Thursday, February 9, 2017

Into the Valley of Death, Again

 

To go against the church is to go against God!
-- Monsignor Orelas, Priest, 2011

 

A winning mission.

Not a failure says President Trump.

image
Or rather not a “failure.”

Given the nature of the situation, perhaps winning should be in Doctor Evil quotes instead of failure but then I’d be digressing by the fourth line and let’s not do that.


So, Our hero Ryan died on a winning mission.


Let us review:

- Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) William Ryan Owens was killed.

- Six American servicemen were injured, several severely.

- Despite strict operational security, covert insertion, and months of intelligence work, the enemy was tipped off to the pending attack. Exactly how isn't known, could have been barking dogs, a crashed recon drone, intercept of communications from Yemeni commandos accompanying the mission, or just plain bad luck.

- A large number of civilian non-combatants were killed, including an 8-year-old girl

Note: reports are that armed women were part of the firefight, making them legitimate targets. I'm not saying they weren't. But even the Pentagon admits a number of non-combatants were killed and has opened an investigation into those casualties

Also Note: Once the advantage of surprise was lost and the firefight began, air support was called in because there were no other options. At that point, given the situation, it would be nearly impossible for there not to be collateral damage and civilian casualties. Sometimes there are no good options, that’s just how it is.

- A $75,000,000 MV-22 Marine assault aircraft was lost.

- Out of the 14 enemy combatants killed, three were actual AQAP leaders, but the primary objective got away (or was never there) and is now openly mocking President Trump and publicly calling him "The White House's new fool."

- And anti-US sentiment in the region, already high, is now rising significantly.

In the aftermath – depending on analysis of captured materials and information systems – it is possible that the mission could be considered an intelligence success. It's too early to tell and likely the results of that analysis, whatever they are, will be classified for OPSEC purposes and even if they are significant, the public will never know. That is the nature of this sort of thing. Failures are public, successes are unacknowledged.

Now, before we go any further let's get something out of the way:

Sometimes missions go to shit and there is not one damned thing you can do about it.

The God of War is fickle and perverse and his prophet is Murphy.

All the planning, all the assets, all the training, all the intelligence work, despite all of it, sometimes there's a barking dog and it all just goes sideways. And then the only thing you can do is call in the gunships and let God sort it out.

That is the nature of war.

And so my criticism is not, REPEAT NOT, directed at the military.

I know these people. I helped plan and execute missions like this one. They would not have gone forward if they weren’t reasonably confident of success, no matter who is sitting in the White House. The people out there on the pointy end of the stick are doing the very best they can with what they have at the moment.

Could things have been done differently? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. I’m not questioning the commanders who made the decision to go forward or the SEALs who executed the mission. That’s not my point. Unfortunately the job has to be done and theirs is not to question why, it's to do or die and ride into the valley of death when commanded. And that is why they are the very best, the most highly trained, with the best equipment and support we can give them.

But there is always a risk that the mission will go bad.

And it did.

In the worst way possible.

Is that Donald Trump’s fault?

Yes.

Yes it is.

He’s the President. He’s the Commander in Chief. The buck stops right in front of his desk. Fair or not, that’s how it is. That is what he swore to when he took the oath of office. That is what the Constitution demands of him. He and he alone is responsible. If the mission is a success he gets to claim it on national TV. And if it goes bad, it’s all his fault. That’s the job. And a real president, a real leader, steps up and takes responsibility either way, most especially when it all goes to shit.

But America does not begin with the President.

It begins with us, the citizens of this nation.

And while it may be the military’s duty to do or die, it is for us to question why.

Chief Owens died in our name, so it is for us to demand a thorough and dispassionate accounting from our leaders.

A few years back, when four men died in Benghazi, conservatives didn't need reminding of this duty – though they then perverted their responsibility into a political vendetta. 

And since the Benghazi comparisons are flying on both sides today, allow me to remind you all that at no time did the previous administration attempt to portray that debacle as a victory or anything other than failure.

And that's my point, right there.

The Yemen raid, whatever the eventual intelligence value, can hardly be called a "winning mission."

To do so is an insult to every thinking American and an abdication of the responsibility which comes with the office of President.

Worse, far worse, this morning the Administration is attempting to silence accountability by saying that any criticism is unpatriotic and a "disservice to Chief Owens."

 

That is some fascist bullshit, right there.

 

That is the tactic of every petty dictator and tin pot tyrant.

It is the duty of free citizens to question their leadership.

Just as Republicans and Democrats questioned Obama.

If, as Sean Spicer this morning claimed, the mission was a success, a true success despite the terrible cost, then it is the responsibility of the administration to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt to the public.

Otherwise what Spicer is saying is that every Republican who questioned Obama in the wake of Benghazi must be considered equally unpatriotic and un-American.

More, Trump himself claims to have opposed the war in Iraq and Afghanistan right from the start.

Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed to have been a vocal critic and to have never supported the idea of war in the wake of 911.

And he has repeatedly criticized the war and our role in it for the entirety of his campaign, denouncing both wars as failures – this is in point of fact the very cornerstone of his rhetoric.

So when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer demands the critics of the Yemen raid apologize to Trump out of some supposed respect for a fallen SEAL, then we must demand Trump himself apologize for his critical and disparaging remarks about the war in deference to all of those Americans who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No?

No, I suppose not.

He’s just not that kind of leader, is he?

In fact, this morning Trump took to Twitter to criticize Senator John McCain – a man who arguably knows a bit more than Donald Trump about military missions gone bad – for criticizing the Yemen Raid.

Trump said such criticism "emboldens the enemy!"

Criticism of a botched military operation emboldens the enemy.

Think about that.

No, really think about that and what such a statement from a president really means for liberty.

And yet – and yet – despite repeated attacks, McCain himself and those like him in Congress continue to endorse this president and his decisions. And they do so, those Senators and Congressmen, because they are terrified that if they don't then they themselves will become casualties of this war.

And staying in power, no matter how diminished, no matter how far they have to crawl on their bellies, is more important to them than their duty to the nation.

And that should sound the alarm for every American.

Because that is how republics die.

120 comments:

  1. Pithy, eloquent, and to the point.
    Good piece.

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  2. Pithy, eloquent, and to the point.
    Good piece.

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  3. Thank you. I agree that it would be a disservice to all Vets if we did not question authority. When we stop questioning, then we say that their sacrifice, their duty was not naught.

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  4. This column nails it. Thank you...I'm sharing on Facebook.

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  5. - Despite strict operational security, convert insertion, and months of intelligence work, the
    I think you mean covert
    Sincerely,
    Dane Jespersen

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    1. I just gotta register my amusement over you signing your name, Dane, after posting as Anonymous. Thanks for the giggle! I needed it!

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    2. Don't think he had an intention of posting anonymous but rather just didn't make an account so instead of making an account he stated his name so he WASN'T posting anonymously.

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  6. Thoughtinducing writing, as ever. Guess it's time to read back on the fall of the Roman Republic, not just the early 1930s.

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  7. You are the voice of reason and carefully point out both sides of the situation. Would that our politicians had that much integrity. But that would hurt their "power base"

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  8. Excellent! As you note - we may never hear or understand all of the operational details. Nature of the beast. I trust those who planned and executed the mission to review and take appropriate action. The President's urge to avoid responsibility and intimidate those who would question or hold him accountable are a separate failure.

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  9. Jim- Thank you for your no-bullshit-cut-to-the-chase analysis of this Trumpian failure of integrity and respect. We Americans have every right in the world to expect far better. There is zero doubt about that.
    I have come to view your blog pieces as the islands of sanity in a sea of doublespeak. Please keep up the good work.

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  10. Please self-publish all your essays. I'd hate to see them all vanish at the touch of a button.

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  11. No need to publish, but shouldn't convert be covert on bullet 3?

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  12. Jim,

    I'm only posting this as anonymous because I'm not one of your Facebook friends (though I would count such as an honor), but let me say that I greatly appreciate your words in times such as these. You've inspired me not to lose hope, and not to be defeatist in the face of creeping fascism, but to KEEP hope, and start doing the hard work of reclaiming the dream that this republic was based upon. You've been a clarion call of sanity and even righteous indignation that warns those who will listen of what's to come, and galvanizes those who desperately wish to grow a spine to resist the encroaching darkness. Thank you for your fortitude, and please, from all of us out here doing our level best to fight the good fight, keep up the good work. Thanks, Chief.

    Scott R. Skiles

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    1. I am not a friend yet, but appreciate the chance to occasionally chip in a thought. I read your posts faithfully, as your common sense reminds me do much of my husband who served both in the Navy and Army for 20 years. He started as a machine gun Instructor at the Great Lakes Naval Training center during WWII, he was all if 16, but had a special talent for weapons. When he joined the Army his specialty took off. After serving in the US Constabulary and the I G staff in the Korean conflict, he was part of an army run special forces group, that had the options of going or not. Some of the activities were non uniform and without id. He didn't tell me much, still covered as top secret. However was personal friends with General I.D White, I have correspondence and he was personally notified when the General died. I am just saying this because in one way I am glad he died 15 years ago and did not live to see this supposed CIC. He was an active participant in 3 wars, he reported back to certain officers regarding what was happening in Vietnam, but he would never work under this President. I know the military doesn't have a choice, which is why this is such an evil situation. The true evil is we cannot depend on Congress to legally do something about this. At thus point the courts and attorneys may be our final hope.
      Sincerely
      Barbara Price.

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    2. But you cannot trust the new appointments to uphold the laws in Court with such "leadership"

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    3. Exactly this. I wish someone could talk you into running for office yourself.
      Karin Gately

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  13. Yes. Thank you. I knew something was wrong with the Republican administration's statements, but a lacked the knowledge to know what. Now I do. Please keep on informing us.

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    1. I don't know how often you visit here, but if you're relatively new, may I recommend perusing Jim's past posts? They're so worth the time. :)

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  14. As always - thank you for your candour when explaining military operations and the White House.

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  15. I wish all Americans would read this.

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  16. I've never heard a CIC call a mission a "winning" mission...especially when there are lives lost. You either succeed or fail, but we did not "win." Trump seems to treat this as some kind of game where score is kept.

    I am also appalled that lawmakers such as McCain and Paul Ryan, who were Trump's most outspoken critics, now seem to roll over for anything he wants. Even Boehner has to be happy that he didn't stick around for this shitshow.

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    1. Well remember what the Orange Asshole said:

      "We are gonna win, win, win. We're going to win with military, we're going to win at the borders, we're going to win with trade, we're going to win at everything. And some of you are friends and you're going to call, and you're going to say, 'Mr. President, please, we can't take it anymore, we can't win anymore like this, Mr. President, you're driving us crazy, you're winning too much, please Mr. President, not so much, and I'm going to say I'm sorry, we're going to keep winning because we are going to make America great again."

      If this is his idea of winning, I'd like us to not win so much.

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    2. I hope we all become a lot more knowledgeable about Amendment 25, Section 4.

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    3. Pence plus 8 of the 15 department heads plus 2/3rds of both houses of Congress is all it will take to end this travesty.

      That's a pretty high threshold to surmount. And even if it was surmounted, we'd then be saddled with President Pence.

      At this point, though, even staunch opponents of the GOP would probably feel mightily relieved to be saddled with a president Pence instead of the current terrifyingly incompetent occupant of the white house.

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  17. Thank you.
    I'm sorry you had to write this but given the state of the State it was inevitable and necessary..

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  18. Thank you Jim!! Reading your articles give me hope that there are actually some good Americans doing what is right for their country. Keep informing all Americans of the truth!

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    1. Unfortunately, none of them seems to be in Washington

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  19. "The God of War is fickle and perverse and his prophet is Murphy."

    How many times in our history of warfare has Murphy struck? Too many to count. It is my understanding that they did not have updated intelligence for the raid. This alone should have halted the idea until a more current situational awareness was achieved.

    But hey "We need a win" has been the hallmark of thousands of bad decisions in history, so why stop now.

    Regardless, very well spoken Jim and thanks again for applying a great perspective to such an event.

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  20. ".....but, but, but...her e-mails!" was their refrain that put this Mugabe wannabe in office. May their karma greet them with a vengeance at their passing.

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  21. The alarm has sounded, daily, for weeks. Will it become so commonplace we don't even hear it?

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  22. I've had arguments over whether Trump will be impeached or not. Unless he does something so outrageous that it cannot be ignored (and frankly it seems the bar is set extremely high on what is "outrageous" when it comes to Trump) I don't ever see Republicans gathering the courage or the capital to go through with impeaching him. So many #NeverTrumpers talk a big game, yet don't back it up with any action. McCain is a great example. Also with the recent brouhaha with Betsy DeVos, all it would have taken was one more Republican to break ranks to prevent her from becoming Secretary and they didn't. For all their gnashing of teeth before he was elected and after, their priority is staying in power and pushing through their dangerous agendas. Certainly isn't acting honorably and for the good of the nation.

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    1. Agreed. I think the confirmations make it abundantly clear Congressional Republicans' priority is using the DT Admin foibles as cover to achieve a lot of their agenda. Pity journalists aren't investigating what that agenda really is (i.e. equality definitely not on the list, is pretty clear at this point they *want* a stratified society...also pretty sure they'd be happy with essentially 1 Party Repub State & Dems in permanent opposition). Also agreed impeachment is unlikely in the extreme. I mean, he's already in clear violation of the Constitution and his oath. The only way I see DT being impeached at this point is 1.) he kills Americans on American soil (50 States proper) or 2.) the Dems take control of both House and Senate. And that's a shame b/c the Dems still seem to be chasing their tails right now.

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  23. In Trumpland everything Trump touches is a success. Everything that goes wrong is due to subversion. Welcome to the newest Banana Republic of the Western hemisphere--Trumpland (A division of Putin, Inc.)

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    1. Unfortunately true and excellently put.

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    2. I wish I could attribute this to you by name, but I will attribute it to anonymous. I think this the most succinct statement I have seen thus far that mirrors my muddled thoughts.

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  24. Nobody expects differently of Trump now. That boat sailed when he went after the Khan's and it didn't make him unelectable. Every redneck that let it slide, every Republican senator who didn't vocally condemn him, every apologist who said "but Hillary..." accepted this is how it will be.

    The genii is out of the bottle. No one on the right gets to complain, they uncorked it.

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  25. the buck definitely stops at Trump's desk and he deserves the criticism for his phony grandstanding and his twisting of the truth. But I read this morning an item by MLK's daughter and I would love to see her advice taken on one point that I think could have a huge effect on the GOP and the midterms. It is simple -- never refer to Trump by name and always refer to "The Republicans" when referring to any policy, act, or activity coming from Trump and his minions. Putting the responsibility back where it belongs, on the party and its followers, might make a few of them start to worry about public perceptions of their actions. Well, we can hope, can't we?

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  26. I wonder if President Trump knows the origin in presidential terms of the phrase "The buck stops here". I hope he doesn't think it's a hunting term or a business one. Thanks for another good essay.

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    1. ...or he may think it means that all the bucks end up in his pocket...

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  27. RE: the potential new Facebook page. Have you considered creating it as a community, or even a closed group? It might cut down on the trolling. (Maybe.)

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    1. I belong to some closed groups, and they work pretty well. The administrators shut things down when people get fractious or topics go to far astray. The problem is that Jim likely doesn't have time and people would have to reliably volunteer. You're talking about a thankless task.
      Also, who decides who gets in and who doesn't?

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  28. When I suggested that Republicans were "in it for the power alone" in their behavior towards President Obama (and Clinton) in this piece http://ranthonysteele.blogspot.com/2015/01/in-it-for-power-alone.html Republicans responded telling me "you don't know what you are talking about".

    It appears I actually did.

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  29. You hope for the best, but plan for the worst, because all plans survive until the first bullet is fired.

    Yemen turned into a clusterfuck & Chief Owens was lost. We'll probably never know if intel retrieved was useful. But as Americans we have to believe that he & every person in that chain of command gave it his or her best.

    Until we get to the "tin-pot tyrant" at the top, who had to take his daughter along to meet Chief Owens' body at Dover, I suspect because he has absolutely no clue HOW to feel responsibility.

    I remember watching President Obama & Sec'y Clinton standing side by side, hands clasped. as Ambassador Stephens' & his comrades' bodies were returned from Benghazi. One could feel their pain & their grit right through the television as they stood there at attention & took it. Because they both knew the responsibility, in the end, was theirs & theirs alone.

    I can't even imagine how anxious Donald was to get out of there or how he could manage to make Chief Owens' death all about himself, but I'm certain he did.

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  30. My brother did four tours of duty in Vietnam and retired from the Marine Corps as a gunny. Never ever did he speak of winning a fire fight, small battle, or any encounter. He sometimes spoke of times they prevailed; mostly he spoke of surviving against all odds. I would never ever dream of insulting and demeaning his considerable sacrifice by calling any of his many missions "winning." I sometimes think that we should have start a tradition with Ike of only electing people to the presidency who had served, had actually sent soldiers into battle, and earned the privilege of being called Commander in Chief.

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  31. Great piece, Jim. It is clearer and clearer everyday that we are going to have to fight against a neo-fascist dictator in the WH. I really respect you speaking up and providing an objective view. I wish the press would have half the spine you have.

    Marika Curiale (ps. I have no idea how to have my name and avatar showing on the comment :)

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    1. I am signed in through my Google account, there are other options to sign in as well, like using your Facebook account. There is a "Follow" button under all of the pictures of current followers, clicking on that will allow you to sign in using one of the options they show.

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  32. The thing that annoyed me the most about this particular mission was that they didn't take the time to garner the most up-to-date information available, which definitely had an impact on the death of the SEAL and the extensive injuries, both military and civilian.

    Whenever you are examining going into what is expected to be a hot zone, you WANT the latest intelligence information. From all reports, the intel was weeks old...they should have taken NEW info into play, not decided to take "action" while sitting over dinner with intel that is weeks out-of-date.

    At least that's what we did when I was in the USMC...

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  33. The Daimons of conflict are fickle beasts at best. You do your utmost to plan for all eventualities but, sometimes it goes to Rat Shite.

    That's just how it is.

    As a Commander you take responsibility, that's ALSO how it is. You stand up as an adult and you damn well take it on the chin.

    Been there, seen that, got the tee shirt.

    Then you go away and try to ensure it doesn't happen again.

    Sadly your President comes over more as a petulant child rather than a Commander in Chief of the world's biggest (and second best ;) ) military.

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  34. "The God of War is fickle and perverse and his prophet is Murphy."

    "Murphy's Law": If it can go wrong it will.

    Then there is "Sod's corollary to Murphy's Law": It will go wrong at the WORST possible moment.

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    1. The engine room of one ship I sailed in had a sign posted over the boiler console / log desk: MURPHY HAS THE WATCH AT ALL TIMES.

      I've posted the same over the log desk or in my standing orders every time I've sailed as Chief Engineer.

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  35. I spent the last couple of days hoping that McCain or one of the other "good" Republicans would vote against DeVos and Sessions. Now I don't trust any of them
    When they go home to their children or grandchildren are they THEN normal, regular people who wouldn't want a racist as Attorney General? Or are they incredibly stupid, selfish, and foolhardy all the time?

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  36. Jim, THANK YOU for standing strong & steadfast to what it means to be an AMERICAN.

    I'm what many would call a "liberal", and I'm sure there are issues over which we could passionately disagree over a beer (or three or four).
    That said, it's your commitment to the U.S. Constitution, and Liberty and Justice for ALL, that allows me to trust you & our armed forces to keep us safe.

    I think we agree that our Commander-In-Chief needs to be fired before he starts WW3. And Bannon can't be anywhere near the levers of power. These people are sociopaths. People dying -- whether it's a Navy Seal, or an innocent civilian, or millions of Americans -- their deaths mean nothing to them, except a brief moment of pleasure. A "Win".

    Thank you for speaking out so forcefully, and for reminding us what being an American is all about.

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  37. Well done, sir--again. As usual. Thank you.

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  38. If no one in the Republican Party is willing to stop this madness, what hope is there for our republic? I used to have a great deal of respect for McCain, but his actions speak louder than his words (and Tweets). In the end, he ends up siding with Trump and his party over our country. Paul Ryan is equally grotesque. With the Republicans in control of the House and Senate, impeachment will not happen unless they grow a collective spine. This leaves us stuck until the mid-term elections, and I fear there won't be many of our principles left by that point.

    I am so disgusted by Trump's total lack of respect for, well, everything, but he trivializes Chief Owens' ultimate sacrifice by acting like this raid was some kind of fucking game with a "winner." My husband was a submariner in the U.S. Navy, and I find myself feeling such relief that he left the service (honorably) many years ago. Trump's recklessness has the potential to kill a lot of people, both civilians and military. I would be very worried if anyone that I loved was subject to the orders of this commander-in-chief.

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  39. It is our job as citizens to question things our government does & says. To just go along with the Cheeto or any other politician just because they hold an elected position is not only unpatriotic, it disrespects our military and the freedoms they fight for us to have.

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  40. I was recently told by a 20 year retired navy chief, who happens to be a friend, and a trump supporter, that as non-military i should basically shut the hell up and NOT question it. I bought up the fact that this mission went to basic shit, and i didn't hear a single republican voice displeasure over this seals death, like they had Benghazi. So thank you for posting this, as i can now ironically point your way and say..well lookey there!

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    1. Not questioning your government is for subjects of monarchies and dictators, not citizens in a democracy.

      “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
      ― Theodore Roosevelt

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    2. If he talks to you like that, he's A)Not a friend, and B)Crapping all over his 20 and the oaths he took.

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  41. Damn, Jim! You are always insightful, and your arguments well thought out, but when you're writing about a subject you can relate to personally - there's no stopping you. Sure you don't want to pursue a political vocation? We could use a lot more plainspoken truth tellers in government these days...

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  42. Brilliant! My favorite line: And while it may be the military’s duty to do or die, it is for us to question why.

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  43. President Trump's fear-mongering and dedication to use any action of radicals to whip up a frenzy can only feed a spiraling hate cloud and encourage Islamic radicals to strike any way they can. The President's response, in turn, can only radicalize some of us and feed a truly deplorable cycle. -His- every word in this arena emboldens the enemy because -any- success now will only lead to more success for them.

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  44. Trump said, "I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot."

    We have a group in Congress, as well as our population, suffering from cognitive dissonance. They embrace the US (yes I now have to clarify the US and not Russia) flag, yet we hear only Gen McCaffery challenging trump's rationalization of US human rights vs Russia?

    We all know the 4+ years of attacks on HRC re Benghazi, but nary a peep aside from McCain re this failed mission? Trump repeatedly attacked/s US military action- AFTER THE FACT- re Iraq and the ME. Now, because someone died on his watch, any questioning is an attack on the departed.

    It is time for the revolt. Congress is feckless, partisan and unworthy of the responsibilities before them. They lack moral fortitude.

    I know I am repeating what others have stated- but here's the real point. SOMEONE must have a connection to anonymous or the like... someone in the IRS. The details of his tax returns are 'at hand'. They must be made public.

    trump jr said the trump Org has been engaged with Russia for a decade now. trump lied about this. trump stated "wouldn't it be great if the US got along with Russia?" CIC places the US in a subservient position to our historic nemesis? The details of trump's liabilities and relations with Russian money IS out there. The details ARE out there.

    I'll wrap up by giving a shout out to Putin, just like trump did. Russia- release the information. We know you have all the sordid details about trump. You want to test our resolve, to rebuild our nation? We know you've gone through this several times- we know it won't be easy.

    Lend us a hand. Have some fun in watching trump squirm. You know you hate the bloated ass as much as we do.

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    1. Adam Khan @Khanoisseur on twitter is doing great work detangling the complicated business dealings of Trump, his son in law Kushner and assorted American, Chinese and Russian billionaires. You should check him out.
      J. Darby

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  45. As concise and brilliant as ever. Thank you Jim.

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  46. Thank you for writing this. I'm a no-holds-barred, dyed-in-the-wool lefty peacenik grandma, but your insights here have educated me. Thank you.

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  47. Thanks for an accurate portrayal of what is supposed to be the rules of the road for both the president and the citizens.

    As to McCain, his acquiescence is worse since was just re-elected, is safe from voter blowback for 6 years and as he near 1,000 years old probably is in his last term. If ever there was a time when he had nothing to lose it's now, but instead he's managed to lose what's left of his dignity.

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  48. The Republicans are responsible for supporting this dreadful POTUS. His every mistake belongs to them as much as it does to POTUS and we must unite and vote them out in 2018 and 2020.

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  49. One of the few conservative bloggers I trust (sometimes), an Army combat veteran and military sci-fi author, thinks that Yemen was blown on purpose by IT folks in State or the WH and that there has been a very quiet purge of Muslim-heritage tech employees from sensitive positions as a result. Obviously I can't verify this but this guy is not a tinfoil hat, most of the time, anyway. And he claims to have off-the-record contacts.

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  50. R. Michael LitchfieldFebruary 9, 2017 at 11:48 AM

    The NYT said they were Emirati Commando's not Yemeni.

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  51. taking credit for the good and blaming for the bad is not even just a career politician thing. Trump has done it his whole life. and his supporters eat it up. all of his bankruptcies and out of business businesses was someone elses fault. I have never seen him take the blame for something. is that just me or does that sound about right?

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  52. If this wasn't 'enough'- how about Steve Bannon writing himself into a permanent seat on the NSC meetings- all without #OrangeJulius even aware!!!

    If THIS this wasn't enough- how about Manafort & Flynn & Sessions (as we're now finding out, as well) having conversations with Russian entities during the campaign!

    We just saw a totally unqualified individual spend $43 MILLION to buy the Sec Education office. Is our nation for sale? $100K to Rubio, $43K to a number of other senators...

    I love this nation, even with its flaws. But, like MILLIONS of others, can we sit idle or just post to demonstrate our anger for what is being done? We must organize marches and rallies and protests- and more- prompt business leaders to step forward. This worked in Indiana and North Carolina and it will work across this nation.

    The next step as trump's EO on drug trafficking takes affect- the trump org and rabid dog Sessions will go after the states that are selling marijuana. They will demand those states forfeit their tax revenue from MJ sales and, like trump is threatening re Chicago, will send in federal forces to arrest any engaged in the sales.

    This abuse of power will not end. trump is without any moral or ethical code.

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  53. What comes after a "winning mission?" What would teach America how to get smart and start winning again? What are the odds this won't be the next great idea?

    What America needs now is a short, victorious war! It's gonna be great! It'll be the greatest; it'll be the shortest war in the history of the world! It'll be so victorious, nobody will believe how victorious; it'll be more victorious than the New England Patriots! And nobody -- and by that I literally mean nobody! -- is going to steal *our* game jersey. I guarantee it.

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  54. I loved your dismount.

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  55. So long as Trump continues to push the Republican agenda, there will be no serious criticism from that side of the aisle.

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  56. Trump's world view ( which he probably got from his dad) is that there are winners and losers, and you are either one or the other. No in between. And, of course, Donald Trump can never, ever, be a loser.
    Also, I guess we're back to " If you criticize the administration then you're not supporting the troops". Seems like that was out of fashion for 8 years. I'm getting whiplash.
    We should never take freedom of speech for granted. I was just reading about the Sedition Act of 1918, and how Eugene V Debs was sentenced to 20 years in prison for violating it (I think he served a few years and was pardoned). Our free speech should not be taken for granted.

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  57. Jeanine Harkonen-RohlkeFebruary 9, 2017 at 12:26 PM

    Thank you for such a clear discussion on this recent event. I am working very hard to stay vigilant and positive so that I can contribute in positive ways to moving forward in our country. I will have to admit that the President's fury on how Nordstroms has "treated" his daughter and his criticism of Sen. McCain makes it hard to not lose my mind and give up. Your words help.

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  58. I can't blame Donald Trump for the fact that the mission went sideways. They do go sideways sometimes. That's the nature of the beast. Nor can I blame Trump for not making tactical decisions after things went sideways. That's the job of the the maneuver unit commander on the ground, period. We learned at least *that* much from Vietnam -- that nothing coming from up high can make things better for the tip of the spear, the people on the ground are the ones who know the situation best and make decision based upon the most recent information -- information that they got a microsecond ago with the Mark II eyeball.

    What I *can* blame Trump for is not taking responsibility for the raid and its aftermath as a whole. Those people on the ground didn't go there on a whim just for kicks. They went there because their chain of command took a plan to their Commander in Chief, and their Commander in Chief signed off on it. If there were problems with the plan, if there were issues of insufficient resources or bad communications or whatever, those need to be examined and addressed. That can't happen if the Commander in Chief is in denial about what kind of fiasco this is, and is not willing to accept the responsibility that comes with signing off on that plan.

    I've heard multiple rumors now about Republican congressmen who are afraid to cross Trump for fear of his MAGAts. One of them supposedly told a writer for The Atlantic, after telling the writer just how much he disagreed with what was happening, "I can't say things like this on the record, I live in the middle of Trump country, they'd shoot me." Yes, *that* is how republics die -- when the representatives become scared to cross Caesar because Caesar's goons will decapitate them, then you no longer have a republic, you have a dictatorship. This cannot happen except with the permission of those who fail to speak out due to fear. The MAGAts can't kill *all* of Congress, after all. But we've elected cowards to Congress, far too many cowards, and many of those who once were brave men years ago lost their courage or sold it long ago to the highest bidder.

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    Replies
    1. First trump tried to blame it all on Obama. Then he tried to claim it as a "Win".
      And we should all keep in mind where he was when it went down: Asleep in his bed.

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  59. The POTUS implying a litmus test that DEATHS of our service members equates to success should send frigid chills throughout everyone.

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  60. You are the Voice of Truth to Power in ways no mere journalist commentator could ever be.

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  61. This is, admittedly, a minor point, but I believe that calling Chief Owens by his first name (Ryan)is not respectful. The man was not a personal friend of #45, and deserves to be referred to by his rank and last name -- or at least by his last name.

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  62. Mailing a hard copy of this essay to Sen. McCain. Tempted to add "grow a pair" as a postscript.

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  63. Mailing a hard copy of this essay to Sen. McCain. Tempted to add "grow a new pair" as a postscript.

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  64. I learned a new vocabulary word this election: "long game". I don't like long game. But if McCain and others' careers went to the chopping block tomorrow because they resisted on one issue, what are the chances we would get moderates in their place? I'm not optimistic. Maybe they're just trying to plug a shit leak til 2018. And it really frigging sucks that it means damage is allowed to occur meantime.

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  65. As usual for the GOP, it's party over country every time. The constant refrain during Bush 43's administration was that every criticism of the war was aiding and abetting the enemy. Suddenly during the Obama administration, everything problematic that had even the most peripheral connection to the military was an excuse to trash the administration. Now the Trumpites want the pendulum to swing back the other way, and as far as possible. Party over country indeed.

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  66. The Judicial Branch does seem to be holding back the dam for now. Can we survive a few years just on the (somewhat diminished) Judicial Branch until we can elect a new Congress and President?

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    1. 118 of 677 Federal judgeships are vacant. Save 1 in NC, these are all from the BO era. The good news (!!) is there are no nominees in place for any but 1(Gorsuch). That is about as bad as good news ever gets.

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  67. This is just what every American needs to hear!
    I am praying this goes viral.
    One of the most valuable things that you have done in service to your country is writing these essays which clearly spell out something like a military operation and help the average citizen understand. So thank you and keep writing!!

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  68. Another good essay, Jim. I have my fingers crossed for the new FB page as I have been waiting for a spot on the current one since 2015.

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  69. Yeah, I think your last point is especially important.
    The craven politicians in the Senate who vote for ridiculous cabinet members and absurd censures are what is killing the republic right now. That they can shrug their shoulders and vote straight as the Party orders regardless of the merits or demerits of the case is the fundamental flaw in the system. They can make all the mouth-noises they want about this or that, but the only ones that count are "aye" and "nay." At this point, I think if Mr Trump emulated Caligula and nominated his horse to the cabinet or the USSC, the Turtle and all his compatriots would cheerfully confirm the choice, and then brag about how excellent it is.

    Eric Hammer

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    Replies
    1. And Caligula is who he is striving to surpass.

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  70. Who knows, maybe the U.S. really did need this enema known as the Pussy-Grabber. Spicer and the rest of the walking brain dead in the administration just follow in lockstep, so the comments about Senator McCain seem in keeping. We all need to stay awake and aware and keep on task- making sure the collateral damage of this administration is kept to a minimum. Silence is consent.

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  71. In regards to the possibility that we will never know what intelligence we have acquired as a result of this operation, do you really think Republicans will keep quiet about any beneficial intelligence?

    I predict a table stacked with paper and folders and President Trump lauding over all the great and wonderful information we managed to gather together that night. This will turn into a photo op.

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  72. Jim, I hate to sound pedantic but the Tennyson quote is more properly "Do and Die". Once again, excellent essay. Insightful, concise and accurate. Bravo Chief.

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  73. Excellent commentary on this sad situation. The only change I would recommend is that your quote of Tennyson is not accurate. The original is: "theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die". They do what is demanded of them. The measure of a soldiers sacrifice is, I think, to go into an impossible situation when ordered, knowing full well that it will almost certainly lead to their death.

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  74. An excellent commentary on this situation. The only change I would recommend is that you use a common misquote of Tennyson. The original was: "Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die". Soldiers are often asked to go into impossible situations knowing full well that they will almost certainly die. The true measure of their sacrifice is that they do so willingly for our security and for the ideals that this country was founded on.

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  75. Jim, I am ever so grateful to you for your step-by-step analysis that not only shows me what needs to be understood about each situation, but also reminds me of the proper steps of critical analysis. In a world of "he-said, she-said", I can count on you to do more than just state your opinion, but to back it up and show me how to use my own damned brain to reach solid conclusions. You are an oasis. Thank you.

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  76. As the counterpoint to the opening quote:

    "To go against conscience is neither right, nor safe.

    "Here I stand. I can do no other, God help me."

    --Martin Luther

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  77. BRILLIANT, powerful, poignant, however tragically-true... My heart aches... & it feels like there's not a g--damn thing I can do about it. #arewepowerlessintodaysamerica?

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  78. Thank you. Once again, right on.

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  79. Replies
    1. Let's unfuck ourselves.

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    2. Those who have been fucked are called both "victims" (they are), and "survivors" (they can become so). Please, though we feel like victims, we must act as survivors.

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    3. We are neither fucked, victems or survivors. We just have a lot work to do, no leadership, and if we adopt a defeatist attitude now this work won't happen and it will be our own fault.
      The situation may be fucked but as anonymous said, let's unfuck, it's not impossible it's just work.

      Delete
    4. I could totally stand to burn a calorie or two. Or tens of thousands, so agreed, all it is is work, and we'll all be a little more fit by the time we finish doing the work.

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  80. Another result of this mission, according to Time Magazine: Yemen Will Ban U.S. Ground Missions After Last Week's Deadly Raid, Report Says

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  81. You have some of the best, most thoughtful writing, I have ever seen. You do not simply spout opinions, you share *why* you hold those opinions, and let the facts speak for themselves... which is most refreshing in an era where arguments are little more than reading from a laundry list of soundbites.

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  82. As always you pretty much nailed it! You have a unique perspective.

    "This is the secret of propaganda: Those who are to be persuaded by it should be completely immersed in the ideas of the propaganda, without ever noticing that they are being immersed in it."-Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister, German Third Reich

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  83. When did we let our ideology overtake our common sense? When did being different become a justified reason to hate, fear, or hurt someone? When did "winning" become more important than everything else? I have always known there were small minded people, but damn when did we put them in charge?

    Thank you Mr. Wright, you essays help me begin to understand things that I find incomprehensible. In that understanding I begin questioning my own deeply held but not necessarily accurate beliefs. You are a hard but excellent teacher.

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  84. Appearing to 'win' is more important to the Current Occupant of the Oval Office (COOO) than the lives and welfare of member of the military, and more important than truth. My first reaction to the news of the mission was similar to yours--I won't second guess the guys on the ground because they know stuff I have no way of knowing and because I've been among them. That's the nature of battle, of the fog, of any mission. But the same people who criticized Obama are not just saying COOO didn't screw up, they are saying he 'won.' They are justifying him. That's not accountability. It's not taking responsibility. The COOO has shown himself once again to be the Snowflake in Chief. Well done, as usual.

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  85. I wish you'd write more thoughful essays like this and less Twitter chatter. (I have donated to this site).

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    1. The Tweets and the Facebook posts are what help me find information, identify ideas, collate information, and brainstorm concepts. Without the Tweets, you wouldn't get the more thoughtful essays.

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    2. Conchscooter, then don't frequent Twitter. I don't, so I don't see Twitter chatter. All I see are thoughtful essays on the blog.

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  86. Thank your for your service! And for your eloquent and loud support of our troops doing their job whether there is a smart or dumb guy in the Seat. And for reminding us that it is a Hollywood movie and the Gods of War are fickle and demanding and cruel. Peace to you, Sir. Thank you for your continued service to your country here.

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