Support Our Troops, But Don’t Bash Dissenters

A lot of people post things in support of the troops. I am cool with that. I am all for supporting the troops.

Whenever this happens though, you will often get people who are pissed off about the wars, and about the government, and about the direction that things have gone. Believe it or not, I am cool with that too. I understand what they are getting at and where they are coming from.

What I am not cool with is that the response to these people is almost always a personal attack, with a liberal application of jingoistic slogans and references to 911.

People who get the most pissed off about our government’s military actions are generally not anti-troops. You don’t have to protect us from them. They are on our side too.

What may be a good idea though is to take a step back, and read what they posted and think about it. Google a bit. Ask questions. Don’t just jingoistically wave the flag and sing the praises of the troops while invoking the image of 911 as the answer to all the concerns you might have.

Yes, 911 happened. A lot of people died that day. That number though is dwarfed by the number of people killed in the decade since. That number is dwarfed by the number of men women and children who will never see another birthday, who will never see their families again. Most of them were only guilty of being in the country that our leaders decided to attack under the guise of tracking down a non-state entity.

By non-state entity I mean that we officially went to war against a group equivalent to the Mafia, only smaller and less well armed. We did not declare war on a specific country.

There are politicians that will still use the argument “They hate us because we are free!”

Guess what, they hate us because we bombed their neighbors. They hate us because we used words like “Crusade” and “Jihad” to describe a war not only on a group of people, but on the religion that group claims to follow. They hate us because having a Muslim sounding name is all that it takes in some places to get picked up off the streets and not see your family for four years… That is totally ignoring the fact that at the end of those four years you were dropped off in a random Middle Eastern country where you have no connections, have never been, and don’t even speak the language (That guy was Canadian, picked up in Canada at the request of our Government).

This is the sort of thing our government is doing in our name. They send our troops to faraway lands to cause massive damage and leave behind massive numbers of casualties, and they claim it is in the name of the “War on Terror.” The troops suffer. The local populations suffer. Their families suffer (both the troops and the locals). The military contractors make millions. And when all is said and done, they like us even less than they did before. Not only do they hate us more than they did before, but most of them don’t even know why we are there. When polls have been done, questioning people in Iraq and Afghanistan, over ninety percent had no clue what happened on 911. First word they got that anything was wrong involved an explosion in their back yard.

And of course, once the dust settles, and the end of hostilities officially arrives, it is only a matter of hours before the oil companies, and the mineral companies have boots on ground securing contracts.

Teaching Our Sons Not To Rape

Ok, I have seen a common theme popping up over the last several months about the issue of rape and how to address it.

There are those who are constantly saying “Women should protect themselves,” and those who are saying that “We should teach men not to rape.”

The first one has some relevance, but given the nature of the vast majority of rapes, it doesn’t have much bearing on reality.

The second one is vital to solving the problem. We as a society DO need to teach our sons (and daughters) not to rape. However, those who espouse this view are constantly shot down. The response from the opposition runs the gambit from vulgar language to threats of violence (I wish I was making this up).

People who say that men should take responsibility for their behavior are often called sluts, bitches, prudes, or if they are guys they are called gay, effeminate, etc. Ironically, I do not personally think that the accusations are near as insulting as the people making them seem to think.

Anyway, I am starting to ramble so I will get to the point.

As a guy who lives in the middle of a culture that takes just that route, that tells their young men and women not to rape each other, I can tell you this much: If fucking works.

The United States military, Navy and Marines especially perhaps, have had a long history of sexual assault and related problems. The most effective method that they have found so far, the one method that actually produced a drastic drop in the number of assaults and full out rapes, was teaching people what rape and sexual assault are, and insuring that they know it is wrong.

And to the assholes who are all like “Women should protect themselves because guys are going to do what guys do.” As a human male, you sicken me. You are shame to your species. You are basically saying that you and those like you are no better than rabid animals that function at a level no more elevated than that of a mollusk. Please, do the world a favor and don’t reproduce. We don’t need your ideas being passed on to future generations.

Not a Happy Read

Warning: This one is not written with friendly words.

There are a number of bumper stickers out there that are geared towards encouraging community, cooperation, unity, and peaceful coexistence. Probably one that everyone has seen simply says “Coexist” and the letters are made up of various religious and philosophical symbols, as well as a few LGBT symbols thrown in for good measure.

The message is simple, and it is obvious. We are all human. We are different, but we are human. We need to learn to deal with that.

And of course, as is inevitable, I have started seeing various opposed variations. Sad as that may sound, it is true.

I saw one earlier on the way home that offended the hell out of me. I am not prone to road rage, but I went ahead and got ahead of the guy just in case I changed my mind.

It said “Coexist?” except that the letters were made up of bombs, guns, and various jingoistic symbols. And then bellow that it said: “Ok Lefty, you first.”

It offended the fuck out of me. To be blunt, it is not intolerant to discourage hate. It is not intolerant to tell you not to go bomb and kill people because you don’t agree with their skin color or their religion. It is not intolerant to say that it is wrong for you to bully.

It also offended me greatly because the combination of the message and the symbols used caused one thought to stick in my head and refuse to budge…

People like that are the reason that people like me still die on a daily basis, even if they don’t make the news any more.

We still get periodic lists of names of sailors and soldiers who have been shot, blown up, run over, or just taken their own lives in the Middle East. So yeah, fuckheads like that offend the hell out of me.

You know what the real bitch of it is though? They are the ones screaming “Support our Troops!” any time they see someone even indicating that peace is a good idea.

Don’t Politicize This?

This kind of boiled over in response to the commentary in a thread on FaceBook. Someone posted a picture that was commenting on the behavior of a politician, and someone else took it to mean that the person was being super pro-gun, and he didn’t like it.

What ensued was an argument on gun control, with people stepping in to scream “More Guns,” and “Guns Bad,” and of course, the ever present “Calm down!”

I think I need to find time to sit down, and start putting my ideas on paper and working through them and such.

One thing, from my perspective, is that we need to do something. Even if we cannot do everything, we need to do what we can.

I don’t think that “taking away all the guns,” is the right answer. Neither is a total free for all.

The problem is that the only time there is any public will to discuss the issue is when something like this happens, and it is in the public eye. The only time there is any political will to talk about the issue is when there is the public will.

Any time something like this does happen though, three factions come forward immediately whose only solid task in the grand scheme of things is to distract from the issue in a three pronged attack, until the public will dissipates (Americans have the attention span of squirrels).

Group one screams from the rooftops “GUN CONTROL, ALL GUNS ARE BAD.”

Group two declares loudly and proudly “IF THERE WERE MORE GUNS THIS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.”

Group three, and they are the most dangerous because they pretend to be the “moderate” and “the voice of reason,” says “WE CAN’T POLITICIZE THIS, IT WOULD BE WRONG! DON’T TALK ABOUT IT!”

The truth is, the moment it happens it is politicized. The truth is, something does need to happen. The truth is that taking away all guns would be just as bad as a free for all.

We do need to talk about it.

We need to talk about it rationally. We need to think it through. We need to look at all the issues, not just the ones that we like.

We need to look at the fact that the second amendment is there for a reason.

We need to look at the fact that there are states where you can’t prevent a diagnosed psychopath form getting a gun.

We need to look at the fact that even in states with reasonable gun laws, there are loopholes.

Background checks, cool down periods, license requirements, and educational requirements: These are all good things. They help to keep the majority of guns out of the hands of idiots and the mentally ill. Ok, maybe it doesn’t keep them out of the hands of idiots, but it helps to make sure they know what they are doing.

People who do things like what happened on Friday are mentally ill in most cases. In most cases they got their guns completely legally. In most cases, no laws were violated until people started to die. This needs to be looked at.

In many cases, the people in question were being treated for various disorders. They were still able to get guns.

In some cases, they got the guns from relatives who had them legally, and just didn’t keep them locked up very well (again, an education issue).

So, yeah, there is an issue that needs to be discussed, and all sides need to bring their ideas to the table.

We need to look at the issue of guns.

We need to look at the state of mental health care in our country.

We need to look at the issue of education on gun ownership AND gun rights.

We need to recognize that the 2nd Amendment serves a purpose, but that it does not impose upon us a duty to ignore the obvious.

For those who are screaming “WE NEED MORE GUNS,” grow up, learn about society, and look around.

For those who are screaming “BAN ALL GUNS,” read a history book. Read the constitution. Learn about what was going on in the lives of the men who wrote the constitution.

For those who are screaming “DON’T POLITICIZE THIS!” Well, you don’t want to be at the table anyway. Either make yourself useful, or stay out of the way.

Irony in Politics

Warning, coarse language ahead.

What I find to be ironic is the claims by the right that Obama is unwilling to work with the Republicans in Congress.

For the last four years, he has bent over backwards to give the Republicans anything they wanted in the name of bipartisanship. He has twisted the arms of Democrats in order to push Republican agendas.

He has offered them anything they wanted, just for a little cooperation, and yet HE refused to cooperate?

When Obama was inaugurated about a dozen Republican Senators declared treason; that they would do everything in their power to stand against Obama even if it meant harming our country. It is the second part that makes it treasonous, not the first. It is expected that the opposition will oppose. It is not expected that they will do so at the expense of harming the people they have sworn to serve.

No, it is not Obama who has been uncooperative. It was that small group of assholes that were uncooperative. A small group of men who promised to cause harm to their country, have the power to do so, and explained their motives to the world.

Motive, Intent, Ability, and premeditation: All of the required elements are there. They said they were going to do it. They said this on international media.

Know what the real bitch of it is though? We let it happen. A few of us commented on it, but as a people we watched it go by and did nothing. They promised the commission of a crime and followed through. And still, this time last month, most of them were reelected, and we still allowed their party to keep the House of Representatives.

An Environmental Rant

About twenty years ago, the powerful nations of the world got together and talked about the environment.  They all agreed that we had to do something, and promised that they would, and then they went home and forgot.

Twenty years later they got together again to talk about the same subject.  At least this time they were more honest.  They walked away from the talks saying “We need to do something, but we don’t really feel like it.”

There are scientists that say that we have a 50% chance of surviving the next ninety years.  I am talking the Human species, not an individual person such as you or me.  A 50% chance that the youngest human beings on the planet now may see it’s slow painful death, and know that we, the generations that came before, couldn’t be bothered to stop it because thinking about it was inconvenient.

This may sound a bit out there.  It may sound a bit psychotic.  It may sound like it was some conspiracy theory that just came out of the blue.  However, scientists have been screaming this at the top of their lungs for almost a century.  People with more funds have made sure that we were too distracted to listen.

Any time people talk about how to fix it, big industry screams “It will destroy the economy.  Jobs will be lost,” while totally ignoring the fact that creating the infrastructure to generate power without fossil fuels will generate millions of jobs, most of which will never go away.  Equipment once installed must be maintained, updated, repaired, and replaced.  The best part is that these are jobs that cannot be sent overseas.

A sea change is coming.  It is only a matter of time.  The human species will at some point see what is coming and change paths.  I just hope it is not too late.

There are corporations that see the change coming and are starting to spread out their resources to non-fossil  fuel based energy sources.  Exxon is investing majorly into green energy.  They are spending a lot on solar and wind.  They are still however spending massive amounts of money on oil and coal.  They are still spending massive amounts of money on politics, protecting their “right” to rape and pillage the environment that they never intend to be held accountable for.

Something needs to change, and it needs to change soon.  People need to acknowledge that there is a problem and that we already have possible solutions.  Further more they need to stop using the EXCUSE that multiple green energy only companies have gone under.  The US Spends hundreds of billions of dollars subsidizing the oil industry, which is so profitable that even without those subsidies they are literally making more than any other industry in the world ever has, but at the same time they throw a few million at green energy and say “Well, I guess they didn’t make it.”

Some Messages are Better Left Half Finished




This started out as a response to a facebook post, but then exploded into a thing of its own.

I have to say that this is a message that would be best served by posting only the first half of the words. I know that what I am about to say may not be popular, but as a military person who works to protect the Constitution, and the freedoms it provides, it becomes harder and harder for me not to speak up when people say things that are mean and angry and attribute it to the Constitution.

First off, I have never met a person that wanted to stop everyone from praying. There are those who want to see prayer and religion removed from a position of authority in public (i.e. governmental) situations, but they generally are ok with the idea of you praying at home. They are not anti-prayer, they are simply in favor of freedom of religion.

As for “Let’s take our country back,” back from who? People of Christian faith are the vast majority of lawmakers. They are the ones who have the most sway over the laws.

More importantly, saying “Let’s take our country back,” in this context is implying that you are more American than the next guy. It is saying that if someone disagrees with you they are obviously dangerous and radical. It is saying that somehow the country has been invaded and must be liberated.

As for “In God We Trust,” that is a very sound concept for families and groups that are Christian, or follow some other singular deity. It is not however part of the Constitution. It was added to our currency in response to the “Red Scare,” because the communist leaders of the day had some very unhealthy ideas about religion and those in power wanted to prove that America was not a communist country. The same goes for “Under God,” in the pledge of allegiance. “Under God” as added sixty two years after the pledge was written (Not only that, but according to WikiPedia, the guy that wrote the Pledge was a Christian Socialist).

We are a nation that has many Christians. They are by most accounts the vast majority of the people in our country. We are also a nation that was made great in part because we encourage diversity. When people make the claim that “Liberals are trying to take God out of government,” Well… To be honest, they are. But that is because God does not belong in government. Our founding fathers fled England for that very reason. This Nation was founded primarily for that reason. Yes, we are a nation of Christians, but we are not a Christian Nation. Yes, our laws often (but not always) match up with Christian morality, but that is because in most cases Christian morality matches Jewish Morality, matches Muslim morality, matches Pagan morality, and matches Buddhist morality. Certain things are right and wrong, and most people of most faiths agree with that.

The Church has a strong role in our country, and that role is to provide faith and support and compassion to their flocks. When the Church gets involved in government though, it generally does more harm than good. Many people who are Atheists today left the church because of the church’s public and legislative behavior. If you want to push anyone out of government, it should be the people who are CLAIMING to be Christian’s, and then pushing a hate filled agenda with all the passion and grace of a feral animal. Christians should not be uniting to “Take Back Our Country,” they should be uniting to take back their name from the bigots that present themselves to the world as representing the church and all that it means to be Christian.

As for the military, we do fight for your right to be Christian. We also fight for your neighbor’s right to be a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, an Atheist, or whatever he wants to be.

We are also sworn to protect the Constitution, and I cannot stand by and let people defame it with their anger and hate. If you love God, you can say so. If you love the Constitution, you can say so. If you hate your neighbor, well… You can say that too. Please though, do not spout hate, and then claim it is you defending the Constitution our country or what it means to be American.

I mean, you can say those things. You do have freedom of speech, I would just rather you not lie to yourself or the world about what the Constitution says.

I would rather you not spread hate and bigotry at all, but if you choose too, please keep it away from the constitution, and please keep God/gods out of it.

Labels, the Current System, and Third Party Votes

I have noticed that a lot of people are not educated on just what the words “socialist,” “socialism,” and “socialistic” mean.

You can talk about their views and political ideas. You can go item by item. Every response matches up with the concepts and ideals of socialism. Ask them if they are socialist though, and their reaction varies from simple denial, to violent rage.

It is no wonder the liberals of the country have trouble electing officials that represent what they believe. They don’t even know what the normal label is for their views.

All it takes is for a republican to scream socialist, and the candidate is suddenly outcast and a pariah.

And for those candidates that liberals do get into office, they are educated and do know what words mean. The message to them is loud and clear “be as liberal as you dare, but socialism will get you voted out or worse.”

The result is that the mainstream “left wing” of American politics is way to the right of most countries center line. It is to the right of most countries right wing.

People need to learn what words mean. They need to learn how to call what they believe. They need to learn how to speak up and voice their views to their politicians. They need to remember that their vote does have power, and they must act as a united people to insure that the politicians in charge remember this.

A European friend of mine recently said “You guys have the government you deserve,” and he is right. We voted them all in, Republican and Democrat. Worse than that, we show ever indication that as long as they maintain the status quo, we will continue to vote for them. I say that needs to change.

If you are a far right winger, vote libertarian not republican. If you are a far left winger, vote green party. If you are a constitutionalist, vote Constitutional Party. I say start now with the upcoming elections in September.

Voting for a third party candidate is NOT throwing your vote away. It sends a message to the election officials that these people are potentially electable in future elections. It also sends a message to whichever candidate wins. It tells them that if they do just maintain the status quo, it may not work out for them.

I see that what was intended to be a one or two paragraph comment turned into a full on rant. I will leave it here. Take it as you will.

Words Have Meaning

I know that most people don’t care about language, or even about cultural minorities for that matter, but it really pisses me off when I go onto a web forum and people are having a conversation about hackers and hacker culture, and then someone breaks in and starts trolling by using the HOLLYWOOD definition of hacker.

The word hacker has been in use a heck of a long time. It was imported into the computer science community somewhere in the 1950’s (yes, the word was already old 60 years ago). Somewhere during the 1980’s and 1990’s, Hollywood started making “Hacker” movies, and that is where many people get their meaning of the word.

If no one persisted in using the traditional meaning, then there would be no argument. However, Hackers still exist and have a thriving culture. That culture is quite often under attack by people who don’t even realize they are attacking it.

Words have meaning. When those words are actively being used, it is not good to warp the meaning (especially to something so exactly opposite). It is not good to target a subculture you know nothing about.

It is not fair that people are losing jobs, and in some cases ending up on terrorist watch lists and coming under legal scrutiny, just because their culture has been twisted to the extreme in the media.

When I got halfway through writing this, I almost stopped and deleted half of it because I was like “Wow, this sounds like I am comparing it to racism or religious discrimination…” But before I could hit delete, I realized that is actually a very apt comparison.

A subculture of people who have existed for a very long time are being maligned and their public image is being warped by the media. It is taking place to the extent that people are hurt socially and financially by the image that the media portrays. People lose jobs because their bosses find out that they are a “Hacker,” but they have no clue what that means.

People are passed over for promotions that they deserve, simply because the next person in line has never been labeled a Hacker, but they have.

People get subjected to police harassment and their equipment stolen (I think the official term is confiscated) because they are suspected of being up to no good when no crime has been committed.

All because Hollywood decided to take our words and twist their meanings.

Our modern world was put together by Hackers. Hackers created the software you are using to read this page. Hackers created the software that the web server is using to display this page. Hackers created the foundations for the software is running your computer.

What about the technology that holds together the internet? Hackers did that too.

The tech that runs your favorite video games? Yeap, that was hackers too.

Hackers are not criminals. They are people who like to play with things and create things and learn about things. Hacker culture believes in learning, and sharing what you learn. It believes in community and unity.

The “everyone for themselves, win at all costs, damn the consequences, damn the law,” image that you see in Hollywood Movies is just that: A movie.

I would love to find a way to educate people. I would love to find a way to get people to use words the way they were intended. I know though that I do not have near the cultural influence that a movie start or a film director has. For now, I will have to content myself with an occasional rant on the subject. I will have to content myself with educating the people around me on the subject.

After all, just because you can’t do everything, there is no excuse for doing nothing.

Twenty Media Outlets say that Torture is Free Speach

Torture is not protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. In fact, it is not supported in any amendment.

The first amendment states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

These words that we hold so dear where meant to have a few common sense obvious effects. They were intended to protect everyone’s right to worship or not worship as they please. Even though the phrase “One Nation Under God” appears often in American politics, you do not have to follow that god.

Secondly, they are intended to protect the rights of the common man to object to the behavior of his government in a very visible way without risk of backlash (in the case of protest), or in a more verbal but quieter way (in the case of petition).

Third, it protects the rights of the press to record and distribute information, even if that information is not comfortable for the people in power.

Our country was founded because the powers of the time did not practice these things. To insure that our new government did, they codified them in the very document that acts as the foundation of our Union.

It is this document that we look to in order to judge the validity of every law that is passed in our country. It is not a perfect document, but it is one that a lot of people have put a lot of thought into. This is why we have amendments to start with. To many people, the first amendment is the most important, for the reasons stated above.

Its sole purpose is to protect the little guy. More importantly, it is to protect the basic and natural behavior that can be expected of any rational human being when their rights are trod upon.

The entire document is primarily about protection of these very people. No where does it say that an outside entity has the right to torment, harass, and torture any citizen for any reason.
Enter Westboro Baptist Church. I do not normally speak like this of anyone, but they are a hate group that hides behind their “God,” and a twisted interpretation of the first amendment while they torture the families and loved ones of our nations fallen. I put “God” in parenthesis, because of all the various denominations of Christianity (of which they claim membership) that I have experienced, NONE of them worship a God that would condone the torture of people in his name.

Now that I have spoken in that manner, I should probably explain WHY I feel the way that I do. I am sure that there are those who have not heard of them.

These people do not picket companies. They do not picket government buildings or events. They do not stage independent rallies to share their views loudly with the world.

No, they crash funerals. They travel around the country, protesting funerals. They watch the news, and scour the air ways and internet for word that a fallen solder has come home for their final rest, and they put together a personalized protest just for him or her, complete with photographs of the fallen so that the families know that it IS about them.

They are fond of slogans like “God Hates Fags” (Yes, the URL above really does appear to be theirs), “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” and “Thank God for IED’S.”

Their website (linked above) even has a schedule of events that they plan to picket in the near future. I have looked over the list, and on it they have three protests scheduled in the near future (one yesterday) for military funerals. Three are flat out anti-semetic. The rest are mostly either against other Christian groups, or Lady Gaga… No, that is not a joke.

Of the ones that are not military funerals, several of the others are targeting families not organizations.

They go around saying hateful, hurtful, angry things, and getting in the faces of people who THOUGHT they had gone through the worst that life could offer them. People who are already dealing with the loss of a son, a daughter, a husband, a brother, a wife… Suddenly they find themselves the focus of a terrorist attack, carried out by their fellow Americans!

I have been thinking about this for a while. I am an American Sailor. The idea of going to war is a little scary, but it is no where near as terrifying for me as the idea that if I were to die, my mother and father would likely be tortured by these people. While they are still working their way through the grief process, they could find themselves receiving messages that people were glad I was dead. “God hates Fags! God hates the military! I am glad your faggy son is dead.” That is the kind of things that these people are saying at these protests.

The constitution guarantees your right to stand outside of city hall and yell whatever the hell you want. Right or wrong, you can protest the local bank, or the health department, or whatever organization that has you pissed off this week. Fill out the paperwork, and get your permit. You are good to go.

The constitution does not however give you the right to be disruptive, and hateful, and threatening, and vulgar, while people are carrying out the single most solemn ceremony that exists in any faith.

When someone has died and their loved ones are laying them to rest they should be allowed a moment of piece. They are sure to have many sleepless and painful nights even without outside interference. When people are in pain, the proper response is not to intentionally make it worse.

What I have said may seem like common sense to a lot of people, but apparently not to everyone. The case of Snyder vs. Phelps is heading quickly towards the Supreme Court, and amicus briefs are being filed in support of both sides.

This is part of what finally convinced me to take the time to write a full blog entry on the subject.

In an article in Stars and Stripes, dated 18 July (It may have a different date stateside), they speak of 20 media groups that are siding with Westboro Baptist Church on the issue. It seems that they feel that psychological torture of individuals (individuals, not organizations) is protected under the first amendment. In the case of Snyder vs Phelps, they flew all the way from Kansas to Maryland to target a family. They could have just as easily made the same statement in ANY other situation, and I would not object. I do not agree with them. I think they are hate mongers and bigots, but they have a right to be.

However, I do not agree with the assertion that their right to be bigots allows them to attack people.

There is a blog entry (basically very similar to the printed paper article) at the Stars and Stripes site. They list the organizations there.

I can see the organizations worries, but they fail to see the difference between news coverage of an event, and personal attacks on individual citizens. They fail to realize that the issue here is nothing like a reporter covering a story. It is more like a mugger being told he did a good job, and was welcome to keep at it.

People have to know that there is a line between peaceful protest, and personal attacks.

It is late, and I am running out of steam, so I will leave off here. I know it is not often that I get two blog entries in the same month (or quarter for that matter), but some things have to be said. Some things just make your head want to explode.

This is one of those things.