Will the Real 4th of July Please Stand Up

While I’m an apple pie fan, my thoughts were not on fireworks or celebrating the 4th. My wife, who arrived in America in 1986 on a student visa from China and who is now a U.S. citizen, is the one who bought the flag that hangs outside our house.

My job was to install the bracket for the flag, and while installing the flag a lot of conflicting thoughts were running through my head. For instance, the reason I don’t go to fireworks shows is because of the PTSD that came home with me from Vietnam as a U.S. Marine—a war that was based on lies by a U.S. President just like the war in Iraq.

I was thinking of the Swift Boat Veteran campaign against Kerry when he ran for president and how G. W. Bush probably won that election when he was a coward who used his family influence to keep him out of the war.  You see, Kerry served in Vietnam on a swift boat and he was wounded more than once. He even held dying friends in his arms. Yea, they were close calls for Kerry, flesh wounds, but they were still wounds, and even though the rounds, rockets, and mortars that came close to me never cut flesh, close is still too close because an inch more and bam you might be crippled or worse, dead.

I was thinking of the Koch brothers and all that they are doing to sabotage the People’s Republic of the United States that the Founding Fathers gave to America’s citizens. In fact, this morning, I read that non-profits that the Koch brothers fund are waging a PR campaign to get rid of the national parks. It seems the Koch brothers want the federal government to turn all the national parks over to the states and give the states the power to sell them off to the highest bidder in the private sector. — Koch-Backed Group Calls For No More National Parks

And the Koch brothers aren’t alone among the billionaire oligarchs who are out to destroy our people’s republic. There’s Bill Gates, Eli Broad and the Walton family waging an all-out war against America’s democratic, transparent, non-profit public schools to close them down and turn our children over to for profit, opaque, undemocratic corporate Charter schools to teach.  Bill Gates even wants to put Big Brother in every public school classroom by installing video cameras to spy on every teacher and make sure they are doing what Big Brother wants them to do with the so-called Common Core crap.

In fact, I’m reading a book right now that keeps me awake at night.  The book is about a conspiracy that isn’t a theory and it’s like reading a true crime novel but one that is based on the crime as it is happening instead of after the criminals were caught, tried, convicted and sent to prison. The book is called Common Core Dilemma – Who Owns Our Schools? by Mercedes K. Schneider.

And I keep asking myself as I’m reading the book—I’m almost done and then I’m going to write a review—why the conspiracy this book reveals isn’t front page news in our corporate owned and controlled media. Then I tell myself I already know the answer: 90% of the traditional media is owned by six huge corporations and one of those media corporations is controlled by Rupert Murdock.

Then as I stand there watching the wind rippling the stars and stripes hanging from a flag pole attached to the side of our house, I think, how many Americans really represent the United States our Founding Fathers gave us—who reads and votes?

In the 2014 election, fewer people turned out to vote than any election in the last 70 years. In the 2012 Presidential election, 64% of eligible voters voted. The biggest excuse is they were too busy to vote (17.5%) or they were just not interested (13.4%).  And the turnout for the 2014 election was the lowest since World War II at 36.4% and look what we got.

Of all the socioeconomic factors impacting voter turnout, education has the greatest impact. The more educated a person is, the more likely they are to vote, as they have a better understanding of how the system works, how to influence the system, and why participation is important.

Thinking of the voter turnout, I ask myself: How many Americans celebrate the 4th of July with a barbecue, hot dogs, beer, apple pie and fireworks—the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air?  The 4th of July holiday makes for a great party atmosphere, doesn’t it?

I was also thinking of the Fairness Doctrine (1949 – 1987). The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced.

The Fairness Doctrine was eliminated by two U.S. Presidents on the excuse that it was a violation of our freedom of expression: Ronald Reagan followed by the first Bush to live in the White House.

Does freedom of expression also guarantee the right to lie and mislead the public?

The last thought I’m going to share is this: studies show that 91% of elections in the United Stets are won by the candidates who spent the most money on the campaign propaganda they spin out to fool voters. – Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap

Will the real 4th of July please stand up.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Promo Image with Cover Awards

This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

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Capturing the pulse of a nation at the end of an unjust war

While reading Last Plane Out of Saigon, an opinionated but accurate memoir by Richard Pena and John Hagan, I did a lot of reflection and here are some of my thoughts.

During a war, the U.S. government has the power to draft—against their will—recruits who might end up fighting in a just or unjust war. Then there are those Americans who join voluntarily to serve in the military. It’s been 49 years since I served as a volunteer in the U.S. Marine and fought in Vietnam, and for the last several decades, after a lot of research to understand what happened and why the U.S. started that war, I have concluded that the war in Vietnam was wrong and it was based on lies. I think the same about the Iraq War.

There is a big difference between volunteering versus being drafted and forced to serve, and two-thirds of the U.S. troops who served in Vietnam were volunteers and about 70% of those who were killed were also volunteers and 62% of the troops killed were age 21 or younger.

For me, a few weeks before I graduated from High school, I voluntarily surrendered the freedom most Americans take for granted and joined the U.S. Marines on a delayed deferment. In fact, once you join any of the branches of the U.S. military, you leave your free choice behind, and you don’t get it back until after you are honorably discharged. The military is another world with its own courts, hospitals and prisons, and the troops are trained to serve and obey without question. Disobey and a recruit might end up in prison or even executed for the crime of treason.

In the summer of 1965, I was in boot camp at MCRD in San Diego when we heard that the U.S. war in Vietnam was escalating and once we left boot camp every recruit was going to be on his way to fight. That scuttlebutt turned out to be true, and I arrived in Chu Lai, Vietnam, about 90 miles south of Da Nang on March 28, 1966.

About halfway through my combat tour, the first draftees started to arrive, and one was assigned to the communications platoon where I was a field radio operator. To me, and the other Marines in that platoon, it was considered wrong that anyone should be forced to serve in the U.S. Marines and fight in one of America’s wars, and we went out of our way to shelter that draftee.

In Richard Pena and John Hagan’s “Last Plane out of Saigon,” on page 100, Pena wrote something that I agree with: “I submit that the true American patriots are those who see the faults of our country and do not hide from them but instead attempt to rectify them.”

I didn’t always think that way. As a child, I grew up in a totally non-political family, and at the same time I was also being brainwashed by patriotic films disguised as adventures, thrillers and suspense out of Hollywood—for instance, most John Wayne movies. My parents never voted and the one time I asked my father why, he said all politicians were crooks, and it was a waste of time to vote because it wasn’t going to change anything. When I was in college on the GI Bill 1968 – 1973, I would become more aware and today I disagree with my father, because I think that when we don’t vote, the criminals in the White House and Congress get away with their crimes, but active, knowledgeable voters can change that.

To understand the dramatic attitude shift of the Vietnam War in the United States, in August 1965, when I reported to boot camp at MCRD, 62% of Americans agreed with the war. By the time I flew home from Vietnam near the end of December 1966, that number was down to about 52% and dropping. In 1968 when I was honorably discharged from active duty, support for the war was down to 37%, and by 1971, during my third year of college on the GI Bill, support was down to 28%.

“Last Plane Out of Saigon” is Richard Pena’s story, and it roughly captures the nation’s mood at the end of the war. Pena was drafted—forced to fight in a war that was clearly wrong. His book is a journal of what he felt, thought and did in Vietnam where he witnessed the horrors of war working in the operating room of Vietnam’s largest military hospital in Saigon.

I served in Vietnam in 1966 during the buildup. Soon after I left, U.S. troop strength reached about a half-million. But by the time Richard Pena arrived near the end of the war as a draftee in the fall of 1972, U.S. troop strength in Vietnam was down to about 100,000 and dropping.

I think many of American’s troops—both volunteers and draftees—served honorably for mostly honorable reasons, but many of the leaders of the United States who supported the war and sent the troops to fight justified their criminal actions based on lies and deceit.

That leads to a question I have no answer for. How does one serve honorably in a dishonorable war? As for the 5-stars I gave this book, how can I justify loving a book about a dishonorable war? I awarded the 5-stars based on the honesty of the book that revealed the reason why more than 70% of Americans were not allowing themselves to be fooled by the liars who started the war.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

 Low Def Cover 8 on January 20

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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Is it possible to protect the United States from ISIS jihadi attacks?

Yellow journalism is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration, and a yellow journalist dressed up as an ISIS jihadi was videotaped as he walked across the border to Texas from Mexico with a fake severed head in hand, and the story made the news on September 5, 2014, at Inquisitor.com.

Then Senator Rand Paul—evidently out to earn points with his Tea Party followers—strongly urged the Obama administration to secure the borders to prevent ISIS from infiltrating the country.

I’m tired of reading biased crap like this from propagandists from both ends of the political spectrum. What Ran Paul urged makes it seem as if the current president would be at fault if a terrorist slipped into the United States and killed some Americans. Heck, we can’t even stop Americans from killing Americans—did you know that the CDC reported 16,238 homicides in 2011, and 11,068 were from firearms?

Here’s what I have to say to anyone ignorant and foolish enough to think any President can secure the borders of the United States.

First—several hundred thousand illegal immigrants slip into the United States annually and continue to exceed the number of legal immigrants—a trend that has held steady since the 1990s. NPR

Second—General Fields established the 1st Marine Division Headquarters at Chu Lai in March 1966. My battalion was on the division perimeter. The perimeter guarding the Chu Lai airbase was heavily fortified with concertina wire, bunkers, and mines. Chua Lai was spread over an area of 130 square miles. The perimeter of an area like this would run about 46 miles.

The Marines sent out regular night patrols, recon teams, and snipers and set up ambushes, and still the Vietcong slipped through the heavily defended perimeter to hit different areas inside the division on a regular basis.

For a comparison, the U.S. covers 3.794-million-square miles and has a 5,525-mile border with Canada and a 1,989-mile border with Mexico. Our maritime border includes 95,000 miles of shoreline. Each year more than 500-million people cross the borders into the United States and about 330-million are non-citizens.

What does the U.S. Border Patrol have to secure this area and the U.S. borders?

The U.S. Border Patrol has more than 21,000 agents. The Agents patrol the border in vehicles, boats, aircraft, and afoot. In some areas, the Border Patrol employs horses, all-terrain motorcycles, bicycles, and snowmobiles. Air surveillance capabilities are provided by unmanned aerial vehicles.

Let’s compare the size of the Border Patrol to one U.S. Marine Corps division that couldn’t stop an elusive enemy from slipping through a few miles of a heavily armed and mined perimeter.

A full Marine Corps division has about 25,000 troops.

Do the math.  There is no way any president—even Reagan, who is worshiped by a political cult of ignorant fools—could have secured the U.S. border.

The U.S. Marines in Chu Lai had about 192 Marines for each square mile and 546 Marines to cover each mile of the perimeter including the shoreline. The US Border Patrol has about 0.005 agents to cover each square mile of the U.S., and less than three agents for each mile of border between Canada and Mexico and this isn’t factoring in the 95,000 miles of shoreline.

To turn the United States into a fortress equal to what the Marines built in Chu Lai, Vietnam—for instance—the U.S. Border Patrol would have to have about 10.4-million agents.

Of course, if we did increase the Border Patrol to 10.4 million agents, we’d end unemployment, because The Washington Post reported that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 10.3 million Americans who are unemployed, and maybe another 21 million people who are “on the sidelines” of the job market [whatever that means].

I’m sure we could make corporate America happy by turning this job over to them, so they could profit off the taxpayers as they are already doing with private-sector prisons and private-sector, for-profit Charter schools that are often worse or only equal to the public schools they are replacing.

We can also be sure that the military-industrial complex would be ecstatic to produce all the uniforms, weapons and supporting equipment that a military force of this size would require to do its job. But even with 10.4 million troops guarding the U.S. borders and shorelines, if an ISIS jihadist wanted to slip into the United States to blow up a few hundred or a few thousand Americans, and the U.S. Marine Corps and the Army couldn’t stop the Vietcong in Vietnam, or Islamic terrorists in Iraq, and today, in Afghanistan, how can any fool expect the U.S. Border Patrol to achieve what the U.S. Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy has never achieved.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Low-Def Kindle Cover December 11

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

I was never a POW but what about the next American War?

Two things happened in the last few days. First, I was shopping at Wholefoods and while waiting in line to buy dinner, I saw the cover of a May 2014 Economist Magazine with an Eagle sitting on a desktop globe and the banner headline asked: What Would America Fight For? The question haunting its allies

Cover of Economist Magazine May or June 2014

In that cover piece, The Economist said, “A survey last autumn by the Pew Research Centre suggests that 52% (of Americans) want the United States to ‘mind its own business internationally’, the highest figure in five decades of polling.”

After reading that, I laughed and thought: Americans may not have any say about the next war just like they had no real say in Vietnam or the 2nd Iraq War because they were lied to.

That leads me to mention one of my favorite quotes from President Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

You see, the reason I laughed is because all Congress and the President has to do is come up with a lie that fools more than half of all adult Americans to have the okay from the people to start the next war—and when that happens will probably be decided by those who profit the most from war.

It wasn’t that difficult to discover the corporations that benefit the most from death. I Googled: “who profits the most in the United States from wars” and discovered from USA Today that the business of war is profitable. In 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services. Just 10 of those companies sold over $208 billion. Based on a list of the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in 2011 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies with the most military sales worldwide.”

The top five were:

  • Lockheed Martin with arms sales of $36.3 billion in 2011—total sales were $46.5 billion
  • Boeing with arms sales of $31.8 billion—total sales were $68.7 billion
  • BAE Systems with arms sales of $29.2 billion—total sales were $30.7 billion
  • General Dynamics with arms sales of $23.8 billion—total sales were $32.7 billion
  • And Raytheon with $22.5 billion in arms sales and $24.9 billion in total sales

What happens to individual fortunes and lost jobs when 78% of Lockheed Martin’s income comes from arms sales; 46% of Boeing’s; 95% for BAE Systems; almost 73% for General Dynamics, and more than 90% for Raytheon?

If you’re curious how much the defense (arms) industry spends to lobby Congress, all you have to do is visit Open Secrets.org to discover that 978 lobbyists who worked for this industry in 2011 spent/donated $138,182,721 to influence elected representatives to make sure the federal government continued to spend heavily on defense and of course the best way to justify this much spending is to start another war, and who will the U.S. attack next?

Then Sunday Morning (May 11), I went to the theater to see “The Railroad Man”, and the horror of war hit home hard. I think this is a film that every adult American should see—especially the CEOs of the arms industry, the lobbyists who work for that industry, Congress and the President. “The Railroad Man” was based on a powerful, real story of British troops who became POWs in Singapore during World War II. The main character, Eric Lomax played by Colin Firth, survived the war but came back with a severe, traumatic case of PTSD that makes what I brought home from Vietnam seem tame in comparison, but I was never a prisoner of war—water boarded and tortured.

Let’s look at the cost of two recent wars: the Vietnam War (1965-1975) cost $738 Billion with 58,209 U.S. deaths and 153,303 wounded, and the 2nd Iraq War (2003-2010) cost $785 Billion with 4,800 U.S. deaths and 31,965 wounded—according to a report issued June 29, 2010 by the Congressional Research Service.

The reason I mention only these two wars was because both were started based on lies fed to America through the corporate owned media so enough Americans would be fooled long enough to support the wars.

What do you think the next lie will be, and where will that war be fought?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Photo for Amazon Countdown Deal

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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What happens if Russia starts a war in Europe? You decide

The Daily Beast reported, “The Pentagon Isn’t Ready for a New Cold War.”

I read the Daily Beast’s post and burst out laughing. The first thing I thought was the Pentagon is addicted to massive budgets. This is a ploy to stir up fear in Americans (again—it’s worked so well in the past. I’m thinking Vietnam and Iraq.) who’ll demand that Congress and the President increases the shrinking defense budget.

Let’s look at some numbers to see if Russia really wants to start a war with the United States and NATO.

First: The US has the third largest population in the world at 316.6 million, and 120 million are considered fit to serve in the military if we needed to call them up. There are 1.4 million active military with an active (trained) reserve of an addition 850+ thousand. In addition, the European Union (the EU is mostly made of NATO nations) has more than 1.5 million in its military and a total population of more than 500 million.

How about Russia? It has a total population of 145.5 million (Less than half of the US not counting the EU). Russia only has 46.8 million considered fit to serve; its active military numbers 766,000 with an active reserve of about 2.48 million (you can bet that they aren’t as well trained as the US reserves).

Second: The US has the largest manufacturing sector in the world. No matter how much we hear about the US losing jobs to China, China is only number two. If you doubt that, check out what Carpe Diem has to say: If Separate, America’s Manufacturing Sector Would Rank as the Tenth Largest Economy in the World

Compared to other countries, Russia only ranks 9th—a fraction of America’s manufacturing ability.

Carpe Diem also says, “American manufacturing is alive and well and poised for even greater growth in the future. Flush with record-level profits, the manufacturing sector has never been financially healthier than it is today and the future of American manufacturing has never looked brighter.” In fact, jobs are starting to come back from foreign countries.

Third: the US has ten active nuclear powered Nimitz-class super carriers. No other country in the world has even one carrier with the capability of any one of these ten. In addition, the US is building three Ford class super carriers that will be even more advanced and lethal. The US has a naval fleet of 473 ships. In addition, the European Union has 543 more naval ships.

What about Russia? It has one active aircraft carrier that’s about half the size of a Nimitz and it isn’t nuclear powered. Russia has 352 ships in its naval fleet.

According to Global Fire Power, the US has 13,683 total military aircraft and 6,012 helicopters. In addition, the EU adds another 2,037 fighter aircraft.

What about Russia? Total military aircraft of 3,082 in addition to 973 choppers.

What about tanks? The US has 8,325 tanks (several thousand are already in Europe). The European Union has another 6,510 tanks. Russia has 15,500 but only 1,667+ are its latest main battle tank—most are outdated (see embedded video). All of America’s tanks are the latest version.

The stupidest thing Putin could do is to pick a war with the European Union and the United States. Of course national leaders aren’t known to think rationally, but I’d place my money on the fact that Putin is bluffing, Obama may have blinked, and the US Pentagon is using this as an excuse to drum up support for bigger budgets.

Why is Putin bluffing?  Because Americans are war weary after more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s gambling that public opinion in the US will hold back NATO, Obama and Congress from acting boldly to push Russia back with a show of force that Russia couldn’t match in its wildest dreams.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The war to take over America’s public Schools

Make no mistake, there’s a war being fought in America. It started about thirty years ago; when G. W. Bush was president that war heated up—with Obama it just got hotter. There are a number of key players with goals to take over America’s democratically run public schools. These billionaires will spend millions on propaganda spreading lies to deceive.

On December 4, 2013, a New York Times headline shouted: “Shanghai Students Again Top Global Test”, and once again, America’s critics of the U.S. Public Schools called for more reform.

Not so fast. In fact, maybe not at all.

In China, the first nine years of education is compulsory starting before age 7. Primary school takes the first six of those nine years; then there’s middle school for grades 7, 8, and 9.

Fifteen is the age of students who take the international PISA test—and in China [so-called] compulsory education ends at the age of fifteen and students who decide to stay in school have a choice between a vocational or academic senior high school track. That’s where the choice ends because in China the senior high schools pick students based on merit.

To explain how this works, the CCP has acknowledged a “9-6-3 rule”. This means that nine of ten children began primary school between the ages of 6 and 7; six complete the first five years and three graduate from sixth grade with good performance.

By the time a student reaches senior high school—grades 10, 11, and 12—most enrollment is in the cities and not in rural China. Most rural Chinese don’t value education as much as urban Chinese do. And many of the migrant urban workers from rural China still have some family back in the village where they often leave their younger children. And many migrant workers, when they retire from factory work, return to the village and the family home.

The United States, by comparison, keeps most kids in school until the end of high school at age 17/18. About 75% graduate on time and another 15% earn their high school diploma or equivalent GED by age 24—all on an academic track because there is no vocational public schools k to 12 in the U.S.

In addition, in China there is the Zhongkao, the Senior High School Entrance Examination, held annually to distinguish the top students who then are admitted to the highest performing senior high schools. This means that if the highest rated high school in Shanghai has 1,000 openings for 10th graders, the students who earn the top 1,000 scores on the Zhongkao get in and then the second highest rated high school takes the next batch of kids until the lowest rated senior high school in Shanghai gets the kids with the bottom scores on the Zhongkao.

Maybe actual numbers will help clarify what this means:

In 2010, 121 million children attended China’s primary schools with 78.4 million in junior and senior secondary schools. The total is 199.4 million kids.

According to World Education News & Reviews: “In 2010, senior high schools [in China] accommodated 46.8 million students (23.4% of the  199.5 million). But about 52 percent or only 40.8 million were enrolled in general senior high school, and 48 percent of those students were attending vocational senior high schools.”

That leaves 21.2 million enrolled in the senior high school academic track designed to prep kids for college—that’s 10.6% of the total. Then consider that Shanghai’s public schools are considered the best in China. This means that the fifteen-year-old students who take the international PISA in China are the elite of the elite attending China’s best public schools.

For a fair comparison—not what we’ll hear from the critics of public education in the United States—the Economic Policy Institute reports: “The U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score. … But U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries [Canada, Finland, South Korea, France, Germany and the U.K.]” and “U.S. students from disadvantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the three similar post-industrial countries.”

In fact, “On average—for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.”

A good site to discover the major players behind the war to take over America’s democratic public schools and follow the battles being fought across America may be found at Diane Ravitch.org.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the multi-award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Blaming Obama and offering a lame solution: Part 2 of 2

As the war ends in Afghanistan, the federal government should cut at least 250,000 civilian jobs at the Department of Defense [DOD] and return that department’s annual budget to $400 billion or less.

Time Magazine reported [worth reading to discover how spending got out of control at the DOD], “From 2001 to 2012, the active duty military grew by just 3.4 percent. Yet over the same timeframe the number of civilian defense employees grew by 17%, an increase five times greater than the armed forces.”

Here’s my first suggestion to cut the federal budget—start by cutting back the number of civilian contractors who develop and build weapons for the US military.

Second, does the US really need the same number of aircraft carriers as every other nation on the planet combined? China, for example, has one twenty-two-year-old, non-nuclear powered second-hand aircraft carrier, and we hear more about that aircraft carrier in the US media—as of it was a threat to world security—while the U.S. has ten in active service and one in reserve with three more under construction. The only other country with more than one aircraft carrier is Italy and they have two.

The newest aircraft carrier is the Gerald R. Ford, and it cost $13 billion to build with two more to follow—the contracts for the other two should be cancelled saving $26 billion or more.

The U.S. has ten active carriers. The rest of the world combined also has ten, but only France has one that is nuclear powered. All the US carriers are nuclear powered and they are larger—much larger.

Why does the US need such expensive firepower? Where’s the threat?

I’m not going to argue with anyone that the US needs a strong military because at heart I am a hawk who loves what the US is doing as it continues to develop modern weapons second to none in the ability to search out enemies and destroy them—and I think the Gerald R. Ford is way cool, but do we need it? The Gerald R. Ford is an incredible weapon but who was it designed to fight—aliens from another planet?

For god’s sake, we are fighting a gang of international fundamentalist Islamic thugs known as al Qaeda and they don’t even have one aircraft carrier—they don’t even have a country. And the only way they can get an aircraft of any kind is to steal them like they did on 9/11.

Return to or start with Blaming Obama and offering a lame solution: Part 1

______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Blaming Obama and offering a lame solution: Part 1 of 2

Rick Newman writing for Yahoo Finance suggests that President Obama could redeem himself for the Obamacare Mess, if he killed part of the government.

If you click on the Yahoo-Newman link above and read the piece, you will discover there is no mention of cutting jobs at the Department of Defense [DOD]. The cuts Newman suggests are so small compared to the annual deficit and size of the national debt, it’s hard not to laugh and cry real tears at the absurdity of it.

Newman points out: “The federal payroll, not counting the beleaguered postal service, is about 8% bigger than it was before the latest recession began at the end of 2007.”

The question Newman should have asked is where did civilian employment in the federal government increase the most, but he didn’t. Instead, he quotes a source that says that in the 1980s, the private sector got rid of an entire layer of middle management and suggests the government do the same thing. Then he points out a few small departments/agencies of the federal government with a combined budget of $81 – $185 Billion, but the federal budget for 2013 was $3.8 trillion and the actual deficit was $680 billion. You do the math.

What I want to know is why he didn’t mention the Department of Defense?

In May 2012, the Washington Times.com reported, “President Bush’s last budget, for fiscal 2009, pegged Defense Department civilians at 739,000, according to the department’s latest “Green Book” budget document on total spending.”

But if you check the numbers going back to 1962 comparing the ratio of civilian workers in the federal government to the total population, you would discover that the number of civilians working for the federal government has been dropping for years. The Washington Post.com reported that in 1962 under President Kennedy, 13.3% of the total US population worked for the federal government. By 2012—under President Obama—the federal workforce was 8.4% of the total even counting the 8% increase Newman complains about.

In addition, if we look closer, we discover that between June 2012 and September 2012, civilian workers employed by the federal government shrunk by 40,146 workers to 2,760,569—most of the jobs cut came from the DOD. Click the next link and check it out; you can see the number of workers added or cut by department. Source: opm.gov

In Part 2, I will focus on the Department of Defense—the only department that should see its civilian workforce and budget cut dramatically. In 2000 before 9/11, defense spending was $366.2 billion. By 2013, it had reached $821.6 billion. If we compare average annual defense spending by president starting with Clinton, we discover defense spending under Clinton averaged $335.6 billion annually for a total of $2.648 Trillion; under G. W. Bush the annual average was $605.5 billion with a total of $4.844 trillion, and under Obama, the first four years totaled $3.397 trillion or $849.2 billion annually. Source: US Government Spending.com

Do we ever hear Obama’s critics complain about his increased spending for the DOD? No, because we only hear about Social Security; Medicare and Obamacare—all programs designed to pay for themselves through specific taxes.

The increase in defense spending during the wars on terror; in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the United States an additional $5.556 Trillion since 9/11.

Continued on November 18 in Blaming Obama and offering a lame solution: Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

A surprise family reunion—Navy father returns home

Recently, I logged on to discover another story about a father serving in the United States Navy returning home after a six-month overseas deployment.

I’m a sucker for this genre of YouTube homecoming videos, because as I watch them I relieve that moment forty-seven years ago in December of 1966 when I returned home without warning at three in the morning after a combat tour in Vietnam. I wrote about my return in Coming Home. There was no YouTube back then.

It’s powerful moment to watch a family reunion when a military father or mother returns home from a dangerous war zone.  

However, this time I questioned why this homecoming should gain national attention in the media. What was unique about it?

Rachel Martin writing for Indiana News Center.com said, “First Class Petty Officer Scott McComas has been serving overseas on the island of Diego Garcia for the Navy Reserves. McComas says he’s been gone for a year, four times before.”

I was curious where he served the other four times. Maybe one or more of those deployments was in a more dangerous place than Diego Garcia.

The island of Diego Garcia is really remote and isolated.  It’s 1,970 nautical miles east of Africa, 967 nautical miles south-southwest of the southern tip of India and 2,550 nautical miles west-northwest of the West coast of Australia.

Princeton University Press says, “The American military base on the island of Diego Garcia is one of the most strategically important and secretive U.S. military installations outside the United States. Located near the remote center of the Indian Ocean and accessible only by military transport, the base was a little-known launch pad for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and may house a top-secret CIA prison where terror suspects are interrogated and tortured.”

In addition, the UK forcibly evicted/removed the 2,000 people who lived on Diego Garcia before the U.S. military moved in. Source: Global Post.com

For years I imagined the island of Diego Garcia was a desolate, freezing rock surrounded by nothing but a brutal, stormy ocean. Then I searched YouTube and discovered I was wrong—really wrong.

Diego Garcia is a tropical paradise with warm to hot temperature year around and if you watch the embedded video above you will discover breathtaking beaches and crystal clear water.

What about all the American troops who are serving in dangerous or risky overseas deployments? There are still 69,000 American troops fighting in Afghanistan; 15,000 are in Kuwait; 28,500 in South Korea not far from the threat of the lunatics in North Korea; 3,628 in Kyrgyzstan; 2,714 in Bahrain, and 806 in Qatar.  Source: U.S. Deployments Overseas

In fact, the vast majority of Navy deployments are at sea on Naval ships and submarines inside metal hulls. Some of those deployments are in dangerous waters like the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea.

Then again, maybe it was the uniqueness of that Indiana corn-maze that made this homecoming a worthy news item, and it really had nothing to do with a Navy father coming home from a tropical paradise. And it’s cute to watch a young daughter throw herself in her daddy’s arms because he’s been away from home for six months.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Know your enemy: a brief history or Iraq

Sun Tzu wrote that “not only must we have worthy goals to be successful, but our methods, the last of his five factors, must be honorable as well. … Sun Tzu teaches that leaders must be honest.” Source: Frugal Marketing.com

How honest was America’s political leaders when it came to starting the war in Iraq?

“Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the Bush White House’s case on Iraq’s alleged biological-and chemical-weapon stockpile in a dramatic Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N. Security Council.” Source: USA Today.com

More than a decade after President George W. Bush started the war in Iraq, those weapons of mass destruction have not been found and no one is looking for them because they didn’t exist.

Instead of going into detail starting with 3500 BC when Mesopotamia became the world’s first known civilization in South Eastern Iraq, I want to focus on several elements that are eerily similar to Afghanistan.

332 BC: Alexander the Great conquers the Persians and the area we know of as Iraq becomes part of his empire.

In 633 AD, Muslims conquer the region that is Iraq today.

Mongol invaders led by the grandson of Genghis Khan destroy the Muslim Arab Empire that includes Iraq in 1258 AD.

The British—militarily and politically—become involved in the region in the 19th century to protect their trade routes with India and the East. In 1917, British troops occupy Baghdad and in 1920, the League of Nations gives Great Britain a mandate to rule over Mesopotamia. The British then set up King Faisal the 1st as the monarch of Iraq.

Then in 1932, Iraq becomes Independent and during World War II—wanting to get rid of British influence in the region—allies with Germany, Italy and Japan.

Great Britain defeats Iraq in 1941. In 1945, Iraq helps form the Arab League that declares war on the newly formed nation of Israel.

King Faisal the 2nd becomes Iraq’s leader in 1953. But in 1958, there is a military coup and the monarchy is destroyed. In 1979, Saddam Hussein becomes the Iraqi President and in 1980, Iraq invades Iran starting the Iran-Iraq war. In 1990, Iraq invades Kuwait. In 1991, a coalition of 39 countries starts the First Persian Gulf War and liberates Kuwait. Iraq accepts a ceasefire. Source: Dates and Events.org: Iraq-Timeline

In July 2012, Con Coughlin writing for the Uk’s Telegraph reported, “The modern-day states of Iraq and Syria once formed the ancient kingdom of Mesopotamia. They share the same tribal culture, heritage and a lengthy border.”

What does that tribal culture look like?

The Council on Foreign Relations says, “There is … a consensus among experts that tribal traditions remain culturally important to many Iraqis. … Tribes are regional power-holders, and tribal sheiks are often respected members of Iraqi communities.

“Among Iraq’s Shiite majority, [Islamic} religious leaders appear to be a more potent political force, … That said, religious leaders … appear to derive some of their strength from tribal connections. …

“Some tribes pre-date Mohammed, the prophet of Islam … For centuries, the tribes were the primary form of social organization through much of the region. While their influence has diminished through the years, the Ottoman Turks, the British, the British-backed monarchy, and the Baathists all sought their cooperation.”

Do you see the similarities between Iraq and Afghanistan? Both regions were conquered by Alexander the Great and ruled over by the Greeks. Both have tribal influences that have been around for centuries.

The Islamic religion swept over both regions about the same time. The Mongols rolled over both regions. Then the British arrived followed by the American military.

You may have noticed that there has been no mention of Russia yet, but starting July of 1979, Saddam Hussein “used the Soviets to support his program of military expansion and to strengthen his regime. Baghdad acquired arms and advisors from the USSR; the KGB and East German Stasi also trained the Baathist secret police apparatus.”  After Saddam argued with the Soviets, France became Iraq’s second biggest source of military aid after the USSR as Iraq’s dictator-for-life played the West off against the Communists in Russia. Source: History in Focus: The Cold War

Remember how the Mujahedeen were supported by the United States and some of her allies as they fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Later, the same Islamic, Mujahedeen warriors that the US trained and supplied with weapons become the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Do you think it is possible to build a democratic nation in Iraq where all of the different religious, political and tribal factions will learn to cooperate sort of like the very honest and moral [tongue-in-cheek] Republican and Democratic Parties do in the United States?

Continued on August 16, 2013 in A brief history of Vietnam or start with Know your enemy: a brief history or Afghanistan

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”