How My PTSD Wrote an Accidental Novel

Mental Health America says, “Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to work through issues. Researchers have found that writing about painful events can reduce stress and improve health.”

That is why I belong to two groups of combat vets that meet each week for an hour and a half. We share our writing as a form of therapy to deal with the PTSD that followed us home from Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. The Marines, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Special Forces, and the Airforce are all represented at these two tables located in two different locations on different days. One is located at a VA facility and the other group meets at a Vet Center.

“Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active duty service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families.”

When we meet, there is no pressure to write and share. It is okay to just listen. We can write just about anything we want in any form and each week at the end of each session, there is a prompt to help any of us that are blocked. What we share through our writing often results in healing conversations. Poetry, non-fiction, and fiction are all acceptable. Through fiction, we can deal with our personal issues through our characters.

One of those prompts gave birth to The Patriot Oath.” At the time, I didn’t know the prompt “heads or tails” would end up becoming a novel. It wasn’t until the second prompt, “If I could go back and do it all over again (must be a military theme),” that I decided to challenge myself and keep the same characters and story going from prompt-to-prompt.

The title for this novel wasn’t born until much later. Even the characters names went through changes. I never planned to write this book. It came about organically one week and prompt, at a time, but somewhere along the way, the story stopped being driven by the weekly prompts and the characters took over and made the prompts fit their story.

Thirty-five weeks after the first prompt, I had a novel that I named “The Patriot Oath”, and here is the first chapter that was written for the prompt “heads or tails”.

The Patriot Oath
Chapter One (written from the prompt “head or tails”)

Josh Keagan was on his way home for the first time in twenty-three years, because his younger sister had been raped.

When Josh joined the United States Marines at eighteen after graduating from high school, he didn’t plan on returning home to Montana. Growing up on a ranch had been a hard life, and he’d resented it. It didn’t take long to discover the Marine Corps was tougher, but he excelled at it. When he retired a few weeks earlier, he’d just been promoted to O-5. His first year out, he was going to earn more than $5,000 a month, and every year he’d get a pay raise of about two percent. And then there was the contracting business he’d started with his mentor and old friend LG. That venture was bringing in good money, too.

Josh was the oldest of four siblings, and the youngest, Susan was his only sister. She’d been three when he’d left for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. Knowing his father’s stubbornness and temper, Josh suspected his name had been banished from the dinner table and he would not be surprised if Susan didn’t know she had an older brother.

Without a car, he’d spent hours sprawled on the back seat of a Greyhound Bus from Denver, Colorado to Billings, Montana where he’d hitched a ride with an eighteen-wheeler that dropped him at Great Falls. With his duffle bag slung over his shoulder, he’d hitch-hiked along route 87 and caught rides that carried him to Stanford where his brother Samuel, five years younger than him, was supposed to be waiting.

When he climbed down from the eighteen wheeler’s cab, he spotted a familiar 1942 blue Chevy pickup parked on the far side of the gravel lot. It was the same one his grandfather had cherished, and Josh was willing to bet it still ran like a Swiss watch.

“How is she, Sammy?” Josh asked his smiling brother, who was leaning on the pickup’s hood watching him approach. As kids, Samuel had always preferred to be called Sam or Sammy.

Sammy was all smiles as he tapped the hood with the tip of an index finger. “This old dependable sexy Chevy keeps on running.  I’ve been rebuilding it, and it’s better than the Energizer Bunny. Grandpa would be proud.”

“Good to know, but I’m not talking about the fucking truck,” Josh said. He tossed his hundred-pound duffel bag in the open bed of the truck and slid onto the cab’s worn passenger seat. “I’m hungry. Let’s have lunch first. We’ll talk after we eat.”

They ate in silence at a local spot. After lunch, when Sammy climbed in behind the steering wheel, his expression had sobered. He said, “We never leave her alone. Today, my wife is with her. Wednesday, Cousin Betty will come from Eddies Corner and stay for a few days.”

“You know who did it, right?” Josh asked.

“Yea, it was an asshole whose dad is a billionaire. It’s the same old shit. His dad brought in a hot-shot lawyer that made her look like a whore.”

“How are the small farmers doing locally?”

“Not so good. We’ve been lucky because of what Mom earns from her books and because the ranch is nestled in a small valley surrounded by hills, but too many of the local farmers have lost everything because they were talked into planting and growing Frankenstein Food and when the monster seed blew onto the land of farmers that refused to grow that shit and sprouted, the corporation took them to court and screwed them bankrupt with court costs. Then to keep their farms, they agreed to become paid corporate slaves. Once a farmer signs, it’s impossible to get out of it, and most of the consumers don’t want to eat that poison.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Josh said.

Sammy glanced at his brother’s craggy features. “You look older than forty-one,” he said. “You never wrote about what you did in the military. What happened to you in there?”

“Nothing I did is worth talking about and most of it’s classified,” Josh replied.

“What do you mean, it ain’t worth talking about? Everyone knows about your Purple Hearts, the Navy Cross, the three Silver Stars, and the Bronze Star. What we don’t know is what you did to earn it all?”

“Like I said, most of it is classified.” Josh was chewing on a wooden toothpick he’d picked up at Dauna’s Deli in Stanford where he’d had his favorite French Dip Sandwich for lunch. Every bite had come with a flood of memories from his youth. He’d been so bitter when he’d left home, he’d forgotten that there had been good times, too.

“Can you at least tell me what you did in the Marines?”

“Once I graduated from boot camp, I became a Scout Sniper. A few years later I left the Marines to become a Navy Seal.” He stopped talking and a moment of silence slipped by.

“That’s all?”

“That’s all I’m willing to talk about. That life is behind me now. What happened to Susan is more important then what I did for the last twenty-three years.”

Sammy’s eyes widened. “Jesus,” he said. “You don’t like talking about what you did in the military, do you?”

Josh grunted. “I got better things to do then jaw about old news.”

“You were a blabbermouth when we were kids. What changed?”

Josh switched the toothpick to the other side of his mouth and said, “You’re kidding, right?”

It was quiet for the next few miles before Sammy asked, “What are you planning to do now that you’re back?” He was keeping his eyes on the road and worry lines had appeared around his eyes. “Dad and mom don’t want any trouble with Charles Tweet and his youngest son Darwin. We talked it over and it has been decided that we want to put this behind us and forget about what happened to Suki.”

“Suki?” Josh asked.

“That’s the name she prefers. Don’t call her Susan.”

“I’m not going to forget about what happened to Suki.” Josh dragged out her name longer than necessary. “You do not have a need to know the details of this operation, baby brother.”

“Operation?” Sammy said with a shaky voice. “You can’t leave me out of this. They crippled Mel and gang-raped Suki. After the way that fancy, fast-talking corporate-bought lawyer trashed her in court, she’s almost a basket case.”

Mel was the youngest brother who had been ten when Josh left. “So you do not agree with mom and dad that we should put what happened to Suki behind us and pretend it never happened?” he asked.

“If you are going to get revenge, I want in on it.”

“You don’t have the training or experience for what’s coming,” Josh said.

“Fuck that!” Sammy slammed on the brakes and brought the Chevy to a screeching halt by the side of the narrow, worn, two-lane road. He face was blooming with anger.

Josh sighed. “We are not going to argue.”

“You can’t do this alone.”

“I’m not alone.” His voice was crisp. “My Semper Fi brothers are already in the hills above the ranch waiting for me. We’ve done this type of shit dozens of times in too many countries to count. When we’re done, this billionaire and his family will leave Montana and never return. I plan on teaching them a lesson they will never forget, and you don’t want that crap in your head when you try to sleep at night.”

“How is this going to help Mel or Suki? You are underestimating Charles Tweet. He is a fucking brutal monster that thrives on getting even with anyone that crosses him. What if you make things worse for her?”

“I’ve got a counselor friend from a vet center in California that has agreed to use some of her vacation time to come to Montana and work with Suki and Mel and help them rebuild their lives. Dr. Tate is an expert in dealing with this kind of trauma.” Josh took the toothpick out of his mouth and faced his brother. “As for Charles Tweet and his evil heart, he has no idea what’s coming. As for his son the rapist, I have something special planned for him.”

“What do you mean by something special?” Sammy asked.

“No more details,” Josh said as his eyes bored into his brother’s face. “I’ve already told you too much. It’s been a long trip and I want to see the ranch before the sun goes down. I’m back to stay. Our family and neighbors need me more than the US of A does, and I’m not in this alone. Some of my Semper Fi friends grew up on small farms, too. In fact, I convinced a few of the retired ones to buy some of the local farms that went bankrupt because of the Frankenstein Food thing.”

Josh smiled for the first time as he shifted his gaze back to the view in front of the windshield. “Tell me, baby brother, is it true that my high school sweetheart hasn’t changed and she divorced that asshole she married?”

“The night she kicked him out,” Sammy replied, “she had the locks changed and her dad and brother were there when he came home drunk, as usual. That was seven months ago. A week later, he kicked in the door and attacked her, but she was ready and broke his right shoulder and a couple of ribs with a baseball bat. The next day Rachel took out a restraining order on Luke.”

Josh pressed his lips together and twerked them back and forth as he thought. “What she did was pure her,” he said. “She would have made a great Marine, and when we were kids, she was a better shot than me.” Then he lifted his butt off the seat and stretched his torso. With two fingers, he fished a quarter out of the tight watch pocket of his faded denim jeans. “Heads, I take the cowards way out, write a letter, and mail it.  Tales, I show up at her place unannounced and knock on the door and hope she blows her lid.”

Sammy glanced at him like he was nuts. “What are you talking about?”

Josh flipped the coin and grinned when he saw the results.

“What is it?” Sammy asked.

“Tales,” Josh replied. “I’m going to enjoy getting my ass kicked.” He closed his eyes and rubbed his face with the fingers of both hands. “At least I hope she does.”

“What did the Marines do to you?” Sammy asked. “Who in their right mind wants to get their ass kicked?”

Josh’s eyes sparkled. He pinched a thumb and index finger together and pretended to zip his mouth shut.

“Damn it,” Sammy said. “Tell me what the Marines did to you.”

“It wasn’t just the Marines,” Josh said. “I served in the Marines, then the Navy, and then the Army and I returned to the Marines to finish up.”

“Why?”

“It felt like the right thing to do at the time.”

“Was it?”

Josh nodded. “Yea, I got exactly what I wanted.”

“And what was that?”

“Enough talk. Just drive.”


“Try everything because something will click with you.”

My goal is to publish “The Patriot Oath” before the end of this year or early in 2020. The finished novel is now going through revisions and editing. In the meantime, the story of the characters that were born in the first novel continues with the sequel, “Never for Glory”, and I am still fitting the weekly prompts in chapter-by-chapter. The prompts for this week (August 4 -10) were: “horse” and “I’m a believer”. I haven’t started writing that chapter yet but plan to have it done before the first meeting next week so I can share it with both groups.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.

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The Donald Trump Campaign’s Latest Stupidity Explodes on Twitter

Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, who is as ignorant as the Donald is and probably has the same narcissist ego, took to Twitter and blamed President Obama and Hillary Clinton for the death of Captain Humayun Khan, who Trump insulted when he insulted the hero’s parents when the mother did not talk at the DNC.

But Captain Khan sacrificed his life to save his men from a suicide bomber in 2004 when G. W. Bush was President, four years before Obama was elected president.

Of course it isn’t Katrina’s fault if Trump ordered her to do it. From what I’ve read of his business history based on the experience of people who once worked for him, the Donald is an extreme micromanager and no one does anything without him knowing and approving.

In addition, this is what I’ve been thinking. Captain Khan deliberately risked and then lost his life to give his men time to fall back from a suicide bomber rushing their position in a car. Why did he only get the Bronze Star, why not the Medal of Honor?

How was it Hillary Clinton’s (HRC) fault? Because in the Donald’s twisted brain, she voted for the bill that approved the Iraq War.

On 60 Minutes, Donald Trump clearly blamed HRC for voting for the bill that approved the Iraq War – watch the next video to hear him say it with your own ears – and you will also hear that he didn’t blame Mike Pence, his VP running mate, who not only voted for the bill that authorized the Iraq War, but authored it. That means Pence helped write the bill.  All HRC did was vote for the bill. Since then, HRC has publicly admitted she made a mistake signing the bill that approved the Iraq War, but Pence has never admitted it was a mistake that he wrote and voted for it.

In the 60 Minute’s clip, Trump also claimed he never supported the Iraq War since the beginning.

However, FackCheck.org reports that “On September 11, 2002, Howard Stern asked Trump if he supports invading Iraq. Trump answers hesitantly, “Yea, I guess so. You know. I wish it was, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

Conservative Critics often dismiss fact check sites that reports conservative lies, because they think these sites are biased against conservatives – even though the same fact check sites report the lies that liberal politicians also say in public – but that doesn’t change the fact that Trump said what he said in 2002.

In addition, on January 28, 2003, Trump appeared on Fox Business’ “Your world with Neil Cavuto,” on the night of President Bush’s State of the Union address. Trump says he expects to hear “a lot of talk about Iraq and the problems,” and the economy. He urges Bush to make a decision on Iraq. “Either you attack or you don’t attack,” he says. But he offers no opinion on what Bush should do.

How can anyone that is sane, who’s knows about this and calls themselves an American citizen, support Donald Trump?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author.

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.

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The Ignorance of Donald Trump on Display with another Foolish Twitter Rant as he insults a U.S. Marine

Donald J. Trump went on another Twitter rampage after the Democratic National Convention ended, and in one Tweet he said, “General John Allen, who I never met but spoke against me last night, failed badly in his fight against ISIS. His record = BAD #Never Hillary”.

This is another example of how ignorant and foolish Donald Trump is.

How could General John Allen (click link to discover Allen’s accomplishments) fail badly in a fight he never fought? Although he served in Iraq, he never had command of the Multi-National Forces West, and he retired from active duty more than a year before the Islamic State of ISIS and/or ISIL was established.

Who is General John Allen? CNN reported, “Allen graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1976, and has racked up a long and distinguished list of accomplishments both on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as an attempted role as peacemaker to one of the longest and most intractable conflicts in the Middle East.”

General John Allen commanded the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from July 18, 2011 to February 10, 2013, and then he retired from active service after having served the United States as a U.S. Marine for 37 years — something the Donald has never done because during the Vietnam war, Trump managed to avoid being drafted with several deferments. Read all about it in Was Trump a ‘draft dodger’?

In fact, in June 2014, Aljazeera reported, “Sunni rebels declared new ‘Islamic caliphate’. Armed group ISIL changed name to Islamic State, and says its empire extends from Iraq to Syria’s Aleppo.”

ISIS has operated out of Iraq & Syria since 1990 under several different names and did not appear in Afghanistan until 2015 about two years after General Allen retired from active duty.

Do we really want a president who is this ignorant and libels and slanders people without knowing what he is talking about? Donald Trump is a liar. Donald Trump is a loser. Donald Trump is a fraud. Donald Trump has a thin skin. Donald Trump is a coward and a bully. Donald Trump is a small man no matter what size his body parts are.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

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A Semper Fi Hero in Orlando

What would Donald Trump say about an American citizen called Imran Yousuf if all he heard for the first time was this young man’s name in connection to the night club massacre in Orlando, Florida?

The odds are that The Donald would think that Yousuf was from the Middle East, a Muslim and a danger to all Americans and then say it without fact checking. After all, soon after the Orlando nightclub massacre, Trump was demanding a ban on all Muslim travel to the U.S. before the FBI released any verified information on the shooter and his motives. The Donald didn’t waste any time to demonize an entire religion of 1.6 billion people in his campaign full of hate, racism, lies and deception in his race to become President of the United States.

To sum it up, I’ll turn to Jennifer Williams who reported on Vox.com that “Donald Trump’s speech scared me as an American Muslim. It should scare you, too.”

I think The Donald should scare every American, because to me The Donald is the Bogeyman in the flesh. The Bogeyman is a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults to frighten children into good behavior. This mythical creature is no longer a myth. The Donald is real, and parents now have a real person to frighten their children with. Parents can now say, “If you don’t behave, The Donald will come for you in the night, and he will demonize and bash you on TV in front of the entire world.”

I want to introduce you to the real Imran Yousef, a former U.S. Marine and Afghan veteran with a first and last name that sounds like he could be from the Middle East and a Muslim.  Click this link to discover more about Imran:  The Marine Corps Times says, “Marine Vet’s quick actions saved dozens of lives during Orlando nightclub shooting.”

What name sounds more Middle Eastern and Muslim – Imran Yousuf or Omar Mateen? Before you answer that question did you know that Omar is not only an Arabic name but is also of Hebrew (Jewish) origin, but Imran only has Arabic roots – yet CBS reports Imran Yousuf is a 25 year-old Hindu?

That led me to ask another question: Is The Bible More violent Than the Quran? The answer to that question will probably surprise most people who read it. In 2010, NPR ran a story to answer this question and referred to a study by religion historian Philip Jenkins who decided to compare the brutality quotient of the Quran and the Bible.

For readers who don’t have the patience and/or time to click the previous link and discover the entire answer, here is one short quote from Philip Jenkins: “Much to my surprise,” he said, “the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.” Violence in the Quran, he and other say, is largely a defense against attack.

Semper Fi is Latin and it means Always Faithful.

According to CNN, there are almost 500 Muslims and 86 Hindus serving in the U.S. Marines, and if you are curious for more facts and truth, here is a link to a story about U.S. Muslim Serviceman who Have Died in the Service of Our Country.

Send a message to Donald Trump to delete his mouth, and make sure to vote in November but not for him.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award-winning author.

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.

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Invisible Enemies: Life on the Front Lines of a Modern Vietnam

It isn’t a secret that military veterans tend to be conservative and vote Republican. In fact, Gallup reports that veterans are more likely to be Republican than are those of comparable ages who are not veterans. The reason I mention this is because Brian Welch’s memoir takes readers through Army boot camp to Iraq for two deployments, and Welch is brutally honest with his conservative views—a fresh perspective that most who serve in the U.S. military share but is missing from many films about war where the focus is usually on heroism, debauchery or the horrors of war. In fact, most films seem to be more concerned with political correctness than reality. But Term of Service (click link to visit Amazon and buy this book) avoids Hollywood hype and serves us combat as it really is.

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When we first meet the author in boot camp, he’s eager to fight for his country, but that eagerness fades when confronted by an elusive enemy that is seldom seen. For instance, unseen insurgents planting roadside bombs; invisible snipers shooting from a distance, or terrorists who become human bombs that infiltrate our lines and blow themselves up among U.S. Troops. The type of combat our troops faced in World War I, World War II and Korea seems to be a thing of the past. Instead of armies clashing with armies, today our troops often fight an invisible enemy.

This modern form of warfare grinds our troops down just like it did to combat vets in Vietnam where I fought decades earlier.  I think Welch’s honesty is refreshing, and anyone who wants to experience the tension of combat—the endless waiting not knowing what will happen next—and what it does to most of the troops, should read this book. War takes boys, runs them through the blades of a blender and when they come out, they are often cut and bruised physically and mentally.

_______________________

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.

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Comparing the results of 2 films may reveal a sad fact about the values of the average U.S. citizen

There are some films and documentaries that should be required viewing the same as taxes and death. The Hornet’s Nest is one of those films that should be viewed not once, but at least three times or more, but, sad to say, average American values are on display when we compare two films that came out on the same weekend.

The Hornet’s Nest, a film my wife and I recently watched at home on a DVD, is a documentary shot by two journalists, a father and son, Carlos and Mike Boettcher, who were embedded with front-line U.S. combat troops in one of the most dangerous combat zones in Afghanistan.

The Hornet’s Nest is not based on a true story—it is a true story.

“The Hornet’s Nest is a groundbreaking and immersive feature film (documentary), using unprecedented real footage to tell the story of an elite group of U.S. troops sent on a dangerous mission deep inside one of Afghanistan’s most hostile valleys. The film culminates with what was planned as a single day strike turning into nine intense days of harrowing combat against an invisible, hostile enemy in the country’s complex terrain where no foreign troops have ever dared to go before. … What resulted is an intensely raw feature film experience that will give audiences a deeply emotional and authentic view of the heroism at the center of this gripping story.”

Yet, this film was never released to theaters outside of the United States and earned a total lifetime gross of $312.7 thousand.  The same weekend that The Hornet’s Nest was released on May 9, 2014, Neighbors, a film I did NOT see and don’t plan to see, came out.

Neighbors grossed worldwide more than $268 million, and was released in 3,311-theaters compared to 57-theaters for The Hornet’s Nest.

I know that the corporate goal in the private sector is all about making profits almost any way possible, legally or illegally, but this is ridiculous—because if we lose the world-wide war against Islamic extremism, there may be no profits for corporate capitalists to earn, and consumers, those who are still alive and have converted to Islam to survive, may have few if any products to buy as they get out their prayer rugs at daybreak, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening and turn toward Mecca to pray to the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb. Oh, and the prayers must be said in Arabic, no matter what the native tongue is.

The United States has been fighting the war in Afghanistan since 2001, and the Iraq and Afghan wars against Islamic terrorism have cost $4 to $6 Trillion (so far), in addition to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injured U.S. troops, and that isn’t counting the hundreds of thousands of deaths of civilians who lived in Iraq and Afghanistan and the millions who have fled to refugee camps to escape the horrors of war.

According to Hollywood Reporter, the average cost of a movie ticket is $7.96. That means 39,285 people may have seen The Hornet’s Nest documentary, compared to about 34-million viewers who watched Neighbors, a film about a couple with a newborn baby who end up having a loud, hard partying fraternity move in next door; a film with an R rating “for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity and drug use throughout. “

Rotten Tomatoes listed six media critics who reviewed The Hornet’s Nest and those six gave the film a 100-percent rating. Variety critic, Joe Leydon said, “This gripping documentary about soldiers in harm’s way during America’s longest war seems all the more relevant as we begin the countdown to troop withdrawals from that war-torn land.”

How about Neighbors?

Rotten Tomatoes reported that 44-critics reviewed the film with an average rating of 73-percent. One of the top critics, Christy Lemure, said, “I have been both of the people at the center of the conflict in “Neighbors.” I have been the drunken sorority girl who doesn’t want the party to end and I have been the perplexed new mom who’s desperate for some sleep. … If only the stakes were higher for all of these characters, it might even be possible to care about who wins.”

For those who care about the truth; the reality and quality of life, you may download the full film of The Hornet’s Nest for $3.99, and watch it starting with the next embedded video, or buy the DVD from Amazon by clicking the previous link.

As a combat veteran who fought in Vietnam, believe me when I say that you can’t hide from the harsh reality of life. Fantasies of sexy vampires, and visits to Disneyland and/or Magic Mountain will not protect you from that reality, because it will find you sooner or later, and it is a hard-wired fact that the United States has hundreds of thousands if not millions of enemies in the Middle East who want to destroy everything there is about America and the citizens who live here.

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

Low-Def Kindle Cover December 11His 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!”

Who do Americans admire most?

In December my wife and I went to see the The Wolf of Wall Street; then on Friday, January 10, Lone Survivor (its opening day).

Walking the mile-and-a-half home, both films stirred emotions and made for conversation. I admit that I didn’t think The Wolf of Wall Street was about a real man. It was so outrageous, so amoral, and so greedy—you name it—that I thought it was the product of a very active imagination.

When I Googled the film, I discovered it was based on a real story and was surprised that anyone could be this rotten other than a serial killer who loves murdering innocent people—the real Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, was as depraved and greedy as they come. The film is worth seeing. DiCaprio does a great job playing Belfort, a man who is often unfaithful to his wives, and in the end has no loyalty to anyone when it comes to his own survival.

Belfort and his employees lead a lifestyle of total debauchery with lavish parties, sex and drugs both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

Belfort was indicted in 1998 for securities fraud and money laundering, but he only served 22 months in a federal prison designed for white collar criminals. This prison, as depicted in the film, was more of a country club with tennis courts—but still a prison you can’t leave until you’ve served your time. It seems that today, Belfort is worth millions again (although nowhere close to the amount—about $200 million—he took from his victims); hasn’t paid back what the court ordered; lives in Manhattan Beach, California and is engaged again.

Lone Survivor is about a team of SEALS in Afghanistan and is also based on a true story. The film starts out with SEAL boot camp and in short order shows how tough it is to earn the right to be a SEAL. These are tough guys who value loyalty, patriotism and honor above all else and they are more than willing to die for what they believe.

Mark Wahlberg plays the lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell. Three of the four SEALS in his team are killed in combat with a vicious enemy, the Taliban, who once ruled most of Afghanistan while supporting Al Qaeda.

While I was disgusted at Belfort’s debauchery and greed, I was angry at what happened to the SEALS in Lone Survivor. Not long after they were dropped off in the Afghan mountains to carry out their mission, they discover that the intel was bad. Instead of a few Taliban, they were up against hundreds and they lost radio contact. When the help arrives, it’s without the proper support because there are not enough Apache gunships to support all of the ground operations in Afghanistan. The result, one of the troop carrying choppers is shot down with everyone aboard killed aborting the rescue attempt.

Why was I angry? Because when I served in Vietnam—several times while in the field—I lost radio contact—once on a deep recon where four of us were dozens of miles in front of our own lines. We even drove our World War II vintage jeeps—with no armor I might add—through an abandoned village where the cooking fires were still smoldering and there was a Vietcong flag flying from a radio antenna sticking out of the top of a tree. Several decades later, and Congress should have done something about fixing it so no ground troops would ever be out of radio contact, and I blame the lack of enough air support on Congress and President G. W. Bush for not making sure the troops had all the support they needed to succeed and come home.

Then there are the rules of combat that limit our troop’s ability to fight a war. We had them in Vietnam and they sucked. Noncombatants should not be allowed to make rules for combat. Most Americans—who live in a real fantasy world—do not understand war.

The challenge is how do we measure who Americans might admire most?

For The Wolf of Wall Street, the film—with a $100 million budget—opened in December in 2,537 theaters and has earned $90.8 million as of January 10, 2014.

Lone Survivor opened wide in 2,875 theaters on January 10; had a production budget of $40 million and has earned $14.782 million (the film started in 2 theaters on December 25, 2013 and went wide on January 10) compared to The Wolf of Wall Street that made $18.5 million its first weekend.

Who do you admire most and why: Belfort’s and his mob or Marcus Luttrell and the SEALS?

_______________________

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!”

What has America accomplished as the world’s so-called cop?

To research this topic, I Googled “history of America’s role as global policeman”, and ended with 433-million hits in a third of a second.

I’m going to list the first five:

Americans Tire of ‘World Police’ Role

Syria: The end of America’s role as global cop?

Should America Be the World’s Policeman?

Should America withdraw as the world “Police/peace keepers”?

What if U.S. stops policing the world?

I didn’t read the posts, because I was more interested in rating America’s performance as the self-proclaimed world’s police force?  To do that, I compiled a death count from all the wars, civil wars, revolutions, and genocides since the end of World War II, and I’m sure it is an incomplete list.

It was difficult to come up with a precise number so there are two numbers and the actual number of deaths could be anywhere between the low and high estimates.

1945 – 1950: The expulsion of Germans after World War II was called a population transfer but in reality it turned out to be an ethnic cleansing. The death count was 500 thousand – 3 million

1950 – 1953: Korean War. The death count 400 thousand – 4.5 million

1955 – 1975: Vietnam War. The death count was 800 thousand – 3 million

1965 – 66: Indonesian massacre of anyone connected to the Indonesian Communist Party. The Death count was 100 thousand to 2 million.

1967 – 1970: Nigerian Civil War and genocide. The death count was 1 – 3 million

1971: Bangladesh genocide. The death count was 26,000 – 3 million

1975 – 1979: Cambodian Genocide. The death count was 1 – 3 million; another 800 to 950 thousand died of starvation. The only reason this tragedy ended was because Communist Vietnam invaded and stopped the insanity. Where was the United States? Why did it take one communist country to stop another one from slaughtering its own people?

1975 – 80: Operation Condor in South America was a campaign of political repression by right-wing dictatorships sponsored by the United States. The death count was 50 – 80 thousand.

1979 to Present: Afghan Civil War. The death count is 1.5 – 2 million

1980 – 1988: Soviet War in Afghanistan. The death count was 600 thousand – 2 million

1980 – 1988: Iran–Iraq War. The death count was 500 thousand – 2 million

1983 – 85: Famine in Ethiopia. The death count was 400 thousand – 1 million

1990 – 98: Sanctions against Iraq imposed by the United Nations Security Council that caused excess deaths of young children 175 – 576 thousand

1994: Rwandan genocide death count 500 thousand – 1 million

1998 – 2003: Second Congo War’s death count 2.5 – 5.4 million dead

1998: Sudan famine. Death count was 70,000

After I compiled the list, I thought, what exactly has the United States accomplished to bring about world peace and save lives as the world’s so-called cop? Maybe the world would have been better off if the United States had stayed home and saved a few trillion dollars.

If you want to know how much the United States spends as the world’s so-called cop, visit data360.org to discover that answer, but you may have to spend an hour or so adding it all up. I wanted to find one number but could only find annual lists.

Last year, the world’s top 15 military spenders spent $1.753 Trillion combined, but 39% of that was the United States. The People’s Republic of China was number two at only 9.5% of the total. I found this information from a List of countries by military expenditures on Wiki.

I think that if a real cop in the United States had a similar record, they would be suspended from active duty followed by an investigation and then—for sure—a trial.

Do you think the citizens of the United States should vote in the next Presidential election on America continuing its job as the world’s so-called cop? After all, every American who pays taxes is footing the bill so shouldn’t all the citizens of a democracy have a say?

And of course this brings up another question: Is the United States really a democracy?

_______________________

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

_______________________

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!”