Category Archives: Phonies and Assclowns

Osama had documents from Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning Support NetworkIf you’re a big-P Patriot, you might not like Manning — neither Eli nor Peyton. But if you’re a small-p patriot, the Manning that gets up your nose is ickle Bradley, the toy-poodle-sized traitor with the rottweiler-sized ego. PFC Bradley Manning released hundreds of thousands of classified documents in an ill-advised attempt to conduct his own foreign policy.

The latest revelation is that the documents not only might have been of interest to US enemies, they definitely were  — as evidenced by the fact that Osama bin Laden had them in his Abbotabad hangout. The information was teased out by the UK’s Telegraph.

Today, prosecutors argued they should be allowed to call a military “operator” – a common term for a US commando – as a witness, saying he could offer testimony about evidence collected from the 2011 raid in Pakistan.

The potential witness was named only as “John Doe” and referred to him as “the operator who actually collected the evidence in Abbottabad and handed it to an FBI agent in Afghanistan”.

Major Ashden Fein, the lead prosecutor, said Doe would describe “how he went into a room, how he picked up the three pieces of information and what he did with them”.

Military authorities have consistently refused to release documents associated with Private First Class Mannings court martial, making it impossible to confirm Does exact role or his relation to the case.

Prosecutors also requested that Doe be allowed to give his testimony in an “offsite location”, away from the military courtroom where the case is being heard.

The secrecy surrounding his testimony makes it seem likely that he was among the members of Seal Team 6 who killed the al-Qaeda leader two years ago.

The government is also seeking to call eight other “chain of custody witnesses” who would describe how the files were transported from bin Ladens compound back to the US for analysis.

Among the requested witnesses is a translator who examined “letters to and from bin Laden”.

via WikiLeaks: US to call bin Laden raid Navy Seal to testify against Bradley Manning – Telegraph.

Naturally, Manning’s al-Qaeda lawyer is arguing vociferously against this evidence being presented in his charge’s trial. It’s not that it might have some relevance to the accusation that Manning released classified information that aided an enemy; oh no! The lawyer says, in that uniquely mealy-mouthed way in which a paid, amoral mouthpiece can utter the most baldly counterfactual rubbish, that Osama winding up with the files “has no bearing” on the case. See, he’s simply concerned that presenting evidence against his client will cause “undue delay.” He’s just trying to save the taxpayers money! It just looks like he’s a slimeball for the ages.

Manning does want to read a 24-page statement more-or-less confessing, while bashing the Army and whining about how he’s being picked on.

Follow up – wrist tap for traitor

John_KiriakouWe’ve covered this dirtbag before, but we didn’t update you when he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in Federal prison for multiple felonies last month.

A former CIA officer who pleaded guilty to identifying a covert intelligence officer was sentenced on Friday to 30 months in prison.

John Kiriakou and prosecutors agreed on the term as part of the plea agreement he struck in October.

Kiriakou, 48, declined to make a statement at the Alexandria, Virginia, federal court prior to sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema.
“Alright, perhaps you’ve already said too much,” Brinkema said.

She rejected defense attempts to characterize Kiriakou as a whistle-blower.

The judge was bound by the plea agreement, but said she would have handed down a tougher sentence had Kiriakou been convicted at trial.

“This case is not a case about a whistle-blower. It’s about a person who betrayed a very solemn trust,” Brinkema said.Ex-CIA officer in the news before

via Former spy sentenced for leaking another spy’s identity – CNN Security Clearance – CNN.com Blogs.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s about a traitor. 

Kiriakou leaked the names of multiple Clandestine Service members to reporters and to lawyers working for Al-Qaeda detainees. Private investigators hired by the lawyers then built target packets on the clandestine operatives for their al-Qaeda paymasters.

Kiriakou’s motivation wasn’t anything special:

“The defendant acted out of a sense of ego and narrow-minded self-interest to raise his media profile,” [prosecutor Mark] Schneider told the court.

His ego was strong enough that he initially thought he could weasel out of this case:

Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October only to intentionally identifying an undercover CIA officer.

So initially, he tried to brazen it out. But as prosecutors revealed more of the evidence against him it was clear he was going down for several felonies, and witthout a deal he was going away, as Judge Brinkema said, for a very long time. At that point, he instantly transformed from fearless warrior for transparency, to quivering nebbish trying to save as much of his own skin as possible.

Who funded Kiriakou’s top-drawer defense is not certain, but it may have been the same terror financiers that arrange “pro bono” lawyers from white-shoe law firms by allowing them to pad bills for unrelated legal work.

He also admitted to other allegations, including illegally telling reporters the name of a different CIA employee involved in a 2002 operation to capture alleged al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, and lying to a review board about a book he was writing. But those charges were dropped as part of his plea deal.

The charges arose out of communications Kiriakou had with two journalists between 2007 and 2009.

Most news stories are coy about identifying the journalists, who were not charged with any crimes in the case because of the political difficulty of prosecution. We’ll name them here, though. Matthew Cole was a producer for Brian Ross at ABC News, and was apparently moonlight both as an aspiring book author, and as an assistant to the al-Qaeda investigators. Cole was fired by ABC when the case threatened to blow up and involve Ross, a marquee name at the network. Richard Esposito of ABC was also a conduit for Kiriakou’s treachery, as was the New York Times’s Scott Shane.

ABC and the Times refused to cooperate with American investigators and prosecutors in the Kiriakou case, just with those working for Osama Bin Laden at the time.

Meanwhile, Judge Brinkema gave Kiriakou a delay before reporting to serve his sentence. This is customary with non-violent offenders, to give them time to settle their affairs. So what has Kiriakou been doing? Trashing his agency, his country and even the judge who cut him this slack, in state-controlled Russian media. We guess this means that even Brian Ross won’t touch him now, and the only outlets left for his ego are in the propaganda organs of opponents and enemies of his rejected country.

And… 30 months? Wherever he is, Major John André, who suffered a much worse penalty for doing much less damage to the United States, and didn’t have a number of oaths to the US to betray, is entitled to feel pretty badly done by.

German PR executive threatens NRA with hackers

logo_populeaks“Pretty nice organization you have here. It would be sad if something happened to it.” That’s the essence of the threatening message sent by German PR executive Sven Lilienström to the NRA. The actual words are: “To the NRA Board of Directors: Try to protect your data/files and emails!” and if they can actually do it, he promises to show up with “two team members” to “polish 500 weapons” at the NRA annual meeting.

NRA_Populeaks_2013

Portrait of the artist as he sees himself.

He shows he’s serious with a European’s idea of a threatening gangsta: some soft and lissome Eurotrash male model, wearing lipstick and gripping an Airsoft MP5K. In his weak hand. (Or maybe the weaker of two weak hands?) Lord love a duck. Apparently this is Sven Lilienström, as he sees himself. An edgy gangsta, commanding hordes of pimply hackers.

Lilienström doesn’t actually seem to be connected to the hacker community in any obvious way. Far from having techie cred, his education equips him to be a fitness trainer (German language link). He has almost zero presence n the net, apart from self-promotion — and inept self-promotion at that (he’s got a MySpace page! Himmel Herrgott, can we touch him?). As you can see from his real picture, he’s about as hip as Homer Simpson. He’s based in the international hi-tech nexus of Kaarst, in North Rhein-Westphalia.

The artist's other face -- equally phony.

The artist’s other face — equally phony.

Lilienström — he of the MySpace social media presence — runs a PR agency, which he says is expert on social and guerilla media. (What he means by that, as we shall see, is that he is unburdened with ethics). His firm is called Rheingewinn (loosely, Rhein profit!) showing that someone really did see the underpants gnomes as role models.

He’s done some self-promotion as a global warming causista, and some self-promotion while flacking for a european racket called the Plus-X Award which turned out to be “pay for play.”  (German language, but a nomination cost €464 and a win — which a third of the nominees got — an adittional €3,064). We reckon it was a short step from bribery to extortion.

His new approach is a mock-Wikileaks called Populeaks. It works like this: Lilienström sends a threat to some target — in this case the NRA — and gives them a deadline.

While many of his past letters have attacked his old bêtes noires — One beats the global warming drum, and one rather rudely demanded answers about a micro-scandal involving manufacturers misleading Stiftung Warentest, a German equivalent of Consumer Reports and a respected competitor to his pay-for-play Plus-X Awards — most have not actually been threatening. One, to a Canadian government contractor, did claim that he had hacked Canadian immigration data.

So what we have here is part and parcel of Lilienstrom’s earlier work: self-promotion, with questionable ethics.

The NRA bet: Try to protect your data and emails! – The Leak Preventers.

The question is: does NRA have to worry? The answer: probably not. It’s hard to imagine the clownish Lilienström, a PR executive that could have been sketched by Gilbert and Sullivan (had such a trade existed in their era), being effective at anything.

But consider this: there are certainly people who have an interest in hacking NRA’s membership data, including news media organizations (the British media, which extensively cross-pollinates ours, is in the throes of a criminal hacking scandal at this very moment) and ATF management (it would be illegal, but mere black-letter law has never stopped them before). And those threats have always been out there. While the people that run NRA might be complacent, they’re not incompetent, and one must assume that they keep their data close and their systems closer, and have good security folks, if not in-house, on speed dial.

The Wannabe’s Diploma Mill

This guy claims to sell Special Forces Training Certificates.

There’s only a few problems with them: they don’t look like the real ones (in most cases, they look radically different). They never have the right names or signature blocks. In some cases, they’re for nonexistent schools or schools that never issued a diploma. In other cases, he misrepresents what the school teaches, probably because he has no freaking idea. Some of these bogus certificates are not even on the right size paper.

In other words, they’re bogus and it should be immediately obvious to anyone who isn’t a phony that they’re bogus.

So who buys from this asshat?

Wannabes and phonies, that’s who.

Never trust documents supplied by an individual, especially one who tells cinematic-sounding tales of derring-do (they’re cinematic because he absorbed them with his ass in a theater seat). Get him to sign SF180 and get your own copy of his records. If he won’t sign the form, request the publicly-releasable information on your own. Schools, awards and decorations, assignments are all publicly releasable, and ask for them specifically.

On Wannabes and other liars

stolen-valor-approved-valor-fraud-politics-1340910211We probably waste too many recycled electrons on those complete wastes of sperm and egg, but our defense is this: we can’t help it. First, they frequently make claims to awards or attainments that we & friends risked life and health, and exhausted ourselves even in our young prime, to earn. Second… in today’s networked world, it’s just not possible that a John Giduck or Dick Blumenthal could get away with his fake hero claims forever.

The same is true about phonies in other fields, like “Clark Rockefeller” or Jayson Blair, and economic journalist Megan McArdle, whose once-popular blog apparently still exists in the wasteland that is The Daily Beast, shares our fascination. Without even mentioning stolen valor or a single case of a military phony, she asks some questions, and makes some speculative stabs at the answers. It’s worth the effort to go to the Beast and Read the Whole Thing™, because this is only a taste:

I am fascinated by liars.

I don’t mean ordinary, boring liars, like employees who call in sick because they want to go to the beach, or insurance salesmen who tell you that it is a good idea to buy whole life insurance.  I mean people who tell high-test, dry-aged, technicolor extravaganza sort of lies.  The kind of lies that are very, very hard to tell without eventually getting caught.  Like making up a girlfriend who died of leukemia right before a big game.

Those certainly sound like our kind of wannabes, don’t they? But McArdle has other BS artists in mind:

Journalist Stephen Glass fabricating companies whose threads were spun out of his fertile imagination.  People who pretend to attend law school or medical school, fooling their families for years.  Scientists who fake Nobel-caliber research.

The morality of this is not very interesting: what they’re doing is terrible.  But the psychology is fascinating.  What all these lies have in common is that eventually, there is a 100% chance that you will get caught, and that your lies will destroy you.  How do people decide to tell them?

Personally, we’ve seen a change from outlandish and easily-disproven BS (POW and Medal of Honor phonies) to more modest (and less-well-documented) claims over the last twenty or so years. She sees a difference between the big phony and the smaller one:

I’m not talking about folks like Mike Daisey, who might conceivably have imagined–wrongly–that China was so very far away that no one would be able to check up on his fabrications.  Or even Jonah Lehrer, whose fabrications were trivial details that he might have imagined were too small to attract notice.  (As they were, until he made the mistake of fabricating a Bob Dylan quote.  In his not-exactly-defense, I wouldn’t have known how rabid Dylan fans, either.)  I mean people who were telling lies that could not possibly go on forever without being exposed.

We think the difference between Glass and Lehrer, like the difference between the 1990s “my two Medals of Honor are classified” bull-slinger and a cautious one like Giduck who tried to put his claims in others’ mouths, is simply that the newer, seemingly more modest liars are attuned to the distributed power of the internet and are trying to cover their asses. They just don’t see that, to take a very old aphorism that is ever more true in a networked world, truth will out.

Like scientists who fabricate amazing research results, something that is nearly impossible to get away with over the long term, since other labs are going to repeatedly discover that your results do not replicate.

This seems to be a poorly-studied phenomenon, in part because these sorts of spectacular, sure-to-be-detected lies aren’t all that common, and in part because the liars are not very reliable sources of information, even about themselves.  I’ve read some of the interviews and first-person accounts from people who did this sort of thing, and they are wildly, profoundly unsatisfying.  They don’t ever explain what I’d like to know, which is “How did you ever see this working out?”  

stolen-valor-SF-phonyFrankly, we don’t think the fence-swinging liars are all as uncommon as McArdle seems to believe.

Of course, they do get away with it for longer than you would think–dozens of news outlet broadcast details (and a photograph!) of Te’o’s apparently non-existant dead girlfriend. Perhaps that encourages them to escalate: if Sports Illustrated didn’t check, why would anyone else?  But that’s not satisfying either.  Doesn’t it ever occur to them that every additional story makes it more likely that they will get caught?

stolen-valor-poser3The underlying fact pattern that she’s reporting on there is this: most journalists are hacks who suck at their jobs. They never, ever question a story that makes them go “awww,” or that lines up neatly with some preferred narrative. As she’s a reporter who tries to question her own assumptions, she just doesn’t believe how incredibly bad her colleagues are, and how the folks out here in Flyoverstan have come to discount very much if not all of what they say.

Like the song says, you can tell they’re lyin’ ’cause their lips are movin’.

Here she gets close to the heart of the matter:

A fabricated love interest who eventually dies of some heartrending fatal disease is the kind of thing that many of us heard from at least one histrionic friend in college.  It is the kind of thing that you can perhaps get away with, if you are not famous.  But the probability approached 1 that this would be exposed. Whether Te’o is the hoaxer behind the fake girlfriend, or was himself hoaxed, the question remains: why on earth . . . ?

millard-with-unearned-medalsFirst, let’s just euthanize the “was he himself hoaxed” comment which is still making the rounds of the gullible in journo-, sports-, and sports-journo circles. Kindly explain to us how somebody loses track of the facts that he has or doesn’t have a girlfriend, who is or isn’t alive. We’ll stipulate that football players tend not to be quantum physicists, but this isn’t Schrödinger’s Cat here, nobody cares about her quantum state. In Newtonian physics and Shakespearean terms, to be or not to be, that is the question. (Or to give it a Jordanian — Louis Jordanian that is — inflection, is she is or is she ain’t, period?)

Perhaps it’s just that these people do not adjust quickly enough to playing in the big leagues; they don’t understand quickly enough that the kind of lies people tell in bars cannot safely be broadcast to thousands or millions of people, and the kind of shortcuts that an unscrupulous or desperate person might safely take on a boring, low-circulation article are career suicide on a high-profile publication.  By the time the danger becomes clear, it is too late.

Or perhaps we’ll never understand it. Perhaps the fabricators do not even understand it themselves.

via Fake Girlfriends and Other Dangerous Fabrications – The Daily Beast.

stolen-valorWhat the phonies don’t get is that by slinging SF (or SEAL, or Marine Recon, or you-name-it) bullshit, they’re stepping on the toes of all the men that legitimately earned the right to those titles. In 1950 some guy could probably have waked around the country saying he was a D-Day paratrooper, in 1880 some guy could have said he fought on Little Round Top, and as long as he didn’t run into one of the handful of real deal guys, he would have gotten away with it. But it was always a big-league lie. What has changed is the communications world of today makes it possible to expose the lie. It makes the real equivalent of the Pickett’s Charge survivor or Easy Company platoon sergeant available instantly and easily, and it ensures that lies about his own action get routed to him.

There are no more consequence-free “lies in bars.” The guy in the bar knows somebody who knows somebody and everyone’s a tweet or email away. Go ahead, lie. It’s your ass.

The future is transparent as a lens. And wannabes are going to get burned, every time, sooner or later.

Assclown of the Ides: Dick Blumenthal

slick dick blumenthal…before he dicks you.

Blumenthal is a politician, so he’s an assclown by default. We could find good reasons, we expect, to put 435 Congressmen and 100 Senators in this position of dishonor. So we usually don’t. But he’s such an excellent and extreme assclown that he deserves it: for his moral and physical cowardice in the Vietnam War, for his life as a poseur since, and for his malignant, militant hoplophobia.

Moral and Physical Cowardice

Like many other moral and physical cowards, Dick is concerned lest something injure his quivering pink body, and shrinks from physical risk. While this is unbecoming in a man, it is the core and essence of his character. And it explains why he made the decisions he did as a young adult.

In his youth, the essential fact of life for men coming of age was the draft and the Vietnam War. In Dick’s upper-middle-class burb, there was little real risk of being drafted to Vietnam as a grunt, and for a weak but intelligent and glib Jewish kid the odds were almost zero — drafted, he’d have been sent to some technical school and done his two years holding a screwdriver or soldering iron, not an M16A1. But even in his teens Dick was contemptuous of the “losers” who went to combat, and felt service beneath him, so he did everything he could to stay out of the service entirely, and was almost successful.

What ended his string of deferments was another assclown, Richard Nixon (making this, at least this part of it, a tale of two Dicks). Nixon made a campaign promise to do something about the unfair draft system, which shuffled poor city and farm kids off to the infantry and gave well-to-do suburban kids numerous escape hatches. So Tricky Dick instituted a lottery for the draft: now, your likelihood of being called to the colors depended not upon how well you could manipulate legalities or how well Daddy could schmooze your local selective service board, but upon the happenstance of your date of birth, times the happenstance of the order of dates drawn from a big wire basket for your year group. Riding a deferment, as Dick had done for five or six years, was no longer an option.

(This is why, by the way, Vietnam war protests exploded on colleges after Nixon’s inauguration, even though many more were killed on Johnson’s watch: Ivy League rich boys like Dick had been content to let the working classes do their dying for them).

Dick was born on February 13th, 1946 (not a Friday — we checked) and was therefore exposed to the 1969 Draft lottery. His number was a seemingly high 152 — but all numbers through 195 were called. Dick talks a lot about “public service” now, but he was never interested in military service, selfless service. This is a guy who’s never done a selfless act in nearly 67 years of relentless self-promotion, and he sure wasn’t going to do anything that might harm his timid little self.

Instead, he joined a Washington-based US Marine Corps Reserve unit that existed, principally, to provide draft deferments for the sons of the connected. The reserves then were not like the reserves now. They were not called up for Vietnam; they became a haven for ambitious men who wanted to rule the chumps who were off taking risks.

Blumenthal went to initial entry training, including boot camp, which was his only exposure to the actual Marine Corps. Then he attended occasional weekend drills. Later, he transferred to a Connecticut unit to finish out his service contract. But he never went overseas, not even for a day, and every time he’s said he did, he’s been stealing the valor of actual veterans.

Life as a Poseur

Like most other physical and moral cowards, Dick couldn’t face the fact that the best of his generation did what he so assiduously avoided.

blumenthal_adFor the free-love generation, the military was an evil thing, and Dick’s compromise, in taking a zero-risk and not-too-miliytary reserve gig that erased his draft risk, was cowardly. But a funny thing happened after the war, as the dodgers like Dick climbed in the ranks of the national political and academic elite. Some of them began to feel shame for their actions (not Dick, of course). Others reassessed the war. It was now not fought by monsters against the noble NLF, as Dick chanted during his protesting era. It was obvious to all that the resulting Communist regimes in Southeast Asia were exactly what Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon deployed American force to prevent.  Far from being a foolish “red scare,” the most grim prognostications of the most embittered anti-communist fell far short of imagining the real nightmares of re-education camps, midnight escapes by leaky sampan, or Cambodia’s systematic murder of the educated.

In the 1970s, it began to dawn on America that our soldiers in Vietnam had been good men in a good cause; that their leaders, not they, were the guilty parties. Even Hollywood began to approach the Vietnam vet, first as a mentally damaged, stressed man who could not relate to his surroundings, or a victim crucified by his country… but in time, they gave the public the Vietnam vet as hero, whether in Vietnam or not (how many of the 70s TV action-show heroes were supposed to be Vietnam veterans? But no actual Vietnam veteran ever broke in to Hollywood. Why?)

In any event, by 1980 or so it was cool to be a Vietnam vet again. So Dick Blumenthal became one. It was easy enough for a man with a very large case of self-regard and a portion of integrity that could fit into a thimble and still leave room for King Kong’s thumb. He started small, putting small USMC chachkas in his office and letting people think what they would think. At some point, he began answering the question, “Were you in Vietnam?” with a “Yes.” Of course, he didn’t want to talk about it.

But time wore through his reticence, and he began to tell war stories. They couldn’t have been his war stories, as he was at all times over 10,000 miles fromVietnam. Only in 2010, as he was closing in on a Senate seat, did he admit to “misspeaking” about Vietnam. He won election handily over an inept opponent (she called him out on his phony veteran shtick,but she wasn’t a veteran either, although she didn’t make any such claims).

Reportedly, he has continued to float Vietnam claims, in private, when alone with constituents, sometimes using the elision-friendly “Vietnam-era veteran” construction and sometimes telling his tale of being spit on on his return from Vietnam. What an assclown.

Malignant, Militant Hoplophobia

Like many other moral and physical cowards, Dick is terrified by guns in general, very troubled by the people who like them, and most troubled of all by the idea that they are permitted to mere subjects, rather than his personal retainers.

As you might expect, Dick was excited by Newtown, offering as it did the opportunity to get his phony mug on the tube. While he never saw an anti-gun bill he didn’t support, an ego like his isn’t going to sign on to just any bill. Instead,he drafted his own, which he modestly named the Blumenthal Ammunition Background Check Act of 2013. It would:

  • Ban all ammo sales by non-FFLs
  • Create a de facto registration by creating a national database of ammunition sales
  • Require sellers to report to law enforcement for investigation, anyone who buys 1,000 rounds or more

Now, that’s not his only initiative. He also wants registration, bans on “assault weapons” and standard-size magazines, and confiscation of same.

But a lot of Congresscritters want that crap, and they’re not Assclown of the Ides. All of them have unhealthily large egos, and they’re not A of the I either. Slick Dick Blumenthal wins the no-prize because of his phony Vietnam claims, and the path of moral and physical cowardice that brought him to the point where he made them.

Phony and Prison — perfectly matched

Schroeder in his costume as a PTSD counselor. See ya after prison, he-ro.

Schroeder in his costume as a PTSD counselor. See ya after prison, he-ro.

This is another post that’s been lounging around the draft queue whilst we’ve been lounging around the real world — sorrt about that. But Paul Schroeder deserves recognition, and not the good kind.

At first glance, his sentence is demeaning, to see with all that this scrote did he got a lousy 30 days. You get that for refusing to take your hat off in the courtroom. But as we’ve seen, judges don’t think veterans should get the respect due, for instance, judges.

But then, it does show that even with the Stolen Valor Act invalidated by anti-military judges, people are making prosecutions of professional phonies like Paul Schroeder.

Of course, his career as a PTSD counselor is also on the bricks. Unless that’s “Phony Trauma Simulation Disorder” in which he’s now a court-certified expert.

According to the military records he presented, Schroeder had the necessary credentials – a Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. He also claimed to have graduated from several elite Army schools, including Special Forces, Rangers, Pathfinder and Jumpmaster among others.

But on Monday, Schroeder admitted it was all a sham. His true records showed 10 years of Army service but as a military policeman stationed in New York, Panama and Texas. He was discharged before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even began.

The investigation against Schroeder began after April 2009 when he applied for a set of special military meritorious service license plates with the Texas Department of Transportation.

via Fake war hero from Houston area gets 30 days in prison – Houston Chronicle.

This blowfish was an actual vet who couldn’t resist puffing up his CV for personal gain. It all fell apart when this grifting bum tried to seize one more bauble — silver star license plates, getting him out of paying registration fees — and it wound up in the grips of an FBI agent who was a vet himself and took, as they say, a dim view.

The lawyers and judges who defend these scrotes and call it a “victimless crime” haven’t met the misled friends, ripped-off vets, defrauded wives and girlfriends of these guys. They haven’t seen the fallout of lives built on the quicksand of lies. They haven’t seen real veterans struggling with the usual postwar demons who flee from VA”help groups” because they’re full of phonies telling knee-deep-in-claymore-clackers, stackin’-up-the-skulls stories to other phonies.

Few people realize the disheartening universality of the two WeaponsMan Unified Laws of Military Phonies:

  • It’s never just one fraud with these guys.
  • They will never stop until they are made to stop.

… but real veterans the world over, do. If the wannabe busters of the world had a nickel for every wannabe who went on to serious felonies, and a penny for every one that even after being busted returned to making false boasts when he thought nobody was watching, they’d be sitting on the market capitalization of Apple, Inc.

Wrist slap for phony hero

Schroeder in his costume as a PTSD counselor. See ya after prison, he-ro.

Schroeder in his costume as a PTSD counselor. See ya after prison, he-ro.

Prosecutors and judges come from demographics in which military service is held in contempt, and this characteristic of these official lawyers means that phonies and frauds are very seldom punished, no matter how egregious their misrepresentations, no matter how much they profited by it. When they are punished, the punishments are puny.

The latest fraud sharing a laugh with his judge over the chumps that go in the Army is Paul A. Schroeder. Schroeder milked the system for everything he could get, based on a forged DD 214 that made him an SF, Ranger, Airborne, Silver Star hero. It was all bullshit, of course. He scammed money, jobs, accolades, and just about anything imaginable; it was an application for unearned “decorated hero” license plates that did him in.

FBI agents compared the document Schroeder presented with his actual service record from the Department of Defense. The legitimate forms showed no Silver Star or a record of attending the elite military schools he claimed, officials said.

Schroeder resigned from the PTSD Foundation of America after confessing to a Houston Chronicle reporter that he had lied about his record.

In June, a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of altering a military discharge certificate.

On Monday, he admitted altering his discharged papers in federal court. In addition to serving 30 days in prison, Schroeder will be on supervised release for a year. Also, he must pay a $3,000 fine.

via Fake war hero from Houston area gets 30 days in prison – Houston Chronicle.

But hey, they’re going to fine him $3,000, which isn’t even a dollar for every US serviceman’s life lost in the various wars Schroeder falsely claimed to have been in.

Assclown of the Ides: Slick Dick Blumenthal

blumenthal_adThe news has been full of the camera-happy face of Slick Dick Blumenthal, the junior senator from Connecticut. For over 20 years, from 1980 to 2010, Blumenthal falsely claimed to be a Vietnam veteran, and as his ego swelled up larger and larger, a Vietnam hero. Exposed during a Senate campaign, Blumenthal was protected by a friendly media and went on to win over a non-veteran who didn’t make phony veteran claims.

Since his election he has renewed phony veteran claims, although he is careful not to do them where any citizen reporters or rolling cell-phone cameras are present.

The New York Times, which supports Blumenthal and considers his phony veteran status no big deal (no one in a decision-making post there ever served in the military, nonetheless reported on his false claims in 2010.

Former Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut found it puzzling: over time, his friend Attorney General Richard Blumenthal kept revising how he talked about his military service during the Vietnam War. At first, in the 1980s, he was humble. He played it down, Mr. Shays recalled, characterizing it as humdrum desk work.

Over the last few years, however, more sweeping claims crept into Mr. Blumenthal’s descriptions, he said: that Mr. Blumenthal had served in Vietnam and had felt the sting of an ungrateful nation as he returned.

“He just kept adding to the story, the more he told it,” Mr. Shays said.

Mr. Shays said he became alarmed enough by the discrepancies that he at times considered mentioning the issue to Mr. Blumenthal, who on Tuesday said he took “full responsibility” for the occasions when he “misspoke” about his military history.

via Blumenthal’s Vietnam Claims Grew in Time, Colleague Says – NYTimes.com.

Shays, who reported Blumenthal’s ever-growing hero story, himself was no hero: he is a coward who dodged the Vietnam draft, like most of his generation in Congress.  But he never denied that, unlike his friend Slick Dick.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Shays attended a ceremony with Mr. Blumenthal in Bridgeport, to honor workers killed during an accident. When it was his turn to speak, Mr. Blumenthal at one point brought up the subject of his military service and lamented that when “we returned from Vietnam” Americans had spit on soldiers, Mr. Shays recalled.

“He is the kind of person I cared enough about that I wish I had nipped this in the bud when it was fomenting,” Mr. Shays said.

Fortunately for Shays, and Blumenthal, the voters of Connecticut don’t care if their war heroes are real, or fake. Like Slick Dick.

Like Shays, Blumenthal’s reason for not going was pure, base cowardice. The initial Times report on his deception noted, after quoting Blumenthal saying in plain words, “I served in Vietnam,” that the facts were rather different:

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

The Times report quoted several of Blumenthal’s lies about his Vietnam service, and even included video of the yellow-bellied phony stealing actual vets’ Vietnam valor.
Blumenthal’s response to the Times report was to call it “outrageous distortion.” But every word was factual and backed up by Blumenthal’s own records, that showed him dodging the draft until there was no danger of ground combat, and then performing minimal reserve service (six month’s active duty for training) stateside.

 

Veterans are not automatically nuts, damaged, or suicidal

Crazy Veteran image (from a Hollywood movie, of course) from quickmeme.com.

Which really doesn’t deserve to be a headline, but media scum — almost all of whom are not veterans — enjoy portraying us as “damaged goods”. One such recently attempted to wring a quote out of us for MSNBC, whose typical take on veterans’ issues is here. Short version: they’re all ruined, maimed PTSD nutbags, and the answer, of course, is to give the bureaucrats at the VA more money, because giving away someone else’s money to unhelpful third parties is the way to assuage yourself that you’re concerned about somebody’s problems. “The trauma of war has become too unbearable,” Ari Melber mews. He’s twaumatized.

Can someone tell us who appointed Ari Melber, Alex Wagner, Michael Scotto or David Wood (MSNBC’s talking heads and reporters, none of whom spent a day in uniform; Wood, a 1970s “advocacy journalist” who slants every report in this direction, and sells himself as a military expert, is a Vietnam draft dodger) spokesmen for veterans? Or is it just coward’s guilt, a phenomenon frequently observed by veterans who study media issues, but seemingly unexplored by organized psychology?

There’s this December 9 editorial in the New York Times, calling for the overturning of tens of thousands of bad discharges of Vietnam-era vets who got into legal trouble for “going AWOL, taking drugs and disobeying orders” because they are now trying to cash in on the VA money cornucopia, and their bad paper is keeping them out. You’re breakin’ our hearts. The criminal vets have champions in their corner: the Vietnam Veterans of America, offshoot of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (Marxist-Leninist); a Yale Law School left-wing legal clinic (Yale admits extremely few veterans and drove out ROTC in the 1960s, only readmitting it grudgingly this year); and, of course, the Times.

Then there’s this tear-jerking report by New York megamillionaire politician Robert Morgenthau, who launched it into the Wall Street Journal. Unusually for someone from the Manhattan Jewish elite, Morgenthau is a veteran, which is explained by the fact that he is 92 years old (he served with great distinction in the Pacific as a naval officer. It is worth noting in that context that the Navy maintains even now the most paternalistic and isolated officer corps, which is often very thinly removed from contempt for the enlisted swine). He had seven kids in two marriages, and all those young Morgenthaus and all the young Morgenthaus after them were raised to think of military service as something beneath them, to be avoided if at all possible. Yet we’re supposed to consider his views on soldiers’ combat stress not only worthwhile (we’ll give him that), but dispositive.

The peg Morgenthau hung his story on was the suicide of one Peter Wielusnki:

Peter Wielunski was one of those veterans. His story is tragically typical of what is happening at VA facilities across the country. In May, the 63-year-old Vietnam veteran hanged himself with a cord from a window shade in front of the doors of the psychology department of the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System’s St. Albans Community Living Center in Queens, N.Y.

Now, we didn’t know Wielunski. Neither did Morgenthau. But we question the reasonableness of blaming a 2012 suicide on service in a war that saw the redeployment of almost all US troops over 40 years ago. What led to his death? Was it his one year in Vietnam sometime between LBJ’s reelection and Tricky Dick’s resignation, as Morgenthau seems to think? Was it something in the forty-whatever years since then?  Or was it something intrinsic in poor Wielunski? We don’t know, and neither does Morgenthau.

But Morgenthau, with his born-to-the-purple conviction that he is infallible, knows it was Wielumski’s status as a veteran. Maybe it was, but accepting arguendo that it is, his prescription is completely counterlogical: to give more money to the shambolic bureaucracy that supposedly failed the tragic Wielunski. Yet there’s no evidence that growing outlays have turned the VA from a typical government operation like any state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles into some Platonic ideal of a philosopher-king’s administrative machinery. Paying the same bozos more money has never cured them of bozosity before, and it won’t do it here, either.

Morgenthau’s report met with widespread approbation, however. An example is this post to Time magazine online by Rep. Jeff Miller, a conservative Republican from the veteran-rich Florida panhandle. (Miller’s official bio is innocent of any taint of military service, himself. Instead, he trained as a journalist. A fine alternative to working for a living, that). A man more at variance with Morgenthau politically probably could not be found in public life, but he accepts Morgenthau’s diagnosis. Miller’s prognosis, however, is probably worse: as well as shoveling more money into Rick Shinseki’s cesspool at VA, he would open the military Tricare health network to VA patients. This would double (Miller’s emphasis) the amount of veterans’ mental health care available. (It would, of course, crater (our emphasis) the amount of mental health care available to the active element.

Tricare is what the military and their families have had fobbed off on them instead of keeping the health-care promises under which they were recruited. It is operated by a few of the lousiest health-care administrators in the industry — the worst of these regional administrators, HealthNet, systematically paid bonuses to its staff to deny, lose, or simply not pay legitimate claims. From the service member’s or family-menber’s point of view, being covered by HealthNet is tantamount to being uninsured. The rest of them are little better than HealthNet. They gravitated to this government program because the payments were high, the standards low, and the oversight nonexistent.

Kind of the same way the VA system works.

While the suicide of active duty servicemen and -women (although it seems to be predominantly men) is certainly an issue for well-meaning politicians like Morgenthau and Miller to take up, suicidal vets are not the mainstream. Most vets come home, use up their field uniform pants and jackets painting the house, raise a few kids who are disproportionately likely to serve themselves, something we can be pretty sure any service-age relatives of Morgenthau or Miller are not doing.

The problem with suicide and mental health is not a veterans’ or a military problem. It is a national problem, but it is a difficult, intractable problem. Talk to professionals who deal with mental health issues (at the VA, a public hospital, a mental-health clinic, a substance-abuse program) and you’ll understand much more. You’ll understand that well-meaning Masters of the Universe like Morgenthau, who will throw your money at the problem, or Miller, who will redeploy resources already inadequate to meet the pledges he and his mates in Congress have made to our serving families, don’t really have a handle on the problem.

Mental health outcomes have not kept pace with progress elsewhere in medicine. Despite a blip of progress from SSRI and other psychoactive drugs, the problems are poorly understood and the solutions simply not at hand. Ask about results from mental health interventions and you’ll see recovery rates that resemble early 20th Century cancer outcomes, or 18th Century infectious-disease outcomes. Ask about the relapse rate at a substance-abuse shop and you’ll learn that the counselors and workers who stick it out there, are truly remarkable people because they’re doing it knowing that most of their clients will not recover — at least not this time around.

We don’t have the penicillin-equivalent for mental health. Penicillin and the antibiotics that followed turned bacterial diseases from mass murderers to minor irritants. We don’t have the equivalent of vaccination that turned viral diseases from killers to curiosities — even, in the case of smallpox, making a human pathogenic organism extinct in the wild. We don’t know why people kill themselves, really. We don’t know why perfectly normal twenty-somethings suddenly come down with schizophrenia, either. We’re not even certain that things we see as single diseases are actually the same thing.

We can’t save Peter Wielunski, and we can’t save the next one either. Not by pouring money into an indifferent VA bureaucracy, especially, but probably, not at all. Nothing that has been revealed of Wielunski’s clinical history suggests that a richer VA could have preserved his life, let alone restored his mind to normal functioning. If we want to help future Peter Wielunski’s we ought to dump the money into pure medical research. Find the causes, and Big Pharma will fund the applied research needed to find the cures.

Or just dump the money into VA, and watch it disappear on million-dollar conferences and bloated administration costs. If so, we’ll be having the same discussion in 10 years, and the usual suspects will be suggesting that all we need to do is throw more money after the already-sunk bad.