iraqi Army to fight the insurgents.  All around the world, our men and women in uniform will be working.  The far right neocons will use tomorrow to pump up their rhetoric about fighting terrorists.  They will use that argument to call for a re-invasion of Iraq.

Yet, tomorrow, there will still be millions of people out of work because our Congress won’t do anything to help them get jobs.  Tomorrow, millions more people will have their extended unemployment insurance run out and have no income and face losing everything they spent a lifetime working for.  Tomorrow, women will still be considered second class citizens, especially by the Conservative Christian Cult.  Tomorrow, minorities will still face voter suppression laws in several states.  Tomorrow, LBGT couples won’t be able to get married in most states.

At the birth of our nation, we had to live with the evil “institution” of slavery.  Even though Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”.  We continued slavery, because, well the slave owners didn’t consider their slaves as “men” or “people’ just as property.  It took a Civil War before this “institution” ended.

We have made small strides in the true concepts of “with liberty and justice for all”.  But, today in 2014, we still have groups of people who are not “free” and do not gain “justice”.  These groups include minorities, women, immigrants and LGBT.  These groups have had their “rights’ trampled on by the far right forever.  All they want is to have equal protection under the law.  Isn’t that what “liberty” really means?

Under the sway of the Conservative Christian Cult, many states are passing very restrictive anti-abortion laws.  The Cult is even fighting against birth control.  I still find it amazing that “contraception” use by women is considered by the Cult as being only for “recreational use”, yet Viagra, and other ED medicines as well as vasectomies are considered for “pro-creation” purposes.  Therefore, these things are still covered under health insurance while many forms of birth control have just be banned by the Supreme Court.

We still have women making anywhere from 80% to as low as 70% of what men make doing the same job.  We have the Cult fighting against such things as violence against women laws, equal pay laws, and ENDA.  We have women all across the nation facing beatings from their husbands just because they are handy.  Women are still victims of rape and yet they are treated as the cause of the rape, not the victim.

The amazing thing is that the Cult is telling women that if they don’t want to get beat or raped, all they have to do is get married.  They claim that feminism is the root cause of all that is wrong with the world.  It is feminism that has caused the decline of the “traditional family”.  Never mind that men set up the “no-fault” divorce clause so they don’t have to pay as much alimony to their wives.  Never mind that it is men who skip out on child support payments.  Hell, there is a misogynist web site called The Red Pill that even offers tips on how to avoid child support payments.  But, no, according to the Cult, it is all the fault of women.

Approximately 40% of all workers in this country work for minimum wage.  That automatically makes anyone with a small family live in poverty.  The Cult and their Republican friends are fighting any move to raise the minimum wage.  They all seem to think that it is perfectly fine for “those people” to work 40 hours per week and live in poverty.  “Those people” don’t do anything meaningful, and should bow down and kiss their employer’s feet for allowing them the opportunity to work and still live in poverty.

Let’s face facts, the only “entitlements” being offered to people in this country are being offered to the super-rich and/or White Christian Men.  We live in a “Corporate Welfare State”.  They are the only people who can even come close to enjoying “liberty”.  That is not what our country is supposed to be.  That is not what I served to protect.  I served, and many others continue to fight for the country that offers “liberty and justice for all”.

While masses of people continue to struggle to survive.  While our Steel Industry faces bankruptcy because of illegal dumping of steel into the country by South Korea threatening over 580,000 jobs.  While our transportation funds, the ones that repair our transportation systems, runs out of money and threatens another 700,000 jobs.  While our military members continue to serve our country, many of them relying on food stamps to feed their families.  Members of the Cult and the Republican Party will give hallow patriotic speeches.

They will loudly use the words of “religious freedoms”, or “liberty from tyranny” or “take our country back”.  But, what they are really saying is if you are not a white male Christian, you have no right to say anything because they believe this is “their” country.  I have seen many political fights in my life.  But, I have never seen such a push to turn back the clock on minority, women, immigration, and LBGT rights like is going on now.  The Cult has all the answers.  It is in “traditional family” where the man is the head of the household and women stay at home.

This gem from Rafael Cruz, Sr., the father of that patriotic Canadian Senator, Ted Cruz says it all:

As God commands us men to teach your wife, to teach your children—to be the spiritual leader of your family—you’re acting as a priest. Now, unfortunately, unfortunately, in too many Christian homes, the role of the priest is assumed by the wife. Why? Because the man had abdicated his responsibility as priest to his family…So the wife has taken up that banner, but that’s not her responsibility. And if I’m stepping on toes, just say, ‘Ouch.’

He believes this philosophy of the man’s role of the priest so much, he has been divorced twice!  Sounds to me that he has abdicated his role, at least when it comes to his marriage vows of “until death do us part”.

No, as long as we have right-wing pundits calling women “sluts” because they favor birth control or abortion.  As long as these same right-wing pundits are praising right-wing militia groups as “patriots” and not the domestic terrorists they are.  As long as the right-wing opposes immigration reform.  As long as we allow this income inequality and war against the poor and women.  As long as we have powerful groups like the Cult and their financial backers like the Koch Brothers, we will continue to live in a fantasy and hallowly say the words “with liberty and justice for all”.

Until the rights of all people, not just the members of the Cult and their allies, are respected and these terrible laws that continue to harm women, minorities, LBGT, and immigrants are overthrown, we will not live in a country of “liberty and justice for all”.  And that is the true American Tragedy!

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The rhetoric on the right is beginning to get very ugly, indeed.  It has always been their policy to outright lie about the things they don’t agree with, then make themselves out to be the victims.  We have seen it time-and-again.  They want to deny civil rights to gay couples, they want to be able to pick-and-choose which laws they believe interfere with their “religious liberties” like the Hobby Lobby case against the mandate for contraceptive coverage in insurance policies.

They also have taken hold of the big lie that there is a “war on Christians’ that was started over at Fox (so-called) News.  That has been the rallying cry for these right-wing obstructionists ever since Fox started the weeping.  They seem to believe that they have the right to discriminate against those who don’t believe what they do.  That includes civil liberties which are not religious based.  They even want the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that corporations are “people” like Mitt Romney tried to sell us in the last election.

Now, the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, has taken it one step further.  I don’t know how to say this gently, so I am going to come right and say it plainly.  The Governor appears to be calling for the violent overthrow of the U.S. Government.  Speaking at a conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group led by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed, Jindal said”

I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Jindal said, “where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.

He justified his comment by blaming the “silent war” against Christians.  He went on to say:

I am tired of the left. They say they’re for tolerance, they say they respect diversity. The reality is this: They respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them,” he said. “The left is trying to silence us and I’m tired of it, I won’t take it anymore.

There is no other way to read this.  Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana is advocating for the violent overthrow of the U.S. Government.  What else could be concluded by his choice of words like “hostile takeover of Washington, D.C.”?  I cannot believe that the Governor would be referring to the ballot box as a “hostile takeover”.  Especially since that is the way democracy is supposed to work.  Vote in the people you want who believe in the same things as you do.

No, the use of “hostile takeover”, can only be defined as a violent overthrow. 

In order to place this all in context, let’s take a look at this “war” on Christians.

It all started, naturally, with abortion rights.  The Christian right has been going nuts over this since Roe V. Wade.  Their belief is that “life begins at inception”.  That means there is no other way to look at it.  Since they believe this to be true, they want everyone in the U.S. to believe it too.  They want everyone’s life to be regulated by their belief.  Since the majority of people in this country don’t believe what they do, that is obviously discriminatory against Christians.

They are totally against same-sex marriage.  Their reason?  They call homosexuality a “sin”.  According to them, same-sex marriage is an attack on “traditional marriage”.  We all know that letting same-sex marriage to be legal, “traditional marriages” all across the country will fall apart.

What they are really saying is that they don’t want gay couples getting the same civil rights given to “traditional marriage” couples.  You know horrible things like inheritance rights, or social security rights, or medical coverage rights.  Giving gay couples these civil rights is an obvious attack against the rights of Christians.

Then there is the horrible discrimination against Christians that stem from laws that require “truth in advertising”.  Yes, you heard me, they are against “truth in advertising”.  We have several laws that require truth in advertising to protect the public from false claims from manufacturers about the safety of their products.  Several states have included this “truth in advertising” mantra to “political advertising”.  How horrible!!!

The State of Ohio, among others, has a law that bans people from knowingly or recklessly making false statements about candidates seeking elective office.  In 2010, the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, wanted to put up billboards against then-U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus claiming that he supported federal-funded abortions because he backed the ACA.  There is nothing in the ACA about federal-funded abortions being allowed.

Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission, saying the ads misrepresented the facts and violated Ohio’s false speech law. The billboard owner feared threatened legal action by Driehaus and declined to post the ads. Driehaus dropped the case after losing his re-election bid and the courts said that the Susan B. Anthony List could not sue over the law because it did not suffer any actual harm.

Now the group is back in court fighting the law again.  According to Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, their claims are true.  Though she offers no evidence to back up her claim.  Their brief when filing the suite says  the statute violates free speech rights and “chills core political speech.”

Dannenfelser goes on to say “If granted, this injunction will allow us to continue our efforts to inform voters without fear of prosecution.”  So she must believe that lying in political ads is justifiable “free speech”.  The largest supporter of her group, the Conservative Christian Cult, wants to put up a copy of the ten commandments in every courthouse in the country to show that our laws are “Christian based”.  I seem to remember that one of these ten commandments reads “Thou shalt not lie”.  If they truly believe this, why aren’t they fighting for the law to be upheld?  Because they reserve the right to lie whenever they want in order to gain control!  If they are not allowed to lie, that is discrimination against Christians.

So, that is the “silent war” on Christians that Jindal decries.  How dare the U.S. Government defend the civil rights of people who do not follow his narrow view of the world?  How dare it defend the rights of gays, women, and minorities?  His worldview doesn’t believe in those rights.  How dare it defend the simple principle that you cannot defame and/or lie about an opponent in paid advertising?  How else can his side win any arguments?  So, of course, this all constitutes a “war” on Christians.

And, what does the Governor envision for the answer to this “war”?  He advocates the violent overthrow of the U.S. Government.  He is making very public and bold statements that there should be a “hostile takeover” of the Government.  Wouldn’t even the most ardent “patriot” consider this language as anti-American?  Wouldn’t they consider the Governor as a traitor?

Apparently not.  All you hear on the right is more cricket chirps.  How long will it be, if the Governor keeps talking like this, before we have another domestic terrorist attack?  How long do you think that some right-wing militia group will heed the Governor’s call and attack more government offices like they did in Oklahoma several years back?

I believe that most reasonable people will come to the same conclusion I have.  Governor Jindal has crossed the line from “political speak” into the realm of “treason”.  There is not other way to look at his comments.  So, Mr. Boehner, when are you going create a special committee to “investigate” this terrible treasonous act?

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The American People is what has made America great.  Their willingness to change with the time, their hard-work, and their dedication to the principles of the U.S. Constitution have made America Great.  They work hard all they want in return is a fair shot at the American Dream.  Ronald Reagan once said “America is that shining city on the hill”.  However, since his election we have seen the politics on the right move away from these simple principles.  There has been an upswing in domestic terrorism.  There has been an upswing in racial slurs.  There has been an upswing in pure hate.  It started when Saint Reagan started using terms like “welfare queen” and “surfer dude” when speaking about the poor.  When he demonized the government saying “government is the problem.”

In 2008 when Barak Obama was elected President, all pretense of “coded talk” ended and replaced with pure hate speech.  Then in 2010 there emerged the so-called Tea Party.  They claim that the word Tea is an acronym for Taxed Enough Already.  It turns out that what it really stands for is Take Everything Away (from the poor, elderly, and non-conservative white Christian).

They are rife with the old hatreds that caused segregation.  They hate anyone who is not a white American and want to totally shut down immigration.  They hate the idea that women are equals.  They are avid homophobes.  They are avid Islamophobes.  They are avid anti-rights.  I believe they are basically anti-American.  I don’t have to define these lunatics.  Their policies speak for themselves.

In the past several years they have become the party known as the “hateriots”.  They claim to be patriots, but want to shred the rights of everyone not like them.  They are willing to back a law-breaker in Cliven Bundy, and won’t condemn the actions of Jerad and Amanda Miller, two domestic terrorists, for killing two policemen and an innocent civilian in Las Vegas.  They refuse to acknowledge that we need better gun control, especially in view of the many mass-shootings in our schools.  They prefer to let the NRA and wacko militias do their talking.  They want to eliminate welfare.  They want to eliminate Social Security.  They want to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid.  They want to eliminate unemployment insurance.  They want to create total chaos.  All in the name of “patriotism”.

Forgive me, but here I am going to steal one of their slogans.  “It is time we took our country back”.   We need to take back our country from these anarchists.  We need to let the oligarchs who fund them know that we have had enough.  We need to put Fox so-called News and right-wing talk radio on the defensive.  We need to retake our democracy and make it work for everyone.

We all know that the mid-term elections are not usually taken too seriously by too many Americans.  The elections are mostly local and/or statewide.  The national appeal present in a Presidential Election is not there.  That is one of the many reasons we have to deal with the Take Everything Away Party.  Their anti-American following just can’t wait to vote in these idiots so more civil rights can be eliminated from those “others”.

That has to change.  But, the usual route to “getting out the vote” never seems to work in mid-term elections.  The only way to bring about the turn-out we need to rid ourselves of these liberty hating people is to do something that will make real Americans take notice.  We need something totally different so we can put these lunatics in their proper place, namely the trash-bin.

So, I am proposing that sometime in late September or early October, we have two days of a national strike and democracy rally.  I am not talking about one segment of workers like the fast food workers walking out, I am talking about the entire workforce in all parts of the country walking out for two days.  Hold rallies on these two days so all issues can be talked about.

These rallies can point out the Republican Party’s refusal to raise the minimum wage.  Their refusal to even vote on immigration reform.  Their refusal to strengthen the Voting Rights Bill.  Their refusal to pass the Transportation and Infrastructure Bill.  Their refusal to vote on the Employee Non-discrimination Act.    The list goes on, and on.  They are the party that wants the average American to live in poverty so their oligarchical funders can live in luxury.

Now, I am not stupid, so I understand that medical personal, police, fire, EMTs, etc., will remain on the job.  But, we should work to get everyone else to stop working for two days.  John Boehner says he “only wants to do what the American People want.”  Maybe, but I doubt it, if he sees millions of people walking off the job for two days, he just might take notice.

I don’t care if you are democrat, republican, or independent, or whatever, we need you to join the two days of national strike and democracy rally.  We need to take back our country from those who want to buy politicians so they can get their agendas passed even if those agendas hurt the public.  Even if those agendas add to the growing economic inequality.  Even if those agendas poison our air and water.

We need an action where not just one group are protesting.  We need all groups and individual people to protest the obstructionist policy of the Republican Party and their bosses.  It is too easy for the media to dismiss one group or give lip service to their protest.  We need something bigger.  We need something that will resonate for months if not years afterward.

We need reasonable gun owners who understand that it is time for the madness to stop.  They need to join us so everyone understands that the wacko militias and gun manufacturer’s political arm the NRA are not the only voice of gun owners.   We need true Christians who believe in the separation of church and state to join us to let everyone know that the Conservative Christian Cult is just that, a cult!  We need people from all faiths to join us so we can show that religion is a personal belief, not public policy.  We need atheists to join us.  We need to show that we do NOT want Christian Sharia Law in this country.

We need the unions to join us so they can sound the alarm bell about the TPP and the millions of American Jobs that will be lost if it goes into effect.  They can show how South Korea, Japan and other countries are dumping millions of tons of cheap government subsidized steel into the country threatening American Steel Worker’s jobs.  We need non-union workers and mid-level and upper-level managers to join us so they can show they favor fair pay for a day’s work.

We need teachers and educators to join us so they can show how the Republicans have slashed education budgets across the country.  These cuts have increased class sizes and caused the lay-off of thousands of teachers and teacher-aids.  All the while lining the pockets of “for profit” schools that do not increase the quality of education and openly discriminate against minorities and the disabled.

We need small business owners to join us so they can show their disgust that they are forced to subsidize their larger competitors, like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, through taxes for the social safety net because their competitors won’t pay their employees a living wage all the while stashing billions of dollars in overseas “tax shelters” so they don’t have to pay fair taxes on their profits like small businesses do.  They can show how these “giants’ artificially lower prices in order to force the small businesses into bankrupcy and then raise the prices for larger profits.

We need scientists to show how climate change is a fact that is destroying our planet.  How renewable energy will not only help slow down or eliminate the harmful effects of carbon dioxide, but can also be a non-outsourcing job creating boom for the American Worker.  How reducing our dependency on fossil fuels will actually free us from conflicts in oil producing areas of the world, thus keeping our energy costs down.

We have been held hostage by the far-right wing and the oligarchs who command them for way too long.  They keep passing anti-civil rights bills in the states they control.  They keep holding the entire nation hostage so they can apply their hate into law.  We need to let the Republican Party, the Tea Party, the right-wing talk show hosts, and Fox so-called News that they are the minority and we, the majority, have had enough.  We want America to be returned to the people and taken out of the hands of the top 1%.

With proper planning, this could wake America up.  This could raise awareness to our eroding liberties and rights.  It just might make a difference in November.   Look, I am a small voice crying in the wilderness.  Help me spread the word.  We need to act and save our country from those who want to trash our Constitution and our way of life.

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Republican War Mongers are beating the war drums again.  They want us to redeploy to Iraq.  A group calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are making headway in the country.  There is a growing fear there that their next move will be against Baghdad.  Of course, according to the war wing of the Republican Party, this whole mess is the President’s fault.  They are decrying the fact that President Obama pulled our forces out of Iraq.

What they fail to mention in all of this hoopla is that the President did try to get Iraq to sign a mutual defense agreement which would have kept some troops in Iraq for just such cases.  The Iraqi government refused to sign the treaty.  They wanted all U.S. troops out of the country.  Part of the reason was because they wanted to continue to keep the separation between the various sects alive.  They are now facing the consequences of that policy.

They didn’t want to share power.  They didn’t want to even recognize the other side of these conflicts.  Now, their policies have risen up an bitten them in the face.  As a result, McCain is running his mouth about how we should “bomb Iraq” all over again.  His bromance partner Lindsey Graham is saying we should put troops back on the ground there.

Once again, all of the dire consequences of an illegal war is jumping up against us again.  We should never have invaded Iraq in the first place.  We should never have totally eliminated the Iraqi Army as we did.  The problems facing Iraq are multiple.  There has always been sectarian fighting in the country.  As a matter of fact, if the western powers had taken these sectarian differences into account when they “formed the boundaries” of the country, it is possible that none of this would have happened in the first place.  But, oil played the major role in determining the boundaries of Iraq and many other mid-eastern states that were formed after WWI.

To make matters worse, as least here at home, the news talk shows are rolling out the same war-mongers who started the mess in the first place.  They are asking the liars for advice on how we should react.  David Gregory invited Paul Wolfowitz on Meet the Press last Sunday to ask just that advice.

Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005, was one of the chief visionaries and supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he got just about everything wrong, from the cost of the war to the presence of WMD. And he doesn’t particularly care.  In an interview with the Sunday Times last March, Wolfowitz made the argument that even though they got it wrong on WMD in 2003, everything they said was happening (but wasn’t) would likely have happened later. “We would very likely either have had to go through this whole scenario all over but probably with higher costs for having delayed, or we’d be in a situation today where not only Iran was edging towards nuclear weapons but so was Iraq and also Libya.”

Of course, Mr. Wolfowitz was justly rewarded by Bush for his wrongness.  He nominated him to the presidency of the World Bank. While at the World Bank he violated ethics rules and caused a scandal that paralyzed the institution. He was forced to resign after governments around the world called for him to be fired.  So, after everything he has touched in the last decade has turned into an international disaster, David Gregory thinks he is the right person to ask advice on the Iraq mess that he initially helped to create.

He isn’t alone in this bizarre phenomenon either.  L. Paul Brenner, the former special envoy to Iraq, who also was the architect of dismantling the Iraqi Army post-invasion, argued for military intervention in an op-ed granted by the Wall Street Journal.  “Of course Americans are reluctant to re-engage in Iraq.  Yet it is President Obama’s unhappy duty to educate them about the risks to our interests posed by the unfolding drama in Iraq.”

Of course others are howling at the moon over this crisis too.  All of the former Bush associates are running their mouths.  All are calling for more bombing, more troops on the ground, and more war.  The thing that really bothers me in all of this, is why are these idiots still being called on to voice their opinion?  These are the very same people, that should have been tried for war crimes.  They did after all invade a sovereign nation on false pretenses.  That is what is commonly called “waging a war of aggression”.  Yet, the mainstream media keep trotting them out like they are experts in foreign policy.

Maybe something needs to be done.  Maybe Iraq needs help in this mess.  But, rather than a knee-jerk reaction of sending in troops to spill blood again, let’s at least have some grown-up discussions about all of the options this time.  We need to figure out the best way to handle this because we are also winding down in Afghanistan.  What we do in Iraq will foretell what will happen in Afghanistan if it too falls into disarray when we leave.

Unfortunately, the right-wing war-mongers won’t shut up.  Their simple philosophy is to start an armed conflict.  If it turns into chaos later, that is just another reason for more armed conflict.  But, don’t look for any of them or their sons and daughters to be involved on the ground.  That task falls to “others” not the elite.  I still hear then presidential candidate McCain singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”  His tune has only changed at the end so now he sings “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iraq.”  What the hell, it is only one letter off.

 

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Another day, another mass shooting.  Yesterday, at Reynolds High School in Oregon, a freshman student was shot and killed while a teacher was wounded by a teen with a rifle.  As usual, the media is going to gloss over the incident, especially since Eric Cantor was beaten in his primary by a Tea Party candidate.  That will definitely dominate the news cycle.

When the school shooting happened, a very stupid reporter, at least in my opinion, at Breitbart tweeted about it.  One of the most offensive was his tweet saying that schools are targeted because they know no one there has a gun.  Ooops!  There were two uniformed, armed police officers stationed at the high school.  But, they were unable to stop the incident.

I believe it is fair to say we have an epidemic on our hands.  This is the third school shooting in three weeks.  Plus, in addition, there have been several right-wing terrorists attacks this year.  Yes, I said right-wing terrorist attacks.  The shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday cannot be called anything else.  Jared and Amanda Miller were self-described anti-government right-wing terrorists.  Of course no one in the media wants to call them that.  They are too afraid of the right-wing to mention them and terrorist in the same breath, much less sentence.

In fact you have more of a chance of being killed by a right-wing American terrorist than any other kind of terrorism.  In the years between 1990 and 2010, there were 145 acts of political terrorist violence carried out by the American right-wing resulting in 348 deaths.  By comparison, 20 Americans were killed by terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim-Americans in the same period.  The numbers since the 9/11 attack are similar in comparison to the period before 9/11.

There have been other such incidents as Las Vegas like the airport police officer shot and killed at LAX, the shooting at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City, and the murders at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  It would appear that right-wing terrorist attacks are becoming the new norm.

The right-wing blames everyone and everything for all of these attacks except the people with the guns!  Alex Jones over at InfoWars claims there is a government attempt to “frame” the Las Vegas shooters.  Seems he wants us to believe that the Facebook postings of anti-government propaganda and the fact they wrote that they were big fans of his, proves the government wrote the posting in conjunction with Facebook.  He even goes so far as to say they “are out to get yours truly”.  Sorry, but such paranoid megalomania is too sorry for any comment here.

Forget the fact that their posting were very anti-government.  Forget the fact that they were willing to talk about their views to their neighbors.  Forget about the fact that they went to the Bundy Ranch to help intimidate Federal Agents who were merely upholding the law.  Yes, they were asked to leave because it was discovered that Jared had a felony record.  Forget the fact that they yelled “this is the start of the revolution” before killing the two police officers in a CiCis restaurant while they ate lunch.  Forget the fact that they draped the bodies of the two officers with the Gadsden Flag.  Which by the way is the unofficial flag of the Tea Party.  No, none of that matters.  Jones thinks it is all a government plot to “get him”.

To prove my earlier point about the media being too afraid of the right-wing, CNN even refused to name the flag used on the bodies of the officers.  They merely stated the bodies were covered in “some sort of flag”.

Now, mass shootings at schools and terrorist attacks are not necessarily the same thing.  Unless the terrorist is attacking schools, which has happened in the past.  Remember the right-wing nut shooting children at a Jewish School in California a few years ago?  So, why should we even look at the two together.  Because they have the same thing in common.  Both are carried out by people who should not have been able to get a gun!

We still don’t know a whole lot about the shooter at Reynolds High School   We do know he was classified as a “teen”.  Which makes me ask why aren’t there more controls about teens owning guns?  Or, why there aren’t better controls over teens handling guns?  The right-wing is quick to call minorities poor parents when their child breaks the law.  Where are their outcries now?

The right-wing, led by the NRA and Fox News will tell you the answer to these problems is “more guns”.  They are insane.  More guns are not the answer.  Look, my professional field was protecting people.  More guns are not the answer.  In fact, there is no simple panacea that will fix the gun problem in this country.  Each situation requires different steps to stop these things from happening.  The answer isn’t to shoot and kill the perpetrator, it is to try to prevent the perpetrator from acting in the first place.  That is not easy, but in most cases, it can be done.

My wife has worked as a teller for years.  The only time I was ever fearful for her safety was when she worked at a bank that had an armed guard in the lobby.  As a matter of fact, I asked her to find another bank that didn’t have an armed guard.  Why?  Because weapons in places of businesses and schools have only two real outcomes.  One is a shootout which means innocent people like customers and employees and children will get shot by accident.  The other is that armed guards usually set up a “hostage situation” waiting to happen.  I, as well as most of the banks she worked for would rather the teller hand over the money and let the burglar go out the door.  That way, no one is hurt.

I believe that it is time to regulate who, how, where, and when people are allowed to own/carry weapons.  Irresponsible people who let children handle guns without parental control should not be allowed to own guns.  Felons and their spouses should not be allowed to own guns.  In the case of the spouse, we don’t know if they are purchasing the gun for themselves or their spouse.  Remember, Jared Miller is reportedly a convicted felon and still was carrying a gun.  People who make threats against the government and/or elected officials should not be allowed to own guns.

These proposals are all legal.  Even Justice Scalia, the most conservative Justice on the Supreme Court says the state has the right to regulate firearms.  Even according to him, law-abiding citizens have the right to own a gun but the state has the right to regulate their use, ownership, carrying authority, etc.  For once, I agree with Justice Scalia.

In the past, when I wrote about the gun violence in America, I have been ridiculed by gun-toting right-wingers who claim I live in fear.  Or, that I am afraid of guns.  But, it seems to me that anyone who believes they need to carry a gun around with them at all times are the ones living in fear or paranoia.  Rational people know that carrying guns into a bar is a bad idea.  Alcohol and guns are a bad mix.  Rational people know that you don’t need a gun in church.  Rational people know that you don’t carry weapons, especially open-carry weapons into restaurants or shops.

This epidemic is not going to end until the paranoia ends.  We need serious adult discussions about guns, their use, and regulations on them.  We need to have serious discussions how to keep these weapons out of the hands of people who should not be allowed to own them.  We need serious discussions to figure out compromises and solutions to these problems.  If we don’t, more children will die at school.  More people will be killed at the hands of terrorists, most likely right-wing terrorists.

So, I ask again, are we to be a nation so fearful of our neighbors we need to carry guns, or are we finally going to stop the madness?  It is time for sane, sober discussions and solutions before it is too late.  Rational gun owners need to step forward and help with these discussions not join the lunatics and fight them.

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On Saturday, the President announced a prisoner swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  In exchange, we gave up five Taliban Prisoners in GITMO.  The screen on the TV hadn’t even completely silenced when the right-wing went nuts over the deal.  Squeals from all over the political right started almost immediately.

On Sunday, the usual suspects ran to the microphones to shout their disapproval.  The called the swap “negotiating with terrorists”.  By the way, the Taliban is not on the list of “recognized terror organizations”.  As a matter of fact, the Taliban was the legitimate government of Afghanistan before we toppled it.  Yes, they harbored a terror group named Al-Quaida, but they themselves were not put on the official U.S. list of terror organizations.  So saying we “negotiated with terrorists” is a blatant lie.  They called the prisoners being exchanged as “hard-core terrorists eager to get back into the fight”.  But even Dick Cheney referred to them as members of the former Afghan government.  They accused the President of a very poor judgment at best.  Then the rumors began to run wild about how Bergdahl “walked away from his post” before he was captured.  That really got the right-wing going.

Such stout war veterans like Sen. Ted Cruz, The Half-Governor Sarah Palin, and others started calling Bergdahl a traitor and coward.  Sarah Palin even said “he isn’t worthy of being traded for”.  Of course these patriots can fall back on their military war record to justify their claims.  Oh, wait, they don’t have a military record.  They are simply arm-chair patriots.  To show just how bad this has gotten, the hometown of Bergdahl, who is planning a ceremony, which Bergdahl probably won’t attend because of his health recovery, is getting hate messages and emails from outsiders.  Obviously, this soldier doesn’t measure up to their “standards”.

Of course, the person most responsible for this whole mess, Dick Cheney had to weigh in with his insight too.  Dick Cheney, who by the way never served either, said the trade should not have happened.  This is the same Dick Cheney who was furious with President George W. Bush for not giving a pardon to Cheney’s convicted chief-of-staff who outed a CIA agent.  According to Mr. Bush, Cheney railed that “we do not leave our soldiers on the battlefield.”  So, according to Mr. Cheney, it is “right” to pardon a convicted criminal, but not alright to trade for the last American Soldier being held as a POW.

Besides that, can someone explain to me why Dick Cheney and George W. Bush have not been investigated as “war criminals?”  They allowed the torture of prisoners.  The even encouraged it by claiming they were not “prisoners of war.”  They “aggressively invaded” a sovereign nation on false pretenses.  They cost the lives of thousands of American lives as well as thousands of civilian lives.  Those actions constitute “war crimes” not patriotism.  Of course, both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush are arm-chair patriots.  At least Mr. Bush served some time in the National Guard.  That is far more than can be said about Mr. Cheney who asked for and received five deferments from the draft.

Look, I don’t know how Bergdahl “went missing”.  I don’t know if he was taken by surprise while on his post, or if he simply walked away.  As a retired veteran, it really doesn’t matter to me.  Maybe that is because I remember the POWs coming home from Vietnam.  Some of those POWs were traded for before the truce was signed.  Some didn’t come home until after the truce was signed.  But certainly, Mr. McCain should hold his tongue about this trade.

Sen. McCain while a POW in North Vietnam, made a propaganda film confessing to and apologizing for his “war crimes” against the North Vietnamese.  I remember seeing that video on the evening news, along with several others.  These men were tortured repeatedly until they simply broke.  When McCain came home, there were a whole lot of people from my father’s generation who wanted him court martialed for being “complicit” with the enemy.  They even started complaining that McCain was “getting off” because his father was an Admiral.

I didn’t see it that way.  John McCain simply hit that point every human being can hit.  The point where they break.  I do not fault McCain for his video.  I do not fault McCain for what he said in it.  But, before he starts running his mouth over this case, he needs to remember what happened to him and shut up.  At the very least, he should be a reasonable voice telling people to wait until the Army investigates the “why” Bergdahl went missing instead of making assumptions.

One of the main things that these arm-chair patriots keep talking about is that this trade “corrupts the morale of the troops.”  As a veteran, I can say that leaving one of our own behind does more to undermine morale that making a swap for them.  By leaving even one behind, morale plummets because service members start to wonder if they would have been left behind too.  Just look at the outcry after the Vietnam war when many soldiers believed that we left many POWs behind there.  It was that war that prompted the black POW/MIA flags that still fly today.

I am confident that if Bergdahl did something wrong when he went missing, the Army will find out.  Whatever the truth of his going missing is, I am confident the Army will discover it and deal with it appropriately.  If he was captured, he was captured and should be treated as such.  If he walked away, he should be punished for his actions.  In either case, it is up to the Army to determine which is the case, not arm-chair patriots masquerading as “concerned politicians.”

It is time for the arm-chair patriots to simply shut up!  I certainly don’t need Sara Palin or Ted Cruz telling me which soldiers deserve to be brought home.

 

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