September 11, not 9-11

My dad was born on September 11, 1938.  On his sixty-third birthday terrorists destroyed two American icons and shattered forever the illusion that we were beyond the reach of the people intent on doing us harm. There are many lessons to be learned from gaining that insight, but it doesn’t appear that the US has learned anything in the intervening years.  We re-live the events of 9-11 over and over again on each anniversary; wallowing in our collective angst, while repeating the same mistakes that lead to that day, that sprung from that day.

Military adventurism continues almost unabated. Undaunted by the mess that we created in Iraq, we now propose to intervene in the area again.  We remain convinced that everything that happens around the world is somehow linked to us, that we have to weigh in on events, or that somehow the events were caused by us, as if the world only exists because we send our military out there to make sure it does.

My father did his time in the military.  I was born overseas because of the Cold War, and my parents answering the call to serve.  He didn’t like military life very much, and left the service after 4 years to return home to Kansas and his family there.  As a teenager I foolishly contemplated joining the military myself, and mentioned it to him to see what he thought. “You like taking orders?” he said.  I didn’t, I replied. “Well, then you don’t want to join the military.” That was his thinking on the subject, as he related it to me.

Every year after 2001, he complained that the terrorists had stolen his birthday.  Every year until he died, the day that he had looked forward to through childhood had become something terrifying and repugnant.  It annoyed him that his day had been the day they picked. I can understand that.  It is captured in the sentiment of Jim Wright’s piece on Stonekettle Station (a re-post) when Jim mentions the generation that has grown up since the towers fell, never knowing the America that we all remember.  They only know the America we created in our fear after 9-11;

This new generation has lived under the shadow of those falling towers every single minute of every single day since the moment they were born.

Stonekettle Station

So in that sentiment I’d just like to reclaim today, and every September 11th after this one for my father.  Happy birthday dad, wherever you are.  I promise to spend more time thinking of you than of the other events that make this day stand out for average Americans.  Because really, why remember if we aren’t going to learn anything from it?

This post was revised and reposted in 2015.

DCBBS Archive: $8.5 Trillion

My apologies if this was posted previously. I find it unfathomable that this hasn’t been trumpeted across the universe as government waste that we have to address right now. But no, it’s all food stamps and lazy poor people.

Special Enterprise Reporter Scot Paltrow unearthed the “high cost of the Pentagon’s bad bookkeeping” in a Reuters investigation. It amounts to $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996 that has never been accounted for. (The year 1996 was the first that the Pentagon should have been audited under a law requiring audits of all government departments. Oh, and by the way, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with this law.)

Yahoo News

Posted to DCBBS. Want to Cut Government Waste? Find the $8.5 Trillion

The Gun Argument

An armed society is a polite society.

Robert Heinlein

We are an ‘armed society’; I’ll let you be the judge of whether our conduct even approaches politeness. From my perspective, we could use a lot more of it.

Most people will never have cause to use a weapon in self-defense. When I tell someone that I’ve twice had cause to need a weapon, much more use it, most of the time the listener is shocked. Gunnuts (pro-gunners) as a rule are convinced they always need more and better weapons, most of which remain unfired in any setting other than the range where it becomes a matter of pride to have the coolest weapon with the best gizmos to go with it.

That is where the AR-15 is used, not as a self-defensive weapon. A self-defensive weapon is a pistol, or a shotgun. A woman would be better served with a can of pepper spray (also a weapon) as she is more likely to be killed with her own gun, statistically, than she is to use it.

Which is the another point that gunnuts fail to notice; that a ‘weapon’ is anything you can use against another person. That ‘self-defense’ is anything you might do to defend yourself. That, in fact, you cannot have a right to something that you cannot make yourself (if the converse is true, then I can definitely have a right to health care) which means you don’t have a right to firearms in any fashion beyond what the Constitution guarantees.

The worst offenders of the right to Self-Defense, places like Chicago and D.C., are what is held up as examples of commonality across the US. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most places (8 of the 10 cities on this list) in the US have very lax gun laws. We have LOTS of measures on the books, and almost none of them are actively enforced, even if they were effective. There is no mandate that someone demonstrate proficiency with a weapon before being sold one. There is no certification of sound mind required before someone can go and buy a handgun.

‘Anyone’ can go to virtually any gun show or private seller and purchase a weapon more lethal than any gun available at the time of the drafting of the Constitution. If that fact doesn’t scare you, then you aren’t a thinking person.

I’ve had arguments with gunnuts that think that Zimmerman was right to stalk Trayvon Martin, that think teachers should be mandatorily armed (as if weapons proficiency is a good skill in a teacher) that think not just semi-auto ‘mock-ups’ of military arms, but full auto military arms and weapons systems (like tanks) should be available for private purchase. They never seem to get the disconnect between a defensive action (removing a threat to you personally) and military actions, requiring the killing of multiple targets simultaneously, indiscriminate of the safety of onlookers, neighbors, people caught in the crossfire. That is a losing argument.

I’m on record saying “I’d accept that training and background checks should be mandatory, if those who want to ban guns would accept that the right to carry common weapons for defensive purposes is guaranteed.” but truthfully when I start having to argue with gunnuts about their weapons fetish I’m to the point where I simply endorse the reinstatement of the general draft. That is how we fix the problems in this country. Reconstitute the militia as intended in the Constitution. Two years of service, military or civil, with mandatory weapons training for all. Gets the kids off the streets, gets people work to do, gets the gunnuts were we can find them and disarm them before they hurt someone.

…or we can fall back on the first sentiment. Take your pick.


Editor’s note, 2020. I posted this image to Facebook about seven years ago, just about the time this article was published. This article didn’t have an image. Now it does.

It was midway between the Newtown shooting and whatever the next shooting that the national media covered that I posted this. Hell, there was probably a shooting that hour somewhere in the US, but I don’t remember which gun incident we were arguing about at the time. Pick one, I’m sure the victims will not care. One of my friends asked me if Texas really didn’t want its citizens to have health care or rather was this just another image designed to piss conservatives off? There was also a comment from InquizaJamesatribalist in there making his usual doom and gloom predictions if we dared to give up our guns.

I posted two links to the comments. One was These Are The 36 Countries That Have Better Healthcare Systems Than The US. The other was We don’t have a spending problem, we have a military spending problem. I had nothing more to say about Texas favoring the delivery of guns versus delivery of healthcare, seven years ago.

Today I can definitely say that Texas does not want its citizens to have health care. Texas has tried to deny the Wife, the Daughter and the Son access to necessary care. It has done this several times. Texas can’t deny me healthcare because I qualified for Medicare fifteen years ago now. The Wife qualified for Medicare last year. Both the Daughter and the Son only get care today because we make sure that they find access to care. Texas certainly doesn’t offer it to them. It still doesn’t seem to have trouble selling me assault rifles, not that I’ve tried to buy one, but plenty of other Texans have them and shouldn’t. We’ve had to disarm quite a number of them after they’ve gone on rampages in the last few years. Their victims would thank us, if they were still breathing.

…Why would we know by May 27, 2013? Those of you who went to the Facebook link might well be asking that question.

Cross Examined blog

Common Sense 121: Beware the Military Industrial Complex

Dan has stated on occasion that he is not a historian, and I freely admit that I know less about history than he does. This is especially true about military history, which I have not actively studied since I was in high school (other than research into specific events) making me that much more removed from the ranks of historians than Dan is. Even lacking Historian credentials, I think I can say that there is a difference between what something is intended to do, and what gets done.

The Army isn’t supposed to exist in peacetime. On the other hand, there’s been very little true peace in American history. If there wasn’t natives to fight, there has always been some foreign dragon to slay. Those who profit from providing war materials to the government have always found excuses to get us involved in another conflict.

However, the military looks significantly different today than it did prior to WWI. The existence of the Air Force alone, much less the impact of other mechanized forces on the other services proves this. The war department was an ongoing temporary affair until 1943 when the Pentagon was finished (which was strangely about the same time as the creation of the Joint Chiefs) creating the permanent military structure we have now.

Prior to WWI (in spite of Lincoln’s unprecedented conscription service during the Civil War) you have a military that understood the truly temporary nature of its mandate. After WWII, the military sees itself as justifying its own existence; that taking the people’s money to pay for weapons we don’t really need and forces we can’t really use somehow makes sense in the scheme of things.

And so we engage in ever more frequent bouts of military adventurism in order to justify the expense of maintaining the military; creating enemies to fight (Saddam, Osama; perhaps even funding the USSR depending on whose tin foil hat views you want to give credence to) when we couldn’t find a home grown bad guy to flex military muscle on.

Given where we are now, I’ll take the temporary military that we had prior to WWI, whether it was really temporary or not. How many times are we going to fall for this type of subterfuge? The Maine and the Spanish American War? the Lusitania and WWI? Pearl Harbor and WWII? Gulf of Tonkin? 9/11 and our new permanent War on Terror? Hear the bell and salivate. Good dog.

Logic dictates that if you keep paying for a large military, a standing army will be used to do what armies do, kill people and blow things up. If that isn’t acceptable, killing people as a justification for the existence of the military alone, then what is being proposed is a welfare program that we must contribute to because not letting our military go adventuring is going to hurt our economy. Burning women, kids, houses and villages because our boys need some paying work to do. I have never seen soldiers as being some part of a welfare program. “We don’t really need you to serve, but we know you need the money?” I doubt that most of them would be honored to serve, willing to serve, under those conditions.

Is it going to be a radical change in government policy to take this action, to end the existence of a standing US army? Not as much as it would have been 10 years ago. The debt keeps piling up, and we have to pay it down eventually; slashing military spending would go a long way towards correcting the problem. The cure will not be as bad as the disease.


Editor’s note. Dan Carlin having bowed to the inevitable and deleting his forums and the archives (The Wayback Machine has some of the content archived) I am glad that I saved so many of the arguments that I engaged in there. Here is another one of those I’ve published retroactively on the date I saved it to the blog for republishing.

Calling in the Military

The story out of N’Orleans today: Governor Kathleen Blanco has activated National Guard personnel to patrol the city. Over the weekend several teens were killed in a drive-by shooting. If you check the stats in the story, there are more cops per resident in the city than there was pre-Katrina. I’m not sure why they would need the assistance of the National Guard, but apparently the Gov. thought it was appropriate to turn the city into a militarized zone over the whole deal.

After Katrina last year, many of the pundits were lamenting the ‘disneyfication’ of N’Orleans; in other words, corporations moving in and changing the character of the city to something more tourist-friendly. This was the justification for much of the outlay of (stolen by taxation) cash for rebuilding the city. Cash that has been subsequently stolen from the gov’t by criminals of less authority. Criminals that are now running rampant.

Personally, I think disneyfication would have been the better option.