The Agitator by Oliver_Halle
The Agitator #171: Mr. Lee's latest folly
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The Agitator #41
by Oliver_Halle
September 10, 2012 09:56 AM | 1857 views | 10 10 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The presidential nominating conventions are over, and from what one political pundit has said, there are only about 967,000 votes up for grabs that are spread out in about a half dozen swing states. There is a great divide between the two parties that makes this election much easier to choose from. It is interesting to see how the Republican Party has evolved since Eisenhower was president. I doubt that any modern day conservative Republican would vote for IKE in a primary today. And if Ronald Reagan ran for president today under a different name but exactly the same political history and record, he wouldn’t have much chance either. Eisenhower understood power, and he understood the abuses and dangers of power. That included his caution in not using nuclear weapons in Korea, not expanding the war there, not getting involved in Vietnam beyond a handful of advisers, and not triggering a war with the Soviets over Hungary. Eisenhower also advocated for an open skies policy with the Soviets where we would have mutual reconnaissance flyovers to ensure compliance with an arms limitation treaty. He had a long term vision that in the end I doubt few would dispute that we were better off for his hand at the helm for eight years.

Ronald Reagan raised taxes numerous times as governor of California. Before Roe vs. Wade he signed into law the most liberal abortion law in the country. As president he is remembered for lowering taxes and forgotten for his tax hikes. He is also largely forgotten for creating the largest deficits up until Bush II and Obama. Some economists believe that Reagan’s deficit spending was a big reason for getting us out of the recession that he inherited, that his deficits contributed to lowering unemployment. Reagan also did nothing when over 240 marines were killed in a terrorist attack in Lebanon. How much of that would fly in today’s Republican Party?

Obviously this forum is not the place for a detailed record analysis of either president. In my opinion both were very good presidents, and I voted for Reagan both times. But considering the total allegiance to the Republican Party’s platform today that is commanded of all Republican candidates for office, it makes sense why Romney and Ryan have tacked so hard to the right, why they publicly ignore where they have strayed from the platform in the past. At one time I was pretty confident that Romney would win the November election. Today, barring the unforeseen and all things being equal, I wouldn’t bet on it. Rather than post blogs challenging me on this, I would suggest that we wait until after the election to do a post mortem. I maintain that Eisenhower and Reagan had it right, that they had the pulse of the American people, and in Reagan’s case, the reality of his presidency is very different from the mythological one. And in spite of the reality he had a successful tenure in the White House.

On a totally different note, I would like to recognize the passing of Otis Brumby. I don’t claim to have known him well, but I am honored that I had several private meetings with him in his office, phone conversations, and other communications. I was very honored and touched when he introduced me as his friend to John McCain in 2007. It is probably fair to say, though, that we had less in common politically, but on some of the important issues in our community we often found common ground. The man was unfailingly gracious in person. Some years ago when we had very strong disagreement on a matter of local public interest, he allowed me to meet with him to argue my side and to present evidence to support it. Afterwards, I asked him if I could have 500 words to respond to his past editorials on the subject. He replied that I should take a thousand words. Facts, logic, reason, and evidence could persuade him---not always, but often enough to convince me that he tried to get it right, that he was intellectually honest. I will miss his closing words after each conversation, “Come by anytime and let’s have a cup of coffee. You are always welcome.” Otis Brumby could leave this world secure in the knowledge that he made a positive difference in the community he lived and served, and made it better than when he arrived a long time ago.

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B D Lane
September 19, 2012
Well, Oliver, how about I look for consensus on this one? We can both agree that we strongly support military families. ;)

The Agitator #40
by Oliver_Halle
September 04, 2012 10:18 AM | 1649 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

It’s remarkable that Obama has been attacked for almost four years for making a number of promises that anyone should understand were aspirational and dependent on Congress or other factors to be fulfilled. The Republicans have had a field day with Obama’s promise of “Hope and Change.” I guess they think that it has a very definite meaning, that there is only one measure that determines if we have experienced it. If the voters decide that Romney’s promises of creating 12 million jobs and balancing the budget by 2020 is realistic, they should vote for him. (Ryan’s budget plan calls for a much longer period of time to get it into balance.) Romney has also promised to increase defense spending, restore the Bush tax cuts and add his own, and cut a myriad of regulations. Absent from all these promises is any roadmap that a voter can examine to determine if these plans will lead to prosperity or take us over the cliff. But believing on faith is very powerful. I wonder if Romney has factored into his calculations the costs that Obama inherited from Bush, and which Romney would inherit in turn from Obama: two unfunded wars, VA care for the next 60 plus years that will exceed twelve figures, and Medicare Part D. The CBO says Medicare Part D will cost more over ten years than ObamaCare, TARP, and the stimulus package combined. But not a peep from the Republicans to repeal Medicare D. Maybe it’s because they gave birth to it.

Another issue that Romney would have to face is how to pay for his promised increases to the Defense Department while cutting taxes. Of interest is that DOD requested another BRAC (Base Realignment and Closing) commission earlier this year. It was defeated in both Houses by Republicans and Democrats. The reason is that they fear the number of jobs that would be lost in the communities that the elected officials represent. The Democrats have not shied away from arguing that the government needs to spend more to create jobs, while the Republicans have countered that these are nothing more than a giveaway programs with taxpayer money. I won’t argue with the Republican logic, but it is an argument papered in obfuscation. DOD has expressed the need to close bases to save money, and that if it can’t close the bases, the money that goes to support them will be taken from needed research and development and other programs directly related to our national defense. But the Republicans defend their position with disingenuous claims while wrapped in the red, white and blue. When Obama pleaded for approval of his jobs bill to rebuild infrastructure, something we need and which would employ countless engineers, architects, construction workers, and a myriad of other skilled and unskilled laborers, that was called a welfare program. I stand with the people who probably know what’s best: Leon Panetta and the joint chiefs. I also stand with Obama and his jobs bill that would put money into the economy, ensure that technical skills are maintained, and put money back into the economy, which would create taxpayers and new jobs.

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September 22, 2012
It is nice to see that you have made major steps to come out of your liberal closet. I look forward to your growth.

The Agitator #39
by Oliver_Halle
August 27, 2012 03:12 PM | 1825 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The subject of patriotism, who is a real American or what makes someone a real American, has been much more topical since 911 and the two wars that followed. For some this is a push button issue that can get one’s back up in a New York minute, which is very fast. There have been times in our country’s history when people have been more divided than currently, but that’s not to say that we aren’t divided right now. With unemployment high, the GDP down, the middle class shrinking, tax inequity becoming more manifest, and a nasty presidential election coming up, people have very different ideas about who we are as Americans and where they would like to see the next president take our country.

My own ideas about patriotism start with the notion that displaying the American flag and sporting a “Support Our Troops” bumper sticker, and proclamations of love of country, by themselves, mean very little. All that does is remind me of the passage in the Book of James which says that faith without works is dead. I think just about all Americans can agree on what we want for our country, things like a strong defense, full employment with good jobs that have upward mobility, a growing economy, excellent schools, safe streets and neighborhoods, low crime, good highways, a fair tax system, available and quality healthcare, and more. The differences that Americans have is how to get to the end zone where these things are accomplished. It wasn’t until the war in Iraq that I cared about my generation’s participation in the military during Vietnam. When I saw all the politicians that supported that war, politicians that were gung ho about our participation in Vietnam but never suited up, I changed my whole viewpoint on the topic. Romney is only one example among many who took advantage of several deferments to avoid service while at the same time he marched in favor of the war. When asked during the 2008 campaign about whether his sons have served in the military, Romney responded that one of the ways they were serving their country was by supporting his presidential campaign.

I have come around to the belief that there are different ways to demonstrate patriotism. Serving in the military is one of them. Some kind of civilian service to our nation for a couple of years as an alternative to the military, would be another. There are a lot of very worthwhile projects and needs that could use the talents of our young men and women, and not only would our country benefit, they too would benefit from the experience. I also believe that patriotism includes the unbridled willingness to pay for the costs of war to ensure that our fighters have the very best equipment that money can buy. I believe that patriotism demands that we willingly pay whatever tax hikes it would take to care for the lifetime care of our wounded veterans so that they receive the best medical treatment for the rest of their lives. It is unconscionable that many organizations that treat severely injured veterans have to raise the money through private sources. All Americans that call themselves patriots should be willing to pony up and not rely on charity. It is a disingenuous argument to suggest that we should not have a tax hike to pay for our wars and our wounded until we cut other spending. Our elected officials can cut spending if they decided (I’m not getting into who’s at fault here), but in the meanwhile they can show real patriotism and do the right thing.

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Devlin Adams
August 28, 2012
Good piece, Oliver.

I would like to point out, though, that displaying the flag and signs in support of our troops, are both actions of value. They serve as outward manifestations of inner beliefs, for most of us. They also remind others, who maybe forget, that there are those of us who believe in our country and our armed forces, in spite of the blunders our government makes with both.

Those of us who have gone in harm's way at our country's bidding country feel a kinship to the flag that others can never conceive of.

The Agitator #38
by Oliver_Halle
August 20, 2012 09:37 AM | 2033 views | 5 5 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

For the first time ever it appears that Super Pac money will exceed the contributions that each candidate will directly receive directly into their campaigns. This is the result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. There are those who believe that somehow this private money from sources that don’t have to be revealed is a counter balance to the mainstream media, perceived by some as the liberal media or “lamestream” media. I wonder if you tally up all the listeners to conservative talk radio---Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Dennis Prager, Glen Beck, Laura Ingraham, Michael Gallagher, Dennis Miller---and many more---would they somehow offset the numbers that get their news from the mainstream media? And remember, these are very partisan talkmeisters who push their agenda openly with no ambiguity. Since Air America is long gone there are only a handful of liberal talk shows that mostly can be found on satellite radio, and which contain relatively small listening audiences. Citizens United didn’t level the playing field in the political arena; it tilted it and overturned a long history of banning these kinds of contributions that our state representatives thought fostered corruption of the election process. And when those without any money tried to unite and get attention that couldn’t be had without money, the Occupy Wall Street movement was condemned because of the handful of extremists that latched onto the movement and gave it a bad name.

Mitt Romney denounced the Bush TARP program that saved the auto industry and countless jobs, but was okay with the Wall Street bailouts. Then Paul Ryan blamed Obama for the 2008 closing of a GM plant in his district even though it was Bush who occupied the White House at the time. Ryan was okay with TARP as long as it protected an industry that encompassed voters that could reelect him. Yet this same guy hates government spending unless it’s for defense, talks about the need for the marketplace to work without government interference, unless of course it affects his political future. We haven’t heard the Romney-Ryan plan yet to pay for the staggering costs of our seriously wounded veterans that will need care for the next sixty to seventy years. And that doesn’t take into account future wars and veterans costs.

Romney complains that Obama has defamed him with allegations concerning his role at Bain Capital, and he takes a very strong defense posture at releasing his tax returns beyond two years. Romney has even demanded apologies from Obama, which seems really odd for someone who presumably needs a thick skin to be president, and who should know how to fight back if he’s going to be dealing with some of the worst bullies in the world, both domestic and foreign. But the same Romney, when asked if he thought Obama was an American citizen answered with the glibness he learned at Harvard Law School, that he had no reason to think Obama wasn’t. That response is a long way from John McCain who responded to a woman that accused Obama of being a Muslim. McCain answered directly, firmly, and left no doubt that he was sincere. Perhaps the difference between Romney and McCain is that McCain learned something about leadership when served this country in uniform, while Romney took advantage of whatever deferments he could get during Vietnam and talking tough at the same time in support of the war. Maybe it’s about time for Romney to let the American people see his Selective Service records to learn what his priorities were to avoid service during the time of the draft.

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August 22, 2012
I disagree with the Supreme Court, Corporations are not people and they should never be allowed to buy our Politicsions as they do, only citizens who are actual people should have a say by a vote not corporations thats bull crap to say it squelches free speech go to college companies cant talk. a corporation is an entity and if its going to have free speech its members should be held liable also, for all the terrible destruction it does to people and the environment look what Monsanto is doing to the earth and the people who have no choise but to eat the poison it produses just to name one about to own all the agriculture in the world and the meat industry poison the water with animal wait and the conditions these poor things have to endure waiting to be slaughtered and other factories polluting the air i could go on and on.

The Agitator #37
by Oliver_Halle
August 13, 2012 09:40 AM | 1789 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Cobb County has a heated election runoff for the commission chairman between the incumbent Tim Lee and former chairman Bill Byrne. I doubt that you can find two more dissimilar candidates for this office unless you don’t count that both are from New York.  This may be a good case for not stereotyping New Yorkers if nothing else.  

Cobb County faces most of the same problems that every other municipality in America faces: declining property values with the concomitant decline in tax revenues; layoffs of not only employees that provide important services, but police and fire fighters; furloughs;  roads not being maintained; fewer police and fire vehicles purchased; closing of police precincts and fire stations, and more.  The voters have every right and reason to know how the top leader of our county plans to address these issues, how they will provide services with less revenue, if tax hikes are necessary or not, and what alternative plans might be in place if the fiscal situation reaches crisis proportions.  Yet we have learned from the MDJ that Tim Lee does not want to debate Bill Byrne concerning these or any other important issues.  Lee says that his campaign schedule is too busy to allow him the time to defend his ideas in a public forum.  This is the same Tim Lee who often is prickly when asked a tough question after a speech or town hall meeting.  Can it be that he is running on empty and trying to “fake it until he makes it?”

I honestly don’t have a horse in this race. But I believe that the citizens of Cobb County deserve better than what Lee is not giving them---his views and plans where they can be publicly aired and challenged.  Debate can distill some of the best ideas, and when ideas clash, truth emerges.  I hope that the voters of Cobb County are paying attention to this, and that more importantly, Lee will change his mind and prove that he really is a serious candidate. 
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The Agitator #36
by Oliver_Halle
August 06, 2012 08:50 AM | 1915 views | 3 3 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Last week’s elections were interesting for one thing in particular---the overwhelming number of incumbents who the voters granted another term or the chance to take on a Democrat in November.  (I am referring to the Republican primary because there were so few Democrats on the ballot in Cobb and other outlying counties.)  I doubt that I was the only one surprised, not only at the results, but in so many instances the large percentages won by the incumbents.  What adds to my surprise is that over the years, and especially during the past two years, there has been so much finger pointing at incumbents, the cry to throw them all out and start over, the anger at incumbents for certain actions or inactions, and on and on.  Yet when the voters had a chance to make some big changes it didn’t happen.  

What can explain this?  I can come up with any number of possible reasons but have no real evidence to support them.  In my opinion there were some very fine candidates that ran very clean races, candidates that by any measure were eminently qualified to hold the office they sought, and yet they were clobbered.  Senate Majority leader, Chip Rogers, with all the baggage he had concerning the loan guarantee he made and then welshed on, one would think that this would have grabbed some serious attention.  For those who oppose gambling and Sunday sales, Rogers not too distant past experience as a radio talk show host related to handicapping, one would think that this would have been a good reason to disqualify him.  Then there is Gwinnett State Senator Don Balfour, a man who got caught falsifying travel vouchers on numerous occasions, whose explanations for the “errors” don’t pass the red face test---he too was returned to the senate with a convincing majority.  These examples seem to go against values that Republicans tout.

These are just two of many races where the incumbents surprised perhaps even themselves.  What I sincerely hope for is that the many good challengers will not be discouraged from seeking public office again.  They helped to sharpen the debate on key issues, and they just maybe will cause the incumbents to work a little bit harder, to be better listeners, and to watch their backs because someone might be gaining.  

Whether I agreed with all or some of the challengers or not, I thank them for putting their time, money, personal sacrifice, and effort into being players in the community, for not sitting on the sidelines behind their computers carping at every micro deed or misdeed of a public official , for trying to be part of the process that makes a difference in their communities, and for not just being a backbencher.  

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B D Lane
August 06, 2012
Why, thank you, Mr. Halle. You can call me Barbara. :)

Perhaps through our differences in opinion, we can make each other think, see flaws in our own arguments, and maybe even move our positions every now and again when logic warrants.

And no worries. People lose. People win. People often run again. Resilience is also a virtue for those who eventually find seats in public office.

The Agitator #35
by Oliver_Halle
July 30, 2012 08:16 AM | 1917 views | 5 5 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Among the campaign promises Mitt Romney has made so far is to create jobs.  That is certainly music to the ears of the all too many unemployed right now, and to the employed who have seen a decline in property values, erosion of school budgets, less discretionary income, and so many other things related to the down economy.  How Romney will accomplish this we don’t know, especially if his record as governor of Massachusetts is an indicator.  Romney might even agree with that since he only touts his business experience and never his record as governor.  But this I want to give Romney credit for in the making of his promise: I think he is sincere.  

I bring this up because Obama made a very similar promise.  And I believe he was sincere too.  Both promises are what can be call aspirational.  They are well intentioned but depend on a lot of moving parts.  A president can only do his part and must depend on a lot of others to do theirs.  Obama had both Houses of congress when he first came in, but he didn’t have enough votes to overcome the partisanship in the senate.  Two years late the House turned over and the Republicans have blocked all of Obama’s attempts to get a jobs bill passed.  My point is not to debate the merits or demerits of Obama’s legislation, but to argue that Romney is going to face exactly the same difficulties in getting his legislation passed.  I believe that Obama kept his promise to create jobs with the efforts he made.  I also give him credit for trying to keep the promise of closing Guantanamo Bay, despite being stopped by both Republicans and Democrats.  To those who will vote against Obama largely because he broke these two campaign promises and a few other aspirational promises, I can only wish Romney lots of luck.  And to the Romney voters who view these promises the same as, for example, the promise to pay a debt to someone, I have to believe they will always and forever be disappointed.  

On a different topic, a number of bloggers have attacked Kevin Foley for his factual statements concerning Mitt Romney’s avoidance of military service during the Vietnam era draft while at the same time openly supporting the war.  (Full disclosure: I do not know Foley, and have never spoken or communicated with him in any fashion.)  One blogger has pointedly stated that since Foley never served in the military he has no right to comment about Romney’s service. Another raised John Kerry’s service---or lack of service according to his view of it.  To anyone who would challenge Foley for opining about how Romney supported the Vietnam war while taking advantage of any and all deferments he could get his hands on just because Foley didn’t serve, leaves me scratching my head.  Does that mean that current historians have no legitimate voice to write about prior wars or events when they weren’t even born?  How far does one take this illogical argument?  

John Kerry is a different story.  I did a fair amount of research about him in 2004 when he ran for president.  His Silver and Bronze Star medals were earned, and that is actually beyond dispute unless one just hates him enough to make a pointless argument.  Among the evidence for the Silver Star was the other officer- in-charge of the Swift Boat that accompanied him on the mission in which the award was earned.  He is/was an editor with the Chicago Tribune, and his nationally published narrative of what occurred, which supports the medal, is very compelling.  It is interesting that the senior officer that ultimately approved the medal even endorsed Kerry for reelection to the senate in the mid-1990s.  Only in 2004 did he jump on board with the Kerry haters and say that he made a mistake.  How does anyone defend against accusations that are 35 years old?  Imagine someone accusing you 35 years later of not having legitimately earned your college, law or medical degree, that you cheated your way through school.  Those who had questions about the Silver Star in 1969 were duty bound to voice them at the time.  Anything less is cowardice and unworthy of belief without very serious verifiable evidence.

Lastly, the officer-in-charge of the Swift Boat where Kerry earned the Bronze Star after rescuing the Green Beret who fell overboard, told the world that they were never under fire and that Kerry had made it all up.  Only later was it reported that the same officer received the Bronze Star for the same mission, and the citation for his award said that they were under fire during the operation.  When confronted with this information the officer could only say that he didn’t write the after action report.  Yet most importantly, if this officer thought that neither he nor Kerry merited the Bronze Star, he could have turned it in to the board of corrections that all military branches have. He didn’t.  (There are other events that I could cite, but I only wanted to offer up two of the most well known.  I have never supported Kerry’s tossing of reproductions of his medals in protest of the war after he came home.)
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August 02, 2012

The Obama campaign spent about $4,700 on telemarketing services between March and June. The company was in Canada.

The Obama campaign sent another $78,000 to a telemarketing company in Manila.

Wasn't the "campaign" bus he's traveling around in built in Canada?

That is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Agitator #34
by Oliver_Halle
July 23, 2012 12:58 PM | 1869 views | 12 12 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Much has been said and a lot of arguments made for and against Mitt Romney to disclose his tax returns for more than two years. I have absolutely no reason to believe that Romney has committed tax fraud. In fact, I believe that he has almost certainly complied to the letter with our tax laws. Count me on the side of disclosure, though, because the issue isn’t about breaking the law. Anyone running for public office gives up an awful lot of privacy, and the higher up the office, the less privacy a candidate has. A presidential candidate pretty much has no personal privacy left in his life by the time his opponents and the media gets through raking over every last detail from birth to the present. How much detail is relevant is a separate debate.

Disclosing tax returns, in my opinion, is a very relevant issue for the voters. Tax returns can reveal where and how a person made his money, how many tax credits and deductions the candidate took, what esoteric tax laws allowed the candidate to avoid paying taxes, and other information. And this is where the returns become important. The voters should know what tax loopholes were available, in this instance, to a candidate that made millions of dollars but only paid fourteen percent in taxes in 2010. This is a matter of public policy that should be debated. I think most Republican and Democratic voters agree that we need tax reform in a major way. But most major legislative changes occur only when there is either a crisis or strong movement. Perhaps Romney was fortunate enough not to have paid any taxes for a period of years---legally. Shouldn’t the American people know that? Maybe many voters would be outraged, and maybe not. But if there is outrage it can be expressed to our elected representatives and serve as the impetus for tax reform.

Some may argue that Romney paid far more of his income to charity, a good thing, which allowed him to take a sizable tax deduction. What is troubling about that is that rather than pay taxes that fund a myriad of costs that benefit all Americans, to include the armed forces, he gets to choose where his money goes and puts nothing into the national pot. There is not a single tax paying American that supports all the government spending. Many wouldn’t have given a dime to pay for the Iraq war. Others wouldn’t choose to fund various welfare programs. But only those at the very top of the income ladder have options.

I want to stress that I support making money and achieving a high level of prosperity. I also want to be clear again that I honestly believe that Romney has complied with all tax laws. I just would like for all voters and tax payers to know from a presidential candidate’s tax returns what laws were applied to minimize or avoid paying taxes so that this can become a public policy issue to be debated and argued in the media and the deliberative bodies of the Congress. Recall that there was very little controversy over the draft in the 1950s and early 1960s. When the Vietnam war heated up that all changed. And that ultimately resulted in the public debate that led the Congress to eliminate the draft and turn to a volunteer military.

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Devlin Adams
July 27, 2012
No, Foley. You are not getting under my skin. People like you are as predictable as flies around a molaasses barrell, I have been swatting them for over 70 years.

I just figured, falsely of course, that you might grow up one day and tire of making such a complete fool of yourself, day and day out.

But, as I have uirged you before, hang in there sunshine. You and your writings provide a much needed distraction from things of real importance and substance.

The Agitator #33
by Oliver_Halle
July 16, 2012 01:44 PM | 1729 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Stolen Valor Act (SVA) in a six to three decision. Chief Justice Roberts was in the majority. The SVA was a worthwhile attempt to deal with the phonies who falsely claim military service and medals. It is amazing how many fakes are out there that suffer from what I call Ego Deficit Disorder (EDD). Over the years I have met any number of individuals who were self-proclaimed war heroes. Since I am more familiar with the Vietnam era, it is easier to spot them. The first question I ask someone that has given me a feeling that their service might be bogus is which corps they were assigned to in Vietnam. All Vietnam veterans can instantly answer this simple inquiry. When the “veteran” stumbles with his own questions such as “what do you mean by that”, “I served all over”, or one of my favorites, “it’s classified”, that’s a clue that they guy is a fraud. Further probing usually results in an abrupt end to the conversation along the lines of having too many bad memories, changing the subject, or that they can’t talk about it. Another common denominator is that they will never ask if you had Vietnam service or anything about it if they know that you did.

I received a number of calls from friends and associates who were troubled by the Supreme Court’s decision. I replied that I believe the high court made the right call that protects not just those that might be offended by the imposters, but all Americans. If the First Amendment is to mean anything all speech has to be protected with the very few exceptions that the Court has recognized over decades, such as disclosing military/ship movements in time of war, and shouting fire in a crowded theater---just two obvious examples. Protecting just popular speech is no protection at all; it is unpopular speech that needs to be protected. Sure, people might be offended, but who gets to decide what is offensive and should be banned? I prefer not to live in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, and other totalitarian states where irritating the wrong person can land you in jail. The dissemination of ideas, good or bad, in a democracy is one of our greatest strengths.

All of that said, it is important to know that it is one thing to boast about military service and medals that are mythical; it is another to do it on an employment application where veterans points might be awarded, on a form for some kind of government benefits, or anywhere else that could result in financial gain of some sort or a job promotion. Federal law bans the intentional making of false statements for such purposes, and there are state law counterparts. It would also be a crime to falsely claim to be a police officer if the person pretended to act under the color of law to exert his authority.

It is worth the price to live in a free society to put up with braggadocios and fakes that are looking for no more than attention. Otherwise we would have a line drawing problem about what should be prosecuted. The support employee that served behind the lines in a war zone but exaggerates his service to include front line combat is just one example. How about the numbers out there that claim to have played college or major league sports? It may not equate with military service fakery, but there still will be people offended by it. I say that the Walter Mittys that seek no more than ego gratification and to impress the people next to them in a bar should be laughed at for what they are, or perhaps they deserve our sympathy for being pathetic individuals. But the Court was right in recognizing that in our great country we don’t put people in jail for it.

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B. D. Lane
July 17, 2012
I agree, Oliver. And I can add when one meets a man at a bar who claims to be in the Rangers or to have stormed into the house of Bin Laden or to have conquered a small country with the bravado of Douglas MacArthur, let him buy you a drink... and then sit at another table.

The Agitator #32
by Oliver_Halle
July 09, 2012 11:08 AM | 1840 views | 2 2 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Tammy Duckworth lost both legs and use of one arm in Iraq when the helicopter she piloted was shot down. She retired as an army lieutenant colonel and later served with distinction in the Veterans Administration. Duckworth is currently running as a Democrat for congress in the Chicago area. Her opponent is the incumbent freshman Republican, Joe Walsh. Walsh has a long record of running for public office and never won any of them until two years ago. This is a hotly contested seat and Walsh, while having no military experience of his own, has demonstrated that he can be very combative.

Last week he derided Duckworth for always talking about her military service. He added that that was all she talked about. Walsh went on to point out that John McCain was always humble about his military service and refused to talk about it. I liked McCain and thought that he would have been a better president than George Bush. One of the more prominent considerations in reaching that conclusion was his honorable naval service and having survived the brutality of being a POW. Knowing those things and being reminded of it helped to reinforce in my mind that McCain was a tough guy, a leader, and someone who made service to his country a priority. He and Duckworth both volunteered for pilot training, which is very rigorous, knowing that they would likely see combat. And what did Joe Walsh give back to the country that allowed him achieve what he has? I wonder if Walsh would have made the same statement about Ulysses S. Grant’s and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military records and accomplishments. By any measure their records of military service would have been very relevant factors in a presidential or any other race for public office. Even as a young boy when Ike ran for president I knew that he was a war hero. It sent him to the White House.

But what is really interesting is that Walsh is angry with Duckworh for what she is touting about herself, not for what she has said about him. And she has some pretty good feed material. Walsh had a condo foreclosed, he owed back taxes to the IRS, he was a deadbeat dad owing child support to his first wife, and was a defendant in a lawsuit over a claim of money that he owed. What Walsh’s defenses are is not important to the point that Duckworth could be spending a lot more of her time pounding him about his alleged shortcomings to contradict Walsh’s position on the importance of individual responsibility.

Each day I get any number of emails talking about the “lame stream” or “liberal” media not reporting this or that. I also get emails that ask why Obama didn’t blast someone in his own party for an untoward remark. And now is a good time to ask where Romney’s voice has been, where the “Doctor of Truth”, Rush Limbaugh’s voice, and many other prominent conservative politicians and radio talk show hosts have been to defend Tammy Duckworth or to reprimand Joe Walsh? Retired Lt. Col. and freshman Congressman Allen West has also been noticeably quiet despite not having a penchant for taking a back seat to controversy. I leave myself open to each of them and many more that they did speak up and I just didn’t hear or read about it, but for now only the voice of silence is what I have heard. And that’s pretty sorry.

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Lib in Cobb
July 14, 2012
The lunacy of the GOP is amplified by some of it's members, such as West and Walsh. That lunacy, is then endorsed by the other members of the GOP because they have not stepped forward and condemned the comments made by Walsh and West.

West has claimed there are 80 members of Congress who are Communists. A reincarnation of McCarthy no doubt.

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