First you get down on your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!
Do whatever steps you want, if
You have cleared them with the pontiff.
Everybody prays on
Doin' the Vatican Rag.
Get in line in that processional,
Step into that small confessional,
There, the guy who's got religion'll
Tell you if your sin's original.
If it is, try playin' it safer,
Drink the wine and chew the wafer,
Two, four, six, eight,
Time to transubstantiate!
So get right down upon your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!
Make a cross on your abdomen,
When in Rome do like a Roman,
Gee it's good to see ya,
Gettin' ecstatic an'
Sorta dramatic an'
Doin' the Vatican Rag!
President Obama, in a historic first for the Pentagon, has chosen to nominate Eric Fanning to lead the Army, a move that would make him the first openly gay civilian secretary of one of the military services.
Fanning, 47, has been a specialist on national security issues for more than two decades and has played a key role overseeing some of the Pentagon’s biggest shipbuilding and fighter jet programs. Now he will oversee an Army that has been battered by the longest stretch of continuous combat in U.S. history and is facing potentially severe budget cuts. It’s also an Army that after a long stretch of patrolling Iraqi and Afghan villages is searching for its postwar role in protecting the nation.
Fanning’s nomination, which must go to the Senate for confirmation, reflects a major shift for the Pentagon, which only four years ago prevented openly gay troops from serving in the military. The policy didn’t extend to civilian leaders, such as Fanning.
His long tenure in the Pentagon and his breadth of experience in shepherding some of the department’s most complex and sensitive weapons programs was a key factor in his nomination for the Army’s top job, administration officials said.
“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” Obama said in a statement.
Eric Fanning greets Col. Dan Dant, 460th Space Wing commander at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., in 2013. (Senior Airman Marcy Glass/U.S. Air Force)
Eric Fanning visited several Air Force bases in 2013. At the time, Fanning was then acting secretary of the Air Force.
Fanning’s rise to one of the Pentagon’s toughest and most prominent jobs also reflects the Obama’s commitment to diversity at the highest levels of his administration. During his time in office, Obama has overhauled internal policies to provide federal benefits to same-sex partners, appointed gay men and lesbians to the executive branch and the federal courts and ended the 18-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.
As Army secretary, Fanning will be teamed with Gen. Mark Milley, who took over in August as the Army’s top general, the chief of staff. The two men will assume responsibility for the Pentagon’s largest and most troubled service.
The Army, which swelled to about 570,000 active-duty troops during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has shed about 80,000 soldiers in recent years and plans to cut 40,000 more over the next few years. The planned cuts would shrink the service to its smallest size of the post-World War II era.
Battered by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has had to deal with a spike in suicides as the wars drew to an end. Recently, the Army’s outgoing chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, said that tight budgets and the ongoing strain of 14 years of war had badly degraded the Army’s readiness to fight and that only one-third of its brigades were prepared to deploy to a war zone, the lowest readiness rate in decades.
In a sign of how much the country has changed in the past decade, Fanning’s sexual orientation seemed a non-issue among Republicans and Democrats in Congress, who were far more worried about the state of the Army.
“There is a real crisis in morale and retention that has developed for the Army over the last several years,” said Joe Kasper, chief of staff to Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.). “The Army needs a leader who will stand up for soldiers, who recognizes war can get ugly and who won’t shy away from the tough issues. If Fanning is that type of person, he’ll be embraced.”
Fanning’s historic appointment didn’t seem to cause a stir in the Army, either.
LGBT issues are advancing by the day in the United States, and with it, there’s a growing class of Washington power players. Here are 21 of the most influential openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people working in the capital, part of a list as compiled by the National Journal. “My sense is that the Army is over this and has been over it for some time,” said Phil Carter, a veteran of the war in Iraq and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “The Army cares whether you can shoot straight, not whether you are straight.”
[Court says same-sex spouses are equal … but Congress disagrees.]
Fanning’s role as Army secretary would give him influence over the selection of the generation of generals who will rebuild the service after the wars. One big question for the Army is whether, in an era of tight budgets, it will return primarily to preparing for heavy combat missions against a big, conventional military, such as the Russians, or experiment with new formations that are better suited to training and working alongside indigenous partners.
“The biggest problem the Army faces is finding its mission, relevance and purpose after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,” Carter said. “All of the services face it, but the Army faces it most acutely.”
Fanning has been a trusted ally of Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who tapped Fanning last year to oversee his transition team as he moved into the Pentagon’s top job. He also served briefly as acting Air Force secretary, a deputy undersecretary of the Navy and has been acting undersecretary of the Army since June 2015.
Fanning’s new boss in the Pentagon described him as “one of our country’s most knowledgeable, dedicated, and experienced public servants.”
Defense officials said that Fanning might be the only person in history to serve at senior levels in all three services. “He understands how the Pentagon works and how to get things done in the Pentagon,” said Rudy de Leon, who was deputy defense secretary in the Clinton administration. “He knows what works and what doesn’t work.”
Fanning’s knowledge of the costly and complicated world of weapons development is needed in the Army, which has struggled to field new combat systems in recent decades. Since 2000, the Army has been forced to cancel virtually all of its major new weapons programs because they ran over budget or didn’t perform as expected.
New battlefield equipment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as special armored vehicles designed to resist blasts from roadside bombs, had to be developed outside of the Army’s traditional procurement channels.
The net result is that many of the Army’s most sophisticated helicopters, tanks and artillery were developed more than 30 years ago.
“The Army is still living off equipment from the Reagan years,” de Leon said. With budgets tight, Fanning’s challenge will be to upgrade and modernize the aging fleet using modern information technology.
Greg Jaffe covers the White House for The Washington Post, where he has been since March 2009.
[NOTE: The following appeared at Diary of a Right Wing Pussycat otherwise known as Kid’s blog on Sunday, September 13, 2015. We reproduce it here with Kid’s permission in edited form - FT]
Our wise, no-nonsense friend Kid
Because the Left in an unholy alliance with its slavishly devoted Propaganda Machine, often described here as The Enemedia, have redefined and thus obscured the meaning of the terms Conservative and Liberal we must elaborate on their true meaning.
Conservatives believe in following the Original Intent of the Constitution. Do you think the Constitution is an outmoded old rag? Read and understand the Bill of Rights before you send it through the shredder.
The writers of the Constitution were true libertarians. Today we prefer to call them social liberals. The Founders should best be known as Classical Liberals. See if you could find anything of significance today in the Constitution that was meant to restrict anyone from doing anything on a personal level. There was no mention of entitlements, drugs, date rape, marital rape, homosexual activity, prostitution, etc. Our country was founded on the premise of allowing people to do whatever they wanted, unless their activity became abusive or damaging to others. If you define yourself as a Liberal and believe in this premise, you might really be a Closet Conservative.
Yes, terrible things were considered acceptable regarding the African Negro race held in bondage in early America, but our thinking evolved, and we wound up fighting the bloodiest, most destructive war in our history first to stop slavery from spreading to newly opened U.S. territories, and to prevent the Southern Slave States from leaving the Union. During that war Republican President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves forever.
We should realize today that the Democratic Party of the Reconstruction Era was responsible for establishing strict segregation and institutionalized discrimination against the recently freed blacks in the form of the now-infamous Jim Crow laws.
The Republican party was created as a party of reform. Republicans were the social activists of their day. Many were outright Abolitionists. Remember too that Andrew Jackson, a Democrat and the first “Man of the People” to be elected president, was directly responsible for the theft of Cherokee Land and the Persecution and near massacre of the Cherokees known today as The Trail of Tears.
This is not to taken as an endorsement of today’s Republican Party, which appears to all intents and purposes to lack the courage of its convictions and is, therefore, unwilling to give meaningful opposition to the increasingly oppressive Liberal-Democratic Agenda. In this regard the modern GOP may be every bit as destructive as the Democrats have always been –– but especially since they were taken over by the Progressive Movement early in the last century. Our current government is broken.
Conservatives are not racists, religious fanatics bent on forcing their beliefs on others, neither are they people interested in controlling other people at all outside of expecting obedience to reasonable laws designed to respect the individual rights and freedoms of all as outlined in the Constitution.
Please note that many Republicans are not Conservatives.
If you think things like world peace, social equality, gender equality, economic equality, clean air, water, and soil, humane treatment of animals and all the other similar sane concepts are important, there is nothing wrong with your thinking, unless you believe Conservatives are opposed to these things. We are not.
All of that is essential to a sane decent society. We start with these concepts in Kindergarten, then refine the methods of achieving them based on what we must meet in the real world.
Show me someone who is not for any of these things and I'll show you a sociopath. For example, the megalomaniac in charge of North Korea has no interest in our ideas about how things should be. Tell me how you're going to change this. Talk to me about the hundreds of millions of Moslems around the world who rejoice every September 11, as they chant “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” What can and should be done to change their sick behavior?
If you have been subjected to federally-supervised public education and the university system, you have probably been dominated and thus indoctrinated by liberal progressive thinking. In which case you probably still want to believe Socialism is a fair-minded, enlightened alternative to exploitative and abusive Capitalism.If so, you are likely to accept all or most of the tripe dished up by the Enemedia-Government Alliance and the Washington Cartel. If this is the case, as it is with far too many these days, you simply have not developed a capacity for critical thinking. Instead, you are immersed in a fantasy environment created by wishful thinking. Now, you may have a good reason for this like being young and wanting to spend your time enjoying life, the freedoms afforded you and even working hard for your future, but sooner or later you are going to have to realize that building a better world is up to you. It cannot be achieved by ceding your freedom to make choices to a supposedly all-wise, all-powerful Central Government.
There seems to be nothing wrong with Marxian Ideals on the surface, but if you fall for the Socialist Utopian Dream Vision, eventually you will be forced to come to the realization that your country and all the good things she once stood for have been taken away from you, and you now live in servitude to an almighty, ever-living, increasingly oppressive, tyrannical State. "A government powerful enough to give you everything you want, is powerful enough to take away everyth8ng you have."
Please remember that early on the vast majority of Americans were Classical Liberals (Libertarians). Most whom we call conservative today were socially liberal at our Founding and for a long time beyond. Preserving and enjoying Freedom was uppermost on their minds.
Conservatives today realize that in order to fulfill the great potential implicit in our Constitution they must be willing to take risks and work hard within the confines of Reality in order to deal effectively with today's very complex environment.
Not as many as you like think want "world peace." It may surprise you to find out how many don't. Nothing worthwhile can be achieved instantly, as if by magic. Fundamental Improvements take a long time, because all factors involved must somehow remain in balance. In attempting to combat one sort of evil through the revolutionary application of main force we too often cause worse problems. For instance, motorized transportation caused air pollution and traffic jams. Solar and Wind farms are killing massive numbers of birds.
There are no easy solutions. If it were easy, we'd already be doing it. Do you honestly want to believe, “greedy business people” sit around rubbing their hands together chortling with glee over the toxic effects their demonically-conceived products are having on the environment, and how adversely they affect the lives of individuals? Try again.
When I was a kid in the Pittsburgh of the 1950's and 60's when all the steel mills were still flourishing, you could see the particulate pollution drifting down on you with your naked eye. The Ohio River in Pittsburgh was a toxic, chemical stew. Chemical plants and many other manufacturers simply poured their waste into the river. You can't believe how much cleaner everything is today compared to then. It didn't happen overnight. It happened over decades. Doubtless the EPA would like you to believe that no clean up of environmental pollution would ever have taken place were it not for their existence, but that is not true. The famous London Fog and vile pollution of the Thames in Victorian England and the poisonous state of New York’s Hudson River below Bear Mountain disappeared largely through enlightened volunteer effort. Pittsburgh’s atmosphere may have improved mostly because the steel mills closed and all those jobs were exported. A modern history of Pittsburgh woud make an interesting study.
No matter how you may wish to describe or define yourself you are sympathetic to Marxian-Communist-Socialist objectives. My advice to you would be to emigrate please to a Socialist Workers Paradise of your choice, and leave US the hell alone.
In closing there are huge things happening in America right now and you will regret not getting involved in trying to shape the direction they may take. This is reality. We will have to do our own research and get involved sooner than we probably want to.
For example, if you think watching and reading the “news.” or the last 30 days worth of election debates means you have performed your due diligence in understanding where candidates and political parties stand, you're sadly mistaken.
Because so many swing voters are uninformed, people running for political office are forced to lie just to be allowed to stay in the race. They have to rely on polls and marketing demographics to attain the number of votes they are looking for in the region where they are running. For example, John McCain in his last election talked about border security as though he wanted to build a wall one-thousand feet high made of Neutronium on the Southern border. A nano-second after being re-elected he started talking about Amnesty for all illegal aliens!
Can you see this? Do you realize how politicians see the vast majority of the voters as gullible, malleable dupes who gladly let their elected representatives get away with promising the moon, while delivering a dirty latrine? Do you want to be one of those dupes?
Do you not understand what it is supposed to mean to have a government Of, By and For the People? If everyone just lounges around doing whatever he wants after each election, and fails to hold his congress critter accountable, how can you defend that as a valid political system? I'm not telling you how to vote. I'm just telling you to put some effort into it, and to follow through afterwards by persistently demanding that your congress members respect and do everything in their power to obey the mandate you were partly responsible for giving them.
A Liberal Writes an Open Letter to Friends and Former Classmates.
A Conservative-Libertarian Responds.
An Exchange Ensues.
This is chiefly intended for FreeThine as he is, to my knowledge, our only self-identified Republican and because, even though we differ politically, I genuinely respect him as a well-meaning person of good character and integrity.
I'm concerned about the Republican Party. I'm sure you think, what business is it of his? He's a damned democrat! That's true and maybe it isn't my affair, but I do worry. and for quite selfish reasons.
For my whole life, the Republican Party has been a reliable counterweight to the Democrats. They were predictable and kind of boring. They stood for things ––things like fiscal prudence and a strong military, they were pro-business, and they believed in mainstream American ideals like free enterprise, separation of church and state, and economic opportunity for all. Like 'em or not, you knew where they stood.
But today, and particularly in the present nomination process, it feels as if the GOP is coming unraveled. The candidates don't seem to have an answer to Donald Trump, and they are espousing wild ideas like building a fence between the US and Canada, forcibly deporting 11 million undocumented aliens, and bombing Iran. Long-time leaders, principled men like Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, have been pushed to the curb, while vacuous airheads like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and that goober Mike Huckabee seize center stage. If the party were a psychiatric patient, I'd say it was "decompensating."
And it's not just the primaries. During the entirety of the Obama presidency, the Republican Party was never able to articulate a really coherent philosophy of its own or develop any real legislative agenda. It was as if just saying "no" to Obama and the Democrats was enough. Now, while they hold majorities in both houses, they are still playing defense while Obama goes his merry way.
I'm sure many Democrats look at the Republicans' predicament with glee. I don't. It says to me that the Democrats are probably every bit as vulnerable to similar excesses –– especially without strong, viable opposition. There is even the possibility that one of these nuts could win and then we'd all be in the soup!
So, I'd be interested in both of your perspectives. Can the GOP get on a more even keel. Are these extremist candidates just "flashes in the pan". Let's try to go easy on the partisanship and just understand one another a little better. Is this possible?
Oh Boy! PHEW! First, let me say I agree with much of your concern, Libby. The GOP in my never humble opinion has been held hostage since Ronald Reagan left office by a corrupt, out-of-touch cabal of deadhead elitists who not-so-secretly favor the the eventual establishment of a One World Government run as a quasi-Oligarchy by their august selves, of course. These elites aka RINOS run the party's business to suit themselves and their cronies while completely ignoring the fervently expressed desires and needs of those who are supposed to be their constituents. The GOP today is clearly split into two irreconcilable camps.
Republicans are not dissimilar to way Jews have been known to characterize themselves when accused of thinking as a "bloc." Ask two Republicans what they think of a particular issue and you're likely to get five different opinions. ;-)
I cannot say, however, that I am concerned solely about the Republican side of the aisle. The Democrats too appear to be edging closer and closer to disarray. Mrs. H. Rodham Clinton appears to be less than an ideal candidate to put it mildly. Her troubles with what-appears-to-be extra-legal, illegal or unethical conduct has opened the way for the unlikely ascendance of 73-year-old Bernie Sanders, a one-time classic Red Diaper Baby, who despite being an avowed, unabashed Socialist –– a once-unthinkable political identity to which most Democrats refuse to admit –– is now in a statistical dead heat with H. Rodham Clinton. (!)
Enter Vice President Joe Biden, who happens to have been born in 1941 along with a number of others with whom I've been closely associated. ;-) Joe is an affable guy who was my senator for 23 years when I lived in Delaware. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to "little people" with problems. I saw him in action in this regard on more than one occasion, and have to say I was favorably impressed by his compassion and by the efficacy of his response in dealing with myriad little matters that adversely affected the lives of rank and file Delawareans. As a statesman on the international front, however, I was less impressed. and always felt very frankly that he was out of his depth.
Martin O'Malley? A good looking man with an impressive set of muscles who sings in a Rock 'n Roll Band now and then. He's not gaining any traction in this contest, however. Does anyone on your side of the aisle seriously believe he should?
And now to the BIG TUREEN: Friends, former Classmates and Countrymen, in my opinion we already are "in the soup," and it's threatening to boil over any minute. With 94-million Americans unemployed –– apparently a record –– and a 2300-point drop in the Dow these past few weeks, uncontrolled illegal immigration at epidemic proportions, a determination to give a hideous rogue state like Iran, whose leaders promise "DEATH to AMERICA" and openly vow to ANNIHILATE ISRAEL, $150,000,000.00 (one-hundred-fifty billion dollars!) appears to me to give them carte blanche to perpetrate greater, more powerful terrorist activities than ever.
The Middle East, admittedly an eternal trouble spot, is now almost totally destabilized. It has become a seething cauldron of violence and mass destruction verging on complete anarchy. So now we see teeming hordes of desperate refugees seeking asylum and threatening to overburden beleaguered European countries who thanks to decades of misguided notions of altruism and fiscal mismanagement are having one sweet son-of-a-bitch of a time taking care of their own people as it is.
To add to the cheery good news. Bubonic Plague (The Black Death that killed half the population of Europe in the Middle Ages) has reared its ugly head once again in Arizona of all places. Literacy is down. Ignorance is up. Etiquette is a quaint archaic term most today don't recognize, and public taste is deplorable.
Our problems have little to do with party politics. A new term (to me) has recently emerged: The UNIPARTY. Senator Cruz calls it The Washington Cartel. Most Republicans feel betrayed by those they worked hard to elect to congress. We've seen two huge victories for the GOP in the recent elections, but you'd never know it from the pusillanimity and sheer stupidity exhibited by the supposedly victorious party.
Is it any wonder a boorishly irreverent, apparently fearless would-be demagogue with a Rock Star personality like Donald Trump has captured so much favorable attention? In case you hadn't noticed The People are fed up, sick and tired with an insolent, unresponsive ESTABLISHMENT that fairly REEKS of corruption.
On a more positive note I find myself attracted to Dr. Carson, because of his terrific background, and because he seems to be the Anti-Trump. He's quiet, dignified, respectful, kindly, very witty, and highly intelligent. I am encouraged to see him running second to Trump in most polls.
More than enough for now, I'm sure. Aren't you glad you asked for my opinion? };-)>
I agree with many of your points. I think we both see a beleaguered middle class as being central to today's roiling political scene. But I do take exception to a few of your assertions: it is my understanding that the unemployment rate (5.5%) is now at levels of early in the GW Bush era. Also, illegal immigration is down –– significantly. According to the Department of Homeland Security, illegal immigration has fallen to its lowest level in at least two decades. The Pew Research Center says the nation’s population of illegal immigrants, which more than tripled, to 12.2 million, between 1990 and 2007, has since dropped by about 1 million. Over 600,000 illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America were kicked out last year! So all this stuff about our being overrun by illegal aliens is bullshit. Clear and simple! It's the crap that Trump is putting out to make us all shit in our knickers. And as to the Dow, if you can tell why it's down or up, more power to you. More likely the current crash started with the Chinese than with anything domestic.
As to Iran, I strongly disagree that our being more truculent is going to solve anything. Iran has been pledging the annihilation of Israel for decades. As best as I can tell, it's empty rhetoric. Garbage put out for domestic consumption. Nothing more. Israel has the wherewithal, atomic and otherwise, to defend herself and much, much more. Also, people are talking about the 150 billion dollars Iran will be getting like it's a gift. It's not a gift. It's theirmoney –– their assets that we and our global partners froze. Did we really think we were going to keep it? I know Netanyahu would like to marginalize Iran and keep it as weak as possible. But I really don't think this is in the best interests of a stable Middle East or even in the long-term interests of Israel. Remember when France tried to keep us from invading Iraq? Remember all that stuff about not eating French fries? Well, sometimes the best thing an ally can do is to tell you when you shouldn't go to war –– not offering to hold your coat as you get your ass kicked. As strong as our relationship has been and will continue to be, there are times when we can't just go along with Israeli positions. There are lots of people inside Israel and lots of Jews here in America whom I think would agree with me.
Frankly, I am thrilled that we have an administration that is looking for peaceful solutions to our problems, and I really do think the terms of the treaty are extremely tight. It will be very difficult for the Iranians to cheat and if they try to we can re-impose sanctions. Isn't this a hell of a lot better than trying to solve problems with force? Is this weakness on our part? Thinking we could solve the regions' problems with force has been a disastrous approach. It has undermined whatever stability there was in the region.
FreeThinke’s Second Response
I'm not at all sure we can trust the statistics generated either by government agencies or avowedly liberal publications, Libby.
Isn't it a bit too much like trusting the FOX to tell us the whole truth and nothing but the truth about his carryings on on the HENHOUSE?
"Figures may not lie, but liars always figure."
I don't trust numbers generated by avowedly conservative sources either. Instead, I go along with Mark Twain who famously said, "There are lies, God-damned lies, and then there are STATISTICS!"
Here's more Twain to cheer you up and rile you simultaneously:
"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."
~ Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar
"It is the foreign element that commits our crimes. There is no native criminal class except Congress."
! More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927
"Whiskey is carried into committee rooms in demijohns and carried out in demagogues."
~ Notebook, 1868
"I never can think of Judas Iscariot without losing my temper. To my mind Judas Iscariot was nothing but a low, mean, premature, Congressman."
~ "Foster's Case," New York Tribune, 10 March 1873
There’s still more, but first we’d like to hear what you think –– not of the candidates so much –– but of this particular exchange. If you were in the loop, what would you say to Libby’s letter? What would you add to or subtract from FreeThinke’s two responses? Remember please that Libby is a former classmate and very old friend who happens to think differently from me. Our political differences don’t give anyone a license to be rude, unkind or disrespectful.