Friday, December 25, 2009

Season's Bleatings!

Happy Holidays to ALL!


Seesles Greetles!
Panda Cub

I love this kitteh's face. Reminds me of the time I put little red stockings onto my pootie, Spikey's feetsies and kept them on with rubber bands. She went wild all over the house trying to shake them off stopping to shake her feet as she ran up the stairs, she kept it up until I took them back off. But boy, we had such a great laugh over her furry antics.
Furry Holidays

I hope these thugs get the lumps of coal they deserve in their stockings this year, subpoenas. Happy New justice-filled Year.
Naughty Dubya

And H/T Arthur Dent. :)
The Night Before Christmas, by John Cleese.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

West Point Cadets Send a Message?

Or are they just doing their homework while they wait? Before President Obama's speech at West Point, December 1, 2009, (text and video) several cadets were pictured by Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton et al. The cadets were reading books. My guess is that they were catching up on reading assignments.
Catching up during finals week(s).
Reading Assignment

Books assigned by the cadets' professors?
Cadet Reading Assignment
Compilation of five actual cadets reading books, photographed before the President's speech. Two cadets were pictured reading the same book, "Kill Bin Laden", one reading "On Killing", one reading Thor's novel, one reading an unknown book.

Cadet Books
(None of the pictures below are photoshopped.)

The cadets deserve a commission for the book sales I'm sure they precipitated. In any case, it's worth having a deeper look due to the minor fuss "some bloggers" on the right are making over it as a planned protest against the president but it sure looks like homework assignments being done while they waited in the auditorium.
Company A3 Freshman West Point Cadet Konrad Bunde with the book, Kill Bin Laden by Dalton Fury. "Dalton Fury" is the nom de plume of a former Delta Force Army major who led the secret mission to catch Osama bin Laden two months after the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/01.

West Point Cadet
(Photo:Shannon Stapleton Reuters)

Abbreviated Book Description from Amazon: Kill Bin Laden
Non-Fiction. The mission was to kill the most wanted man in the world--an operation of such magnitude that it couldn’t be handled by just any military or intelligence force. The best America had to offer was needed. As such, the task was handed to roughly forty members of America’s supersecret counterterrorist unit formerly known as 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta; more popularly, the elite and mysterious unit Delta Force. Continued at link.

Kill Bin Laden

"Dalton Fury"
Dalton Fury

Elite Office Recalls Bin Laden Hunt
on 60 Minutes.
Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon ordered a top secret team of American commandos into Afghanistan with a single, simple order: kill Osama bin Laden. It was America's best chance to eliminate the leader of al Qaeda. The inside story of exactly what happened in that mission, and how close it came to its objective has never been told until 60 Minutes and correspondent Scott Pelley reported this story last fall.
The man you are about to meet was the officer in command, leading a team from the U.S. Army's mysterious Delta Force - a unit so secret, it's often said Delta doesn't exist. But you are about to see Delta's operators in action.
Why did the mission commander break his silence after seven years? He told 60 Minutes that most everything he'd read in the media about his mission is wrong and he wants to set the record straight.
"Our job was to go find him, capture or kill him, and we knew the writing on the wall was to kill him because nobody wanted to bring Osama bin Laden back to stand trial in the United States somewhere," the mission commander tells Pelley.
In 2001, just 10 weeks after 9/11, he was a 37-year-old Army major leading a team of America's most elite commandos. Even now, 60 Minutes can't tell you his name or show you his face...
Fascinating, continued reading and video at link.
So, the Bush administration stopped Delta Force from capturing Bin Laden and completing their mission; they (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) didn't want him killed as his family had connections to the Bushies and they didn't want him caught alive as he might tell tales on them. They let him escape. The Neocons didn't WANT Bin Laden caught "dead or alive" or they'd have no "excuse" later to invade Iraq which they'd planned since 1998. Our cadets at West Point are only as good as their "orders" will allow them to be. Perhaps they realize this. Dalton Fury's 60 Minutes video also embedded here. Stymied by "higher-ups"?
...they didn't get approval from a higher level. "Whether that was Central Command all the way up to the president of the United States, I'm not sure,"...[The next option]...But they didn't do that either, because Fury says that plan was also disapproved. He says he has "no idea" why. "How often does Delta come up with a tactical plan that's disapproved by higher headquarters?" Pelley asks. "In my experience, in my five years at Delta, never before," Fury says.

Another West Point student reading the same book.
A class assignment?After all West Point teaches about war. I'm unable yet to identify the book on the right but the cover is possibly an Afghani woman wearing a burqa.
West Point Cadet
(Photo:Julie Jacobson/AP)

The second book being held up by a West Point Cadet (to the Right in the picture) is "The Apostle", a formulaic fictional thriller by Brad Thor.
West Point Cadets
(Photo:Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Brad Thor, a graduate of the University of Southern California, has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Red Cell Program and best selling author.
Book Description from Amazon: The Apostle
Master of suspense and #1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor returns with his most riveting international thriller yet.
A new administration and a new approach to dealing with America's enemies have left covert counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath without a job. But when American doctor Julia Gallo is kidnapped in Afghanistan, the terms of her ransom leave the president with only one course of action.
In a dangerous assignment that the United States government will deny any knowledge of, Scot Harvath must secretly infiltrate Kabul's notorious Policharki Prison and free the man the kidnappers demand as ransom - al-Qaeda mastermind, Mustafa Khan.
But when Harvath arrives, he quickly learns that there is more to the kidnapping than anyone dares to admit. And as the subterfuge is laid bare, Harvath must examine his own career of hunting down and killing terrorists, and ask himself if he has what it takes to help one of the world's worst go free.
A "new administration" with a different approach? Interesting. Are the cadets learning about the changes in policy since the election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden after a failed eight years under Bush and Cheney? And an interesting choice of fiction by this cadet, if it was in fact HIS choice. The "ending" isn't clear yet. We'll see in a year and a half what reality brings us. Secret operations were the mainstay of the Bush administration's wars in the shadows while spouting "mission accomplished". It's a good thing this is fiction or I might be irritated.
Brad Thor, author, laughing all the way to the bank?
Brad Thor

West Point cadet with the book On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, U.S. Army (Ret.), former West Point Psychology Professor, Pulitzer Prize nominee, former Ranger with an inside perspective on how war affects our troops.
West Point Cadet
(Photo:Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Brief synopsis of book: On Killing
The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and, according to Grossman's controversial thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder and violence, especially among the young. ON KILLING is an important study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects the soldier, and of the societal implications of escalating violence.
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
On Killing

Close-up of the same cadet.
West Point Cadet
(Photo:Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
LT. COL. DAVE GROSSMAN, U.S. Army (Ret.) Director, Warrior Science Group,

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is an internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier, and speaker who is one of the world's foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime.

Col. Grossman is a former West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger who has combined his experiences to become the founder of a new field of scientific endeavor, which has been termed “killology.” In this new field Col. Grossman has made revolutionary new contributions to our understanding of killing in war, the psychological costs of war, the root causes of the current "virus" of violent crime that is raging around the world, and the process of healing the victims of violence, in war and peace.

He is the author of On Killing, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; has been translated into Japanese, Korean, and German; is on the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant's required reading list; and is required reading at the FBI academy and numerous other academies and colleges. Col. Grossman co-authored Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence, which has been translated into Norwegian and German, and has received international acclaim. Col. Grossman's most recent book, On Combat, has also placed on the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant's Required Reading List and has been translated into Japanese and Korean.
Continued at link.

The meaning(s) of these books to the cadets is only newsworthy if we have actual interviews with all of them stating they "meant" something by their choice(s) of reading material, otherwise all anyone can do is speculate. I'm speculating that they're doing their homework, allowed by the school, as they waited for the President to give his speech. Was a novel assigned for a class or is this the student's personal choice? We don't know yet. The other two books would be good textbooks, especially the third book written by a former West Point professor of psychology.
If they were doing something wrong I doubt their superiors would let them get away with it at a military academy, in front of cameras ready to broadcast the president's speech live nationwide. Making some sort of protest or political statement is probably in violation of West Point's regulations for cadets in the presence of their Commander in Chief. IF that's what they were doing. IF it was to show lack of respect for President Obama I find that perturbing for the double standard since no such displays were EVER allowed around Bush or Cheney. Therefore, it's hard to believe this reading activity wasn't condoned by the professors at West Point. Much ado about nothing.

Before the president's speech the students were studying and reading.
West Point Students
(AFP/Getty Images via Yahoo)

After the speech President Obama was "mobbed" by many of the students who appeared happy to meet him.
West Point Cadets with President Obama
(Photo:Jim Young/Reuters)

UPDATE: December 4, 2009
The reason wingnuts are so excited about "The Apostle" being spotted in the hands of a West Point cadet, Thor is bosom buddies with "Lonesome Roads" Beck. Glenn Beck Talks with Brad Thor
This is just frightening.
June 17, 2009. THOR: I think we have people here who hold office who are under the influence of foreign operatives. I don't think it's a lot but I think there are a handful of them. I think they have been here for a while. You know this whole idea that we were not going to turn to socialism overnight but we were going to do it drop by drop like water on a stone, spoonful by spoonful. Listen, if you understand and Glenn, I've got to tell you one of the neatest things about becoming friends with you has been my desire to learn more about politics, the history of my country.

He's taking "history" lessons from Glenn Beck? The spelling bee OLIGARHY man? Heaven help us. Ignorance comes in many forms. Add Thor to the list.

UPDATE: December 4, 2009: A different take.
Per Raw Story, the cadets were "caught" reading when they shouldn't have been. I beg to differ.
Cadet waiting for president caught reading anti-Obama book
Rawstory's view is that the books in question were meant as insults to President Obama, in particular the fictional "The Apostle" as the "president" in this novel is depicted as:
(a poorly-veiled caricature of Barack Obama) engaging in an adulterous affair, manslaughter, and perjury.
Hogwash. That description bears no resemblance whatsoever to President Obama.

The 60 Minutes video outlines the author's issues in Kill Bin Laden with the Bush/Cheney administration. The Apostle (fiction) is by an author with a right wing following of armchair chickenhawks. A thriller is a thriller, it's written to make money. Mr. Thor states his ultimate hero is Reagan, a man who "thought" he served but only did so in the movies. Lt. Col. Grossman's book "On Killing" is about how war affects the psyches of all involved. He taught at West Point, to produce a textbook is SOP.

Most of the other "sources" on this non-story are from the right wing "media" and they're claiming that the cadets meant to insult President Obama. They're assuming the books were chosen as a protest of some kind by the students. That's highly unlikely. They sure look like textbook assignments in the full picture of events that evening.