VA Whistleblowers Attacked Again
Brandon Coleman is a Marine vet who took a job at the Phoenix VA to help vets who had addiction problems and had been in trouble with the law. He saw that the Phoenix VA was not properly handling suicidal veterans and brought it to the attention of his superiors—and was attacked—charged with crimes and the like. During this period the VA had serious corruption problems, particularly at the more senior levels—and some of those people are still there. He fought it for well over a year—and was returned to a similar job with the VA. When President Trump took office he had a new office in the VA created to protect whistleblowers—and Brandon was asked to join; he did. In January he got some new leadership—and this leadership, contrary to the law that created the office, is seeking to dismantle the work that had been done and get rid of those, like Brandon, who seek to continue doing what they were hired to do. So, Brandon and other whistleblowers are at serious risk again. We, the people, must demand that a major investigation be conducted and that whistleblowers be protected.
Schitara Page, a 32-year-old sergeant in the US Army and expert marksman, caught up with the suspects as they were climbing into a pickup truck with large tires. The driver allegedly gave her one final taunt before climbing in, yelling out, “I’ve got something for you, b—,” Page says.
She interpreted his comment as an imminent threat, and when the truck’s wheels began to turn forward, Page drew her pistol and fired three times into one of the tires. The bullets flattened the tire, and the truck pulled out, heading away from Page.
It was something Page had never done before — not in her nine years in the Army, which included tours in combat zones, and not several days earlier, when a sedan struck her in a similar encounter, and she rolled over its hood rather than respond with force. The decision to shoot drastically changed the next year of her life, resulting in criminal charges — not against the men in the truck, but Page.
She was arrested on suspicion of felony negligent discharge of a firearm but charged with a misdemeanor version of the charge. Her weeklong trial was earlier this month.
Jurors hardly sat down before they agreed that Page should be acquitted. A not guilty verdict was announced after less than 40 minutes of deliberations.
I wonder what is wrong with our leadership that this sergeant could be charged for doing her job? What kind of leaders would permit such charges? Under our previous president soldiers where charged with murder for killing the enemy in combat—and the chain of command did nothing then. I hope we’re not going back down that path.
Trade War with China
By agreeing to restart stalled trade talks at their meeting in Osaka last week, President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping averted a new round of punitive measures in a trade conflict that’s moving into its second year.
But the respite is likely to be short-lived. The history of international conflicts over trade and economic matters suggests the outcome of the current trade tensions could be just the earliest stage in China’s campaign to replace the current rules-based trade order with a system aligned with Chinese mercantilist policies an practices.
Trade wars arise when one country’s pursuit of economic advantage goes beyond the bounds that other countries are willing to accept as legitimate forms of competition under the prevailing political and legal philosophies of the time. Whether conducted through commercial means such as tariffs or military action, trade conflicts are usually resolved when an international consensus is reached that either accommodates malign trade policy or curtails unfair competitive practices.
Today’s trade war is the latest episode in the effort to conduct free trade with China. In fairly short order, the U.S.-China conflict has progressed from an effort by President Trump to levy tariffs, ostensibly to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China, to a fundamental conflict between the world’s two largest economies over the nature and stewardship of the global trade order.
SEAL Team 7 Leaders Removed
The head of Naval Special Warfare Command has fired three senior leaders because their leadership failures led to misbehavior in the war zone, Navy officials announced.
Three members of SEAL Team 7, which was booted from Iraq in July mid-deployment, have been removed from their jobs.
Cmdr. Edward Mason, the team’s commanding officer; Lt. Cmdr. Luke Im, the executive officer; and Command Master Chief Hugh Spangler, the top-enlisted leader, were relieved by Rear Adm. Collin Green.
Green relieved the leaders “due to a loss of confidence that resulted from leadership failures that caused a breakdown of good order and discipline within two subordinate units while deployed to combat zones,” according to a Navy statement.
West Point’s New First Captain
Cadet Daine Van de Wall of West Friendship, Maryland, has been selected First Captain of the U.S. Military Academy’s Corps of Cadets for the 2019-2020 academic year, achieving the highest position in the cadet chain of command.
Most recently, Van de Wall, a Systems and Decisions Science major, led 1,200 cadets as the Command Sgt. Maj. of Cadet Field Training II.
As First Captain he is responsible for the overall performance of the approximately 4,400-member Corps of Cadets. His duties also include implementing a class agenda and acting as a liaison between the Corps and the administration.
“Service means a lot to me, specifically having parents who are immigrants coming over here and just being welcomed into the United States of America,” said Van de Wall. “My parents had the privilege to become naturalized citizens here a few years ago. Now, what it means to me to serve is really just to give back and have the opportunity to thank America for everything it’s done for me.”
Van de Wall’s cadetship includes a variety of activities and accomplishments such as being a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the H4 Sandhurst team. He successfully graduated from the Army Airborne School and the Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School, in addition to completing a semester exchange at the US Naval Academy.The US Military Academy at West Point is a four-year, co-educational, federal, liberal arts college located 50 miles north of New York City. It was founded in 1802 as America’s first college of engineering and continues today as the world’s premier leader-development institution, consistently ranked among top colleges in the country. Its mission remains constant—to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the US Army. www.westpoint.edu
Iran Attack on US Think Tank
For repressive regimes to preserve their power, they must snuff out all independent and critical voices inside their own countries, often through violence. But when these regimes threaten to silence or harm independent and critical voices in our free societies, that crosses a line we can’t tolerate.
That’s why the Iranian government’s attacks and threats on the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a US think tank, are so dangerous.
Germany and Russia
Last March, after the attempt to poison the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, it took the British government only a week to accuse Russia of being responsible; by the 10th day after the crime, it was already expelling Russian diplomats. Now, the same length of time after a very similar event in Berlin, the German government is reacting very differently.
The victim of the Aug. 23 attack, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili (or Changoschwili, as it’s spelled in German), was an ethnic Chechen from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge region who had arrived in Germany via Ukraine in 2015.
After several attempts on his life in the former Soviet Union, he was looking for a safer place to call home. He applied for asylum in Berlin, home to a large Chechen diaspora, and was going through an appeal process after being rejected.
Khangoshvili had been a field commander against the Russian army during the second Chechen war in the 2000s, and he’d attempted to assemble a force to fight the Russians again when they invaded Georgia in 2008. It’s unclear whether any formal criminal proceedings existed against him in Russia. At any rate, he wasn’t in Interpol’s Red Notice database as someone whom Russia actively sought.
The person held by German police on charges of killing him had arrived from Russia under pretty mysterious circumstances. According to information jointly obtained by the German weekly Der Spiegel, the Russian investigative site the Insider, and the United Kingdom-based investigative outfit Bellingcat, the man going by the name Vadim Sokolov received a Russian passport on July 19, applied for a French visa 10 days later, received it within a day and traveled to France on July 31.
Rewriting American History
No, America Wasn’t Built ON Slavery, but Faith That All Men Are Created Equal by reframing America’s founding around slavery, the New York Times’ 1619 Project misreads history along with the role Americans played in realizing the ideals of the Declaration.
Too Much Power?
Does the president of the United States have too much power?
That question has been asked lately with respect to President Trump’s use of federal funds to construct 175 miles of sporadic walls along a portion of the 2,000-mile common border between Texas and Mexico. After Congress expressly declined to give him that money, Trump signed into law — rather than vetoed — the legislation that denied him the funds he sought and then spent the money anyway.
It has also been asked with respect to his imposition of sales taxes — he calls them tariffs — on nearly all goods imported into the US from China, taxes that only Congress can constitutionally authorize. And it has been asked in connection with the presidentially ordered mistreatment of families seeking asylum in the US by separating parents from children — in defiance of a court order.
This question of presidential power is not an academic one. Nor is it a question unique to the Trump presidency, as it has risen numerous times before Trump entered office. But the audacious manner of Trump’s employment of presidential powers has brought it to public scrutiny.
Food as a Weapon
Food is a weapon. Nations weaponize food against nations, governments use it against dissenters, invaders use it against holdouts. Here are examples from the recent past.
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The Electoral College
The Electoral College is a part of America, a part of our Constitution. New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently trashed the electoral college on her Instagram Live, saying that the system used to determine the president of the US every four years is racist and disproportionately advantageous for white people. Tara Ross, author of Regnery’s The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule, broke down just why AOC is so misinformed.
One doesn’t have to be a cynic to be cynical about the Justice Department’s decision not to hold former FBI Director James Comey accountable for what an Inspector General report called his violation of FBI policies and his setting a “dangerous example” in order to “achieve a personally desired outcome.”
This pretty much characterizes many of the president’s critics, who fully expected Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 election and have become seemingly deranged in their responses ever since.
Comey reportedly broke several rules for which he will not be prosecuted. He took home memos detailing private meetings he had with the president and then disclosed their contents to a friend who he believed would leak them to The New York Times. His motivation was to make sure a Special Counsel would be appointed to investigate alleged “collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign.
The Justice Department decided not to prosecute Comey, citing a lack of evidence that he “knew and intended to violate laws on handling classified information.” As FBI director, how could he not know of these things? Of course, he had to know. If you think this mirrors Comey’s explanation of why Hillary Clinton would not be held legally accountable for her mishandling of classified information, you would be right. At the time, Comey said Hillary Clinton did not “intend to break the law.”
Two Words Veterans Should Stop Using
Last week I attended BourBiz at the MGM National Harbor with a couple of colleagues from CVS Health. I had the opportunity to speak with several veterans, non-veterans, and some people still in service. Each time I met a veteran we did the typical what branch were you in and when did you serve introductions. On more than one occasion I heard the two words that no veteran should ever say. This included veterans who had been out less than a year to a veteran who had left service almost five years ago. But it wasn’t limited to this event.
Ghosts of WWII
World War II ended 74 years ago. But even in the 21st century, the lasting effects endure, both psychological and material. After all, the war took more than 60 million lives, redrew the map of Europe and ended with the Soviet Union and the US locked in a Cold War of nuclear superpowers.
Japan and South Korea should logically remain natural allies. Both are booming capitalist constitutional states. Decades ago both nations emerged from devastating wars. And in pacifist fashion they vowed never to suffer such mass carnage again.
Both nations are staunch allies of the US. They are likewise similarly suspicious of their neighbor, aggressive communist China, which threatens their economies and security. Yet Tokyo and Seoul are now more adversaries than democratic allies, and they are locked in a bitter fight. In their acrimony over trade and past war reparations, neither can forget WWII.
AF Academy Chapel to Close
The US Air Force Academy in Colorado has announced it will close its cadet chapel for extensive renovations beginning in September. KOAA-TV reports the military academy says Sept. 3 is the final day scheduled for visits prior to the chapel’s three-year closure.
Officials at the academy near Colorado Springs say a $158 million restoration and preservation project is scheduled to begin Nov. 1. Officials say work crews are expected to remove furniture and conduct other preparation work between Sept. 3 and Nov. 1.
The chapel was originally scheduled to close in June, but the project was delayed. The Air Force says the funds were reallocated for repairs at Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael in October 2018.
The chapel is registered as a national historic landmark.
The chapel is an awesome, beautiful place that, as far as I can remember, has had eternal roof leaks. Some said when seeing the chapel one didn’t know whether to pray in it, at it, for it or to it.
In the ongoing mash-up of the tragic and the trifling that is the modern news cycle, one crucial story getting far too little attention is President Trump’s effort to revive the US nuclear power industry.
The nuclear fuel cycle is vital to our nation in terms of the power that nuclear energy can provide (without which there is no hope for significant reductions in carbon output) and the security guaranteed by our nuclear weapons.
Yet both are imperiled by neglect.
On that front, there is a countdown clock ticking toward a major decision that few if any national security experts are focused on. On July 12, Trump moved decisively to change that, issuing a memo demanding “a comprehensive review of the entire domestic nuclear supply chain.”
If you have heard of this memorandum, you are ahead of 99.9 percent of policymakers, but word needs to spread, and the president’s resolve on paper needs translation into specific actions.
WASP Daredevil Dies at 103
Dorothy Eleanor Olsen died at 103 on July 23. She was honored with a Funeral Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Parish and now rests at the Calvary Cemetery in Tacoma, Washington.
Olsen was part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) — a group of civilian volunteers who moved planes across the country, hauled targets for shooting practice and performed other flying duties. She was stationed at Long Beach Army Air Base, California, from 1942 to 1944 and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
During her time as a WASP pilot, Olsen flew about 60 missions as part of the 6th Ferry Group, often alone, according to a report from the Chinook Observer in 2011. She also flew about 29 different aircraft. Her favorite was the P-51.
What We Could/Should Learn from Hong Kong
Oh, Hong Kong, wonderful, magnificent Hong Kong. It is standing up for consent of the people, for freedom, justice and personal rights. Millions have risked their futures through protest. But then look from east to west for a dismayingly different story. Look at the United States where too many want to get rid of President Trump no matter what and are busily forsaking such principles, rewriting our history and substituting utopianism for thought.
Hong Kong has never known all the democratic delights we’ve known, of course, but the British, during the island’s colonial days, said, hey, here’s capitalism, grab hold. The people did, becoming wonderfully prosperous while given more of a chance to experience liberty.
NRA a Terrorist Organization
A San Francisco city council has branded the NRA as a domestic terrorist organization and is asking the federal government to do the same. When was the last time the NRA physically attacked anyone? The answer is never. But name-callers don’t really care about facts.
You Really Don’t Want to be Tased
This is especially true if you have some ammo in your back pocket, as this gent did. This is what happens when you repeatedly refuse police commands, and his Taser hits your hip pocket magazine with rounds in it!!!
The US Constitution
When members of our Armed Forces are sworn in, we all take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the US against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The entire document, including all amendments, takes slightly less than 7600 words. We veterans and, indeed, all patriots, should read this document over and over again. It’s not complicated.
I recently addressed some college students; I asked them that if this was a public high school class and I was the teacher—after reading the First Amendment—could I legally begin the class with prayer. All said no. I asked them to re-read the Frist Amendment, which only restricts actions by Congress. We all need to actually read the constitution and push our government to follow it.
There are two national organizations that are focused on making our nation aware of, and practicing, the Constitution—and I’m active in both of them. First is Concerned Veterans for America (cv4a.org). Then, there’s Combat Veterans for Congress (CVC.org).
God Loves Us
Scott McChrystal is a retired Army Colonel, Chaplain. Here are some of his insights that I think you’ll find appropriate.
Created in God’s Image
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
A third-grade teacher asked her class to draw a picture of someone they knew. When asked whose picture he was drawing, Johnny responded, “I’m drawing a picture of God.”
Teacher: “But no one knows what God looks like.”
Johnny: “They will know soon. Give me about ten more minutes.”
This humorous story contains more truth than most people realize. Colossians 1:15 says: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. This is further supported by Jesus’ own words to his disciples: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
If Jesus is the image of the invisible God, we have a huge head start in knowing how we are to live- like Jesus. We won’t do it perfectly, but the world will be a better place if we try.
Retired Navy CAPT Joe John has done many things in his life; I’ve asked him to share a few words of wisdom with us:
Civil War History
Here are some questions on the Civil War; we’ll post the answers in the next newsletter.
1. Gettysburg had the most casualties in a single battle. Antietam had the most casualties in a single day. What battle in the Western Theater had the most casualties?
2. Who, as an engineer and a lawyer, served as General Grant’s wartime Secretary?
3. What nationality was he?
John Philip Sousa’s Hands Across the Sea
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Two quotes to consider.
There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet an enemy.
I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.
Programming: You’ll want to tune into the show (live or by podcast).
14-20 Sep: Army vet Stephanie Lincoln will present Fireteam Whiskey—it’s about military fitness. Then Craig Gray will discuss an upcoming Protectors Tour online seminar. And we’ll interview Air Force Academy’s football coach. And we’ll review the previous week’s service academy football games.
21-27 Sept: General Arnold Punaro will discuss China. Then I’ll share information gained at a PTSD and invisible wounds conference I attended. And we’ll review the previous week’s service academy football games.
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Words of wisdom:
1. Love is grand; divorce is a hundred grand.
2. I am in shape. Round is a shape.
3. Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.
4. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.
5. Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.
6. Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.
7. Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
8. Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason.
9. An optimist thinks that this is the best possible world. A pessimist fears that this is true.
10. There will always be death and taxes; however, death doesn’t get worse every year.
11. In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.
12. Dijon vu — the same mustard as before.
13. I am a nutritional overachiever.
14. I plan on living forever. So far, so good.
15. Practice safe eating—always use condiments.
16. A day without sunshine is like night.
17. If marriage were outlawed, only outlaws would have in-laws.
18. It’s frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
19. The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
20. Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.
21. Age doesn’t always bring wisdom. Sometimes age comes alone.
22. Life not only begins at forty, it also begins to show.
23. You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stopped laughing.
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Lt. Col. Denny Gillem (Ret.)