Category: Current Events


This is an update to a earlier post I made a while back Women in Combat Operations in which I expressed some of my mixed feelings, both for and against the future of women serving in combat centered missions. In any case, I am glad that actions are being taken by the Pentagon and the Marines one way or another.

This Monday Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, announced that actions were going to be taken by Marine Corps command to study how women would be able to adapt to the combat environment by introducing a select number of women into the  infantry officer school at Quantico, Va., and ground combat battalions that had once been closed to women.

This new effort will, as I understand it, focus on female officers. As my post said many of the women I dealt with in military were officers. One in particular stood out for excellence among Marines, male or female. I think this is an important prospect for the military. It will be putting the women who are the most dedicated, most ambitious and hopefully the ones who will serve the greatest example to future Marines, notably the women.

Although there is great controversy over this debate, much of it in my previous article, and it will likely be a very long time before we see a completely coed military, I think this is a good move for the Marines as they wean into a future that will have to incorporate women more thoroughly.

I wanted to share my thoughts on a viral video going around about a few Marines that had a few too many. It stars the Marines of 3/5 Lima Company Weapons Platoon. According to some helpful notes at the beginning of the video we learn that the platoon was engaging in some after hours activity after an all-too-short liberty on what must be an all-too-long deployment. What happened next was a video of Marines in the middle of the rough and rowdy. I got caught up in the discussion that engaged as a result of the video and it got me thinking.

As I mentioned before, this video is about Marines getting into drunken fights on board a ship. It is filled with vulgarities and violence. There is also some ludity, and the entire 8 minutes is basically a huge ball of NSFW. If you would like to see the video you have been warned and can find the link at the bottom of the page.

Before you watch though, I hope you check out some of the points that some less informed viewers have already tried to make, and what an actual Marine has to say.  These are some points and some counterpoints that I want to share with all my readers on the real nature of the few and the proud.

1) “So this is our tax dollars at work.”

(One should also note that the school’s tax dollars seem to be wasted as well.)

Response: No, not at all. First of all,  the military doesn’t pay a stipend to get Marines drunk and act like fools. There is no National Monetary Fund for Jackassary. They didn’t buy their alcohol from a big keg right on the deck. They did however, buy it. With their own money.

What they did they did on liberty. Liberty is a basic privilege bestowed to the military to relieve stress and let off steam. Of course it is also where Marines stop off port and engage in some other extra-curricular activities. This is not an activity that is financially sponsored by the military and it isn’t actually a part of any mission. The ship is already at port and basically, it doesn’t cost anything to let the Marines blow off steam (legal considerations not considering). You can think of it as how much it costs you to let your dog out. It costs money to feed them, train them, and send them to the hospital, but it doesn’t cost you (or the U.S. taxpayer) anything to let the dog (Devil Dog!) out to play.

Now back to the topic of “their own money.”

2) “We pay them to do a certain job, and this isn’t it.”

Response: We pay them to do their job, and we don’t have any right to tell what to do after that. Sometimes I find it a little absurd that we believe that because we pay taxes that eventually get paid out to the military that we have some say so over how they spend that money. The simple truth is that they bought the alcohol with their own money and it is no one’s business what they do with it as long as what they do is legal. Of course at that point they are really just putting themselves at risk to be investigated by the same authorities that govern us, plus military authorities.

Let’s think of it this way. My wife is a teacher. She too works for the government. Therefore, your tax dollars go to your state government, which then make their way to the schools, and eventually to her checking account. If my wife decides to go to the bar and buy a drink, do you think that you have any say over her right to do so? Let’s take it a bit further. On Sundays, we go to church. There, we give them money…taxpayer money! So you see that your tax dollars are directly being used to fund religious activities! Unacceptable! Or is it? I mean what right do any of us have on how a government employee spends his money? We do not, just because we pay taxes.

3) “Marines and the military are supposed to hold the moral high ground.”

Response: I will give you this one, but with a reality check. While I am a fan of the sleeping and violence quote we have to really consider who we are dealing with. This video shows the extremely volatile nature of one of the most extreme cultures in the world. While the Marines are a bunch of drunk and disorderly hooligans, they are exactly the sort of unsavory individuals that are required to do those things we in polite and well-refined society don’t like to do ourselves. The average age of the Marine Corps is 19, therefore, they are young and immature. They are experienced in the ways of warfare, yet inexperienced in the ways of the world. They are asked to do great and terrible things in the most inconvenient ways possible. While it is a beautiful notion to believe that every rough man is at his heart a poet and philosopher, the simple truth is that they are angry, violent, and surrounded by people who bring out these traits in eachother.

We argue that this kind of attitude and these behaviors are deplorable, yet we are also a country that has been at war for more than a decade. Many of the men you saw in that video have been in various theaters of those wars, many of them on multiple deployments.  Stress runs high in that culture and much is demanded of them, namely directed violence. I think it is a bit hypocritical of those who sleep soundly to condescend the Marines, because they weren’t violent in the way that makes everyday U.S. citizens comfortable.

4) “It’s just a Marine Corps thing.”

Response: You’re absolutely right. What most people don’t get is that this level of  roughhousing is what is expected and laughed at by older Marines. What you also don’t know is that along with the 8 minutes of video there is a story that every Marine knows is coming, and it actually does address many of the concerns that were mentioned before.

You don’t get this…

First, the Marines got out frustration that has been building for a very long time. The opening of the video discusses a lot of the general frustrations that accompany a long time at sea on a Marine vessel. Long times at sea, endless weapons maintenance, crappy bosses, close quarters, oh and also there is the fact that there are no women. This level of stress is something nine-to-fivers will never get, even if they have a really important report due on Monday. When you put the frustrations and stresses on a group of men this volatile and young under such conditions you have to expect some level of unsavory behavior. Otherwise you would see a total meltdown. You’ve got to let this stuff out.

Or This…

Second, the video does show that Marines are capable of bringing their craziness back to the barracks and not making fools of themselves in public. The fact that they managed to keep control until they got back to the ship does show one important goal of the Marines, to always show a good face. As for the video making the internet, well… I blame that on the cameraman, a semen, oops, seaman. We’ll just call him a sailor. Which brings up a good point. They actually had medical supervision. The camera man was a Navy Corpsman, a medic in the Naval side of the show. When you were getting drunk at the frat house, were you of such clear and responsible mind to make sure that before you got stupid you had proper medical supervision? Ok, that one is a stretch. But I do want to make one final point.

Without a bit of this. (Ok, these aren’t even Americans, but you know the moment they saw this they tried it out.)

We don’t know what happened the next day. The truth is this whole event probably happened between 2100 to 0000 that night (9:00 PM to Midnight). And I am pretty sure that they caught more attention than they would have liked. I am pretty sure I saw an officer towards the end of that display. That means at least one thing. They are not done hearing about this. If it were my platoon, we would be in formation until 4 in the morning while the command tried to figure out each and every detail of the night. Then the next day the punishment starts, the whole platoon. Cleaning weapons would have been easy. While this was a display of undisciplined and, in truth, embarrassing behavior, discipline will be achieved. If they are lucky they will lose all future libo, work like dogs for the next few weeks, and that will be the end. If they aren’t lucky a few will face Page-11 entries (which isn’t all that nice) and some might even lose rank. I can’t tell you  what did happen, but I know it was one of these. And now that the video has gone viral, I bet that it isn’t going to get any easier from upper level brass.

In closing, the Marines did go overboard. They did have a few too many, and they did embarrass themselves, and at least the public face of the Marine Corps. But what we in the civilian sector need to accept is that this is who they are, this is what we recruited them for. This is what we need them to be, and we can’t judge them too harshly against the standards we set for ourselves.

If you want to see the video, you can check it out here. I say again, not safe for kids or work.

Facebook and Istagram

Reblogged from Bamcis Business Development:

So the key question is “Why would Facebook pay so much for Instagram?” What is the motive? What is the payoff? What will happen next?”A lot of people are saying many things about this purchase. The theory I hear floating around for the past couple of days is that Facebook got scared and decided to take out a major competitor with a cool billion. Wish I had such options. Others believe it is for the data. Still a few are tweeting that Facebook wants the photos for dastardly deeds of dubiousness.

“Delete ur instagram!! The Feds own it now!!” “I had a higher opinion of you Instagram.” “Soon as I delete my Facebook they decide to buy instagram #FML.” (actual tweets)

Some of these are theories are sensible, others ridiculous. There is one thing, however, that people who think in terms of pure competition, or downright paranoia, usually forget.

Facebook is about the code.

Let’s clarify. Yes, by making this acquisition Facebook did secure a hugely popular social media app. Yes, they did “defeat” someone who was playing the same game of sharing photos online. I admit and agree with that. I just don’t think that the reason for it was because Facebook was scared of anything.

Beluga Icon

Beluga’s old Icon.

Let’s look back at another recent acquisition by Facebook to see if we can see what their motives may be. My first witness … Beluga. Beluga was an app that was used as a social messaging application that allowed a person/group the ability to create a group out of their contacts and start a text-based conversation with the entire group. This application was absolutely fantastic for small work groups (called Pods), especially ones that didn’t mind bothering each other all day. I remember using it with my team and it was like it solved all my problems. When something important happened a simple text was sent and the whole team was aware of the change/question/update/major catastrophe. Instantly, no matter where we were or what we were doing, the team had the communication we needed. Until one day when the team got a text: “Facebook has recently bought out Beluga, and our service will be shutting down.” ( A single tear could probably be seen rolling down my cheek at that time.)

Facebook Messenger's Icon

The new Facebook Messenger, powered and augmented much by the acquired capabilities of Beluga.

But what was interesting was watching what happened next at Facebook. Over the next few weeks you started to see Beluga like actions occurring all over Facebook. Facebook Messenger was launched. This allowed you to hold a messenger conversation on your computer, and also for the conversation to be sent to your phone via text. Ever notice now that if you comment on anyone else’s post or picture that you are now also updated every time someone else comments on it as well? These features and several others are the direct result of Facebook’s acquisition of Beluga, and not just Beluga’s talent, but their technology as well. Beluga marked the first acquisition of a start-up by the web giant where they didn’t just buy the talent, but also the tech that makes it work and it seems that this is what they plan also to do with Instagram.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, pictured in 2011.

I truly believe that Zuckerberg has something in mind for the little app with a big pricetag. We know that soon you will start seeing web savants start filtering every photo in their albums, but what else is going to happen? I’d like to remind you that all Beluga was intended to do by the original creator was to create a social based texting app. In the hands of Facebook it became much, much more, technologically speaking. It’s capabilities were augmented and filtered and refined and applied to numerous things that Facebook was already doing. That is what I think the Instagram purchase will produce in the next few months. As for Instagram users, well, bad news. While Facebook has recently said that it intends to keep the application alive for the time being, they also said this when they first acquired Beluga as well. In time they implemented the technolgy where they wanted it and shut down the simple service. Now people who loved Beluga are torn. They either had to migrated to Facebook and accepted some of the drawbacks and some of the new benefits, or they had to seek out other apps. In many ways the Facebook Messenger is too much and not enough. They took the old capabilities and broke them up and spread them out throughout the entirety of Facebook, but made it more difficult to do the one thing that Beluga specialized in, having a conversation with small groups without all the rest of Facebook. ( If you are looking for an app that does this I suggest Groupme, in a lot of ways it is even better than Beluga used to be.) Facebook has said that it will continue to operate the app independently. Don’t expect that to last long. Perhaps the fact that now more than 40 million people are on Instagram and that they are making such a potent disagreement with being forced into the Facebook super community will prolong its independent lifespan. Good luck to those users though.

What is coming out of a Facebook with Instagram capabilities?

As for the rest of Facebook’s users, they will get that huge boon to their photo sharing capabilities. But besides the filters and super easy uploading process, I wonder what else the Zuckerman clan will discover (or have been waiting on for some time) in the code of Instagram. What are they going to do with all that lovely code?

Let’s think real business here. I don’t think that Zuckerburg did this just to take out a competitor. I don’t think that it is even just about the new tricks that we will get to do in Facebook. Goofy as he is at times the kid is good at business. I truly believe that if he bought if for $1Billion he believes there is at least $10 Billion more in potential capabilities coming to his Facebook, not a bad thing for massively valuated company gearing for it’s first IPO

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This is for everyone out  there who is thinking about the movie, but haven’t seen it or hasn’t read the book. More precisely, for those of you are thinking about letting your kids go. Before you get any further I am not about to tell you it is evil and wrong and shouldn’t be watched by anyone. In fact, I think the movie is pretty good and the books are even better.

What I will tell you is that if you are young person, this is one of those films that can change your view of the world. Even though it is a fictional story set in a distant future, it touches on some very deep, important, and disturbing ideas. These are ideas that at one point or another every child needs to consider and ponder before they can truly be ready for adulthood. But the ideas of this movie are very, very intense and can deliver to children who aren’t ready, a jaw dropping earth shaking set of ideas that could really bother them for some time.

So what are the basic themes of The Hunger Games? If you are going or letting your kids go you should know. Plus it would also be good to be able to hold some sort of an intelligent conversation about the thing everyone will be talking about for the next three months. Well here is one…

The central theme and the idea that literally drives 100% of the plot is about a world where children are violently murdering each other. Whether you are looking at it from the point of a girl’s struggle to protect her family, to how will these two young people will overcome impossible odds (really… only one is allowed to live) to the world they live in to the giant dude who has quite literally been waiting his whole life to kill the cute little kids. This entire plot is centered around a gladitorial match pitting young people against each other to the death, and not “Ha! I sunk your battleship! Now you’re dead!” No. More like arrow to heart, sword to the neck dead. And don’t kid yourself, these scenes are graphic enough that you get the point. There are scenes where children are slicing each other up, breaking each other’s necks and throwing spears at one another’s chests. It isn’t an “idea” of killing. It is some deep heavy stuff. Did I mention it’s kids doing the killing? Cause that’s important. It’s freaky.

I think I made my point on that. If it bothers you that Joker kind of killed people in a funny ways in Batman, than this is not something that you should let kids into. But here is something that you should consider: What value this does offer society is that it can help children understand some very important ideas, provided they have strong adults to guide them through it. The first is the concept of evil. Most children have a view of evil is that bad guy in the mask or the terrorist or someone so very dissimilar from them that they are instantly recognizable. Children automatically know that the slimy monster with two heads is evil. They know that Darth Vader as evil. They automatically know a Jihadist with an AK-47 is evil. What they don’t yet know is that evil is something that anyone is capable of doing. They don’t understand that even we, that is you and I and the children reading the books, are all capable of great and terrible deeds when put in difficult places.

Another story that captures this mentality and shares this theme is The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. The Lottery’s themes so closely match the story that one has to wonder if was an inspiration for The Hunger Games. The Lottery involves a town meeting where an annual lottery takes place. The people all scurry and talk and gripe about lottery and how annoying it is and how recent it was since the last one. They discuss how long it’s been going on and how other towns aren’t even doing one. They argue about tradition and meaning without the reader knowing what really is going on in the lottery. One woman is staunch supporter of the lottery and its meaning. In the end the men of the town draw for each of their family members and they then have a big unavailing. The woman from before, the one who was one of the advocates for the lottery, is the one chosen. She is unwilling and cries out about how now it isn’t fair. The townspeople then tell her to take her fair share like everyone else before… and then the townspeople, children first, stone her to death.

Both these stories touch on the idea that with no rational reason, every day people, our neighbors, friends and relatives are capable of unspeakable evil. This may sound far fetched, but it isn’t far from the truth. I was a Marine who served in Iraq. I have seen what can happen when people lose their rationality. When we see other humans as less than human and as evil, without truly understanding what has brought us to this point. History has also shown us this. What I am talking about is the numerous acts of world decimation that happen when good people unspeakable evil, because they lose their rationality. To see what I am talking about follow these links, but remember this, they are real, and did happen. Auschwitz, Rwandan Genocide, The Great Leap Forward. There are many, many more, but these three help serve my point best. They each are events that can still be remembered by many of good people doing what to them seemed right at the time, but which history will never ever forgive them for. Most still look back without ever thinking they actually did anything wrong. I note the fact that the commandant of Auschwitz, when interviewed, was quoted as seeming proud and unapologetic, because to him he had done a fine a job and had help Germany produce what was one of the most advanced industrial manufacturing super complexes in the world. This is what happens when people lose their rationality.

But you might know that something like a kids book can get that deep. Or that one should take it that far. But I did. And I think you should too. I think that it is important to use books like The Hunger Games and stories like The Lottery to introduce the real concept of evil. Not the kind of evil like the bad guy that the good guy throws into jail and starts again in the next episode, but the kind of evil of a starving person, or of someone who is truly scared, or the kind of evil of someone who follows a very influencial leader without ever questioning what is really going on. It speaks out that within our nature we are all good people, but we are capable of doing such very very hurtful, dangerous and deadly things if we think our life, or our way of life or even our convenience is put at stake.

So what do you do with all of this heaviness? I think it is important to ask yourself, or your kids, what they thought about it. Did it bother them (you should be worried if it didn’t) and what bothered them. Why? You should tell them about how people can be. That the story is real in many more ways than it is fictitious. And perhaps you should take the opportunity to teach them many of the ugly things that happened before they were born. It is my belief that you have to at some point wake kids up to the reality of the world in that sense. They have to learn and they have to think about, because someday these kids will be leaders and if they don’t understand what can happen, it will happen again. If you don’t teach kids about things like Auschwitz then future historians will be talking about some event in the future where thousands died in Ardmore, Oklahoma, or the millions who lost their lives in Bedford, Indiana, or of the holocaust at Auburn, Alabama.

So my point is, use the movie. In all honesty, it is pretty good. The actors do a good job, in my opinion of conveying some real emotion, namely terror. The filming was great and in all honesty, some of the most gore filled scenes were done in such delicate ways to not send the whole audience into shock. So visually it won’t freak you out as much as when the kids leave the theater. But all and all it is a good movie. Watch it with your kids. Think about these concepts and decide an age when you think it is appropriate for your kids to start tackling these difficult subjects. For instance, my wife works at a local elementary school. She told me that there about one in four kids is reading the book.  I feel that this is too young and that the books were meant for a much older audience, seventh and eighth graders perhaps. You might decide that your kids are ready.

The one thing I hope you take away from this article is this: This is not an ordinary movie. It is not an ordinary book and you need to understand it before your kids see stuff they can’t forget.

-Jon

Hi, I’m Tanner Brumbarger,  I own a blog called ‘Opinionz Matter. I use that blog to express my personal life stories as well as share my views on faith and politics.  Recently, I have had the pleasure  of getting to discuss some different topics with Jon via our two blogs, and have recently fashioned a formal, ‘blog alliance’ with him. I’d like to publicly thank Jon for his advice on difficult topics, as well as his service to our country. He is a fantastic individual with lots of insight and depth, a perfect role model to say the least. I hope this “guest blogging” strategy is a success!

But what I would really like to touch on with this opportunity to publish a post, is the disaster of the Costa Concordia. If you have noticed the events, you have realized that our true problem is much larger than a beached ocean liner.

One does not need to be a cable news junkie to know of the tragic events of the Costa Concordia, a luxury cruise liner which struck a reef off the cost of Tuscany. As of this writing,  30 individuals have been lost. Most people in America have focused their attention on the captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, blaming him for the accident, and rightly so.

The vessel was sailing by the island of Isola del Giglio, where a former officer of the fleet is retired. The captain of the luxury liner was planning on taking the ship a little close to shore in order to sound off the ship’s horn in salute to the retired naval officer. The rest explains itself, the ship struck a rock, tearing a 160 foot gash in the hull, causing it to list and forcing the evacuation of 4,000 souls. Many people who were onboard the vessel are coming out for the first time, speaking about their horrifying dance with disaster.

But as I watch a documentary on Fox News, regarding the catastrophe on the Tuscan coast, I am faced with many questions, just like you.  I’m sure most of my questions are similar to the questions the mainstream media is asking. Such as: “Why there weren’t mustering drills before the ship took off?” “Why were their not enough life jackets on board the ship?” “What are the Italians going to do to the captain?” Those were the first logical questions that came to my mind. However after some serious thought and some opinions presented to me by other individuals, I am left with questions, and actually some anger about the entire situation. So, here is my take on the self-inflicted tragedy of the Costa Concordia.

 I wrote an article, not quite a month ago, regarding the disaster of the Titanic. I asked my audience what they thought would happen, should some accident like the Titanic occur. Would women and children be ordered off of the sinking boat first? Or should it be anyone who could get on board? You can see the segment below:

“Despite this process, many men, regardless of their class would refuse to leave the ship. The ship had a policy of, women and children first. In spite of available room left, many men would remain on the ship to allow more women and children to board the lifeboats and reach safety. 

The question I would like to pose is: If our society was faced with disaster today, would women and children be sent to safety first? Would men remain? Would women go first? Would our society enforce the same rules that it did a hundred years ago? I know what side of the lifeboats I would be standing on, do you?”

Well world, we now know what that real answer is. A modern day Titanic like accident DID happen. Praise God the fatality rate was not as high, but women and children were not ordered off the boat first, and that’s absolutely despicable.  In fact, it’s repulsive and quite frankly, I would go so far to say it pisses me off.

The blame for this situation completely rests on the shoulders of the failed Captain Francesco Schettino.  The reason why I would put my blame on him is because like a father, the passengers on his ship are his family and therefore his full responsibility. He was responsible for them and protecting the “women and children” first code of ethics. 

God calls not only Christian men to a higher standard, but men in general to reach for a higher level of integrity than anyone else. We are called to protect and provide, to sacrifice and set an example. We are not called to jump on the life boat before the women who may not be able to swim, or ignore the crying child, if your ship is sinking and you’re a man, you should be bending down, putting a child in a lifeboat and holding a woman’s hand as she steps into the boat, even if water level is at your waist. This event only shows the erosion of true leadership in our men.

In my personal opinion and experiences, I have noticed that men in society, primarily the American society, are deteriorating away from a place of leadership.  It seems that if you want to find a good group of men in leadership, you have to go to a local church and in some circumstances, it feels like I have slim pickings. Yes, even at churches. You can identify a man of leadership much quicker than you can a man who follows. All men must follow rules, and every individual must submit to authority, that’s the way the world should work. But all men must take responsibilities for themselves and for their families.

As an individual men are called to submit to authority. Consider the phrase, ‘God Kin & Country’ as your example.

Men are called to submit to the laws of the land and their elders.  First, men should submit to their Fathers. Whether it’s a father/legal guardian or an elder in the church, we are called to obey. This does not mean you are enslaved, but a man is called to respect those who have gone before him, so that hopefully they lead the man in wisdom. I believe that when an individual reaches manhood, he gains a little leniency.

Secondly, I believe men are called back to lead their nation. That can easily begin at the community level. Men should lead in their communities, end of discussion.  All men at some point should step up and lead.

Thirdly, Men are called to be disciples. We are called to set Godly examples as leaders of our households (when we have households) and overall, leaders in our society.

If I may be so bold, I believe that men have lost their chest hair. They have lost their backbone. If you translate that into a modern day white trash phrase, it means men today have lost their ‘swag.’ We have become a society of awkward boys in the bodies of men. A true man takes responsibility and leadership even at the cost to self. This is why I talked about the Costa Concordia incident. The Captain was not a leader like a real man should, nor did he take responsibility for his ‘family’ on board his vessel, like a real man should.

As men struggle to lead, looking for an example to model, I propose that they consider a carpenter. His name was Jesus Christ, the most powerful man of all. He took responsibility for his family and took away their sins; he accepted leadership and had a huge number of followers whom he taught, encouraged and even chastised at some times. A lot like man in the position of fatherhood would do. But what was his only requests for fulfilling such? That we followed him, acted like men, made disciples and became leaders in our lives.

So, I would close with this, the reality of 2012 spoke to us a couple weeks ago, the chivalry of 1912 is dead. Tragedy did come, men did not go last and for that they should be ashamed. It showed us that our society does is not filed with courageous men anymore. We are filled with cowardly boys in men’s bodies. I praise those men who are accepting roles of leadership and I pray that only more will emerge.

This post was originally a reply to a friend and fellow blogger Tanner of The Opinionz Matter. He made a post Occupiers Ignoring The Founding Fathers.

While the above image is from the Constitution of the United States, I would like to cite a reference to another document of civic importance.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

He focused on the phrases “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Created Equal.”

He reasoned : “”My answers came relatively quickly. I think we can all agree that we should have the freedom to do what we want without lives, whether it involves us being happy or not. No government should prevent that. However, I firmly believe that this statement firmly defines the Founding Fathers’ vision for America; that people should have the right to pursue happiness, not the right to possess happiness in their lives.”

I would reword the last statement to be “not the right [ to be given ] happiness in their lives. But reading this post and others from Tanner I believe he wouldn’t mind the edit.

John Locke

I believe that one can also derive the nature of what was intended in this statement by asking the founders where they got their ideas. I think that it is interesting to consider where Jefferson got many of his views. His work is based much off the work of political theorist John Locke. In a natural state all people were equal and independent, and everyone had a natural right to defend his “Life, health, Liberty, or Property.” Locke uses the word property in both broad and narrow senses. In a broad sense, it covers a wide range of human interests and aspirations; more narrowly, it refers to material goods. He argues that property is a natural right (meaning no one should be able to forcibly stop you from gaining property) and it is derived from labor (In other words, you have to earn it.) In addition, he believed property precedes government and government cannot “dispose of the estates of the subjects arbitrarily.” Karl Marx later critiqued Locke’s theory of property in his own social theory.

This is what the pursuit looks like.

This became the basis for the phrase in the American Declaration of Independence: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. You can see how happiness is derived from property in Locke’s work, however Jefferson expounded upon the idea as meaning something other than specifically property. If it were, people would assume that the government has an obligation to fill the Right to Property. Instead, Jefferson chose key phrases like “pursuit,” meaning the right to gain without governmental obstruction and “happiness” meaning that which gives value to your life, be it property, fame, relationships or writing blogs.

Learn to Earn. This is not the pursuit of happiness, it’s the pursuit of someone else’s.

Occupy believes that equality is something that is concerned with wealth and that our equality in that respect should be guaranteed. This, as Tanner brought forward, is against the wishes of the founding fathers. Equality is not concerned with wealth. We are created equal, and equality is part of our nature as humans, not the works we do and not part of something that can be given to us by a governing body. Therefore, it seems apparent that the founding fathers did not believe it was their privilege or right to take property or to give it. This is contradictory to the idea of redistribution of wealth and forcible equality of wealth without labor to create that wealth.

We are born equal, we all agree. It took us a long time to understand this. We had to overcome racism, sexism and several other -isms to try to attain the level of equality we have today. I remember growing up when my mom said she thought she would never see a black president. I think that shows how far we have come, not that we are perfect yet, but we are reaching closer now than we have ever been toward equality among everyone. But that, as I said, is when we are created. That is why each of us have only one vote, one voice, equally. Where the equality should stop is the assumption that everyone should have the same property or happiness. This is what is meant to have the right to pursue, meaning it needs to be earned, it has to be worked for and it should never be given.

-Jon

Females are serving across the world in full combat ground positions. The debate over the equality of this situation is coming back to the main stage here in the United States.

There is a debate going on right now concerning women’s equality, particularly in the military. As it stands, women are not allowed to take place in strictly ground combat occupations. This doesn’t mean that women in the military are always safe from combat, but it does mean they cannot join some MOS’s (Military Occupational Specialty or military job) like infantry, artillery or to be an officer of those units. Women are also not eligible for the draft, if that were to happen.

There are many who believe this is not in line with our current view of a need for sexual equality. At President Clinton’s request, the Department of Defense reviewed this issue in 1994. DoD noted that America’s prior drafts were used to supply adequate numbers of Army ground combat troops. Because women are excluded by policy from front line combat positions, excluding them from the draft process remains justifiable in DoD’s view. Although no conclusions were reached, DoD recognized that policies regarding women need to be reviewed periodically because the role of women in the military continues to expand. This week Marine Corps command has release statements stating that it is planning on receiving an undetermined number of women candidates for it’s infantry officer training program. What this will mean for the future of the military and women’s roles within are undetermined, but it definitely shows signs of movement on an issue that hasn’t seen the light of day for quite some time.But where they have still not expanded is into the role of combat infantryman.

Sgt. Theresa Lynn Flannery during an attack in April 2004 near Najaf, Iraq, as other soldiers used a wall for cover.

Most see no reason for this injustice. It must just be some dusty old tradition right? I think there is a better reason than that. Women are just not made for combat. If you say that then you must never have been married to a woman. But in all seriousness, what do you think makes us so different that men could “handle the stress” better than women? Men are just stronger than women? Perhaps, but as another article of mine shows the last decade of warfare has taught us one thing, we need more boots on the ground. In a Marine Infantry squad, there are few “heavy lifting” activities that I experienced where some women’s smaller (it’s statistically true women are smaller than men) frame may have slowed them down. That still leaves at least 10 slots left in the squad that anyone no matter how small would be good for. I would also like to point out another small fry who showed what the littlest member can pull off in an infantry situation. Check out the history of Audie Murphy. This is guy who was too small to join the Marines and then became the most decorated soldier of WWII. So you can see that I don’t put much weight in the argument that women, on average, are too small to do the job.

To maintain fairness I want to put out two differing points of view, both from my own personal perspective of real live cases I witnessed. I want to do this not because I don’t have a point of view, but because I want readers and debaters to see, as fair as I can, as much information possible so that you can arrive at a decision of your own.

For women in combat:

Be honest. Do you think that is a face too weak to do the job?

I want to talk about an officer I knew while in the Marines. She was one of the best Marines I ever knew. Seriously, top 3, including men. Her name was Capt. Dienhart. She was a company commander for an engineering support squadron I worked for. She was in command of over 120 mostly male Marines. Even here in the Marines, the most famous boys club in the world, she had respect. Why? She could out do any one of us. She made it a point to be able to do more push ups than us (and not girl push ups either), she could do more pull-ups than any of us ( and I am not talking about flexed arm hangs) and she ran the 18 minute 3 mile. And when I say us, I mean the group of 450 19-24 year old male Marines in the squadron, not an easy group to beat, but she did almost every time.

The only time I really got to know her was when I was a marksmanship coach for the squadron. I was her pistol instructor and helped her through her annual qualification. I used “instructor” and “helped” loosely because she was, on top of everything else, one of my best shooters ever. She had the form down, was very patient and methodical and had the strength to hold the weapon with control that and delivered precise and accurate shooting. In the Marines, marksmanship is kind of a big deal, so for her to deliver precise, consistent shooting, not just a few good shots was impressive for myself and the other Marines.

The women rewrote the book for me on what women in the military are capable of. I don’t know if she has any inclination to be part of a combat MOS, but I feel that the leadership and professionalism she showed while in a non-combat roles shows that woman have the capability and potential to serve in such positions in the future.

Against women in combat roles:

Marine atop gun turret.

Many of you ladies reading are about to get very upset. I am sorry if you feel I am not being fair to the gender, that is not my intention. Remember that what I am writing about is what happened to me and is all very true. I am trying to provide all points of view on the subject so please try to keep an open mind throughout.

In truth, I don’t see any reason that women can’t do anything in the military that men can do. My mom always had fun pointing out that there wasn’t anything a man could do that a woman couldn’t do. What I think is the key determinate in this argument isn’t what women can’t do, it’s what men can’t do that is holding women back.

Men can’t get pregnant. (Oh dear God he went there!) Now this sounds like someone attempting to throw up a catchall to prove that all women shouldn’t ever be able to join the armed forces. It isn’t. But it is a fact, women alone can conceive and carry a child and this fact has grave repercussions in the military world. Let me explain.

Suppose that you are getting ready for a deployment to Afghanistan for a 7 month tour. You will be sent to some very dangerous areas where you need every member of your team. Your unit isn’t in combat roles, but there is still a lot of work to be done and the presence of threat is very close, as it is a combat zone. Now, two weeks before you deploy everyone is arriving from pre-deployment leave and PFC Sarah has news. Everyone is happy for PFC Sarah, sort of, because they know that will be deploying a man down. You can’t deploy when you are pregnant after all. So now a team of 10 is a team of 9. That means that for the next 7 months, everyone will have to work harder and have less security during risky operations or difficult procedures. But hey, we are just breeding one more warrior in the fight against terrorism right? It’s ok we can manage.

But what if it happens, 4 more times? That is exactly what happened during my second deployment to Iraq. In a platoon with 9 women, 4 became pregnant within weeks of leaving. 1 was actually sent home from Iraq in the first week of the deployment when her mild case of mono turned out to be a severe case of pregnant. So now the platoon was down to just 4 women left of the original 9.

That may not seem like a great deal, but not only did this mean of all their work was split between those who remained, but they were also not able to fulfill a very important role. We worked at an entry control point to a major base. There was a great deal of local civilian traffic here. Everyone who came an went had to be checked, including the women. Do you think the U.S. government wanted those dirty male Marines all over the local populace? No, we needed females to do it. And many times we had to call in just to have someone check if someone had a weapon under their clothing. Ah, SOP how I miss you.

This wasn’t an isolated issue either. This freak epidemic of mass pregnancy happened throughout the squadron both times we were deployed. I liken it to a college where you don’t have to take finals if you are pregnant and then two weeks before finals you have 5 of 9 women in a particular class (and more than 20% overall) of the women show up pregnant. Would you think it was an accident? Would you think they were all accidents? Others were sent home in the middle of an Iraq deployment because they became pregnant in Iraq (please trust me when I say that it is not a romantic place, so it is curious to me that this could happen at all.) Female Marines who are or were recently pregnant are also given different standards to uphold than their non-pregnant counterparts. This makes sense with limits, being that there is some point where they must be deployable at some predetermined point in the future. For example I had a Sergeant who was very much overweight and never took part in scheduled physical training. The reasoning, she had had a kid. “But wait, her kid can talk.” Where is the line? When are we supposed to start upholding standards?

As for me, I don’t think it is that hard not to get pregnant. With today’s health care and knowledge it seems impossible to me that this many people could accidentally become pregnant preceding a time of great personal struggle. My wife and I agreed long ago that we would not have children until we were in a house, graduated from college and both had good jobs. It has been nearly eight years and we are still not ready, but we are also not pregnant. I think for that reason I have little sympathy for those who become accidentally pregnant. I feel that having children is never truly an accident and the fact that when this happens it leaves a lot of good people, men and women, down a (wo)man.

I couldn’t agree with you more sir.

In my mind there has to be some sort of accountability in the military community to combat this growing form of malingering in the ranks. The civilian population also needs to see that this is indeed a problem and an epidemic for the military. Efforts to address this evoked civic outrage two years ago when Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo threatened court martial for four soldiers who became pregnant, as well as the male soldiers who fathered the children after disobeying expressed orders to avoid such happenings. The National Organization for Women (NOW) said the policy to reprimand them was “ridiculous.” “How dare any government say we’re going to impose any kind of punishment on women for getting pregnant,” NOW President Terry O’Neill said. “This is not the 1800s.”

I would like to agree with Ms. O’Neill. In the civilian world that I now enjoy and that Ms. O’Neill seems to be only experienced with, someone telling Jennie and I we can’t have children is unacceptable. But in the military it is different. It may seem draconian, but that life is much more extreme. It’s more violent, dangerous, harder and we need each other more. We are Marines (soldiers, sailors, airmen, coasties.) We aren’t accountants, teachers or postal workers. When we lose a person we can’t hire someone on for a few months until Sarah is back. When we lose someone it is a loss, and to those who are left to complete the mission, it might as well be a casualty.

Tech. Sgt. William Greer / U.S. Air Force

In conclusion, I feel that women in the military have outstanding potential. I have seen some of the most amazing feats of excellence performed by female Marines. My conclusion however, is that the achievements and virtues of these and many other individuals, do not represent the whole. As a whole, they aren’t ready for the responsibility of combat MOS’s. When 1 women is unable to deploy it’s a tragedy for it’s unit, when 60% are unable to deploy it’s a statistic, and a damning one. For as long as women in the military can not accurately be relied upon to deploy in sufficient strength and readiness, to complete the mission through the course and then to return home to their family life as men do, they as a group are not ready for the difficulties and responsibilities of combat warfare. In such theaters when you lose someone, it isn’t just a burden, like it was for our platoon, it places everyone else in danger. It leaves open the likelihood that others will never see their families so that some could start one of their own. When there are women  who choose to use pregnancy as a tool to avoid duty they do a grave disservice to the Capt. Dienharts of the armed services, who have earned the right to serve in any manner they should wish.  When this pattern ceases to be a problem, I will be one of the first ones cheering for some more fresh boots in the thick of the fight.

-Jon

I have tried to provide links to both parts of the debate so that you can make up your own mind on where you stand on the issue. If you know of another good link to either side of the debate, please post it in the replies. Any retaliatory remarks will not be posted as I tried to be fair. And please, let’s not make this about rape. People love to site that “what-if” because of it’s moral impossibility to judge, however rape accounts for such a low amount of pregnancy cases be they civilian, military or otherwise that I will not justify it as a meaningful addition to this debate.

Facts Regarding the Women in Combat Roles. Women in Combat: Issues for Congress, The Impact of Pregnancy on U.S. Army Readiness 

Arguments for:

Five myths about women in combat Great article written by a female Marine Corps Major. I really liked this article and agree with most of what she says in it (except  myth 3, sorry ma’am).

Military.com posting a poll that American’s support women in combat roles.

Now that the gay thing is resolved, can we let soldiers be openly female in combat?

Remove ban on women in combat

G.I. Jane Breaks the Combat Barrier

Women in Combat: Study Recommends Ending Military’s Last Male Bastion

Arguments against:

Soldier’s Duty Is Country First, Pregnancy Later

Knocked up and deployed: An Army captain’s view

Navy gives new urgency to retaining pregnant sailors

More women in combat means more mothers with PTSD

A discussion group on “Service Member Pregnancy During Deployment”

Senators Demand General Rescind Order on Pregnant Soldiers

Remember also that my personal point of view is currently more against a change in the current system. This is mostly due to my personal experiences and for that reason I admit that I may have some biases preventing me from fairly showing both sides.

Scene outside one Occupy casualty scene in Vancouver.

I am a student at the University of North Texas, the site where this week Darwin Cox, 23 was found dead in his Occupy Denton tent colony. The more I thought about it the angrier I became.

First I must say, although I disagree with much of their assumptions and their premise for this movement, I respect their right to meet and peacefully protest. They have the right to speak out against a system they believe isn’t working in their favor. This is guaranteed them in the constitution. I promise you, I fought for it. We as a democratic people must remember that everyone has the right to gather, organize and be heard.

What I saw this week on my native campus, however was deplorable. A young man died in one of those tents. Some would say this isn’t news, being that he isn’t even the first. As I write this he is the 8th death of  members taking part in Occupy protests. What happened in this case is that a man died and those citizen patriots, those virtuous idealist and martyrs of American justice, abandoned him. Saturday night police were directed to the occupy tents on the University of North Texas campus in Denton Texas. When they arrived on the scene the encampment was empty, the tents vacant save for the tent where Mr. Cox was found. This much is certain.

Building near Occupy Denton Camp

So my questions are “Where was everyone else?” “Where are these high minded idealists?”” Where are these people protesting that it is our responsibility to take care of one another?” “Where are the people who say that it is job of those in society to protect the weakest among them when one among lay dead in his tent?”

These ideals seemed to disappear the moment that reality hits. When a group of irresponsible delinquents preaching as if they understand moral virtue and societal goodness come together to result in a man’s death how do they deal with it? They all scurry away like roaches brought into the light.

Occupy Oakland member waves a defaced United States flag.

At the root of this I think is the nature of Occupy itself. Within this group is the beating heart of an anarchist movement where a leaderless mass together topples the “system”. You know what is an interesting aspect of leaders? They are the people who accept responsibility for their actions, in victory and in tragedy. What you have demonstrated here on the University of North Texas is simply gross negligence and a lack of basic human decency.

My viewpoints are harsh, but that is because I believe in higher principals. I served two tours in Iraq with the United States Marines. I may have hated the people I worked with day after day, but we learned early on that the most important human qualities are shown when supporting the fallen, the wounded and the weak. We learned that leaders do not just take credit for a win, but lead through adversity, and take responsibility when they fail. Let me try to control myself long enough not to get into the “Leave no man behind’ ethos.

Another scene from Occupy Oakland

For such an inherently hypocritical, insidious act to occur should tell the rest of us that no matter what Occupy protests, they are not ready to influence our way of life. They have shown a history of lacking a true respect for human life and well being while demanding to be shown the same. They are demanding to rewarded by society when they seek to add nothing to it. This is the true nature of occupy, a group of kids out to party, making demands and giving out speeches about human rights, but when adversity hits they have neither the intestinal fortitude nor virtue of spirit to what is truly right.

Memorial for Occupy Members

Rumors have been flying around the campus lately about the situation surround Cox’s death. Many refer to illicit drug use known go on in the camp. The weather here has just taken a turn so the boy may have frozen. There may be other factors. Each of these reasons has been linked to other deaths in the occupy movement and now even talks of sexual assaults. But at this time I don’t think it matters if Darwin Cox died from drug use, from exposure or violence. There were people at those tents who should have been capable of preventing his death. These same people cry out justice, yet they won’t take responsibility for their actions. They cry out against corruption yet they have shown no character with which to corrupt. They scream for equality yet they still live as one of theirs is dead. Whatever your views on the rationality of Occupy you should know this. The 1% did not kill Darwin Cox. A greedy government did not kill Darwin Cox and no “system of repression” is responsible either. Occupy killed Mr. Cox, or at least did nothing to stop it.

(Edited December 20, 2011) I have been asked to provide citing for my article.

Citings, Sources and Assumptions:

My first source is an official letter sent by the president of the University of North Texas immediately after news of Cox’s death. This was the first news I received of the incident. You can view a copy of the letter posted here. President’s Letter to UNT students.

As to the statements about drug use, you can find that on Occupy Denton’s blog posting they admit that the Cox has suffered from drug use and that it is likely the cause of his death. Occupy Denton site.

Other acts that have occurred in an around Occupy camps can be followed by clicking the links there. Sexual assaultViolence, Drug use

For those feeling the post to be to biased a news link has report where Occupy Denton’s official spokes person spokesman Garrett Graham is provided here. He also mentions that Occupy members were present, however other reports state that the camp was empty when police arrived.

News of Cox and other’s drug involvement and poor self-policing system at the camp is also reported here.

For those concerned about weather, here is information for the city of Dallas on that day. Remember that the death occurred at around 4:15 PM and while this day was cool, this was not weather that should be able to kill a 23 year old man.

My assumptions from this information are that the man died of drug use while on the encampment. I believe from information shown that other occupy members were present and knew of his and others drug use. What is certain is that while their spokesman said he was said that before his death he was “uncommunicative, lathargic and had a fever” which does not support other reports, some by Occupy, that his death was likely due to his drug use. What is also certain is that signs of the situation were seen by members who failed to seek help for Cox, the members fled the scene before police arrived and that illegal activity was happening at the camp, against both state and university rules, without being policed by the members of Occupy Denton.

This was why I wrote this post. It isn’t because I do not support protesting. If you read my comments at the bottom I make this very clear. I feel that when a moral populous stands up for perceived wrong doing of their governing body that that is a righteous and democratic act. I use the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 as an example of protesting done correctly by a moral group of citizens. What I saw and read about in Denton was not something that would have happened if the members of that group showed the moral excellence they demand in others.

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