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?

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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!”

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!”