Friday, November 16, 2012

All Is Lost

  With the recent outcome of the election, I have been left shaking my head in disbelief. Having a week or so to reflect, I have decided that common sense is officially dead.  In reconstructing the crime scene, the evidence shows that political correctness and entitlement slowly and methodically smothered common sense in it's bedroom with a pillow over the last 20 years.

     In coming to this realization, I have decided to stop laboring in vain to carry small buckets of water from the recesses of the titanic in faint hopes that I might somehow prevent it's sinking.  No, I have now resolved myself to the fact that the ship is going down.  Additionally, I have decided that the best place to be is topside with the violin players and the clueless partiers.  Therefore, I have created this new blog, which I shall post the unbelievable news stories from around the nation, as well as my daily encounters, which support the premise that, "ALL IS LOST!!"

Please feel free to post your comments and thoughts on any of the daily postings and we can all have a good time as the mighty boat slowly sinks into it's watery grave.  The new blog is at:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Article On The Chick-Fil-A Uproar

Elizabeth Scalia has written a wonderful article on the Chick-Fil-A uproar that I just had to repost.  It is amazing how one side of these arguments is always hurling the "intolerant" accusation at the other side, and yet, their actions consistently show them to be the intolerant ones.  I have copied the article below and linked to Ms. Scalia's blog:

Chick-fil-A: if you’re not sure, this is how fascism works

Over at Facebook, I noticed a picture of Kermit and Miss Piggy marrying, with a caption about Chick-fil-A*. I can’t seem to find it, now — perhaps the person who posted it deleted it.
I confess, haven’t been following this story at all. But after the Muppets picture, I saw someone ranting about Chick-fil-A being denied business licenses because they were “against gay marriage.”
At that point, I posted to Facebook,
“Whether these Chick-fil-A people support gay marriage or not, are people no longer entitled to their own opinions? I mean, denying them business licenses? Really? Is this what we’ve come to:”Either fall in line or you will pay; we will destroy you…” for having a different opinion?
Whatever happened to “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
If this is true, if this bullying is true, then this is not my father’s liberalism, that’s for sure. It’s something very, very different.
Well, a lively conversation ensued in which it was pretty much agreed upon that if a business willfully inserts itself into a political issue, that’s “one thing” but if a business is forced to declare its political beliefs — and if that declaration can mean the difference between getting a license or not, that’s “something else.”
It’s fascism, actually.
But this Chick-fil-A story is something beyond a demand to declare oneself and face consequences — it’s even worse than that. Apparently the mainstream media has taken it upon itself (perhaps because the owners are Christian?) to define Chick-fil-A’s positions for it.
Get Religion’s Terry Mattingly tells the miserable tale of media malfeasance:
So, did you hear about that wild quote that the president of Chick-fil-A didn’t say the other day?
Here’s a piece of a CNN report that is typical of the mainstream press coverage of this latest cyber-skirmish in America’s battles over homosexuality, commerce and free speech (sort of).
(CNN) — The fact that Chick-fil-A is a company that espouses Christian values is no secret. The fact that its 1,600 fast-food chicken restaurants across the country are closed on Sundays has long been testament to that. But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire.
“Guilty as charged,”, Cathy said when asked about his company’s support of the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage.
Now, one would assume — after reading a reference to the “comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage” — that this interview . . . actually included direct quotes from Cathy in which he talks about, well, gay marriage.
In this case, one cannot assume that.
While the story contains tons of material defending traditional Christian teachings on sexuality, the controversial entrepreneur never talks about gay rights or gay marriage. Why? Because he wasn’t asked about those issues in the interview.

Read Mattingly’s whole piece,
 wherein he addresses the whole “well, they may not havesaid it but it’s what they meant, so what’s the big deal?” angle.
The big deal is simply this: the press put aside context and decided to paint this company as some radically-religious-gay-hating-entity and then let the forces of anger, hate and spite have their way with it. The truth is, one can be a Christian and still be sympathetic to some parts of the so-called “gay agenda” without signing on in toto. One can disagree on the issue of gay marriage — based on scripture, or thousands of years of tradition, or on natural law — without actually hating anyone. But the right to principled opposition is being erased, quickly, and the press is doing all it can to help erase it. We are losing the right to say, “I don’t think the same way you do; my opinions are different.” That matters, a lot.
This is our mainstream press — the people charged with the public trust — and it has moved beyond advocacy and into “search and destroy” mode.
This is not about being “right” or “wrong” on an issue. This is about menacing and bullying people into conforming or paying the price. It’s about the bastardization of the word “tolerace” in our society, to the point where the word no longer means “live and let live” or “let people be who they are”; the word has become distorted in a very unhealthy way. Someone’s a bigot? Let him be a bigot; like it or not, a man is entitled to his damn bigotry. Someone’s a curmudgeon? Let him be a curmudgeon. Someone’s a misogynist (or, conversely, a male-hater?) let them be! People are entitled to be who they are — just as a church is entitled to be what it is — free of government compulsion to be what they are not. We cannot “make” people be more loving. We cannot “legislate” kindness. A bigot, or a hater (of any sort) will eventually find himself standing alone, will have to figure things out for himself. Or, not.
If people are no longer entitled to their own opinions, or to think what they think, then we are not free people, at all. Period. Full stop. That’s a fundamental as it gets.
Moreover, where does the “punishment” spiral stop? The press declares Chick-fil-A “homophobic” (a dishonest word) and then the local governments start penalizing them for it; Jim Henson’s outfit stomps off. What next? Will people against gay marriage start boycotting Muppet stuff? Pyres of Elmo in support of Chick-fil-A’s right to be itself?
Hey, anyone has a right to boycott or protest anything, but is it right — is it just — to effect a boycott at the behest of a press so overt, so obvious in its intent to identify-and-harass the boogeymen of their passionate loathings?
Shall honest people consent to such manipulation? Further, can justice-minded people be comfortable with a government interfering with a business on the basis of its opinions?
This reeks of fascism. And frankly, these are acts born out of insecurity, not security, in one’s own position. It is bringing a sledgehammer to a fight, because you cannot trust your own argument.
I came across Mattingly’s story right after reading this piece at The Catholic Thing
But distinctions do matter. We were once allowed to be what we held. Catholics were Catholics. Jews were Jews. It was all right. We now have an overarching “law” that tells us that we cannot be what we are. The university, once a place that respected distinctions and diversity of ways of life, is now an engine that allows nothing but its own definition of diversity. And diversity means that nothing can be diverse.
Quite right, and quite timely. Read the whole thing.
(*I don’t know when I have hated a business name more)
UPDATE: Former CBS News writer Deacon Greg must be getting weary of writing “what were you thinking” to one MSM news group after another.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 13- Moving Day- 5 November, 2011

     A few days ago we convoyed up to what is to be the Super Bowl of our missions. Whitehouse, as the Patrol Base is named, is where we are to build two HLZ's from scratch. Moving even further north has seemed to up the potential for enemy contact. We are up with 3rd reconnaissance battalion and 1st battalion, 6th Marine regiment, so we are in the area of the frontlines, if you can even call them that in today's unconventional warfare. 

     Building a new camp again each time we move is somewhat of a pain. Packing things up just to unpack them again and rebuilding everything is annoying, but everyone works together and in no time our camp has been set up. Day two and our engineers went quickly to work to create all the needed amenities. They built two of our very own wooden thrones to sit on and fill wag-bags, complete with blanket covered hesco fences surrounding them for privacy. Two PVC pipes were dug into the ground, protruding a few feet for our urinary purposes, aptly named, “piss tubes,” and a couple other Marines, including the Doc built a pullup bar for our physical fitness purposes. Day three will bring a resupply convoy with many necessary items, the most important of which will be my cigar resupply.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 12- Duty...Or Is It Doodie?

     Today the wind is blowing in just the right direction to present me with the lovely aroma of burning excrement. Yes, out here away from the lovely invention of plumbing and septic systems lies the land of burning pits of poo. This is our way of continuing our “doodies” without creating disease and plague. Some may not find this topic particularly tasteful, but I shall tell it nonetheless, as I have been tasked to give you an idea of what it is like out here, and I would be robbing you of a large portion of our environment if I were not to write about it. 
     Yes, out here the closest you'll get to a toilet is the seat, if you're lucky. A toilet seat sitting atop a wooden box of some sort with a cut-out hole. Need to call a meeting with Mother Nature? You go get yourself a “wag-bag” which is made by a variety of companies. I am partial to the “Dispose-a-John” myself, but to each his own. Each is made a bit differently, but all utilize the basic concept of a plastic bag which fits over the toilet seat and hangs down through the hole. I will trust that I need not describe the rest of the process as I am sure you get the idea. When finished you close up your wag-bag by whatever means the individual creator provided you, and you take it to the burn pit, which is a large dugout pit for burning garbage and wag-bags. There is nothing like carrying around a bag of your own poo. Everyone should experience this. It is very humbling.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Deployment Diary Continues Tomorrow

I have had a busy Spring with the trip to Ireland, along with 3 1/2 weeks of much required maintenance on my home in Missouri, but I am now back and will continue posting entries from my Afghanistan Diary tomorrow.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Much Needed Irish Getaway

A much needed vacation is in order and I am jetting off to Ireland for a week.  Surprisingly enough, the Marine Corps now makes it three times more difficult to vacation in Ireland as they do to spend seven months in Afghanistan.  Below is an example of what the Marine Corps required a 40 year old man to do in order to be approved to take a week vacation to the Emerald Isle:

Registration on APACS (Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearing System)
Anti-Terrorism Force Protection Level 1 Certificate of Completion
SERE Level B Certificate of Completion
Country Threat Brief by Intel
Information Assurance Course Certificate of Completion
Copy of Birth Certificate
Copy of Passport
Commanding Officers Authorization Letter
Isoprep Confirmation Letter
Trip Registration with U.S. State Department
Copy of Flight Itinerary
Operational Risk Management Matrix

Retirement cannot come quick enough from an organization which requires this much red tape and paperwork for almost any activity one would participate in during their off-time.  There is no tolerance for anyone that might go out and make a mistake during their liberty time, and higher headquarters now blames the entire chain of command below them down to the troubled Marine's first line supervisor, so this is the result of everyone trying to CYA.  Once upon a time we held the individual Marine (grown adult, mind you) accountable for his actions, now the Corps expects the Marine's NCO, SNCO, and OIC all to answer for their Marine's lack of discipline and/or judgment.  It is an insane amount of wasted time that is hard to even accurately describe to those on the outside not experiencing it.  To any who are currently in the Marine Corps you know exactly what I am talking about.  It has gotten to the point that we cannot release our Marines for the weekend without first conducting a safety brief, having each of them fill out a "HARP" form (Holiday Accident Reduction Program) and conducting a vehicle inspection on their modes of transportation.  It is truly unbelievable and lacks any shred of common sense.  If an individual is a (pardon my French) dumbass then he is going to be a dumbass regardless of all the paperwork and inspections we make him fill out prior to sending him on his liberty.  All the safety briefs, vehicle inspections, and other stupid documents we are forced to waste our time having them fill out will not phase them, as they are the 10% that are destined to be screw-ups.  Contrary to the Corps new philosophy, they will not create some mistake-free  utopia with these methods, they will only create frustrated Marines at every rank and level who cannot wait to free themselves from the administrative chains they are shackled to.

I'm off to Ireland to unwind from all this madness...stay classy, Marine Corps.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

President Obama's Campaign Ad Bragging About Bin Laden Killing Is Shameless

Below is an ad in response to the recent campaign ad by President Obama which attempted to politicize a military action for the President's gain.

Afghanistan Diary Part 11- Task Force Nomad (November 2, 2011)

Why am I so lonely today? Most days I feel so strong, yet once in a while I find myself unable to control my emotions. I have nothing notable to be sad about and yet, here I am, feeling my mood sink by the minute. I find myself tired of this day, tired of this mission, tired of this patrol base, and most of all, tired of this third world hellhole.

On the last mission, we watched a dozen or so children playing soccer, oblivious to the squalor they live in and clueless to the horrible life that awaits them. Then I saw it!!! As the ball came rolling within ten to twenty yards of our vehicle, three boys came to retrieve it and I could see the look on one of the boys' faces as he turned to look at us in our MATV. It was clear to me as I looked at him that unlike his friends, he understood his plight. He had a distinctive expression on his face that cried out, “please take me with you...I don't want to live this life.” What would cause him to have that knowledge or insight? It has convinced me that the fighting desire to be free is hard-wired in all regardless of what they have or haven't been introduced to in life. It can easily be brainwashed or beaten out of many, but some are just strong willed enough to resist this re-education and for them, living in a country such as this one will be a lifelong mission to get out. I pray that young boy is able to get wherever he wants to go one day. I wish I had the power to take him home with me. I have not been here for two complete months and yet I have already been changed in some ways forever.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 10- Task Force Nomad (October 31-November 1, 2011)


And now it's beginning to seem like we're wasting time. Day three of no missions and our next foreseeable one is not for another four. The latest news is that our next task, which is to build two HLZ's from scratch, will include convoying approximately three times back and forth to Alcatraz to load water for the hydroseeder. After this the word is we will go back to Alcatraz and sit around for another week, in case something pops up. I am no expert, but this is beginning to seem like a colossal waste of man-hours and resources, though I know my personal desire to get back to Leatherneck and have better communication with family back home could be skewing my opinion as well. I am objective enough to know that is a possibility.


This next story will most certainly impress animal lovers, and possibly infuriate wives, girlfriends, and family members. The other night a few Marines and I relaxed with fine cigars and evening conversation. As we puffed away over an hour or so we conversed almost exclusively about our dogs. That's right...not our kids, wives, or girlfriends, but about man's best friend. I apologize to my family for this story, but if it makes them feel any better there has been plenty of talk about them in other conversations. No, this night was dedicated to our canine companions, and let me tell you that many an entertaining story can be told regarding dogs. Tales of humor, loyalty, and bravery. Dogs possess some of the most respected traits of the military. I was most satisfied to find that I am not the only one who has a special voice for his dog, used to narrate what I believe him to be thinking at various times throughout the day. No, I am not a loner in that category. I do it so much at home that he (Charlie) recognizes that the voice has something to do with him and wags his tail anytime he hears it.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 9- Task Force Nomad (October 2011)


     The saga began three days ago when the senior Non-Commisioned Officer, Cpl Mickley, awakened to find that one of his boots had vanished into thin air. Immediately suspicious of the rest of the team, and rightfully so, he began questioning each member regarding the possible shenanigans being played at his expense. After somewhat calming his initial suspicions he began contemplating the alternative possibility. Yes...the possibility that wild dogs had stolen his boot in the middle of the night. 

     We had seen these four-legged pests lurking at the top of our berm one morning as we were forming up for a debrief. There was no time to investigate at the time, as we had a convoy in an hour. Luckily, my Cpl had thought to bring an extra pair of boots along for this task force, and he annoyingly dug them out of his pack, still with a suspicious eye cast on the other members of our security team. As the day went on without anyone coming forward to claim responsibility for the missing footwear, the event became an increasingly humorous catalyst for canine/footwear jokes. There was just no end to the sarcasm and my Cpl became increasingly confident that his boot had “gone to the dogs.” See how easy it is??

     Yesterday evening, just before chow, during a round of boot jokes, we convinced Cpl Mickley to climb to the top of the berm and look out over the desert to see if it might be down there somewhere. As we cracked jokes about the Taliban training dogs to steal boots merely to get unintelligent Marines to climb the berm into the open, Mickley proclaimed from the other side, “I found it!” Just like that, the three day mystery had come to a dramatic conclusion. Further investigation revealed that the dog more than likely realized he was not going to be able to get the boot back through the concertina wire he had successfully traversed on his way into the compound, and had dropped it there. However, Mickley has yet to reunite his foot with the boot, as upon finding it, he threw it back over the berm and it landed in a stream of drainage water from the hygiene area.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 8- Task Force Nomad (October 29 2011)

     Well we have now completed three missions. This last mission was somewhat of a repeat of mission two in that we were at the same location. That is where the similarities end as we did not have the same problem with the tram. No, we had an entirely different set of problems today which have me at my wits end. 

     Okay, how do I get into this next topic? How can I explain this in a somewhat tactful manner? I am the second in command on these missions. My boss is the Convoy Commander and he is a Captain. He and I have very differing opinions in regards to security. He is a very difficult man to work with, as he refuses to take advice from anyone, including his senior advisor, aka myself. I am the Assistant Convoy Commander, but more importantly I carry a second billet of Security Team leader. It is actually the entire reason myself and my personnel are up here with this convoy and work crew in the first place. We are the security experts assigned specifically to keep these personnel safe on their worksite, as well as during the movements from place to place. It is what we train almost every day to do. Yet, Captain...let's call him “Custer,” insists on running everything and taking advice from no one. 

     He made two decisions on this last mission that dismounted troops from the safety of their up-armored vehicles unnecessarily, placing all in greater danger during a time of darkness when our convoy was halted unexpectedly. These were not questionable calls whatsoever. They were decisions that were 100% wrong, 99% of the time. I knew before approaching him after the convoy that my advice would fall on deaf ears, nonetheless, I felt a moral obligation to approach him and get my concerns into the air. Yes, I knew he would immediately become defensive and would never admit that my security tactics were correct, much less admit that his decisions were incorrect. 

     That is precisely how it played out, with him again dismissing my concerns with his favorite defense line, “That was a risk I was willing to take.” This is becoming an extremely difficult position for me. I can continue pointing out the glaring errors, knowing full well that his pride and arrogance will never allow for him to accept that he is wrong about anything. Eventually this will lead to disaster when we become just fed up enough with each other to throw down one evening. I am 40 years old now and the prospect of “throwing down” with anyone just sounds like a bad idea from the start. 

     The second option is to let it go and let Custer rule with his iron fist. This option seems morally reprehensible to me as each time he makes such decisions he puts lives in danger. It may be a risk he's willing to take but it is most assuredly not a risk I am willing to take. I do have a third option. An option that is thoroughly frowned upon by the structure of the military. I could go around him to the next higher authority and let him know my concerns. This is called not utilizing the chain of command properly, and if not done with surgical precision, it could get me in a lot of hot water and turn me into the bad guy. I will not sleep well tonight contemplating my next move.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 7- Task Force Nomad (October 24-26 2011)

LCpl Leos prepares for an early morning mission

24 Oct

It is our last day of waiting for this next mission and the mood is slowly shifting from relaxation to business. Our next mission will leave us the most exposed to enemy fire of any so far this deployment. Additionally, it will be a 3 a.m. rise and shine to complete communication checks and prepare to move out at 5am. The young Marines don't have the same mood shift that I go through. My driver, Lcpl Leos, is sitting next to me playing Grand Theft Auto on his PSP. Sadly, this Marine received a Red Cross message yesterday morning that his grandmother had passed away. His family had requested that he be sent home but he informed me that he wished to stay here, which I can completely understand. Sometimes the best coping mechanism a Marine has with such news is the band of brothers surrounding him and taking care of him. The way in which fellow Marines manage to be sensitive and yet, still screw with the Marine in need with an irreverent brand of sarcasm is a work of art, and it is normally just what the Marine needs to continue functioning proficiently out here.

26 Oct

Our 2nd mission is complete, and what a long, painful mission it was. The 0300 rise and shine was originally supposed to transition to a 0500 exit of friendly lines, and a return to base no later than 1800. We knew it was going to be a long day going in, but we had no idea how long it would become. About two hours into our on-site work one of the heavy equipment operators dumped his tram on it's side. Luckily he was not injured, but it was a major setback which turned a 16 hour day into a 20 hour day. As with the first mission, the day was filled with interesting sights, normally provided by the local Afghans. The standing record of three on a motorbike was broken when I caught sight of 4 on a bike shortly after 1400. Other than that monumental achievement, the only noteworthy detail was once again the behavior, performance, and professionalism of my Marines. My two gunners remained in their turrets from the 0500 Oscar-Mike (on the move) to the return to camp at 2300. 18 hours refusing to leave their guns because they are that serious about their job. Marines like the ones I am currently honored to be supervising are what I will miss most when I retire. I doubt I will ever witness that type of drive and dedication again in any other career path.

I currently have the Navy Corpsman in my security vehicle. Naval Corpsmen, or “corpse-men” as our President likes to refer to them, are the medics of the Marine Corps. We have at least one on every mission and the current one is quite a character. He can not only recite entire scenes of most movies, but is quite proficient at applying these scenes to current conversations in the vehicle. You can get a pretty decent impression of a guy when you spend 18 hours with him in a vehicle, and I have to give our “doc” the “Gunny Seal of Approval” so far. He seems pretty good to go. He is from New York originally and was actually an EMT in Spanish Harlem before trading that occupation in to become a Corpsman. He has a pretty impressive tattoo on his forearm detailing the outline of his state of New York with an outline of the twin towers inside of the state. He is extremely patriotic and a staunch conservative. As I stated before, he is “good to go,” as most Corpsmen are.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 6- Task Force Nomad (October 23 2011)

     It's day four of this task force and we have completed mission one of four. It was a stressful and difficult mission to complete from a security standpoint. The rules of convoying along these roadways now force us to not impede local traffic, meaning we must allow vehicles at times to enter into our convoy or cross through it when we are halted. This is a very dangerous action we must allow, as any of these vehicles could be an enemy vehicle loaded with explosives. There is not much we could do to prevent disaster if the enemy wished to implement it. 

     It was amazing to see all of the local population crowding around to watch us work when we arrived at the work site. Stationary in our security perimeter we could see it all, and did we witness some sights. First things first, all the children just flocked to the Marines and were in awe of the heavy equipment and machines we utilized. Ultimately, they hang around and walk right up to the Marines because they are used to receiving candy and such from us. They are somewhat demanding in that they will walk right up and reach into your pockets for anything they can get their hands on. In addition to the children, it seems everyone is riding some sort of motorbike, and they will fit up to three people on it at times. Another interesting sight is a car load of local Afghans with the trunk open and more people piled into the trunk. While sitting in our security perimeter we were able to observe a funeral procession. It was quite an experience and yet we had to maintain our focus and assume any of these citizens could be enemy forces.

     We are now back in camp and waiting for our next mission. We have a three day gap between the first mission and our next one. Down time sucks!! I don't know how to put it any more professionally. When you are preparing for or executing a mission time goes by incredibly fast. When all preparation is complete and you have three days to wait time grinds to a halt. There is no better proof than the fact that I've had time to write all of this as well as find a tent which actually has internet access.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 5- Task Force Nomad (October 14 2011)

Cpl Eliud RuizReyes scans the horizon for threats.

    Well my wished were finally granted. I will be the security commander for a task force going north to do maintenance on helicopter landing zones (HLZ) which will be needed for a winter offensive. I finally get to leave Camp Cupcake and do what they pay me to do.

     There are a lot of reasons to hate leaving the comforts of an air conditioned room with an actual bed and a chow hall with three hot meals served each day. There are equally as many reasons that few who haven't served will understand to be as excited as my Marines and I are to leave these creature comforts behind and venture off into treacherous unknown lands for at least a few weeks. We have convoyed up to a little patrol base called “Alcatraz”, which is much more like what most might envision when they think of Marines in combat. There is no contractor constructed fancy perimeter fence here. We have bulldozed berms and mud walls as our protection. We are here staged so we can leave “the wire” and perform at least four missions before heading back to Camp Leatherneck.

     Gone are our air conditioned cans...replaced with cots under the stars. Gone are three hot meals a day...replaced with two hot “tray rat” meals and one Meal ready to Eat (MRE). Now weighted down with vests containing heavy Sapi Plates, faces filled with sweat, my Marines couldn't be happier. Why, you ask? These Marines were excited to come to this third world country. However, they were not excited to show up, sit around for seven months, and come home. These Marines are more than willing to leave their loved ones behind for lengthy amounts of time as long as they feel they are here for a purpose. Lounging at Camp Leatherneck and standing a gate is not their desire. As I write this from the inside of my MRAP and look at the dust filled cots and exhausted Marines I know they are finally getting exactly what they wanted.

     It's just like anything we do in life. If you work hard and accomplish your goals then you have experiences to be proud of. If you live life performing the bare minimum necessary to get by each day you will have little to take pride in as the years go by. A lot of people would say that just being a U. S. Marine is enough to be proud of for a lifetime. The problem with that statement is if a Marine takes on that attitude, he or she has lost sight of the mindset which allowed them to earn that title in the first place. No! Once that mindset imbeds itself in a human, it is hard to get rid of. These Marines constantly seek out difficult tasks and more complex goals to achieve. No matter what they do or accomplish they will never be content or satisfied and I love them for it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 4- Purgatory Again (September 2011)

We have now been at Camp Leatherneck for two weeks. My platoon wants to start doing their job but the outgoing unit is still here. When you deploy you are normally replacing a unit that has reached the end of their tour. There are usually a couple of weeks when you change over with that unit and they brief you up on what they have been doing during their time and what you can expect. This is normally a painful process. As the new unit arriving, you just want to take over and start performing your duties immediately. Unfortunately you are unable to and must endure the time with little to do other than watch the outgoing unit and take some notes on things you would like to continue doing their way as well as things you plan to change once they are gone.

In addition to this, we were required to sit through a Welcome Aboard/Country Brief along with an important brief describing our Rules Of Engagement (ROE). The ROE is a set of guidelines which determine when a Marine may fire and may not fire there weapon at alleged enemy assets. The intent is to allow the Marine to accomplish his mission while also minimizing any collateral damage or loss of innocent lives. I will say this much. No country goes out of their way to protect innocent civilian lives in a combat zone more than the United States. I should probably leave it at that, lest I say anything which could be deemed derogatory about our ROE. I believe in the old adage, 'It is better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.'

Friday, April 13, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 3- Boots on the Ground (September 2011)

Today we left the friendly confines of Manas Airbase for Afghanistan on an Air Force C-17. It was a quick two hour ride and then we were all hard at work again locating and separating our bags from everyone elses. This task should not be taken lightly folks. Imagine you have just taken a flight with 200 other people only to find once you reach the baggage carousels that everyone else on the flight has the exact same bags as you do. That is the nightmare I am speaking of. We all have the same military issue bags and must find our 3 bags among all the others. If there is one psychological disorder I possess, it is overwhelming anxiety when it comes to my stuff being separated from me and mixed with other people's stuff. It drives me mad and I am not comfortable again until I know I have every item back in my possession. When I was at Marine Corps boot camp, the drill instructors loved to have everyone dump their footlockers containing all of their gear on the floor. They would then have everyone push all of their stuff into the middle of the squad bay and make a huge mound out of it that they would often call “Mount Suribachi” after the mountain on Iwo Jima which the famous flag raising photo was taken. I think I handled all of the screaming, berating, stressing, sleep deprivation and every other psychological test they put you through at USMC recruit training quite well, but this was the one thing that would make me physically nauseous. It was usually followed by being allowed about 15 seconds to get whatever stuff you could grab and get it back in your foot locker. Some recruits would have 10 bars of soap in their footlocker, some would have none. You just had to figure it all out later. It drove me nuts, and this offloading of baggage isn't much different.   

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 2- Purgatory (September 2011)

I write this from the vacation “hot spot” that is Kyrgyzstan. My Marines and I are staying in a lovely 40 man suite complete with a bed and, well...a bed. We are here waiting for a military flight to take us into Afghanistan in a day or so. After all of the flying across many time zones in the last 24 hours it is a welcome break to make an attempt at disposing of my jet lag.

It has actually been a somewhat enjoyable trip. We have met some of the best Americans along the way. We stopped in Bangor, Maine, where a large contingent of the towns citizens have actually formed an organization which sees to it that every group of military men and women who stop in their town, whether going to or coming from a combat zone are greeted and treated like honorary guests during their brief stay there. It was a heartwarming experience which meant a lot to the Marines. I have been asked numerous times by people over the years, “what can we get you?” or “what do you need?” I have had drinks and meals purchased for me on occasion and every one of those times remain in my memory (which is quite an accomplishment these days). I can honestly say that I think the only thing military personnel need to keep them performing their duties in an exemplary manner is to know they are appreciated for their efforts. Ultimately, we don't do the job for the money. Some may remain in the service for the job security in these tough economic times, but the majority have a certain degree of patriotism and feel it is an honor to serve. To be appreciated for our service is all we really need and nobody provides that better than the awesome citizens of Bangor, Maine. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. You do more for the morale of military troops than you'll ever know, which has a direct effect on how they perform in theatre.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Afghanistan Diary Part 1 (August 2011)

The fact that anyone would find what rattles around in my brain to be an interesting read is very humbling, if indeed these individuals exist. I am a United States Marine and have been serving for just under 18 years now. I have thoroughly enjoyed this career and will certainly miss the camaraderie and esprit de corps I have experienced when I retire in a couple of years.

Just over a year ago, I was assigned to take over a platoon of Military Police (MP) who were preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan. We have spent the last year completing training and performing a variety of build-up exercises which are designed to prepare the Marines for a 7 month deployment. MP’s perform a variety of functions in a combat environment. They are a security and defense element for Forward Operated Bases. Additionally, they are tasked to provide security for personnel and supply convoys, safely escorting them from Point “A” to Point “B”.

We started with basics such as terminology and reporting. The Marines slowly but surely memorized a variety of important radio reporting procedures such as calling in situation reports, and medical evacuation procedures. Throughout the year the training became more difficult. The Marines became proficient with all of the weapons systems deployed by MP’s (M4 rifle, M203 grenade launcher, M249 machine gun, M240 machine gun, M2 .50 cal machine gun, MK19 automatic grenade launcher). They were trained in mobile patrolling tactics as well as dismounted patrolling. A great amount of time was spent on identifying Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) as well as reaction to an IED attack and reporting procedures. Additionally, they received a variety of classes designed to familiarize them with Afghan culture and language. This all culminated with a month long training exercise in Twentynine Palms, CA, named Mojave Viper, designed to test the Marines’ preparation and gauge their overall readiness for deployment to Afghanistan. It was my Marines’ day to shine, as they impressed the professional graders, attaining a score of 92% overall on their graded events.

The Marines in my platoon are by far the most talented group of young adults I have had the pleasure to lead, and I must admit it has little to do with me. I have been blessed with an amazing Staff Sergeant who deserves almost all of the credit in preparing these Marines. This has been arguably the most enjoyable year of my career and the Marines under my charge are nothing short of amazing. Rest assured America, that the best and the brightest are still donning military uniforms in defense of this great country, regardless of mainstream media propaganda which would suggest the opposite.

As we go forward in the next month I must admit to a different feeling than in earlier years of my career. I have always enjoyed the “band of brothers” feel in the military. There is truly no other job like it that brings a team of individuals together so tightly that they act and feel like a true family. I must admit that I no longer enjoy that type of bond. Roles change with promotions and over time I have begun to feel more like a father than a brother. Age, as well as a daughter in college, have only served to strengthen this feeling which continuously penetrates my mind. As each day brings us closer to stepping on an aircraft bound for the third world, this feeling becomes both a blessing and a curse.

It is first a blessing, as I sincerely care for every Marine in my platoon. I enjoy their professionalism, the pride they take in their training, and the evening stories and banter which carry through the night air to give the old Gunny a laugh each time we are in the field. Anyone who has served will know exactly what I am talking about. I will not share any of these intriguing stories and arguments, as many would require a parental advisory. What else would anyone expect from 50 young Marines after a long day of weathering 110 degree heat in numerous layers of clothing and many, many pounds of armor and gear? It is an amazing phenomenon to witness the laughter and morale that is displayed after such days and during such conversations. Yet, what other organization in America can confidently trust a 19 year old to lead 10-12 others successfully in a stress-filled environment every day, along with successfully maintaining accountability of a vast amount of high dollar weapons and gear? These Marines accomplish this with class and dignity, and they do it with pride and happiness. These actions are the definition of professionalism if you ask me. I believe Eleanor Roosevelt may have said it best, though she is not a person I would often quote.

“The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!” –Eleanor Roosevelt-

I have to give her credit. She sums it up quite accurately. It is a true blessing to be entrusted with leadership over such high caliber men and women. I will never forget this upcoming deployment and am daily humbled by the opportunity.

           Seeing my role change over the years is also troubling to my mind at times. Gone are the days when I would be one of the boisterous individuals talking trash and telling stories in a carefree manner with my brothers in the evening. I now see things through older eyes. I see these young Marines more and more like my own children. As I get to know their backgrounds, their experiences, and even meet some of their family members on occasion at family functions, ceremonies, etc., my mind grows somewhat troubled with the responsibility placed upon me at this juncture of my life.

I am no longer able to be concerned with only my knowledge, proficiency, and overall welfare. I now hold some degree of responsibility in the welfare of each of these young Marines as well as their families back home. It is a heavy weight to bear some days. Their minds are on the excitement of the mission. They want nothing more than to get the opportunity to perform their duties in country and get in the action. My mind is stuck on the mission of ensuring every one of them get back on a plane and come home in seven months. These thoughts remain internalized, as deep down I know that I will perform my duties in a precise and accurate manner, as it concerns mission accomplishment and the welfare of my Marines. I firmly believe that caring deeply for these Marines will make me a better leader than one that forces himself to be detached in order to allegedly be professional. I honestly believe a good leader can be both professional and caring. I have seen over the years that a detached, professional leader can build a proficient team. If you add sincerely “caring” to the mix you can build not only a team but a family.
           So off these young Marines go to see a section of the world and a culture that few who have not been there would believe exists. I have no doubt that it will be a character building experience for everyone. Operational security prevents me from sharing details regarding dates, exact locations, etc. but I hope to be able to share some of our experiences over the next several months, should enough people find these ramblings of an old Marine interesting.  

Monday, April 2, 2012


1st row left to right, LCpl Benbow, LCpl Landsaw, Cpl Saunders, LCpl Gutierrez
2nd row, Cpl Hill, Cpl Smith, LCpl Vannewkirk, Cpl Bingaman, Yours Truly, LCpl Barnett, Cpl Scollard

I will be leaving the wonderful land of Afghanistan later this week and will be posting some of my notes and stories from the deployment over the coming weeks for anyone who is interested.  I want to thank the many who were incredibly supportive during this deployment.  So many of you sent cards and packages with items my Marines were very thankful for.  No amount of gratitude I type here would be sufficient to describe the difference your support meant to us.  My platoon is coming back unscathed after over twenty successful missions during the last seven months, and I have no doubt everyone's thoughts and prayers had something to do with that.

A deployment is an interesting social experiment, that's for sure.  Spending seven months living with a platoon of young Marines from all walks of life and cultures, spanning every nook and cranny of our great nation creates quite a learning environment, and many a humorous story as well.  So, for anyone who may be interested stay tuned for some of the inside scoop on the shenanigans of our deployment in the coming weeks.  The first installment will probably be no earlier than next Monday, as the only thing I have on my mind for my first weekend home is spending time with my beautiful wife and children.  Again God bless all of you who have been so supportive over the last seven months.  We couldn't do it without such support.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whitney Houston, a Disgusting Reminder of Society's Infatuation with other People's Lives

I haven't written much since deploying to Afghanistan, but the latest firestorm of around the clock media attention to the death of Whitney Houston has forced me to vent a bit. What better place to vent than my little blog that nobody reads anyway.

Let me first state that when I heard that Whitney Houston had been found dead in a hotel that my initial thought was that it was sad news. A woman with one of the most beautiful voices I have heard in my lifetime had passed on, like many other stars, way too prematurely. After a few minutes reflecting on some of her music that I grew up to, along with some thoughts about how unfortunate it was that she had chosen to get involved in drugs and lifestyle choices that ultimately played some part in her untimely death, I grabbed a cup of coffee and moved on to the tasks at hand in my day. Yes, that's right...I did not read every story I could find on the internet about her death. I did not cry. I did not scream out obscenities towards Bobby Brown or mourn for the next three days.

As crazy as those actions sound to some of you, know that a great many Americans did exactly those kinds of things over the last week. Every day for the last week there was constant media coverage on all of the news networks detailing Ms. Houston's life, the events leading up to her death, and every action by every celebrity who knew her and/or was planning on attending the funeral. Do I fault the news media for this insane amount of coverage for what amounts to just another human being? No, I do not. The news media only gives this amount of coverage to events such as this because there is a market for it. If millions of Americans weren't putting their lives on hold to watch every minute of this idiotic coverage the media wouldn't keep presenting it.

No, our society has become one in which people care more about the lives of people they've never met, and who wouldn't give them the time of day if they did, than they do of themselves, their loved ones, and their own goals and aspirations. Joe and Jane citizen would rather sit on their couch all day and watch reality television shows which consist of nothing more than watching celebrities live their everyday lives than they would trying to live their own. It's a sad state of affairs and a scary look at the future of our nation. I remember when I was turning 16. I couldn't wait to get my license, get a job, get out of my house, and start living my own life. At the rate we are going we are going to have an entire generation of citizens that will turn 40 one day, and wonder why they things haven't turned out the way they imagined. It will be because they spent countless hours watching other people live their lives instead of going out and accomplishing things in their own.

To be fair to Whitney Houston, it is not an isolated occurrence. The same thing happened when Michael Jackson died a couple of years ago, as well as any other celebrity in the news for one thing or another. The same thing is happening every day to Hollywood types that are still alive. A growing number of people are basically placing these stars at higher importance than their own flesh and blood, as well as themselves. How else can we explain Kim Kardashian?? Can anyone explain one major accomplishment that Ms. Kardashian has had in her life to make her famous (other than an amateur sex tape)?? Really?? Seriously?? People are seriously neglecting their spouses, children, and their own lives and careers to keep track of these naïve, immature, spoiled fools prancing around on our television sets every day. And then when they meet a shocking, untimely demise, they are mourning these pompous celebrities as though they are part of their own family. It's just disgusting and a sad sign of the decay of our nation.

It's time for people to look in the mirror, begin valuing themselves and their families, and start living their own lives. I'm not sure there is a more horrible feeling than getting old and not having anything to tell your children and grandchildren regarding your own adventures and accomplishments in life, because I doubt they are going to be interested to hear about how much you cried when Whitney Houston died.

In the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” the line was stated, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” This past week is yet another sad reminder that a large number of Americans are very busy dying.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Bible and Capitalism

I came across this article today and thought it was quite good.  It reminded me of a blog I made some time ago when everyone seemed to be trying to portray Jesus as a Socialist.

The main difference is the author of this article actually has skills at writing.  I have linked the article below and copied the substance for your reading pleasure.  It is a pretty decent read, at least in my opinion.

What the Bible Teaches About Capitalism 

As the Ten Commandments instruct, envy is corrosive to the individual
and to those societies that embrace it..

Who would have expected that in a Republican primary campaign the single
biggest complaint among candidates would be that the front-runner has
taken capitalism too far? As if his success and achievement were
evidence of something unethical and immoral? President Obama and other
redistributionists must be rejoicing that their assumptions about rugged
capitalism and the 1% have been given such legitimacy.

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad
themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call
this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing
endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor. 

Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than the
morality of personal responsibility, for it is through this that man
cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good
citizenship and happiness. The entitlement/welfare state is a paradigm
that undermines that noble goal. 

The Bible's proclamation that "Six days shall ye work" is its
recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine that brings
about man's inner state of personal responsibility. Work develops the
qualities of accountability and urgency, including the need for comity
with others as a means for the accomplishment of tasks. With work, he
becomes imbued with the knowledge that he is to be productive and that
his well-being is not an entitlement. And work keeps him away from the
idleness that Proverbs warns leads inevitably to actions and attitudes
injurious to himself and those around him. 

Yet capitalism is not content with people only being laborers and
holders of jobs, indistinguishable members of the masses punching in and
out of mammoth factories or functioning as service employees in
government agencies. Nor is the Bible. Unlike socialism, mired as it is
in the static reproduction of things already invented, capitalism is
dynamic and energetic. It cheerfully fosters and encourages creativity,
unspoken possibilities, and dreams of the individual. Because the Hebrew
Bible sees us not simply as "workers" and members of the masses but,
rather, as individuals, it heralds that characteristic which endows us
with individuality: our creativity.

At the opening bell, Genesis announces: "Man is created in the image of
God"-in other words, like Him, with individuality and creative
intelligence. Unlike animals, the human being is not only a hunter and
gatherer but a creative dreamer with the potential of unlocking all the
hidden treasures implanted by God in our universe. The mechanism of
capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation,
helps facilitate our partnership with God by bringing to the surface
that which the Almighty embedded in nature for our eventual extraction
and activation. 

Capitalism makes possible entrepreneurship, which is the realization of
an idea birthed in human creativity. Whereas statism demands that
citizens think small and bow to a top-down conformity, capitalism, as
has been practiced in the U.S., maximizes human potential. It provides a
home for aspiration, referred to in the Bible as "the spirit of life."

The Bible speaks positively of payment and profit: "For why else should
a man so labor but to receive reward?" Thus do laborers get paid wages
for their hours of work and investors receive profit for their
investment and risk. 

The Bible is not a business-school manual. While it is comfortable with
wealth creation and the need for speculation in economic markets, it has
nothing to say about financial instruments and models such as private
equity, hedge funds or other forms of monetary capitalization. What it
does demand is honesty, fair weights and measures, respect for a
borrower's collateral, timely payments of wages, resisting usury, and
empathy for those injured by life's misfortunes and charity.

It also demands transparency and honesty regarding one's intentions. The
command, "Thou shalt not place a stumbling block in front of the blind
man" also means that you should not act deceitfully or obscure the truth
from those whose choice depends upon the information you give them.
There's nothing to indicate that Mitt Romney breached this biblical code
of ethics, and his wealth and success should not be seen as automatic
causes for suspicion.

No country has achieved such broad-based prosperity as has America, or
invented as many useful things, or seen as many people achieve personal
promise. This is not an accident. It is the direct result of centuries
lived by the free-market ethos embodied in the Judeo-Christian outlook.

Furthermore, only a prosperous nation can protect itself from outside
threats, for without prosperity the funds to support a robust military
are unavailable. Having radically enlarged the welfare state and hoping
to further expand it, President Obama is attempting to justify his cuts
to our military by asserting that defense needs must give way to
domestic programs. 

Both history and the Bible show the way that leads. Countries that were
once economic powerhouses atrophied and declined, like England after
World War II, once they began adopting socialism. Even King Solomon's
thriving kingdom crashed once his son decided to impose onerous taxes. 

At the end of Genesis, we hear how after years of famine the people in
Egypt gave all their property to the government in return for the
promise of food. The architect of this plan was Joseph, son of Jacob,
who had risen to become the pharaoh's top official, thus: "Joseph
exchanged all the land of Egypt for pharaoh and the land became
pharaoh's." The result was that Egyptians became indentured to the ruler
and state, and Joseph's descendants ended up enslaved to the state. 

Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end
up monetarily equal-or, as Churchill quipped, "all equally miserable."
But the Bible's prescription of equality means equality under the law,
as in Deuteronomy's saying that "Judges and officers . . . shall judge
the people with a just judgment: Do not . . . favor one over the other."
Nowhere does the Bible refer to a utopian equality that is contrary to
human nature and has never been achieved. 

The motive of capitalism's detractors is a quest for their own power and
an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and
something that ought not to be. 

God begins the Ten Commandments with "I am the Lord your God" and
concludes with "Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor
his house, nor for any of his holdings." Envy is corrosive to the
individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw
over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.

Rabbi Spero has led congregations in Ohio and New York and is president
of Caucus for America.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Honor Killings??

I have but one simple question.  Why does the media refer to these as "honor killings?"  I see no honor involved in this whatsoever.  Every time the media refers to these cases as "honor killings" they give credence to this cowardly act of murder.

A jury on Sunday found an Afghan father, his wife and their son guilty of killing three teenage sisters and a co-wife in what the judge described as "cold-blooded, shameful murders" resulting from a "twisted concept of honor" in a case that shocked and riveted Canadians.
Prosecutors said the defendants allegedly killed the three teenage sisters because they dishonored the family by defying its disciplinarian rules on dress, dating, socializing and using the Internet.
The jury took 15 hours to find Mohammad Shafia, 58; his wife Tooba Yahya, 42; and their son Hamed, 21, each guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
After the verdict was read, the three defendants again declared their innocence in the killings of sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar 17, and Geeti, 13, as well as Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, Shafia's childless first wife in a polygamous marriage.
Their bodies were found June 30, 2009, in a car submerged in a canal in Kingston, Ontario, where the family had stopped for the night on their way home to Montreal from Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The prosecution alleged it was a case of premeditated murder, staged to look like an accident after it was carried out. Prosecutors said the defendants drowned their victims elsewhere on the site, placed their bodies in the car and pushed it into the canal.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger said the evidence clearly supported the conviction.
"It is difficult to conceive of a more heinous, more despicable, more honorless crime," Maranger said. "The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor ... that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."
In a statement following the verdict, Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson called honor killings a practice that is "barbaric and unacceptable in Canada."
Defense lawyers said the deaths were accidental. They said the Nissan car accidentally plunged into the canal after the eldest daughter, Zainab, took it for a joy ride with her sisters and her father's first wife. Hamed said he watched the accident, although he didn't call police from the scene.
After the jury returned the verdicts, Mohammad Shafia, speaking through a translator, said, "We are not criminal, we are not murderer, we didn't commit the murder and this is unjust."
His weeping wife, Tooba, also declared the verdict unjust, saying, "I am not a murderer, and I am a mother, a mother."
Their son, Hamed, speaking in English said, "I did not drown my sisters anywhere."
Hamed's lawyer, Patrick McCann, said he was disappointed with the verdict, but said his client will appeal and he believes the other two defendants will as well.
But prosecutor Gerard Laarhuis welcomed the verdict.
"This jury found that four strong, vivacious and freedom-loving women were murdered by their own family in the most troubling of circumstances," Laarhuis said outside court.
"This verdict sends a very clear message about our Canadian values and the core principles in a free and democratic society that all Canadians enjoy and even visitors to Canada enjoy," he said to cheers of approval from onlookers.
The family had left Afghanistan in 1992 and lived in Pakistan, Australia and Dubai before settling in Canada in 2007. Shafia, a wealthy businessman, married Yahya because his first wife could not have children.
Shafia's first wife was living with him and his second wife. The polygamous relationship, if revealed, could have resulted in their deportation.
The prosecution painted a picture of a household controlled by a domineering Shafia, with Hamed keeping his sisters in line and doling out discipline when his father was away on frequent business trips to Dubai.
The months leading up to the deaths were not happy ones in the Shafia household, according to evidence presented at trial. Zainab, the oldest daughter, was forbidden to attend school for a year because she had a young Pakistani-Canadian boyfriend, and she fled to a shelter, terrified of her father, the court was told.
The prosecution said her parents found condoms in Sahar's room as well as photos of her wearing short skirts and hugging her Christian boyfriend, a relationship she had kept secret. Geeti was becoming almost impossible to control: skipping school, failing classes, being sent home for wearing revealing clothes and stealing, while declaring to authority figures that she wanted to be placed in foster care, according to the prosecution.
Shafia's first wife wrote in a diary that her husband beat her and "made life a torture," while his second wife called her a servant.
The prosecution presented wire taps and mobile phone records from the Shafia family in court to support their honor killing allegation. The wiretaps, which capture Shafia spewing vitriol about his dead daughters, calling them treacherous and whores and invoking the devil to defecate on their graves, were a focal point of the trial.
"There can be no betrayal, no treachery, no violation more than this," Shafia said on one recording. "Even if they hoist me up onto the gallows ... nothing is more dear to me than my honor."
Defense lawyers argued that at no point in the intercepts do the accused say they drowned the victims.
Shafia's lawyer, Peter Kemp, said after the verdicts that he believes the comments his client made on the wiretaps may have weighed more heavily on the jury's minds than the physical evidence in the case.
"He wasn't convicted for what he did," Kemp said. "He was convicted for what he said."