Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gen. McChrystal's (Or President Obama's) Flawed Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan

Tony Perry wrote an interesting article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times regarding the restrictions placed on American fighter-bomber crews in the war in Afghanistan. Reporting from the USS Eisenhower, Perry covered how the polices of Army General Stanley A. McChrystal practically play out for the pilots and commanders of the Eisenhower’s carrier air wings.

In the past years, there has been a concern for the number of Afghan civilian casualties and how that has led to a decline in Afghan support of the U.S. led war on Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This has led to McChrystal’s statement that “mission No. 1 is to avoid civilian casualties, even if it means letting suspected Taliban fighters escape.”

Excuse me for a moment, but isn’t the United States’ “mission No. 1” to defeat the terrorists and those who harbor and support them?

The commander of the Eisenhower’s air wing, Captain Roy Kelley told Perry he states McChrystal’s mission to his pilots in this way, “They [need] to know what our objectives are – that we’re here to protect [the Afghan] people, and that mean’s limiting civilian deaths.”

Capt. Kelley’s statement sounds noble and I do not doubt for a second that he is a fine fighter pilot and defender of our country. But notice the subtle change from what we went to war for when we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. The stated mission then was to destroy the terrorists who attacked us. The mission now is to protect the Afghan people.

My question is, why did this change?

I understand there was political pressure that civilians were dying and I certainly get that it is a tragedy when anyone loses their life in war. But isn’t it a little difficult to defeat an enemy that, if smart enough to figure out how to commandeer airplanes and crash them into buildings, is certainly smart enough to figure out how to hide behind women and children?

I certainly do not believe we should be indiscriminately bombing the Afghan populations but when our troops on the ground are in a firefight and soldiers and marines are dying, it is beyond common sense that “infantry commanders, sometimes with lawyers at their elbows, go through a checklist to make sure their request fits the rules of engagement.” If you open fire on the United States military, there should not be any possible way you find sanctuary hiding in civilian populations or a mosque.

Rear Admiral Philip Davidson, the commander of the Eisenhower strike group made the comment that, “often in this war, it’s the bombs that you don’t drop that are the most important.” That’s easy for you to say Admiral when you drinking coffee on the bridge of a carrier. Maybe you should put yourself into the shoes of the lieutenant or captain who’s had one of his men die when an IED exploded and is now taking rounds from guys with AK-47’s. The bombs that “are the most important” are the ones that eliminate the threat, not withheld to protect Afghans who are harboring enemy forces.

My reading of history tells me that Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and George S. Patton would laugh at the orders as dictated by Gen. McChrystal, (who it should be noted might have his hands tied by President Obama.)

Afghan President Karzai has been very outspoken about us limiting civilian causalities. He needs to understand that he would not be in power without the United States of America. Either let us destroy the Taliban and Al Qaeda without limitations placed by your government, or how about we go home and we’ll see how effective you are at handling it?

America needs to remember that we are fighting a war against the terrorists who attacked us. We are not fighting to prop up an Afghan administration, although that will be a side benefit of defeating Al Qaeda. As it stands, we will protect more Afghan people in the long run if we do not allow the enemy sanctuary but attack them where they are, regardless of where they are hiding. Then the Afghan people will understand it is in their interest to disassociate with the Taliban and take up their own arms to help defeat them, instead of allowing the Taliban to use them as human shields.

My random thoughts can be followed on Twitter at @plh55.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tacoma School Shooting Proves the Point Made by Oregon Teacher Wanting to Carry Concealed on Campus

Friday, a Tacoma, WA special-education teacher was shot and killed on the campus of the elementary school where she worked. The shooter was a man who had been stalking the teacher, Jennifer Paulson, who he had worked with in the school cafeteria at Seattle Pacific University.

Paulson had found it necessary to obtain an “anti-harassment order” due to the shooter/stalker frequently calling her daily calling, sending her unwarranted gifts, and appearing unannounced at her school. He had already been arrested once this month for violating that order.

There was one option not available to Paulson to defend herself – carrying a concealed handgun.

Whether she would have carried one is of course unknown, but due to the anti-gun culture we live, the waiting period that would have precluded her from buying a gun when the order was violated and getting it before she was killed, and the liberal logic that guns should not be allowed on school campuses, having it never would have been an option.

A situation like the one in Tacoma makes one realize how deadly the recent school shooting in Colorado could have been. In that one, a man opened fire with a bolt-action rifle. If not for the heroic actions of a math teacher supervising the pick-up of children, who tackled the shooter, lives would have been lost there too.

Imagine if the Colorado shooter had a semi-automatic weapon and didn’t have to throw the bolt after every single shot. The actions of the math teacher would have been impossible.

A couple of years ago, a Medford, OR teacher who had been issued a concealed-carry permit wanted to be allowed to carry her Glock concealed on campus because she feared her ex-husband might come there to harm her. The superintendent of her district, Phil Long, refused stating teachers and students are safer without guns on campus.

Maybe Long can drive up to Washington and tell the family of Ms. Paulson how she was safer without guns on campus.

Twitter @plh55

Friday, October 23, 2009

The "Matthew Shepard" Law

Yesterday Congress passed the "Matthew Shepard... Act" which makes crimes against people simply because they are homosexual a hate crime. Taken at face value, this would seem reasonable to the common person since violence against someone is clearly wrong. What needs to be understood though is what the purpose and goals of the Congress were in passing this act.

Let's look at a fictional scenario and take a quiz. Joe Smith has a classmate who is a homosexual named Tom Johnson. Joe finds this disgusting and goes out and kills Tom. This occurs before the "Matthew Shepard Act" takes effect. What do we have here?
a) Joe gets away Scot free because the government did nothing to prevent the rights of homosexuals.
b) Murder

The answer for everyone outside of the Bay Area is b) Murder. There is no reason Joe would not be prosecuted for Tom's murder unless there was absolutely no evidence or statements to tie him to the crime.

So why do we need this anti-hate crime law? Simple, so the Democratic Party will be seen as the ally of homosexuals and lesbians just as they are viewed as allies of other minorities. It is disingenuous of the Democratic Party to create legislation that is not needed, only to proclaim to the country how vital it is to protect the "rights" and lives of homosexuals or other minorities, simply to increase or retain their power status.

How to Implement Video Replay into MLB

This postseason's umpiring has led to a renewed debate of whether major league baseball should implement video replay. As pointed out by ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd, as well as others this morning, baseball is known for its tradition and resistance to change. So what does baseball do? The issues involved are clear, umpires believe their authority would be threatened and do not like being second-guessed, MLB and the television networks want there to be a flow to the game, all the while teams, players, and fans want the right call to be made.

There is a simple solution to this problem that would appease all of the involved parties. I would implement video replay and have it run by a fifth umpire. MLB will not go the way of the mysterious hockey replay guy or the retired official taking a day off from golf like college football uses. The process is simple. Say a third base umpire were to miss two baserunners being clearly tagged out. (Hey. It could happen!) The umpires on the field do nothing to change the call. The fifth umpire, in the umpires room or press box, will see the missed call, buzz the crew chief, and change the call.

Where do we get this fifth umpire? Add one umpire to every crew. After working the plate, you get a day as the replay umpire so everyone does it. The umpire's union will love it because adds 15 umpires to the major leagues and the second-guessing is coming from bona fide major league umpires, not some real estate salesman.

Now I know what you will say? Why would an umpire want to overrule a fellow umpire? For one, because he is also a major league umpire, failing to do so would be part of his evaluation which is used to determine postseason assignments. Two, the replay umpire knows the final blame will be placed on him, not the guy making the original incorrect call.

What about the other concerns? MLB and TV will love it because the callls would be quickly corrected instead of drawing out the game while the victim manager comes out to argue even though there is a ZERO chance of the call being overturned. As for the teams, players, and fans? They may not like it if an original call for their team is changed, but an honest look at a replay will show the correct call was made.

Finally, this would only be used for obvious calls such as fair/foul balls, tag outs, catch/no catch. In situations where the call is still not obvious, you stay with the original call on the field, keeping the beloved human element desired by the baseball traditionalists.

Baseball needs to implement video replay and get it done now. Can Bud Selig or any other baseball traditionalist give us any reason(s) why not? If your first reason is, "We haven't done that before." You need to give baseball fans a better reason.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Response to "The Place to Be" - Sports Illustrated article on the SEC

Just finished reading "The Place to Be," this week's Sports Illustrated cover story about the Southeastern Conference. By the time I was done, I was pretty confident the SEC is only place college football is played in the US. But then I had a cup of coffee and, thought about what was written, and decided to pen (or in this case type) a response.

I first learned that the NFL only like SEC players (drafting 400 of them from the 2000 NFL Draft) and only settles for other conferences players when there are no more SEC players available. Now I know this gets a little dicey in the South but let's talk about what they call averages or medians. The SEC has more players drafted because, well, they have more teams. The Pac-10 however has had more players drafter PER TEAM than the might SEC.

Then I learned there is a loyalty among the coaches to the SEC with the author noting "one curiosity about the league's coaches is how often they move around within the conference." He then goes on to inform us about a whole eight coaches, head or assistant (Steve Spurrier, Houston Nutt, John Chavis, Ed Orgeron, Lance Thompson, Randy Sanders, Dan Mullen, and David Rheaves) As if coaches in other conferences simply leave the conference rather than work for a former opponent. Without even looking it up, lets look at the Pac-10, from North to South, which as the South knows is how the Civil War ended up:
Washington - Steve Sarkissian, Nick Holt (formerly of USC)
Oregon State - Mike Riley (formerly USC)
Oregon - Nick Allioti (formerly UCLA) Steve Greatwood (formerly USC)
Cal - Jeff Tedford (formerly Oregon)
UCLA - Rick Neuheisel (Washington), Norm Chow (USC), DeWayne Walker (USC) Wayne Moses (USC)
USC - (No mention of Ken Norton because of course why would his alma mater want him to coach their linebackers.)
Arizona State - Dennis Erickson (formerly Oregon St. but he is former everywhere so does he really count?)
That's 11 coaches without even looking up a list of all the coaches. Needless to say, the SEC is not the only conference where coaches stick around simply because it is the best around.

Not only does the SEC have conference loyalty though, I learned their is family loyalty in the SEC because Houston Nutt, Steve Spurrier, and Lane Kiffin all hired family members. Does the SEC really want to tout this family tree thing? That being said, it also happens elsewhere; Pete Carroll hired his son Brennan, Oregon's former head coach and WR coach had kid's on their team, Bob Stoops had two brothers work for him, and we all know Rick Neuheisel wanted his kids to carry his headsets. Of course Houston Nutt showed us the academic level of the SEC with his response regarding nepotism by hiring his brother. "It was the first time I had ever heard the word. Nepotism? What's that?"

The article then shares with us the wonderful matchups the SEC had,Tennessee-Georgia, Arkansas-Auburn, Alabama-Ole Miss, and LSU-Florida, and made this out to be the ultimate in CFB matchups. Think about these supposed "sledgehammer" matchups. Tennessee (lost at home to UCLA) and Georgia needed a last second field goal at home to beat Arizona State. Both of those teams will be at the bottom of the Pac-10. Arkansas had Georgia drop 52 on them (UGA only got 17 on ASU) and Auburn has an ok win over West Virginia (which doesn't have Pat White or Steve Slaton anymore.) Are those games any more impressive than a Cal beating Minnesota? Alabama "dominated" Ole Miss! Big deal. Ole Miss' only big victory is over Memphis who was in the Final Four, oh wait, that's basketball. Just because you are overhyped at the start of the season doesn't make you a big win for someone during the season. Finally, while LSU-Florida was certainly the nation's marquis matchup last Saturday, has either team proven out of conference that they are unbelievably better than everyone else?

Finally, I'm quite sure the SEC does not want to use Houston Nutt as the spokesman for the conference, not with his "I watch [teams in] other conferences all the time and I think, Boy, I'd like to play them" statement. Really Houston, you who's OOC games the past four years have been (2009 Memphis, SE Louisiana, UAB, Northern Arizona, 2008 - Memphis, Wake Forest, Samford, Louisiana-Monroe, 2007 @ Arkansas - Troy, North Texas, Tennessee Chattanooga, Florida International, and 2006 USC, Utah St, SE Missouri St, and Louisiana Monroe.) Apart from your USC game (a 50-14 whooping I might add) are you actually watching any BCS conferences.? In your defense Houston, neither was Nick Saban when he got ran off the field last year by Utah.

Reading this article, I was wondering how a SI writer, usually so unbiased, could write such an uneducated piece. Then I read the final note: John Ed Bradley played center for LSU. John Ed,(no shocker on the two first names by the way) I don't doubt the SEC is the best conference. I think Florida and Alabama deserve to be #1 and #2 (maybe not in that order) right now, and I think LSU is a decent squad, but let's not make Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and the others to be a murderer's row. Its just a shame that LSU losing to Florida is a battle of "sledgehammers" but when Cal loses to an Oregon and USC, they are underachieving and the victors in those games are demeaned despite controlling wins. Football is played elsewhere in the country, despite what the SEC, CBS, and SI believe.

Oh and by the way, since 2000, the Pac-10 is 11-8 against the mighty SEC.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

RE: LA Times Article "Victim Had Phone Not Gun"

So the LA Times is now calling people who die in officer-involved shootings "victims." This victim must also be innocent since he had a phone in his hand and not a gun. Here's a quiz for any reader.

Identify the "victim."
1.) You are crossing a street lawfully in crosswalk when a car speeds through, strikes you, and takes off without stopping.
2.) You are in your home sleeping when an unknown person sneaks in and steals things from you.
3.) You "had been affiliated with the East Coast Crips, had served time in prison on a drug charge and [are] on parole." You [faced] a murder charge last year and hang around Imperial Hwy in South Central LA at 9:00 pm and happen to match the "physical and clothing" description of a man threatening a woman and her child with a GUN (most likely your ex and your kid) and when the police try to detain you, you take off running. You then point a "dark object" at the deputies chasing you, who reasonably believe you are pointing a gun at them so they shoot you to eliminate the threat to their lives.

I'm sorry if you answered #1 or #2, you probably won't have much of a future having a career with the LA Times.

Now ask yourself these questions:
- If Woodrow Player Jr. (the Crips gang member shot by the deputies) was truly innocent, why was he running away from the deputies?
- Should the deputies have assumed Player was holding a cell phone? Or to put it another way, does it seem reasonable that someone in the middle of running from the cops would be using a cell phone?
- Would Player have been shot had he complied with the deputies' original directions?

There are common sense answers to each of these questions. Obviously Player would still be alive, and never have been shot if he had obeyed the deputies' commands. If he was innocent, there was no need to run. Finally, think of what a black cell phone can look like in lowlight conditions, running at full sprint, chasing someone reported to be in possession of a gun and using it to threaten people.

Finally, think about an incident that occurred the next day, but was not given as much publicity by the Times. A Palmdale deputy was shot while chasing someone into an apartment complex. The deputy had originally tried to detain the individual because he saw something concealed in his waistband. I don't know the mindset of the deputy, but its hard to imagine the public criticism of the south LA deputies did not cross his mind at some point prior to the incident in which he was shot.

Going back to Player. The Times wants to be sure its readers know that Player "had [been] trying to turn his life around, attending church and studying to get his high school diploma." My question is this, what church is happening or studying is being accomplished in a car in South LA, on Imperial Hwy, at about 9pm? My guess is not much.

RE: CIA Planned Assault Teams

Sorry for the inconsistency in my blogging. Now that my life is even busier (but even more fulfilling) with a brand new little girl, I have the urge to start writing again. Maybe it will keep up, maybe it won't. Who knows?

Today's article in the Times focused on CIA assault teams that were never operational, but Congress is in a furor because they were not told about them. Of course the focus of their ire is former Vice President Dick Cheney, who as we know is responsible for any evil not committed by President Bush.

These teams were to "capture or kill top leaders of the Al Qaeda terrorist network." Evidently this is not a noble objective for such idealists as Minnesota Democratic Senator Russ Feingold who was upset Congress was not informed and had "deep concerns about the program itself." The basis of this opposition is President Ford's 1976 order against political assasinations.

Can Senator Feingold, or anyone for that matter, tell me which "political" organization Al Qaeda is? No one can because they are a TERRORIST group, not an enemy country like Nazi Germany or Japan.

As for not telling Congress, does anyone truly believe the Democrats in Congress were leak-proof when it came to national security secrets when exposing them could be used for political gain, ie. national surveillance program? This is not to say there are not any Democrats who can keep secrets, but do you think Nancy Pelosi would?

It is good to know President Bush and his national security team were looking at whatever options were available to defeat Al Qaeda and protect our country. I hope that President Obama is doing the same. Were I (a Republican) to be a congressman, I would not need President Obama to inform me about the details of his war waging. And should a car bomb happen to teach an Al Qaeda leader or even Bin Laden himself that there are not 72 virgins waiting for them, then so be it.