Let’s not forget this whole Russian controversy started with a deeply flawed Intelligence report

Since December I have watched in amazement the nightly media circus surrounding claims that the Russians “hacked the presidential election.” The fevered back and forth accusations in the media will no doubt heat up again on Thursday when former FBI Director James Comey testifies under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee. We will once again be treated to loud voices on cable news networks for days following the testimony. There will be lots of volume, but will anyone in the media actually do a little bit of analysis? I highly doubt it.
Before the spin machines go nuts for the next 96 hours it might be useful to go back to the beginning.
The beginning in this case is a deeply flawed, poorly written, gruel thin intelligence report that was released by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on January 6, 2017. I have some experience working in intelligence and my assessment of the Clapper Report (Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections) is that it is the worst intelligence report I have ever read. Had my intelligence analysts produced a report so devoid of reason, not only would I not release such a report, I would question the ability of my analysts to think clearly.
There are so many glaring logical fallacies, factual errors, and couched terms in this “assessment”, I am shocked that to date no one has questioned Mr. Clapper about it. Our nation is full of 24/7 television news – and each channel has someone constantly commenting about “Trump and Russia.” Despite the avalanche of self-proclaimed experts –it appears that no one has even read the Clapper report. It has been publicly available since January and no one has analyzed Mr. Clapper’s terrible analysis!
Well, I am about to set that straight.

*

10 REASONS THE JANUARY 6 2017 INTELLIGENCE REPORT IS FAKE INTELLIGENCE

1. 72% of the report has nothing to do with the 2016 presidential election. One of the first things anyone reading the DNI report will notice is that only 7 of 25 pages in the report have anything to do with the 2016 election. When I first heard that Clapper had released a 25 page intelligence report, I thought it would contain a ton of evidence, even in an unclassified document, supporting its central claims. What I actually discovered is that Clapper used a trick that my college students used to use when I gave them a writing assignment. Namely, Clapper only had 5 pages of actual information, so he added in repetitive paragraphs and 18 pages of filler that had NOTHING to do with his central claim. Like a college student adjusting margins and font sizes to turn his 3 page paper into a 6 page paper, Clapper filled his report on 2016 with blank pages and most inexplicably a lengthy annex on the 2012 election; an annex that completely undermined the central claims of the Clapper report.

2. The 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community did NOT sign off on Clapper’s report. Despite the constant drumbeat in the media that “17 intelligence agencies agree” the January 6 report is NOT signed by 17 intelligence agencies. There is no Intelligence community seal on the front of the report. Furthermore on page i, the report clearly states that only the CIA, FBI, and NSA signed off on this report. 14 other agencies remain silent – at least with regard to this report.

3. The scope of the report contradicts itself. Again, citing page i, the report states “It covers the motivation and scope of Moscow’s intentions regarding U.S. elections and Moscow’s use of cyber tools and media campaigns to influence US public opinion.” A few sentences later, the report states “we did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Did you get that? The report is focused on Russian campaign influence but did not assess Russian campaign influence. That’s like a police officer saying “I assessed the suspects drug dealing but I am not going to assess whether he actually sold drugs.” I am not sure if I should be disgusted or amused by the “scope” of the report.

4. The First Key Judgement is demonstrably false. On page ii, under the heading Key Judgements the Clapper report states: “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.” [Emphasis added] Maybe the author of this report is a 19 year old – but those of us who lived and served during the cold war know immediately that this claim is complete bunk.

A significant escalation in 2016? Let’s not forget that during the Cold War the USSR had agents, moles, the Communist Party USA, fellow travelers, Moscow funded front groups (for example peace movements) all of whom were very active. If anything, 2016 marked a de-escalation when compared to Cold War levels. Furthermore, Clappers own report, the very same January 6 report – has a 12 page annex (that is nearly 50% of the entire report) outlining in detail, Russian influence operations during the 2012 ELECTION! The report has 12 pages on 2012 and one paragraph on 2016, but still makes the dubious claim that 2016 marked an “escalation.”

5. Assessment by political appointees at CIA and FBI are not backed by Military professionals at NSA. On page 1, the report claims “we also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances…” [Italics added] At the end of that paragraph we learn that only the CIA (led by political appointee Brennan) and FBI (led by Comey) had high confidence in that judgment. The NSA (led by a military officer not a politician) had only moderate confidence. Even more revealing of the weakness of this “judgment” comes in the same report in the previous paragraph on page 1: “When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign then focused on undermining her expected presidency.”

Anyone who watched the presidential campaign knows that from March to Election Day – no one in America thought Trump was going to win. If the Russians stopped aspiring to help Trump get elected when they thought Mrs. Clinton would win – then that means the Russians never actually aspired to help Trump! From March to November he had no chance to win! So what really happened is that Russia used propaganda to attack America – just like they did in every election since 1948.

6. Lack of evidence and insinuation are used instead of facts and rigorous analysis. There are multiple cases of poor analysis and insinuation used by the authors. For example, on page 1 the report states “Beginning in June, Putin’s public comments about the US presidential race avoided directly praising President-elect Trump, probably because Kremlin officials thought that any praise from Putin would backfire in the United States.” [Italics added] Simply put, that statement is illogical and shoddy intelligence work. Just four paragraphs earlier the report claims Russia stopped aspiring to help Trump because they thought Clinton would win. By June it was clear who would win (Clinton). Furthermore, there is NO EVIDENCE that Putin praised Trump before June. The report offers nothing to support its claim.

Another example of the report using insinuation rather than fact-based intelligence analysis is found on the bottom of page 2: “Putin has had many positive experiences working with western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.” This paragraph has nothing to do with the 2016 election. It is a thinly veiled attempt to say, “Putin got along with a couple of Euro Businessmen in the past; Trump is a business man!” So without evidence, we are supposed to believe that Trump is like Berlusconi. That might work at CNN but that is NOT rigorous intelligence work. It is shoddy work.

7. A significant part of the report focuses on a Russian television network that no one watches. This might be the strangest part of the January 6 DNI report. An entire page of the report (page 4) is almost exclusively dedicated to RT (the Russian propaganda television station and internet site). The reason this is strange is that no one in America watches RT or RT.com When I say no one, I am only slightly exaggerating. RT television has 100,000 daily viewers in the USA. Unless they all live in Wisconsin – exactly how do 100,000 RT television viewers influence our election? This is a network that has less influence than Al Jazeera.

Adding to my confusion is the lineup of leftwing political commentators on RT. People such as Ed Schultz, Sean Stone, and Max Keiser (a democrat candidate for congress). If we are going to do some intelligence analysis Mr. Clapper, maybe your report could explain why lifelong democrats and Hillary supporters were conspiring with Russia to defeat her?

8. The report admits the Russians interfered much more in past elections. On page 5 of the report we find these statements: “The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Directorate S officers arrested in the United States reported to Moscow about the 2008 election.” So in 2008, Russia dispatched actual spies into the United States, but in 2016 Clapper is concerned about Facebook posts by Russian Trolls? Furthermore, the report says “In the 1970s, the KGB recruited a Democratic Party activist who reported information about then-presidential hopeful Jimmy Carter’s campaign and foreign policy plans.” Again, if the Russians had paid spies in DNC circles, can someone explain how 2016 Russian efforts are unprecedented? Can someone explain how Twitter posts by trolls in 2016 are more dangerous than paid agents in the 1970’s infiltrating the Carter campaign?

9. The DNI report amazingly admits that Russian propaganda efforts supported left wing causes such as Occupy Wall Street and Anti-Fracking! Annex A of this abysmal “intelligence” report focuses exclusively on the 2012 Presidential campaign. This is strange because the DNI report is supposed to be about Russian influence in the 2016 campaign not 2012. However, it is the details in Annex A that completely contradict the key judgments of the report itself.

On page 7 we find that RT television supported Occupy Wall Street with its propaganda programming in the run-up to the 2012 election. Furthermore, on page 8 we get this gem: “RT runs anti-fracking programming.”

I believe that the CIA, FBI, and NSA have many brilliant and professional analysts. So why didn’t any of the brilliant analysts work on this report? Whoever wrote this report was so sloppy that they included evidence that the Russians support Occupy Wall Street and Anti-Fracking protestors. Both of these groups are violently opposed to President Trump. If the Russians are rational actors (they are) why would they support the most pro-fracking Presidential candidate in 2016 after supporting anti-fracking protestors for the previous 5 years? Are the authors of this report vaguely familiar with logic?

10. There is no assertion in the report that the Russians actually hacked anything. Probably the most amazing aspect of this report is that at no time does the author assert that Russia hacked anyone in the Clinton campaign. While I understand that this is an unclassified report, nothing prevents the author from saying declaratively, we have definitive proof that the Russians hacked someone – anyone – associated with Clinton. Stating you have that evidence is not classified. Attributing specific leaks of information to Russian Cyber operations certainly would help make this report credible.
The only clear statement about Russian cyber operations is the following: “Russian intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with BOTH major US political parties.” No one should believe this is new. Anyone who has followed the rise of cyber warfare knows that Russia has been conducting operations for years. Furthermore – did you catch that both? BOTH political parties were targets.

The report also alludes to Gucifer 2.0, DCLeaks and Wikileaks as organizations that the Russian used to leak material. But not a word on what material. For example, on August 12, 2016 less than 3 months before the election DCLeaks.com released 300 e-mails they obtained from the accounts of GOP Senators McCain and Graham. Was this the result of Russian operations? Who knows?

The authors of this report are intentionally vague without reason. If they had evidence that the Russians stole John Podesta’s e-mail, they could have stated that in this report without violating classification rules. The fact that his report intentionally avoids clear statements and instead relies on innuendo can only be termed poor intelligence work.
**
Thursday night when you are watching the local evening news, CNN, or FOXNEWS – ask yourself a question. How is it possible, that with all these media personalities, all the pundits, all the so-called experts, the lawyers, the loudmouths, the snarky hosts, and the hysterical opinion-makers – how is it possible that no one has ever asked any tough questions about the January 6 Director of National Intelligence report on Russian Influence?
It’s a crappy report. You’d think someone on TV might actually read it and ask a few tough questions. Or maybe just one member of congress could read it and ask a few questions.

I dare you to read it.

-cjcheetham

Copyright © 2017 cjcheetham

 

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Roger Goodell as Emmanuel Goldstein

I found myself watching the NFL draft this week and I have to admit, I took a lot of joy watching Commissioner Roger Goodell take a beating.  For the entire first round of the draft, fired up football fans in Philadelphia raucously booed Goodell.  Pick after pick, out walked the beleaguered commissioner to announce each team’s first round selection and the fans responded with pure venom.   You’d think even Philly fans, famous for their outright cruelty, would get bored with the ‘let’s boo the commissioner” act.  But no, the rain of boos continued for hours and I waited patiently (hopefully?) for someone wearing a Wilbert Montgomery shirt to gun a cabbage right at Roger’s head.

Let’s face it – Roger Goodell is the least likeable person associated with any sport anywhere in the world.  Not only is Goodell blessed with a perma-smug look on his face that screams to anyone near him “punch me!” but he has mismanaged almost every league controversy during his tenure.  Whether it was Ray Rice drilling his wife with an uppercut, egregious over-punishment of the New Orleans Saints (some of which was overturned), or the bizarre, unfounded Kafkaesque “trial” of Tom Brady over the fact that footballs lose air pressure on cold rainy nights – Goodell has poured gasoline on every league brush fire.

Typically, that kind of record will get a man fired. However, Roger looks plenty safe.  He’s collecting $35 million a year.  The owners are showering the man with money, while the fans are burying him with hate.  Beyond the amusing spectacle of watching the awkward, smarmy Goodell getting heaped with derision, I found myself wondering aloud:  Why?!

Why do the NFL owners, the most unified group of totalitarian oligarchs since the Soviet Politburo, trot out Roger to be pilloried by riled up, sauced-up, NFL fans every draft?  Conventional wisdom would have us believe that the owners are desperate to protect the brand of the NFL from any criticism from fans or the media.  If you’re an NFL owner couldn’t you find someone who, for a cool $35 million per year, could be a little more competent and a little less odious than Roger Goodell?  So again, I was left wondering, why?!

Then it came to me.  The NFL draft reminded me of something I’d read about years ago.

“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”

–          1984 by George Orwell

For the same reason Orwell’s Inner Party trotted out Emmanuel Goldstein for the “two-minute hate,” the NFL sends out roger Goodell for the “first-round hate.”  When your real goal is to manipulate the proles and redirect their emotions; when you have no respect for the average fan; that’s when you create spectacles like the NFL draft broadcast.

The owners are acutely aware that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather indifference.  Believe me, the owners deeply fear indifference.

So, you give the fans an outlet for their seething hatred – you offer them up the most hated man in sports, once a year, to be scorned.  In order to prevent a revolution, or even worse the loss of Red-Zone subscriptions and TV ratings, it is best to just let Roger take a beating.  Let the unwashed masses yell and scream – there will be no damage to the league and nothing will change.  Fanatics can huff and puff at Goodell’s multi-million dollar brick house, but rest assured the pigs are seated comfortably inside.

The owners need not worry when fans are yelling death threats at the commissioner.  Just so long as it never gets to the point where the fans do something really dangerous – like turning off the television or cutting back on fan merch purchases.

That’s the game being played here folks.  It’s a two-minute hate with Roger Goodell playing the role of Emmanuel Goldstein.  We are all being manipulated – and I am right there with the rest of you, enjoying my hatred of Roger Goodell.  As Winston Smith confessed in 1984 – once the hate-fest starts, it is impossible to avoid joining in.

Does any of this bother Roger Goodell?  Not at all.  He could care less what the fans think, because he works for the owners.  And those same owners give Roger 35 million reasons to endure public hate and discontent.

For Roger, It’s all double-plus-good.

Copyright © 2017 cjcheetham

Step-by-Step guide for using wiretaps for political dirty tricks

If you are an out-going president who wants to destroy any chance of your successor doing well while in office (country be damned!), you are probably going to want to use the full force of the intelligence community to attack your political opponents.

Before you can start the process of using the FISA courts as a smokescreen to your unethical political attacks, it is important to identify a foreign nation that you can easily get a judge to approve wiretapping operations against.  There are many potential nations you could target but the tried and true patsy – the one guaranteed to get you the authorization you need, is Russia.

Russia has a well-earned patsy-status because of its long history of spying on the United States during the Cold War.  Never mind that during the Soviet era, when Russia was an actual expansionist power hell-bent on Marxist domination of the world, the media downplayed the threat as did most political leaders in the Democrat Party.  Stick with today – and there is virtually no one today who isn’t well aware that the Russians are almost constantly spying on the United States.  They spy with covert operatives, they spy via space-based technologies, they spy via daily cyber intrusions and attacks, and of course they conduct overt spying via their ambassadorial staff, bureaucratic governmental interactions, and commercial enterprises EVERY DAY in the United States.  None of this is a secret, but it will help you in your goal to unethically spy on, and ultimately smear, American political opponents who ostensibly have constitutional rights designed to thwart your dirty tricks campaign.

Once you’ve decided on Russia as your fall-guy, it is a simple step-by-step process to engage in Nixonian attacks on your political opponents.

Step 1:

Identify key Russian players who will want to engage in talks with the next President.  This should be easy to do because you remember the transition process when you ran for President the first time.  For example, a real no brainer would be the Russian Ambassador to the United States.  Once you have a solid list of Russians who will want to meet the next American President (no matter who it is) you are ready for your next move.

Step 2:  Start leaking lots of ominous information and intelligence to friends in the media and congress regarding “Russian cyber-attacks” and “potential meddling in the upcoming election.”   Of course, you are not lying.  The Russians are collecting intelligence on a daily basis across the spectrum of intelligence disciplines.  However, you must act like you are shocked by the unprecedented “meddling” in our elections.  Continue to use the word meddle or meddling because it is almost impossible to define.  Lucky for you, the media will never ask you “what do you mean by meddling?”

Your opponent is oblivious and will probably just try to “get along with the Russians.”  Perfect!  So sit back and wait for the media to pepper your political opponent with questions about vague “ties to Russia”– yes! Now you know that it’s all coming together.

Step 3:  As Election Day gets closer, you are going to want to go to FISA court to get your wiretap set up.  Don’t over reach and ask for broad powers to tap every call to your opponent’s campaign.  That will get turned down.  But lucky for you, FISA courts are spring-loaded to approve requests to defend the nation – so go in there and say “look we have unprecedented Russian meddling in our elections.”  You know that is a whopper of a lie – but so what?  It’ll get approved because no FISA judge wants to explain the request he didn’t approve if the shit hits the fan later.  So now you are golden – you have broad wiretapping authority to listen to the Russians (who you don’t really give a rat’s ass about) and more importantly precious legal cover for pulling a Nixon and listening to your opponent’s campaign.  Could it get any better than that?  Yes, it could!  Which is why we are moving to step 4.

Step 4:  Continue to generate media excitement and anxiety over these unprecedented (not really unprecedented) Russian attacks.  Likewise, keep up with the “concerns” over “meddling.”  Now is the time for the 3 options in Step 4.

Option A:  Your party wins the election.  Congratulations!  Before you celebrate too much, store away all the juicy “intelligence” you have on political opponents aligned with your opponent’s campaign.  This could come in handy later.  For example, during a Supreme Court nominee’s hearing you may be able to destroy an opposing senator as a result of your efficient wiretapping.

Option B:  You lose the election – but you have evidence of treason by your opponent.  This is highly unlikely, because let’s face it – all your efforts have been contrived political bullshit.  You actually kind of like the Russians; certainly you like them better than the other political party.    But if by some miracle there is evidence of crimes – go nuclear with the information.

Option C:  You lose and you have no evidence of your opponent conspiring with the Russians.  Do not panic!  This should be expected and still offers great options for character assassination.  Begin by leaking that there may be intelligence “linking” your opponent to “meddling” by the Russians.  Use the New York Times and CNN because they have such low journalistic standards they will push whatever you provide.  Keep leaking a bit here and there.  Remember, by this time on the calendar there is no longer any question in public opinion as to whether the Russians “meddled” in the election.  Your media friends have seen to that.  So keep pushing the “conspiracy to meddle” angle and use cherry-picked, leaked intelligence to character assassinate anyone who objects.  Remember, even though you have corrupted a process – you can always say it was all approved by a judge.

 

At this point you are in great shape to destroy your political opponents.  Oh sure, there will be some people that may start to wise up to your abject corruption.  Just remember to stay the course.  If a politician attacks you, call for long, drawn out investigations that never will solve anything.  This helps you destroy your political opponent.  Long drawn out investigations covered by your friends in the media will actually be an opportunity to take down more opponents.  Here you should focus on minutia – it is perfect for tripping up even the most honest opponent.

If a talk show host or minor media outlet points out you look a lot like Nixon, send out your surrogates and have them say “FISA, FISA, FISA” – this incantation will placate your friends over at the NYT and CNN to shout down and drown out any criticism.  Capitalize on your momentum by asking (in hushed tones for maximum effect), “why is such-and-such Radio Talk Show Host not concerned about Russians meddling?”

If you play your cards right, you may get a FISA court to let you wiretap that radio talk show host.

-cjcheetham

Reflections on 31 Years of Military Service

Without people, you are nothing.

  • Joe Strummer, Punk-Rock Warlord.

On November 1st of this year, I retired from active duty ending more than 31 years of military service. It was a great run – starting as an enlisted man in the Army National Guard for 10 years and then following that with 21 years as an officer in the Air Force.

Along the way there were many adventures: Basic Training, in the Alabama heat where I was trained to be a cold warrior by sergeants who had fought in Vietnam; a transition to the Air Force after completing Officer Training School (again in the Alabama heat!); three trips to the Mideast; assignments all over the place as an intelligence officer; and finally, retirement for a return to small town America. I achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant with the Army and Lieutenant Colonel with the Air Force not that it really means anything but quite a climb from E-1 slick-sleeve private to squadron command as an O-5.

I suppose I could tell stories about Desert Storm or the ridiculously long struggle that Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom became. There were so many important tasks, jobs, struggles, assignments and missions over those 31 years. Yet, the memories of what we did seem the least important to me today.

No. When I get nostalgic – and if you ask my kids, they can tell you I am blessed (or cursed) with an acute sense of nostalgia – it’s the people I served with that dominate my memories.

*

I can still see, vividly in my mind, the 4th platoon barracks at Fort McClellan Alabama in 1984. It’s Basic Training and there are all my comrades. Tim Sapp, a John Belushi look-alike from West Virginia. Ed Sensel, the only guy who would talk books with me – the intellectual from Illinois. John Friant (Chattanooga Tennessee), Horace Johnson (also from Tennessee) who paid me one of the greatest compliments anyone has ever paid me: “Cheetham, you are a man with heart, because you made it through Basic with a smile on your face,” he said to me when we said goodbye in December 1984.

There was Ricky Angle who tried to go AWOL when he got a “dear john” letter from his high school sweet-heart. Gary Griffin and I tracked him down in the woods outside our barracks and dragged him back.  The Drill Sergeants never knew what happened that night – but I can still show you the gouge in my old boots – that I acquired while tackling Ricky that night in the woods.

Griffin was my best friend, a Bill-Murray wannabe who had memorized all the dialog from the movie Stripes. And of course there was Bobby D. Wilcox, the tough black kid from Newark New Jersey who had the bunk below mine. We were inseparable throughout training and proved that the military knows more about team-building and race relations than any of the fools in politics do.

I remember them all – their strengths and weaknesses, their jokes – I remember their stories. In December on 1984, we all parted ways and I never saw any of them again; but I still hear their voices. I still remember conversations, fights, and most of all laughter.

**

I went to war in 1991 with the 772d Military Police Company. I was a squad leader and it was exciting. But I remember the people I served with. I can still name every single one of the men in my platoon from memory. These were the citizen soldiers of the Army National Guard: Cops, union workers, college students, and bartenders. They answered the call and went to war in a strange place called Iraq.

I could describe missions, I suppose. But I remember Paul Caraher, Pat Deyoung, Scott Hennessey, Chris Brown, and Larry Quinn. I remember playing whist with a lousy deck of cards waiting for the next mission. I remember playing pranks and telling jokes. Most of all, I remember how great these young men were. They did their jobs so well. My assistant squad leader, Larry Quinn was and is the most talented guy I have ever met. He was good at everything and he was humble. I spent the rest of my career telling Larry Quinn stories. When I became an officer, I always would teach my sergeants and subordinate officers to be more like Larry Quinn.

When I left the 772d Military Police Company to go to Officer Training School and transition to the United States Air Force, I never saw these guys again (with the exception of Larry Quinn that is). They are now memories – ghosts of times gone by; but I often think of them. I don’t think about what we did, I think about who they are.

***

Twenty-one years in the Air Force went by in a blur. So many duty stations and assignments! But as I sit here today the names and faces flood my mind. My first commander in Minot North Dakota, Ronnie Wright who was in his 40s but still was the best basketball player on base (I learned that the hard way). Bull Ternus a genuine character from Texas, who could bench press a school bus if necessary. Frank Dalmau, a graduate from the University of Puerto Rico who spent most of his time in North Dakota muttering “frio, frio!”

An assignment in Germany where I met incredible friends. Don Bridges, a bright, skilled leader who took every challenge in stride. Chris May, another one of those people who was good at everything and was able to laugh in any situation. Veltz, Thurgood, and Beldon – the law firm. I remember unplanned barbeques, children being born, ridiculous amounts of beer, and all of us together. I don’t remember 3 years of missions – just 3 years of friendship.

And so it goes.

A year of intelligence training in Texas? Let’s see what do I remember from all the lectures, training, and exercises? I remember Russ Powell and Kevin Pendleton and Alan Acree. I remember their jokes, their hopes, their dreams, and their outstanding characters.

In Florida, at Patrick Air Force Base, I worked a challenging national intelligence mission, but I remember a character named Les Oberg who would always say something funny when we needed it most. I remember Brian Lawson and John Dibert – two great Christian friends – and how we grew in our faith together.

Moody Air Force Base Georgia – an exciting job providing intelligence support to the Air Force Rescue Wing air crews and pararescue teams. I can recall playing ultimate Frisbee with the intelligence professionals that worked for me: the muddy fields of Georgia, the trash talk and how my team always won despite the best efforts of a gigantic sergeant named Tony Smith to stop me from winning. The intelligence team was full of talented, dedicated people – and after I left Moody AFB, we never crossed paths again.

An unforgettable assignment to Shaw Air Force Base South Carolina as a Major where I worked for a superb commander named Bulldog Slawson. He was tough and he loved the troops – and they loved him right back. That squadron the 609th Air Intelligence Squadron had without a doubt the most talented group of people I’d ever been around – Roberts, Long, Static Kling, Smaugh, LaFurney, Cooter, Spencer, Coleman… the list is long. Our mission was huge because we were part of CENTCOM and these were the dark days in Iraq 2004 – 2007. There were deployments, new mission sets, setbacks, and difficulties. So why do my memories get filled by the greatest Christmas parties since Old Fezziwig?

I spent 5 years in Virginia for two different assignments. The first time through I met the best officer I’ve ever served with, Cathy Jumper. She was smart, tough, funny and worked harder than anyone else I’ve known. We were tasked with training future officers and I remember all those cadets. It was a fun job and an important one. I think we did a great job because people tell me we did, but all I really remember is laughing with Cathy.

My second spin through Virginia led to Langley AFB where I got to work for two of the most outstanding people you’d ever want to meet – Keith Watts and Dan Johnson. Keith was my commander and boss. He was very bright and could explain anything to you if you gave him a white board and a marker. Our squadron mission was global intelligence – and it was a huge mission. I know there were incredible challenges for our intelligence team, but I cling to memories of late nights in Keith Watts’ office, drinking a “wee dram of the whisky” while he explained the intricate details of an intelligence sensor on a white board – whiskey in one hand, marker in the other.

Late in my career, I had my own chance to command an intelligence squadron, this time in Las Vegas Nevada. It was a great assignment; I loved it. Anyone who has ever served will tell you the best jobs are command jobs. They are also challenging, busy jobs with lots of long hours. I remember Burt Okamoto who like Larry Quinn, was great at everything; Grip Schnakenberg, possessor of a photographic memory that led to colossal baseball trivia battles; Ulysses Zeigler, the most loyal NCO I’ve ever encountered; Lisa Corley, Snow White, Bethany Brown, Rocket, and McFly. These are the people who did the job for America. There are many others. When I remember my command tour, I see all the faces of the Airmen who got it done every day.

****

You get the idea. Give me enough time and a glass of bourbon and I could regale you with tales of the best people on earth, the people I served with during my 31 years in the military. They are unforgettable; they are the best this country has to offer and I got to work with them for a really long time. Most of them, I have not seen in many years and may never see again.

Yet, not a day goes by where I don’t see someone from the past in my mind’s eye. Someone in a uniform, in a strange place, far away from home. It is hot and there is an awful lot of important work to do. And we are all laughing.

-cjcheetham

Copyright © 2015 cjcheetham

P.S.

Everything great that has ever happened to me was because I have such a supportive and loving family, that I don’t think I deserve. Thankfully, God often gives me what I don’t deserve. I would have never achieved anything without my wife Christy backing me all the way and making me a better person. My kids Emma, Eli and Lizzie have put up with the moves, the long hours, and the separations; always with dignity and dedication. In fact, truth be told, my kids are the best people I’ve ever known – and I’ve known all the greats.

Did the Patriots Use Sasquatch to Deflate Footballs?

Bad TV that insults me freely; still I know what I’m dyin’ to see

-Iggy Pop

***

Announcer: This…..is Sports Center.

Skip Grayness: Good evening everyone, welcome to Sports Center. There were lots of athletic events tonight but let’s get straight to breaking news. Our own Chip Morgueworkersson has breaking news on the latest Patriots scandal! Chip, what have you got and just how sensational is it?

Chip: [Speaking in grave tones] Well, Skip it doesn’t look good for Bill Belichick. I’m told by highly placed sources that the Patriots actually used a Bigfoot – a Sasquatch – to deflate balls before the AFC Championship game.

Skip: Whoa, Chip… this is big.

Chip: Yes it is Skip. I have looked into this extensively and the ceilings in the men’s room at Gillette Stadium are 10 feet tall. My sources tell me that that is clearly a high enough ceiling to handle a Sasquatch which I’m told on average runs between 7 and 9 feet tall. There was a report in the 1940s of a Sasquatch that was over 10 feet tall, but my sources stress it would be extremely unlikely that such an animal would still be alive. Even if he was alive, he’d be almost 80 years old and it would be extremely unlikely for him to live in Foxboro at that age.

Skip: Wow, you’ve done your homework. That’s why you’re the best in the biz, Chip! How exactly did Sasquatch deflate the footballs, thereby giving known cheaters Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots a huge advantage en route to their narrow 45 -7 victory over the plucky Indianapolis Colts?

Chip: Skip, I am told that they pre-positioned the Sasquatch in the men’s room. When the ball attendant brought the bag of game balls into the men’s room, the Sasquatch went to work. I don’t think I have to tell you, the Squatch, as the experts call him, has massive hands and is enormously strong. It could easily squeeze the air out of 11 balls.

Skip: Why only 11 balls, why not 12?

Chip: Well Skip, and I’m speculating here – you know I don’t like to do that, I like to deal with facts; but purely speculating I think it is safe to say that most Bigfoots have trouble counting any higher than 7.

Skip: So this Sasquatch exceeded expectations with 11?

Chip: Belichick wouldn’t have it any other way, would he? I mean he can coach. He obviously has a Sasquatch that knows how to do his job.

Skip: Great work as always Chip. This is truly BREAKING NEWS! Now, let’s turn to our panel of unbiased experts. Joining me are Michael Bonbon of the Chicago Press, and some guy wearing a New York Giants shirt named Coco. Coco, let me start with you. What are the implications of the Patriots using a Sasquatch to doctor balls and steal victories?

Coco: Well Skip, my first thought is how long have they been using giant mythical primates to win football games? And this goes beyond deflating balls. The NFL will have to investigate if the Sasquatch was using its giant leathery hands – I’m told they are like sandpaper! Were they using those big meat-hooks to scuff footballs? And don’t get me started on game prep – because a 9 foot tall primate on the practice field is a huge advantage for a QB like Tom Brady when he walks through how to cheat, I mean beat, a defense.

Skip: Fascinating. Bonbon, what do you have?

Bonbon: Look, the Patriots are always going to push the line. Is there anything in the NFL rule book that states explicitly “You cannot use a Sasquatch”? No. The NFL has got to get the integrity of the game back under control. The Patriots should not be allowed to hide a Sasquatch at Gillette Stadium to affect the outcome of games.

Skip: Bonbon, and I want to stress right now the league is still investigating, but when they reach the obvious conclusion that Belichick used a Bigfoot – what does Roger Goodell do?

Bonbon: Make Belichick confess! Right now, TODAY, the NFL has the authority based on what we know from Chip’s report to put Belichick on a bread and water diet! So what haven’t they done so already? And I don’t want it to be french bread and bottled water. Give him white bread, WITH high fructose corn syrup, and room temperature tap water.

Skip: And after he confesses?

Bonbon: Well look, we don’t need to go overboard. Just bury him up to his neck in the Arizona desert, cover his head with honey and let the ants have him.

Skip: Seems reasonable considering how much damage the league is taking as a result of rampant Sasquatch usage by the Patriots. What about Brady?

Bonbon: Let him play in the Super Bowl. But wrap his thighs together with some heavy duct tape. Force him to shimmy around the pocket or hop like a rabbit to avoid the pass rush.

Coco: Skip, I’d like to jump in here. Did you notice Belichick’s answer on media day to the question about the Sasquatch?

Skip: Wait… he was asked about Sasquatch?

Coco: Yes, when the cute little 4 year old girl asked Belichick, “what is your favorite stuffed animal?” Belichick said he liked a monkey that you can put your hands inside to control – like a puppet. First thing I thought was this. He is positioning himself to say he was referring to the Sasquatch he has been using, FOR DECADES, to win football games. A primate puppet? Come on! It’s obvious.

Skip: Old Belichick is always trying to stay one step ahead isn’t he?

Bonbon: He should be publicly executed.

Skip: Before we wrap up – anything else from you Coco?

Coco: Will you be showing anymore highlights of the Giants this week?  I’m used to you showing highlights of the Giants beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl at least 19 times a week since 2008. I’ve noticed that this week, you have only showed it 12 times. It really makes it more fun for me to caress my Michael Strahan bobble-head doll when you play those highlights.

Skip: Coco, great lead in! It’s coming up right after the break!

-cjcheetham

Copyright © 2015 cjcheetham

Enjoy the Christmas Present

In our home each year, Charles Dickens plays a central role in Christmas. I can’t explain it, but even as a child, I was enthralled by Dickens’ tale of the corrupted and redeemed Ebenezer Scrooge. Perhaps it was the ghosts that first attracted me as a boy. Regardless of the tradition’s origin, it has become a central part of my Christmas each December. Over the years, I’ve come to make it a habit of reading the short novel annually. And of course, there are no shortage of film versions, which my family and I enjoy arguing over which we like best. Who was the best Scrooge? Which screenplay was the cleverest?

There are so many obvious lessons in Dickens’ tale that it can be taken for granted. Of course, we all get it – be kind to one another; provide for the poor; love one another; pay your employees a decent wage; don’t forget to go to your nephew’s house for Christmas dinner; and most of all: stop being a miserable old bastard, because you are ruining everyone’s Christmas!

There it is in a nutshell. Nothing left to discuss.

Except, this year I’ve learned something new while reading A Christmas Carol.   I learned what I would call the central lesson of the story. And that lesson is this – live in the moment; live for today.

Scrooge’s essential problem as a man is clear: he never lives in the moment. While on the surface, he appears to be living in the present, as he counts his money or lambasts his employee, Scrooge is plagued by his past and troubled by his future. In other words, Scrooge is like every man who has ever lived. He is riddled with sadness over lost joys, bad decisions, and loneliness. He is deeply morose over memories of a father who never loved him, a sister who died too young; and a love affair that was lost. Likewise, Scrooge is fearful of a future that will inevitably include aging, slowing down, and yes, eventually death. Will he have enough money? How will he survive? What of his business?

**

Have you ever analyzed your typical day? Here’s an example of one of mine: The alarm goes off at 4:15 am, but I don’t hear it, so my wife pokes me (gently and kindly, mind you) in the ribs. I am up and running. Make the coffee and oatmeal and wolf it down while catching some news. I have to be out the door by 5:15 so I can get to the gym by 5:45. What am I doing today? Let’s see – I have a meeting to discuss something and I think someone is calling me about some problem. Shoot! Better get moving or I’ll be late.

My day is filled with interactions where I am either thinking about something that happened yesterday, anticipating my next meeting or daydreaming. It goes like this all day – a near obsession with everything except the present. Someone is telling you something important, and you are thinking about next week’s reports that are due. What happened yesterday and what happens tomorrow – all day long, every day. Mix in some concerns about finances (when can I retire? Will I have enough to live on? To help my kids?) Then you drive home around 6pm and recount what has transpired with an eye on next week, next month, and next year.

The electronic revolution certainly hasn’t helped any – because when we get home, we can watch television while surfing the web in between exchanging texts on our phones. All the while we are having some kind of disjointed “conversation” with our family members. Thank God for these electronic devices which make us so efficient.

It’s enough to make me wonder sometimes – am I alive?

***

When we meet Scrooge, he is certainly not living a full life by any stretch of the imagination. He is in fact quite miserable. He is living the Hobbesian lifestyle – solitary, nasty, and brutish (although not short). It is clearly going to take a miracle to wake him up. And in this case (and every case for that matter), it is the ghosts of Christmas that create the miracle to set Scrooge straight.

First, Jacob Marley arrives, plagued by incessant regret over the way he lived his life. Doomed to eternal agony, Jacob warns Scrooge – not only about what lies ahead for miserable sinners, but more importantly he shows Scrooge the most vital thing he is missing every day: human interaction. Jacob allows Scrooge to see the spirit world, full of tormented moaning souls. When Scrooge asks his old partner, “why do they lament?” Jacob replies, they seek to interfere for good in man’s affairs but have lost the power to do so.

That is Marley’s curse. He wasted his life on the intricacies of business while ignoring the delicacies of friendship, kindness, and love.

I’ll not recount the well-worn details of the three spirits of Christmas as they take Scrooge on journeys through his past, present and future. However, I must say that during this year’s reading, it struck me quite clearly, that the only joy in the entire tale occurs in the present. When we travel back to Scrooge’s youth, his joy comes from being with his sister. He is overcome with happiness as he watches his old boss Mr. Fezziwig throw a Christmas party that is so great, everyone forgets their cares. Scrooge sees the joy of loving his fiancé and how he loses her when he becomes obsessed with the future rather than the present. Scrooge begins to realize that the best parts of his life came when he focused on living in the moment.

While traveling with the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge visits his nephew’s home and discovers that like Old Fezziwig, Fred knows how to throw a party full of laughter and fun – and that Scrooge has been missing it every year. Most importantly, Scrooge visits the home of his employee, Bob Cratchit. Cratchitt, despite making a tiny salary, is able to enjoy a richness completely foreign to Scrooge. In terms of the love of family, Cratchit, like Frank Capra’s George Bailey, is the richest man in town.

In the Cratchit home, Scrooge is introduced to Tiny Tim, the youngest of Bob’s children. Tim is a sickly boy, doomed to die within the next year. Scrooge is deeply affected by Tim’s sad fate. Over the years, I’ve often wondered why Tim became such a popular Dickens character. This year, I’m convinced that Tim is popular because he is the embodiment of living today with joy. Tim is thrilled by his mother’s cooking, by the Christmas pudding, and by attending church with his father. He loves it all and he never once thinks of his illness. Tim is simply thankful for today and there is an exquisite beauty in that.

****

Simply put, the message of Christmas is: LIVE FOR TODAY. Your past, while a part of who you are and how you got to today, doesn’t matter at all. But, you protest, I’ve done terrible things in my past! The Author of Christmas responds, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.”

But I’ve been hurt by others. They’ve left me sad and alone! The Child in the manger reminds you, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Ah, yes but I have so much pressure on me – you see with work and bills and worries about the future. But Jesus answers, “don’t be anxious asking what shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear? Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. For tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”

*****

We have another tradition in our home. Our dear friend Santa Claus visits each year – with presents. Through no fault of his own, old Santa has become an enemy of living in the moment. As early as October, people point at Santa and start their countdown clocks. Only so many days until Christmas! So much to do, to buy, to plan, to make, to cook. It is go, go, go!

Maybe we should all remember to slow down and not make gifts the enemy of Christmas.

“When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?” (G.K. Chesterton)

******

Christmas is about the present. The past no longer matters because Christmas brought the gift of forgiveness. The future is assured because Jesus conquered the grave. Old Scrooge was a bawling mess when the Ghost of Christmas Future showed him the grave marked “Here Lies Ebenezer Scrooge.”

The cold, cruel grave was the fate of all men. If not for Christmas.

Christmas is the perfect liberation of mankind from the past and the future. Only when we understand Christmas can we live for today; loving each moment and carefree knowing that in the words of Tiny Tim, “God has blessed us, every one!”

I think that is what Dickens was after – the simple joy of living. Christmas stands alone against a world of sorrow, shame, sadness, stress and strife and shouts “Come in! Come in and know me better, man!”

– cjcheetham

Copyright © 2014 cjcheetham

Address to Veterans Day luncheon, Newark Delaware – November 11, 2014

FIRST, LET ME SAY THANK YOU FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK IN HONOR OF AMERICA’S VETERANS. I AM TRULY HUMBLED TO BE IN THE COMPANY OF THE HEROES WITH US TODAY AND COUNT IT A GREAT BLESSING THAT WE LIVE IN A NATION WHERE SO MANY HAVE SACRIFICED IN THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM. I ALSO WANT TO SAY THANK YOU TO MAYOR SIERER FOR BEING HERE TODAY AND ALSO THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE PUT THIS EVENT TOGETHER.

THE FIRST VETERAN’S DAY, THEN CALLED ARMISTICE DAY WAS CELEBRATED 95 YEARS AGO TODAY. IN 1919, THEN PRESIDENT WILSON SAID, “TO US IN AMERICA, THE REFELECTIONS OF ARMISTICE DAY WILL BE FILLED WITH SOLEMN PRIDE IN THE HEROISM OF THOSE WHO DIED IN THE COUNTRY’S SERVICE AND WITH GRATITUDE FOR VICTORY, BOTH BECAUSE OF THE THING FROM WHICH IT HAS FREED US AND BECAUSE OF THE OPPORTUNITY IT HAS GIVEN AMERICA TO SHOW HER SYMPATHY WITH PEACE AND JUSTICE IN THE COUNCILS OF NATIONS.”

PRESIDENT WILSON GOT IT JUST RIGHT. VETERANS DAY IS BOTH A TIME OF REFLECTION ON THE HEROIC ACTS OF OUR ARMED FORCES AND ALSO A TIME OF HOPE. A HOPE THAT AMERICA CAN ONCE AGAIN ACHIEVE A LASTING TIME OF PEACE; FOR AS ANY VETERAN CAN TELL YOU – NO ONE WORKS HARDER FOR, HOPES MORE FOR, AND PRAYS MORE FERVERENTLY FOR PEACE THAN OUR VETERANS. FOR IT IS THE VETERAN OF WAR, THE PERSON WHO HAS SEEN THE EFFECTS OF WAR FIRST HAND – IT IS THAT AMERICAN THAT HOLDS PEACE MOST DEARLY.

THE JOURNALIST TOM BROKAW WHEN WRITING ABOUT THE WORLD WAR II GENERATION SAID, “IT IS, I BELIEVE, THE GREATEST GENERATION ANY SOCIETY HAS EVER PRODUCED.” BUT, WHILE THE WORLD WAR II GENERATION WAS INDEED GREAT – I UTTERLY REJECT THE NOTION THAT IT WAS SOMEHOW THE GREATEST AMERICA HAS SEEN; THAT IT WAS A UNIQUE GENERATION. I SAY THIS CONFIDENTLY BECAUSE NO GENERATION OF AMERICANS HAS BEEN SPARED THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DEFENDING OUR LAND. FROM VALLEY FORGE TO SAN JUAN HILL TO KHE SAHN TO BAGHDAD, AMERICAN GREATNESS HAS BEEN CONSISTENT – AND IT HAS BEEN CONSISTENT BECAUSE OF THE DEDICATION OF AMERICA’S PEOPLE; SPECIFICALLY EACH GENERATION OF AMERICAN WARRIORS HAS PERFORMED ACTS OF HEROISM AND GREATNESS. IT IS A CONTINUUM OF GREATNESS, HANDED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION IN OUR ARMED FORCES. A BELIEF; AN IDEAL THAT STATES: AMERICA IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR AND THAT AMERICANISM IS WORTH PRESERVING.

I HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEDGE OF SERVING IN AMERICA’S ARMED FORCES FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS – FIRST AS AN ENLISTED MAN IN THE ARMY AND TODAY AS AN OFFICER IN THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE. DURING MY TIME IN THE MILITARY I HAVE HAD THE HONOR OF SERVING WITH SOME OF THE BEST PEOPLE YOU’LL EVER MEET – PEOPLE WILLING TO PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE FOR OUR FAMILIES, OUR HOMES, AND OUR WAY OF LIFE. I AM CONSISTENTLY AMAZED AT THE GREATNESS OF OUR MILITARY MEN AND WOMEN. THEY DO NOT SEEK FAME AND FORTUNE. RATHER, THEY SEEK A BETTER WORLD WHERE PEOPLE ARE FREE TO LIVE AS THEY WISH; WORSHIP AS THEY PREFER; ORGANIZE THEIR LIVES AS FREE PEOPLE WITHOUT THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE FROM THOSE WHO TRAMPLE ON THE RIGHTS OF MAN. THAT MOTIVATION TOWARD A BETTER WORLD IS BORN OF A SELFLESSNESS THAT IS INDEED A CREDO OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY. THAT IS GREATNESS – AND THAT GREATNESS DWELLS IN THE HEARTS OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY IN EVERY GENERATION.

IN LATE MAY 1991, MY ARMY UNIT WAS RETURNING FROM OUR DEPLOYMENT TO IRAQ DURING OPERATION DESERT STORM. WHEN WE LANDED AT WESTOVER AFB IN MASSACHUSETTS, A CROWD OF AMERICAN CITIZENS WAS THERE TO GREET US. AS THEN SGT CHEETHAM DEBOARDED THE PLANE AND WALKED TOWARD THE HANGAR, WE COULD ALL SEE A MASSIVE CROWD OF AMERICANS, CHEERING WILDLY, WAVING OLD GLORY AND SHOUTING OUR NAMES. IT WAS A WONDERFUL HOMECOMING. AS I ENTERED THE HANGAR (LITERALLY ON A RED CARPET) THE FIRST HANDSHAKES, THE FIRST WARM EMBRACES CAME FROM VETERANS OF THE VIETNAM WAR. THEY WERE THERE, SOME IN WHEEL CHAIRS, TO TELL US THAT WE WERE LOVED AND THAT THEY WERE PROUD OF US. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AMAZED BY THAT EVENT. THE VIETNAM GENERATION, SO UNJUSTLY VILIFIED IN THEIR OWN TIME OF WAR, THE MEN WHO HAD BEEN IGNORED OR WORSE BY THEIR COUNTRY, ROSE ABOVE THEIR OWN BITTER EXPERIENCE TO WELCOME US HOME TO AMERICA. THE VIETNAM VETERANS, HEART-BROKEN BY THEIR OWN REJECTION IN THE 1970S BUT DETERMINED TO RIGHT THAT WRONG, WERE SAYING “NOT ON OUR WATCH. WE WILL NEVER LET ANOTHER GENERATION OF VETERANS FEEL ANYTHING BUT LOVE AND RESPECT AND HONOR WHEN THEY COME HOME.” I LOVE THE VIETNAM VETERANS.

IS SOMEONE GOING TO TELL ME TODAY THAT THAT GENERATION OF VIETNAM VETERANS WAS NOT GREAT? OF COURSE THEY WERE.

THE TRUTH IS, THE AMERICAN MILITARY IS MADE UP OF SPECIAL PEOPLE. NOT SUPER HEROES…NOT PERFECT…NOT EVEN 100% VICTORIOUS IN ALL ENDEAVORS. BUT SPECIAL PEOPLE – WHO WHEN THEY SEE A WRONG – THEY WANT TO RIGHT IT. WHEN THEY SEE SUFFERING – THEY WANT TO ALLEVIATE IT. WHEN THEY SEE INJUSTICE – THEY WANT TO RECTIFY IT. THAT IS TRUE OF ALL AMERICAN VETERANS, IN ALL TIMES.

RATHER THAN ASCRIBING A GREATEST GENERATION LABEL TO OUR HEROES, CAN’T WE ALL AGREE – HERE TODAY, THAT THE AMERICAN VETERAN FROM ALL GENERATIONS DESERVES OUR LOVE, HONOR, AND RESPECT?

OFTEN IN THE COURSE OF MY DAY, I HAVE CITIZENS STOP ME AND SHAKE MY HAND; THEY SAY “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.” IT IS HUMBLING AND IT IS AWE INSPIRING. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE SO GOOD TO OUR MILITARY. LET IT ALWAYS BE SO. BUT I HAVE DEVELOPED MY OWN RESPONSE TO THOSE CITIZENS. WHEN THEY SAY “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE” I ALWAYS REPLY RIGHT BACK “THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING US. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND OUR HOME TOWNS ARE WORTH DEFENDING – IT IS AN HONOR TO SERVE A GREAT NATION.”

ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS, ARTHUR KOESTLER WROTE, “THE MOST PERSISTENT SOUND WHICH REVERBERATES THROUGH MAN’S HISTORY IS THE BEATING OF WAR DRUMS.” HOW I WISH THAT WERE NOT TRUE. WE MUST ALL WORK AND PRAY FOR PEACE. BUT THE HIGHER IDEALS OF FREEDOM, JUSTICE, AND DECENCY MUST BE PLACED ABOVE OUR DESIRE FOR PEACE; BECAUSE PEACE WITHOUT THOSE OTHER THINGS IS NO PEACE AT ALL.

IT IS THE AMERICAN VETERAN THAT DEFENDS THOSE HIGHER IDEALS. I AM BLESSED TO BE AMONG THOSE VETERANS AND I AM HONORED TO SAY TO THOSE VETERANS HERE TODAY AND ACROSS OUR NATION: “THANK YOU. YOU ARE IN WORD… AND IN DEED – THE GREATEST.”

-cjcheetham

Thoughts on Everything