March, Organize, Resist

February 5, 2017

It’s hard to believe that we are only 16 days into the presidency of a ‘person’ who lost the popular election by roughly 3 million votes and only won the Electoral College because of 77,000 votes. I use the term ‘person’ loosely, because the so called president is really an animated caricature of an actual human being. And I refer to him as the ‘so called president’ because if you account for all of the voter suppression tactics employed against us, then the so called president most likely wouldn’t have won the Electoral College either.

So here we are in what can be called a coup. Our democratic processes have been hijacked, our election stolen, and every single part of our government and all of its institutions are under siege. Forces beyond our shores have crippled our national dialogue through deceit and manipulation, and internal conspirators have fed into, and used for their own nefarious purposes, our distrust, our ambivalence, and our disorganization, to achieve the goal of rendering us voiceless and powerless.

We are a divided nation, a conquered people. For decades many, if not most, of us have bitched and moaned about bureaucracy, have complained endlessly about the tone deafness of D.C., and have watched with disdain as our tax dollars were pissed down the drain by a greedy and power hungry cabal of empty suits who always promise the moon but rarely deliver more than a few rotten crumbs for the huddled masses to fight over.

We have always known that there were people among us who wished to do this nation harm. But instead of focusing on the few who would rule us, we have often fallen into the trap that it is our neighbor who is to be feared. That the person who looks, speaks or worships differently than us must somehow be trying to take something from us. The tactics of fear and paranoia keep us at war with each other. Meanwhile the 1% steal our rights and plunder our national treasures.

Though most of us may have hated the way Washington works, few if any ever gave up on the notion of representative democracy. We never called for the complete destruction of the institutions that make up our government. What many of us have always called for is recognition and reform. We have fought for the recognition of all people, regardless of race, class, creed, or gender, as equal partners in, and equal members of, this self governing experiment. And we have striven to reform the system to make it better represent and serve everyone, not just a chosen few.

What is happening now did not materialize over night. It has been a long game, a campaign by the most craven and zealous fought both in the open and behind the scenes. While most of us are worried about paying the bills, the elitists concern themselves with their own enrichment at our expense. While we vote in each election with the hope that our representatives will use their time in public service to make life better, fairer, for everyone, an army of lobbyists representing the moneyed interests seeks to undermine democracy and shift the profits of our labors into the pockets of their masters.

I wish I could provide a sense of hope in these troubled times, say that our marches, our letters, our phone calls will save us. And maybe they will. If we find focus, if we become organized, if we stay engaged and don’t give into fatigue and despair, then we might just have a chance in hell of resisting the forces that have seized control of our government. The so called president, his minions, and the power brokers will not tire of the fight, so neither must we.

The history of the last century has shown us the dangers of fascism, of totalitarianism. It has laid bare the dangers we all now face. Unfortunately that history also shows us how easily people can be convinced to give into the worst of human nature. How in our longing for something better, something or someone to save us, we become willing participants in our own enslavement.

The question is, will we as a people unite in our own defense? Will we find common cause, realize that we are all in this together? That our greatest strength is unity? That regardless of whether you live in a small town in the mid-west or a coastal city, your rights, your dreams, your future are in peril? We breathe the same air, drink the same water, depend on the same structures and have the same fundamental yearning to live a full and meaningful life.

My goal over the coming days, weeks and months is to find that common cause, and to figure out how to voice it in such a way that I find unity with my fellow citizens. Screaming at each other is what got us here. Perhaps it’s time to listen to each other. To learn to speak with each other, not at each other. Because otherwise we all loose. Maybe I am being idealistic, but I do believe that the majority of people are decent, and that ours is a shared struggle. I refuse to be dragged into nihilism, to give up on my brothers and sisters.

Whatever you do today, be kind to those around you. If they call you names, don’t call them names back. If they push you, don’t push back. Lead by example. Show everyone around you that decency and compassion are greater that hate and fear. Most of all, refuse to accept the notion that all is lost. This is my biggest challenge for sure. We are still here, every one of us. Our government may be currently infested with a tyrannical disease, but that doesn’t mean we have to give ourselves over to its sickness. Continue to speak truth to power. Your voice is your weapon. Focus its strike at the true enemy, not those around you acting out of their own sense of loss and desperation.

March, organize and resist.


So That Happened

November 17, 2016

I have been trying to put to words my thoughts and feelings on the election. For now this video will have to do:

Aftermath November 2016 from Steve Cohen on Vimeo.

A Trashed World – The Human Legacy

June 23, 2015

Our world is warming up. Most likely because of human activity. And yet there exists a rather large segment of our population that gets foaming at the mouth mad when this is brought up. We can’t seem to have a conversation because we get stuck on one point: man-made global warming. Which to me seems like a distraction from the real discussion.

Let’s try and look at this from a couple of angles. First off, let’s say that our atmosphere is warming up, but that it is not because of anything humans are doing. OK, we are not at fault. But we still have an issue. Our world is still getting warmer, and this creates a very real problem for us. At some point it gets too hot and we are pretty much screwed. So we really should be talking about what to do about this. We have a lot of mouths to feed, and if we don’t come up with some ideas fast, a lot of people (possibly all of us) are going to die a horrible death.

Second angle. Our world is warming up and it’s because of our activities. Which means we, at least in theory, have the power to change this. I say in theory because we would have to exercise some self control in order to accomplish this. Which we humans are not known for. If we don’t a lot of people (possibly all of us) are going to die a horrible death.

If our world is not in fact warming up, then there is no issue and proceed as normal. Right? Well no. You would have to be pretty willfully blind to not notice the pollution that surrounds us. Our air is filthy, our rivers and lakes are filthy, and our oceans are strewn with trash. Species are dying off at an alarming rate. Regardless of whether or not our atmosphere is warming up, we still have what I’ll refer to as a trash issue. Sure, we may not die from the effects of a warming planet, but we could still poison ourselves. Which could lead to a lot of people (possibly all of us) dying a horrible death.

Which leads me to the point of this post. Regardless of whether or not you ‘believe’ in global warming, you have to be pretty fucking willfully ignorant and blind to not notice how we are trashing our environment. And it just so happens that the solutions to our trash issue are the same as the ones for stopping man-made global warming. So if we are causing the atmosphere to warm up, then we can change our ways and stop this. Which would also lead to a reduction in the trashing of our world. And if we are not causing the warming, we still benefit from a cleaner world.

Unfortunately, if the world we live in is in fact warming up due to some natural cycle, then we need to figure out how to survive this. But since we seem unable to have any real conversation on this, if it is happening we are pretty much fucked. Now, I know the more cynical of you out there are thinking, “Well, if we’re fucked anyways, let’s just party till the end!” And that is an option I suppose, if you don’t give two shits about the survival of our species. Which is a common attitude, given the amount of support that exists for endless wars. Many of us seem to have no problem with killing one another. Getting rid of all of us is the next logical step.

So we as a species are left with a couple of choices. Do we act now to clean up our world and benefit from the effort even if man-made global warming does not exist? Or do we keep on going down this path to a poisoned world and see what wipes us out first, ourselves or nature?

Since I too am a cynical bastard, I am guessing that we choose the second option. Because nothing is more human than fucking up a perfectly good thing.

Updated – Just Another Riot in America

April 27, 2015

Oh Wolf Blitzer. It’s not amazing that this riot is happening in a major US city. It is amazing that riots like this aren’t happening in every major city as a response to the systematic racism, police brutality, imprisonment and overall disrespect and contempt hurled at minorities in this country. Do I condone this behavior? Fuck me. Who cares what this white man thinks. Who fucking cares what you think Wolf. Condemn away.

And this bullshit about “This isn’t how you bring about change.” Well then how? It’s not like things haven’t been screwed up since the inception of this country. And continue to be. And will continue to be, because the powers that be don’t want things to change. They just don’t fucking care as long as white privilege is maintained.

When Republicans say they want their country back, they mean they want an America that is pre-Civil Rights. They want a country where women, blacks, all others, know ‘their place’. Where a white man doesn’t have to compete against ‘others’ in the workplace. Where they can be sexists, homophobics, bigots and no one will dare challenge them on it.

I mean my god we elected a black man President and the Right has done nothing but try to delegitimize him ever since. Question his status as a citizen. Check. Claim he’s a Muslim. Check. Claim he’s a fascist. Check. Attack his mother. Check. Bring the country to a halt. Check. Circumvent the office of the President in international treaty negotiations. Check. Throw out every damn fridge ass conspiracy theory someone can pull out of their ass no matter how racist or insane. Check.

Never mind that people are hunting other people at the border. Or that the War on Drugs has ravaged the black community. Or that states are bringing segregation back in schools. Or that women still don’t have control over their own bodies. Or that the gay community is still fighting for basic civil rights. Or that our democratic process has been given away to the rich on a silver platter. Nope. Let’s believe that things will change if all the ‘others’ would just sit down and talk.

People have been talking for over two centuries. And things are still fucked up. Black men are still being gunned down. Women are still second class citizens. Gays are still vilified as child molesters. Immigrants are still blamed for all our ails. Maybe if things actually changed riots like this wouldn’t happen. But judging by the rise in militias, by the words spoken by Republican Presidential candidates, by the rise of the Tea Party in American politics, the Right just doesn’t give a fuck. They want their country back and to hell with everyone and anyone who they don’t deem ‘real Americans’.

This riot is a blemish Wolf? You want to know what’s a blemish? The fact that so many Americans not only seem completely ignorant of our shared history, but that they are proud of that ignorance. They wear it like a badge of honor. That is what a fucking blemish looks like.

But please Wolf, go back to the fainting couch and continue acting so shocked by this kind of thing. Yep, there probably are a bunch of provocateurs involved here. But why? What event or events occurred that gave them this opportunity? Why do these riots happen? Ask yourself that. Then look in the mirror.

Update 1: Apparently the Baltimore Orioles’ VP and COO gets it:

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

Update 2 – Steven D over at Progress Pond lays out a hell of an argument for how a militarized police force creates riots.

The American Taliban Strikes in Las Vegas – Updated

June 9, 2014

Updates below.

No doubt the shooters in Las Vegas will be dismissed as lone wolves, as nothing more than aberrations. Because admitting they are in fact years of right-wing hatred and fear-mongering made manifest could lead one to realize that maybe, just maybe, we have a real and serious problem in this country. That just possibly the ‘Liberty’ and ‘Freedom’ fuck-fest that has enriched a few might actually have real-world consequences. Like, for instance, two police officers being gunned down in cold blood.

No, these two asshats are the end product of an entire industry that prays on the worst of humanity. Within their twisted ideological rants are contained everything that has spewed forth from hate radio, from Faux News, from World Nut Daily, from countless would -be politicians, talking heads, ideologues, grifters and bottom feeding conspiracy peddlers. Their call for ‘revolution’ is the same as heard daily from any number of sources. They hoped to get a response that would be brutal, that would fill television screens across this nation with an overly aggressive governmental response in order to finally stir the blood of their ilk to a boil and bring about their blood bath wet dream.

This is what is hoped for at the Bundy Ranch and OAS. This is what is trained for by countless militias. And this is what is prayed for by those that hope to come out on top in the Mad Max version of reality these people have in their fucked up heads. This is the American Taliban, fundamentalists who would destroy everything to impose their dangerous and down right disastrous beliefs and views on the rest of us. They see themselves as martyrs, no different than suicide bombers who give their lives for the cause. They are the true believers, warriors who sacrifice themselves and anyone else who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because we are all expendable, even condemnable, if we are not as self-righteous as they.

What result do they ultimately seek? What is the end game of their call for revolution? Who the hell knows. They didn’t. None of them ever do. Because to see that their so-called war against pretty much everything would inevitably lead to a ravaged society, where the most opportunistic seize control, would be to understand the history of these types of movements, and the dangers. Facts are anti-thesis to these people, reality but an inconvenience to be swept under the rug once they have burned all the history books.

But, as is usually the case, they will be forgotten soon enough by the media and the public. Because tomorrow there will be another crazed shooter, another lone wolf. And another. And another. They will always be held at arms reach by those that fed them the hatred that drove them, at least until there is enough of them acting together to finally fill the streets with blood, to cleanse society of the unwanted, the unworthy. Meanwhile gun sales will go up, more will prepare for the inevitable war, while the parrots on the Right continue to dish out dose after dose of poisoned Kool-Aid.

Update – It seems I am not the only one who gets this.

Update 2 – This article about the driving factors behind mass shooting seems pretty relevant to these two fuckers.

With Regards To Bergdahl’s Release – Updated x2

June 5, 2014

Updates below.

Below is my response to this diary:

For me refusing to participate in the carnage that is Afghanistan takes more courage than going along with it. Our soldiers have committed plenty of their own crimes against the people there. It is no secret that our own have often treated the Afghan people like shit. It seems from what I have read this is what drove this young man to want to walk away from it all.

I am waiting to hear what he has to say, if he ever gets to tell his side of the story. I know it bugs the hell out of a lot of my fellow vets that Bergdahl left his position (I will hold off on calling it desertion until he is prosecuted for such). My question is, is there really any honor in staying if your fellow soldiers are abusing the very people they are supposedly there to help? Are all those that served in Afghanistan, or Iraq for that matter, heroes by default?

Do not misunderstand me, I am not calling this man a hero. But I do think that there is a certain sanity in walking away from something that you can no longer consciously participate in, even if doing so will be quite unpopular, to the point that you may forever loose your own freedom.

As everything at this point is speculation, I will withhold my final judgement of him until I know more. And I will not forget that mine is but one opinion amongst many. Even what I have written here and elsewhere is based more on emotion and my own speculation than any real facts. What I will not do is parrot right-wing talking points, nor will I call for his head out of some archaic sense of honor.

If anything good were to come from this, I would wish that we as a nation would finally take stock of the past 13 years and finally come to terms with our own guilt. A guilt that comes from sending our men and women off to foreign lands to fight wars that have no ultimate objective, no way to ‘claim victory’ at the end of the day. A guilt that is drenched in the blood of countless faceless peoples who never posed a real threat to our lands. A small band of lunatics attacked us on a fateful day 13 years ago. What happened afterwards will be looked back on as insanity.

Update – I want to share this reply to my above comment:

A good insight into the war as a whole!

“I know it bugs the hell out of a lot of my fellow vets that Bergdahl left his position”

I am sure you can understand this, even if you don’t agree with it.

And that point is why many vets who are progressives feel the way they do. People trying to paint it as listening to the RWNJs just don’t understand. The lack of dependability of a fellow soldier in your unit in a combat zone is what bothers vets. In the field you only have each other, and abandoning your unit in a combat zone is just plain reprehensible. If he felt like he could no longer serve, he should have went through proper channels and gotten discharged or sent to another unit.

and my response:

I can understand that position.

We band together out of a sense of camaraderie. What else can we do in that situation? Thrust into combat, lives on the line, our strength, our very survival, is dependent on those around us, just as their survival is dependent on us. We must move as a unit. Live as a unit.

I can also see the ultimate folly of war, especially this one. And I can say with certainty that I would rather a person walk away if they are not of the mindset spoken of above than have them by my side. If this was his reason, if he was disillusioned and no longer capable of carrying out his mission, then he was a danger to those around him. Let us speculate for a minute that this is indeed the case, and that he honestly thought he could make it out of the country on his own. If so he is guilty of being a fool, of being far too sure of his own abilities and skill.

Should he instead have gone to his chain of command? Perhaps, though I doubt it would have done any good. His complaints would most likely have fallen on deaf ears. Or worse it would have caused him to be thrust deeper into the very travesty he wished to escape from. Those in command can be fickle that way.

So yes, I can understand your point. At the end of the day his worst mistake was signing up at all. For if he was not prepared to stay, to participate, and to die with his unit regardless of his own personal feelings, then he had no business being there in the first place. Such is the mindless nature of the military.

I do have to wonder if the vets that are appalled by this man’s actions are equally ready to cast disdain upon their fellow soldiers who committed the countless crimes against the Afghan and Iraqi peoples which we as a nation seem to collectively refuse to acknowledge.

Update 2 – Another aspect to this I feel needs included here (As I have been in several conversations on this topic today, below is another comment I made in a different diary on the subject of whether those traded for Bergdahl are terrorists or enemy fighters. I think this is an important distinction):

So I guess we should just start parroting the right-wing talking points many of us here have spent countless hours pushing back against. The Taliban was A-OK with our government and corporate masters back in 1999. They only became the enemy when they refused to give up bin-Laden. Were they shit bags before that? Hell yes. But when the US wanted a pipeline deal their evil was ‘not so bad’ to get in the way.

It has driven me nuts how the word terrorist has been abused in this country. Everyone suddenly became one (it has been hurled at those of us on this site too). Most people in Afghanistan didn’t even know about 9/11 until we showed up guns a-blazing. A lot of the people we have been fighting were ‘radicalized’ by our invasion. But they all get called terrorists.

Let’s not confuse the issue here. The war is winding down, we did a prisoner swap. If the American public is still too damn stupid to understand what happened over the past 13 years then yes we have a problem. But let’s not aid the Right in their spin.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment sums it up:

Obama clearly saw this prisoner swap in the light of the imminent end of hostilities in Afghanistan, as an early implementation of steps that would have to be taken swiftly in 2017 anyway, to meet US treaty obligations under international law. Those politicians demanding that officials of the former Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan remain in Guantanamo forever with no charges filed against them and after hostilities have ceased are asking for a Star Chamber, for something that is un-American and which is illegal in US law.

I want to also point out that there has been a considerable amount of flip flopping on the Right. Countless people on that side of the spectrum have been spending their time and energy backtracking on their previous calls to bring Bergdahl home. Many are even now scrubbing their websites, Twitter feeds and the like of any past support for his rescue from the Taliban. We are seeing a deliberate whitewash in action.

One last note. I highly recommend reading this piece:

Dead or alive, we get our people home, whatever the cost, that’s the one promise that must never be broken.

The day we forget that, the day the fear of “what will the terrorists think” becomes more important to us than that sacred obligation, that’s the day America dies.

Whether or not Bowe Bergdahl is a hero or a deserter or just a hapless fool who screwed up under the enormous pressures of war, he’s still an American.

A moment of silence please….

May 26, 2014

This year marks the 19th anniversary of the death of an American hero.

And because archives only go back so far, I am going to type all of this out in it’s entirety.

First, an example of the information we get from the government about accidents in the military, from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

Jet pilot killed in training mission

(date not on newspaper clipping)

FORT BLISS-A military jet crashed during a training mission yesterday in rugged Texas terrain on the northern edge of Fort Bliss. The pilot was killed. Ground troops saw the twin-engine, single-seat A-10 Thunderbolt II, an anti-tank plane nicknamed the Warthog, disappear behind a hill just before the start of a joint Army-Air Force training exercise, Fort Bliss officials said. Cause of the crash was not immediately known. The pilot’s name was being with-held until relatives could be notified.

But the truth sometimes rears it’s ugly head:

Military pilot killed in NM crash saved others, witness says

Associated Press (via The Dallas Morning News)

FORT BLISS, Texas-An Air National Guard major may have saved about 100 lives by staying with his plane instead of ejecting before it crashed last week in New Mexico, a witness said.

Maj. Clarence Marsh III of Park city, Utah, died Friday morning in the crash of an A-10 Thunderbolt II.

“If he had ejected, he would have taken out the whole bank (of soldiers),” said Spec Paul Foster of Fort Sill, Okla., part of a Howitzer battery training at Fort Bliss’ McGregor Range when the crash occured about 30 miles north of El Paso.

Maj. Marsh’s plane, flying with an Air National Guard unit from Battle Creek, Mich., slammed into a sand dune Friday morning.

“He came in from the east and banked to the left,” Spec. Foster said. “He came in real low over our firing point. I mean real low. If he had been any lower, he would have taken out the tubes of our guns.”

When Spec. Foster first saw the plane, he said, it was nose down and heading straight at his group of 85 to 100 soldiers. At the last second, the pilot nudged the nose upward and skimmed over the soldiers’ heads, he said.

Spec. Foster said it looked as if the pilot was trying to make it to a nearby road for an emergency landing.

“The landing gear was down, and the canopy was still on. There was a 500-pound bomb underneath,” he said.

Maj. Marsh didn’t make it to the road.

“He hit the ground about 150 meters away from me, slid for about 50 meters, impacted into a sand dune, jumped a little, then the tail hit the sand dune, and the plane exploded,” Spec. Foster said.

The soldier said he’s thankful that Maj. Marsh stayed with the plane and was able to miss the soldiers.

“There would have been a whole lot of casualties if he had ejected,” he said.

The 41-year-old officer had served in the Air Force from 1977 to 1987 and had been a member of the Air National Guard since 1998. He also was a pilot for Delta Airlines.

Air Force investigators haven’t determined the cause of the crash. Maj. Marsh and Spec. Foster were taking part in a joint Army-Air Force exercise.

Spec. Foster said members of his unit, the C Battery, 3-18th Field Artillery, are taking up a collection to send flowers to Maj. Marsh’s widow, Anne, and their three children, ages 9, 6 and 4.

Maj. Marsh’s father, also named Clarence Marsh, said he was not surprised by his son’s decision to stay with the plane.

“When there is impending disaster, pilots are trained to try to avoid ground troops. He would have tried to do that,” said Mr. Marsh, a retired Army colonel reached at his home in Hampton, Va., by the El Paso Times.

I have included both articles for a reason. The first was the official statement put out by the military. The second led to the discharge of a career soldier.

We came out of the field 3 days after the crash. Like everyone else, Foster called home. His fiancee had heard nothing of the crash, so Foster decided to call the local press and tell them of the heroic sacrifice Maj. Marsh had made. The story made the local radio, and Foster left (got kicked out of) the Army soon afterwards. He had served in Germany during the Cold War and Iraq during Desert Storm. He had been phased out in 1992 and had come back in 2 years later. And he got shit canned for telling the story of a hero.

Well, I was there, and Maj. Marsh’s sacrifice saved my life. And today of all days I say thank you to him for his sacrifice, for his bravery.

I remember it in snap shots of time. I was sitting on a water jug leaning against the FDC (Fire Direction Control) vehicle, smoking a cig, enjoying a couple of minutes of down time. We had just refueled and reloaded. and were watching the A-10′s flying missions over our heads. We were to join the exercise again soon, and everyone was getting some sleep, bathing, or just relaxing.

I remember someone yelling “Look!” and I turned my head to the left and say the under side of the A-10 as it banked hard to the right literally right in front of me, its wingtip not more than a couple of meters above the ground.

I just sat there, eyes glued to the impending tragedy before me, as the plane barely leveled out before it’s tail hit a sand dune. The tail ripped off and the plane began to bounce nose to tail across the desert.

The FDC vehicle I was next to was the closest vehicle to the crash, and we had the medic stationed at our vehicle. I remember him jumping out of the vehicle, throwing one soldier a water jug and me a fire extinguisher as he ran towards the wreckage.

I followed him into the thick black smoke. It was awful. The fumes choked me, and then the anti-tank rounds from the Gatling gun began to burn off. I dove to the ground, waited a minute and then got up and ran after, well, just ran into the smoke.

I came out on the other side to find the medic trying to put a fire out around a burning cactis. I ran over with the fire extinguisher and began discharging it. Then I realized why the medic was working so hard to put this particular fire out: because the pilot’s body was burning there too.

The rest of the day is a blur. We secured the area, then loaded up our gear and moved down the road. Chaplins came out of nowhere, we were “debriefed”, and then we spent the next couple of days waiting for an opening so we could roll back in. End of exercise.

I would count myself blessed if this were the only death I had witnessed in the Army, but it wasn’t. And to think I never saw combat.

Clarence Marsh III is buried in Arlington National Cemetery:

Clarence Talmage Marsh III
Major, United States Air Force Virginia State Flag
BATTLE CREEK ANGB, Michigan (Air Force News Service) — A pilot assigned to this base was killed in the crash of an A-10 jet fighter in New Mexico, north of Fort Bliss, Texas, May 19, 1995.

The pilot, Major Clarence T. Marsh III, 41, of Park City, Utah, was an Air National Guard member of the 172nd Fighter Squadron, the base’s flying unit.

Marsh, a 1977 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, was a command pilot assigned as an assistant flight commander for the squadron. He was employed full-time by Delta Airlines.

He is survived by his wife and three children at home, and parents in Hampton, Virginia.

The accident is under investigation by a board of Air Force officers.

Major Marsh was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 25 May 1995 after having been provided with a waiver for such burial.

The waiver was supported and proposed by Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah): Deceased was Clarence Marsh, active duty 1978-87, killed while training with Air National Guard. Major Clarence T. Marsh, U.S. Air National Guard, was flying as part of an Army exercise over White Sands Missile Range when his plane crashed. According to reports of the incident, he remained with the plane as it crashed to prevent it from crashing into the approximately 100 soldiers on the ground, thus saving their lives at the expense of his own.
NOTE: His father, Clarence T. Marsh, Jr., Colonel, United States Army, died in May 2001 and was also laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

He died so that fellow soldiers could live. Clarence Marsh III is a hero.

Please remember everyday that there are people out there risking their lives for the protection of our Republic. And soldiers die in training accidents far more frequently than most folks know. Don’t wait till Memorial or Veterans’ Day to say thank you to a soldier. Especially in this time of war, remember all those who serve so you can live in peace here at home.

On ‘White Privilege’

May 21, 2014

Here is my reply to this post stating that we should stop using the term ‘white privilege’:

I think I get what the diarist is trying to convey, though I disagree. I can understand why whites, especially white males, get defensive when confronted with the term ‘white privilege’. I used to as well. After all, I came from a pretty piss poor background and had to work my butt off to get what I have. So I never felt ‘privileged’.

As I have grown older and had time to really reflect on my early years, several things have occurred to me. The big one being that I was privileged, I just didn’t recognize it at the time. I ran around with a pretty rough crowd, which led to numerous confrontations with the police. And magically we never got arrested. That magical part comes from my being white. There are times I can look back and see where a person of color would not have been let go. Hell, they would more likely than not have had to fear for their life.

The times I was followed in stores were times I should have been. We were generally up to no good and didn’t do a very good job of hiding the fact. The store employees weren’t being assholes. They were doing their job, trying to stop us from stealing.

I did get in a couple of fights where I was attacked for being white. As I see it now the guys who started them where targeting me for my race, but not as acts of racism. They were pissed off black youths, often living in impossible situations, who were lashing out against the people who they saw as oppressing them, white people, and I was a target of convenience. Hell yes they knew full well they were getting the short end of the stick and had little if any recourse. So getting a few licks in on a white kid gave them some kind of outlet. I don’t agree with their methods, but I can fully understand their frustration. I watched time again as black kids were kicked out of school or arrested for offenses that myself and other white kids were given detention for, if punished at all.

We always said that rich kids go to rehab, poor kids go to jail. I think it’s equally true to say white kids have a better chance of getting into rehab instead of jail, with the opposite being true for black kids.

Sometimes we have to look deeper to see the privilege. Sometimes it’s glaringly obvious. Sometimes it’s subtle. But I think most times we don’t see it at all because we are not looking for it. It’s not something white people necessarily experience in their minds as a ‘positive’. I don’t get free money from the bank (as Eddie Murphy comically assumed in a skit once). But I may very well get a loan that a person of color may not. Sure I still owe the money, but at least I got it in the first place.

But for someone on the other end of the spectrum ‘privilege’ is a direct negative on their life. I can’t ever recall not being able to get a cab. No one ever follows me around stores anymore. No one sees me as threatening when I walk down the road. Cops are generally nice to me, and I often get warnings for speeding over a ticket. If I wasn’t aware that this is not the normal experience for people of color I could claim that I am not privileged. But the opposite is true.

By not being white the person is subject to a plethora of negative experiences and treatment I am not, for no other reason than skin color. I am not aware of this on a daily basis as these experiences do not happen to me. But that does not mean they don’t happen. And I can choose to ignore the existence of this bias because of my skin color. That my friend is the privilege of being white.

There are some really great replies in the original diary. Read the thread if you have the time.

Thoughts on the OAS

May 16, 2014

Um, what? Read this article and see if you can figure out what exactly these people want to achieve. My biggest problem with this and similar movements is the conflicting, manic, and utterly incoherent nature of their stated grievances. They throw around words like tyranny, freedom, liberty, revolution and the like as if it’s a contest to see who can use them the most per paragraph. Yet they never seem to have a real answer for what would happen the day after if their little fits of rage actually achieved their purported goals.

They all seem convinced that America was paradise right up until President Obama got elected. That somehow everything suddenly went to shit in 2009. I’m not in any way saying there are no problems in this country. There are real issues that need addressed, both here and globally if humanity is to continue to survive, not just thrive. However, what these folks seem to be selling has more to do with listening to too much hate radio than actual facts.

What do they really want? What does their dream America actually look like? I am guessing the 1950’s is as best a vision as we can find. Back when women and minorities knew their place, the MIC was never questioned in their drive to kill us all, this country was laser focused on destroying communism to the point that things like human rights and democracy abroad meant nothing. A fever dream of American might, of industrial strength and fanatical patriotism.

The echo chamber they live in pumps them up more and more each day. And this I fear will eventually lead to real trouble. We worry about lone wolves, but at some point, especially if a Democrat wins the White House in 2016, this will boil over into more. One of these days a group of these angry white guys will actually try and follow through with their threats.

I am going to guess that these same folks all voted for the very politicians that have sold the heart of this nation to Wall Street time and again. That they cheer when taxes are cut but then bemoan the crumbling of the very institutions those taxes support. And no doubt their versions of freedom and liberty will do nothing to further the causes of civil rights, environmental stewardship or universal peace.

No, they are our version of the Taliban. Fundamentalists clinging to an ideal that never really existed, willing to take up arms and force their own view of paradise on the rest of us, with no regard to the hell they would in fact create. Revolutionaries who would in the end create another failed state, one where real tyranny would rein supreme. History books are filled with them.

The Difference

May 12, 2014

I normally don’t care about sports related news, but I have to take issue with this article discussing Don Jones’ reprimand by the Miami Dolphins concerning his comments about Michael Sam.

“Expect plenty more of this, along with plenty of talk that Sam is “courageous” for being open about his homosexuality. I suppose you have to say he has some guts for not hiding what he does, but that goes only so far. How much courage does it really take to do your thing when the forces of cultural correctness are ready to enforce cultural correctness – including fines, suspensions and sensitivity training – against anyone who has a negative reaction to you?”

First off, it’s not ‘what he does’, it’s who he is. Michael Sam is a man who is attracted to other men. To say ‘what he does’ is to still make homosexuality about a choice. Which it is not. Michael is gay. To state otherwise is no different than saying he chooses to be a black man.

Second, there is this:

“But it is different. For one thing, many of us (and I am one) refuse to ignore 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 or Romans 1:27. The one is not just as good as the other because God’s Word says it isn’t. If you have a problem with that point of view, take it up with God. Don’t talk to me.”

OK, let’s play this game. God made Michael a gay man. So if you are so damn bothered by the existence of gay people, how about YOU take that up with your God.

“And they dare us to say that it is different, and attack us as backwards Neanderthals if we do.”

Because this is no different than attacking someone for their race. We as a society have woken up to the reality that racism is bad, that hating people for who they are is wrong. That’s why Don Sterling is banned from the NBA.

“And because this comes from God, so too does the natural inclination of the human being to look at two men kissing and say, “Ewwww!” Many people don’t want to see it. That’s why we chose not to show the kiss in the photo above. I can’t rail against the media for shoving that image in our faces and then shove it in your face.”

Wrong. Your reaction is a cultural construct. Period. As for the media I will have to admit that they will get as much mileage out of that image as they can. That said, does the author of this article also bitch every time someone mentions that Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in MLB? I doubt it. At least not publicly.

And finally:

“I’ll leave you with this question: How come they can show pictures of two dudes kissing, and we’re not allowed to have any negative reaction whatsoever . . . but when we show pictures of aborted fetusus, they go ballistic? Hmm?”

Because this is done by people hell bent on interfering with the rights of over half the world’s population. It is done as part of a campaign to subjugate women camouflaged with religion, which is the same argument being made here.

‘My version of God as I interpret the Bible says these things are wrong.’ That my friend is a choice you are making. And that is the difference.