the Church, the State, and me

Lord, thou hast made us for thyself, therefore our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
Posts tagged "military"

The country of Mali on the continent of Africa

From Anne Kennedy at an undercurrent of compunction, who grew up in Mali, although now safely stateside:

Mali seems to be undergoing some kind of Coup d’Etat. Very angry soldiers have taken over the presidential palace, forcing the president to flee, and have suspended the constitution and all other relevant institutions. It seems to be the inevitable rolling down hill of insanity kicked off by the Libyan conflict, or at least that’s what everyone is saying, combined with an increasing influence of radical Islam in the north with a dash of Al-Qaeda to keep everything spicy. The mishandling of the northern uprising is the stated reason for a power grab, even with elections supposed to be happening at the end of April. Was rather startled, at 11 last night, to see that the name of the leader of the coup is Sanogo, the main family name from the region where I grew up….

So, for those of you prone to complaining about incivility in politics and a too long primary season, take a few moments today to pray for Mali—for ordinary Malians who don’t need this right now, for people who wanted to fly out yesterday and now can’t, for many many missionaries and aid workers who would like to be able to travel and work but who are holing up along with everyone else and trying to keep away from stray shooting. And I’m praying that this Sanogo guy is not from my village.

Read it all.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio

And I use “censored” in the correct First Amendment sense (that of government interference)–in this case, it’s a twofer: 1) prohibiting the free exercise of religion and 2) abridging freedom of speech. From

…The message from the archbishop touched off a controversy both in and outside the military when the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains told the service’s senior chaplains that Catholic priests serving as Army chaplains should be told not to read the archbishop’s letter from the pulpit.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services has described that move as a violation of the archbishop’s First Amendment rights as well as the First Amendment rights of the Catholic chaplains involved and their congregations….

Archbishop [Timothy] Broglio’s letter opposing the [HHS] regulation and describing it as a violation of the constitutional rights of Catholics was read verbatim at Masses served by Navy and Air Force chaplains around the world.

However, the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains attempted to silence Catholic Army chaplains from reading it at their Masses—an effort rejected and resisted by Archbishop Broglio….

In his Jan. 28 telephone conversation with Army Secretary [John] McHugh, Archbishop Broglio was able to extract from the secretary an admission that it had been wrong for the secretary to try to silence the Catholic chaplains….

And here is the letter (from His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services) that the Army rejected:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

It is imperative that I call to your attention an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those immoral “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to choose between violating our consciences or dropping health coverage for our employees (and suffering the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Your children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

Therefore, I ask two things of you. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.

Grateful even now for your support, I remain

Sincerely in Christ,
(Most Reverend) Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services

A post by McQ at BlackFive on the defense budget and the coming cuts:

Here’s a little fact to keep in mind when considering the current cuts to spending at DoD (and let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with appropriate cuts to defense spending), besides all the other ramifications it promises:

Defense accounts for less than 20 percent of the federal budget but already exceeds 50 percent of deficit-reduction efforts. And for every dollar the President hopes to save in domestic programs, he plans on saving $128 in defense.

And that’s without the looming sequestration cuts (keep in mind, most war fighting costs are not included in the budget) of another half trillion dollars.

Or said another way, the administration has decided that it will attempt to cut spending primarily with cuts to national defense.  There is no serious program afoot to cut back the myriad of other government agencies and branches.  In fact, many are expanding (see EPA, IRS, etc.)….

And this point made in the comments:

In an interview with Republican Alan Simpson, he states that the Defense Budget is responsible for 2/3 of discretionary spending. Discretionary spending is the portion of the budget that is negotiated between Congress and the President. So while it is approximate 20% of the federal budget, it is the largest portion of the negotiable portion of the budget. This is part of the reason it’s getting trimmed….

Read it all.

Let’s do a little comparison, shall we? Politics aside, which group would you rather be a part of?

A Tea Party gathering:

On the Mall after the Restoring Honor Rally by thebenedict (You Tube)

…Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward. If someone had told attendees they were expected to mow the grass before they left, surely some of them would have hitched flatbed trailers to their vehicles for the trip to Washington and gladly brought mowers along with them.
This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society. The spark that lit the tea-party movement was the rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who inveighed in early 2009 against an Obama-administration program to subsidize “the losers’ mortgages.” He was speaking for people who hadn’t borrowed beyond their means or tried to get rich by flipping houses, for the people who, in their thrift and enterprise, “carry the water instead of drink the water.”…

Or an Occupy gathering:

Occupy Wall Street (Copyright Stefan Jeremiah)

Tension had been building for days in the Occupy Oakland camp before it erupted into violence Monday and Tuesday. When it finally did, Don Hughes, a substitute teacher and full-time tent resident of the camp, found himself amid a full-blown melee.
The next thing Hughes knew he was in a headlock, then he was being punched, and then he was on the ground as a large man began to choke him.
"This is a revolution, and we want it to be open to everybody," said Hughes early Wednesday morning, "but this guy crossed too many lines."
As dawn came Wednesday, the protest’s 10th day, an almost overwhelming sense of urgency was developing around the need to resolve internal security issues that have bedeviled residents and passers-by alike. The tent city that has sprung up on the steps of Oakland City Hall has attracted a diverse range of people, many with competing ideologies and world views. Homeless people, ex-convicts, at least one registered sex offender, students, unemployed hotel workers, anarchists and reform-minded activists freely mingle together in what amounts to a democracy free-for-all.
Sometimes, everyone appears to be on the same page. But the skein of civility has been frequently shattered as bullies, the mentally ill, drunks, thugs and anarchists have threatened the safety and well-being of the camp’s more peaceful residents. Occupy Oakland has grown out of demonstrations that began in a New York City park a month ago as a protest against what occupiers see as corporate greed.
Organizers have stressed the need for consensus in the camp’s decision-making process. But as the demands for individual safety and security have grown, the movement’s priorities have begun to bump up against people’s concerns for their own well-being and that of their friends and, in some cases, their children.
One Oakland police officer, who asked to remain anonymous for reasons of police protocol, described the scene in tent city as akin to a scene from “Lord of the Flies.” And, indeed, the on-the-fly rule-making can often veer into an oppressive, anarchic mood….

There’s a reason why societies over time develop rules and mores for dealing with how individuals and groups should function within that society. Human nature needs structure, not oppression and not anarchy, but structure. I think that’s something a few of the Occupy protesters are just beginning to realize.

From BlackFive:

U.S. Army Sgt. Sean Matthews searches an alley while on a patrol in the Mehtar Lam district in Afghanistan’s Laghman province, Oct. 8, 2011. Matthews is a team leader assigned to the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, which visited with local leaders to discuss building a second orphanage for children who have lost their families.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane

Ugandan districts affected by Lords Resistance Army

Ugandan districts affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is despicable, but I’m not sure what U.S. troops are doing in Uganda—and apparently, I’m not the only one.

From the Daily Caller:

The Obama administration surprised a lot of folks late last week when it announced it was sending around 100 American troops to Uganda to help regional forces take out Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony….

[Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)] went on to criticize President Obama for not consulting with Congress before announcing the operation.

“This guy [Joseph] Kony and this Lord’s Resistance Army are guilty of unspeakable behavior and the human rights organizations all over the world want this to stop,” McCain said.

“I worry about with the best of intentions we somehow get engaged in a commitment that we can’t get out of, that’s happened before in our history and we need an explanation. And I’m very disappointed, again, that the administration has not consulted with members of Congress before taking such action….”

Check it out.

From Outside the Wire with JD Johannes:

… Brad’s first move after that was not to take overt control of the situation.  He complimented the platoon sergeant on the smart decisions he made so far, then by way of asking a few questions, guided the sergeant into making some even better decisions.

In all the writing about the SEALs recently, that is something I think many people miss.  Yes, SEALs are incredibly athletic and physically fit.  They are some of the best gunfighters and tacticians in the business, but they are also very intelligent, articulate and polished.  Their interpersonal communications skills could be highlighted by the Harvard Business Review.

On the surface they projected an image of deadly efficiency.  They wore full beards and weapons ranging from brass knuckles to a hatchet.  Yes, a hatchet.  Chad and Andy were muscular enough to make me feel like a pipsqueak.  Andy, in particular became the subject of a series of Chuck Norris two liners…

At one point I shot the breeze with Brad and explained how a mid-life crisis led me to become a combat cameraman.

“What does a guy like you do for a mid-life crisis?” I asked him.

“Get married, start a family, work at a bank.”

That low key life is not far off from how they roll around on FOBs.  Whenever I have spotted a real Budweiser Badge SEAL on base he blends in to the background wearing jeans and t-shirt, looking like he could be a guy who manages bottled water and MRE distribution at the supply yard.  Albeit one who looks like he spends a lot of his off time in the gym.

They know they are that pinnacle of the warrior food chain, don’t gloat about it and have a fondness for old fashioned grunts who do the grinding work of war.  When we were in a secured area they would drift from one group of soldiers to another talking shop and patiently answering questions.  They knew how to work a temporary patrol base like a politician works a room full of donors.  Like I said, polished, but not a just a surface gleam, a type of shine that only comes from pure mettle…

Check it out.

From Victor Davis Hanson:

… We seem able to admit that massive federal and state entitlements have created a sense of dependency, a loss of self-respect and initiative, and a breakdown of the family, yet we still seem to fear that trimming the subsidies would lead to some sort of cold-turkey hyper-reaction. We assume that society is to blame for disaffected youth and therefore are hesitant to use commensurate force to quell the violence or even to make it clear that perpetrators are responsible for their own conduct. Yet at some point — when the violence reaches middle-class communities or, in serial fashion, downtown or suburban stores — we likewise assume that sufficient force will be used. Sociological exegesis will go out the window. Reality has a way of dispelling such cognitive luxuries…

Check it out.

From CBS News:

Brian [Bunting] was home on a so-called rest and recreation tour in February of 2009. Shortly after he returned to Afghanistan he and three others were killed by a roadside bomb.

"At the time he was killed we didn’t know we were pregnant," Nicki says. "Four days after I was notified of his death is when I found out that we were pregnant - so it was just such a miracle. It was the best news I could have ever received."

Nicki says Cooper actually took his first step at his father’s grave. Nicki says he put his hand on the gravestone, “And then he just stepped. Uh-huh. It was amazing. It was remarkable. I couldn’t believe it.”

Connor, 4, is old enough to have some memory of this father, and seems to understand what this place means.

"Conner calls Arlington heaven," Nicki says, "so he’s obviously a little confused with what’s going on. But if he wants to think that this is heaven, that’s fine." She adds, "This is where daddy is and I tell him daddy’s in heaven. So, it makes sense."