Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stolen Valor

It is doubtful that tonight’s post will earn me any honors for investigatory journalism.

In fact, the subject matter that I would like to discuss has already headlined Drudge, has been discussed (and, here is a website that I never anticipated voluntarily linking to) on the Daily Kos, and has been the source of conversation for my favorite collection of Special Forces veterans.

Yet, for the small and focused audience that is maintained here at Educated Soldier, I had to ensure that this story becomes fully known.

Hillary Clinton recently, out of the blue, consciously and undeniably fabricated a story in order to falsely bolster her credibility. Whereas many of us truly put our lives on the line, and because of such, earn the right to tell stories of relative valor, Senator Clinton cowardly and inexplicably made her past up.

The outlook darkens for Clinton. It was not the Educated Soldier responsible for exposing Senator Clinton of her dastardly fib. Nay, her false retelling of a combat visit to the Balkans during his husband’s administration has been exposed by CBS! This is the same left-leaning CBS that provided safe-haven while Dan Rather developed an overtly biased hit piece on President Bush. Even CBS, happy for so long to propagate liberal rhetoric, could hardly stomach squashing this one.

The Facts:

I have been presented with plenty of evidence to convince me that I should fear the prospects of an Obama Presidency. I have even soured on John McCain in certain aspects. But nothing….


…is as angering as this episode. What do we now know about Senator Clinton?

  • Not only is she confirmed as a liar, but she is confirmed as a woman unashamed to give herself credit in a manner that degrades the genuine sacrifices made by others. Stolen valor is the single worst type of theft.

  • She is insecure about her past record. Had Senator Clinton authentic international credibility gained from serving in truly hostile areas, surely this bold lie would be unwarranted.

And, the scariest observation:

  • Senator Clinton is willing to sacrifice her very integrity to win. What more does an individual have than their own personal integrity? The willingness to so easily give it away suggests that Senator Clinton may have even have less trouble sacrificing what means little to her: namely all that is important to you and I.

I plead with each that read Educated Soldier. Please make sure you inform everyone you know about the true character of Hillary Clinton and, please, keep this in mind when you have the opportunity to vote.

Finally, I want, in closing, to express to you just how angry this issue makes me. I follow closely the trials of individuals that fake military achievements. In fact, the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 makes it illegal to sport military decorations not earned. I suggest that it should be just as illegal to falsify acts of bravery in your attempt to secure the highest office in all the land.

But, friends, this is personal. Hillary Clinton claims to have “landed under sniper fire” during her trip to the Balkans. She lied. Allow me to disclose with you something very true: During my year in Ramadi, Iraq I had the great misfortune with being at least somewhat responsible with putting a soldier in a position where he ultimately lost his life at the hands of very real sniper fire. I swear to you, before every mission for nearly a half year of that tour I went to bed thinking of that sniper.

I would like Senator Clinton’s political adviser such as the one in the video above attempt to explain to me (or to a fallen soldier’s family) how she “misspoke.” Hillary Clinton did not make a mistake. She lied.

Hillary Clinton does not deserve your respect. Hillary Clinton, quite frankly, does not deserve the twenty minutes I just wasted on her in writing this. And she surely does not deserve to be our President.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Stoic Republican Fading on McCain

Today, I feel like a traitor to the Republican Party.

With all my heart, I want to unite with other G.O.P. members and support Senator John McCain. Even my preferred former Presidential candidate, Fred Thompson, has pledged his support for John McCain.

Nearly every motivation directs me to support McCain in the face of liberal candidates that I truly believe are fully out of control and very bad for the prospects of the United States.

But I can not. Yet.

And I encourage you to withhold your own support for McCain.

Please, I beg; wait until you know the full story.

Tonight, on the behest of peer military members that I know through a message board community, I ordered the book, An Enormous Crime (the link is the publisher’s, this ONE, with reviews, is from Amazon).

Since I have yet to read the book and look forward to doing so, I am going to reserve my ultimate judgment of John McCain. However, from the reviews I have read and the conversations I have partaken, this book nearly definitively places blame on a profound cover-up upon McCain and fellow Senator John Kerry. Apparently, McCain, Kerry, and a few others were influential in ceasing our government’s pursuit of American prisoners left in Vietnam.

This seems an unthinkable offense of John McCain’s, he being a former P.O.W. himself. However, those with better knowledge than I see McCain’s apparent offense as a very authentic occurrence. See: This heartfelt letter, this organization of Veterans opposed to McCain, among others.

Besides the illegal immigration / amnesty bill, I have little reason to buck McCain’s campaign – especially in the face of opposition that genuinely scares me. That being said, should this book prove truthful, Senator John McCain becomes a candidate that I can not, in good faith, vote for.

Evidenced by this vetted community of Special Forces soldiers, most of those knowledgeable of an Enormous Crime and its subject matter have already rebuked McCain.

God help us.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The task of defining the "Humanities" in understanding "Religion"

I have been working hard to update the site. The current design may not, ultimately, become the lasting one. I have been using this site as a “canvas” in which to practice my image editing and coding skills. So, consider the current design of Educated Soldier, a work in progress.

Moving on:

I have a professor whom I have a great amount of admiration. This semester, I am taking a class of his that deals with theory and method within the discipline of religious studies. I can not tell you how fascinated I am with this particular aspect of my religious studies major. As much I enjoy historically reflecting on religious text (and, I do), I find theory and method to be my more passionate calling.

This professor requires his students to write papers reflecting on the class’s assigned readings. Each paper is required to be one normally aligned page in length – no shorter or longer. The object of the paper is to produce an argument related to the reading and then defend that argument logically. The assignments are exercises in being concise (difficult for me), affirmations that we have completed the readings, and reflections upon our own rhetorical ability.

I produced something today that I am quite proud of and I want to share it. Before reading, I would like my audience to understand the following: This paper deals with “religion”; not religious traditions, but the mysterious concept that we recognize as common amongst all these traditions. One should also understand these terms in their religious studies context: reductionism and functionalism. And, for some simply interesting reading, one should also dive into the life of Emile Durkheim whose functionalist theories supposed on religion are ones that I find greatly profound.

Finally, you should also note that all accounts of page numbers and quotations in the following are made in reference to William E. Paden’s Religious Worlds (2005 edition, published by Beacon Press). Please enjoy. I look forward to your response:

Paden’s basic definition of religion (or, at least religious behavior) is those actions influenced by the sacred. This definition is different than those presented by other scholars. I have come to believe that the key to defining religion in a way that is universal can only be realized should scholars find a way of defining “humanities,” the genus under which “religion” is often grouped.

On page 48, Paden argues that religion, “like the arts,” is not reducible to sociology. I do not totally agree. The arts are only “the arts” to societies that recognize them as such. In an example, the painting of a woman with a deceptive smile could be simply understood as a portrait useful to the individuals whom produced it and whom it was produced for. To another society, this same painting is the Mona Lisa, an artistic masterpiece. However, this thought process and the environment in which it occurred ultimately led me to what I consider a more useful supposition.

I was listening to classical music while reading this chapter. It occurred to me that not much about classical music is common with the rock music that I at other times listen. Other than being at their core a system of sounds, there seems to be little reducible (common) traits to which one could break down music. This seems to be true of all sub-categories within the humanities. Again, consider art: the Mona Lisa has little in common with a Jackson Pollock exhibit, yet they are understood as intrinsically related. Likewise, we gather wholly different traditions under the penumbra of religion.

The key is to realize that none of these disciplines individually, including religion, are reducible. Perhaps if the religious scholar could distinguish the essence of the greater category, the humanities, of which religion seems to fall below, he or she may be able to better, and in a more universally accepted manner, define “religion,” itself.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Belated Update

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am so very sorry for not having updated Educated Soldier lately. However, my absence online is based on solid reasoning (unlike some presidential campaigns):

I recently ran a campaign for student government election. Because of my efforts, I was resoundingly chosen to become a student senator. I received more than five hundred votes and outpaced some student body presidents in my support. While to some this may seem somewhat juvenile, my position as a University of South Florida student senator will put me, upon inauguration, at the distributive reigns of a 10 million dollar budget which will be allocated as my senate colleagues and I see fit. As a fiscal conservative, you best bet I look forward to cutting fat wherever I can.

Moreover, I am sustaining a junior year in college in which I hope to maintain my streak of 4.0 semesters. My cumulative GPA is 3.85 but the last three semesters have been my best. This semester promises to be even better because I am studying only material of which I am deeply interested; namely historically accurate research into religious traditions.

On top of all that, I am training hard to become Special Forces qualified. As some of you know, I am currently in ROTC and formerly active duty Army. I plan on turning in my status as an ROTC cadet to obtain Special Forces status because I foresee my life’s work on an Operations Detachment Alpha (Special Forces Team) member before returning from military life to do further public work. I live and breathe to become Special Forces qualified.

Meanwhile, I have been following USF Bulls sports, so my time has been limited. However I have been re-mastering my skills on Paint Shop so look for more updates at Educated Soldier and a total website redesign with updated graphics and info!!

Thank you!!