Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Political Epiphany

I watched the most recent Presidential debate and contrary to the reaction of many others, I am happy that I did so. My satisfaction is hardly derived from entertainment or insight (at least insight directly from the candidates themselves) that I reaped from viewing. From the candidates indirectly, however, I learned a valuable to lesson…

…how liberating one feels to begin to break bonds from organized associations.

That notion requires clarification. And clarity will be most easily achieved by referencing the one example that most motivated the recognition of this notion.

Politically, I first to began to associate myself with the Republican Party no later than immediately after joining the military. Interestingly, however, my real passion for Republican doctrines was cemented during my first year in college when I was exposed to economical theory and the free-market principles of experts such as Milton Friedman.

Since that time, I have fell victim to the trap that one can be so easily snared when dealing with party politics. I began to follow my party’s rhetoric blindly which, roughly, brings me to my general political ideology up until the last debate. And, then, with seemingly minimal effort, Senator John McCain, whom I have met and respect dearly, caused a sudden recognition of my own folly.

I was planning on voting for McCain because he was the Republican candidate. Now, however, I will vote for him only because the policies that Senator Obama recommends somehow scare me worse than Senator McCain’s. And that is really saying something, because it is Senator McCain’s plans as President that distance him so far from the conservative base.

So, instead of being bound by cookie-cutter party ideology, I will now and forever live by my own standards of good governance.

This was caused by several McCain policy endorsements, a couple of which I will briefly discuss.

During the debate, Senator McCain continually propagated his plan for economic recovery that included the purchasing of falsely-valued mortgages by government; these mortgages would then be resold to the original holder at their current (real) value. While I am cognizant of the plight that many of these mortgage owners face, I am only marginally sympathetic. I wonder to myself at what point people began to believe that it was wise to purchase homes so financially beyond their means. It is easy to pass the blame to those that, for a period, gained the most from this vast amount of exorbitantly priced homes sold (the sellers), but some (err… much) of the blame has to be placed on the individuals that borrowed so recklessly in the first place.

The U.S. economy, without too much government interference, is going to require a period of “tough love” to straighten itself out. However, I believe that it will correct itself and in doing so, and by encountering the consequences that citizens themselves sowed, the U.S. economy will be stronger and wiser for having gone through the trials brought on by excessive gluttony.

But the Arizona Senator’s plan is nothing like this. He wants to rescue the “victims” of this crisis. And, while I can hardly fault the moral obligation that he feels, I can fault his policies for being contrary to every free-market conservative principle in which I have been exposed. If this is what the Republicans are currently selling, than I am not buying it.

Finally, there is the topic of my single largest pet-peeve in regards to the “new” McCain: his lack of fortitude on the issue of market deregulation.

It is currently the vogue opinion to blame the financial crisis on the deregulation of financial markets. Senator McCain himself, throughout the debate, was targeted negatively as a proponent of deregulation.

To which, I only ask: when did promoting a free-market economy become a bad thing?

Apparently, to Senator McCain, it has become just that because he responds to each of these accusations sheepishly. A candidate with my ideology would stand strong when exposed to deregulation being referred to negatively. I would suspect that an individual whom truly bought into their conservative principles, which I do, would respond to such criticism by pointing out that any market requiring DEregulation was never free in the first place. Why not counter such criticism by questioning how effectively a truly free market could be?

That question, of course, is rhetorical. Such a response from Senator McCain would be akin to him surrendering the election to Senator Obama, because everyone “knows” that deregulation has led to the financial mess in which America currently finds itself. To be a proponent of such policies would be like being a proponent of the agitator that caused the current financial meltdown. Never mind that we hardly know where the economy would stand right now had it ever truly and originally been liberated to the point some of us would have liked and would still like.

By following my advice and aggressively standing firm on the conservative values in which the Republican Party was formed, would be doom for Senator McCain’s Presidential bid, but - should I hold myself as an example - it would go a long way in reassuring grassroot Republicans that our Party has not abandoned us.

But, it has.

And, in my case, this is not unfortunate because it has revealed to me the liberation of never again voting on someone else’s terms. While I despise the Democratic Party’s platform, there is much to dislike about the G.O.P.’s as well. Why restrict myself to such limiting and inadequate standards?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Soldier's Tale

Tonight, something different.

The scene opens to a domicile; it could very well be a college dorm or a location similar. The composition of the room is modern from being freshly built. The gleam of luster, however, is fleeting. Trash is strewn throughout the room which, itself, is separated in two. The makeshift partition is formed by two entertainment centers, their backs against each other. Very little in the room - a uniform lying here, a pair of boots sitting there - makes it apparent that this is a military barracks room, but it is. The individual currently solely occupying the room is himself a soldier. Discipline, however, is hardly manifest here. The trash scattered throughout consists of half-crushed beer cans and empty liquor bottles. Hastily discarded take-out boxes complete the reckless motif.

The soldier, seated in a chair, faces the screen of a laptop computer. On the screen, several programs are open. The fingers of the soldier tap quickly as he transitions from instant messaging software to an internet browser. The screen lights the face of the soldier brightly - all else is dark. Being night time, light fails to cut through the blinds of the only window visible in the room.

As the soldier continues to work doggedly at the computer, the contents of the screen become visible. He is viewing a website describing the effects of a new recreational drug, known as DXM, and commonly found in cough syrup.

Moving from the screen and to the soldier, it becomes clear that this soldier is but a kid. At first appearance, one would believe him to be more likely found on a college campus than on a military base. He is wiry and wears surfer-style clothing. His shirt is a collared polo. The shirt is matched with a pair of beige cargo shorts. The prep ensemble is completed by a pair of beach sandals.

As his face becomes more discernible, it becomes clearly apparent by the glaze over his eyes that this soldier has already partaken of the drug in which he investigates. This only becomes more obvious as a flash from the computer screen reflects off the plastic of two empty bottles of Robitussin.

What’s occurring is less an experiment and more an adventure; an adventure that those affected by the soldier would later interpret differently. Those of the military in charge of the soldier would later explain the event in ways shaped by their short-sighted perception. They would also be the most off-base in their assumptions. To them this was at least a means to escape and at most an attempt at suicide. To those that truly knew him, and to the soldier himself, this was perhaps the former, but definitely not the latter.

The results of this adventure, which would include an emergency room consultation and a prolonged stay at the hospital, and its interpretations are nearly insignificant. More important are the thoughts in the soldier’s mind as he travels in ways he has never before.

While its true that stress associated with the military life probably pushed the soldier to the precipice of this adventure, it was his own desire that caused him to step off. He wanted to experiment and his adventure was currently unfolding mostly as planned. In front of him, on the computer screen, was a documentary of his favorite classic rock band, the Doors. All footage was taped live and Jim Morrison currently slivered on-screen, in front of a night-glowing crowd. And then, without warning, the soldier was there. He was in the crowd, bumping shoulders with his peers from Los Angeles, 1968. He watches, mesmerized, as Ray Manzarek makes the keyboard sing. The bottleneck guitar of Robby Krieger is as real as the air around him. The transition is complete and he is fully in the period, enjoying his temporary night of Human Be-In. The soldier can detect the palpable feel of rebellion. He has a clear sense of the Vietnam War occurring “out there” and the magic occurring “in here”, at the concert, of which he is now a patron.

He couldn’t be any more satisfied.

The soldier has his glorious trance interrupted. Someone has messaged him from online. His flight is taking a detour, but the pleasure is to continue. The message is from an old friend from a location the soldier has left some time ago. That location, however, is home to the soldier. He longs to be there again. He also longs for liberation from the demands of his military lifestyle. His buddy’s message provides momentary escape. Instead of reading words, the soldier sees his old pal. His friend is hardly conversing from computer to computer with a separation of many miles, but rather - in the mind of the soldier - sits on the other side of a wall. The soldier can see through this wall however. With each online message, he sees his friend speak his words. Having left his friend and life “back home” long ago, this act of conversing is so special to him. It is a treasure; and to his perception a very real return to a place he loved and loves.

The “success” of the soldier’s night would soon come crashing down around him, but it would occur unbeknownst to him. He would pass out in a near comatose state. The ranking individual most directly in charge of this soldier would later break into his room, alerted by the soldier’s worried parent. After being awoken in the hospital room, of the little that the soldier would later remember, the most prominent would be the thick chalky taste of the liquid charcoal he was forced to swallow to repudiate the toxicity of the overdose of cough syrup he had earlier consumed.

For two hours, maybe less and perhaps more, the soldier greatly enjoyed his adventure. He would later, however, regret ever stepping off on the journey. The enjoyment provided by the escape would be overshadowed by the embarrassment of being so reckless. Not immediately, but some years later, he would begin to understand the anxiety that his immature actions caused in others. Around the same period, he would shed his embarrassment. Instead, feeling no need to regret mistakes made in living life, he decides to share his tale through his most cherished medium. Feeling satisfied in his personal expression, he decides that many more stories should be openly shared.

To be continued. …

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Take on the Economic Bailout Package and Its Failure

Despite having gotten most of my personal issues off my chest yesterday, I don’t feel too challenged to write with interest about the big news of the day: the rejection of the economic bailout plan by the House of Representatives.

I hardly know if today’s vote against the plan is the bailout’s ultimate demise. Surely, it will again rear its ugly head and, hopefully, it will be just as thoroughly slammed back down. My foresight lacks in such matters and I have been relegated to the classroom and library for most of the day. And in both locations, I have managed to mostly advert my attention from any matters not involving school work. Because of this, I currently fail to be privy to the predictions of the media analysts and experts.

However, I surely hope that the bailout is gone for good.

I was under the impression that the duty of our elected officials was to be the medium through which the voices of their constituents were heard within government. I find myself grasping for the right term to describe this setup. I think it’s called, “democracy”.

Having spent 24 years living under the impression that this democracy concept was being implemented here in the United States, imagine my surprise when I discovered that a large spectrum of officials, Democrat and Republican, in the Legislative and Executive both, were pushing for the successful ratification of this bailout package despite overwhelming calls for the contrary from most of America. Some members of government even acknowledged the disapproval of the American people in regard to the bailout, while still finding ways to see it pass.
That doesn’t seem right.

I, like many other Americans, am not in favor of this bailout. I call myself a Republican and would assume that most Republicans, by nature, would be opposed to this plan as well. However, I have recently found my association with the GOP fading. I am probably more of a Libertarian at heart. But I am at the very least currently a disenfranchised citizen.

I do think, however, that most officials in Washington fail to fundamentally understand why Main Street, USA opposes this plan. Personally, I oppose government’s hand directly manipulating entities that may very well work soundly in a more liberated system. But my fear of developing socialism isn’t the fear of the common citizen. I think that most Americans oppose this bailout plan for one simple reason:


Sure, I have heard chicken little tales of complete economic collapse, but political fear-mongering has been so commonplace in recent years that I have found myself feeling akin to witnessing the boy who cried wolf too often.

I urge government officials to inform me - inform America, and please do so with some sense of bipartisan intelligence - the real consequences of failing to pass this bill.

It’s almost like there is no one left to trust. I can’t imagine the one person whom could address this issue and explain what our economy faces that I would truly believe. I don’t know if I wouldn’t be better off asking a Magic Eight Ball.

And, therein lies the problem.

If our elected officials and the economic experts that parade on their behalf can not convince me and my peers of everyday America of pending financial doom, then we will surely be satisfied to allow the system to independently work out its kinks, allowing the cards fall where they may. Most in government grew up too lavishly to understand this term, but perhaps the economic system in America and the big institutions that dominate it (and are now failing) need a little “tough love” for the greater good of all. Sure, times may be tough temporarily, but those of us living in reality realize that tough times are often necessary to stymie the development of what some of us fear most: moral hazard.

I love the free-market. But I will be the first to say that deregulation may have helped stimulate the mess in which we currently find ourselves. But I will add that in a truly liberated system, deregulation would have never been required in the first place.

I wonder: What would Milton Friedman advise in these troubled financial times?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My World...


I write to you from the library at the University of South Florida. As of late, this has been my home away from home. Actually, it is more the case that I am at home at the library and periodically get the opportunity to visit my apartment.


I am in the first semester of my senior year and have tackled a course load much heavier than any in the past. My two majors both require senior seminar classes. I am taking both this semester. The international studies seminar requires a final twenty page paper. The religious studies seminar has a fifteen page paper requirement. I am also enrolled in Beginners’ Hebrew, which - oddly - I have not only found interesting, but have also shown some proficiency for. I am also beginning my senior thesis, required by my honors program. I am very excited about this project and will speak more about it below, in tonight‘s conclusion. Finally, I am enrolled in a political science elective. The class, titled “Modern Political Theory”, actually focuses on political philosophy. And the adjective “modern” got lost somewhere in between class title and class material. Despite the class being misidentified, I enjoy it very much.

Which is sort of the story of this semester.

I have been quarantined in the library by the burden of work, and despite my first-time-ever proactive take on coursework, realize that at the end of the semester I am going to be running haggard. Despite all this, however, I really couldn’t be happier. I have learned to enjoy studying and have really learned to love college. Much like my time in high school, I am only realizing how great of an experience this is as it draws to close. And, as I have no idea (and I emphasize, “NO”) what I will do after I graduate, I am being tempted to extend my education. People joke about being “professional students”, but seriously - if I can play this out by attending graduate or law school, why not, right?

(personal) INDECISION 2008

Of course, all isn’t “mets-su-yan” (dropping some Hebrew on ya!). I stood on the very precipice of finally attending the Army’s Special Forces Assessment and Selection class and, at the last second, turned away. Those whom have followed know very well how dear I held the possibility of becoming Special Forces qualified. I was excited to attend the two-week class, and by all indications, was set to do very well. About a week before shipping to the class, I got a case of “cold feet”. I became hesitant to miss a substantial amount of class here at the university. A big factor in my decision to withdrawal from Special Forces qualification was how well I was (and am) doing in my Hebrew course. During my freshman year, I had taken Arabic and failed miserably, receiving my only collegiate grade lower than an “A”. At that point, I decided that I failed to demonstrate the aptitude for mastering a foreign language. But this Hebrew professor is teaching in a method understandable and pacing the class at a rate that I can manage. Why disrupt a good thing?

Back to the topic at hand: Special Forces. So I just quit. I don’t need to sugarcoat my decision. I looked at the opportunities that I had before me and I chose to follow the path offered by the university. And, by doing so, I withdrew from the Special Forces program. But I would rather not use the word, “withdraw” or any derivative thereof, for fear of being labeled wrongly. I have no shame in admitting that I quit.

But here is where it gets weird…

I have but one regret. And that regret has nothing to do with a missed opportunity. My only regret is that I rejoined the National Guard in the first place and now have some remaining obligation. Because, oddly, the second that I decided to withdrawal from the Special Forces program - the instant the email was sent indicating my intention to quit - I felt relieved rather than disappointed. For about six years, I have dreamed of becoming Special Forces qualified and then, within the matter of a few nights - if that - the fire simply became extinguished. I can think of one person who exhibits indecisiveness and spontaneity as great as I (hint: my sister). But this even has me baffled.

I want nothing to do with Special Forces; no desire to be in the military. I am sure the change in attitude is related to my life away from the National Guard going as well as ever, but the level of my disinterest in service right now is so fully complete.


But, as it is hitting me now, I suggest we look at this philosophically (perhaps the wrong term). My change of heart has probably been motivated by several factors. One, though, that I can not deny is a general feeling of worldly discontent. This is an odd feeling for me. Throughout my experience in college, I took pride in being a bit more stoic than others. I have my ideology and I am still not too old to relieve myself of dreams of changing the world. However, I never felt the need to be rebellious for rebellion’s sake. I rarely spoke up in class when conversation turned to matters political or religious despite my interest. I chose to not do so because I felt that most others that had, were doing so only to hear their selves speak. I am not sold by hype, and I don’t rally to causes. I am the anti-movement kid.

But that’s changing. Always politically-minded, I have felt a recent turn towards nonchalance. Two presidential candidates present themselves and neither really excites me and one scares me completely. Warren Buffet warned that our country’s economic system was near collapse and then hedged a five billion dollar bet that the government would prop it back up. He was right and devastatingly so. The very administration that I backed in the face of monumental opposition smacked me upside the head by thumbing its nose at the Constitution. And, now, like never before, I feel that I am living in a country that is running contrary to my fundamental beliefs. I have this odd swelling of inner revolution. And, with that inside, it is much more difficult to express externally a desire to serve.

And there’s so much more. Recently, I have had such a great feeling of independence. I think that I am currently feeling what others experience when they first arrive at college, for the first time free from their parents’ oversight. Having never really had that experience, somehow I am convincing myself that I am having it now. And, really, I think it is because I am so happy with my current situation. This independence that I feel is total. Seriously, I feel for the first time obligated to no one. For example, I have always worked out because I enjoy physical activity. But, in the back of my head, I knew that I was also working out to fulfill requirements necessitated by the Special Forces program. This is no longer true. I work out because I want to. And that is the sole reason. And should I feel no desire to work out; I have no requirement to do so. Even my current excessive study habits are borne of my own desire and not some demand that I feel from my professors. Every day I wake up happy in being able to do whatever it is I want to do. I feel no social pressures, no rules, no obligations - just independence. And it is awesome.

I feel like I am having an “Office Space” moment. To those whom haven’t seen this move (and should be embarrassed to have missed it), the turning point of the film is when the main character is hypnotized by an occupational therapist only to awake the next morning with not a care in the world.

The night that I decided that I was going to withdrawal from the Special Forces program was monumental. It was also like I was choosing to live life on my terms and mine only.


There’s final thing that I wanted to mention and I briefly broached the topic in the introduction: my senior thesis.

I am really excited about this project and hope to share its progress here. The entire thesis will take two semesters to complete. I am studying past cases of genocide. My goal is to classify symptoms common in the origins of these past cases of genocide. The completion of this goal will allow for the production of a practical model. This model will describe different conflict types and then the symptoms that commonly occur in those conflict types before the occurrence of genocide sets in. By having such a model in hand, experts may be better able to identify future emerging cases of genocide before they fully bloom.

I feel that this is a pretty significant endeavor, but I am really excited about producing a useful tool. Much of college is dedicated to research only practical in the expanding one’s own body of knowledge. I hope that my model is real-world useful in preventing future cases of genocide.

Monday, July 21, 2008

About that Main Stream Media Bias

I have missed a couple of days of updates. Not, however, without reason. I have found free time limited by many requirements: class, physical training, advisor meetings, and perhaps most time consuming, multiple viewings of The Dark Knight.

So, my contribution today is going to be brief. In the place of my typical rant, I am going to provide you with one penned by someone else…

John McCain.

You see, according to the DrudgeReport, what follows is the essay that Senator McCain submitted to the New York Times. If you were not aware, a similarly themed editorial was submitted to the same publication last week by Senator-now-sudden-world-traveler Barack Obama.

Now, here is where it gets interesting: Senator Obama’s submission, entitled My Plan for Iraq, was published. Republican McCain’s? Not so much.

Fortunately for Senator McCain, other esteemed outlets (like, say, Educated Soldier) are more than willing to propagate his material. So, without much further introduction, we present to you what the New York Times refused: an editorial by distinguished Senator John McCain.

First, again, the DrudgeReport link breaking this story:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military's readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rather Be Hawkish Than Hypocritcial

Two things are on the agenda today. Allow us to proceed immediately!!


During my class today with the “Liberal Professor” - whom by the way, I am beginning to increasingly admire with each class, his bias not withstanding – we watched a Frontline documentary on the genocide that occurred in Rwanda during the 1990’s. The documentary was very informative and certainly candid. Most accounts were firsthand from those that were there, on the ground, and held the responsibility for the decisions made.

Most of the Western World managed to walk away from the conflict looking very bad for failing to directly participate in some sort of action to prevent the Hutus from massacring the Tutsis. An individual particularly negligent was President Bill Clinton, whom not only failed to send troops to attempt to end the violence, but refused to even deem the event a “genocide,” despite the confirmed deaths of over 800,000 Tutsis at the hands of their ethnic opposition (whom constituted both the majority of the Rwandan population and the make-up of the government).

While I found the documentary eye-opening and informative, it was the phenomenon taking place inside the class that I found most interesting. Typically, international studies classes here at the University of South Florida consist of students that are pretty actively liberal and all-the-more-happy to forsake the current administration for all of its so-called “misdoings”. Of course, for all the would-be revolutionaries in these classes, there also remains a handful of us military-types who typically keep our peace, not desiring to have our outlooks trampled upon by the masses should we speak up.

What was intriguing today, however, was how loudly President Clinton was audibly slighted by my peers in class whenever he was shown during the conclusion of the documentary. Obviously, the graphic, but riveting, nature of the film left students with a negative perception of President Clinton.

But here’s what gets me: These students, provoked to anger over President Clinton’s lack of intervention on behalf of the Tutsis in Rwanda, are likely the same ones that would trash President Bush for being all-too-ready to intervene in places like Iraq. These are the same students that would challenge the current administration for having the military “in every one else’s business”.

What gives?

I may very well be hawkish when it comes to the implementation of our military. But, at the very least, I am consistent. As I advocated for the liberation of the Iraqi people, I would have done the same on behalf of those in Rwanda. Currently, I am for assisting in failed states like Somalia (again) and Sudan, if – in fact – our military can even do so.

From everyone else, I simply hear hypocrisy and inconsistent value systems. Nonintervention is jeered when hindsight depicts children being hacked to death by machetes. Yet, unilateral intervention on the behalf of others receives the same negative response when the results aren’t as clean and quickly successful as some would hope.

I may be occasionally wrong, but at least I am hardly hypocritical.


As I continue to debate internally the dilemma that was the subject of yesterday’s Educated Soldier, a new development presents itself. Should I opt out of my pursuit of becoming Special Forces-qualified, USF graduation is closer than it first appeared.

Originally, I had believed that I would tentatively graduate at the conclusion of the Fall, 2009 semester. After taking a heavy course-load this summer, I bumped that graduation date up to the conclusion of the Summer, 2009 semester. Now, after altering the classes that I have scheduled for the upcoming Fall semester, it has become evident that I am on pace to graduate at the conclusion of the Spring semester. I only have two semesters left!

With that in mind, I would like to share with you my tentative Fall schedule along with some commentary. I hope you enjoy this endeavor.

Hebrew I: Of all the few requirements that I have left to successfully complete school, my need to finish two semesters of a foreign language is by far the most daunting. I had previously taken Arabic I and performed miserably, receiving my only non-A grade during my time in college. Being that I am not a fan of the current professor of Arabic here at USF, I have chosen a different language to study. During my studies of religion, I have taken a genuine interest in Judaism. During my international studies, I have taken an interest in the Israel / Palestinian conflict. For these reasons, Hebrew becomes an enticing and obvious language to pursue. Moreover, I consulted (where students assess their professors) and unanimous opinions stated that the current Hebrew professor is top-notch.

Roman Catholicism: I need one final upper-level religion elective to exhaust that requirement. Roman Catholicism is a class that has been taken by nearly every one of my friends. And while Roman Catholicism (the denomination, not the class) is probably the least of my religious interests, my peers’ positive assessment of the class made it too difficult to pass up. Moreover, it fits into my schedule seamlessly.

Seminar in Religion: This is the capstone class to my Religious Studies major. The idea of the class is to take everything gleaned during the religious studies experience and incorporate into a project completed by a small number of students in an intimate class setting.

Seminar in International Studies: The explanation for the Seminar in Religion applies to this class; only replace “Religious Studies” with “International Studies”. Coincidentally (ironically?), this seminar is led by my current “Liberal Professor.”

Honors Thesis: The capstone project for USF Honors students is a two semester research project which culminates in the student producing and defending a thesis. I have no firm idea of what I will conduct research. Some concepts that are spinning include: a study of the dynamic of war (since my experience in Iraq, I have become fascinated with the fact that very few deployed to combat zones genuinely engage in violence. I would like to research and see what the exact figures pan out to be on this phenomenon and then compare these statistics from modern conflicts with past ones), the on-going Israel / Palestinian conflict (focusing mostly on its history; who are the Palestinians, what caused the 1967 Arab / Israel war, etc), and the gradual transition of the Republican Party from its grounds in ultra-conservative (small government) values to a party that now runs solely on the grounds of national defense (and has even been pro-big government insomuch that the added bureaucracy aids in this defense).

And that’s my Fall semester in a nutshell, should I not pursue Special Forces-qualification. Of course, something has come up in that regard causing the whole situation to become increasingly more interesting. That development, however, is for another edition of Educated Soldier.

I hope you enjoyed. I look forward to your comments. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Enviable Decision I am Unable to Make

During a previous edition of Educated Soldier, it was implied that, at some point, I would again produce discourse concerning the struggle that has been boiling recently in my life. After a long discussion concerning the matter with my Mom (an entrusted confidant, by the way), I decided that tonight is as good as any night for just this task.

This endeavor is going to be conducted professionally; via a sort of benefit analysis. I am just going to generate the positives and negatives that are associated with the two options that I have before me. This should make for easy (but surely not brief) reading for all of you while I will be left with, at worst, a permanent document reminding me of exactly why this decision is remaining so difficult to complete. At the conclusion, I may include some commentary.

First, we must make clear the two choices currently available to me. In doing so, I remind everyone that either of these choices are desirable ones. And, on that note, I feel fortunate to have such a difficult (but enviable) decision to make.


It should be understood that, even before completing high school and ever since, I have maintained some professional association with the military. For the most part, I have always enjoyed my time in the service. While I came to believe that the world had much more to offer than a life spent on active duty, I tended to miss the service when removed from it. This void was easily filled by enlisting in the National Guard.

From nearly the day I entered the service, an overwhelming adoration for the Special Forces began. Before I left for my first tour of Iraq, I wanted to be a part of their illustrious group. While in Iraq, my passion to join their ranks grew. I saw them operate often and I became a student of their professional niche. While my peer soldiers also envied the “Green Berets” because they sported high – tech gear and non-regulation hair grooming habits,

I found my personal interest being rooted more deeply. I found myself jealous of the autonomy and responsibility that was granted to these men. I could think of nothing more personally fulfilling than being granted such “benefits” when they could potentially mean the most: while at the forefront of the nation’s security. Moreover, I found myself passionate for their mission set. The Special Forces main purpose is to utilize their combined physical grit with superior knowledge bases to train foreign militaries to fight for themselves. This seemed (and continues to seem) like the exact sort of “outside-the-box” lifestyle that I would cherish.

Finally I have taken the steps to bring this dream to fruition. I am currently in the National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group training program. And I can say without much hesitation that I am doing quite well for myself. I am progressing according to plan and, should I keep my eye on the prize, I could very well be Special Forces – qualified sometime next year. This is the perfect time frame because, ultimately, my dream is to operate with a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha in Afghanistan, hunting the world’s deadliest – and I have a strong feeling that I would get exactly that opportunity almost immediately upon qualification graduation.


Since leaving active duty, however, I have been a student at the University of South Florida. It should be noted that I have always had a flair for politics. I have nearly no memory more cherished than meeting President Bush while partaking in a lobbying mission on behalf of the Veterans For Freedom organization.

While memories of war contributed to the development of Educated Soldier, its production was far more motivated by a love of discussing and writing about politics. Should one review the site’s archives, I am sure he or she would read much more about general political affairs than any other matter.

Moreover, my entire life has become increasingly more influenced by my obsession for politics. I have noticed myself viewing everything through the shadings of my personal political bias and have many times paused and wondered if others do the same. Of the many sites that I review daily, one of the first is RedState as I love to read the outlook on the issues from politically-active, like-minded individuals. Only four stations are viewed on my television. Three of them include CNBC, the Food Network, and ESPN. The amount of time viewing them, however, pails in comparison to the time spent watching Fox News. I find myself as nervous and excited on election nights as I am on nights that the Flyers battle through important hockey games. I can hardly think of one thing in life that I am more fervent about than politics and nearly all that know me can attest to this being the case.

Finally, my sister lives in Washington, D.C. which affords me the opportunity to visit often. With each encounter with the District, I grow to adore it more. It has everything I require in a place to settle. Culture and history manifested through artifacts and museums, public transportation, the propensity to encourage physically active lifestyles, non-franchised establishments for food and drink, diverse neighborhoods, my preferred industry (government, of course): these are all characteristics of Washington, D.C. that have made it clear that, sometime upon graduation from USF, I will be happily transitioning there.

Those interests combine with my success in my undergraduate studies to make Law School an enticing option. At USF, while double-majoring, I have maintained a 3.85 GPA, been named to the Dean’s List, have received the distinction of being a Horatio Alger Military Scholar, and participate in the University’s Honors College. Should I only do well on the LSAT, which I feel I will, I will be afforded the opportunity to attend one of D.C.’s prestigious law institutions.



  • Becoming Special Forces – qualified has been an important goal throughout my adult life.

  • I have been dedicating three to four hours a day to physical conditioning to ensure that I will successfully complete the requisite training.

  • Perhaps one of my most desired goals can only be obtained through Special Forces qualification – participating on an ODA in Afghanistan.

  • I enjoy the camaraderie amongst A-type personalities that is a unique characteristic of Special Forces.

  • Through the National Guard, I would be given the flexibility to participate nearly as often or as little as I desire. Through the process known as “Guard Bumming,” I could perform Special Forces missions nearly as often as my active duty counterparts while still maintaining a lifestyle outside of the service that I prefer.

  • The training and experiences are unique and distinct from those that I could find in any other profession or institution.

  • Also, should I cease my current path to Special Forces–qualification, it would be little more than quitting. Quitting – even if, ultimately, is only really temporarily pausing my pursuit of this dream – would be personally devastating. Returning to a non-Special Forces National Guard unit would cause that “tail-tucked-between-the-legs” syndrome, and while there, I would hardly enjoy my duties nor give much effort to doing them well.

  • Perhaps most importantly: each time I witness an individual in a service uniform, I feel an internal tug; something telling me that becoming Special Forces – qualified is something I was meant to do.

  • Less important, but notable: I have an obligation to the National Guard regardless. The units in the state of Florida are already on alert for a deployment to Afghanistan tentatively scheduled for 2009, although rumors suggest 2010. Nothing would devastate me more than to be caught in a deployment with a conventional (read: non-SF) unit.

LAW SCHOOL: The Positives

  • The opportunity for substantial personal success; I can think of nothing that I would more naturally excel at. My natural talents and interests make Law School and a subsequent career in politics a no-brainer. I feel that I would make a quality Special Forces soldier. But I grade my prospects connected to the Law School option even more greatly. I would graduate highly distinguished from Law School and would be a star in politics. I am not naturally an intensely self-assured individual, and those that know me well would be slightly surprised by my candid and absolute positivity in this matter I am sure. However, I simply know that I would be highly successful should I choose this option.

  • Whether I graduated from my preferred Law School, Georgetown, or even American or George Mason (all of which I would be more than satisfied to attend), I would be nearly assured of securing a job within the District and becoming financially stable.

  • I love the collegiate experience. I enjoy my time now at the University of South Florida because of the experiences that it offers. I love spending my free time with friends, I have ample time to work-out, I love nothing more than attending Bulls sporting events, and I am generally passionate about being a student. I want nothing to interrupt this current state of happiness. I predict that I would enjoy Law School for equal but different reasons. I truly feel that I have scholarly desires at heart and would really relish the challenge of being knee-deep in acquiring knowledge constantly as is required by Law School. Continuing on my Special Forces path would both interrupt my current studies and delay (or cause me to forego) any Law School studies.

  • Attending Law School hastens my move to Washington D.C. which is where I want to be as swiftly as possible after my undergraduate education.

  • Law School would validate the hard work I have done in maintaining undergraduate success. In other words, if my effort has afforded me the opportunity to attend a Law School that will, more than likely, define my life and enable me to become financially set for the remainder of my life (while doing work I truly believe I would enjoy), it would ultimately be a waste to fail to accept this opportunity.


  • Becoming Special Forces – qualified now will require an immediate and perhaps lengthy absence from school. It would be necessary to miss at least the upcoming semester. This is a semester that I deem particularly important because I have 16 credit hours scheduled (out of the mere thirty that I require to graduate) and two of these classes are seminars that cap my dual majors. When entering the Special Forces training program, I was aware that a break in school would be incurred. But now that it is actually approaching, I am becoming hesitant about putting school on the temporary back burner.

  • If I attend Law School, it seems possible that after graduation, I could still pursue the SF dream should the passion persist. However, the reverse probably is not true. Because I would so enjoy the Special Forces lifestyle, I doubt that I would ever embrace the opportunity to attend Law School.

  • While I have no doubt about my chances at success in Law School, I have some doubt about my possible success at becoming Special Forces – qualified. I don’t necessarily doubt myself in this endeavor. However, there are many possible pitfalls in this path and it is not unlikely that one would get hurt while traveling it. Despite many being passionate and physically prepared to entire SF training, there stand reasons why only a few eventually complete the process.

  • When I return from the Special Forces school that would cause me to miss my university classes this semester, I would have to obtain temporary employment until returning to school, as school is my current source of funding. With no vehicle of my own and no access to capable public transportation (as Tampa fails to provide anything that I would consider safe or dependable in this regard), finding a preferable job seems more daunting than it should.

LAW SCHOOL: The Negatives

  • Law School costs a fortune. Although I am sure that I would acquire some assistance via financial aid and scholarships, I would almost assuredly be required to take out loans to finance my schooling. As long as I am guaranteed a profitable career from completing my education however, this is not a problem that I consider extraordinary.

  • The biggest problem with attending Law School has nothing to do with Law School itself. The main negative stems from the fact that the immediacy required to genuinely put effort into Law School would effectively kill my current pursuit at my dream of becoming Special Forces – qualified.

And, really, those are the only two negatives that I can currently observe. Other negatives were, in ways, identified during discourse in the other sections.


Well, there is none. Ultimately, I have until my next National Guard drill to make up my mind. At that point, it will be my responsibility to give them an answer and, more importantly, it will be my responsibility to give them my full effort or nothing at all. I am all too aware that Special Forces training and the lifestyle that the training leads to are not things to take lightly. They are more ways-of-life than careers and must be approached and undertaken as such.

I really enjoy and take to heart the comments and the emails that each of you leave when I pose these personal dilemmas. The responses are always helpful in my decision-making process. Of course, the outcome is mine and mine alone to decide. However, some level of maturity has taught me to accept the assistance of others. I am aware that my personality deficiency lies in my inability to really pinpoint what it is that I desire to do in life. I have varying interests and I find myself passionate about each. I tend to take things on head-first and full of steam, for better or for worse. When worse, I am left with decisions such as the current one where I find myself struggling mightily to make a choice.

So I greatly appreciate your help. If nothing else, I thank you for reading. Through this writing alone, I have been able to better personally conceptualize my desires. They remain strewn-about but better conceptualized nonetheless. Thank you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Philosophy of Blogging

“It's hard to live with someone else's flimsy attempts to avoid your real concerns, but pushing to get your way doesn't seem to make it any better. You would rather be given a straightforward answer today, even if it is "no." Nevertheless you might not get the resolution you seek. Minimize your irritation by acknowledging that others may not be working on the same timetable and just walk away.”

According to Rick Levine of, the above is the daily prospective provided by my horoscope for today, Thursday July 10th. Perhaps this can be accounted for via the vagueness in such things, but I have always found some semblance of truth – or at least usefulness – in my daily horoscope readings.

As an anecdote, it is interesting that I have more faith in my horoscope than I have in, you know, actual faith.

I mention my horoscope because it ties directly into what I was intending to write about today. It’s influential enough, in fact, to alter what I had intended to write. I was going to write yet another mindless rambling about my conflicted interests in life. Such writing would not be without reason. Consciously, I would tell you that my purpose would be to “allow my internal emotions flow externally through my preferred medium of writing.” And, of course, there would be some therapeutic value in that. However, subconsciously, my true purpose in writing would be to initiate a response from the reader who, in turn, would bring some magical solution to untie the conflicting strands that is my web of desires and interests.

To those of you that follow along here at Educated Soldier, if you are assuming that this struggle is between my desire to become Special Forces qualified and my law school aspirations, you are absolutely correct (for more info, click the link and scroll WAY down). But that’s hardly significant in the current discussion.

What does interest me currently (and does so because my horoscope only just now made me aware of this phenomenon) is why I – or anyone else – would expect answers from you concerning my personal, potentially life-altering choices. I think this tendency is common amongst many bloggers. In fact, it is probably what motivates us to write. We have this sense that we must communally share our emotions, problems, and decisions. But is this common outside of this virtual realm? Do normal people stand on street corners professing what is important to them continuously until some passerby responds in a method deemed satisfactory?

Blogging is akin to walking into an art gallery and immediately chatting up individuals observing a piece that you admire. And, ironically, making uninitiated conversation is not a strong suit of mine. Yet there is some inherent characteristic shared by that action and the act of blogging. Readers arrive at Educated Soldier because they have some similar interest to my own. And then I just immediately chat them up. In the art gallery analogy, one could at least assume that the discussion would pertain to the piece of art that the involved parties find intriguing. What’s interesting is that logic does not necessarily hold true in the world of blogging. When I begin to chat you up here, I may not even mention the topic that is of mutual interest. In fact, I may just dismiss all foreplay, and immediately begin expressing to you a large portion of my hopes, desires, and problems.

And then I await your answers. And, of course, a lack of response just causes me to talk more.

This whole blogging thing is so unlike the real life that I have lived and known.

So I had intended to produce an edition of Educated Soldier today that would allow me to receive the definitive solution to my current predicaments. But, instead, I allowed my horoscope to complete its self-fulfilling magic. The horoscope indicated that I would receive no worthy solution or, at least, one that fails to fit my time table of immediacy. This will certainly prove true because I am not going to ask any questions. I will flesh out my concerns on a day when my horoscope suggests that viable and workable solutions are more likely to be produced.

Meanwhile, I will just continue to ponder internally this philosophy of blogging that I am developing (thank you until someone comments with something thought-shattering. While today was a bit abstract (and I am allowed that indulgence occasionally), I promise that upcoming editions of Educated Soldier will be a bit less esoteric in nature. In fact, here are three topics that I hope to expand on in later postings:

Texas Congressman Jim Culberson (R) battles with congressional leaders over web 2.0 applications. I beg you to read more about this story because it is so genuinely fascinating. Congressional leaders are attempting to prohibit the use of web 2.0 institutions (such as twitter, YouTube, etc) by its legislative members. Meanwhile, Congressman Jim Culberson is fighting the prohibition via… you guessed it… web 2.0 programs!! Meanwhile, the Educated Soldier has become a twitter follower of Jim Culberson. This has caused me to become aware of the political value in the web 2.0 programs that some are attempting to prohibit from the democratic process: they make the constituent feel that he or she is truly in on the political discourse. Please read this link – I am sure I will produce additional comment as this storyline progresses!*

My actual conflicting interests that spawned today’s post: becoming Special Forces qualified (and, thus, interrupting school – which I am oh so close to completing) or attempting to gain admission to a prestigious law school. (Georgetown, I am talking about you). Associated discourse may delve into the source of my homesickness somehow transferring from the place of my up-bringing, North Dakota, to Washington, D.C., a location I have never actually called “home”.

My new found fascination with taxi cab blogs. Here are two of the best: Tampa Taxi Shots, Mad Cabbie.

*Follow me on twitter:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Self - Sufficient Business Model

Today’s post will be brief. In fact, provided that interactions with “My Liberal Professor” are as eventful as expected later today, I may post again.

For the time being, I am undertaking a burgeoning tradition. Before going to the gym in the morning, I recess momentarily to the library where I can check the daily news, get a cup of coffee (actually, I prefer Espresso and water, an “Americano”), and mess around on the internet until exhausting my supply of liquid energy. Today is particularly interesting because I am awaiting for the U.S. stock markets to open in approximately fifteen minutes because I have two small buys scheduled.


First, I am picking up a couple of shares of Parker Drilling. This is a company involved in the oil business. They perform drilling operations internally but also rent out oil-production equipment. This, like my other pending buy, is a long-term investment. My prediction is that compromise will likely come between environmentalists and economic realists, and while vast oil drilling in America will likely never come to fruition, some additional production level may be exercised. If this bodes true, then Parker Drilling stands ready to be knee-deep in that action. More optimistically, I hope that the hypothesis above proves correct and that this, in turn, causes the company to become very enticing for larger market oil-production companies. Certainly a buyout or, at the very least, reinvigorated invested capital in this well-run company would be a positive occurrence for my small investment.

My second purchase is motivated more by wishful thinking than savvy investing. I am purchasing a few shares of Smith and Wesson, the handgun manufacturer that is currently available on the cheap. It is currently under five dollars a share, but in the past year had been above twenty. News out of Washington, D.C. helps this company. The city will have to give into gun ownership so says the recent Supreme Court judgment on the matter. However, the city is pushing to limit (or prohibit) the sale of semi-automatics. This would mean that the only viable handgun available in the city, more or less, would be the revolver. And Smith and Wesson is the juggernaut of the revolver industry. Should this predicted path come to pass in D.C., perhaps precedent will be set for other areas dead set on limiting the second amendment. If this precedent becomes habit, Smith and Wesson should stand to gain the most.


And, since I am in an economic sort of mind this morning, I would like to mention something else I have been pondering lately. I ask: Is there any better business model than that of the national collegiate fraternity? To maintain full disclosure, I admit that I am a former member of Sigma Phi Epsilon here on the University of South Florida campus. But, just recently, I became aware that the national fraternity system is nothing more than a business with a large majority of involved individuals developing income for a very small minority of executives. For these executives, the fraternity represents nearly the perfect, automatically sustained business system.

Think about it. At the national level, the fraternity has nearly no overhead. I can almost guarantee that the largest financial burden is tied into insurance, which – for collegiate fraternities – is admittedly high. However, most of those fees are passed to the students whom, with a portion of their dues, in fact pay insurance premiums. Office space and salaries for staff and executives are probably the other expenses at national level, but given the gigantic amount of capital being produced, these expenses are but drops, not in the bucket, but in the ocean of money being generated by fraternity chapters across American campuses.

The entire operation is self-sustaining. The fraternity sells itself. Its employees are the students that join the organization to become brothers. These brothers recruit new employees. In turn, the employees receive nothing. Each employee works diligently to better the product – i.e. the attractiveness of the organization – only to be asked to purchase anything that the national levels of the fraternity has to offer. For example, despite each brother paying a substantial amount in per-semester dues, a sizable portion of which travels to national’s coffers, should a brother want to attend a nationally organized event, he is required to register and pay.

The brothers are essentially uncompensated employees. And, even more fiscally efficient: these “employees” choose to further recompense their hierarchal leaders by paying for whatever meager products the national offices do offer.

Now, I must admit that I enjoyed my time in Sigma Phi Epsilon and I believe that the friendships that grew from my association with the fraternity were priceless. I am not downplaying the usefulness of the fraternity system, I am just expressing something I just recently became aware: Collegiate fraternities truly are businesses. And they are profitable businesses that only work to make the wealthy, much wealthier.

Consider this: there are over 260 Sigma Phi Epsilon chapters in America. Let us assume that each chapter maintains roughly 25 brothers, each paying $600 in dues per semester. The math works out to nearly four million dollars being generated each semester. Much of that capital snakes its way to the fraternity’s national offices’ bank account. And this happens semester after semester. And then, on top of that, the fraternity is selling large amount of merchandise to its uncompensated “employees” for exuberant prices. And, all the while, no tangible product is being produced to drive up overhead costs. The only possible product is the fraternity itself; which, in net terms, is a zero-expense production.

The more I think about it, the more I wish I had remained in my fraternity and attempted to move up that hierarchal ladder. This is a cash cow that I would love to ride!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Grand Return

Having failed to update Educated Soldier in months, I have full intention to return today with a huge splash. That being said, this edition will be divided into three parts.

The initial section will be of most interest to readers that just casually stumble across this blog. I will be tackling what should be a pertinent issue throughout the rest of the summer; my interaction with an impressive, but insufferably liberal professor.

The second section will be brief. I simply want to comment on two websites that I feel require compliment. These are the sites that motivate me to write. These are the sites that I read daily and influence the ideas that eventually find their way to Educated Soldier (although, apparently, at sometimes sporadic intervals).

And, finally, I would like to conclude with a personal interlude. I have had an eventful summer – and, yet, the season is still just blooming. I would like to share my experiences and, more important to me personally, allow myself to utilize this medium for my favorite purpose: the expression of some inner feelings and concerns.

All three of these topics are open to your comment and criticism. Feel free to contact the Educated Soldier via email or by the comment form at the conclusion of the blog. As we begin, I want to take a momentary second to THANK YOU for reading.


Two afternoons ago, I sat in class consumed by the anticipation of writing this blog. My pattern of daydreaming, admittedly, wondered between anger (as my personal convictions were being trampled upon) and natural boyish tendencies (as I glanced at the cute girl sitting in front of me). The former issue is of more importance currently.

While considering what I was going to write pertaining to this issue, I seriously considered renaming Educated Soldier to exactly the heading of this section, “My Liberal Professor”. I foresee writing on this issue, about this professor, probably twice a week because each class period we share promises to add to what I see as his list of offenses.

Before I begin opining, however, I would like to make certain things clear so as to not lose interest amongst those that may perceive me as some youthful Right-Wing nut. While I certainly have my political tendencies, I pride myself on at least considering opposing arguments. As with many people whom have had significant experiences (i.e.: combat) forge their political ideologies, after considering such arguments, I tend to fall back to my original beliefs. But I am hardly a heathen. I really am a stellar student and pride myself on my academic success. I enjoy political dialogue and I honestly try my very best to maintain an open mind.

However, on occasion, one must call a spade, a spade.

This happens to be one of these occasions. The professor with whom I am now having weekly encounters will, for the time being, remain nameless. Those associated with the International Studies program at the University of South Florida may be able to deduce the subject of my discourse. So be it. My reason for maintaining ambiguity on his behalf is multi-purpose. First of all, I am under the impression that he is a swell guy. Seriously. Every indication that I have seen in class has caused me to draw the conclusion that, political radicalism aside, I could really look up to this professor. He is obviously extremely knowledgeable, witty, lectures with the intent to teach (as opposed to having the intent to only read from slides and earn pay), extensively experienced, worldly, and approachable. Professors I have admired in the past have shared these exact traits.

My intent is not to smear this professor. My intent is disagree with him in a forum where I feel safe doing so. One must understand that the stakes are high for me. I am approaching my Senior year. I am a Dean’s List student, in the Honors program, and maintain a 3.85 GPA. From here on out, the difference between Georgetown Law and George Mason Law is a “B” grade. For that reason, I choose not to make my stand in class or on tests. I currently value my future career options and income prospects more than my drive to civically influence a class of forty and a professor whose views I could hardly alter anyway. And, moreover, I have no right to wage a smear campaign. This professor had his Ph.D. conferred upon him by Yale and is a Fulbright scholar. I have little right, in respect to his accomplishments, to do little more than considerately disagree.

But disagree, I do.

The class in question concerns modern international conflict. The idea is that we will study post-cold war conflict, on a case by case method, in order to find patterns relative to all modern conflict. That’s the idea, at least. Yet, for some reason, each class meeting – while focusing on different conflicts – will have time dedicated to the study of the Iraq War. And, this will not be an open-minded look at the Iraq War. Instead, this will be a study from the perspective that this war was wrongly waged. Worse, the professor has made it clear that we will pay no mind to current successes but only focus on the mistakes the U.S. made entering the conflict so as to “learn from those mistakes.” It hardly matters if those “mistakes” may be, perhaps, paying dividends currently.

But, please, do not take my word for it. Consider this. There is but one required text for this class: Charles H. Ferguson’s “No End in Sight: Iraq’s Descent into Chaos”. I am doubtful that the class will be listening to any of General Petraeus’ congressional testimony to balance perspective.

Speaking of which: other things that will go unmentioned in this class: that the Iraqi government has made satisfactory progress on 15 of 18 mandated benchmarks or that Operation Lion’s Roar has effectively ridded Iraq of Al Qaeda. In fact, despite those two stories being FACT, they are hardly easy to research. Consider this: a Google search for “Operation Lion’s Roar” (which, should be the story of the day, week, month, and – perhaps – Iraq War) only returns these meager results: LINK.

I am open to my professor personally believing entering the Iraq War to be a mistake. However, to profess to students that this is fact, which he claims, is simply wrong. Perhaps the peers in which I associate (many being military related or at least Right-Wing affiliated) have led me astray, but I was under the assumption that, at the very least, the debate was still on-going. While that may be the case across mainstream America, the discourse is closed in the halls of academia. Most professors, including this one, will tell you in an empirical sort of way that the Iraq War was a mistake.

And I do have a problem with that.

The offenses grow larger. I imagine that each class period will bring additional points of contention to the surface. During the last class, I particularly questioned my professor’s stance on the Sami Al Arian situation. In a nutshell, Dr. Al Arian was a professor here at the University of South Florida whom also did extensive work on behalf of Palestinian movements. He was an influential member of an organization called WISE, which promoted Islamic ideals. None of these details were, in and of themselves, bad. However, when Al Arian became allegedly associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, he fell under suspicion of the United States Government. Dr. Al Arian currently remains in custody because of this entire situation.

Now, I am not one to judge Dr. Al Arian. I know far too little about the case to take a stance. And, in all honesty, my heart leads me to believe that perhaps Dr. Al Arian was and is the victim of simply having ties with the wrong people at the wrong time. Ultimately, his most devastating crime may have been his unfortunate ignorance. I simply cannot make a judgment; I do not have the requisite knowledge.

What bothers me is that my professor, on Thursday, made his judgment. And he did so clearly and in a very matter-of-fact sort of manner. He explained that Dr. Al Arian was wrongly incarcerated and blamed the United States government for his predicament. This was just before he went on to claim that many executive government members may be faced with war crimes trials should they travel to countries after their retirement from office, where foreign jurisdiction would allow such unilateral indictment. My professor may, in fact, be right about Dr. Al Arian. But, again, a quick Google search shows that the debate continues in mainstream America. And the fact remains that Dr. Al Arian is still in custody. That debate, however, has ceased in the autocratic classroom. To simply pass opinion to your pupils as fact reeks of a total lack of professionalism and an agenda that simply should not be espoused by university faculty.

Bringing this to a conclusion for today, I want to make it clear again, that I am doing my best to tackle knowledge being presented to me with an open mind. My professor’s intention is to open student’s eyes to the mistakes made entering the Iraq War so as to prohibit those mistakes from being made in the future. I know all too well that mistakes were, indeed, made. However, I do not look back on the beginning of the Iraq War with the same gloomy perspective as he. My personal experiences make it clear that looking back retrospectively thorough a wide lens would show a large range of examples: from things done poorly to those executed perfectly. And I also fail to understand how precluding from study current progress in Iraq will aid in our historical perspective. In any case, as my frustration surely grows, I will continue to post here. I want to ensure that the American people understand the indoctrination that occurs at the university level here in the States, while also opening the field to discussion. I look forward to your comments and hope you anticipate future discourse on the topic.


I would like to take a moment to reference a couple of websites that I find interesting. While reading these sites, I often find encouragement to write. I would hope you would take a second to check them out.

The first site is “Tampa Taxi Shots”. This blog’s maintainer is a local taxi cab driver here in Tampa and also an amateur photographer. While his conservative viewpoint initially drew me to his blog, I have found myself continuing to read because of his candid outtakes on life in Tampa Bay. He comes across as a blue collar individual, attempting to only make the most out of his life by working hard and enjoying his current lot. His entries are no nonsense and always entertaining.

The second blog is “Sticks of Fire”. I must be honest; I do not access this blog as often as I should. However, I stumbled across it this morning for probably the hundredth time in my life. The blog is so well-maintained that it led directly to me updating Educated Soldier today. By accessing Sticks of Fire, I was reminded that an effective blog is a virtual contributor to the community. Sticks of Fire offers an interesting perspective of Tampa. I would hope that, should Educated Soldier often nothing greater, it would offer an equally fresh look at Tampa Bay-related material.

As one may be able to tell, both of these sites are quite influential on the continued maintenance of Educated Soldier. They are valuable blogs and I encourage you to check them out.


It should be understood that I enter this section of writing with some level of trepidation. As I jot the title, “Personal Ramblings,” I can hear, in my head, the sound of a groan emulating from New Jersey where my Mom follows my life choices with ongoing confusion. Not that I can blame her; it is not often that I maintain constant interests and life goals. And, unfortunately, it is often that I lock myself into commitments that I may or may not find interesting before being freed from them.

But I write anyway because it clears the constant banter in my head that wrestles daily with the prospects of what I desire to do in life.

Foremost, I want to make it clear that every day I begin to regret more and more that I did not take the opportunity to spend this summer interning in Washington, D.C. I was offered every viable position a young conservative such as myself could desire. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (perhaps the single Republican, outside of Senator Fred Thompson, whose ideologies I find most appealing) offered me the opportunity to interview for an internship in his office. I had offers from the G.O.P’s rules committee, to Party Headquarters, to the staff for the Presidential campaign in which I could intern. Top conservative lobbying firms offered opportunities. Ultimately, I chose to forego these internships to instead volunteer for the Special Forces within the Army National Guard.

I do not regret this decision in and of itself. I have drilled with the Special Forces guys for the past few months and have done fairly well. I am progressing down the path to future qualification as a Special Forces soldier about as well as anyone could. This is a source of great pride and is also an endeavor that I have so badly wanted to attempt for the past five years. In all honesty, I see myself, one day, in Afghanistan with an O.D.A., doing the duties of a Special Forces soldier. And as I train daily, it is just this objective that drives me forward.

A problem only surfaces when I grow closer to the day that Special Forces qualification interrupts school. This is inevitable. And it is beginning to look like that day of interruption will begin this Fall. The Special Forces cadre has given me notice to be prepared for the first term of duty (a three week school) that will require university absence in the coming months. It hardly seems that I can simply miss three weeks of school and maintain the high level of academic success that I have come to value so greatly. This has forced me into a position to prioritize what I want to do in life.

With my current G.P.A. and any luck on the LSAT, I believe that I may be building for myself the opportunity to go to a prestigious law school. I believe that I will have a competitive application for Georgetown, the institution of my choice. My “back-up” law schools would be distinguished themselves: George Washington, American University, George Mason, Catholic University. Given how hard I have worked on my undergraduate education, it seems such a waste to not complete really extensive, really rewarding post-graduate pursuits if given the opportunity.

On top of all of this, I have qualified for fee waivers based on my lack of income. This means that study preparation for the LSAT is free; as are two LSATs (which run over $150 each). The application fees to most of the Law Schools mentioned above are also waived. I mention this because it is just another detail that makes it clear to me that the stars are aligning in such a way that, to not consider Law School, would be a huge mistake.

Becoming Special Forces qualified delays my graduation by at least a semester and probably much longer. But it is something that means a lot to me. On the other hand, it would simply be intelligent to just clear my plate as best as possible and tackle Law School aspirations full-on. An important mitigating factor is this: ultimately, I want to end up in Washington, D.C. If I do nothing more in life than bus tables, I want to at least bus tables in Washington, D.C. My infatuation with the city harks back to my regret over passing up the internship opportunities.

So I stand confused. I am in the enviable position of hardly being obligated. I can do the Special Forces thing or not do it; it’s a voluntary process. I do have an obligation to the National Guard but that is neither here nor there.

Moreover, attending Law School isn’t a plan completely out of left field. My interests in politics are both obvious and longstanding. At least theoretically, politics and the law are related topics. While others stand fearful at the demands placed on the first year Law School student, I truly feel I would thrive. I would love to throw myself into books for a few years and simply tackle knowledge with unrestricted vigor.

Anyway, these are my personal ramblings. It does not help that each time I return from a D.C. vacation, as I just did, my mind runs wild. But to spend time in that city and see my peer group doing what I could have this summer is at least somewhat disappointing. The networking I could have completed could have been so amazingly beneficial.

Moreover, should the future hold Special Forces qualification in my future, I foresee myself as a great “Green Beret”. On the other hand, should I put myself in the right situation in Washington, D.C. I genuinely see myself as an individual that could be really influential within a Right-Wing youth movement; a young "up-and-comer" if you will.

Confidence doesn’t escape me; only proper direction. I look forward to your comment. Thank you.