May you all have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July!
And say a prayer for our soldiers abroad who cannot be with their families at this time.
May you all have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July!
And say a prayer for our soldiers abroad who cannot be with their families at this time.
Fox News: A recent survey of U.S. Army members shows almost 50 percent of soldiers are unhappy in their service and more than half are pessimistic about the future of the military. Such news quickly brings the “bad old days” of post-Vietnam America to mind.
Our fighting forces returned from Southeast Asia—many battling wounds of body, mind or both—to be greeted with jeers and name-calling. They risked their lives for us; we spit at them. Not our best moment.
One of us is a Vietnam veteran. One of us has the privilege of making and acting in films in a country where free expression is a sacred right, a right defended for us for more than 200 years.
Both of us are proud to be Americans, and we want those in uniform to know these are not the “bad old days.” You make us proud.
The men and women in our uniformed services—and let us include first responders among those—quite simply are the best in the world at what they do. And each of us benefits from their excellence. Theirs are professions full of risks—life-and-death risks—which they brave daily.
Why? For you and me.
There are more than a million men and women in the armed forces. More than a million police officers in our country. More than a million firefighters. Every one of them is a volunteer. (More than 780,000 firefighters are unpaid volunteers.) Every one of them has chosen to selflessly serve to protect us, to protect our property, to defend our rights.
The pay is not great. The hours are worse. The “thanks?”
Well, have you been watching the news? It’s enough to make you mad. But let’s not get mad. Let’s get proud.
We’ve made a film — “Faith of Our Fathers” — about two very different young men, enemies at first, coming together as they discover the bond their very different fathers forged under fire in Vietnam.
You see, we believe it’s possible for differences to meet hardship and emerge united . . . and stronger. We are, after all, the United States. We are, after all, united as Americans. And we are proud of it.
You don’t have to throw your chest out and beat it to show pride. You don’t have to get loud or teary-eyed. What you can do is quietly say, “Thanks,” to next person you see in uniform.
They makes us proud to be Americans. Let’s let them know.
Si Robertson, “Uncle Si” on A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” is a Vietnam veteran and featured performer in the new film “Faith of Our Fathers,” premiering on July 1st. Kevin Downes is an actor and filmmaker starring in “Faith of Our Fathers.”
From the movie web site:
“With the Vietnam War raging in 1969, two young fathers report for duty. A man of great faith and a doubtful cynic. A quarter-century later, their sons, Wayne and John Paul, meet as strangers.
Guided by handwritten letters from their fathers from the battlefield, they embark on an unforgettable journey to The Wall—the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Along the way, they discover the devastation of war cannot break the love of a father for his son. FAITH OF OUR FATHERS: a story of fatherhood; a journey of brotherhood.
Starring Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Downes, David A.R. White, Rebecca St. James, with Si Robertson and Candace Cameron Bure, FAITH OF OUR FATHERS opens in theaters Wednesday, July 1.”
Sounds like a movie I’ll definitely go see.
The Hill: President Obama stressed religious tolerance during an Iftar dinner to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, linking the murders of nine black Christians in South Carolina with the killings of three Muslims in North Carolina earlier this year.
“Our prayers remain with Charleston and Mother Emanuel church,” Obama said Monday night, using the nickname of the historically black church in Charleston where nine people were killed Wednesday night after a gunman opened fire in a Bible study.
“As Americans, we insist that nobody should be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, who they love, how they worship. We stand united against these hateful acts.”
Obama lamented the “distorted impression” that many Americans have of Muslims. “Here in America, many people personally don’t know someone who is Muslim. They mostly hear about Muslims in the news — and that can obviously lead to a very distorted impression,” Obama said.
He shared the story of protesters outside of an Arizona mosque who held up “offensive signs against Islam and Muslims. But when the congregants invited the protesters in to pray, some completely changed their minds. “One demonstrator, who accepted the invitation later, described how the experience changed him; how he finally saw the Muslim American community for what it is — peaceful and welcoming,” Obama said.
“That’s what can happen when we stop yelling and start listening. That’s why it’s so important always to lift up the stories and voices of proud Americans who are contributing to our country every day.”
Guess Obama missed the news about these “peaceful and welcoming” Muslim Americans:
Reuters reports that last Sunday, June 21, 2015, at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the city of Turin, Pope Francis declared that anyone who makes weapons or invests in weapons industries is a hypocrite if they call themselves Christian.
Putting aside his prepared address, Francis told the young people in a long, rambling talk about war, trust and politics:
“Can I trust the world leaders? When I go to give my vote for a candidate, can I trust that he won’t lead my country into war? If you only trust men, you have lost!
It makes me think one thing: people, leaders, entrepreneurs that call themselves Christians, and produce arms! This gives some mistrust: they call themselves Christians! ‘No, no, Father, I don’t produce them, no, no …. I only have my savings, my investments in arms factories.’ Ah! And why? ‘Because the interest is somewhat higher …’ And a double face is also a current coin today: to say something and do another. Hypocrisy …”
To read Francis’ entire speech translated into English, go here.
In other words, Pope Francis is calling gun manufacturers who are Christian, hypocritical and deceitful and unworthy of being Christians.
Even the manufacturers of the guns used by the Swiss Guards (the pope’s personal body guards) and by the Pontifical Gendarmerie (the police force of Vatican City)?
From Encyclopedia Britannica:
Swiss Guards, Italian Guardia Svizzera, corps of Swiss soldiers responsible for the safety of the pope. Often called “the world’s smallest army,” they serve as personal escorts to the pontiff and as watchmen for Vatican City and the pontifical villa of Castel Gandolfo…. While in traditional dress, the guards carry pikes and swords, but they are also trained in the use of modern weaponry and counterterrorism techniques….
The Swiss Guards are sometimes referred to as the Vatican City police, but a separately administered police force [Pontifical Gendarmerie] is charged with the overall security of the nation-state (except St. Peter’s Square, which is under the jurisdiction of the Italian police).
According to Wikipedia, the Swiss Guards are equipped with traditional arms of sword, command baton, partisan, halberd, flamberge and cuirass, and with modern arms of SIG P220 pistol (see below), Glock 19, Steyr TMP, Heckler & Koch MP5A3, Heckler & Koch MP7A1, SIG SG 550, and SIG SG 552.
For more pics of the Swiss Guard’s firearms, see “Guns of the Swiss Guard.”
This is what the Vatican says about the Pontifical Gendarmerie:
[O]n 16 July 2002 His Holiness Pope John Paul II issued a new law (n. CCCLXXXIV) concerning the Government of Vatican City State that established a Directorate for Security Services and Civil Defence, which is headed by the Chiefs of the Corps of Gendarmes and of the Fire Brigade. This law assigns to the Corps of Gendarmes general responsibility for security and public order which encompasses all regular police duties, including border control, crime prevention and investigation, and enforcement of financial and commercial regulations.
This is what Wikipedia says about the Pontifical Gendarmerie or the Corps of Gendarmerie:
The corps is responsible for security, public order, border control, traffic control, criminal investigation, and other general police duties in Vatican City…. The Vatican Gendarmerie includes two special units, the Rapid Intervention Group (Italian: Gruppo Intervento Rapido; G.I.R.) and an anti-sabotage unit (Italian: Unità Antisabotaggio).
While the protection of the Pope’s person is primarily the Swiss Guard’s responsibility, the gendarmes ensure public order at the audiences, meetings and ceremonies at which he is present….
The Gendarmerie is equipped with the Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol in 9 mm Parabellum as the standard issue weapon.
They also have more powerful weapons, such as the Beretta M12 and the Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machine gun, a weapon also used by the Italian police. Against possible riots, they are supplied with batons, pepper sprays and tear gas. For the elite-unit Rapid Intervention Group (GIR), members are equipped with the Carbon 15 carbine and Heckler & Koch FABARM FP6 shotguns.
You want to see a hypocrite, Pope Francis? I suggest you look in the mirror.
H/t Clash Daily
Fox News: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her personal email account to handle high level negotiations in 2011 for a no-fly zone to help topple Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, according to a series of emails obtained by Fox News, challenging her claim the private server did not hold classified information.
The emails, linked here, conflict with Clinton’s statement that she did not put national security at risk by using a personal account.
“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material,” Clinton, now a candidate for president, told reporters in March. “I’m certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”
That claim was hard to test because emails released by the State Department are heavily blacked out. But an email chain from March 23, 2011 — with virtually no redactions — shows a message for senior administration staff including then Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy among others. It goes point by point, explaining what Turkey, France and Britain will likely accept in the deal.
“I think the information in the email is clearly classified. If I were engaged in the negotiation on that subject reporting back to Washington, my reporting cable would be classified,” former UN Ambassador and Fox News contributor John Bolton said after reading the un-redacted emails.
“They’re dealing with the possible U.S. military operation, sensitive negotiations among NATO partners, talking about U.S. objectives and political arrangements and possible objections to the deal from key partners so all of these at secretary of state level is extraordinarily sensitive.”
The email chain also contains exchanges with Clinton aide Jake Sullivan who writes “I will forward you (Clinton) the Turkish proposal momentarily.” Clinton responds “I’m worried that FR (France) and/or the UK know about the Turks idea and want to derail it.”
As the negotiations for a no-fly zone continue, Sullivan notifies Clinton that then-deputy chief of mission Christopher Stevens, who was later killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack, was moving into eastern Libya.
“At that time of course, the country was in chaos, so the situation was very dangerous. His mission was quite sensitive to link up to the opposition,” Bolton said. “And just having that information floating around …would obviously expose Stevens and others to great peril.”
While the first email in the chain is marked “UNCLASSIFIED,” based on his experience as ambassador to the UN, Bolton said he suspects a lot of intelligence was pushed out as unclassified to accommodate her separate, private system.
“It’s not simply the effect on Secretary Clinton’s own email. It’s pervasive throughout the higher levels of the department, which simply magnifies the risk.” Bolton added.
Citing a recent Gallup Poll, the White House reporter for a major news magazine, U.S. News and World Report, is saying out loud what many of us in the alternative media have felt for some time — the American people’s confidence in just about every institution in politics and society is at an all-time low.
That fall and continuing erosion of trust, in turn, has grave implications for the health and viability of democracy.
In an article for U.S. News and World Report on June 17, 2015, Kenneth T. Walsh writes:
Americans have little confidence in most of their major institutions including Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, banks and organized religion, according to the latest Gallup poll.
Here are the findings of the recent Gallup Poll:
The only exceptions to the above decline in confidence are:
Given the decline in confidence in so many institutions, it is not surprising that only 28% of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation. 2004 was the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40%.
A Gallup spokesman said in a news release:
“Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington. In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993. Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages. That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although Americans are now more upbeat about the economy than they were in 2008-2013, they are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.”
All in all, it’s a picture of a nation discouraged about its present and worried about its future, and highly doubtful that its institutions can pull America out of its trough. In a political context, the findings indicate that the growing number of presidential candidates for 2016 will have a difficult time instilling confidence in a skeptical electorate that they have the answers to the country’s problems.
When the rot begins, how quickly it seeps through everything.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was the official United States policy on service by gays and lesbians in the military, which lasted for over 17 years until Obama ended it on September 20, 2011. Less than four years later, an Army general introduced his husband at a public event attended by many top brass, including Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Rowan Scarborough reports for The Washington Times, June 9, 2015, that at the Pentagon’s 4th Gay Pride celebration, master of ceremonies U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Randy S. Taylor introduced his husband, Lucas.
Taylor pointed to Lucas, who was seated in the same row as Defense Secretary Carter, Army Secretary John McHugh and other senior officials, “My husband Lucas is sitting up front here.”
Taylor said his husband has subjugated his own career to support Taylor’s frequent moves over an 18-year relationship: “We bet everything on my Army career.”
Trained as an infantryman, Taylor has served in the Army for 27 years and was deployed to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a communications and information specialist who is now assigned to the Army office of chief of information.
The Pentagon’s 4th Gay Pride celebration showcased a month of homosexual-themed posters and history. The event kicked off with the National Anthem, sung by the Rock Creek Singers, who are with the Gay Men’s Chorus.
A panel discussion featured a homosexual Marine officer, a homosexual Army sergeant who is a criminal investigator, a lesbian chaplain and a transgender “woman,” Amanda Simpson, who is executive director of the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives.
All four introduced their wives, husbands, and, in one case, a fiancé before a filled auditorium.
Simpson is the first openly transgender political appointee in any presidential administration. She said she had been chosen for the civilian post because she was “the best person to do the job.”
Although Carter gave no hint of whether the Obama administration will drop the ban on transgenders and transexuals wearing the uniform, he emphasized his commitment to equal rights: “We need to be a meritocracy. We can’t afford to close ourselves off to any body …. We must start from a position of inclusivity.”
Warner Todd Huston of Right Wing News says it best:
We’ve gone from “don’t ask, don’t tell,” to “tell when we didn’t even ask.”
I don’t want to celebrate gays in the military. I want to celebrate heroes in the military. Their being gay does not make them notable. Being brave in the face of fire does.
H/t John Molloy