April 24, 2009

Attention "Returning Combat Veterans:" Napolitano Does Have a Clue


Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

-- Dickenson

Humor hides hard truths; truths told at slant. Indeed, that's one of the social functions of jokes. Jokes let us think things unthinkable. Case in point this list, published in jest at BLACKFIVE: The Real Problem (Thanks, Rick.)

The humor here derives from the recently released report from the Obama administration, a report begun under Bush but buffed and polished and released by Obama, of what the government sees as threats to the country, and more importantly, itself. When it was seen that "right wing extremists" were listed as a threat, and associated with those extremists were "returning combat veterans," there was a firestorm of criticism that caused some backpedaling from Napolitano and the Obama administration. It was the usual hemming and hawing and "We really didn't mean it the way you read it" mumbles.

And then, as it does, the administration moved on to it's next bright and shiny object it holds up three times a week in order to distract any Americans who might still be able to pay attention, and to control the news cycle. Professional distraction and the control of the news cycle are job one in the current administration, and you'd do well to remember that. It's a government hand in a media glove arrangement these days, and the glove fits.

The t-shirt print above is funny, but no joke. It represents not the humor in the Homeland Security memo, but the success of the Obama machine's damage control: "We didn't really mean it. Watch the birdie. Smile, you're on candid surveillance camera." In the Magic Land of Spinola, whenever a political organization says something and then denies they meant it, they actually do mean it.

In this case, what they mean is that -- as an administration that is moving, every day and in every way, in front and behind the scenes, to radically transform the social, economic, and political structure of the United States -- they are afraid of anything that could stop them. The Obama administration means not what it says. That is fungible. It mean what it does.

Obama is not just, as some people suggest, a fumbler who is "making it up as he goes along." There is a plan and, as Chief Executive, he is charged with executing that plan. The plan is more important than the country and more important than the people, and more important than the Constitution. If the plan has to be executed over the corpse of the Constitution, so be it. The idea that just because you swore to "preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States" you actually have to do it once you are in power is, on the face of it, laughable. Under our current system the only possible check on policies that are outside or against the Constitution devolves on Congress. And when Congress is controlled by a party that is also hostile to Constitutional checks on its power, you've got little to worry about until 2010. You've got a whole two years to put your plan in place. If you move fast and ruthlessly, and run up a lot of distractions along the way, you can get it done.

The problem is (and the administration knows this) that if you move too fast and too broadly you can create a resistance that becomes more than just political rallies and tea-party protests. Those are just harbingers. Beyond these harbingers is the darker realm of what is politely called "civil unrest." This is especially the case when things are collapsing economically and your plan initiates, daily, policies that accelerate the collapse. In this situation, even nations with a long history of political patience and stability can rapidly devolve to the point where a government, to maintain itself, has to look at plans for placing the army in the cities. And all established governments have these plans. They would be negligent if they did not.

Have you ever lived in a city when the army is present? I have. It was Berkeley, California in May of 1969 in what was know as The People's Park Riots. (History at the link.) What began with about 250 Highway Patrol and Oakland police being sent in to take back control of a disputed piece of University property escalated to a situation where 2,700 National Guard troops were placed in the city to restore order. It's a strange thing to see a soldier on every corner with a loaded rifle. Something so rare that it is pretty much unthinkable to the average American today. But it did happen and it can happen. All it takes is, in times of collapse, a spark and a paranoid government.

The Napolitano Report that envisions "returning combat veterans" as a threat is a very real artifact of a paranoid government, but let us not forget that while individual paranoids often have a few very real enemies, paranoid governments always have a lot of very real enemies.

If I was a federal bureaucrat charged with preparing a document listing possible threats to the government (not the nation, the government) in the environment facing the Obama administration today, I'd put "returning combat veterans" at the top of the list of potential threats should things in the country shift from protest to "civil unrest." After all, they've got the training and the experience to organize others. Many have likely got the weapons as well as caches of ammunition. In addition, they are dispersed about the nation. Should any civil unrest occur, a government would like to know, first and foremost, where members of this group were and what they were doing.

Of all the groups on the Napolitano watch list, the "returning combat veterans" are the most clear and present danger. It may seem like a joke to many, but one of the hallmarks of Obama and his administration is their humorlessness.

Am I being too paranoid here? As an individual, yes. But if you think like a government with a radical plan for radical transformation, you'll see I am not being paranoid enough. I'm sure that lurking within the administration's filing cabinets right now is another report we are unlikely to ever see. One that examines and attempts to predict whether or not, under conditions of "civil unrest," they can depend on the loyalty of the U.S. military, the source of those pesky "returning combat veterans."

After all, they last thing a President wants to hear is, "I have to report, sir, that I can no longer answer for the 101st Airborne." I've asked retired military friends about this possibility and they all assure me that such a thing is unthinkable. Perhaps it is but, as another friend often says, "Isn't it pretty to think so." Still, as I am reminded daily by realities previously thought unthinkable in this Black Swan world, that while governments like to put forward the idea that they are in control, it is more and more events that are "in the saddle and drive mankind."

Posted by Vanderleun at April 24, 2009 10:10 AM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I just found this website but it has already made more sense than 99% of the crap on the internet. Keep it up.

Posted by: Adam at April 24, 2009 11:23 AM


You would do well to stick around, indeed. Gerard makes plenty of sense, and as you pay attention to the twitter feed under his Edge Notes, you'll be pointed to boatloads of similarly excellent stuff.

Posted by: Andy at April 24, 2009 11:49 AM

I would assume that those documents exist. That's what contingency files are for, after all. In fact, I would expect to find two very different sets. The first would be in the Pentagon contingency files. If they're not, then someone is delinquent. Being a possible scenarion, it ought to be gamed out.
The other set I would expect to find in the darker corners of the 'Shadow Party'. Contingency planning like that would be extremely difficult for the POTUS to explain. It would, however, be within the scenario-space of a dedicated 'soft' revolutionary movement. Such as the 'Shadow Party'.
Just so show the size of my tinfoil hat,
go here: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6706

Posted by: Howard Roark at April 24, 2009 12:01 PM

The American people, at least the majority of the American people, whole-heartedly trust the military...that cannot be said of Obama. The DHS report is a profile of who he considers his enemies. The timing of that report, right before the tea parties, was no accident. It was intentional and meant to scare off the critics, that wasn't lost on the tea party goers...but what he may not have expected is that the tea party goers (who had many veterans among them) aren't at all like his serfs...it had the opposite effect...it just added insult to injury. There's a saying...tyranny is when people fear its government...liberty is when the government fears its people. Then his people say the protests are "unhealthy" and he moves to add a domestic terrorist to the most wanted list, so that we wouldn't miss the point he was making...but then he could only find a left wing terrorist to make an example out of. Laughable, pitiful, shameful.

Only 100 days after a claimed (close)landslide election and more debt than all the president's combined have added to this nation's back, nationalizing-controlling (destroying)the private sector left and right, dissing our friends and sucking up to our enemies, apologizing for how terrible a country we the people are to the whole world in our face, endulging secrets with the enemy and increasing the danger to citizens and hanging out our bravest son's and daughters to threats of prosecution for doing what Congress knew and authorized them to do, flip-flopping depending on the daily direction of his lap-dog's release of gas...why is he so fearful-duh?

Posted by: renee at April 24, 2009 12:24 PM

Gerard, you're military contacts are largely correct about the unlikelyhood of armed forces not willing to carry out a President's orders, but for a couple of potential game-changing phenomena:

Individual soldiers during the Bush years "protesting" Iraq, and whatnot, created an opening for military personnel to resist policies they don't like.

National Guard and reserve units are more likely to be vulnerable to loss of nerve when told to confront large numbers of people they know to NOT be extremists, and who resemble themselves as well as their friends, neighbors, and families.

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at April 24, 2009 12:55 PM

I've often thought of the military as the trump card for liberty in this country. It is very difficult for me to conceive that the US Armed Forces (largely a Red State organization) would take orders from a left-winger in order to illegally put American citizens under the boot. Rather, it seems to me, the left-winger would quickly find that the joke is on him.

We've sunk to a point where we somehow regard one branch of government (the Judiciary) as being the *only* one who is allowed to step up and defend the US Constitution. Doesn't the military also take such an oath? Deposing a tyrant would simply be fulfillment of duty, especially if said tyrant had issued orders to subjugate the population.

Posted by: Matteo at April 24, 2009 3:36 PM

When I was commissioned into the Army, I swore to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same... ." Pledging obedience to the president comes after this pledge (link).

Whether that means the military's officers would actually mutiny against usurpation of power by their commander in chief is something I find highly problematical. Understand that the active officer corps is not paying near the attention to the administration's domestic politics that the blogosphere is doing.

Obama's usurpation will be gradual. There will be no Putsch or October Revolution.

If civil unrest returns, you can expect to see the Guard back on the street corners. I do think that regular Army officers would balk at being sent to enforce civil law (though Eisenhower sure got away with it in Little Rock when he deployed the 101st Airborne there).

I have been writing literally for years that I am convinced I am a member of the last generation in human history that can be called substantially free. G.W. Bush was certainly no friend of freedom. In fact, Obama could not have near the success in shutting down individual freedom except that Bush plowed the road. When either party looks at Americans today, it thinks, "You are the problem."

And remember: If you know how to capture wild pigs, you know how to subdue a country. Obama knows how very, very well.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at April 24, 2009 6:40 PM

I listened tonight to a military man speaking to Rusty Humphries on his radio program. I did not get his rank although I gathered it was substantial. He was absolutely sincere in his committment to serve the Commander in Chief and follow his orders, as is every officer I know. But that is not all he said, and since it was said without especial emphasis Humphries seemed to miss the distinction. He said that he was absolutely committed to serving the President of the United States and the Constitution.
When the time comes, they are going to serve the Constitution, and this bedevils the Revolutionaries. They are working on it, I'm sure.

Posted by: james wilson at April 24, 2009 8:03 PM

Thank you for your insightful analysis and speculation. There is a fascinating report, written by Charles Dunlap for the Army War College, describing a scenario not too far from what you've described:

The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012:


Posted by: Eric Gagnon at April 25, 2009 7:24 AM

You nailed it right off the bat-- distinguishing *threat to country* vs. *threat to government itself*. Most will fail to see that distinction. Thanks, Gerard.

Posted by: Hannon at April 25, 2009 7:56 AM

The truth? Well, you can always tell the truth and shame the devil.

But that isn't politic, is it?

Posted by: Mikey NTH at April 26, 2009 10:11 AM

I remember Bezerkeley 1969. It was wild. Crimes of violence were down. Crimes of stealth (drug dealing) were up. The Army is not a police force.

Note: if 2,700 was the requirement to get order in Bezerkeley, I think we are about 10 or 50 divisions short when it comes to pacifying all of America. And Obama & Co. are strangling the military. He probably never had their confidence anyway. And with Janet (why isn't my name Reno?) N. dissing the vets even less so.

Posted by: M. Simon at April 26, 2009 4:00 PM