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J. KARL MILLER: Don't jump to conclusions unless you've been there

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:54 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 25, 2012

COLUMBIA — For every action, it is natural to expect a reaction, and — in the interest of hyperbolizing for effect — there is often a calculated overreaction. As has become the rule rather than the exception, this was the emotional response to the unfortunate incident of four Marines urinating on dead Taliban.

Before I take this any further, this is not an attempt to justify this behavior. It was immature and wrongful — a regrettable source of embarrassment to the Commander International Security Assistance Force, led by Marine General John Allen, and particularly to the subordinate Marine Battalion Commander, currently relocated stateside.

Nevertheless, they are not war criminals nor does their offense rise to the level of trial by courts-martial. However, when you view press conferences called by the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State, the former calling for prosecution and the latter likening it to a possible war crime, one may correctly feel unease that these Marines could be thrown under the bus as a sop to public opinion here and abroad.

The incident is a legitimate news story and, as such, was the subject of the entire spectrum of coverage — newspapers, television, syndicated columnists and politicians. There has been condemnation, understanding, exaggeration and overreaction galore — enough to temporarily move the Republication campaign for president off the front page.

"Urinategate" (will we ever be freed from Watergate and its litany of successors?) as it is now known was put in perspective succinctly and correctly by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. His assessment was that these Marines were wrong — that they should receive Field Grade Officer's Article 15 (nonjudicial punishment). He said in his final note, "As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth. War is hell."

West speaks from experience, he commanded an Army infantry battalion in Iraq and is more than somewhat familiar with combat and the stressful nature of the aftermath. While not excusing the behavior, unless one has experienced seeing a buddy killed or maimed by rifle fire or roadside bomb or viewed the remains of those tortured by the Taliban, one has never walked in those shoes.

Media outlets, politicians and celebrities jumping to conclusions prior to fact-finding is not unusual, particularly as it applies to the military spheres of action. As has virtually every misdeed from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, this urination on the Taliban resulted in the dredging up of old history — Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Haditha and even Vietnam's My Lai as acts influencing our enemy to engage in retaliatory atrocities.

In review, each of these incidents were uncovered by military investigation and the culprits punished. The Abu Ghraib prison incident resulted from the nonsupervision of a small cadre of low ranking Army Reserve military police. The ensuing inane effort by media and Congressional anti-war activists to tie this disciplinary failure to the secretary of defense and the president went for naught. The culprits received punishment appropriate to the offense.

The 2005 Haditha incident was a horse of a different color. A squad of Marines was accused by a Time magazine reporter of murdering civilians in an Anbar Province attack. The late U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., climbed on that bandwagon, accusing the troops of cold-blooded murder, likening it to Vietnam's My Lai without waiting for evidence.

The subsequent Article 32 investigation, the military version of a grand jury, resulted in the dismissal of charges against seven of the eight Marines. The remaining one is awaiting trial for negligent homicide. Murtha, a former Marine himself, cost himself the respect of his peers.

Our military's unflagging pursuit of good order and discipline requires leadership up and down the chain of command — that leadership, as is every human trait, is tested severely during actual combat. We see former military personnel treated for post-traumatic stress disorder after they return to civilian life — is not that stress equally acute during or immediately following a firefight?

The Marines' desecration of the Taliban dead is an abnormal act — but, what of war is normal? The mission of our armed forces at its lowest common denominator is to "break things and kill the enemy." There are rules of war; however, even when they are followed to the letter, there is little of war that is civilized or gentle.

The notion that the limited instances of wrongful behavior by our troops will incite our enemies to commit like atrocities has little basis in fact. The present enemy has a long history of barbaric behavior — beheading, stoning to death; they need no incentive.

We can all agree that these wrongful acts cannot go unpunished and that the incidents are news that must be published. But, for politicians and other celebrities to involve themselves before the facts are investigated is unhelpful at best. Government officials should limit themselves to offering regrets and condolences before the facts are presented and await the report of the investigative unit assigned the task under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Finally, I echo Congressman West's admonition — if you haven't been there, your opinion has little value.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.


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Comments

Ellis Smith January 25, 2012 | 8:12 a.m.

I wouldn't want to bet that a few North Korean and Chinese corpses weren't urinated on during the final year of the 37 month long Korean War, which is when the greatest number of casualties (both sides) occurred. Because something isn't documented doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

(Report Comment)
George Cox January 25, 2012 | 8:26 a.m.

Thank you, Colonel.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 25, 2012 | 10:04 a.m.

I think the most important phrase in J Karl's missive is "...is not that stress equally acute during or immediately following a firefight?"

Substitute your own personal moments of extreme stress for the word "firefight" (car wreck, fight, robbery, infidelity, death of a loved one, etc.), then remember your own condition for the next hour or so.

Very hard to pull back from the brink.

(Report Comment)
Ed Lane January 25, 2012 | 11:01 a.m.

As a Vietnam combat vet, I appreciate your views Colonel!! AND I agree, if you haven't been there, your opinion has little value.

SEMPER FI,

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle January 25, 2012 | 12:12 p.m.

Colonel & Crew are always quick to judge others, whose shoes they have never spent time in, but... to have the same judgement passed back in return? Au Contrair! It's *SO* Unfair...

Distance is about the only thing that separates overseas war zones from "The 'Hood." This story does nothing but expose the utter depravity of humanity at war with one another.

Wars suck. Don't support them.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 25, 2012 | 2:38 p.m.

@Derrick
Wars suck, but standing by and watching your family, community, Country and/or other human beings get raped and pillaged and enslaved is worse! If I am in the hood and some one breaks in to rob and kill my family I am going to do what I need to. If'n the perp ends up dead, he/she might even get pissed on...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 25, 2012 | 2:40 p.m.

Look what it did for Kim Kardashian...

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller January 25, 2012 | 3:03 p.m.

Mr Fogle, Sorry, but I just have to ask: "whose shoes have I never spent time in?" I served 30 years active duty in the U S Marine Corps. Inasmuch as I am now 76 years young, by my count that leaves 46 years shod in footwear similar to that worn by you and other civilians. Most of my footwear consists of cowboy boots--never sandals nor flip flops.

I do join you though in "Wars Suck."

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble January 25, 2012 | 3:45 p.m.

It's unseemly for people whose role is to defend the freedom of our country to tell citizens to "shut up" and that their opinions have little value.

Such a sentiment is understandable from an emotional standpoint, but speaks to a lack of respect for the population served by the military. The military is a servant to the society, not above it. No one, ever, is above questioning.

We can feel for the people who put their lives on the line in service, and respect and admire the service they give, while also judging the merits of how the service is executed. They are not mutually exclusive, and it is the duty of the free society to pass this judgment and set the standards, and the duty of the military to accept - and, hopefully, even value - the realities that come with a free society.

The thanks for such profound service should not come in the form of hushed reverence or inability to question. The thanks should always come in the form of exercising the freedom whose defense is the entire reason the military exists.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 25, 2012 | 4:02 p.m.

During WW2, Marines seldom took prisoners. They learned in their first couple of battles with the Japanese that they seldom surrendered, and when feigning surrender, they often used it as an opportunity to blow themselves up and as many Marines as they could get to join them. Consequently, Marines usually went thru the battlefield putting extra bullets into "dead" Japanese soldiers. Also, having early on experience the butchery and brutality of the Japanese towards our prisoners, and their murdering priests and villagers, and raping and murdering nuns and villagers, Marines were not so willing to take prisoners. It took active work on the parts on intelligence sections to get young Marines to understand prisoners were valuable in saving lives. But I recall vividly my dad telling about sitting on a dead enemy soldier while he dined on his daily ration of rice and insects. He landed at Tulgai weighing 160 lbs, and left Guadalcanal six months later to the day weighing 98 lbs with a 106.9 degree fever.

Sorry, no war crime in my book. You don't even blink an eye when Islamic terrorists blow up another mosque or market and kill scores of innocent women and children. Had I been there I likely would have chastised my young marines about urinating on enemy bodies, asking them why they hadn't done both sides!

War does desensitize people. But when you are dealing with the uncivilized on a daily basis, and asked to perform terrible deeds in defense of your nation and the freedom of others, the norms of civilian conduct fall away. Most I might give them is a good butt chewing about letting somebody take pictures.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 25, 2012 | 4:06 p.m.

Kevin: I'm still searching for where J. Karl said "shut up." Can you point it out?

Opinions are not all of equal value or weight.

Things we, as individuals, have experienced personally are of high weight. Things we experience peripherally are of lessor weight. And so on. The colonel has experienced war and I tend to honor his opinions. I've experienced chemistry, business, and being a reserve cop. Derrick is well-versed in computers, cycling issues, and digging up stuff. Jon is, I think, literate in electrical stuff and also at digging up stuff.

Ellis is an engineer, but I don't remember the kind of train he drove.

As for "respect", I think the reverse of what you said is true: There is a large segment of the populace that pays lip service to supporting troops, yet does everything in their power to hinder them. Such behavior does not meet my definition of "support"; hence, I do not believe these folks truly support the military and are, indeed, antagonistic towards them. There is no question in my mind why military folks tend to support conservative issues.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 25, 2012 | 4:08 p.m.

Don says, "Most I might give them is a good butt chewing about letting somebody take pictures."
_____________________

There oughta be a class.........

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 25, 2012 | 4:10 p.m.

Kevin, over the course of the history of warfare, warriors have always felt disdain for those who criticize them, but have never been in their shoes. I have seen a boot camp company commander threaten a recruit that if he didn't straighten up, he would give him the worst punishment possible....return him to life as a civilian.

But you would have had to have been there to understand. Yes, the military serves the nation. They sacrifice more on hehalf of the nation that any group in our society. Kipling understood this 120 years ago in 1892 when he wrote Tommy. Look it up.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller January 25, 2012 | 5:02 p.m.

This line in Kipling's Tommy Atkins sums it as well as anything I have seen
"We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 25, 2012 | 6:23 p.m.

Kevin, you ever walked to the front when there was lead and steel cutting through the air?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush January 25, 2012 | 6:49 p.m.

Irony defined -
Judging those who would judge as
Not worthy to judge.

The corollary:
Unless you've been me, how dare
You judge my judgement.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle January 25, 2012 | 7:08 p.m.

It's a bad idea in a democratic country for one segment of the people--whether the military or some other--to consider themselves as citizens that are somehow superior to the larger population. People who support this kind of thing ought to consider the larger implications.

Soldiers who serve proudly, and also humbly, are extraordinary people. But the chest-beaters in this thread offer a contrary example, one that does not justice to the ideals of this country.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson January 25, 2012 | 7:08 p.m.

It is reported that Patton and Churchill both urinated in the Rhine (I believe the former was photographed in the act). Modern "progressives" would probably urge the dismissal of the 3rd Army commander and the King's first minister, for endangering water quality and polluting an ecosystem.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 25, 2012 | 7:54 p.m.

Don Milsop: "Had I been there I likely would have chastised my young marines about urinating on enemy bodies, asking them why they hadn't done both sides!"

Sorry, but you don't get to claim the moral high ground if your demeanor and actions are indistinguishable from those you're calling inferior and uncivilized. If your morals can devolve so easily to where you're congratulating your subordinates for such behavior, whatever moral superiority you think you have is merely a veneer--and the only difference between you and them is that you were lucky enough to be born elsewhere.

Would you think of me as moral and civilized if I was an upstanding citizen most of the time, except for whenever my wife didn't have dinner ready on time and I beat her to a pulp? If your answer is no, it's the same situation here. If you indeed have a higher sense of morality and human decency, that behavior should be reflected in all aspects of your life at all times, not just when other people are looking and you're afraid of getting in trouble.

"War does desensitize people. But when you are dealing with the uncivilized on a daily basis, and asked to perform terrible deeds in defense of your nation and the freedom of others, the norms of civilian conduct fall away. Most I might give them is a good butt chewing about letting somebody take pictures."

Again, you're not painting yourself as a very civilized person if rattling your cage in the slightest makes you forget who you are and what you stand for.

Also, this isn't a one-way street. You don't get to be offended by people who judge you when they haven't walked in your shoes if you're guilty of the same. You've never walked in the shoes of those uncivilized Islamic terrorists either, and yet you have no problems denigrating them and calling them subhuman. What gives?

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 25, 2012 | 8:07 p.m.

Tim Trayle January 25, 2012 | 7:08 p.m.
"Soldiers who serve proudly, and also humbly, are extraordinary people. But the chest-beaters in this thread offer a contrary example, one that does not justice to the ideals of this country."

Tim, I'd venture you don't know much about Chesty Puller.

No Jonathan, I haven't walked in the shoes of Islamic terrorists. Our military by tradition and action serve to save the lives of innocent and weak. This is in contrast to tyrants and terrorists who prey upon the innocent and weak. If you can't distinguish between the two, well, that's your problem. I would venture the vast majority of Americans can see the difference. We were taught to kill the enemy. By aircraft, cannon, grenade, rifle, bayonet, knife, and bare hands. There's no morality or decency in that, other than you know you are preserving a way of life far better, far kinder, more merciful, more dignified, with more opportunity. Trying to compare the actions of soldiers or marines having been under the stress of combat to you coming home and beating your wife because dinner isn't ready...well, I'll let others here judge that comment for what it's worth. The editor would censor me if I said what I thought of that remark.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush January 25, 2012 | 8:53 p.m.

Abuse of the young
By the old - that's the moral
Of Kipling's "Tommy".

(Report Comment)
DG Cayse January 25, 2012 | 9:10 p.m.

RE:Tim Trayle January 25, 2012 | 7:08 p.m.
Sir, some of us on the Colonels thread have earned the right to do a little "chest beating." Please, just allow experience to educate you, and others, a bit.
At a time in the U.S. Army Infantry, it was considered de rigueur for any serious practitioner of the combat arts to have an Art. 15 or so in their DD 214 jacket. It was also common for incidents such as this to be handled at a platoon or company level.
Todays 24/7 news cycle coupled with the handiness of digital cameras and email foist an unnatural set of rules on the duties of the platoon leader. It is a sad state of affairs when he needs worry about after actions activities showing up on YouTube. IMO, this problem should NOT be existing.
Battle gear shake-down should have removed the possibility of this occurring.
So yes, their is need for punishment of this activity...being recorded and made public.

Of course, IMO, the Marines were simply applying sterile wash to injuries.

(Report Comment)
DG Cayse January 25, 2012 | 9:13 p.m.

re:Gregg Bush January 25, 2012 | 8:53 p.m.

Respectfully Sir, that is NOT the moral of "Tommy"

It is the disrespect shown to the combat soldier by the public during times of peace that is Kiplings message.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 25, 2012 | 10:10 p.m.

Is any of all this covered by what's meant by the phrase "reeking of moral indignation"?

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 25, 2012 | 10:38 p.m.

Seems I remember a kinder, gentler Marine Corps 40 years ago. I recall an instructor in the gentle art of booby traps stating how the object was to send the enemy soldier back to his mommy in a Glad bag. Of course today liberals would wail and gnash their teeth at the very thought of our warriors being taught in such a manner.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 25, 2012 | 10:39 p.m.

DG, thanks for helping Mr. Bush with his reader comprehension re Tommy.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush January 25, 2012 | 10:45 p.m.

Rule breaking is for
Serious practitioners
In the combat arts?

I bought you those clothes,
That rifle, those bullets - you
Can follow the rules.

Good doctors, pilots,
Nurses, and cops follow rules.
Good soldiers do, too.

Or tell me more how
Military rule breaking
Is an honor badge.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 25, 2012 | 11:30 p.m.

Walk the walk Mr. Bush. Then talk the talk.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 25, 2012 | 11:59 p.m.

Oh, before I forget, the military pays income and social security taxes, as well as state, city, sales, and gas taxes.....unless in a combat zone.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 26, 2012 | 4:32 a.m.

"No Jonathan, I haven't walked in the shoes of Islamic terrorists. Our military by tradition and action serve to save the lives of innocent and weak. This is in contrast to tyrants and terrorists who prey upon the innocent and weak. If you can't distinguish between the two, well, that's your problem."

I'm just looking for some semblance of consistency in your argument, otherwise you may as well save yourself some time and just say "I agree because I agree." You do realize that Taliban lackeys are probably saying the same thing about the US military right now, right?

"I would venture the vast majority of Americans can see the difference. We were taught to kill the enemy. By aircraft, cannon, grenade, rifle, bayonet, knife, and bare hands."

Were you also taught to urinate on their corpses afterwards?

"There's no morality or decency in that, other than you know you are preserving a way of life far better, far kinder, more merciful, more dignified, with more opportunity."

Wrong, because if we stick to the usual "the ends justify the means" mantra, we can make excuses for anything. There IS morality and decency even in war, because even if all killing is ugly, there are degrees of ugly. There's a difference between killing bin Laden in a firefight and dismembering him on international TV after a peaceful surrender. Do you not agree?

"Trying to compare the actions of soldiers or marines having been under the stress of combat to you coming home and beating your wife because dinner isn't ready...well, I'll let others here judge that comment for what it's worth. The editor would censor me if I said what I thought of that remark."

I'm not sure that sanctimony is going to help you here, considering you said just a few hours ago that you would encourage your soldiers to pee on enemy corpses so long as they didn't take pictures. Plus, once again you seem utterly unconcerned about the fact that uncivilized Islamic terrorists are also under the stress of combat. Why aren't they getting a pass for their war-time peccadilloes? Why shouldn't the guy who beats his wife get a pass? He's under the stress of work, after all, and you haven't walked in his shoes so you don't know how stressful his job may be. (Again, I'm looking for consistency)

The thing about morality is that there's a huge difference between being moral and merely obeying the law. The former dictates your behavior and actions at all times; the latter is just something you do because you're afraid of the repercussions. If repercussions are the only thing holding you back, then you're not as great a person as you think you are. (Using the general "you" here, not you specifically). Putting a leash on your rabid, starving pit bull doesn't make him tame.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 26, 2012 | 5:42 a.m.

I will find out where she has gone
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among the dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

[My high school teacher, Ms. Williams, said that if we should ever find ourselves trapped in a morass of haikus there's nothing like a quote from William Butler Yeats to brighten things up. :)]

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 26, 2012 | 6:03 a.m.

@ Don Milsop:

Unless there's been some change in policy, DOD also pays compensation to school districts (here in the United States) impacted by students who are military dependents of an adjacent post or base (with the Army it's a post; for all other armed services it's a base).

This is only reasonable. Take Fort Leonard Wood for example. Waynesville and Saint Robert together have only a modest civilian tax base, and their combined population is less than that of Rolla, itself only a small city.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 26, 2012 | 11:29 a.m.

Ellis, William Butler Yeats would have been inspired by this tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m903MzTCP...

Skip the ad if there is one. The pictures and the music are beautiful. I recall sitting with my back to a tree beside the runway at Aviano, Italy. I had just lost four men in a training accident. It was a beautiful day....very blue sky, warm sun, nice cool breeze. I was reading a book, but I don't remember what book. When I got back to the ship, one of my corporals in comm platoon has missed his watch at the quarter deck. Good man. He told me he'd met an American girl in the Air Force, and had talked to her a long time and just flat forgot. I intervened and asked that I be allowed to handle it instead of ruining his record. I just restricted him to the ship for the next two liberty ports and reminded him of his responsibilities and need to set an example as an NCO.

I'm sure that simple memory of speaking to a girl far from home after the recent death of some of his brothers in arms is a memory he still carries, and the punishment was light in comparison to the happiness of that day. The pictures associated with link above are what many a warrior has hoped to see again when he returns. Seldom do they think if they return.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 26, 2012 | 11:35 a.m.

After carefully checking the UCMJ, there is no specific crime listed for urinating on the bodies of terrorist you have killed. I guess though Article 134 could be used for just about anything that command deems unwarranted.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 26, 2012 | 1:04 p.m.

Don,

I wonder if you'd like something a bit more contemporary.

The Civil Wars.

He's a hillybilly Johnny Depp look-a-like from the deep South and she's an adorable valley girl from California. They met at a songwriter's gathering. Married, but not to each other. Wish they'd come to Columbia. I saw them in KCMO. Different sound than I've ever heard before.

Here's three:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooTyuRd9z...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfzRlcnq_...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7ubwwoJq...
_________________________

Finally....bringing back this forgotten thing called "harmony".

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 26, 2012 | 4:13 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Michael Williams January 26, 2012 | 5:44 p.m.

Don:

Lol.

No, but it is true that many of their songs are about the trials/tribulations/love of relational bliss.

Hope you enjoyed them.

PS: Sometimes this place becomes The Twilight Zone.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 26, 2012 | 5:49 p.m.

Don:

You got deleted, but the original post with virtually identical words is still there from 7:54pm last night.

What's up with that?

Neither should have been deleted.

Especially with this one, since all you did was repeat what was already said.

Wow.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen January 27, 2012 | 1:21 p.m.

The Colonel's pieces always excite conversation. Interesting irony here: talk of war has people fighting.

I agree that the logic of 'you can't criticize if you haven't been there' is flawed. Can I not give an opinion on murder, child molestation, or fake money?

Throughout the history of government, religion, and business, when superiors are held responsible for the behavior of underlings, the underlings tend to behave better.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 27, 2012 | 2:00 p.m.

Greg: In the same way J.Karl did not say "shut up" to Kevin (1/25/2012, 3:45 pm), he didn't say you could or should not criticize.

He said, "if you haven't been there, your opinion has little value."

So, you've misinterpreted/misrepresented what he said.

He's simply acknowledging that opinions can be valued. Both you and I do this all the time; we tend to believe those who have "been there" rather than one who is thinking from an ivory tower. That tendency-to-believe is a value judgment, and it is J.Karl's opinion that, when it comes to war, your opinion should be valued less if you've never been in the heat/aftermath of a battle or something very similar.

Makes sense to me...and to our gov't also. This is why military matters are adjudicated by the military rather than civilian courts. Soldiers judge soldiers, I think they do a reasonably good job of it, and I think this is the correct posture.

Some of my own opinions about...say, chemistry...should be valued highly, imo, because that's what I spent my life doing. Other opinions of mine are created from a distance and can fairly be valued by others as "less than valuable".

Fair enuf.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 27, 2012 | 2:23 p.m.

Booker's Law: A gram of application is worth a metric ton of abstraction (theory).

Think J. Karl would agree with that?

Someday I hope to meet Booker. I'm going to buy him dinner.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen January 27, 2012 | 2:45 p.m.

Mr. Williams: it seems that when we start arguing specific wording then we are into semantics that distract from the spirit of what is being discussed.

Your reasoning is sound for as far as it goes. But if we accept it as is -- that only those who are involved in it have more valuable things to say about it -- then we lose the possibility of different perspectives. Only allowing a single perspective is a kind of tyranny. Sometimes the status quo in a system perpetuates harmful knowledge or actions (e.g. Big Pharma), so an outside perspective is valuable to correct it. Neitzsche rarely read newspapers, but his writings endure for what he said about the things that fill papers every day.

BTW, does divorce count as 'the heat/aftermath of a battle or something very similar'? *grin*

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 27, 2012 | 2:54 p.m.

Anybody can render an opinion about procedures during open heart surgery. But unless you are a heart surgeon, people aren't going to value your opinion much. Same goes with combat. I recall Major Ollie North telling us about one member of his company being put on trial for murder in Vietnam. Major North insisted that all members of the jury be combat veterans, not just members of the military. They were able to render a decision based on evidence in a scenario with which they had actual experience. I wouldn't want a grunt deciding evidence in a hearing regarding an aviation maintenance issue which caused an accident. Nor would I value much the opinion of people who had not experience combat regarding Marines urinating on the bodies of dead terrorists. After all, couldn't you say they showed gross disrespect of the terrorists by KILLING THEM in the first place?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 27, 2012 | 3:00 p.m.

No one is saying "Don't talk" or that there will be no differing perspectives.

Opinions can be valued. You and I do it all the time when we hear/read what others speak/write. You favor certain speakers/writers. You favor certain opinions.

The question to ask is....Why?

Anyone can express opinions, and anyone can assign a judgment to those opinions. J.Karl believes "being there" is the highest validator of an opinion.

Works for me. Doesn't mean I will end up being a true believer, but it does mean I'll consider a first-hand opinion longer and more thoughtfully than any opinion from the periphery.

I don't know about divorce (lol), but I've been in fights, I've felt rage (twice), and I've had to point a loaded weapon at fellow human beings several times.....and it wasn't fun at all. It was very difficult to pull back from whatever brink I was near. Complete physical/emotional collapse about 1-2 hours later was my method of coping.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 27, 2012 | 4:10 p.m.

Michael, I found that those peace officers who had a deep faith and were involved with their church coped much better with the stresses of that job. Lord knows I could not deal with day in and day out of the worst elements of society, or the most tragic.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 27, 2012 | 5:47 p.m.

Don:

You are correct.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 27, 2012 | 6:05 p.m.

Don: Sorry to be brief with my last post, but I wasn't sure it was legal for me to mention the words "church" and "faith".

I think what our soldiers want to hear, even when they screw up, is "I'm proud of you" from its citizenry.

...instead of only silence and hindrance when they do well, and only criticism when they do wrong.

But, I guess you have to believe the words, first.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 27, 2012 | 6:50 p.m.

"I think what our soldiers want to hear, even when they screw up, is "I'm proud of you" from its citizenry."

First read it here but couldn't find it for this:

http://www.newspressnow.com/localnews/30...

A great first start. Right?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 27, 2012 | 7:00 p.m.

Frank:

Cool. I might just go.

They can cinch the deal if I can drive a tank thru downtown.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle January 27, 2012 | 7:41 p.m.

Dear Colonel: You have never walked in any black man's shoes. You have never walked in any woman's shoes. Never. Not once. Not even a single step. Please don't play dumb; it's very unbecoming of you.

Thanks @Mentor for the wistful account of possibly getting to 'take out some perp in the hood' if you ever got the chance. It illustrates, well enough, my points that the US population is already engaged in a slow-motion internal civil war that clearly threatens our safety, and that there are real moral hazards of becoming what we fight against, in an attempt to beat it.

So, y'all cheer and stomp the ground, and demand more, when we spend $700B a year on military to provide safety against outside threats, but become absolutely livid when we spend as much to keep a lid on our own internal civil safety threats. Unless, of course, it's all spent on more violence: police and prisons.

How much growth and productivity potential is there in an economy based on overseas war and domestic punishment*, anyway? After 30 years of focusing our economy on these things, look where it is.

I hope everyone else enjoys such a negative, violent, downward-spiral ride. I don't.

* for non-financial, and small-time financial criminals only, of course.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 27, 2012 | 8:29 p.m.

Derrick Fogle January 27, 2012 | 7:41 p.m.
Dear Colonel: You have never walked in any black man's shoes. You have never walked in any woman's shoes. Never. Not once. Not even a single step. Please don't play dumb; it's very unbecoming of you.

Derrick, I'm very surprised your comment of calling the colonel dumb got by the censors. Perhaps it will be reduced to deleted as inappropriate later. And don't try and weasel. You are calling him dumb.

I have been a minority on several occasions. I've been a minority by just being a member of the military, and at a time when much of America held disdain for that service. I have been a minority in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood growing up. I have been a minority as an adult in a mostly oriental society in other lands, and even here in Hawaii.

Guess what. Being a minority never made the least bit of difference. That is because my parents instilled in us values respected by ALL PEOPLE. We were taught to treat ALL people with respect. We were taught the value of dressing properly. Table manners. Interacting with civil authority and supervisors. Basic common courtesy. And yes, I did get in fights because of my race. I also knew what it was like to be poor when most others around me were poor. I knew what it was like to be ashamed that it took rubber bands to hold the soles of my shoes on, and the only time we got to wear shoes was to school and to church. I remember weeks of just grill cheese sandwiches and soup to eat. I remember my brother telling my little sister to be quiet when she complained, and him telling her to be quiet, that mom and dad were doing the best they could. He was eight and she was six.

My grandfather from Croatia used to say, "It's no sin to be poor. It is a sin to be trash." Well Derrick, you've never been an immigrant from another country who came here from a war torn land without speaking English. Five years after landing here in the mid 1970's, there was a word that was used to often describe Vietnamese kids: Valedictorian.

Don't give me your whining. And if walking in women's shoes hurts your feet, wear flats.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 27, 2012 | 9:05 p.m.

Don - I started to read quickly through your answer to DF, so that I could accost him. You left nothing else to say.

Unfortunately, his reaction will be to "disappear" for a while, then reappear with the same disingenuous posts. They somehow seem to be his reason for being.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 27, 2012 | 10:31 p.m.

Michael M. - Didn't I note, they were expecting 100 floats? That committee might be the place to check on Tanks. As usual, only trying to "hep u".

(Report Comment)
John Bliss January 28, 2012 | 1:46 p.m.

Colonel, again the acts of few, discredit all. My wife and I have opened our home to some 18 Marines for weekend liberty. Our church members hosted some 150 more. Everyone of them a gentleman. With a nephew that served in the 82nd airborne, purple heart with 3 oak leaf clusters, I would have not stopped these guys either.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush January 28, 2012 | 5:19 p.m.

A straight, white, Christian
Male is a minority?
Oppression tales, please.

I've been a red-head
In a sea of blonds. I've been
Healthy surrounded

By illness. I've been
A vegan at a bar-b-
Q, an atheist

In a temple, bathed
At a family reunion.
My belly don't ache.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 28, 2012 | 6:39 p.m.

Brush up on your Kipling
Start quoting him now.
Brush up on your Kipling
And the women you will wow.

- a slight perversion of "Brush Up On Your Shakespeare," from the musical "Kiss Me, Kate." I thought our resident Kipling lovers might enjoy it.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 28, 2012 | 9:04 p.m.

A few years after penning Tommy, Kipling wrote my favorite of his, IF. http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_if.htm

Sadly that son was lost at the battle of Loos, Sep/Oct 1915. The British lost 7,766 dead/missing, and another 51,000 wounded. Kipling searched the battlefield for a year searching for that son. At the end of the war he finally acknowledged that his son had perished.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 29, 2012 | 5:33 a.m.

Don:

The story of Kipling's son was aired on network TV (PBS) not long ago. I saw it, and believe it may have been produced by the same Brits who bring English novels to the screen.

Don, my education is technical and I am woefully lacking in an understanding of the literary arts. So tell me, did Kipling engage much in writing haikus? :)

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 30, 2012 | 4:04 a.m.

Kipling would have more likely been fond of limericks.

There once was a man from Chicago
Whose nonsense many would follow
But his supporters they wept
When no longer we slept
And his excuses no longer we'd swallow

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle January 30, 2012 | 7:18 a.m.

2 things for the peanut gallery this AM:

First, a video from Iraq Veterans Against The War: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcnU3q_Ky...

Who among us have actually served in Iraq or Afghanistan? I know Jack has.

Second, yet another article about research that correlates conservatism, racism, and low IQ: http://news.yahoo.com/low-iq-conservativ...

Enjoy!

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 30, 2012 | 9:15 a.m.

DF -
"Unfortunately, his reaction will be to "disappear" for a while, then reappear with the same disingenuous posts." Me, 1/27/12.

Didn't take as long as I thought, but he couldn't allow a parade honoring All those veterans to pass without berating it as well as them.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 30, 2012 | 11:43 a.m.

"yet another article about research that correlates conservatism, racism, and low IQ:"

Mr. Fogle gives us Yahoo, a source I've turned from because of it's abundance of left leaning information and lack of truth when I know of many publications of reliable source that are not submitted as answers to political questions.

The studies provided for our heightened information on right wing intelligence, racism and prejudice come from a Univ. in Canada and was apparently restricted to people of the United Kingdom. Two historically, left wing countries whose people and their views, in many instances, have always differed from those of the we in U.S.

They did finally interview 254 apparent Americans which enabled them to add homophobia to the mix.

I would include this, his 7:18A post of today as representative of "the same disingenuous posts".

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 30, 2012 | 1:33 p.m.

Derrick:

The Yahoo article you posted, versus

"The Bell Curve" by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray.

One ok, the other not.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 30, 2012 | 4:23 p.m.

In 2003 my nephew was trying everything he could to get to Iraq. His command didn't want to let him go. I had to finally prevail upon the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, doing so with mixed trepidation. The sergeant major said there was a waiting line of people trying to get back into the combat zone. On my nephew's second tour, he commanded a very specialized small unit that operated independent of other forces, making them vulnerable. He had no casualties in his unit.

I've had other family and friends there. About 20% of my neighbors are active duty. Our church attendance fluxes with the deployment of units. The detractors like Jonathan and Derrick are not as close to this war as I am. Our military does not share that anti war opinion. Because we manage our condo buildings, we also became very familiar with today's needs of deploying military and their families.

Reenlistment rates remain high for the services. Retention is not an issue. Even as late as 2008, the retention rate goals for all services exceeded 100%. What worries most of our military now is that all their sacrifice will have been in vain because of the present administration's abandonment of the conflict. Cutting our armed forces has ALWAYS resulted in less money for maintenance, higher accident rates, lowered combat readiness, and drops in morale. As the colonel will attest to, our FORSTAT reports during the Carter years indicated a dismal preparedness to fight those two major front conflicts we have learned we must be prepared for. Never forget that the "peace dividend" of the 1990s resulted in the questions of the 2000's about our casualty rates from units ill prepared for urban conflict due to deficiencies in equipment and training. But as Donald Rumsfeld said, "You go to war with what you have."

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 30, 2012 | 6:14 p.m.

If conservatives have low IQ's, why do liberals complain that conservatives are rich and have an advantage of better schools? The poor and less educated always vote Dem. Yet liberals blindly put out foolish statements such as we see above. This again is their usual pathetic attempt to put forward a failed ideology and lack of leadership in resolving any problem facing out nation as the path we should follow. The Mayans will be six weeks early for liberals, whose world will end on November 6th.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle January 30, 2012 | 6:59 p.m.

Williams wrote this: "The Yahoo article you posted, versus

"The Bell Curve" by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray.

One ok, the other not....You should be ashamed of yourself."

Are you suggesting the methodology of the scholars whose work is cited in the LiveScience article is as flawed as that of Herrnstein and Murray? If so, make your case. (I'm surprised that, for once, FC actually sought to interrogate the dataset and made an argument from that. But what's your sense of things?)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 30, 2012 | 8:33 p.m.

Tim says, "Are you suggesting the methodology of the scholars whose work is cited in the LiveScience article is as flawed as that of Herrnstein and Murray? If so, make your case."
___________________

I dunno. Possible, I suppose. Science is self-correcting, and I don't know where this one leads.

But I bet if you think about it, you can find all sorts of stereotypes of peoples linked to financial resources, beliefs, racism, and cognitive abilities, and you'll be somewhat right. And somewhat wrong. After all, stereotypes are stereotypes because there is a grain of truth. Nonetheless, all are onerous and contribute little.

The article discusses "overlap". Do you understand normal and gaussian distributions, standard deviations, ANOVA, P < 0.05, and the various other tests to show statistically significant differences? I have no way of knowing from the article how they did their statistical tests, because I've not seen the raw data.

Neither have you.

You believe the article, but don't know why. I don't know if I believe the article and I know why. I don't know where Derrick falls within this spectrum.

Personally, I think The Bell Curve is stupid at worst and inflammatory at best. You want me to make my case; before that, you make a clear case that it is.

And make sure you make your very own interpretation, because simply copying a piece that agrees with your position won't cut it. Do your own work and convince me.

Then convince me that the Yahoo article IS valid. Doing your own work, of course.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 31, 2012 | 12:20 a.m.

Firat empirical evidence I would ask is are the individuals conducting the study liberals? Have they voted Democrat in the last 10 national elections? Please don't give me any purist "methodology of the scholars" motive. The Hadley Climate Research Unit proved how bogus that notion was. They destroyed all their data rather than have the world really perform a peer review. Of course having the HCRU emails exposing them for the fraud they were posted on line didn't help make their case either.

Scientists dabling in politics and motivational research would likely be sure of the outcome of their research before it begins, regardless of which side of the political spectrum they're coming from. HCRU was the Rosetta Stone of climate research, until the screen was pulled back revealing the fraud they had committed. We don't hear them referenced on climate research much these days. As a matter of fact, liberal politicians seemed to have dropped the terms global warming and climate change from their political agendas to a large degree.

Funny how that works.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 31, 2012 | 4:05 p.m.

Michael, deviation IS standard for liberals.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle January 31, 2012 | 8:36 p.m.

@Don: For the record, I think the article I linked to is mostly amusing political trash. But, I believe the research itself reinforces my theory posted a couple weeks ago, that man's conceptualization of God is largely the embodiment of ignorance.

Almost all of us have experienced shame, humiliation, deprivation, violence, hatred, abuse, etc. How we react is important. Do we become a link in a chain of abuse, or do we work to break that chain? My choice is clearly and strongly the latter, not the former. I'm not perfect, and there are limits, but it remains my choice to try. If a heavy preference for non-violence is a 'liberal deviation', so be it.

Exchanges on this discussion board hypocritically excepted, of course...

"I knew what it was like to be ashamed that it took rubber bands to hold the soles of my shoes on, and the only time we got to wear shoes was to school and to church. I remember weeks of just grill cheese sandwiches and soup to eat.

Don't give me your whining."

Indeed. I'll try my best not to. I didn't call the Colonel dumb, either. He's not. I called him out for *playing* dumb.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop February 1, 2012 | 1:55 a.m.

If a heavy preference for non-violence is a 'liberal deviation', so be it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Oakland, California.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop February 1, 2012 | 2:06 p.m.

Derrick, I didn't see public shame or humiliation in the OWS crowd, defecating in public or having public sex or urinating in public.

(Report Comment)

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