The Keys of Redemption

In response to a request from a friend, here’s the prologue to The Keys of Redemption. It’s not edited yet, so expect there to be fewer commas when it’s done.

June 6, 1944

0820 Hours

Rome, Italy

The three men sprinted up the last flight of the white marble stairs. They halted abruptly on the landing, and before an ornate wrought iron door. The door itself was a work of art although its beauty was lost on the three men. They observed without comment that the magnificent door was still gently swinging on well-oiled hinges, and that was all that mattered to them. Their prey was not far ahead of them.

The senior soldier was a tall captain with a dark brown tan, black hair, and incongruently ice-blue eyes. He held his hand up to stop his party behind him and he cautiously peeked around the corner of the landing. Before him was a long empty hallway dotted on either side with heavy wooden doors each leading to a luxury apartment. The officer knew which apartment their prey would have likely gone to, and he silently motioned for his companions to follow him. He slipped around the door, raised his Thompson submachine gun to his cheek, and walked as softly as he could down the richly carpeted hallway.

Both of his companions mimicked his movements, although neither of the other soldiers carried a submachine gun. They were both armed with M-1 Garand rifles, which were carried in a ready position: cheek against stock, and rifle butt against shoulder. No safeties were on any of their weapons, and fingers rested with gentle competency on triggers.

All three men were breathing heavily, not just from the exertion of the chase, but also from the excitement of the hunt. Months of effort had led to this moment, and although all three men were veterans of the hardest fighting America had seen in the war up until that very day, they could barely control the adrenaline, the breathing, and the rapid pulse.

The smallest man was a scarred and bespectacled sergeant. He was seemingly too young to be a soldier, let alone a sergeant, yet he was the coolest killer in the small company of killers. The young sergeant was the first to regain his composure. He had been paying attention to the iron numbers mounted on the doors to either side of him, and he knew that they were getting close. He gently put his hand on the shoulder of the soldier before him, and when he had his attention, he held up two fingers and mouthed the words, “Two more on the right.” The tall captain nodded.

The last man was an even taller captain. He was fair with light blue eyes, and his frame was heavier and more muscular than his cousin’s—the leader of the group. His front was covered with drying blood, yet he bore no apparent wounds. He was regarded as something of a gentle giant, but today, he had a dangerous angry look in his eyes. He had come on a mission of vengeance, a mission with an imperative need reinforced only minutes before.

Captain Perkin Berger, the leader, halted his party when they were still twenty feet from the apartment doorway. In the softest whisper he could manage, he said, “Sam, you kick the door in and move to the side. Eddie, toss a grenade in. I’ll move in first.”

His companions, Captain Sam Taft and Sergeant Edwin Kulis, barely heard the words as their ears were still ringing from the gun battle they had just left, but they knew what to do. They had dreamed of this moment for countless nights and days, and while their dreams had seen themselves variously capturing and interrogating their prey or making him beg for his miserable life, they all knew subconsciously that those dreams were silly flights of fantasy. This day had been far too costly for such indulgences.

They would kick the door down, and then they would kill everyone in the apartment without mercy.

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Can’t touch that….

Tom Brady destroys a cell phone with possible incriminating texts and gets a whopping fine and a 4 game suspension.

Hillary Clinton destroys a hard drive with 30k subpoenaed emails and continues her march to the democratic nomination.

The lesson? NFL quarterbacks are held to a higher ethical standard than the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for the President of the United States.

Sounds about right.

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Great Moments in Wartime Rhetoric

“We…would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.” FDR, World War II

“We shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them on the landing ground, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…” Winston Churchill, World War II

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” JFK, Cold War

“Failure? The possibilities do not exist.” Margaret Thatcher, The Falklands War

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Ronald Reagan, Cold War

“This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.” George H.W. Bush, Gulf War

“Hey baby…check this out. I call it the Commander in Chief.” Bill Clinton, War on Women

“The United States of America will use all our resources to conquer this enemy….This battle will take time and resolve, but make no mistake about it, we will win.” George W. Bush, Global War on Terror

“I don’t think we’re losing.” Barack Obama, The Pretend War

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Get in the Damn Game….

The BBC reports that the Jordanian Air Force pilot, Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasabeh, was burned alive by his ISIS captors.

President Obama said that if true, it would spur the coalition to redouble its efforts. Really? Maybe we could give 110 percent or go balls to the wall for the next atrocity.  Meanwhile, we can take comfort in knowing the President is really outraged….like Benghazi.

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Strange days indeed….

I’ve mentioned this before but it merits noting again that there is a strain of consequentialism, particularly evident in the left these days, that says that a noble lie is indeed noble if it moves the narrative forward. The facts are inherently inconsequential and the nobility of the lie grants the moral and ethical dispensations in any case.

Thus, we end up with symbols like Brown and Garner supporting the narrative of the police war against African Americans—symbols that are categorically weakened by the facts of their respective cases, but the narrative continues forward regardless. Likewise, the two recently publicized rape cases, UVA and Lena Dunham, promote their own narratives—war on women and rape culture—but once again the facts don’t support the narratives particularly well. No matter, the narrative moves forward as many supporters maintain it doesn’t make any difference whether the assaults actually occurred.

How do the ends justify the means for the Senate Democrats and the torture narrative? The enhanced interrogation program has long since been exposed and terminated. For that matter, key Democrats in the House and the Senate were read into the program at its inception and kept informed of its progress.

Do they believe that releasing information about this program now somehow makes America safer? I doubt it. They’re surely aware of the negative security consequences that may derive from their actions. Do they believe that a partisan expose will prohibit future presidents from some similar actions? Again, doubtful. Any president worth his salt is going to take whatever actions he feels necessary to keep Americans safe. Or is this just the last gasp of the anti-Bush senate that first came to power in 2006, and the narrative is no more complex than Blame Bush/Cheney?

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The Idols of the Cave

The West in general, Americans in particular, have the bad habit of mirror imaging the world. Our civilization went through a renaissance and a reformation that channeled our intellectual thought towards reason and rationality. Despite the fact that Islam has had neither a reformation nor a renaissance, we sometimes believe that our constructs of reason and rationality apply to them as well. They don’t…reason and rationality aren’t universal.

The would-be builders of the new Islamic Caliphate certainly don’t see the world through the same prism that we do. It’s a more consequentialist approach whereby the present has little meaning, and the rewards are in the next world — and the rewards are derived from conflict with and the defeat of those who see the world as we do.

There is no negotiation with ISIS and their like. There are no appeals to their humanity, no common ground for discussions. If not stopped now, they will acquire the trappings of a nation state: international recognition, oil and gas revenues, and modern weapons. And then they will keep marching on like some terrible game of Risk. It is indeed a long war, and we’re not yet to Gettysburg.

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The Road Warrior President

I’ve come to the uncomfortable conclusion that Barack Obama is the Road Warrior. Not the Mel Gibson kill-everything-in-sight kind of road warrior…more of a killing-time kind of road warrior.

ROAD is an uncomplimentary military acronym. It means Retired On Active Duty and it is used to describe a service member who has given up, and is just killing time waiting to retire. Military road warriors don’t take on new projects. They’re absent a lot from the workplace, and when they work at all, they stick with the old and the familiar.

Russia-Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Mideast peace process, Bowe Bergdahl…anyone else have the sense that the administration is just phoning it in on matters of national security and foreign policy?

As ISIS, formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, is seizing major cities in Iraq, looting banks, and confiscating modern American weaponry, Obama is doing what is old and comfortable: making highly snarky speeches on global warming, fund-raising, and…yep…playing golf.

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