Thursday, January 31, 2013

To My Friends

I know we agree about many things or I would not call you my friends. I am not an absolutist and I try to see all sides of an argument however let me propose to you that there is no such thing as '"common sense gun control."  

Gun control is about control. I do not have the liberty of trusting our government to always look out for my best interests. This is not paranoia it is situational awareness. Look at history and see what happens to those that allow government to dictate to them without restraint. The Constitution of this country was put in place to put limitations on the government not to put limitations on the people. Our founders had experienced first hand the power of a tyrannical government and they said never again.

Do not fall into the trap that paints many of us on the pro gun side of things as unyielding or unreasonable. This is a straw man  It is much easier to frame your opponent as an extremist therefore you do not have to lend their views any credence. What most of us are, in fact, are citizens just like you that have a deep seated feeling of responsibility to protect ourselves and our fellow man. 

What is wrong with a few reasonable control measures you ask? Define reasonable. Is registration of firearms a reasonable restriction? I ask you what does registering my firearm do for you? Well then we would know where the guns are you say. Once again I ask, what does that do for you? Are you saying that all firearms owners cannot be trusted? Are your mother, cousin, neighbor, son, daughter and many other citizens of the country not to be trusted? I say it is the government that can not be trusted. 

I have seen first hand what government does to an unarmed people. Registration is the first step towards confiscation  The one and only reason for firearm registration is so government knows where they are so they can come and take them away. 

Once again there is nothing "common sense" about gun control. Gun control does not work. Gun control takes the ability to level the playing field away from millions of Americans. It takes nothing away from criminals or serial killers. They don't use legal means to obtain their weapons in the first place. Gun control is an instrument of oppression, the reason I am so adamantly opposed to these measures is I care about you my friends. Do not march meekly to the drum of the masses. Use independent thought, be free thinkers. I am certain logic will put you on the right path. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

1100 Green Berets speak out on the 2nd Amendment

Below is the text of a petition myself and over 1100 of my Special Forces Brothers signed. Spread the Word

Protecting the Second Amendment – Why all Americans Should Be Concerned

We are current or former Army Reserve, National Guard, and active duty US Army Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets). We have all taken an oath to “ and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.…” The Constitution of the United States is without a doubt the single greatest document in the history of mankind, codifying the fundamental principle of governmental power and authority being derived from and granted through the consent of the governed. Our Constitution established a system of governance that preserves, protects, and holds sacrosanct the individual rights and primacy of the governed as well as providing for the explicit protection of the governed from governmental tyranny and/or oppression. We have witnessed the insidious and iniquitous effects of tyranny and oppression on people all over the world. We and our forebears have embodied and personified our organizational motto, De Oppresso Liber [To Free the Oppressed], for more than a half century as we have fought, shed blood, and died in the pursuit of freedom for the oppressed.

Like you, we are also loving and caring fathers and grandfathers. Like you, we have been stunned, horrified, and angered by the tragedies of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Fort Hood, and Sandy Hook; and like you, we are searching for solutions to the problem of gun-related crimes in our society. Many of us are educators in our second careers and have a special interest to find a solution to this problem. However, unlike much of the current vox populi reactions to this tragedy, we offer a different perspective.

First, we need to set the record straight on a few things. The current debate is over so-called “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines. The terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are often confused. According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term [underline added for emphasis], developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of assault rifles.”

The M4A1 carbine is a U.S. military service rifle – it is an assault rifle. The AR-15 is not an assault rifle. The “AR” in its name does not stand for “Assault Rifle” – it is the designation from the first two letters of the manufacturer’s name – ArmaLite Corporation. The AR-15 is designed so that it cosmetically looks like the M4A1 carbine assault rifle, but it is impossible to configure the AR-15 to be a fully automatic assault rifle. It is a single shot semi-automatic rifle that can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. The M4A1 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute. In 1986, the federal government banned the import or manufacture of new fully automatic firearms for sale to civilians. Therefore, the sale of assault rifles are already banned or heavily restricted!

The second part of the current debate is over “high capacity magazines” capable of holding more than 10 rounds in the magazine. As experts in military weapons of all types, it is our considered opinion that reducing magazine capacity from 30 rounds to 10 rounds will only require an additional 6 -8 seconds to change two empty 10 round magazines with full magazines. Would an increase of 6 –8 seconds make any real difference to the outcome in a mass shooting incident? In our opinion it would not. Outlawing such “high capacity magazines” would, however, outlaw a class of firearms that are “in common use”. As such this would be in contravention to the opinion expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court recent decisions.

Moreover, when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban became law in 1994, manufacturers began retooling to produce firearms and magazines that were compliant. One of those ban-compliant firearms was the Hi-Point 995, which was sold with ten-round magazines. In 1999, five years into the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the Columbine High School massacre occurred. One of the perpetrators, Eric Harris, was armed with a Hi-Point 995. Undeterred by the ten-round capacity of his magazines, Harris simply brought more of them: thirteen magazines would be found in the massacre’s aftermath. Harris fired 96 rounds before killing himself.

Now that we have those facts straight, in our opinion, it is too easy to conclude that the problem is guns and that the solution to the problem is more and stricter gun control laws. For politicians, it is politically expedient to take that position and pass more gun control laws and then claim to constituents that they have done the right thing in the interest of protecting our children. Who can argue with that? Of course we all want to find a solution. But, is the problem really guns? Would increasing gun regulation solve the problem? Did we outlaw cars to combat drunk driving?

What can we learn from experiences with this issue elsewhere? We cite the experience in Great Britain. Despite the absence of a “gun culture”, Great Britain, with one-fifth the population of the U.S., has experienced mass shootings that are eerily similar to those we have experienced in recent years. In 1987 a lone gunman killed 18 people in Hungerford. What followed was the Firearms Act of 1988 making registration mandatory and banning semi-automatic guns and pump-action shotguns. Despite this ban, on March 13, 1996 a disturbed 43-year old former scout leader, Thomas Hamilton, murdered 16 school children aged five and six and a teacher at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland. Within a year and a half the Firearms Act was amended to ban all private ownership of hand guns. After both shootings there were amnesty periods resulting in the surrender of thousands of firearms and ammunition. Despite having the toughest gun control laws in the world, gun related crimes increased in 2003 by 35% over the previous year with firearms used in 9,974 recorded crimes in the preceding 12 months. Gun related homicides were up 32% over the same period. Overall, gun related crime had increased 65% since the Dunblane massacre and implementation of the toughest gun control laws in the developed world.

In contrast, in 2009 (5 years after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired) total firearm related homicides in the U.S. declined by 9% from the 2005 high (Source: “FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Master File, Table 310, Murder Victims – Circumstances and Weapons Used or Cause of Death: 2000-2009”).

Are there unintended consequences to stricter gun control laws and the politically expedient path that we have started down?

In a recent op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Brett Joshpe stated that “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes.”We agree with Kevin D. Williamson (National Review Online, December 28, 2012): “The problem with this argument is that there is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment right that excludes military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear.”

“The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story”: ‘The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.’

The Second Amendment has been ruled to specifically extend to firearms “in common use” by the military by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v Miller (1939). In Printz v U.S. (1997) Justice Thomas wrote: “In Miller we determined that the Second Amendment did not guarantee a citizen’s right to possess a sawed-off shot gun because that weapon had not been shown to be “ordinary military equipment” that could “could contribute to the common defense”.

A citizen’s right to keep and bear arms for personal defense unconnected with service in a militia has been reaffirmed in the U.S. Supreme Court decision (District of Columbia, et al. v Heller, 2008). The Court Justice Scalia wrote in the majority opinion: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.“. Justice Scalia went on to define a militia as “… comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense ….” “The Anti-Federalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.” he explained.

On September 13, 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban went into effect. A Washington Post editorial published two days later was candid about the ban’s real purpose:“[N]o one should have any illusions about what was accomplished [by the ban]. Assault weapons play a part in only a small percentage of crime. The provision is mainly symbolic; its virtue will be if it turns out to be, as hoped, a stepping stone to broader gun control.”

In a challenge to the authority of the Federal government to require State and Local Law Enforcement to enforce Federal Law (Printz v United States) the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in 1997. For the majority opinion Justice Scalia wrote: “…. this Court never has sanctioned explicitly a federal command to the States to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations When we were at last confronted squarely with a federal statute that unambiguously required the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program, our decision should have come as no surprise….. It is an essential attribute of the States’ retained sovereignty that they remain independent and autonomous within their proper sphere of authority.”

So why should non-gun owners, a majority of Americans, care about maintaining the 2nd Amendment right for citizens to bear arms of any kind?

The answer is “The Battle of Athens, TN”. The Cantrell family had controlled the economy and politics of McMinn County, Tennessee since the 1930s. Paul Cantrell had been Sheriff from 1936 -1940 and in 1942 was elected to the State Senate. His chief deputy, Paul Mansfield, was subsequently elected to two terms as Sheriff. In 1946 returning WWII veterans put up a popular candidate for Sheriff. On August 1 Sheriff Mansfield and 200 “deputies” stormed the post office polling place to take control of the ballot boxes wounding an objecting observer in the process. The veterans bearing military style weapons, laid siege to the Sheriff’s office demanding return of the ballot boxes for public counting of the votes as prescribed in Tennessee law. After exchange of gun fire and blowing open the locked doors, the veterans secured the ballot boxes thereby protecting the integrity of the election. And this is precisely why all Americans should be concerned about protecting all of our right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment!

Throughout history, disarming the populace has always preceded tyrants’ accession of power. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all disarmed their citizens prior to installing their murderous regimes. At the beginning of our own nation’s revolution, one of the first moves made by the British government was an attempt to disarm our citizens. When our Founding Fathers ensured that the 2nd Amendment was made a part of our Constitution, they were not just wasting ink. They were acting to ensure our present security was never forcibly endangered by tyrants, foreign or domestic.

If there is a staggering legal precedent to protect our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms and if stricter gun control laws are not likely to reduce gun related crime, why are we having this debate? Other than making us and our elected representatives feel better because we think that we are doing something to protect our children, these actions will have no effect and will only provide us with a false sense of security.

So, what do we believe will be effective? First, it is important that we recognize that this is not a gun control problem; it is a complex sociological problem. No single course of action will solve the problem. Therefore, it is our recommendation that a series of diverse steps be undertaken, the implementation of which will require patience and diligence to realize an effect. These are as follows:

1. First and foremost we support our Second Amendment right in that “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

2. We support State and Local School Boards in their efforts to establish security protocols in whatever manner and form that they deem necessary and adequate. One of the great strengths of our Republic is that State and Local governments can be creative in solving problems. Things that work can be shared. Our point is that no one knows what will work and there is no one single solution, so let’s allow the State and Local governments with the input of the citizens to make the decisions. Most recently the Cleburne Independent School District will become the first district in North Texas to consider allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. We do not opine as to the appropriateness of this decision, but we do support their right to make this decision for themselves.

3. We recommend that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws be passed in every State. AOT is formerly known as Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) and allows the courts to order certain individuals with mental disorders to comply with treatment while living in the community. In each of the mass shooting incidents the perpetrator was mentally unstable. We also believe that people who have been adjudicated as incompetent should be simultaneously examined to determine whether they should be allowed the right to retain/purchase firearms.
4. We support the return of firearm safety programs to schools along the lines of the successful “Eddie the Eagle” program, which can be taught in schools by Peace Officers or other trained professionals.

5. Recent social psychology research clearly indicates that there is a direct relationship between gratuitously violent movies/video games and desensitization to real violence and increased aggressive behavior particularly in children and young adults (See Nicholas L. Carnagey, et al. 2007. “The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence” and the references therein. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43:489-496). Therefore, we strongly recommend that gratuitous violence in movies and video games be discouraged. War and war-like behavior should not be glorified. Hollywood and video game producers are exploiting something they know nothing about. General Sherman famously said “War is Hell!” Leave war to the Professionals. War is not a game and should not be “sold” as entertainment to our children.

6. We support repeal of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it obviously isn’t working. It is our opinion that “Gun-Free Zones” anywhere are too tempting of an environment for the mentally disturbed individual to inflict their brand of horror with little fear of interference. While governmental and non-governmental organizations, businesses, and individuals should be free to implement a Gun-Free Zone if they so choose, they should also assume Tort liability for that decision.

7. We believe that border states should take responsibility for implementation of border control laws to prevent illegal shipments of firearms and drugs. Drugs have been illegal in this country for a long, long time yet the Federal Government manages to seize only an estimated 10% of this contraband at our borders. Given this dismal performance record that is misguided and inept (“Fast and Furious”), we believe that border States will be far more competent at this mission.

8. This is our country, these are our rights. We believe that it is time that we take personal responsibility for our choices and actions rather than abdicate that responsibility to someone else under the illusion that we have done something that will make us all safer. We have a responsibility to stand by our principles and act in accordance with them. Our children are watching and they will follow the example we set.
The undersigned Quiet Professionals hereby humbly stand ever present, ever ready, and ever vigilant.

You can download a copy of the letter at, or on our forums here:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Triple D Winter Endurance 50K

Even though it is early in the season on a whim I decided to run another ultramarathon. This is the first ultra since my attempt to finish the Ozark Trail 100. I picked the Triple D Endurance race because I had run the half marathon  the year prior and the terrain was very forgiving and flat for the most part. The Triple D stands for Dyersville-Durango-Dubuque, three towns that the course goes through. It consists of mountain bike race, a 50K, a marathon and a half marathon. All of these races are held on the Heritage trail between Dyersville Iowa and Dubuque Iowa. The race originally started as a bike race and kind of morphed into what it is today. Although not strictly a fatass (unsupported race) support is pretty minimal. The support consisted of a ride to and from the start/finish and a t-shirt/medal. Theoretically I could have not even run the race as the finishers medals are handed out at packet pickup. Runners and bikers are expected to carry all other support items on their persons.

I woke up the morning of the race and drove the 90 minutes to Dubuque, picked up my packet and hung out for about 45 minutes until the pre run briefing. I talked to a few people I knew like Jenn from Daily Mile. There was a moment of panic when I couldn't find my face mask but all was well as somehow it had snuck into the backseat of my car. This was a legitimate concern as the temperature was about 7-15 degrees and wind chills were forecasted to be brutal. After the pre race briefing to which I only half paid attention  (this would be important later)  we boarded the shuttle bus to the Ultra/Marathon start line in Dyersville. During the ride I talked to Tim Smith the Race Director for the Hawkeye 50K which I will be running again this year. I was well hydrated and I was starting to be a hurting unit towards the end of the ride if you know what I mean. I wasn't the only one as when the bus deposited us at the start I would say over 50% of the runners raced for the rear of some farm implements to relieve themselves.

A lady met us at the start and gave us a little speech about the wonders of Dyersville. I felt sorry for her because it was obviously a rehearsed sort of speech and no one was paying attention due to the race anticipation and bone chilling temperatures. After about 10 minutes the clock hit 10:00 and she let us go. We were supposed to have a shot gun start but apparently the Sheriff didn't get the memo.

So I took off down the trail which for the first mile or so was paved and then it turned into a cinder/gravel mix which we would follow for the next 22 miles. This was the third time I had run this trail. The first two times were at the Triple D Half Marathon and the Run4 Troops Marathon respectively. I was feeling good and found myself setting a pretty good pace for the first two miles. I figured I better back off however as I hadn't run anything longer than 17 miles in the last 2 months and wanted to make sure I finished. When I slowed slightly Tim Smith caught up to me and we ran together for the next 18-20 miles. We were setting a decent pace comfortable yet we were passing runners occasionally. It is always better to run with someone else. It takes your mind off the task at hand. Tim and I talked about a lot of subjects and the miles clicked on by. I discovered after about an hour my hydration pack had frozen and I had to take it off and put it under my jacket. I managed to do this without stopping and after another 30 minutes or so it thawed out and I was fine the rest of the race.

The terrain varied on the trail from the cinder/gravel to ruts to ice covered. The ice was treacherous in spots and I really had to alter my stride in an attempt not to fall in a few places. We were passed by the occasional bike racer but it was mostly runners during this section.

Just prior to the first check in/aid station at mile 22 Tim decided to slow his pace some and I forged ahead. All the check in points were at bars and you had to go inside to get checked of on a clipboard. I was setting a good pace, better than I thought I would be able to manage. I was on pace for about a 5 hour race which would have been a PR. It was not to be however. I grabbed a piece of pizza that they offered me and slapped Tim on the shoulder as I left the 22 mile check in point. The next check in would be at the 26.2 mile and marathon finish. This is the part of the race where the wheels didn't actually come off but they did wobble a little. About 1-1.5 miles after I headed back out we had to do an out and back segment of roughly 3 miles. We took a left off the trail and literally ran across the dagger sharp remnants of a cornfield interspersed with ice and snow. We ran a crossed a few more cornfields following what I imagined would have been a snowmobile trail if there had been more snow. Then we followed the snowmobile trail through some woods up and down a few hills across another cornfield and stopped at another bar. The fields and woods took a lot out of my legs and I slowed considerably on this section. Also this was probably the only section of the race you could call techy.

When I checked in I had hit the 26.2 mile mark in about 4:18. Pretty good marathon time for me especially in those footing conditions. I asked the ladies doing the check in if there was any water. They pointed to a few pitchers sitting on a table. The pitchers had ice and water in them but I didn't think much of it as I slammed three glasses in rapid succession. Wrong move!!!!I got the biggest ice cream headache ever, so bad I was gasping for air. Once that whole ordeal was over I headed out for the last 5 miles of the race. On my way across the first cornfield I past Tim as he made his way to the check in. I continued back along my previous path until I hit the Heritage trail again. I was still moving good but I had slowed down after the cornfield debacle. As I got towards the end of the race I started crossing some highways and paved roads. The course was not as clearly marked as I would have liked but I managed to get within about .5 miles of where my Garmin said the race should end. That is when I made a mistake that has bedeviled ultra runners forever. I took a wrong turn. There was a small white sign to my left that said Pitstop ( here is the pay attention part). If I had been paying attention during the briefing I would have recalled that this was the name of the bar we were to finish at,however my eyes were focused on the big orange arrows pointing to the right that seemed to follow the same trail I had been running on for the last 5 hours. So I turned right and kept on running. About the time I crossed a major highway and started running up a godawful hill in the middle of nowhere I realized that no one would put a bar here and expect to get any business. I stopped and probably stood full of indecision for 2-3 minutes. Should I go ahead or turn back? Well I decided to turn back and when I got back to where I had originally turned right I saw Tim Smith climbing the hill ahead of me. He had turned left towards Pitstop as I should have done. So I followed Tim up the hill and down the road until we came to the bar and the finish. As I entered the parking lot a lady asked me if I was finishing. I said yes and she gave me a mini clap, that was nice. Also when I entered the bar all the other runners that were already there gave me high fives and claps. I checked in with the clipboard lady and she asked me what my time was. So I gave her the time off my Garmin plus about 6 minutes. I figured had run about an extra mile before I got to the finish. I still finished in around 5 hours and 30 minutes give or take a few minutes. The bar gave us free food and drinks so I had a cheeseburger and a diet coke which was spot on. They had brought our drop bags to the bar so I changed into some drier clothes and about that time the shuttle arrived to take us back to the hotel we had checked in at so I could pick up my vehicle. I headed back, hopped into the car and drove home without further incident.

All in all this was a fun day and I will probably race it again next year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Soft American

In 1960 then President-Elect John F Kennedy bemoaned the fact that the youth of the United State's were getting soft.

"Beginning more than 2,500 years ago, from all quarters of the Greek world men thronged every four years to the sacred grove of Olympia, under the shadow of Mount Cronus, to compete in the most famous athletic contests of history—the Olympian games.
During the contest a sacred truce was observed among all the states of Greece as the best athletes of the Western world competed in boxing and foot races, wrestling and chariot races for the wreath of wild olive which was the prize of victory. When the winners returned to their home cities to lay the Olympian crowns in the chief temples they were greeted as heroes and received rich rewards. For the Greeks prized physical excellence and athletic skills among man's great goals and among the prime foundations of a vigorous state.
Thus the same civilizations which produced some of our highest achievements of philosophy and drama, government and art, also gave us a belief in the importance of physical soundness which has become a part of Western tradition; from the mens sana in corpore sano of the Romans to the British belief that the playing fields of Eton brought victory on the battlefields of Europe. This knowledge, the knowledge that the physical well-being of the citizen is an important foundation for the vigor and vitality of all the activities of the nation, is as old as Western civilization itself. But it is a knowledge which today, in America, we are in danger of forgetting.
The first indication of a decline in the physical strength and ability of young Americans became apparent amongUnited States soldiers in the early stages of the Korean War. The second came when figures were released showing that almost one out of every two young Americans was being rejected by Selective Service as mentally, morally or physically unfit. But the most startling demonstration of the general physical decline of American youth came when Dr. Hans Kraus and Dr. Sonja Weber revealed the results of 15 years of research centering in the Posture Clinic of New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital—results of physical fitness tests given to 4,264 children in this country and 2,870 children in AustriaItaly and Switzerland.
The findings showed that despite our unparalleled standard of living, despite our good food and our many playgrounds, despite our emphasis on school athletics, American youth lagged far behind Europeans in physical fitness. Six tests for muscular strength and flexibility were given; 57.9% of the American children failed one or more of these tests, while only 8.7% of the European youngsters failed.
Especially disheartening were the results of the five strength tests: 35.7% of American children failed one or more of these, while only 1.1% of the Europeans failed, and among Austrian and Swiss youth the rate of failure was as low as .5%.
As a result of the alarming Kraus-Weber findings President Eisenhower created a Council on Youth Fitness at the Cabinet level and appointed a Citizens Advisory Committee on the Fitness of American Youth, composed of prominent citizens interested in fitness. Over the past five years the physical fitness of American youth has been discussed in forums, by committees and in leading publications. A 10-point program for physical fitness has been publicized and promoted. Our schools have been urged to give increased attention to the physical well-being of their students. Yet there has been no noticeable improvement. Physical fitness tests conducted last year in Britainand Japan showed that the youth of those countries were considerably more fit than our own children. And the annual physical fitness tests for freshmen at Yale University show a consistent decline in the prowess of young Americans; 51% of the class of 1951 passed these tests, 43% of the class of 1956 passed, and only 38%, a little more than a third, of the class of 1960 succeeded in passing the not overly rigorous examination.
Of course, physical tests are not infallible. They can distort the true health picture. There are undoubtedly many American youths and adults whose physical fitness matches and exceeds the best of other lands.
But the harsh fact of the matter is that there is also an increasingly large number of young Americans who are neglecting their bodies—whose physical fitness is not what it should be—who are getting soft. And such softness on the part of individual citizens can help to strip and destroy the vitality of a nation.For the physical vigor of our citizens is one of America's most precious resources. If we waste and neglect this resource, if we allow it to dwindle and grow soft then we will destroy much of our ability to meet the great and vital challenges which confront our people. We will be unable to realize our full potential as a nation.
Throughout our history we have been challenged to armed conflict by nations which sought to destroy our independence or threatened our freedom. The young men of America have risen to those occasions, giving themselves freely to the rigors and hardships of warfare. But the stamina and strength which the defense of liberty requires are not the product of a few weeks' basic training or a month's conditioning. These only come from bodies which have been conditioned by a lifetime of participation in sports and interest in physical activity. Our struggles against aggressors throughout our history have been won on the playgrounds and corner lots and fields ofAmerica.
Thus, in a very real and immediate sense, our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security.
However, we do not, like the ancient Spartans, wish to train the bodies of our youths merely to make them more effective warriors. It is our profound hope and expectation that Americans will never again have to expend their strength in armed conflict.
But physical fitness is as vital to the activities of peace as to those of war, especially when our success in those activities may well determine the future of freedom in the years to come. We face in the Soviet Union a powerful and implacable adversary determined to show the world that only the Communist system possesses the vigor and determination necessary to satisfy awakening aspirations for progress and the elimination of poverty and want. To meet the challenge of this enemy will require determination and will and effort on the part of all Americans. Only if our citizens are physically fit will they be fully capable of such an effort.
For physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. The relationship between the soundness of the body and the activities of the mind is subtle and complex. Much is not yet understood. But we do know what the Greeks knew: that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong; that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies.
In this sense, physical fitness is the basis of all the activities of our society. And if our bodies grow soft and inactive, if we fail to encourage physical development and prowess, we will undermine our capacity for thought, for work and for the use of those skills vital to an expanding and complex America.
Thus the physical fitness of our citizens is a vital prerequisite to America's realization of its full potential as a nation, and to the opportunity of each individual citizen to make full and fruitful use of his capacities.
It is ironic that at a time when the magnitude of our dangers makes the physical fitness of our citizens a matter of increasing importance, it takes greater effort and determination than ever before to build the strength of our bodies. The age of leisure and abundance can destroy vigor and muscle tone as effortlessly as it can gain time. Today human activity, the labor of the human body, is rapidly being engineered out of working life. By the 1970s, according to many economists, the man who works with his hands will be almost extinct.
Many of the routine physical activities which earlier Americans took for granted are no longer part of our daily life. A single look at the packed parking lot of the average high school will tell us what has happened to the traditional hike to school that helped to build young bodies. The television set, the movies and the myriad conveniences and distractions of modern life all lure our young people away from the strenuous physical activity that is the basis of fitness in youth and in later life. 
Of course, modern advances and increasing leisure can add greatly to the comfort and enjoyment of life. But they must not be confused with indolence, with, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "slothful ease," with an increasing deterioration of our physical strength. For the strength of our youth and the fitness of our adults are among our most important assets, and this growing decline is a matter of urgent concern to thoughtful Americans.
This is a national problem, and requires national action. President Eisenhower helped show the way through his own interest and by calling national attention to our deteriorating standards of physical fitness. Now it is time for the United States to move forward with a national program to improve the fitness of all Americans.
FIRST: We must establish a White House Committee on Health and Fitness to formulate and carry out a program to improve the physical condition of the nation. This committee will include the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and the Secretary of the Interior. The executive order creating the committee will clearly state its purpose, and coordinate its activities with the many federal programs which bear a direct relation to the problem of physical fitness.
SECOND: The physical fitness of our youth should be made the direct responsibility of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This department should conduct—through its Office of Education and the National Institutes of Health—research into the development of a physical fitness program for the nation's public schools. The results of this research shall be made freely available to all who are interested. In addition, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare should use all its existing facilities to attack the lack of youth fitness as a major health problem.
THIRD: The governor of each state will be invited to attend an annual National Youth Fitness Congress. This congress will examine the progress which has been made in physical fitness during the preceding year, exchange suggestions for improving existing programs and provide an opportunity to encourage the states to implement the physical fitness program drawn up by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Our states are anxious to participate in such programs, to make sure that their youth have the opportunity for full development of their bodies as well as their minds.
FOURTH: The President and all departments of government must make it clearly understood that the promotion of sports participation and physical fitness is a basic and continuing policy of the United States. By providing such leadership, by keeping physical fitness in the forefront of the nation's concerns, the federal government can make a substantial contribution toward improving the health and vigor of our citizens.
But no matter how vigorous the leadership of government, we can fully restore the physical soundness of our nation only if every American is willing to assume responsibility for his own fitness and the fitness of his children. We do not live in a regimented society where men are forced to live their lives in the interest of the state. We are, all of us, as free to direct the activities of our bodies as we are to pursue the objects of our thought. But if we are to retain this freedom, for ourselves and for generations yet to come, then we must also be willing to work for the physical toughness on which the courage and intelligence and skill of man so largely depend.
All of us must consider our own responsibilities for the physical vigor of our children and of the young men and women of our community. We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather, we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life."

His word's are still relevant 50 years later. Every generation thinks that the one that follows has lost it's way, that they were in the "last hard class." I however do not worry about the generation that follows but the one I belong to and the one that went before me. Not only are thousands of my peers and elders slack of body but the are slack of mind as well. They willingly allow others to chip away at the freedom that many fought and died for. They sacrifice these freedoms for an illusion of safety and free cell phones. I am disappointed beyond belief and somewhat despondent. The recent legislation passed in New York State and the events of the recent past cause me to not be very optimistic about the future of my country. Tyranny is coming. I will not go gentle into that good night.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Road to Tashkent and Why I Carry a Gun

In the fall of 2001 I was part of a Special Forces detachment that was training Uzbekistan Spetsnaz in Counter terrorism. I wrote about it in this post  . We would train our counterparts during the week and on the weekends most of us would make the 200 kilometer trip to the capital of Tashkent. There we would have a little rest and relaxation. The trip from our remote base to the capital was through some very dangerous country, on one of the only paved highways in the country. Although Uzbekistan is purportedly a civilized country, outside the cities it is in middle ages. The chief mode of transportation is the horse or burro and the people in the countryside live in mud houses with stables attached to the house. Goats are prized possessions.

Just like the middle ages the countryside crawled with terrorists and bandits. These ruthless individuals would rob or kill any target of opportunity they encountered. No one traveled the countryside with out arming themselves. Personally we were armed to the teeth. Often we would pass iconic Uzbeki autobuses on our journey to Tashkent. If a autobus got a flat tire the passengers had to unload and wait for the driver to hitch a ride with the tire, get it repaired and return. The passengers would build a fire and then post guards around the bus to protect themselves from bandits. These guards came from the passengers themselves and they pulled their Kalashnikov rifles from off the bus. These passengers realized that no police or military would be able to come to their add should any bandits choose to pay them a visit. They needed to be responsible for their own safety.

That is a mindset I had to internalize over my years in Special Operations. This was necessary for survival. Often our missions would take us into remote areas where help was days even weeks away. I mean when your escape and evasion plan involved moving thousands of kilometers to link up with "friendly forces" you were pretty much on your own. No help was coming and you had to rely on yourself to protect yourself, your teammates and what belongs to you.

Fast forward to today. I live in a smallish city by some standards and a larger one by others. It is the second largest city in the state and has about 200,000 residents. Generally it would be considered "safe." However we do have a few murders yearly and violence seems to be on the rise. In the last 3 days there has been a shooting in an area close to where I work and a car jacking within running distance of my house. My own daughter experienced a car jacking attempt just a few weeks ago at a stop light. The police did not arrive until after all these incidents. So I carry a weapon. I have the training, the ability and I think the duty as a responsible armed citizen to protect myself and those I love.

The key word for me is responsibility. No one is going to protect me but me. I would be negligent if I stood by and let my family or anyone else come to harm. I know this is not for everyone and that is ok. But for someone with my background I feel it would be criminal to ignore my duty to act. The biggest component of this is I have the proper mindset. That is also something others may not have, that is also ok.

So I have laid out the reasons that I carry a weapon. You can choose to carry or not depending on your personality, experience and training. I think this is true for all citizens of this country. I also think it would be an injustice if those that have never been in harms way and have never experienced anything outside their insular world take away my choice to defend what is mine. De Oppresso Liber and Molon Labe

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Former Action Guy By The Numbers:2012

I wasn't going to write this post but the public demand was overwhelming in favor of continuing the tradition. Ok Ok my Mom actually wanted to see it. So with out further ado the 3rd annual Former Action Guy by the numbers post:

Officiating by the numbers:

Football games officiated: 13
Baseball games umpired:30
Wrestling matches officiated: 150
Officiated best example of sportsmanship I have ever seen: 1( Check out my "High School Sports: The Way Things Ought To Be Post.")

Officiating numbers were way down this year due to other priorities and some small amount of burnout.

Running/Biking by the numbers:

Number of Mountain Bike races: 0
Number of Running Races: 16
Number of Marathons/UltraMarathons:8 ( Check out my "2012: Year of the Ultra Post.")
Miles Run in 2012- 2579

Running was one of my other priorities. I really dedicated the year to running ultra marathons and trail races. My mileage was almost 1.5 times greater than last year's mileage.

Emergency Medicine/Law Enforcement by the numbers

EMS agencies-2
LE Agencies-1
Hours worked at EMS/LE- approximately 1000
EMS Calls participated in- 140 (roughly)
Babies delivered-1
Old Naked People - too many
Traffic stops in which the driver didn't have a license and spoke no English, but the passenger did-1

Random Numbers

Years since Military retirement-8
Years since joining Army-30 ( boy am I getting old)
Years since Ranger School Graduation-24
Years since SF Graduation-22
Retired Special Forces Brothers and former teammates that that crashed at my house: 2 ( Carl and Bob was great seeing you)

2012 was another great year. As I get further and further removed from my military days I continue to integrate myself into a new life. I will always be an operator but maybe just maybe I can be something else as well