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Author: TriSec    Date: 02/18/2020 10:55:44

Good Morning.

There's actually not much happening on the veteran's front this morning. So instead, we'll ask the question of the hour - have you voted yet? So far, only Iowa and New Hampshire have had their say, but super Tuesday is rapidly approaching. There's only two actual veterans remaining in the race.

As the field of candidates challenging President Donald Trump in the 2020 election narrows, two military veterans are still in the race: Tulsi Gabbard, a major in the Army National Guard; and Pete Buttiegieg, a former intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Both are running as Democrats in a field that includes six other Democratic contenders -- Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren -- and one Republican challenger: Bill Weld.

In the pivotal Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary, Buttiegieg maintained his status as a top contender, coming in second with 24.4% of the Democratic vote; while Gabbard brought up the rear with 3.3% of the vote.

Here's what you need to know about these veteran candidates and their priorities.

Pete Buttiegieg

Service branch: U.S. Navy Reserve

Years served: 2009-2017; he resigned his commission as a lieutenant.

Military specialty: Naval intelligence officer; he entered the Navy through its direct-commissioning program, which allows civilians with specific skills or expertise to join the officer ranks without going through traditional entry-level training or a service academy.

Deployments and awards: He deployed to Afghanistan in 2014, notably taking a leave of absence from his role as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to do so. While in Afghanistan he supported the Afghan Threat Finance Cell counterterror effort in Kabul. His awards include the Joint Service Commendation Medal and Joint Meritorious Unit Award.

Biography: Buttiegieg was born in South Bend, Indiana on Jan. 19, 1982. He graduated from Harvard University and then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company in Chicago from 2007-2010, eventually departing the job to focus on his political career. After an unsuccessful bid for Indiana state treasurer in 2010, he was elected mayor of South Bend in Nov. 2011. He served in that position until Jan. 1, 2020.

Notable positions on veterans' issues: He supports expanding access to benefits for veterans with "bad-paper" discharges; creating a White House coordinator position to oversee the effort to create a single electronic health record for veterans; ensuring guaranteed access to suicide and mental health care prevention services; and improving availability of services for rural vets. He opposes privatization of health care services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tulsi Gabbard

Service branch: Hawaii Army National Guard

Years served: 2003-present; she holds the rank of major.

Military specialty: She began in the National Guard as an enlisted medical specialist. She earned an officer commission in 2007 and joined the Military Police Corps.

Deployments and awards: Gabbard deployed in 2004, serving 12 months in Iraq with Medical Company, 29th Support Battalion, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad. She deployed again to Kuwait from 2008-2009, helping to train the Kuwait National Guard in counterterrorism efforts and serving as a military police platoon leader. Her awards include the Combat Medical Badge, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster for subsequent award and the Army Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

Biography: Gabbard was born on April 12, 1981 in American Samoa. In 2002, at age 21, she became the youngest member ever elected to represent her district in the Hawaii House of Representatives, serving in the seat until 2004. She completed the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy in 2007, becoming her class's distinguished honor graduate. She then earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Hawaii Pacific University in 2009. She served as a member of the Honolulu City Council from 2011-2012, then was elected to represent Hawaii's 2nd district in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013. She has also served as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Notable positions on veterans' issues: Gabbard has supported legislation to end gender disparity in care at the VA; to provide mental health assessments and mental health care to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges; and to require the VA to reimburse non-VA health care providers to that veterans get faster access to care. She has said she opposed VA privatization but thinks community care options are a good solution for veterans in rural areas. She's the founder and co-chair of the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus and a member of the Congressional Burn Pit Caucus.

Of course both candidates have much more (it's a lengthy article), but seeing that this is about our veterans, I've edited both entries for clarity.

We'll move on - given that we're still at war, and likely will be for some time to come, a question has been raised in a small corner of the internet - "Do Americans Care if we fight honorably?" As you are aware, the anal fistula has pardoned a SEAL of war crimes. Of course, his base licked it up, but it's still a troubling development.

March 16 marks the 52nd anniversary of the My Lai Massacre in South Vietnam where Army Lt. William Calley and his unit intentionally violated the warfighting principle of humanity.

Calley and his men disregarded the civilian immunity of the villagers of My Lai by murdering some 500 Vietnamese civilians, including more than 350 women, children and babies. They perpetrated these acts despite facing no resistance and finding only a few weapons in the town. Calley was the only person convicted of war crimes in connection with My Lai and sentenced to life in prison. However, shortly after Calley was sentenced, President Richard Nixon, with strong support from the American people, intervened in the judicial process to remove him from prison. Nixon placed him under house arrest until he was paroled in 1974.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense has taken significant steps to develop and institutionalize a law of war program that permeates all aspects of military training and overseas operations, instilling the fundamental principles of military necessity, proportionality, civilian distinction, and humanity.

However, many of the same moral questions our country faced during the Calley trial have resurfaced this past year after President Donald Trump pardoned Army Lt. Michael Behenna, who served five years in prison for the murder of an Iraqi prisoner in 2008; Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who was accused of killing an unarmed Afghan man who had been linked to the Taliban in 2010; and Army Lt. Clint Lorance who served six years of a 19-year sentence on two charges of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice after ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed men in Afghanistan, killing two of them.

The president also considered pardoning Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL accused of shooting unarmed civilians and stabbing an enemy prisoner to death. Gallagher had been acquitted of murder and other serious charges in July 2019, but convicted of the lesser offense of posing with a corpse of an ISIS fighter in Iraq. Gallagher completed his four-month sentence behind bars and through a controversial presidential clemency, he was able to retire with his highest rank, full honors and benefits.

In response to the president’s actions, many prominent voices have shared their concerns over the practice of pardoning convicted war criminals who have committed “Grave Breaches” of the Geneva Conventions.

One such response was from a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Gen. Martin Dempsey. Dempsey tweeted: “Absent evidence of innocence or injustice, the wholesale pardon of U.S. service members accused of war crimes signals to our troops and allies that we don’t take the Law of Armed Conflict seriously. Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility.”

The former Marine commandant, retired Gen. Charles Krulak, said about the pardons: "This is a moral debate. It is about who we are.”


Over five decades have passed since My Lai. So how do Americans view the manner our troops fight in the current wars? The answer is surprisingly consistent. In 2016, the Red Cross reported that Americans “are substantially more comfortable with war crimes than are populations of other Western countries like the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and even Russia.” And according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted the same year, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe torture can be justified to extract information from suspected terrorists, a level of popular support commensurate to Nigeria, which has been battling a decade-long insurgency that has displaced 2 million people and killed thousands.

In fact, on par with American sentiment during the Calley trial, currently, over three-quarters of Americans believe that U.S. service members shouldn’t be prosecuted for overseas war crimes simply because “war is a stressful situation and allowances should be made.” And according to a recent Carnegie Council study, more than a third of Americans believe that soldiers who executed unarmed women and children “acted ethically” if the overall reason for waging the war is just. But most revealing is the large proportion of all veterans, roughly 40 percent, who also support the pardons of service members who have already been convicted or are guilty of war crimes.

And the Fox & Friends morning show took active measures in the war crimes lobby to connect with this base of Americas. Co-host, Pete Hegseth said in reference to the pardons: “To the people in middle America…they’re going to love this. These are the good guys.”

And we'll shift gears radically as we often do - how 'bout some porn?

In the early days of this blog, we always had annual reminders about where and how to send things overseas to our military while Iraq and Afghanistan were raging. Those services still exist - holidays are still a popular time to mail care packages overseas. I suppose you could always send porn of any kind if you were so inclined, but it perturbs me that such a service is being publicized through Official channels now. Please see above - never mind honor on the battlefield, how about a sense of common decency?

Special occasions for loved ones are known to test the creative boundaries of even the savviest romantics.

Spend enough Christmases, birthdays, anniversaries, or Valentine’s Days together and the flame of passion that once burned as bright as the eye of Sauron may fizzle to a solitary ember mired a damp abyss of infinite “meh.”

Valentine’s Day 2020 might be in the rear-view mirror, but the next red-letter day remains ever lurking just around the corner. Fortunately for all, one adult website has launched an initiative to spice up relationships with the gift that keeps on giving: Porn.

Introducing “Camo Cards,” a video greeting service brought to you by porn web connoisseurs CamSoda that allows users to book personalized greetings — filmed by porn stars — to be delivered to your loved ones deployed overseas.

Choose from a list of American patriots that includes adult film stars like Brandi Love, Lisa Ann and Sara Jay, each of whom are setting time aside from their busy schedules to support deployed service members — and completely free of charge.

CamSoda’s offer allows users to personalize messages, select the model’s clothing — or lack thereof — and even detail the “desired level of naughtiness,” the porn website’s release said.

“With the current unexpected deployment of our troops, we know that stress level of military personnel and their loved ones is at an all-time high,” CamSoda Vice President Daryn Parker said in the release.

And so the beat goes on - so to speak.


6 comments (Latest Comment: 02/19/2020 16:31:38 by Raine)
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Comment by wickedpam on 02/18/2020 14:15:10

Comment by BobR on 02/18/2020 16:55:12
Tuesday always feels like a Monday after a long weekend

Comment by BobR on 02/18/2020 17:22:38
Comment by TriSec on 02/18/2020 21:19:14

Surprisingly few, actually. I've not had a high opinion of the National Council since about 1992 or so. This is the parent organization that filed; not the local. Like everything else "National" does, it has very little relevance in my neck of the woods.

Temper this by two additional facts: The Boston area in general has long followed our own drummer. Many of the things National is doing now regarding membership and inclusion were done first in my council, in some cases decades ago.

And some years ago, a friend of mine was in a national conference call, and he was buffing up our program, when a scouter in another region cut him off by bluntly stating, "Well, that's Boston. The rest of us don't care what you do up there.". My friend stopped participating in the national calls after that.

Someday when "ScoutsBSA" is dead and buried, I presume we'll still have a thriving regional-based program, maybe affiliated with ScoutsCanada, or even the World Scout Association, and without all the political baggage we have to carry today.

Comment by Raine on 02/19/2020 16:19:35

Good Morning. I am on a slow simmer of anger this morning...

Comment by Raine on 02/19/2020 16:31:38

These teens give me hope. This letter is fantastic.