Friday, December 4, 2009

Homeland Security Or Homeland Enslavement?

Homeland Security Or Homeland Enslavement?
by Chuck Baldwin
December 1, 2009

By now, most readers are familiar with the story of how a Virginia couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, crashed the White House State Dinner last Tuesday evening. President and Mrs. Obama were entertaining Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the first official State Dinner of the new administration. The Salahis were not on the invited guest list, but were still allowed to walk right into the White House. They even had face-to-face conversations with both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Photographs of the Salahis with the President and Vice President have been published in numerous newspapers and on hundreds of web sites.

I wonder if the American people are thinking this episode through? Think of it: in the post-9/11 world, a world that has invented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), body scanners, retina readers, the Patriot Act, hundreds of laws and regulations restricting the freedoms and liberties of the American people, thousands of cameras photographing our public movements, and satellite spy devices, a couple can walk right into the White House and meet the President and Vice President without being invited!

Is there something wrong with this picture, or what?

I well remember what I had to go through when I was an invited guest of then-Vice President George H. W. Bush at the White House. My wife and I joined several others for a luncheon with Vice President Bush and his wife, Barbara. Later that day, we were in a crowd of several hundred who got to meet President Ronald Reagan. Needless to say, security was tight.

Upon arriving, we had to show the proper credentials to White House security, along with a photo ID and the personal invitation that had been sent to us ahead of time. I remember how some of the folks who had actually received invitations were denied entrance due to bureaucratic mix-ups or unintentional lapses in proper protocols. And these were people who really did have an invitation to be there. I can tell you this: there was absolutely no way that an uninvited person could have gained access to the White House that day. And remember: that was nearly two decades BEFORE 9/11!

That an uninvited couple could be granted access to the President and Vice President in this day and time is more than a "fluke." It betrays something much deeper.

For the last 8 years, the American people have been told they must sacrifice certain liberties in order that the federal government might protect them. And for the most part, the American people have been happy to accommodate this incessant intrusion into their personal liberties. They know the feds are monitoring their emails, personal phone conversations, and even their personal letters when received from overseas. They have sat silently as their banking institutions have monitored and reported virtually any and all financial transactions to the federal government. In today's super-security world, one cannot even cash a check without showing the bank teller his or her driver's license, which is recorded and made available to the feds. Sometimes, we are even required to provide our thumbprints. Beyond that, even certain service personnel that must come into our homes to provide in-home repair services, home inspections, or general services are often required to report what they see to various law enforcement authorities. All of this is done in the name of "national security."

All the while, America's federal buildings today more resemble castles of ancient Europe than they do buildings that house the people's servants. Concrete barriers along with super-reinforced, "bomb proof" structures remind one of castles of old, with their guard towers and crocodile-filled moats. Today, people must walk through metal-detectors and surrender their pocketknives to even visit their local supervisor of elections office (or just about any other public office, for that matter). Again, this is all done under the rubric of "homeland security."

In the name of "national security," veterans who have been accused of some kind of domestic disturbance or who have affirmatively answered an ambiguous question on a VA form regarding whether they have feelings of "anger" or "depression" are having their right to keep and bear arms stripped away. That's right, in the name of "homeland security," some of the very men who were entrusted with lethal weapons to fight America's wars are now being told they are not fit to purchase or possess their own firearms.

Yet, in spite of all of the above, an uninvited couple is allowed to calmly walk right past Secret Service personnel and have personal audiences with the President and Vice President of the United States in what is ostensibly the most heavily-guarded, tightly secured building in the country: the White House.

Furthermore, this story comes on the heels of the mass shooting on what one would think would be a rather secure location: the US Army base at Fort Hood, Texas. And, have we forgotten the fellow who brought a gun into the Capitol Building (the home of the US Congress) in Washington, D.C., a few years ago and killed two police officers?

Dear Reader, ask yourself this question, Do you really think those schmucks in Washington, D.C., actually believe that protecting you and me is more important than protecting American soldiers, US congressmen, and especially the President of the United States? "Are you serious?" (To quote Nancy Pelosi.) The truth is, to the elites in DC, you and I are expendable commodities. In fact, to some of the soulless creatures running things, you and I are worth more dead than alive (but that's a topic better discussed at a later date).

The point is, all this talk about "national security" is simply a ruse for Big Government elitists to steal our liberties and make slaves out of us. They don't care about security; all they care about is POWER.

So, the next time you are required to be strip-searched by an airport screener, or to surrender your pocketknife at your local county commissioner's office, or to show your driver's license to your bank teller, or to submit to a random police checkpoint; the next time you make a phone call that you know is monitored by a federal agent (and they all are), or drive under a video camera, or visit these castle-esque federal buildings, remember Michaele and Tareq Salahi. And, if you are old enough, remember the time in America when we really were the "land of the free." And also remember that it's not security they seek--it's the abolition of our liberty.

Chuck Baldwin



Monday, October 26, 2009

After the Billionaires Plundered Alabama Town, Troops Were Called in … Illegally


October 26, 2009

One of this year’s more disturbing stories that were ignored was the illegal Army occupation of Samson, Alab., in March following a shooting spree that raged across two towns by a disgruntled worker, leaving 11 people dead.

As I wrote at the time, Michael McLendon, 27, went on a killing rampage following years of relentless corporate exploitation and harassment against him, his mother (whom he mercy-killed), and the entire rural Alabama region, which suffered like so many parts of rural America at the hands of billionaire goons like chicken oligarch Bo Pilgrim of Pilgrim’s Pride notoriety.

One of the creepiest details to emerge in the shooting rampage were reports that troops from nearby Fort Rucker were brought into Samson and other surrounding areas to patrol the streets. This is a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, every freedom-loving American’s worst nightmare.

And now, finally, the Army officially agrees that its occupation of the Alabama streets was illegal, according to an internal report the Associated Press got a hold of, following a Freedom of Information Act filing:

An Army investigation found that soldiers should not have been sent to man traffic stops in a small Alabama town after 11 people were killed in March during a shooting spree.An Army report released to the Associated Press on Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request said the decision to dispatch military police to Samson from nearby Fort Rucker broke the law. But an Army spokesman said no charges have been filed following the Aug. 10 report.

The report from the Department of Army Inspector General found the use of military personnel in Samson violated the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits federal troops from performing law-enforcement actions. The names of those involved were redacted from the report.

According to the report, the officer’s “intent was to be a good Army neighbor and help local civilian authorities facing a difficult, unique tragedy affecting the local community. There were no apparent adverse collateral effects to the support provided.”

Indeed. For a lot of Americans, the sight of troops occupying their towns is their worst nightmare come true — part of the reason that America came into existence was to create a country where this sort of thing would never happen, even if the Army’s sole intent was to be a good neighbor and help old ladies cross the streets.

Strangely enough, there was almost no media coverage of the occupation — you had to rely on various right-wing outlets like, whose article I blogged at the time, or the left-wing Democratic Underground.

But what even the right-wing anti-government people won’t report is the true reason why the Army was called out in the first place, something that goes right back to the cause of the shooting rampage: billionaire exploitation of the local Alabamans, not just by the chicken oligarch, but from higher up the predator food chain — Wall Street banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase.

You see, thanks to a combination of corporate-tax holidays (which reduce local revenues), billionaire greed like the sort that bankrupted Pilgrim’s Pride, and Wall Street investment-banking scams on places like Alabama that result in corrupted local officials and bankrupted municipalities, counties and states — now, there’s no money left to fund local police forces, as the U.S. Army report reveals:

The soldiers arrived in the hours after the shootings, which stretched the town’s tiny police force and county officers to the limit with several different crime scenes. The report said troops were dispatched after the Geneva County Sheriff’s Office and Samson Police requested assistance from Fort Rucker to relieve law enforcement at traffic checkpoints around the crime-scene area.

As I wrote earlier this year, Pilgrim’s Pride hooked up with Wall Street to leverage itself into bankruptcy while enriching the executives’ family and a handful of insiders at the expense of tens of thousands of Americans workers:

In 2006, Pilgrim’s Pride, then the second-largest chicken processor in the world, made a huge gamble that will seem familiar to anyone who’s been following the financial crash: the company borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars, leveraging itself well beyond its means, in order to acquire a rival company and become the nation’s No. 1 chicken processor, slaughtering 45 million chickens per week.

That might have given the executives a nice, big hard-on, but it also meant they would have to come up with more money to pay for all that debt. So the company did do what every post-Reagan company has done and gotten away with: it made the workforce pay for the executives’ bonuses.

That meant squeezing lower-middle-class workers for more work for less pay, or in Pilgrim’s case, more work for no pay: In August 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Pilgrim’s Pride accusing it of grossly undercompensating its employees. That same year, 10,000 Pilgrim’s Pride employees launched a class-action lawsuit demanding compensation for their work.

The damage extended well beyond Pilgrim’s Pride’s plants. With bankruptcy came huge unpaid local tax bills, leading to further layoffs and reduced services for the already-beleaguered locals:

Suwannee County could be out about $2 million if Pilgrim’s Pride doesn’t pay its property-tax bill, according to property appraiser Lamar Jenkins.

The biggest taxpayer in the county filed for bankruptcy protection Dec. 1. Now it’s not clear when — or if — the bill will be paid.

“It’s certainly going to put a hurt on the budget of the county,” Jenkins told the [Suwanee] Democrat by phone Thursday. Jenkins said the unpaid bill represents 7.4 percent of the money local schools get from property taxes; 5.3 percent of county funds from that source; and 8 percent of the money the Suwannee River Water Management District receives from local property-tax revenues.

A spokesman for Pilgrim’s did not respond to a request for comment.

Bo Pilgrim, the head of Pilgrim’s Pride, once told his Texas church that he was worth over $1 billion before the market crash, and he’s still worth hundreds of millions. His rapacity was boundless, and in the end it was the undoing of Pilgrim’s Pride — not the Pilgrim family, mind you, which is still filthy disgusting rich, but the company is through.

Last month, 64 percent of Pilgrim’s Pride was sold to JBS, a Brazilian beef giant, making it the largest meat company in the world, topping America’s Tyson. The American cattle industry tried to block the deal, which it says could result in the destruction of the American beef industry, but the Justice Department already approved JBS’ takeover.

In the billionaires’ Third World model for America, it makes awful sense that a Brazilian meat company would take control of a bankrupt, corrupt American chicken company. For Wall Street and the billionaires, the more they destroy in America, the richer they get, consequences be damned. And anyway, it’s not like Pilgrim’s Pride was a model of corporate responsibility while under American ownership; just read some of the comments on this recent Reuters article:

Gilmer, Texas, Sep. 8, 2009 — working as a supervisor in mt pleasant plant use to be injoyable, but lately they expect you to work 50/70 hours for no extra pay. pilgrims pride does not care about family life just their money. Everyone is afraid to say anything, because upper management may let you go with no warnning because you voiced your oppionrobert, Carrollton, Ga. — i work carrollton,ga former goldkist plant we were goldkist 1 plant now we fill like we in pure hell working for pilgrim pride these people want you to kiss there ass and work three times hard for same money no rasied in two years old chicken farmer

Doddridge, Ark. — While I was raising chickens for Pilgrim’s Pride, I became friends with many lower management employees of the company. The manner in which they were terminated was just simply unmerciful. While the growers had the brunt of the financial devastion, many that were nearing retirement were left with no prospects of employment in the near future. I know some that have had to uproot their families and settle for a considerable more modest lifestyle with their retirement benefits in doubt after a number of years of employment. It is just a shame that Bo Pilgrim has pocketed the money of many hard working people. I still believe Bo needs to be in the jail cell next to Bernie Madoff.

The comments section is where you’ll find the real, unvarnished, ungrammatical rage among America’s cheated majority, because for the most part, people are too desperate and afraid to complain in public.

But here’s the rub: Selling Pilgrim’s Pride to a Brazilian meat monopoly doesn’t mean things will get better for Alabamans. Just weeks after the buyout was announced, Pilgrim’s Pride closed another plant, this one in northern Alabama. According to the AP:

A chicken-processing plant owned by Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. is shutting down this week after almost six decades, putting more than 600 people out of work and creating ripples that will be felt all over town.

The city of almost 20,000 is preparing for the end of a relationship that began in 1952 when James Beasley founded Sweet Sue Poultry, which originally ran the plant. Owners included Beatrice Foods and ConAgra before Pilgrim’s Pride purchased the business in 2003.

Which looks a lot like an even more depressing Pilgrim’s Pride story from a few months earlier, this from rural Arkansas. The town of Clinton filed a lawsuit in June against Pilgrim’s Pride, accusing it of turning the town into a “ghost town”:

“With its largest and sole remaining employer, Pilgrim’s, now evacuated, the city faces a crisis of revenue, bond payments and economic devastation, and as a result of the Pilgrim’s evacuation is threatened with becoming a modern-day ghost town,” the lawsuit filed by the city said. “This serious economic situation is, however, a direct consequence of Pilgrim’s illegal purpose in shuttering the Clinton plant and operations.”

This story is repeated all over the rural South. So guess who put together the deal that bankrupted Pilgrim’s Pride? Lehman Bros., the king of bankruptcy.

On the other side of the deal, serving Gold Kist, was Merrill Lynch, which also collapsed last year. But Merrill’s banker in the Pilgrim’s Pride acquisition is still doing well, thank you very much. In fact, he was recently hired by JPMorgan Chase as vice chairman of mergers and acquisitions.

Which makes perfect sense, because JPMorgan Chase has been laying waste to Alabama on a level that makes Pilgrim’s Pride’s destruction look downright humanitarian. JP Morgan Chase has plundered so much wealth from one county in Alabama, using a complex derivatives scheme and old-fashioned bribery, that some locals are calling it “Armageddon.” According to Bloomberg:

In its 190-year history, Jefferson County, Ala., has endured a cholera epidemic, a pounding in the Civil War, gunslingers, labor riots and terrorism by the Ku Klux Klan. Now this namesake of Thomas Jefferson, anchored by Birmingham, is staring at what one local politician calls financial “Armageddon.”

The spectacle — a tax struck down, about 1,000 county employees furloughed, a politician indicted over $3 billion in sewer debt that may lead to the largest municipal bankruptcy in history — has elbowed its way up the ladder of county lore.

“People want to kill somebody, but they don’t know who to shoot at,” says Russell Cunningham, past president of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Jefferson County’s debacle is a parable for billions of dollars lost by state and local governments from Florida to California in transactions done behind closed doors. Selling debt without requiring competition made public officials vulnerable to bankers’ sales pitches, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for borrowing gone awry.

[T]he county bet on interest-rate swaps, agreements that a representative of New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. told commissioners could reduce their interest costs. Instead, the swaps — covering more than $5 billion in all — blew up during the credit crisis after ratings for the county’s bond insurers fell.

JPMorgan, through spokeswoman Christine Holevas, declined to comment for this story.

Yeah, why bother commenting to the public when you own the bastards? JPMorgan, which took $25 billion in direct bailout money and tens of billions more in backdoor subsidies and handouts, just posted a massive $3.6 billion quarterly profit, and has set aside at least $11.1 billion for management bonuses. Meanwhile, Alabamans can’t afford to flush their toilets.

This is what inequality looks like. From Wall Street, it must look extremely appealing; for the rest of America, it’s a nightmare that’s only getting worse.

So far, it’s clear that Birmingham and the entire Jefferson County are following the wretched script of a typical Third World scenario, where the Wall Street bankers corrupt the politicians and eventually bankrupt the place and then, while the corpse is still warm and the bankruptcy deals are cut, Wall Street makes sure it’s first in line to profit off the chaos it created, while its corrupt local shill (in this case Birmingham’s mayor) takes the fall for the crime of accepting the JP Morgan bribes … and the locals get screwed worst of all, paying off the bill for years or decades.

Just this week, it emerged that Goldman Sachs, employer of Brian “Inequality Is Good” Griffiths, bilked the state of New Jersey using a similar scheme involving interest-rate swaps on bonds that don’t even exist. According to Bloomberg, New Jersey is considering raising its gasoline tax to pay the $1 million a month they have to pay out to Goldman for the scam — a regressive tax that once again takes from the struggling middle class and poor, and puts in thepockets of the billionaires.

Meanwhile, over in Jefferson County, Ala., there’s so little left to steal from the impoverished locals that Wall Street has been forced to come up with a new, grotesquely evil plan to line their pockets: taxing the local residents for taking a shit:

In August, Bank of New York Mellon Corp., as trustee for owners of about $3 billion in sewer warrants, filed suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court seeking an appointed receiver for the sewer system. The receiver should have authority to raise rates enough to meet the debt service, the bank said in the complaint, which is pending. The sewer system is already charging customers about 300 percent more to drain bathtubs or flush toilets than a dozen years ago.

By one county estimate, average annual bills are now about $750, compared with the national average of $331, according to a 2007 survey by the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Clean Water Agencies, a coalition of utilities.

It’s impossible to boost them enough without putting them beyond the means of many residents, County CommissionerJim Carns says. “We’re like a guy making $50,000 a year with a $1 million mortgage.”

In Wall Street’s eyes, Alabamans really do shit gold.

The thing now will be to convince the locals to use their toilets rather than, say, gas to heat their homes.

As I wrote a few months ago, Jefferson County residents have become so desperate that they’re being forced to choose between water and heating, as this article shows:

As nighttime temperatures plunged in Birmingham, Ala., last October, Dora Bonner had a choice: either pay the gas bill so she could heat the home she shares with four grandchildren, or send the Birmingham Water Works a $250 check for her water and sewer bill.

Bonner, who is 73 and lives on Social Security, decided to keep the house from freezing.

“I couldn’t afford the water, so they shut it off,” she says.

Bonner’s sewer bills have risen more than fourfold in the past decade. So have those of others in Jefferson County, which has 659,000 residents and includes Birmingham, the state’s largest city.

The logical outcome of the billionaires’ plundering of Alabama is the same thing that happens all over the Third World: violence, fear and calling in the troops, the only way to secure the billionaires’ dirty profits:

In August and September … Jefferson County residents got a taste of what bankruptcy might look like. As the county began putting about 1,000 workers on leave without pay, one disgruntled employee allegedly e-mailed bomb threats to officials and was promptly arrested, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Lines soon formed outside the courthouse as such tasks as renewing driver’s licenses slowed.

A kind of legal civil war broke out when three county agencies — the sheriff’s department, an indigent-care hospital and the tax-assessor’s office — sued the county commission to stop the budget cuts on the grounds that they posed a danger to public safety.

Bettye Fine Collins, the commission president, declared the situation, “our Armageddon.”

The state’s response is right out of the Central America banana republic playbook: When there’s no money left for the people, send in the troops.

The cuts in the sheriff’s department budget were so severe that he was planning to call in the National Guard to keep order:

The sheriff in Alabama’s most populous county may call for the National Guard to help maintain order, a spokesman said Tuesday, as a judge cleared the way for cuts in the sheriff’s budget, and lawmakers reached a compromise they hope will end the budget crisis.

In light of all of this, the Army’s brief, illegal occupation of a string of towns in Alabama this past spring no longer looks like a freak one-off, but rather a logical progression in the ongoing billionaire plunder of America.

It gives new meaning to what MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan is calling “corporate communism.” Not only are banking billionaires on permanent state wealthfare, but even worse, as the wealth available becomes increasingly scarce and there isn’t enough left to satisfy the billionaires’ grotesque appetites and regular citizens’ needs to flush their toilets or heat their homes, we’re heading to the point that all Third World countries come to — calling out the troops to ensure that the peasants pay their tithes to their absentee masters in New York and Connecticut and don’t get all uppity like those Europeans.

Now you can see why Alabamans are loading up on so many weapons. That makes sense. Now they need to understand who the real enemy is. Not the make-believe liberal bogeymen of their nightmares. Rather, Alabamans should focus their anger on the real-world billionaires who are making this country a living hell.

There are alot of good links attached to this story.

Original source.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Here is a youtube link to the video the RJ made (but Oath Keepers spiced up the title):

And check out this retired Special Forces Major who is now Oath Keeper's man in South Carolina, and on their board of directors (and check out the comments):



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Absolved: Chapter 24, Green

M249 SAW, (Squad Automatic Weapon)

Absolved: Chapter 24, Green

Major Swindon: As to that, General, the British soldier will give a good account of himself.

BURGOYNE [bitterly]: And therefore, I suppose, sir, the British officer need not know his business: the British soldier will get him out of all his blunders with the bayonet. In future, sir, I must ask you to be a little less generous with the blood of your men, and a little more generous with your own brains.
-- The Devil's Disciple, Act III, George Bernard Shaw

Nothing had worked out like it was supposed to, but that was combat.

It had been true in Iraq, it was true in Afghanistan and it was true here.

Who was it who said "no plan survives contact with the enemy"? Laidlaw wondered. Whoever it was had been shot at and that was for sure and certain.

Laidlaw had been shot at. He'd been shot at a lot during one eventful period of his young life. A couple of them had even connected. Once in al Nasiriyah on the first tour, but that had been barely more than a scratch. He was almost embarrassed to take the Purple Heart. On his second tour, he'd been hit hard in the left leg. It was an inch shorter now, but after his rehab and discharge, he could still maneuver.


But at least then he'd been fighting with other pros. This - well, this was an invitation to die with stupid newbies. They were a danger to themselves and a danger to him and it was a damned shame that a bunch of them were sure to die this day and it was all so preventable.

Or at least, it had been.

Time's up, Cathcart, you idiot.

Laidlaw looked to his left, across the street. The leader of his militia unit, Charles Carlos Cathcart (didn't his daddy like him?), peeked around the corner at the objective and almost lost his head to a burst from one of those Brightfire pricks with a SAW.

Cathcart jerked his head back, his face pinched, white as a ghost, his hands visibly trembling even from here. Their eyes locked briefly, the entreaty plain to Laidlaw. HELP ME, said the look.

Cathcart broke contact first, looking at the ground. Jeez, he didn't even think to bring a steel mirror to look around corners.

Well, hell, I tried to tell him, didn't I? Didn't I?!?

Cathcart, Laidlaw knew, didn't have a clue about what to do next. Neither did about 95% of his unit, which included veterans as old a 56 and kids as young as 14, some of 'em girls. Hell, most of the "veterans" had never been seriously shot at by somebody who meant it and knew how. They had DD-214s, sure, but it was the nature of the military that the overwhelming majority of vets were fobbits, support troops, rear echelon pogues, what his Daddy in Southeast Asia had called "REMFs."

And Cathcart, who had a knack for getting people to follow him but an inability to lead, had been a vehicle mechanic. Oh, his heart was in the right place, and he had guts - but his brain was still trying to catch up.

And, Laidlaw knew, time was something Cathcart no longer had.

Well, it wasn't like I didn't try to tell him. Cathcart's problem was that he was too lazy and too desperate to be liked by his people to insist on the training they'd needed before this day. Oh, they'd gone through some half-hearted FTXs, but when Laidlaw had tried to get serious about them, Cathcart had undercut him.

Wouldn't even let me condition them properly, Laidlaw thought bitterly.

"We're not the Airborne," Cathcart had whined in explanation, "we're militia."

"My guys do it," he'd insisted, "even Bobby Marcus and he's 16 and a couch potato before I got ahold of him. Now he's a lean, mean kid. He ain't a killer yet, but he will be if he has to."

It didn't make a dent in Cathcart. He just didn't know what was coming down the pike then, and now he hasn't got a clue what to do about it.

Before Laidlaw had joined up, the most Cathcart would have his people do was paintball. PAINTBALL, fer cryin' out loud. OK, maybe you got some phys ed out of it, but it taught all the wrong tactical lessons. People actually thought concealment was cover. Besides, what was cover for a paintball wouldn't even be noticed by a 5.56 or 7.62 NATO projectile on its way to rip out your guts or blow off your head.

Well, those weren't paintballs eroding the bricks six inches in front of Cathcart's nose, blowing chips and dust all over the place.

NOW do you understand the DIFFERENCE?

Oh, hell, get a grip, he told himself. If Cathcart lives you can tell him "I told you so," but he knows that already. How am I going to get these good people through this without ALL of them getting killed?

Especially, he thought selfishly, ME.

Laidlaw looked behind him at his squad arrayed along the outer back wall of the auto parts store. Good, he noted with pride, they were set up the way I taught them, 360 all round, weapons ready, eyeballs seeking danger. Scared as shitless as Cathcart, but they were ready in spite of it.

Training did that.

Manny Shinstein, his assistant squad leader, was smiling. Yeah, Manny had been here before too.

Shinstein cocked his head in Cathcart's direction and began to hand sign.

"He's shitting bricks, isn't he?"

Manny and Laidlaw shared an unusual circumstance for folks who lived on the same street in a small Tennessee town. Both of their wives were deaf. Funny how things worked out that way. But Manny was good people. An ex-Marine, Shinstein had been to Fallujah twice and Afghanistan once. Billie and Sheri had met at some function for the deaf, and become immediate friends. That drew Manny and him together. It didn't take Laidlaw long to forgive Manny Shinstein for being a jarhead.

They discovered they had a lot in common, including a sick sense of humor that started with Monty Python and got worse, as well as a mutual penchant for playing the Dropkick Murphys at a decibel level beyond pain. When the neighbors complained, Manny told the cop with the face and sincerity of the choirboy he'd never been (he was after all Jewish) that since his wife was deaf, the only way she could enjoy music was by the vibration and didn't the cop know about the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Crazy bastard got away with it, too. The neighbors even apologized.

Laidlaw winked back at Manny. Truth was, Shinstein had a bad case of PTSD, and how he kept a lid on it was impressive to Laidlaw. Getting rocked by three IEDs will do that to you.


I've been down this street a hundred times, he thought, yet I can't visualize what's on the other side, across the street from the auto parts store. That's something else bullets do to you, they mess with your mind. I've got to get a look at these bastards and work it from there. First, I gotta make sure Cathcart doesn't do anything stupid while I'm gone. He waved to get Cathcart's attention and began to hand signal. Finally Cathcart nodded, and the relief was plain on his face.

Well, thought Laidlaw, he really did pay attention when we covered that in the first FTX after I joined up. Good.

Signaling Manny to hold where they were with the rest of the squad, Laidlaw pointed out two of his troopers to follow him. They trotted down to the old wooden back door of the store. The squad adjusted behind them. I'll bet there's a iron bar on the other side.

Maybe two.

Bill Bushatz, a young kid fresh out of high school who had started as fullback all four years, was the designated entry man. The boy was big enough to tote the entry tool without strain and muscular enough to use it.

His dad had been arrested in one of the first ATF raids of Operation Clean Sweep, but when Laidlaw got to the unit, Cathcart had Bill carrying his radio and being his general flunky and dogrobber. Laidlaw spotted the boy's true worth and persuaded Cathcart to let him have him "temporarily." After getting used to Laidlaw's ways, Bushatz refused to go back to being a flunky. Which of course is what Laidlaw had expected.

The squad leader pointed his desire, and Bushatz took out the hinge side of the door, low, high and in the middle -- one, BAM, two, BAM, gasp for breath, three, BAM, CLANG!. The door sagged inward, but was caught by the bar. Reaching around the splintered doorjam, Bushatz' battle buddy John Reynolds got a grip on the bar, pulled upward, shoved in and released it. With another clang it hit the floor. Another hard shove and the door followed. They entered precisely per the MOUT drill he'd taught them, the tactical lights on their weapons penetrating the gloom of the back of the store.

Once inside, they halted, looking, listening, letting their vision adjust, weapons still at the ready. It was a Sunday, and no one was in the store. Laidlaw spotted a set of old wooden stairs leading up to the second floor. Signaling Bushatz to remain, he and Reynolds moved up the stairs, and then forward down the upper hallway.

The floor was thick with dust. Nobody had been up here in years. Laidlaw moved cautiously up to the begrimed, cob-webbed window that overlooked the street, which was now a battlefield. Reynolds automatically took up station covering the rear.

Again, Laidlaw felt a tightening of his throat in pride. Reynolds was another kid, still in high school, what was he, maybe 17? He had never heard a round come up-range in anger. He too was scared to death, but he was doing his job, simply because he'd done it so often in training it was second nature.

Ignoring Cathcart's wimpy FTX scehdule, Laidlaw had worked his own guys hard for months, every spare minute they could all get together. Constant physical conditioning. Classroom sessions followed by walk-through rehearsals in the abandoned metal fabricating plant down by the river, or up in the national forest forty miles away, then full-blown exercises with blanks and disorienting bird bombs and home-made pyrotechnics rolled by Manny -- what he called "my Shinstein Shitters."

Twice he'd fired live rounds over their heads or down well-marked lanes to the side so they would know what an incoming round sounded like.

The fire outside had slackened. Brightfire's waiting for us and Cathcart's waiting for me.

OK, fine. From the shelter of the brick wall flanking the window, Laidlaw studied the scene, taking care to keep out of the light that fitfully streamed in the dirty glass as clouds paraded past in front of the late morning sun. Backing up deeper into the gloom, he repositioned himself on the other side and looked down and across the street to the west this time. Memory now filled in the rest of the picture he could not see.

The one-story stone building that Brightfire had taken refuge in was a law office and stoutly built. This was Water Street, so named because it ran haphazardly along the river to its back. The ground sloped steeply behind the buildings on the opposite side of the street, through brush and trees on the bank. The reason Brightfire had chosen this building was burning merrily in front of it. Tires shredded by the ambush it had escaped only because one of Cathcart's nervous troops had allowed himself to be seen, the Hummer belched black smoke that swirled down Water Street in the stiff breeze.

A dead mercenary sat upright behind the wheel, slowly barbequeing. What did that leave, five of them? Four?

Laidlaw's squad had been assigned the kill zone of the ambush, and even after it was blown they managed to get the other two vehicles in the convoy, the lead Hummer and and the five ton truck full of detainees. By some miracle, only two of the now-liberated prisoners were wounded in the process. That, Laidlaw reflected, was another cause for pride. The squad leader had made sure that all of his men and boys, and one girl, could shoot. And when it had come down to it, they'd shot well.

But the trail vehicle hadn't entered the kill zone and although one of the security elements had luckily shot it up enough to stop it, the mercenaries, aside from Mr. Crispy there, had made it to the law office. Lucky for them. It was probably the stoutest building on Water Street.

OK. Their reaction force has got to be mounting up by now. Air cover probably inbound NOW. What, fifteen minutes, maybe less? We're running out of time and we ought to be fading -- right now.

Leave 'em? Burn 'em out? The stone walls wouldn't burn, that was for sure. We've got no heavy weapons. What I wouldn't give for a couple of Javelins or even an AT-4, although the stone structure looked stout enough to turn an AT-4.


M203. In the windows. Hell, yeah.

He'd seen one down on the road in the kill zone and ordered it policed up. Who'd got it?

He keyed his squad radio for Manny. "Kilo Two, send up that M203 and all the rounds we got."


A pause, and then: "Triple C's looking like he's about to do something."

"Shit! Tell that dopey bastard to keep his dick in his pants, I've got this thing licked."

"I'm trying . . Oh, SHIT!"

Cathcart had been sweating ever since Laidlaw had disappeared into the building. WHAT was taking so long? They had to go, didn't he know that? They had to finish this thing NOW, before help arrived.

It didn't help that the squad on his left flank was commanded by Duke Conners, a guy with more testosterone than brains who had watched too many war movies over his 36 years. Conners noted that the SAW firing at his people seemed to be unable to depress its muzzle enough to engage them. The tracers were going head high and no lower. This was his big chance. If he could just get in there and toss some of their improvised hand grenades in the side windows this would be all over. Connors knew that Cathcart was uncertain. That damn Laidlaw was just nervous in the service.

Big bad veteran. So what?

This wasn't so tough. He'd talked Cathcart into it, and now he, Duke Conners, was going to finish this thing.

It would have been worse if fully half of Conners' squad hadn't disobeyed him out of inexperience, indiscipline, fear or uncommon good sense. When Duke ordered the entire squad to keep low and charge the building, only five people followed him. The rest hung back, firing in support but not venturing from cover.

For two seconds, maybe three, long enough to take them past the point of no return and fully into the middle of the street, the SAW continued firing high.

Then it shifted.

Not one of them made it, either to the stone building or back to safety. Duke Connors' spine was, in part, blown out his back along with chunks of gut and muscle and as his legs quit working he pitched headlong onto the pavement. He bounced once and slid to a stop on his face. Duke's vision flickered long enough to register the fact that his 16 year old son Jeff lay dead three yards away, his head exploded.

Then Duke Conners died. The lumber mill supervisor hadn't watched enough war movies to keep from being fooled by the oldest trick in the machinegunner's book, one that dated back to the first World War.

Cathcart watched the destruction of Conner's squad in horrified disbelief, focusing on the small form of young Jeff Conners, still twitching and jerking as the gunner played part of another belt across the corpses, in an effort to get one of their friends to do something stupid in reaction. Filled with equal parts of wrath, hatred and guilt, Charles Carlos Cathcart obliged him and stepped from cover to engage the gun. A Brightfire rifleman, firing from another window, put a bullet through his head.

Jenny Wilson delivered the M-203 to Laidlaw just as Conners' valiant but doomed half dozen broke from cover. By that time, Laidlaw had moved to the front office to the left off the hallway and eased up the window until he had an unobstructed shot at the law office's front windows. Wilson's chest was heaving and her eyes were wide, but she'd shouldered that M16A2 with the grenade launcher since the ambush. And it was she who'd put two rounds through the officer in truck's cab, thereby saving at least some of the detainees from murder. Laidlaw had been resistant when she insisted she wanted to be in his squad. He knew it was because she was sweet on Bill Bushatz.

But try as he might, he couldn't run her off. He tried running her into the ground, grinding her down in PT, picking on her for every dirty detail. He couldn't scare her and he couldn't run her off. She not only did her job and carried her own weight, she had better military sense than most of the rest of his squad, always awake and alert, always THINKING. He had her marked for Corporal if she stood up to seeing the elephant. Well, she had. And now she watched her squad leader with intensity, curous to see how this unfamiliar weapon worked.

Laidlaw heard the round that fatally compromised the integrity of Cathcart's braincase, and saw the window it had come from. OK, bastard, you first. He keyed the mike. "Kilo Two, four rounds, take it when I'm done."

"Roger. Four rounds."

They were easy shots and Laidlaw was well experienced with the 203. With the range so short, he didn't even flip up the sights. The first HE round sailed through the window hole and blew up within, debris flying out the window. Laidlaw switched to the other front window to the left of the door and did likewise with it. Then he put two rounds into the doorway. The first hit the top hinge and blew the door partially out of the jam and down, creating a hole that the fourth and final round sailed through, exploding deep within the building.

Instantly Manny took the squad across the street and assaulted the law office. A few muffled bursts and it was over. Manny came out a minute later, hoisting a Squad Automatic Weapon over his right shoulder.

By the time the first Brightfire gunship came over the ambush site and then floated down to the river and hovered over the law office, the militia, now commanded by Lawrence "Larry" Laidlaw (nobody called him Lawrence) had vanished. Even the bodies of their fallen had been policed up.

Laidlaw watched the chopper circle ineffectually through 7x50 binoculars from a distant tree line. He turned to the young and old men and women (no boys and girls now) who were nearby and ordered, "Move out."

One thing was certain. There was going to be a lot more training in their future.

A whole lot more.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shadow Government / Obama's military problem is getting worse

Obama's military problem is getting worse
Wed, 10/21/2009 - 5:43pm

By Peter Feaver

President Obama is presiding over a slow-motion civil-military crash occasioned by his meandering Afghanistan strategy review. The crash has not yet happened and is avoidable, but it also foreseeable. Of concern, the latest reports out of the White House suggest that Obama's team is not yet fully aware of the dangers. If it happens, it will be a problem entirely of Obama's own making and it could have a lasting impact on the way his administration unfolds.

As Rich Lowry has observed, President Obama rarely misses a chance to blame a challenge he is confronting on his predecessor. This rhetorical tic served Obama well during the campaign and probably still resonates with partisans who post anonymous comments on blogs or who suffer from chronic Bush Derangement Syndrome. But it gives the impression that the Administration never left the campaign bubble and may even encourage self-defeating campaign-like behavior such as picking feuds with news organizations.

And insofar as the Afghan strategy review goes, it is a narrative string that is thoroughly played out because the current civil-military problem confronting the Obama Administration is entirely of its own making. The problem is not that Afghanistan is a difficult combat theater, nor that Karzai is an inconvenient Afghan ally, nor even that President Obama is taking time to review his strategic options. All of that and more is true and, I suppose, some of it can be "blamed" on President Bush. The problem that cannot be blamed on Bush is that the way President Obama is reviewing his strategic options is generating needless civil-military friction and, unless the Obama team gets it under control, could generate a genuine civil-military crisis.

Tom Donnelly produced an extensive tick-tock of the evolving Obama Afghanistan policy that reads like the first draft of a "what went wrong" post-mortem. For my money, the key developments were:

President Obama opts for a misleading straddle in rolling-out the results of his first Afghan strategy review in March. He oversells the extent to which the new strategy is a radical departure from his predecessor's, but more crucially oversells the extent to which he is committed to this strategy. And, like President Johnson in 1965 and unlike President Bush in 2007, he announces the low-ball estimate of new resources expected rather than the high-ball estimate. Military audiences hear what they want to hear -- namely that the President is committed to resourcing the "new" COIN strategy --and do not hear what they do not want to hear -- namely that the President is reserving the option not to resource adequately the new strategy and, indeed, to change his mind about the strategy in a few months time.

Shortly after the roll-out, President Obama and his key White House team take their collective eye off the ball and are largely uninvolved in the firing of General McKiernan and the hiring of General McChrystal. Indeed, President Obama has only one substantive interaction with the battlefield commander of his most important "war of necessity" for the next four months.
The most meaningful senior White House engagement with the Afghanistan theater over the long summer of discontent is a remarkable late June trip that NSA Jim Jones takes and that amounts to an on-the-record politicization of military advice. As reported by Bob Woodward, Jones appears to tell the military commanders to shave their military advice in light of President Obama's reluctance to approve new troop deployments. This episode, I believe, is the key pivot point. Military observers draw two "so that's the way it's going to be" inferences:

(1) The Obama team is fully cooperating with Bob Woodward -- a tried and true Washington strategy because Woodward tends to treat more favorably people who have cooperated (i.e. shared information and access) than people who haven't. Application: it is OK to cooperate with Bob Woodward.

(2) The Obama team is politicizing civil-military relations. Application: play the game or you will get burned.

On 17 August, despite harboring serious misgivings about the Afghan mission -- and despite the accumulating evidence that the Afghan elections, a few days hence, will be riddled with fraud -- President Obama gives his most important speech since the March roll-out focusing on Afghanistan and uses the same rhetoric that he used on the campaign trail: Afghanistan is a war of necessity. Reasonable inference for military audience: The president is committed to fully resourcing this war.

A direct result of Jones's late June trip, I suspect, is that Bob Woodward is put on distribution for the McChrystal report and receives it shortly after McChrystal delivers it to his (McChrystal's) chain of command in late August. However, because Woodward is in the book-writing business, he does not publish the scoop, holding it back for the book. (Many observers believe that Woodward's source was a military officer, but my own hunch is that it was someone from Holbrooke's staff. My conjecture is based largely on the fact that when the story does break, Woodward leaves Holbrooke entirely out of the story, a telling absence of the AfPak czar that makes more sense if one is protecting a source).

Throughout September, after the McChrystal report is delivered but before it is leaked, there start to be stories that indicate growing military frustration with the White House's lack of strategic focus on Afghanistan. The military apparently believe that President Obama is paralyzed with indecision. This is the context for Woodward going to his source and asking for permission to run the report as a news story rather than as a book scoop: the White House is trying to bury the McChrystal report by refusing to act or even debate it. The result is a real civil-military problem.

In response to the leak, the White House kicks into high damage-control mode (after a brief delay occasioned by the unfortunate timing of the UNGA meetings), but even here shows some clumsiness, at least regarding civil-military optics: the 25 hours for the Olympics vs. 25 minutes for McChrystal optic, and the surprisingly prominent participation of the political team in what is supposed to be a national security review. This coupled with numerous anonymous quotes attributed to senior Obama team members aimed at knocking McChrystal down a peg or two do more to roil than smooth the civil-military waters.

And then, most recently, a remarkable (and rare) public disagreement between Chief of Staff Emmanuel and Secretary of Defense Gates about whether the Obama team can wait to decide on the McChrystal request until after the fate of Afghan President Karzai is resolved.
In short, President Obama has been slowly veering off into a civil-military ditch of his own digging. Despite his relative inexperience in national security matters, this was not inevitable; during the campaign President Obama showed himself to be fairly deft rhetorically in regards to civil-military relations and he carried this strong performance through the first several months of his presidency. However, in recent months he has seemed far less at ease with his wartime Commander-in-Chief role.

If Obama regains a deft touch, the crash can be averted. To avert it he needs to do more than simply endorse the McChrystal request, though that would surely help. He needs to show that he respects the civil-military process, and he needs to rein in his advisors who have been stumbling about. If he is going to over-rule McChrystal, which is his right as a Commander-in-Chief, he will have a much steeper climb out of his civil-military hole. At a minimum, he will need to forthrightly take ownership of the war and all of its consequences and spend the political capital he has hitherto avoided spending on national security issues to explain his decision to the American people and the American military. Of course, while President Obama and his team bear the lion's share of the responsibility for the current civil-military friction, they cannot by themselves get out of the hole they have dug.

The military will have to help by rigorously sticking to proper norms of civil-military relations. That means they must not counter-leak, not even to defend themselves from scurrilous attacks from unnamed White House staffers; seek redress quietly, within the system, and within the chain of command. They must avoid threatening President Obama with resignations in protest if he overrules their advice; such threats subvert the principle of civilian control which implies that civilians have a right to be wrong. And they must be prepared to do their utmost to implement Obama's chosen strategy as effectively as they can with whatever resources he puts at their disposal. If President Obama errs, it is up to the electorate to judge him, not the military.



Shadow Government / Obama's military problem is getting worse

EU—The Coming Storm

EU—The Coming Storm

October 21, 2009 | From
By Ron Fraser

The year 2010 promises to be a rocky one for the world’s largest trading bloc, the European Union. The European Commission has cited 20 of the EU’s 27 member nations for unacceptable budget deficits. The latest shock comes from Greece, having revised its former deficit estimate for 2009 from 3.7 percent of gross domestic product to between 10 and 12 percent. That estimate is between three and four times the EU’s self-imposed limit of a permissible 3 percent maximum of gdp for EU economies.

Germany and France, the largest economies within the EU, have forecast 2009 budget deficit estimates of 3.7 percent and 8.2 percent respectively. It is interesting to note that Germany, the prime mover for the imposition of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact which limits EU budget deficits to that 3 percent maximum, has been one of the most consistent offenders, for years having posted deficits consistently above that figure.

At the other end of the scale—the smaller and weaker economies within the EU—concerns run even deeper. The Guardian reported that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has warned, “The countries of Central and Eastern Europe will enjoy only a ‘fragile and patchy’ economic recovery in 2010 and the region remains vulnerable to the sort of banking crises that hit Latvia this month” (October 15). Latvia, which narrowly avoided complete financial meltdown a week ago, is estimating its 2009 budget deficit will reach a whopping 10 percent!

During a conference on banking regulation in Brussels this month, Nobel prize winner in economics Joseph Stiglitz observed that “the financial crisis is forcing the EU to re-examine its cornerstone policy area—the single market” (EUobserver, October 12). “The current solution,” Stiglitz said, “which is to put undue burdens on those particular countries that followed the model of deregulation, is one that we might want to question.”

That is tantamount to questioning the very foundational economic policy upon which the European Union is founded.

EUobserver further reported that “The single market theme was later picked up by the EU’s economy commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, who warned that differences in financial regulation across the EU pose a dangerous threat to the bloc’s internal market. … Mr. Almunia said it was vital that the EU iron out its own in-house discrepancies or risk contagion to the real economy” (ibid.).

The financial and economic storm gathering in Europe is all grist for the mill to the elites who are currently busy developing the rules and regulations which, via the global regulatory authority granted to the EU-contrived Financial Stability Board (fsb), will soon impose its measures, not just on Europe, but on the world’s 20 leading economies.

The greater the impending economic crisis, the louder the call will come for global financial and economic regulation. That call will be music to the ears of German-Catholic elites who are behind the push for global regulation by the fsb. Each call for tighter financial and economic regulation simply brings us closer to the realization of their imperial vision of Europe—in reality, the prophesied seventh, and final, resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire (Revelation 13:16-17). •



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Human Microchipping: What You Need to Hear NOW!!!

By Denise on October 19th, 2009
Microchipping: What You Need to Hear

We’ve all heard it. Microchipping would enable doctors to link to a database and be able to view your medical information. Beware this benign campaign, folks. It opens the door to government intrusion even further.

Sounds pretty safe, eh? I mean this could come in handy should you find yourself in an emergency room on vacation, right? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Two days from now, representatives from the VeriChip Corporation and RECEPTORS LLC will meet in New York to unveil two new proposals. One is a virus triage detection system. It would utilize a small strip or test tube and a reader similar to the glucometers used by diabetics to check their blood sugar levels. The other is a plan to get diabetics to have their blood sugar levels monitored via an implanted RFID microchip. No more pricking your finger or resetting your glucometer. The chip would provide a reading at any time.

To read more about this, click here.

I’ll be honest. Microchipping scares the crap outta me. Not only because of my personal religious beliefs, but because it allows for more government control of the people. Yes, we got Zeus chipped earlier this year, but he’s not going to be carrying our personal information on it. In fact, should he run off and be scanned, all they’ll know is where the chip was implanted. From there, my vet can contact me.

Think of what could be done with a microchipped population. No need for money conversion anywhere in the world (a one-world currency system), the ability to see whether or not you contracted an STD in college, and viewing your entire criminal history (including a shoplifting charge you had as a juvenile) would become conveniences of an already overreaching government. In fact, I offer a one-world government.

What would be the next step? Requiring a chip to drive? Want a credit card? Filling out that pesky application would become a thing of the past. When the government can’t find a fugitive, GPS tracking within the chip would solve that problem. Then, and this is where my belief system comes in, you can’t do business without a chip. All done in the name of convenience and efficiency.

The problem of convincing people that this is a real possibility (and arguably a foretold reality) is that those who float the idea of microchip abuse are often painted as religious zealots or crackpots. Those of you who are regulars here: Do I fit that description?

I urge each of you to look within yourselves and decide whether this is something that you’re comfortable with. Explore your faith and your conscience. If you fear being labeled as crazy or paranoid, don’t be afraid.

There ARE people who agree with you.