Watching a Grandson is a very fun activity for an old guy. You see a little of yourself, and as a result, you know in your heart that the world is eventually going to be in deep trouble. Not because he is bad, to the contrary, he is precious and brilliant. He will grow up to give us things that will bypass cellphones, computers, and launch us further into the future. His generation will put two widgets together and create a super widget, that will revolutionize the planet, and make the world a better place. I just hope we don’t screw it up too badly before he gets his chance, and that we can protect it long enough for them to take over. ~ Michael S. Pauley
There is an upside and a downside to getting older. The upside is obvious, you’re still breathing, but the downside is a little less open to view. The one that is quite open is what I’ll call the great migration. For men, this usually involves hair. Watching it migrate from the top of my head into places that never had hair, is fascinating. Annoying as hell, but fascinating. There is always the one ear hair that a Ranger could use as a rappelling rope. Then other things are falling off, such as your face. Shaving is a challenge, since I’m convinced that my face is melting. Now to shave requires that I chase my chin(s) towards my knees before scraping. Women have their own problems. I know that my bride (who looks 20 years younger than her actual age), is always complaining about something headed south. Still, as I look at the gray coming, and the bags under my eyes growing, I still feel as though she got the better end of the deal. So, why am I writing about such things, well in a few days I’m going to be another year older. I just hope that this trend continues, since the alternative kind of sucks. So, I guess I won’t mind having those bags under my eyes, especially if they get any bigger, since I’ll then have a place to hide my beer if I ever decide to go to a football game. ~ Michael S. Pauley
I was wandering the house in search of an idea for this blog post, when CNN was kind enough to provide me with some wonderful fodder. Last Saturday, September 20, 2014, a 42 year old man from Texas, jumped the fence of the White House, ran 105 yards, and then went through the front door where he was finally apprehended. The amateur video of his exploits are the stuff of legend. Broad daylight, you can see this chubby figure running across the White House lawn, a mere 4 minutes after the President and his family departed for Camp David. I will freely admit that this was a real chuckler for me, at least a chuckler until it dawned on me that if this guy can do it, then who else can? As a matter of fact, we know that a few weeks ago, a toddler breached security, and now you have a chubby guy from Texas leaping tall fences and able to outrun security the 105 yards to the front door?!? If toddlers and middle aged fat men can do it, I wonder if someone from ISIL, or some other terrorist group, can do it at night?
If I were President, I would be just a tad bit concerned. For one thing, the uniformed security officers, present and on camera, appeared to be just one doughnut short of having eaten a complete Krispy Kreme franchise in one sitting. (So much for the School Lunch initiative put forward by the First Lady!) The most troubling thing though is that now anyone interested in actually doing something sinister, has learned several very important things about the White House perimeter. The first is that this idiot made it to the front door in daylight, and wasn’t subtle in doing it. The second is how the officers on scene reacted to that process of chasing the chubby guy. (Not very well if the video is any indication). You also have to ask, who was looking at what, while this guy creates a diversion running towards the front door? In other words, what was happening on the other side of the building? Sometimes the obvious is NOT the real story.
Is this a breakdown in security, or just an acute case of being surprised, or worse, just plain stupid? I watched a similar kind of thing unfold when I was still working for the State of South Carolina. My office fronted on our Statehouse grounds, and I was afforded a great view of an equally ridiculous event. Every day for a week, a man came by my office carrying a step ladder that was festooned with lots of protest signs. He would set it up in front of the Statehouse near the Confederate Flag Memorial, and then protest the continued presence of the Confederate Battle Flag on the Statehouse grounds. On the second or third day, watching him walk by my window, I wandered out and spoke with one of our security guys. (Who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons.......) He laughed at me, and said, “Nah, he is no big deal, just another nut.” I wasn’t convinced, and security shouldn’t have been either. Sure enough, on the 5th day, he popped open his ladder, but instead of using it to display his multitude of protest signs, he simply looked around, and then scampered up to set fire to the Battle Flag.
Now don’t get me wrong. I honestly don’t give a rip one way or the other about the Confederate Flag, and I darn sure don’t want to get into the implications of whether it stays or goes. Instead, my point is that complacency is the surest way to get surprised. The security officer I talked with was convinced that it was no big deal, and he, along with his peers, dropped their guard. (Presumably because nuts are harmless?!????) Regardless, once that guard was dropped, then the really bad things happened. In this post-9/11 world, you’d think that these lessons would be second nature, but then again, there are things like doughnuts...... ~ Michael S. Pauley
If ignorance is bliss, then sometimes I think Washington, DC, might be about the happiest place on Earth. Now before anyone gets up in arms about my being partisan or political, let me say that I’m not being anything other than disgusted at both sides of the aisle. I don’t think either party gets it, so I’m being equal opportunity in my disgust. Listening to some of these politicians makes me seriously question whether their self aggrandizement will ever give way to the best interests of the country. Having said this, there are times when there will be flashes of non-partisan political movement, harmony, and even brief moments of cooperation.
For example, on December 8, 1941, there was cooperation between the parties, then later in September 2001, there was also cooperation between the parties. Sadly, such cooperation never lasts long. After December 8th, the recriminations and witch hunting began over who was asleep at Pearl Harbor, and why things happened in the first place. This took on a pure political bent, as each side rushed to justify their position in their endless hearings after the war. There is a multi-volume set of testimony and exhibits that records those hearings, that for some reason known only to GOD, I’ve read word for word. It makes for fascinating reading to a history geek, but it should be mandatory reading for anyone that doesn’t want to repeat stupid mistakes. I say this, since I think we can also all remember the 9/11 Commission. Their report and supporting documents also make for some very interesting reading. What most people don’t realize, unless they’ve read both reports, is that you could have taken the Congressional Report published in the 1940s, and just changed the date to the 2000s. Sure there are differences in equipment, people, and places, but the lessons are the same. More food for thought as we hear from both sides of the aisle about things like ISIL, or even Putin’s actions in Eastern Europe. Maybe, just maybe, instead of peeing in each others pockets, they should pick up a history book. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Okay, it sure sounds scary enough, and if you read the press or listen to the news, there is much hand wringing, and panic being tossed about. I’m sorry, but this is hyperbole at its finest. We’re talking a disease that is not spread via an airborne pathogen. In other words, you can’t get it from breathing it in. Instead, it spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids, either from an infected person, or some who recently died from it. This limits the ability of Ebola to spread, and for most, if not all, developed countries with decent hospitals, this makes is much simpler to control any outbreaks. Sadly the numbers appear horrific, but in reality, the world has far more dangerous threats from other diseases. SARS for example. The global numbers for that one exceed the Ebola Virus by several thousand. H5N1, West Nile Virus, and other airborne transmitted diseases have far more staggering numbers of deaths than Ebola. So why the panic? Why the hype? Why now? I have no intention of answering these questions, because I don’t really have the answer. What I can say is that as consumers of the news, maybe we should collectively be asking them. In my opinion, we’re being misled and over-hyped again, and sadly, while we are looking at the “shiny” thing, other far more insidious things are lurking in the weeds. I can remember when the Press, or 4th Estate, was tasked with keeping people honest, and providing accurate information we needed to know, as opposed to the half truth, agenda oriented, garbage they want to toss at us in the guise of news. How far they have fallen from the days of Winchell. ~ Michael S. Pauley
If you have never seen Monty Python’s Life of Brian, I would highly recommend it. Sure it is blasphemous to some, but there is an interesting lesson to be learned too. For example, in one scene, various groups for the “liberation of ..... (fill in the blank),” meet in an underground tunnel on their way to commit different acts of sabotage against the Romans. The scene makes much of the various names of these groups, which seemed to change depending on the phase of the moon, or someone’s mood, and the clash of their ideologies. How does this relate? Well, for those of us watching the Middle East region over the last 30 plus years, there is a huge kernel of truth to the humor.
An in-depth study of the Middle East Region will reveal an enigma wrapped in a hard shell casing of bizarre, with a soft center of “huh?” In that part of the world, truth can often be a real moving target, often spun to meet the needs of the moment, and hidden within a religious message, (often spread to the illiterate by a chose few, who are also pretty illiterate). These lunatic notions run the gamut from the Holocaust didn’t ever happen, all the way to September 11, 2014 was an operation of the USAF and Israel, (to deliberately draw the US into the region for war against all Muslims.) Some of this craziness would be funny if it weren’t so damn serious in the impact and problems they breed. Sadly, I’ve run into a group here in the United States that have taken off in a similar direction. (Sovereign Citizens, who frankly have a view of the world that is equally bizarre.) Their mantra runs from Government conspiracies of all stripes, to the notion that all contrails of passing aircraft are actually “Chem Trails,” of mind altering drugs meant to facilitate governmental mind control. Most of us look at these notions and just shake our heads, but to some it is quite real. Is it any wonder that the world is such a dangerous place? When you’re surrounded by those who have no concept of the truth, then sorting the sublime from the ridiculous can be a real challenge. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Something that nobody has ever adequately explained to me is this notion that we’ve fought all these different wars since September 11, 2014. I thought that when we launched our War on Terror, in response to September 11, 2014, that it was one war. Sure we’ve had campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, but we’ve also dealt with issues in the Philippines, Malaysia, and other parts of the globe. I’m sure I’m being naive, but now that we’re faced with ISIL, isn’t this the culmination of things that would naturally be a part of our War on Terror? They have forces in Lybia, Somalia, Syria, and Iraq. Some will tell you that they can and have reached into Mexico, parts of Europe and even here in the United States. The other day, some of them came out of Pakistan and attacked an Iranian Border Checkpoint.
Some pundits argue that because we were “looking for WMD” that Iraq was a different war, and therefore the war on Iraq wasn’t about the War on Terror. I agree that is a good argument, but for me it just isn’t persuasive. What is persuasive is that Al Qaida, regardless of franchise, form, or location, is the creature of an ideology. That ideology is what we’ve been fighting for lo these 13 years, and we’re still fighting it today. We were, and still are, concerned that WMD, that includes bio, chemical, and nuclear weapons or components, can be proliferated from regimes like Saddam, or Assad’s, or even “little” Kim in North Korea. Missile technology, and other weapons have most certainly followed that course. (Ask anyone in Israel.)
Now looking at ISIL, I hear some say that it just isn’t that serious or large of a threat, and that this is all media driven. Again, let’s look at the facts. Sure, it can be argued that the Al Qaida “prime” was more adept at global terror operations, and that ISIL is more of a thug conventional force limited to a region of the world. Still, this to me is merely a variation on a theme. The skill sets that made Al Qaida Prime dangerous have also proliferated from the elements of Al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. If you think that the disagreements between Shia and Sunni will keep them off our shores, then again, that notion is delusional. Certainly, nobody questions that in our own country we disagree about how to do things, but that doesn’t make any of us less American, nor does it mean we can’t come together against a common enemy. Face it, the one time the Shia and Sunni populations don’t have a problem coming together is when you raise the question of Israel, or the US, or even the West for that matter. Again, we get back to the common ideology of all these groups/franchises, and while it is inconsistent with the actual teachings of a real religion, it is consistent with a tribal mentality of “us vs. them.” While ISIL and Al Qaida may have taken the Islamic religion as their basis for their actions, it still boils down to the reality that so long as that ideology of hate exists, then we will be threatened.
President Bush noted that this was a danger, and that it would be a long, often unseen war fought around the globe. I think history is now showing this to be correct. He has spoken of the Axis of evil, and guess what. We’re now seeing that all Presidents, regardless of political affiliation, will likely be dealing with this for quite a while into the future. If you really want to see it end, then I suggest we work on the elimination of the ideology, since that is the root cause of what I see as the continuation of the War on Terror! How to do that will always be a source of discussion. In the end though, we can either eliminate it through education or through force, but make no mistake, it must be eliminated. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Today I just want to give a brief homage to the men and women who are part of the force protection forces around the world. Their job is often difficult, and made even more so by the amount of terrain they must cover globally. Think about it. The bad guys love anniversaries. This means that things like September 11, 2014, are known as potential target dates for them. Sounds simple enough, except for one little issue. When does September 11th begin, when you are concerned with force protection around the globe. For the planners in Washington, this means that starting on September 10th, they need to keep their guard up, and this remains in place until the sun sets on September 11, 2014, which for those in Washington is sometime on September 12th, talk about your long day. This dynamic comes up in my book as well, where the bad guys, (in my case the Gomers), follow the twilight line around the globe to spread their havoc. These global issues mean that for someone trying to run an operation that spans the planet, the sun literally never sets nor does it rise. Just a little food for thought, and the real reason that the people running the communications centers, and other facilities dedicated to force protection, win huge awards from me. ~ Michael S. Pauley
The last weeks have been interesting, but I want to step back a minute, and focus on something said before the President’s speech the other evening. About a week or so ago, a Joint Statement was released from the NATO Summit that had something interesting in it. As a second goal in fighting ISIL, it was posited that NATO wanted to “Stop[...] the flow of foreign fighters.” I think that is great in theory, but what if....... What if we didn’t cut off the flow, and what if we allowed as many of them into that area as possible. Wouldn’t that make it easier to destroy them all? Like removal of a cancer, it might help to have them all in one spot, making the surgery far more successful. Something similar came up during World War II. While many panicked during the Battle of the Bulge, some were delighted that the German Army had decided to get into a spot where they could be destroyed in detail. Just a thought, since as it stands, even if you cut off the flow of these guys, you’re not cutting off their desire to cause harm and spread evil. By cutting off the flow, I personally believe that you are only making sure that we won’t know where they all are located around the world. This means that the ideology of terror and evil will remain, and you then still have to concern yourself with what they might be doing locally. Nope, I’d love to have them all in one spot, to me that just makes the job simpler and more clear cut as to goals and rules of engagement. Just my two cents. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Grandchildren are a gift. They are a reminder of the joys of parenthood, while at the same time they can be handed back to their parents. This usually takes place when the little darlings start being reminders of all the downsides of parenthood. In this I’ve been pretty lucky. My Grandson is at that age where discovery is priceless, and the world is just opening up to him as a fascinating place. With each new discovery, I am reminded of his Mother at that age. With each new disaster, I’m reminded of his Mother at that age. The difference now is that when discovery takes place, for things like gravity or the bursting radius of a can of Coke, I no longer have to clean up the mess. This is where a grandparent finally can enjoy the antics of a young explorer without feeling the strain of “OH MY GOD!! NOW WHAT??” Instead, I feel nothing but joy when these things happen.
When the dog runs in terror, I smile. When the bric-a-brac shatters on the floor, I smile. As the toy car flies through the air and impales itself into an unsuspecting bystander (usually me), I note the minor injury, but I still smile. So, why in the world would I smile at these disasters? When I stop to answer the question of why these minor disasters, even the ones with light injuries and several casualties, would make me smile, I realized the answer in a flash. “I’ll be damned, she really did have one just like her!” Now tell me, who doesn’t truly appreciate having that last laugh! (I also then realized that perhaps this is why MY Father used to smile at the things my daughter used to do. I guess that is more definitive evidence that history does repeat itself, even at the micro level.) ~ Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.