The people's voice of reason

Letters From Afar

As a regular Alabama Gazette columnist, it always does my heart good to hear of letters sent to the paper. Good or bad, without feedback, you rarely get a full appreciation of how readers are responding to your work. As someone who has written a couple of books, several screenplays, over four dozen book reviews, close to 200 columns for the Gazette and other papers and professional journals, I have opened myself up to a lot of positive and negative feedback. I welcome that. But to be a writer, you must develop alligator skin. If you take things personally, you are going to be in for a rough ride. I always take critiques in stride and try to consider the source. A couple of weeks ago, the Gazette called and told me I had a critique via voicemail. I asked if it was good or bad and they just said, “Uhhhhhhhhh.” “Okay, just let me listen.”

The caller did not leave a name or number and that is fine. I am not going to engage with him since there is absolutely no point, even though he did call me a “maggot” twice in his message. Maggot? Nice! I felt like I was back in ROTC Scabbard and Blade indoctrination for a while. I mentioned this to several friends and they asked me if I was angry. My answer was, “Not at all. Proverbs 20:3, ‘Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.’ They asked me if I was offended. I said, “No. Psalm 119:165, ‘Those who love Your law have great peace and nothing offends them.” To be clear, however, there was a time. . . .

It is funny how the truth today offends so many people. In Galatians 4:16, the Apostle Paul said, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” In some circles, the answer to this is a resounding, “Yes.” I love hearing what people have to say but when their words devolve into churlish name-calling, I have to sit back and take a deep breath. The great conservative pundit Walter Williams once said that when arguing with a liberal, their modus operandi follows a very predictable path. I have found over the past two decades that indeed this is almost 100% infallible. Because so many of their arguments are incompletely thought out, they must follow this path. Walter Williams called this the “S.I.N. Alert.”

The first step of their argument almost always centers around “Skewing the Argument.” I may have said one thing but the argument invariably turns around into what they want to say; regardless of what I may have argued. “The sky is blue.” “Yeah, but the grass is green.” Wha-what?? The next step is to “Ignore the facts.” It doesn’t matter what facts you present; they will rarely be good enough for the mind that is already made up. You can explain it to them but you can never understand it for them. “A+B=C. It always does. Always.” “Yeah, but A+B doesn’t = D” “Uhhh, you’re right. But what is your point?” The final and most unfortunate stage of the S.I.N. Alert is “Name Calling.” Once you have regressed to this level, discussion becomes completely moot. First, the name caller has already lost and second, he/she is never going to change their mind. “There is no one so blind as someone who won’t see.”

When listening to the voicemail through my cell phone, it was very difficult to understand the caller and get his point. I understood some anger directed at, I am supposing, a previous column I wrote where I was discussing dereliction of duty regarding our current President. He mentioned something about Afghanistan and the rest was hard to understand, not because of him but the static through my phone line. But let me reiterate several things here today. First, let me define the term, “Dereliction of Duty.”

Although more involved than this, here is a basic definition. It is the “failure to conform to rules of one's job. It is a failure or refusal to perform assigned duties in a satisfactory manner.” Dereliction of duty is a specific offense under United States Code Title 10, Section 892, Article 92 and applies to all branches of the US military. Since the President is commander and chief of the Armed forces, guess what? It is certain that President Biden has made a hash out of his first term. Let’s take a look at just a couple of derelict areas.

1. Afghanistan Withdrawal. I have written on this at least three other times. Yet here I am again. In operational planning, something I taught for ten years, we deal with making operational plans that can be used in wartime and in military operations other than war (MOOTW). Arguably the biggest factors are defining the objective(s) and strategy(ies). Objectives are “what” I want to do and strategies are “how” to accomplish the objective. Objectives must be clearly defined, measurable and attainable. No wiggle room here, folks. In terms of the Biden Afghanistan withdrawal, I personally do not have much beef with the overall objective of leaving although I am not sure how clearly defined it was and how they were supposed to measure success of the objective.

My problem is with the strategy. I made a comment and I stand by it. If you had given me the objective of leaving Afghanistan and I could handpick any six men I worked with at Maxwell in our planning course and we would have come up with a better strategy. No doubt. Leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment and machines, not to mention hundreds of Afghan Allies, behind for the Taliban was abhorrent, and was just this side of criminal. Without any doubt, it was a grotesque Dereliction of Duty. Period, dot, drop the mic.

2. Allowing a Chinese spy balloon to transit the United States for a week and only shooting it down after it completed its spy mission; Dereliction of Duty.

3. Allowing China to buy land within the CONUS; Dereliction of Duty.

4. This administration’s flaccid response to the February East Palestine, Ohio train wreck and the President’s refusal to still go there. Like I mentioned many times before, I hate Hitler comparisons but in this case it is valid. After all the bombings of Germany’s major cities, Hiter refused to go see the destruction for himself. Biden seems to have a similar fear of facing citizens in times of need. This is not his first time and it took a while for him to even go to Maui after the worst fire in American history.

5. The millions of illegal crossings and encounters at the border; Dereliction of Duty.

6. The crises in major American cities trying to handle the influx of illegals because of this administration’s border policies; Dereliction of Duty.

7. Getting mixed up with his son’s business dealings in China and the Ukraine, if proven, will be Dereliction of Duty.

8. Cocaine in the White House. If somebody brought an illegal drug into your house, wouldn’t you insist on finding out who was responsible? But of course, they know. Do you honestly believe that the FBI can use facial recognition and identify almost all the January 6 participants but do not know who left the cocaine in the White House? Are any of you buying this? No. Dereliction of Duty.

9. Having a house and offices full of classified documents, Dereliction of Duty. Remember, as the vice-president and certainly a senator, he had no authority to have those in his possession.

Billy Graham wrote that standing firm on truth will bring criticism. That is okay. Alligator skin, remember. Truth is absolute and is never relative. Sorry. As for me, I cannot defend these actions. No matter how much I want the President to succeed, because I want America to succeed, these actions fulfill the definition of Dereliction of Duty. One can grunt, groan, curse, swear, name call or whatever they want but it does not change the truth. As Jack Nicholson said in the movie A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth.”


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