Tag Archives: american

Police Using Drones On Domestic Population

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Michael Edwards  
Activist Post

It is a sign of just how fast the police state is advancing that drones in American skies have gone from conspiracy theory to admitted fact in about a year.

In a precedent-setting event, local law enforcement in North Dakota nabbed three suspected armed men with the help of a Predator B unmanned drone.  It was only after the drone confirmed that the men were unarmed that police moved in to make the arrest.

It has now become clear that, as we have written and warned about for the past year, the drones that were supposedly commissioned strictly as tools for border control will now patrol inland for suspected criminals on American soil, heralding a new level of police state oppression.

In April I wrote about the future expansion of unmanned drones over America based on the admissions made by two-star General, John Priddy, from the U.S. National Air Security Operations Center, evidenced in the video below, that the continued expansion of predator drone surveillance was a stated goal for the coming years.

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Second American Revolution

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by Wendy McElroy

One of my friends believes that a second American revolution is imminent and will be sparked by the economic instability now rocking the continent. Frankly, I doubt it. Insurrections may occur, but I expect the US government to lumber along, dragging the world deeper into poverty and conflict for many years to come.

Upon hearing my friend out, however, my first thought was, “if a revolution erupts, it will resemble the French one of 1789 more closely than the American one of 1776.” Then I sat back and tried to figure out why I had arrived at that sudden conclusion, and whether or not it had merit.

One of the reasons for thinking that America might be “going French” is that current American society resembles descriptions I’ve read of pre-Revolution France more closely than America now resembles its young self.

Consider the issue of a class structure. America became a magnet for the wretched of the world because it delivered on the promise of a classless society. My ancestors left Ireland because they were forced to work as serfs on land they once owned, and because bumper crops were shipped to England by absentee landlords while starvation claimed the serfs’ own children.

Sick unto death of being arrested for such sins as speaking their own language, the Irish fled to North America even though they risked a 50 percent chance of dying in transit or in the initial hardships of the New World. They came here for one thing: a chance. They were willing to die for the chance to live on both feet without sinking to their knees before any man; more importantly, they wanted their children to stand tall. And so, when America called across the ocean to declare that hard work and merit are rewarded here because “all men are created equal,” they came.

Differences in wealth existed, of course. Then, as now, those differences meant that a fortunate few had more and better access to the “goods” of society, including justice. Great wrongs, such as slavery, also existed and can never be dismissed. But, for the majority of immigrants, America delivered. Hard work was rewarded; social mobility meant that a family’s status could rise or fall on merit from one generation to the next.

In 1831, when the aristocratic Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in America, he began to record the impressions that would become the pivotal and acclaimed work Democracy in America. Tocqueville wrote, “Amongst the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of conditions.” Everywhere, people shook hands with each other as though there were no social distinctions. He was especially amazed by the town meetings in New England, where everyone seemed to speak out on every topic.

A key difference between American and French society sprang from America’s respect for the working man: the importance of voluntary associations rather than the state. Tocqueville wrote,

Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds — religious, moral, serious, futile, extensive or restricted, enormous or diminutive.

If a barn needed to be raised, a school roof repaired, or a social cause advanced, then people banded together — and the work was done. Tocqueville concluded, “Wherever, at the head of some new undertaking, you see the government in France … in the United States you will be sure to find an association.”

The reward of merit and the absence of punitive laws led to an unprecedented prosperity and social equality; and this made for communities bursting at the seams with energy.

Today, America is a society of elites. Business elites claim subsidies, liability limits, and bailouts. Political elites enjoy the economic bounty of skimming off the sweat and blood of taxpayers: rich salaries, plush expense accounts (not counting bribes), platinum pensions and health insurance, etc. Bureaucratic elites (civil servants) “earn” much more than private-sector workers, even though they have greater job security and richer benefits, like plush pension plans that taxpayers can only dream about.

Economic privileges are accompanied by legal ones. In a recent commentary,Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald reports on how blatant the class society has become and how the mainstream media acts as a propaganda machine:

The Washington Post Editors work in a city and live in a nation in which huge numbers of poor and minority residents are consigned to cages for petty and trivial transgressions of the criminal law. … Post Editors virtually never speak out against that, if they ever have. But that all changes — that indifference disappears — when political elites are targeted for prosecution, even for serious crimes.

As the elites scramble to preserve their legal privileges, the productive middle class that defined early America is staggering under an ever-increasing burden of taxes, fees, and other legal disadvantages. More and more, productive people are driven into poverty and a despair that could easily turn into rage.

The parallels between pre-Revolution France and today’s America are clear.

Under Louis XV (1715–1774) and Louis XVI (1774–1792) France was plagued by constant and ruinously expensive warfare accompanied by economic instability. A huge schism existed between the haves and the have-nots. The haves basically consisted of the nobility and the clergy, both of whom were exempt from taxes; they lived off the productivity of unprivileged people laboring in the private sector, most of whom were peasants.

The private sector rested upon agriculture, even though few citizens owned land. The nobility and clergy (some 600,000 in a population of roughly 25 million) held most property. For example, the church owned about one fifth of all land; in some provinces, it owned up to two thirds. Moreover, the church had feudal privileges that continued from the Middle Ages and bound close to 1 million people to the land as serfs.

France was a comparatively wealthy nation, but the peasants existed at near-starvation level because of taxation in its myriad forms. A direct tax ate as much as 50 percent of the earnings of the nonexempt. The collection process was particularly brutal because tax collectors were “entrepreneurs” who paid the king a flat amount for the privilege of collecting taxes; anything over that amount became profit.

There were a slew of other taxes as well, some of which were quite creative. For example, there was a salt monopoly tax by which everyone over the age of 7 was required to purchase several pounds of highly inferior government salt every year. The law also prescribed how the salt could be used and imposed heavy fines for misuse, such as in the preservation of meat. Many other commodities had their own separate taxes. Fees were levied at every stage of manufacture, upon transportation, at time of sale to retailers, and then again to customers. It has been estimated that these taxes doubled the cost of goods. The list of impositions scrolls on and on, and it includes many customs duties that were imposed not merely at national borders but also at the boundaries between different provinces within France.

And, of course, there was the constant bribery and other unofficial theft by authorities, for which France was notorious. Unfortunately, it is impossible to even estimate how much this corruption cost the average person.

Even without factoring in corruption, it has been estimated that the nobility and the church consumed about 75 percent of the wealth produced by peasants — many of whom lived on the margin to begin with. Overtaxed, sometimes homeless, unemployed, hungry, and deprived of any hope of justice, the vast majority of French citizens were not blind. They saw their own children starve while stolen riches bought velvet outfits for children of the elite. When their desperation erupted abruptly into unbridled rage, the French Revolution had arrived.

At least in the beginning, it was a grassroots revolution around which the disenfranchised rallied for justice. But it soon devolved into a scream for vengeance through which a totalitarian government exacted swift and bloody “justice” under a chilling banner that read “Committee of Public Safety.”

A comparatively free and equal America called a constitutional convention after its revolution; France, in a backlash against elitism, erected a guillotine.

In short, the first American Revolution sprang from a relatively just and equal society; it was not rooted in a long-standing class structure that had embedded people into widely disparate and warring sectors. What would a second American revolution look like? No one can say for sure, but I fear it.
___
The author of several books, Wendy McElroy maintains two active websites: wendymcelroy.com and ifeminists.com. Send her mail.

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This Week In American Military History: Bonhomme Richard to Space Shuttle Columbia

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This Week in American Military History:

Feb. 1, 1800:  The frigate USS Constellation (the first of four so-named American warships) under the command of Capt. Thomas Truxtun defeats the French frigate La Vengeance under Capt. F.M. Pitot in a night battle lasting several hours. The engagement, fought during America’s Quasi War with France, is – according to Truxtun – “as sharp an action as ever was fought between two frigates.”

Feb. 1, 1862:  Julia Ward Howe’s poem “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which begins “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” is published in the Atlantic Monthly. It will become a Union Army ballad. Today, the ballad is a martial hymn sung in American military chapels worldwide and by descendents of Union and Confederate soldiers alike.

Feb. 1, 1961:  The Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – the first three-staged, solid-fueled ICBM – is launched for the first time in a successful “all systems” test.

Minuteman I is the first missile in the still-operational Minuteman family. Minuteman IIIs are still deployed. The name “Minuteman” comes from the famous “minutemen” of America’s colonial militia.

Feb. 1, 2003:  The doomed Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) disintegrates upon reentering the earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crewmembers, including:

•    U.S. Air Force Col. Rick D. Husband, mission commander
•    U.S. Navy Commander William C. McCool, pilot
•    U.S. Navy Capt. David M. Brown, mission specialist
•    U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson, payload specialist
•    U.S. Navy Commander Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist
•    Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon, payload specialist
•    Civilian research scientist Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist

Feb. 2, 1848:  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – which begins, “In the name of Almighty God” – is signed by representatives of the United States and Mexico, officially ending the Mexican-American War.  According to the Library of Congress, the treaty “[extends] the boundaries of the United States by over 525,000 square miles. In addition to establishing the Rio Grande as the border between the two countries, the territory acquired by the U.S. included what will become the states of Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.”

Feb. 2, 1901:  Congress authorizes the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps under the Army Medical Department.

Feb. 3, 1801:  Nearly one year to the day after Constellation’s thrashing of La Vengeance, the U.S. Senate ratifies the Mortefontaine treaty, officially ending the Quasi War with France.

Feb. 3, 1961:  Two days after the Minuteman I test-launch, the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) launches its EC-135 flying command post – codenamed “Looking Glass” – in order to maintain seamless and secure command-and-control of U.S. nuclear forces in the event ground-based command-and-control is wiped out in a nuclear attack. “Looking Glass” aircraft will be airborne 24/7 for the next three decades. According to the U.S. Strategic Command (which replaced SAC): “On July 24, 1990, Looking Glass ceased continuous airborne alert, but remained on ground or airborne alert 24 hours a day.”

Today, the U.S. Navy’s E-6B Mercury is America’s “Looking Glass.”

Feb. 4, 1779:  Continental Navy Capt. John Paul Jones takes command of the former French frigate, Duc de Duras, renaming her Bonhomme Richard (after Benjamin Franklin’s pen name). It will be aboard the Richard – badly damaged and sinking during the famous battle in the North Sea with the Royal Navy frigate HMS Serapis on Sept. 23 – that Jones refuses a surrender demand, allegedly replying, “I have not yet begun to fight!” It has also been widely reported that when the Serapis’ Captain Richard Pearson inquired as to whether or not Jones had lowered or struck his colors, Jones shouted back, “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike!”

Incidentally, Bonhomme Richard (the first of five so-named American warships) does sink: But not before Pearson himself surrenders (believed to be “the first time in naval history that colors are surrendered to a sinking ship”), and Jones transfers his flag to his newly captured prize, Serapis.

Jones is destined to become “the Father of the American Navy,” though – in some circles – it is argued that title belongs to Commodore John Barry.

Feb. 4, 1787:  Shays’ Rebellion – a short-lived Massachusetts uprising led by former Continental Army Capt. Daniel Shays and spawned by crippling taxes and an economic depression in the wake of the American Revolution – is quashed by Massachusetts militia.

Feb. 4, 1944:  Kwajalein Atoll is secured by U.S. forces.

Feb. 4, 1945:  The Big Three – U.S. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin – meet at the Crimea Conference (best known as the Yalta Conference) to discuss among other points what was to become of soon-to-be conquered Germany and the nations the Nazis had previously defeated.

Feb. 5, 1918:  U.S. Army Lt. Stephen W. Thompson, a member of the American 1st Aero Squadron, is invited by French aviators to fly in a French Breguet bomber as a gunner on one of their missions. It is on that mission that Thompson shoots down a German Albatross fighter over Saarbrucken, Germany; making him the first American in uniform to shoot down an enemy airplane.

Today, the U.S. Air Force’s 1st Reconnaissance Squadron traces its lineage back to the 1st Aero Squadron.

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American Military History Dec. 22-28

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Dec. 21, 1861:  The congressionally conceived “Medal of Honor” is signed into law authorizing such medals be awarded to enlisted sailors and Marines who “distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities.” The Army version of the medal is signed into law the following summer.

Dec. 22, 1864:  Following his “March to the Sea” and just before his “March through the Carolinas,” Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman presents the captured city of Savannah (Ga.) to Pres. Lincoln as a “Christmas gift.”

Dec. 24, 1814:  The Treaty of Ghent is signed ending the War of 1812.

Dec. 25, 1776:  Continental Army Gen. George Washington conducts his famous crossing of the Delaware River from the icy Pennsylvania shoreline to the equally frozen banks of New Jersey. It will be followed by an eight-mile march to the town of Trenton where he will meet and defeat the Hessians (German soldiers allied to the British).

Speed of movement, surprise, maneuver, violence of action, and the plan’s simplicity are all key. Fortunately, the elements will all come together.

The factors in Washington’s favor are clear: The weather is so bad that no one believes the Continentals will attempt a river crossing, much less a forced march at night. The Continentals are numerically – and perceived to be qualitatively – inferior to the British Army. The Hessians, mercenaries allied to the British and who are garrisoned in Trenton, have a battlefield reputation that far exceeds their actual combat prowess. And no one believes the weary Americans will want to attempt anything with anyone on Christmas.

Hours before kickoff, Washington has his officers read to the men excerpts of Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis.

By 4:00 p.m. the force of just under 2,500 men gathers at McKonkey’s Ferry, the launching point for the mission. The watchword, “Victory or death,” is given. As darkness sets in, the men climb into the boats and begin easing out into the black river.

Washington’s crossing and subsequent raid has been dubbed “America’s first special operation” in some military circles: Though there were many small-unit actions, raids, and Ranger operations during the Colonial Wars, and there was a special Marine landing in Nassau in the early months of the American Revolution. Still no special operation in American military history has been more heralded than that which took place on Christmas night exactly 234 years ago, this week.

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Obama Tax Increases — Disaster In The Making To Working Class American

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Talking of “Bush tax cuts” at this point, as so many seem to do when discussing the change in tax policy set to go into force this coming New Years Day, is beyond absurd.  What’s coming on Jan. 1, 2011 is the Obama Tax Increase — no less than the largest tax increase in our history, courtesy of a president who, last Tax Day, declared that working Americans should be “saying thank you” for the hefty check they had to write Uncle Sam in order to support the eternally vacationing president and his increasingly out-of-control federal bureaucracy.

At a time when copious amounts of smoke and mirrors are required to even create the illusion of an economic recovery in this country, the Obama tax increases are a disaster in the making that will drive the “progressive” knife further into the backs of the American working man and woman.

In their zealous, rigidly ideological desire to both fund their pet programs (like the $800 billion ”porkulus” project) and lavish state trips and to punish the nefarious “rich” who dared to be successful in a country built on merit-based reward, the president and his party — neither of whom are particularly perceptive when it comes to unintended consequences — are setting up the working class not only for an increase in taxes, but a decrease once again in employment and profitability.

The Obama Tax Increases aren’t, of course, limited just to those eeeevil “rich.” Rather, they will directly affect every American who currently pays into our bloated federal system, and in more than one way.

Back in July, Americans for Tax Reform released an outstanding one-pager on what we can expect when the Obama Tax Increases kick in January 1. Here are a few highlights:

- 10% [income tax] bracket rises to an expanded 15%
- The 25% bracket rises to 28%
- The 28% bracket rises to 31%
- The 33% bracket rises to 36%
- The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

The marriage penalty will be expanded and the child tax credit reduced, and “the capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011. The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011. These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013″ (ATR, same citation). Adding further insult and hardship to this is the return of the Death Tax, which is set to jump from 0 to 55%, meaning that over half of what you leave to your children when you die will go directly into Barack Obama and the Federal Government’s pockets. It may be time to start hiding that inheritance cash under a mattress or loose floorboard, unless you really do wish to will Obama & Co. as many rounds of golf and $200m/day Indian vacations as half-plus-five of your legacy can purchase.

The ramifications of the Obama Tax Increases for working class Americans are not limited to money being directly lifted from their paychecks and investment returns by the federal government, though. The fact is, even if the tax increases on the low and middle income portion of the work force (arguable and elastic designations both) are done away with by a lame duck session of the Democrat-led 111th Congress, and increases are put in place only for the “rich,” money — and, worse, jobs — will still be taken directly from working class Americans.

In June, economist Arthur Laffer wrote the following about the looming Obama Tax Increase:

…if people know tax rates will be higher next year than they are this year, what will those people do this year? They will shift production and income out of next year into this year to the extent possible. As a result, income this year has already been inflated above where it otherwise should be and next year, 2011, income will be lower than it otherwise should be.

Also, the prospect of rising prices, higher interest rates and more regulations next year will further entice demand and supply to be shifted from 2011 into 2010. In my view, this shift of income and demand is a major reason that the economy in 2010 has appeared as strong as it has. When we pass the tax boundary of Jan. 1, 2011, my best guess is that the train goes off the tracks and we get our worst nightmare of a severe “double dip” recession.

This was put much more casually and accessibly by Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday night, when he responded to Wolf Blitzer’s on-air inquiry about the wisdom of a tax increase “on only the wealthiest Americans — those making $250,000 a year or more.” Paul said (paraphrase), “We all make a living working for, or selling things to, ‘rich’ people,” so taking more money out of their pockets directly affects the people whose livelihoods depend on that work and those sales.

Spot on.

Unfortunately, extravagant vacations and failed spending programs require capital — and the easiest way for the current administration to gain that is to simply take more of it, at the point of a gun, from the people who currently have it.

As Nathan Wurtzel wrote Wednesday on Twitter, following the president’s amazingly out-of-touch post-election press conference, “People who are scared of freedom bitterly cling to their government and spending” — a play (albeit a true one) on the ivory tower president’s campaign statement that when those wrong-headed, uneducated Americans “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration.”

Given the penchant this president and his party have already shown for thumbing their collective nose at the wishes of the American people (on the “stimulus,” on Obamacare, etc.), and for referring to those who dare question their policies as “unpatriotic, “dangerous to our democracy” and “our enemies,” it should be no surprise that the outcry of the citizenry, demonstrated both in protests and at the ballot box, would be swept aside by “progressives” who clearly believe they simply know better than everybody else what this country and its people need.
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1 in 7 Americans Live in Poverty

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At organizations where the unemployed come to get help finding a job or seek food, the numbers were no surprise.

“In the decade I’ve been doing this work, this is a low point,” said Jason Perkins-Cohen, executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force in Baltimore. “We’re getting a real feeling of desperation. For sheer numbers, it’s a new, unhappy world.”

At the nonprofit Action Though Service in Prince William County late Thursday morning, the shelves of the agency’s pantry were starting to empty, as the line for help snaked out the door with a few dozen people seeking assistance.

Prince William resident Carol Williams said she has come to the shelter once a month since January, when she was laid off from her job at United Medical Center due to budget woes.

“I worked since I was 15, and, now, for the first time I don’t have a job and I can’t feed my family,” said Williams, 55. “I have a degree; doesn’t matter. The jobs aren’t there.”
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From Blood Stripes to Bloody Ridge- This Week in American Military History

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This Week in American Military History:
by W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Sept. 12, 1918: Battle of St. Mihiel (France) opens between Allied American-French forces (primarily U.S. Army and Marine forces under the overall command of U.S. Army Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing) and Imperial German Army forces under Gen. Johannes Georg von der Marwitz.

In the afternoon, Lt. Col. (future four-star general) George S. Patton – destined to lead America’s first tank attack against the enemy – and Brig. Gen. (future five-star general) Douglas MacArthur will meet on the battlefield, and according to the U.S. Army Historical Foundation: “The lieutenant colonel [Patton] sported a Colt .45 pistol with an ivory grip and his engraved initials. A pipe was clenched in his teeth. The brigadier [MacArthur] wore a barracks cap and a muffler his mother knitted for him. As they spoke to each other, a German artillery barrage opened up and began marching towards their position. Infantrymen scattered and dove for cover, but the two officers remained standing, coolly talking with each other.”

U.S. Marine Gen. John A. Lejeune, will describe his personal experience of the battle: “In war, if a man is to keep his sanity, he must come to regard death as being just as normal as life and hold himself always in readiness, mentally and spiritually, to answer the call of the grim reaper whenever fate decrees that his hour has struck.”

Sept. 12, 1942: Battle of Bloody Ridge opens on Guadalcanal (see next week).

Sept. 13, 1814: From the deck of a Royal Navy ship aboard which he has been detained, Washington, D.C. lawyer Francis Scott Key pens his now-famous poem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” on an envelope as he witnesses the British night-bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore during the War of 1812.

It will be more than a century before the U.S. Congress adopts “The Star Spangled Banner” as the official national anthem.

Sept. 13, 1847: U.S. Army and Marine forces (including lots of future Civil War generals like Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, George Pickett, Pierre G.T. Beauregard, Thomas J. Jackson, Joseph E. Johnston, Ulysses S. Grant, future Admiral Raphael Semmes, and I’m probably leaving out a few) participate in the storming of Chapultepec Castle during the Mexican War.

Chapultepec defends Mexico City, which will fall on the 14th.

For those of us fortunate enough since to claim the title, “Marine,” the taking of Chapultepec and ultimately Mexico City will give us two things:

First: The first five words of our hymn: “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli …”

Second: The “blood” red stripe along the seams of our dress-blue uniform trousers (Marines don’t wear pants).

The origin of the blood stripe is more tradition than absolute fact. But we Marines heartily claim it. According to tradition, the blood stripe represents the blood shed by Marines storming Chapultepec. And the reason only corporals and above are authorized to wear the stripe is because there was such a high percentage of NCOs and officers killed in the storming of the castle.

Sept. 13, 1942: Ninety-five years after defeating the Mexicans at Chapultepec, U.S. Marines beat back a series of wave attacks by Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal that began on the night of Sept. 12 and will last until the morning of the 14th.

The fighting – since referred to as the Battle of Bloody Ridge (also Edson’s Ridge or Raiders’ Ridge) – is over which side will control the nearby airfield.

Japanese soldiers led by Samurai-sword wielding officers attack the ridge-defending leathernecks in suicidal waves screaming, “Banzai!” and “Marine, You Die!”

At one point during the fighting, the American line — under the command of Lt. Col. (future major general) Merritt “Red Mike” Edson — is nearly broken. But the Marines hold, and beat back the attacks with terrible losses to the enemy.

Edson will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his command of Bloody Ridge. Maj. Kenneth Bailey, killed in the fighting, will also receive the Medal of Honor.

Sept. 14, 1966: Operation Attleboro begins as something of a “feet wet” operation for a green American unit – the U.S. Army’s 196th Light Infantry Brigade – but will evolve into a major combined-arms operation as U.S. forces make contact with a battle-hardened Viet Cong division and a North Vietnamese Army regiment. The end result by November will be the discovery of one of the largest weapons and equipment caches of the Vietnam War to-date, and over 1,000 dead enemy soldiers.

Sept. 15, 1944: Two years after Bloody Ridge, U.S. Marines land on Peleliu.

Sept. 15, 1950: United Nations ground forces – primarily U.S. Marines – under the overall command of U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, begin hitting the beaches at Inchon, Korea.

Sept. 16, 1776: Gen. George Washington chalks up his “first victory in the field” against British and Hessian forces under Gen. Alexander Leslie in the Battle of Harlem Heights, New York.

Sept. 17, 1862: The Battle of Antietam (Maryland) – the bloodiest single-day battle in American history – opens between Confederate Army forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee and Union Army forces under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. After 12 hours of fighting, some 23,000 Americans are dead, wounded, or missing.

Though a strategic victory for the Union, the battle will prove tactically inconclusive for both sides.

Sept. 17, 1944: Operation Market Garden, an enormous Allied Airborne operation during World War II (in fact, the largest parachute operation in history), is launched to seize strategically vital bridges in German-occupied Holland.

After 10 days of fighting and many tactical successes, the operation will be deemed a strategic failure, and Allied forces will be ordered to withdraw.

(Cornelius Ryan’s book, A Bridge Too Far, and the film adaptation of the same are based on Market Garden)

Sept. 18, 1947: Happy Birthday, U.S. Air Force! America’s air and space warfare service (and the descendent service of the U.S. Army Air Forces), the U.S. Air Force becomes an independent and equal arm of the American military.

Sept. 19, 1777: Battle of Freeman’s Farm — first engagement in the Battle of Saratoga (during the American Revolution) — opens between Continental forces under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates and British forces under Gen. John “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne. Brits carry the day, but suffer heavy losses. Continentals will ultimately win Saratoga.
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This Week in American Military History: From the King’s Proclamation to Richie’s MiG

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This Week in American Military History:


by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
08/24/2010

Aug. 23, 1775: Less than two months after the Second Continental Congress issues its “Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms [against the British]” in which the Congress resolves “to die free men rather than live as slaves,” King George III issues his own proclamation declaring the American colonies to be in a state of rebellion.

The king adds, “not only all our Officers, civil and military, are obliged to exert their utmost endeavours to suppress such rebellion, and to bring the traitors to justice, but that all our subjects of this Realm, and the dominions thereunto belonging, are bound by law to be aiding and assisting in the suppression of such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all traitorous conspiracies and attempts against us, our crown and dignity.”

Aug. 23, 1864: Union Naval forces under the command of Adm. David Glasgow Farragut – best known for purportedly uttering the command, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” – take Fort Morgan, effectively ending the near-month-long battle of Mobile Bay.

Aug. 24, 1814: British forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Robert Ross close-with and defeat a mixed American force of Continental Army regulars, Marines, sailors, and militia under overall command of U.S. Army Brig. Gen. William Henry Winder in the battle of Bladensburg, Maryland on the road to Washington, D.C. during the war of 1812.

The disastrous defeat of the Continentals at Bladensburg will enable the British to march on, sack, and burn the nation’s capitol within a few hours. But according to legend, the British are so impressed by the indomitable stand of the American Marines and sailors – who “broke two British regiments” during the fighting – that the commandant’s house and the Marine barracks will be spared the torch when Washington is burned.

Aug. 25, 1944: U.S. and French Army forces liberate Paris. The Germans fall back.

The BBC reports: “This evening French, American and Senegalese troops marched triumphantly down the Champs Elysee to ecstatic cheers of Parisians, young and old.”

Aug. 28, 1862: The Second battle of Bull Run (known to many Southerners as Second Manassas) opens between Union Army forces under the command of Maj. Gen. John Pope and Confederate Army forces under Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson (Gen. Robert E. Lee in overall command).

Within days, Confederate forces will drive Union forces from the field, not unlike what happened at First Bull Run/Manassas on July 21, 1861.

Aug. 28, 1972: U.S. Air Force Capt. Richard Stephen Richie, flying an F-4 Phantom, shoots down his fifth MiG over North Vietnam, becoming the Air Force’s first ace of the war.

But to hear Richie tell it, it was just a ride. “My fifth MiG kill was an exact duplicate of a syllabus mission, so I had not only flown that as a student, but had taught it probably a dozen times prior to actually doing it in combat,” he says.

Let’s increase awareness of American military tradition and honor America’s greatest heroes by supporting the Medal of Honor Society’s 2010 Convention to be held in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, 2010 (for more information, click here).

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Mr. Smith is a contributor to Human Events. A former U.S. Marine rifle-squad leader and counterterrorism instructor, he writes about military/defense issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq and Lebanon. He is the author of six books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications. E-mail him at marine1@uswriter.com.

Solutions For America

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Posted by Brian Darling
Tuesday, August 17th

The Heritage Foundation, my employer, put out a comprehensive conservative road map titled “Solutions for America” earlier today. It is important for conservatives to be against bad ideas that expand the size and scope of the federal government. It is also important for conservatives to have ideas that will bring real Hope and Change to America. Let’s bring this country back to the nation envisioned by our Founding Fathers. The policies of the Obama Administration that forward “Progressive” agenda including a failed Stimulus plan, ObamaCare and the New START Treaty are merely a few examples of a government that is doing harm to our economic and national security.

According to The Heritage Foundation release on the plan:

Compiled by a team of Heritage experts, Solutions for America identifies the nature and scope of our most pressing problems in 23 discrete policy areas, and recommends 128 specific policy prescriptions for Congress to consider. Some of the recommendations are groundbreaking. Others are familiar. Some are being debated right now. All have one thing in common: They would return power to the people. And, collectively, they will transform America, setting her back on the track to prosperity and greatness. Perilous times necessitate bold action. America is at a tipping point. To continue on the current path of ever-expanding central government will plunge us into a statist abyss of lost liberties, vanishing opportunity and dying prospects of a better tomorrow. But our nation can just as well correct course, as she has so often in the past. Americans by the millions have begun the process, rallying around the vision of the Founders. The policies articulated in Solutions for America are calculated to make that vision a reality, to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish anew.

Consider this an open thread and an opportunity for Red State America to suggest further ideas to forward the cause of freedom, limited government, free markets and a strong national defense.
Here are a few of the concrete ideas for change:

Cap Federal Spending – It is important for Conservatives to come up with a plan to stop the overspending in Washington, D.C. that has lead to a $13.3 trillion national debt. “Place a firm cap on overall federal spending, and limit future year-to-year growth to inflation plus population growth. Federal spending is on an unsustainable trajectory because we lack a mechanism that forces Congress to live within agreed upon spending limits. A binding cap will force lawmakers to make the tough decisions required to get us back to fiscal sanity.” There are other great ideas in cutting federal spending and your ideas would be much appreciated.
Put Entitlement Programs Under the Budget – According to The Heritage Foundation, “the middle class retirement programs, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, will cause federal spending to jump by half, from the historical average of twenty percent of the economy to thirty percent by 2033. This tsunami of spending is a major threat to limited government because it runs on auto-pilot with automatic increases locked in by each program’s governing laws. While other programs are constrained through annual budgets, entitlements get the first call on resources.” Solutions for America urges policy makers to consider “requir(ing) the Big Three entitlement programs— Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—to live within firm, congressionally approved budgets. If Congress is ever to control spending, it must end the era of open-ended entitlements. Currently, Big Three spending is on autopilot—increasing automatically year after year. Entitlement spending must be brought into the congressional budgetary process. Lawmakers should establish a five-year budget for these programs and include protective mechanisms, such as triggers, that will automatically keep spending within the congressionally approved limits.” Do Red Staters have any other ideas on how to reform entitlement programs?
Revive Federalism- ObamaCare imposes a federal mandate that all Americans in the 50 states buy health insurance. This is a clear violation of the idea of federalism. Solutions for America argues that “the federal government has usurped the states’ traditional role in areas such as transportation, education, health (especially Medicaid), homeland security, and law enforcement. Washington must cede vast swatches of its policymaking authority—and the funding that goes with it—to states willing to reassume leadership in these areas.” Congress needs to consider ideas that will restore the traditional role of the states.
Loan Welfare Money to Able Bodied Recipients – As Robert Rector and Chuck Donovan have written for The Heritage Foundation that Congress needs to take another run at Welfare Reform. “Why not treat a portion of welfare assistance to able-bodied adults as a loan to be repaid, rather than as a free gift from the taxpayers? Such a policy change would reduce the moral hazard associated with dependency, while providing temporary help to those in need. Clearly, welfare as we knew it did not end, as so many of us had hoped 14 years ago (the 1996 Welfare Reform Law). Adjusting for inflation, total welfare spending is nearly twice what it was before 1996.” Solutions for America argues to “limit the unsustainable growth of welfare spending, and require recipients to give something back. Aggregate welfare spending now approaches $1 trillion annually and does more harm than good. Congress must treat all 71 means-tested welfare programs holistically, as a discrete category of federal spending, and cap annual year-to-year welfare spending growth at inflation. This will force Congress to consider new approaches that could actually help the poor surmount poverty. To this end, Congress should require able-bodied adults to treat a portion of certain welfare benefits as loans to be repaid rather than as an open-ended grant from taxpayers.” Also, Congress should study how many of those 71 means-tested welfare programs are redundant and eliminate the ones that allow for double dipping. Seem reasonable?
Stop Overpaying Federal Workers- Federal employees are overpaid at a time when the private sector is experiencing great pain. Solutions for America argues, “pay federal workers wages and benefits comparable to what their counterparts earn in the private sector. Federal employee compensation is far too generous. Total compensation—hourly wages plus benefits—is 30–40% above that of comparable private sector workers. By bringing federal compensation in line with market rates, Congress would save taxpayers approximately $47 billion a year.” James Sherk of The Heritage Foundation recommends the following: Abolish the General Schedule and implementing market-based performance pay; Expand the contracting out of non-essential tasks to the private sector; Reduce the generosity of the benefits the federal government provides; and end restrictions on dismissing underperforming federal employees, thus incentivizing increased productivity. These seem like some common sense solutions to the problem of federal bureacrats making more than the average American in the private sector.
Keep Taxes Low – Do not implement a Value Added Tax, a Carbon Tax, nor the Obama Tax Increases of 2011. Solutions for America suggests that “tax increases, especially those loaded on small-business owners (our most productive and entrepreneurial individuals), are counterproductive at any time. To raise taxes during a recession is a recipe for crippling economic growth and job creation. Maintaining the tax burden at its current level is the least Congress should do.” Red Staters must have other suggested taxes to reduce or abolish.
Implement a Pro-Growth Strategy- President Obama’s $862 billion monstrosity of a "Stimulus Plan" has lead to a $1 billion earmark for a special project in Illinois and a program to study the effects of Cocaine on Monkeys. A real strategy to encourage investment and real job creation would be to reduce government interference in the free market. Solutions for America argues for policies that ”encourage investment and job creation. Reduce the top tax rate on corporate earnings—currently the second highest among all industrial nations—and let businesses immediately deduct investments in new plant and equipment. These two changes to the tax code will unleash the most productive investment and create the most private sector jobs. Specifically, lawmakers should align the top rate on corporate earnings to those that prevail in our 30 largest trading partners—approximately 25%.” This is a target rich environment for pro-growth ideas that retreat from the President’s failed economic policies.
Stop Taxing Seniors- Why do seniors have to keep paying taxes as they get older? The federal government should not maintain policies that essentially force older Americans to retire when they still can work. Here is another solution for America. “As part of the broader effort to reform entitlement programs, seniors who wish to work beyond retirement age should be freed from the burden of paying Social Security payroll taxes. Employers willing to retain or hire these older workers also should be exempt from paying the employer share of the FICA tax.” This would be a stimulus program for older Americans and an idea that makes sense.
Peace Through Strength – President Ronald Reagan promoted the idea of maintaining a strong military as a means to protect American citizens. Solutions for America argues that ”a robust military is the surest way to deter aggression and reinforce U.S. diplomacy. To accomplish this, the Pentagon procurement holiday must end. Congress must refurbish our armed forces, especially our depleted Navy fleet and vital missile defenses.” Congress needs to make sure that our defense infrastructure stays strong in the face of emerging threats from rogue nations and entities.
This is a good start. Can Red Staters respond with other ideas on how to make America better? This is a great time to send a message to politicians of both parties that they better start listening to American concerns. Cut spending, stop destroying the private sector and keep America strong!!!

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From Galloping Gates to the Gulf of Sidra

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This Week in American Military History

by W. Thomas Smith Jr.
08/17/2010

Aug. 15, 1845: The War Department transfers Fort Severn, Annapolis to the Navy Department, specifically the new Naval School under Commander Franklin Buchanan.

The U.S. Naval Academy is established.

Franklin, who serves as the school’s first superintendent, is destined to become an admiral in the Confederate Navy.

Aug. 15, 1945: Japanese Emperor Hirohito broadcasts his surrender message to the Japanese people, a portion of which reads:

“…the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interests. The enemy, moreover, has begun to employ a new most cruel bomb, the power which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would only result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation … but would lead also to the total extinction of human civilization.”

Hours before the radio broadcast, Japanese Army Maj. Kenji Hatanaka – leading a group of diehards opposed to surrender – attempts a coup to prevent the broadcast. The coup fails. Hatanaka commits suicide.

Aug. 16, 1780: The Battle of Camden (S.C.) – one of the worst tactical blunders on the part of the Continentals during the American Revolution – opens between British Army forces under the command of Gen. Sir Charles Cornwallis and Continental Army forces under Gen. Horatio Gates.

Though the Americans will be decisively defeated at Camden – thanks to Gates’ improperly positioning inexperienced militia against seasoned regiments of the regular British Army, as well as his complete loss of tactical control – the battle will prove to be something of a highwater mark for British forces in the southern colonies (after Camden, it’s pretty much downhill for the British).

Gates himself will break and run, earning him the nickname, “Galloping Gates.” But the heroics of many of the ill-fated albeit last-standing Continental officers and men (like Gen. Johann Baron de Kalb) will prove to be exemplary. And Gen. George Washington – always able to recover from strategic setbacks – will choose the exceptionally able Gen. Nathanael Greene as Gates’ replacement.

Aug. 16, 1940: Soldiers with the U.S. Army’s parachute test platoon begin jumping over Fort Benning, Georgia. The airborne exercise (actually more of an experiment) is the first for the Army.

In 2001, Pres. George W. Bush will proclaim “August 16” of each year as National Airborne Day.

Aug. 17, 1942: Ahoy Raiders! U.S. Marine Raiders strike Makin Island in the Gilberts.

Sgt. Clyde Thomason, killed during the fighting, will become the first Marine in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor.

Aug. 17, 1943: U.S. Army Gen. George Smith Patton Jr. beats his British Army counterpart Gen. Bernard Law Montgomery to the gates of Messina, Sicily, in what Patton had purportedly referred to as “a horse race in which the prestige of the U.S. Army is at stake.”

Aug. 19, 1812: In one of the most dramatic sea battles of the War of 1812, the frigate USS Constitution engages and captures the smaller frigate HMS Guerriere in a contest of broadsides and close-quarters combat between opposing crews of sailors and Marines (the American leathernecks pouring a terrific fire into the unfortunate British officers and men aboard Guerriere).

According to the Naval Historical Center, “Despite the rational excuse that Royal Navy frigates were not as large and powerful as their American counterparts, the real causes of these outcomes were inspired seamanship and vastly better gunnery. For the rest of the 19th Century, long after the War of 1812 was over, America’s Navy was credited with an effectiveness that went well beyond its usually modest size.”

Constitution (known affectionately as “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest ship in the American Navy. Launched in 1797, she serves today as a duly commissioned ship crewed by active-duty U.S. sailors and Naval officers in order to further public awareness of American Naval tradition.

Aug. 19, 1981: One-hundred-sixty-nine years to the day after the victory over HMS Guerriere, the U.S. Navy – specifically two F-14 Tomcats — knocks down two Libyan Su-22 fighters over the Gulf of Sidra.

Aug. 21, 1863: Confederate guerillas under the command of William Clark Quantrill (operating outside of the control of regular Confederate forces) launch a bloody raid on Lawrence, Kansas.

Quantrill – who purportedly once served in the Missouri State Guard – is widely considered a brigand and a cutthroat. That reputation continues today. To some, however, he remains a folk hero.

Aug. 21, 1942: Just after 3:00 a.m., “Banzai”-screaming Japanese assault forces – primarily members of the elite Japanese Special Naval Landing forces – attack U.S. Marine positions on Guadalcanal in what will become known as the Battle of the Tenaru River.

The first wave is momentarily slowed as the Japanese struggle to get through the Marines’ barbed wire and American rifle machinegun fire rip into their ranks. At one point, the enemy breaks through and the fighting degrades into a savage hand-to-hand struggle with knives, machetes, swords, rifle butts, and fists. The Marines kill scores and hold their positions.
Subsequent Japanese attacks follow, but all are beaten back with heavy losses.

Let’s increase awareness of American military tradition and honor America’s greatest heroes by supporting the Medal of Honor Society’s 2010 Convention to be held in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, 2010 (for more information, click here).
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