Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Always remember...

"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is."

"I wanted the whole world or nothing."



Saturday, April 24, 2010

Behind Friendly Lines By Jason Davis

One of my favorite bloggers, Jason Davis, wrote a piece regarding the Michael Yon controversy. Yon has recently spoken out against General Stanley McChrystal and this has pissed off a few people (aka Blackfive). Read the piece…it’s worth it. I wish Yon the best of luck.

Behind Friendly Lines
By Jason Davis

Michael Yon is the Exception.

As an independent journalist, Yon has written from Iraq and Afghanistan more frequently than any other journalist, and he has been praised for his insightfully accurate observations about the state of the wars; he has won numerous awards for his work, has written a best-selling book, and has been quoted in various mainstream media outlets as a credible and experienced source. Among Milbloggers, Yon has enjoyed a rabid, cult following for his tireless dispatches in support of the troops.

But recent informal comments by Yon on his Facebook and Twitter pages have left some fans disgruntled with the star writer’s conduct, despite the notion that a greater story may further illustrate growing deception and crony’istic censure enacted by top military brass overseas.

Yon has alleged that top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has enacted a smear campaign against him, after his recent disembed from a unit in Afghanistan. Yon suspects this disembed is the result of lucid, less-than-flattering dispatches he has written that portray top commanders as having questionable merit and competence to lead.

“Further evidence of McChrystal's incompetence,” writes Yon, “is the ease with which he jerks a writer from the field and gets a laser on himself/staff for lying. And then his own staff commits defamation and libel. They fight like children. They are giving me their ammo. It's saddening. We cannot win such a complex war with people like that in charge. This is not a winning team.”

It wouldn’t be the first time a journalist has publicly questioned the official military story, but few, if any, have done it informally via social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter—real-time technologies not previously available to journalists of any era. Until recently, journalists were more subtle and understated in their criticisms, which is the case with Hiroshima, by John Hersey.

In 1945, a nuclear bomb named “Little Boy” was dropped from a B-29 Bomber onto the city of Hiroshima, killing 80,000 people and leveling more than 70% of the city. Just months after Hiroshima’s destruction, and after the war had ended, Hersey, a noted author and journalist, traveled to Hiroshima to interview survivors for a lengthy, narrative feature for The New Yorker. What followed is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest narrative nonfiction works of the 20th century.

The immensely successful article follows the account of six survivors, from seconds before the blast, to the scurry for survival in the days after. But the greater story subtly concerns the period of reconstruction after the bomb, when the United States Army restricted Japanese investigation and research into what happened. Weeks passed before survivors learned that an American super-bomb was dropped from the sky. Hersey, for whatever reason, decided not to write a pro-US, pro-bomb historical account that thankfully ended the war. Instead, his narrative was sympathetic to the innocent civilians who had lived through the experience and for that, the American Occupation Government in Japan discouraged the distribution of Hersey’s article.

It doesn’t matter why the American Occupation Government suppressed local research into the event—only that it did. In this instance, the military’s restriction of information provides an historical precedent:

In 1971, The New York Times printed the “Pentagon Papers” a top secret and extensive list of public deceptions commissioned by the Department of Defense concerning the history of American involvement in Vietnam. These papers show, among other things, that an American bombing campaign in Vietnam was well planned before America’s first involvement in the war.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush, acting on information provided by top-secret satellite images, alleged, “within three days, 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia. It was then that I decided to act to check that aggression.” [emphasis mine] A reporter from the Saint Petersburg Times, having obtained Russian, commercial satellite images over the same area at the same time, had found nothing but empty desert.

And on February 5, 2003, Colin Powell claimed to know what, in fact, US intelligence reports did not show: there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and there was not a valid link between 9-11, Al Qaeda, and Iraq.

Of course, there are many more instances in which our government is either not telling the truth, or is intentionally hiding the truth—and there is a difference. This short list serves to remind that some of our recent and most famous (tragic) wars are the result of government deception. What this means is that we have continually had a government that is willing to deceive us, and the rest of the world, for its own intentions—and that is wrong. Always wrong.

Through many of these leaks and investigations into government practices, it is inevitably the investigative journalist who brings to light the crimes committed by our elected officials, and those our elected officials hire. Today’s journalists who cover America’s wars have far less access to troops and leaders than they used to—and far less than they need. Now, journalists rely exclusively on the military for transportation, embedded assignments, and official news releases.

As a journalist in training, and former Sergeant in the United States Army, I see this as a serious infraction on journalistic integrity. One of the detractions against embedded journalism is that journalists often do not have access to local populations and are seen as too sympathetic to invading forces. Indeed, when a journalist is required to sign a contract with the military, which effectively limits what he can and cannot say, then what journalist can act any more than as a tool for propaganda?

To Yon’s credit, General McChrystal has a less than stellar history (his bio shows where he’s been, and what his soldiers have done), and has demonstrated a penchant for distortion of facts (Pat Tillman investigation).

“I have in my possession compelling evidence of General McChrystal’s smear campaign,” writes Yon. “It’s been sent to my attorney. The sad part is that McChrystal is incompetent even with a smear campaign. Official statements by his people—in writing—have been defamatory and libelous. A writer must be able to spot libel just as ...a soldier must be able to spot IEDs. It’s part of the job. If you can’t spot it, you will get hurt.”

Remarkably, it is Yon’s most ardent supporters who are now calling him out. A comment left on Yon’s Facebook page states, “You need to chill, and listen to the writers at Blackfive concerning your situation. If you haven’t read their letters of advice you should.... soon.”

Blackfive, a popular, ultra-conservative, pro-military blog written by a slew of retired and former veterans, is calling for Yon to take a break and to reassess whether his work has become more about himself than the war.

In Micheal Yon Wake Up Call, “writer” Uncle Jimbo asks Yon “to wake the hell up.” The article is hardly inspiring and instead of analyzing Yon’s content, Uncle Jimbo begins by apologizing, as if his commentary holds the weight of absolute truth. Jimbo continues his wakeup call with a red herring, a formal fallacy of irrelevance, or ad hominem—attack on the person, by stating that Yon didn’t go “to war,” but as a journalist, merely went “to the war.”

Interestingly, whether Yon went to war, or to the war, with a gun or pen, he has no doubt seen and experienced more of the conflict than most who are actually fighting the wars. In fact, more than even Jimbo, whose only intellectual offering comes in a disclaimer at the bottom:

“I have not embedded...ever. I am not going to embed because I don't want to. I like being in the rear w/ the gear. I have plenty of stamps on my passport, have toured the most craptastic places on the planet, and now don't deploy anywhere w/o room service. I respect what Michael Yon has done, I just think he is acting like a jackass.”

What this amounts to is frivoled and uninformed commentary that is neither strong in rhetoric, nor adequate in providing specific reasons why Yon’s “competence” is called into question. To be an effective writer, one must eminently “show, not tell,” and after reading Jimbo’s article, there is little advice, and too many unsubstantiated statements.

To his credit, writing is not Jimbo’s craft. But, apparently, Blackfive writer “The Laughing Wolf,” C. Blake Powers, is a writer. In “An Open Letter to Michael Yon,” Laughing Wolf suggests that Yon should “stop, step back, and think.” That is a fair suggestion for anyone, in any situation. But Laughing Wolf, too, employs the use of many informal fallacies that negate the effectiveness of his argument: appeal to authority (Uncle Jimbo, Michael Yon Wake Up Call), argumentum ad populum (Yon’s confronters), appeal to consequences and cum hoc, ergo propter hoc (the assertion that the lowest common denominator of four disembeds is Yon, himself).

Clearly, writing is more than just an appropriate use of grammar. Behind the façade of Blackfive’s “advice” to Yon, which is nothing more than a call to “stop doing what you are doing,” and “slow down,” we find an important characteristic inherently biased in the Blackfive mission: to propagate the tireless advocacy of the military and to verbally criminalize those who oppose them (hasty generalization, or an appropriate observation?).

Because of Yon’s informal status updates on Facebook and Twitter, he is now a traitor. As a former soldier, he should know not to talk dirty against the Chain of Command, right? By bashing military command in Afghanistan, Blackfive, and others, are effectively saying that Yon is no longer a part of the “good ‘ol boys club,” that his work is now selfish, and that he is something less than what he used to be.

But is he? Is Yon anything less than an investigative journalist? Isn’t it his job to uncover dirt—even dirt that we may not always want to hear or believe? Hasn’t Yon proven himself sufficiently credible at doing just that? Hasn’t he always flown arrogantly in the face of the mainstream with his views? And, isn’t his work heralded for its candid and honest portrayal of what the mainstream media is not covering (appeal to emotion, or valid thinking?)?

This is more than about being a hero for the military—it’s about journalistic integrity. Unfortunately, that just isn’t something I expect the Facebook and Twitter detractors and “writers” at Blackfive to understand. After all, freedom of speech works precisely because of the military’s hard-won effort to preserve the rights of every American’s access to it.

In Vietnam, journalist Michael Herr (whose experiences, along with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, are the inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now) had free access to any Huey he could find, and often lived for days on any base or camp for as long as he could stand. In World War II, photojournalist Robert Capa was a part of the landing on D-Day, and John Hersey, working for Life and Time, had “accompanied Allied troops on their invasion of Sicily, survived four airplane crashes, and was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for his role in helping evacuate wounded soldiers from Guadalcanal.” You can’t get any closer to the troops than actually swimming and flying with them.

Along with exposing government corruption, these journalists and photographers have given us the most iconic and genre-defining works of art ever made. It is precisely that closeness that enabled these writer’s and photographer’s incredible work over the last century, and it is precisely that closeness our government is now restricting.

Ultimately, the debate should not be about whether Michael Yon has “lost it,” or needs a break. The real argument is whether Yon is being silenced because he has spoken critically and publicly (and perhaps arrogantly and tactlessly) of commanders. If that is the case, then his blacklisting should not come as a surprise.

What’s most surprising is that the government has finally assumed complete control over who can have access to tell the war story. Such control will no doubt have a perverse impact on the future of unbiased reporting.

“If a writer wants to make money,” writes Yon, “he should avoid truth and tell people what they want to hear."

And that’s exactly what the government wants to hear.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I turned 26 today! And that means this blog is four years old...madness.

A big thank you to those who support this blog! I appreciate everyone who follows it and those who randomly stop by. Where would I be without you?! Thanks again!

My mom doesn't bake...

Side note: Jesse Huff's family member who posted a comment on my blog, please email me! katehoit@yahoo.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blue Girl of They gave us a republic...isn't too happy.

And she has a right not to be.

What’s up with the NY Times, the AP, HuffPo? – Are they trying to push a narrative that our veterans are out of control and a threat to all?

Read: Unbelievably lazy journalism, even by AP "standards"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jesse Huff's Brother: Satisfied with the Treatment Jesse Received from the VA

"Charles Huff, 37, of Dayton — a nurse at the VA and a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve — said Monday, April 19, that he and his father met with Dayton VA Director Guy Richardson on Sunday to review his brother’s medical records, specifically focusing on the events of his last visit to the emergency room.

“Jesse was not denied care,” Charles Huff said. “In fact, I am impressed with the actions of the medical staff that evening. Without going into detail, to protect Jesse’s privacy, I can say as a fellow Iraq war veteran, as a medical professional and as his brother, I am in agreement with the decisions made by the hospital staff during Jesse’s last visit to the ER.”

I'm not buying it and I have reason not to. This case isn't closed because his brother is satisfied with the treatment Jesse received from the VA.

Article here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Links regarding the suicide of Jesse Huff.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Epic fail by Fox News, CNN, Georgia, and Afghanistan

Fox News and CNN have both failed to report the suicide of Jesse Huff. Why? Too busy sitting around in a circle and screaming at one another? Still debating who is more American? Reading breaking news off your Twitter lists? Trying to figure out who the pinhead of the day is? I just watched a piece on Fox News regarding acupuncture for dogs…really? This is news? WHO GIVES A SHIT. Why don’t you take two minutes and report the Huff story? Fail. But I am sure I’ll hear more about Tiger Woods or Big Ben. PLEASE REPORT REAL NEWS. PLEASE REPORT REAL NEWS. PLEASE REPORT REAL NEWS. I know sometimes it is really difficult. You all just love talking about the same old bullshit but challenge yourselves…just this once. A veteran should not kill himself on the steps of a VA hospital and go unnoticed.


Starting in July, the state of Georgia will give veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) the opportunity to have a notification (graphical symbol) on their driver's licenses. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Why not have symbols for those infected with HIV/AIDS? There are those out there with PTSD who are not in the armed services or veterans. What do they get? Nothing?

Georgia is making moves.


What the fuck Afghanistan? FRONTLINE exposes the ritual of sexual abuse of young boys in Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistan today, in the midst of war and endemic poverty, an ancient tradition--banned when the Taliban were in power--has re-emerged across the country. It's called Bacha Bazi, translated literally as "boy play." Hundreds of boys, some as young as eleven, street orphans or boys bought from poor families by former warlords and powerful businessmen, are dressed in woman's clothes, taught to sing and dance for the entertainment of male audiences, and then sold to the highest bidder or traded among the men for sex.”

This is beyond disturbing. Watch the preview…you’ll puke in your mouth a little.

More information and preview.

The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan will air Tuesday, April 20, at 9 p.m.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Veteran shot and killed himself on the steps of VA hospital (updated)

I saw this article via twitter a few hours ago...Veteran commits suicide in front of Dayton VA Center.

"A 27-year-old Army veteran shot and killed himself at the front steps of the Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center just hours after he had been in the center’s emergency room.

Jesse C. Huff, address unknown, was wearing full military fatigues and was armed with a military-style rifle, which he used to shoot himself twice in the head about 5:45 a.m. Friday, April 16, according to police and the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

He was a veteran that we (had treated),” said Simmons, a VA spokeswoman."

Absolutely heartbreaking. I wish a journalist would investigate Huff’s background and take us through what drove him to do this. What did he do overseas? Honorable discharge? How was he transitioning into the civilian world? Career? Family life? What treatment was he receiving from the VA hospital? Was it adequate? This should not be happening.

Read the article here.

Update: People are just starting to talk about this story. Where is the VA on this? No damage control? There is a reason why a veteran would shoot himself on the steps of a VA hospital. Wake up!

Update: Did Huff kill himself to make a statement?

"The 27-year-old Dayton man had entered the center’s emergency room about 1 a.m. Friday and requested some sort of treatment. But Huff did not get that treatment, police said, and about 5:45 a.m. he reappeared at the center’s entrance, put a military-style rifle to his head and twice pulled the trigger.:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Colbert Report takes on WikiLeaks.

The Colbert Report takes on Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Assange, the site’s director and founder, answers questions surrounding “Collateral Murder.” Please watch the interview if you are curious about the editing of the video, the title, the purpose of exposing the Apache helicopter attack, and what Assange truly knows about war.

A few days after “Collateral Murder” was released I saw a lot of chatter of “this is why I don’t support the troops.” I find it interesting that only when something of this magnitude happens (like the Guantanamo Bay scandal), everyone becomes interested in the war again and curses all service members. Do not prosecute the whole. If you honestly believe all troops conducted themselves in this manner and condone what took place in “Collateral Murder” then you are as sadly mistaken as those firing upon innocent civilians.

If you find yourself quick to judge, I suggest enlisting. You’ll soon realize war is not as black and white as you may think…and that is does not fit neatly into what you think is right and wrong.

Click here to watch the interview.

WikiLeaks site.

Side note: Is anyone really paying attention? The Colbert Report interview has only generated two comments and five days ago WikiLeaks had raised $150K. WikiLeaks took to their twitter account, "Raised>$150K in donations since Mon. New funding model for journalism: try doing it for a change.” Ouch. WikiLeaks is not pleased…you all better donate or else. Maybe with a little more money, Assange can buy a personality and make a better website.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Free Clothes!

I will be moving in a few months and upon looking into the black hole known as my closet, I came up with an idea! Free clothes for my blog readers! Well, if you want them. I will post photos of a few items and if you are interested in them email me. It’s that simple. Let’s see how well this experiment goes.

I’m going to start off with a lovely little dress from Banana Republic. It is a few years old but I have only worn it three times. Why am I getting rid of it? Because it is a size 0. I love this dress and hopefully someone out there will too! I also have a pair of black patent leather heels. I believe they are a size 6.5 and the heel is reasonable. They are only a few years old and have probably been worn five times.

Next: One of my Desert Camouflage Uniforms. I wore this uniform in Iraq (‘04-’05). It has been naturally faded by the harsh desert sun and it features an Elvis inspired collar.It is sized “small-short” and you can also have a pair of hot weather boots. The boots are a size 4W and have never been worn.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Department of Veterans Affairs reaching out to vets via blogs and social media

The Washington Post has a great piece on how the Department of Veterans Affairs is reaching out to vets via new media. The article focuses on Brandon Friedman who is working feverously to change the way the VA and veterans communicate.

Check it out!

The Washington Post also compiled a list of "Vets on the Web." They mention a few of my favorites (Army of Dude and Rucksack To Back Pack)...view list here!

Monday, April 05, 2010

"Collateral Murder"

I am going to stand with Anthony, a fellow Iraq War Veteran, regarding the Wikileaks video “Collateral Murder.” If you have not watched the video I suggest you do. It is a glimpse inside war...madness, confusion, mistakes, and the unknown.

Update: Anthony has exchange with someone close to the Wikileaks' organization.

Cock Sparrer.

Work at 5.

Chicago, France, & New York.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Coney Island.

Tomorrow! Who's coming with me?!