Saturday, November 10, 2018

Commemorating the Anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps Founding



The United States Marine Corps was created on November 10th, 1775 to guard vessels during the American Revolutionary War.  Since then, the Marine Corps responsibilities have expanded as in integral component of American military forces working with the Navy to rapidly deploy combined armed task forces.  While the U.S. Marine Corps is the smallest of the nation’s combat forces, it is the largest Marine Corps in the world and is often the first forces sent out.

The Marine Corps has served in every American armed conflict.  During World War II, when amphibious warfare was at the forefront of combat operations, the Marines as its ability to rapidly respond to expeditionary crises was quintessential to victory in the Pacific. That is why the unofficial Marine Corps memorial Between-the-Beltways near Arlington National Cemetery depicts marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.


Sunset Ceremony at Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, Virginia

More recently, the Marines were deployed in essentially landlocked nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.   Marines spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq and served bravely in the battles in Fallujah.

Marines attach great tradition to celebrating their founding.  A ceremonial cake is presented where the oldest Marine cuts the culinary creation with his sword and then feeds the youngest Marine present. Often this is done in dress uniforms and high ceremony.  But this video from the 2011 ceremony at Camp Leatherneck,  Afghanistan poignantly captures that same spirit in the fields of combat.




As Congress explored the effects of the automatic cross the board 9.4% cuts due to the impending Sequestration, the Marine Corps Assistant Commandant General Joseph F. Dunlop Jr testified that Sequestration would have “a chaotic effect on the force during a time of extraordinary challenges to our nation..”  Dunlap expressed pride that the nation’s Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airman have done everything asked of them over the last ten years.  However, Dunlap is worried that the willy nilly cuts from sequestration would “loose the trust and confidence of the all-volunteer force that we have worked so hard to build.”

Marine Commandant General James Amos is concerned how the across the board budget cuts from Sequestration will hit the Marine Corps.  The plan is to reduce the size of the Corps from 202,000 to 182,000.  Since Amos suspects that further force reduction will not be permitted, the cuts will come out of procurement, which may sacrifice the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and would cripple the Marine Corps ability to respond to multiple crises at once.

Despite these impending dangers from the District of Calamity (sic), let us say “Oorah” to the U.S. M.C.  for serving our nation well.  Semper Fi!



[This piece originally ran at DCBarroco.US in 2012 but still rings true today--Semper Fi!]

Friday, November 9, 2018

When Winning Isn't Enough for Ocasio-Cortez

Democrat Socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez complains that she doesn't have initial income to move to Washington DC after winning Congressional race.

Congresswoman-Elect Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY 14th), a 29 year old Democrat Socialist who hails from The Bronx, New York, won her general election with 78% of the vote.  Yet her initial comments either indicated an unpreparedness for victory or a pose to propagandize her brand.

Due to the demographics of the district, it was virtually fait accompli that Ocasio Cortez would win in November after surprising House Democrat stalwart Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY 14th) by 15% in the June 2018 New York primaries.  Yet after she won, Ocasio Cortez publicly complained that she would not have income for three months, so it would be initially dicey for her to find digs in DC prior to her "inauguration" (sic). 

So an economics major from Boston University from Boston University could not budget enough buffer for a sure thing victory in order to have a place to stay in the District of Calamity prior to pulling her first paycheck  Sure.




Detractors of the rising Democrat Socialist star have derided her as Occasional Cortez, who they believe is not bright nor schooled in the political process.  However, the wording of her "too broke to move" sob story hint that it is contrived political posturing.




Ocasio Cortez comes from the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrat Party (despite the fact that Sanders actually is no longer a member of the party).  Aside from her chops of being a community organizer, Ocasio Cortez tries to conjure the mien of being considered a working class hero.  What better way to identify with voters who live paycheck to paycheck to play up this wage gap before taking office?

This would not be the first time that Ocasio Cortez has played fast and loose with her bio to identify with the downtrodden.  Ocasio Cortez played up her roots in the Bronx, even after it became evident that she grew up living with her  architect father in well to do Westchester County while commuting to school in the Bronx. 

If Ocasio Cortez truly cannot afford an apartment before she is "viviendo del mamey" (Boricuan slang for living off the state budget, or living the easy life), she could follow the example of outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, who slept in his office.  Surely the DNC has a room that they can set aside for the newly elected working class leader.  Just make sure that you pay the average daily rate for lodging lest you get hounded and forced to resign like former Trump Energy Secretary Scott Pruitt.  Check that, ethics rules usually only apply for Republicans.

Ocasio Cortez's post election kerfluffle may hint at trouble for Democrats organizing in Washington.  It would seem that Ocasio Cortez is not content to be a back bencher while learning the ropes on Capitol Hill.  

 It seems that there are three contending factions in the Democrat Caucus:  The old school, like presumed Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th) and current Democrat Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD 5th), who are established Democrats who are eager to regain their powerful positions. 

While it is a relatively small faction, there are moderates like Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH 13th), who seem like vestigial Democrats of old who champion patriotic union working class voters.  Their clout may be somewhat bolstered by the fact that many of the newly elected Democrats won because of their moderate credentials.  

Then there are the Young Turks, like Ocasio Cortez, who want the revolution now. Losing Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), labeled them the crazies.  These rabble rousers will not wait their turn for power.  They may chaff at having their leadership being comprised of septuagenarian establishment types who want to protect their positions rather than upturning the system.  

The question is how the (Democrat) Congressional Black Caucus will side in the leadership battle.  On the one hand, the CBC has paid their dues and followed a strategy of rising to ranking member status by hanging onto office forever (save ex Rep. John Conyers, who was chased out of office in late 2017 after fifty years because of sexual harassment allegations).   Congresswoman "Auntie Maxie" Waters (D-CA 43rd) is in line to be the Chair of the Financial Services Committee, so she has strong motivations to line up with the establishment.  But Waters also was a driving force during the Midterms to chant "Impeach 45".   Ms. Pelosi was trying to tamp down those voices during the campaign.  If House Democrats intend to govern, leadership may strive to quash those sentiments, which could cause resentment and a change of alliance.

In the last 115th Congress, the CBC felt slighted in leadership.  House Democrats made up a faux leadership position for Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC 6th) as "Assistant Democrat Leader", but who had  a title but little clout.  It is unclear if that will be enough for the CBC now that they are back at the helm in the House. Fourth term incumbent Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY 8th) is vying  to succeed Joe Crowley for the number four position in the Democrat Caucus as Caucus Chair.  This might split the CBC as Jeffries competitor includes entrenched left coast progressive CBC member  Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th). 

Next week, Democrats will return to the Capitol City and organize their caucus.  Either Ocasio Cortez will have to couch surf or get a cash advance to participate.   

Friday, October 12, 2018

Gosnell: The Movie--Trying to Tell the Story of an American Serial Killer Which Strikes Too Close to Home



[L] Ann McElhinney and [R] Phelim McAleer
In 2013, husband and wife veteran filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Anne McElhinney were publicizing their feature documentary Fracknation as the murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell was occurring in Philadelphia.  McAleer was amazed at the lack of coverage of a prolific serial killer that murdered two women in botched late term abortions in unsanitary conditions, used a brutal snipping technique to kill a thousand children beyond the legal limit for abortion and also dealt prescription drugs.

Yet the national mainstream media ignored the Gosnell case, dismissing it like a local murder case while lavishing attention on the concurrent Jodi Arias murder trial. McAleer did man on the street interviews in California to learn about what the public knew about sensational murder trials.

As Katherine Graham, the former publisher of the Washington Post, proclaimed: "What we cover and what we don't matter a lot...The power is to set the agenda."  Fox News commentator Greg Gutfeld recently speculated about the reasons why most of the mainstream media (including Fox) did not cover the Gosnell trial closely:


"The reason why they don't do this one is not because the evil is so grotesque.  It's that it's too close to a moral choice they've made.  That's what it's about.  It's not that like, ah it's so hard to do something on this man who butchered babies.  It's because it's too close to the pro-choice mindset."

However, McAleer and McElhinney were so haunted by the Gosnell trial that they backed away from other crowd-source funded projects so as to make a movie about Gosnell.  Yet Anne & Phelim Media encountered more velvet gloved censorship by Kickstarter, which claims to not curate projects but would not allow them to describe their dramatized movie idea as being about a mass murderer who killed a thousand children as it allegedly violated community standards which Kickstart "encourages and (selectively) enforces".  McAleer believes that it is within Kickstarter's right to not facilitate funding but that it should be forthright that it is due to the project matter not a transparent lie about community standards which it does not enforce for sundry other offensive projects.

So they moved their crowd-source funding efforts to Indiegogo, where they have raised $1.2 million  of a fixed target $2.1 million.  If they do not make their designated funding mark by May 12th, the money reverts  back to the prospective investors.

There is already an excellent documentary film 3801 Lancaster, which interviews victims of Gosnell's House of Horrors.  So McAleer and McElhinney want to make dramatized version of the Gosnell story which would run on the Lifetime  Movie Network rather than a feature documentary to reach a wider audience.

 It is easy for seaboard elitists to dismiss a film about Gosnell as just being by religious zealots with pro-life propaganda, which is a touch charge to apply to McAleer and McElhinney. In addition, this dismissive instinct ignores how Dr. Gosnell was a racist as he gave his white patients much better and cleaner abortion services than his clients of color.

A film about Gosnell must also include a political angle.  Former Governor Tom Ridge (R-PA) was elected as chief executive of the Keystone State as a moderate Republican.  The governor's office made it clear that the Commonwealth should do nothing to impede abortion services, so Gosnell's clinic was not properly inspected for 17 years, despite gruesome reports and several deaths. 

Gosnell's clinic was raided because Gosnell was writing prescriptions like a pell mell pill mill for Oxycotin and the ilk.  That raid permitted police to stumble upon an unsanitary abortion butchery, where Gosnell kept severed limbs as trophies.

Hearing the filmmakers promote their project, it is clear that they yearn to tell a compelling true story about a prolific American serial killer and pull back the curtain on details which a progressive public would rather ignore.