Second American Revolution? I Hope Not (An Updated Blast from the Past)

Normally, people assume that the Right is the group champing at the bit to arm up, kill or drive off their political opponents, and enthrone their political philosophy in the US.  Mind you, usually it’s a matter of warning people not to push things to the point where that becomes the only way people see that they can protect their liberty rather than anything they want to have happen, but in any case the vision is that the Right will be the ones to set it off.

After the events that prompted yesterday’s post, I have to wonder how much of that is projection?  In this case it’s people on the Left fantasizing about wholesale slaughter of their political opponents, and wanting to set of a hot civil war (a strong argument can be made that we’ve been in a “cold” one for years).

Well, I’ll tell them the same thing that I told others before:

There’s a problem with a “Second American Revolution”.

People always point at the American Civil War as this paragon of “proof” that civil wars cannot unseat the established US government.  However there have been a lot of civil wars in history.  Sometimes the existing government wins.  Sometimes the rebels win.  Sometimes the results are confusing at best.

This worship of the American government as some kind of unstoppable monolith would be amusing if it weren’t so tragic (because it’s leading toward exactly the same kind of disaster I’m warning against).

They aren’t.  Consider, the US military numbers under one and a half million people on active duty.  There are over twenty million military veterans in the civilian population.  There are over 100 million gun owners, with more than 300 million guns between them.  The term for that, even considering the “heavy weapons” of the military (which are of limited use in a civil insurrection–you think a government that ordered the carpet bombing of Des Moines would still be in power by the time the smoke cleared?) and even ignoring that a lot of the military would say “no way in hell”. is “adverse correlation of forces”. (Flip side: if you’re not of the political persuasion of not only the majority of the military, the majority of those civilian gun owners, and the civilian leadership who would be giving that military its orders, you might want to consider which direction “adverse correlation of forces” points.)

So what are you going to do with that many people?  You’re either going to need a lot of new prisons or a lot of new mass graves.  Either way, the rest of the population is going to notice.  This isn’t China or Russia, which have pretty much always lived under totalitarian regimes and accept it as the status quo.  If strong military action in the Middle East, would, as is often claimed, “create more terrorists”, what makes you think it won’t have exactly the same effect if applied internally in the US?

And then you need to consider that the whole idea of open field battles or even “hiding in the woods” is not how an insurgency would work.  It won’t be some guys hiding in the woods.  It will be some folk going about their daily business then, from time to time, pulling out one of those 300 million firearms (or one of the hundreds of millions of “improvised weapons” that would come up after the fact–guns are easy to make once you know how, as are explosives by the way) setting up somewhere and killing one or two politicians, or soldiers serving the “regime”, or influential backers of the regime, or people working for them.  Some will be caught.  Some won’t.

Those tanks the military has?  They won’t be fighting the tanks.  No, they’ll be avoiding them (mostly by mixing into the non-combatant population.  Yes, they will be “illegal combatants” by definition, which is a problem…if they lose).  If they need to take out tanks, it won’t be head on.  It will be by sniping tank crews when they’re not in the tank (can’t stay buttoned up 24/7).  It will be by hijacking trucks of fuel (or just blowing them up with improvised rockets) or blowing up pipelines.  It will be by poisoning food being delivered to the post where the tanks are stationed.  And it will be by assassinating the leaders giving the tankers orders.

There’s a book “Fry the Brain” about “urban sniping”.  It’s one of the things that was not uncommon in Northern Ireland and a practically daily occurrence in Beirut during the worst of it.  It would be ugly.  And it would be here.

Catching the insurgents?  They would not be using electronic media to communicate.  The cat’s out of that bag so the smart ones will know better (and the non-smart ones will either soon learn better or be culled).  Or if they do use electronic communication it will either be one-time pads (unbreakable if they’re truly “one time”) or mixed in with so many false messages that the authorities have to burn up so many resources chasing down all the false leads that they do the insurgents’ jobs for them.

Well, they’d have informants.  But I guarantee that very soon indeed policy among insurgents would soon become “you inform; you die.” Doesn’t matter if they dangled a million dollars in front of you.  Doesn’t matter if you honestly believed the regime was the “good guys”.  Doesn’t matter if they “beat it out of you”.  Doesn’t matter if they threatened your family.  You inform; you die.  And if that doesn’t work to keep the rate of informing down, it will become, “you inform, your family dies.”

It is not moral.  It is not ethical.  But history has shown that in existential wars morals and ethics are among the first casualties.

If you think I’m painting a rosy picture for the insurgents, think again.  Because once you start playing that game all civilized warfare goes out the window.  You think waterboarding is torture?  Waterboarding will be a refreshing warm shower compared to what will be pulled out to get prisoners to roll over on other insurgents.  Some innocents get falsely accused that way?  Well that’s just too damn bad but, hey, omelets and eggs.  At some point, yes, they will carpet bomb Des Moines to get a few insurgents because the equation becomes that or death.

Insurgency, revolution, civil war has its own inherent logic in the modern age.  And that logic is one of horror.  And the worse part of it is that whoever wins, both sides lose.  Whatever they set out to gain at the start, they don’t.  The Genie of violent suppression of opposing views is not easily put back in the bottle.

I desperately want to avoid anything like that because if it gets to that point, then whoever “wins”, the end result will almost certainly bear no resemblance to “liberty.”  Because one of the things that history has taught us is that the winners of revolution are rarely the “nice guys”.  It’s the people who are strong enough, who are ruthless enough, to squash all opposition.  The virtue minded who want to “save civilization” get pushed aside or outright liquidated (that’s an old euphemism for “killed” if you didn’t know).  The ones with the strength and viciousness to seize power for themselves rise to the top.  Exceptions are extremely rare.  The American Revolution is virtually unique in its outcome.  The close kin of The Terror and Madame Guillotine are the far more likely result.

Please don’t pull that trigger.  You wouldn’t like the result.  I wouldn’t like the result.  Nobody sane would like the result.

 

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Las Vegas Shooting

I’m a little too angry to write much here.  I’m not going to go into the shooting itself.  For one thing, for the first 2-3 days you usually have more speculation and made-up nonsense than actual facts.  Instead, I’m going to go into the responses of some people to this tragedy.  So, let’s see that folk had to say:

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Isn’t that just charming?

Let’s see what else is out there.  Oh, there’s this gem:

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Leaving aside the factual errors (giving her the benefit of the doubt) in the statements look at the line “I don’t feel sorry or feel bad about what happened in Las Vegas”.

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Only counting those who voted not those supporters who, for whatever reason, didn’t make it to the polls, that’s just under 63 million people “i am cassie” wants dead–over political differences.  Five times the total killed in the Holocaust, she wants dead because she doesn’t like their politics.

While I suspect none of these would have the stomach to do it themselves these are the people who would be perfectly willing to stand by and cheer while others load conservatives into boxcars and send them to “showers”.

And it’s not just a few disaffected people on Social Media.  The Vice President (former now) and Senior Counsel for CBS said that she wasn’t even sympathetic to the victims of the shooting since country music fans are often Republicans.  At least CBS had the presence of mind to fire her.  I imagine something like “As senior counsel your job is to keep us out of lawsuits, not lead us into them.”

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said Monday that he won’t participate in a moment of silence on the House floor for victims of Sunday night’s deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Nope, not going to participate in a traditional expression of grief and mourning.

Normally, at this point I would make some statement to sum up the post but…I got nothin’.  There are just no words.

 

A snippet

From my story “Rainy Days and Moon Days” available on Amazon:


Jeff skidded to a stop the next day at the number twenty-seven airlock.  The rest of the group already waited, suited and helmeted.

“Mr. Brannock, how good of you to join us.” His teacher, Shazhad Patrick scowled at him.  Jeff completed most of his classes on computer but lab and other “practical” classes called for an actual teacher. Jeff rather liked Mr. Patrick although he would never admit it out loud.

The shower unit in the family apartment had gone wild, alternating freezing and scalding water in erratic bursts.  He’d needed time to find the faulty valve actuator and lock it down.  Not a perfect fix, but enough for a shower only slightly chilly.  Between that and running to the robing room to get into his suit meant he was already late to class. “I’m ready to go, sir.”

“Are you?” Mr. Patrick shook his head. “It doesn’t seem so.  Where’s your helmet, Mr. Brannock?”

Jeff held it up. “Uh, right here?”

“In your hands?” Mr. Patrick sighed. “I’m sure it does you a great deal of good there, Mr. Brannock.  But would it not, perhaps, do you a bit more good on your head?”

“Yes, sir!” Jeff set about securing the helmet to his suit’s neck ring.  Mr. Patrick always managed to rattle him.  Still, Jeff knew what Mr. Patrick was doing.  The work they did on the Moon had to be done right every time even when tired, afraid, or under stress.  And so, Mr. Patrick picked at Jeff, trying to frustrate or confuse him.

Knowing why didn’t make it any easier to handle.  And knowing that Mr. Patrick could kill his grade–he wouldn’t without cause, but he could–and with it his chance of getting into college, made the fear all too real.

While Jeff secured his helmet and ran the series of tests that ensured his suit was tight and ready to venture outside, Mr. Patrick donned his own.

“Today,” Mr. Patrick said via the suit radio. “We’ll be doing a bit of real work.  You’ve all studied the theory of explosive excavation and at least passed the written…Mr. Brannock, did I say something funny?”

“No, sir,” Jeff said. He had not laughed, giggled, or even hiccuped.  He put down the comment to another attempt by Mr. Patrick to get under his skin.

“Good, Mr. Brannock.  Now, as I was saying, You have all at least passed the written test.” Jeff knew that he had aced it. “Are there any questions?”

One of the other suited figures–Cody, by the name tag on the suit–raised his hand.  Jeff could see the cocky grin on Cody’s face inside the helmet.

“Yes, Mr. Cunningham.”

“Why?” Cody said.

“Why, what?”

“Machines do all the real work.  Drilling boreholes, placing charges for the shot, setting them off, that’s all automated,” Cody’s wave took in the entire construction site. “Why do we have to do it by hand?”

“Because, Mr. Cunningham, these machines occasionally go awry.  Someone has to see when that happens, preferably before a shot blows up something you don’t want blown up.  If you take the Selenian Engineering Course in college, should any of you make it that far, you will make thousands of shots before you are deemed fit to supervise excavation machinery.  You will, at least, have a basic familiarity before you pass my course.  Is that understood, Mr. Cunningham?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Jeff grinned, glad that the heat was on someone else for a change.

#

Four hours and three shots later, Jeff rode the slidewalk to his family’s apartment.  He had just enough time for a quick shower and to swap tanks before his shift at the solar farm.

Silence greeted him as he opened the door.  A message hovered in the Tri-vid. “Dinner out with Dad.  Don’t wait up.”

Jeff chuckled as he stripped out of his suit.  He hung the suit for a quick disinfecting and deodorizing mist in his room, planning to take it to the robing room later.  He climbed into the shower.  At least with efficient recycling they did not have to skimp on water.

A few minutes later, clean and dry, he stepped out of the shower.  The suit still needed some time to complete the deodorizing cycle so Jeff sat at his computer and checked his messages.  A teasing message from Cody about the “attention” Jeff kept receiving from their instructor.  A plea from Ginnie for help with the differential equations lesson.  Jeff found himself grinning as he read her message.  One message from the ad server reporting that three hundred sixty-two people had seen his announcement of the found data stick.

Jeff deleted Cody’s message, saved Ginnie’s for later, and left the auto reply in the queue.  By the time he had finished, the suit had completed its disinfection cycle.  He wriggled into it.  The suit felt clammy from the mist, but at least it did not stink.  Jeff pulled a fresh set of bottles from storage and shackled them to the back of the suit.  He grabbed his helmet and dashed out the door.

At the robing room, Jeff secured his helmet, then punched his code into the shift clock.  Just in time.  As he stepped into the airlock, the scheduling computer linked with his suit computer and gave him his assignment for the day.  He viewed the map in his helmet display and scowled.  That was a lot of panels for a single two-hour shift.  He broadened the map display.  Oh.  The section of panels was the one nearest the excavation practicum.  He guessed that scheduling figured if he messed it up, he should help clean it up.

“Sea of Rains, huh,” he said as the outer airlock door opened. “Maybe if it’s raining dust.”

“Crewman Brannock, what was that?”

Jeff winced. “Sorry.  Personal comment, not intended for broadcast.”

“Sure, kid,” the voice from EVA Ops said. “Please maintain comm discipline.”

Jeff tilted his head forward and thrust his chin out to work the transmitter switch in his helmet.  Once he heard it click into the “off” position he said, “Sure, whatever.”

A rack outside the lock held discharge brushes.  Another held extensions.  Jeff grabbed three extensions and shoved them into the thigh pocket of his suit.  He then took one of the brushes and set off in the direction of his assignment.

His long, loping strides, a technique called a “moon trot” carried him around a stack of air return pipes, big half-meter diameter ferrocement tubes, for the next stage of expansion of the construction station.  He rounded it and paused while he looked ahead to spot the section of solar panel that was his goal.

In the vacuum of the moon he did not hear the strap break.  His first warning was the stack of pipes shifting a moment before it began to collapse.  For a moment, Jeff froze, then he turned and ran.

At least, that was his intention.  He pushed a little too hard and his foot slid out from under him.  He landed on one knee, prepared to spring to his feet and continue but the lowest of the pipes, squirted out by the weight of those on top of it, caught him in the small of the back and knocked him to the ground.  His head snapped forward as he hit the ground, pain bursting through his nose as it struck the faceplate of his helmet.  For an instant, he saw red spattered on that faceplate before the falling weight pinned him face-down into the regolith, leaving him in blackness.  The pipes slammed repeatedly into his back as the stack continued its slow collapse.

#

Eventually, the pounding stopped.  A pipe lay across Jeff’s legs.  His left ankle blazed with pain, his left foot twisted back.  Something pressed his helmet into the regolith and pinned his left arm. He could move his right, in the gap, he guessed, between two pipes.

Jeff lifted his head to look at the instruments in his helmet.  Static roared in his ears.  He mentally put that aside for later as he mentally ran through the emergency checklist.  First, air consumption.  Normal.  Well, a bit high, but normal for the way he was gasping.  Not so high as to indicate any major leaks in his suit.

Temperature?  Holding steady.  Even with the radiators covered conduction through the pipe and ground appeared to be sufficient to carry heat away.  Power?  Usage was high, probably from the heating elements but power would last longer than air.

Something wet dripped from his nose, reminding him that his face hurt too, although not as badly as his ankle.  He tried moving his left hand.  He could only manage wigging his fingers.

He worked his jaw.  No pain.  Well, no new pain.  He thrust his jaw out and worked the chin switch for the radio. “Man down!  Man down!”

No reply.

Jeff drew a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “It’s okay,” he said softly to himself. “I’ve got fresh tanks.  That’s eight hours.” He glanced at his tank gauge. “Six hours?” He looked at the chronometer.  Two hours had passed.  Sometime during his self-inventory he must have passed out.

“I’m sure it won’t be long,” he told himself firmly. “I’m overdue.  Somebody will check.  They’ll find the fallen pipes.”

Fumbling blindly, he felt with his right hand for the pipepipe pinning his helmet. He shoved against it, trying to squirm backward, trying to push himself into the gap between the pipe sitting on his helmet, and the one across his legs.  Pain flared in his left ankle.  He managed to wiggle slightly in his suit, but the suit held fast.

He swore and let his arm fall.  His ankle throbbed.

“Somebody will be along.  They’ll check the fallen stack.  They’ll get me out of here.”  He licked his lips.  His nose still dripped.  Could you bleed to death from a bloody nose?

“Somebody?  Help?”

Jeff let his head sag forward, then picked it up again as his cheek touched the sticky wetness on the inside of his faceplate.  Then he sighed and lowered his head again.  Even in lunar gravity he could not hold his head up forever.  Well, not forever.  Just up to six hours.  After more than six hours it would not matter any more since he would be dead.

He licked at his lip.  Blood still trickled from his nose.  He could not tell how much blood he was losing except the puddle on his faceplate wasn’t too deep.  He didn’t think he would drown, or bleed to death.  No, running out of air was his biggest worry.

For now, he could do nothing.  He closed his eyes and settled in to wait.


$2.99 in Kindle Store, Free to read in Kindle Store

Jeff Bannock, while working his after school job at a construction outpost on the moon, merely wants to graduate and head to college. But a casual find of an obsolete memory chip leads to more danger than he ever bargained for.

NFL, Part II

Outsider: “You can’t do that!”

NFL: “Why not?”

Outsider: “It’s offensive.”

NFL: “It’s Freedom of Speech.”

Outsider: “Freedom of Speech doesn’t cover that kind of offensiveness.”

NFL: “Not everyone finds it offensive.”

Outsider: “Some people do, though, and you have to respect them.”

NFL: “Whyever for?”

Outsider: “Because you don’t have the right to offend people.”

NFL: “But even some of the affected people don’t find it offensive.”

Outsider:  “But some do, so you’ve got to stop.

NFL: “But…But…Freedom of Speech”

Outsider: “Don’t care.  You can’t name a team the Redskins.”

Hah.  Bet you didn’t think that was where I was going.

Free Speech = Genocide?

So there was this:

“Fuck your laws” she says (Yes, I’m going to assume her gender). “Your fucking freedom of speech is genocide, homeboy.”

Um, you may want to rethink that.

Freedom of Speech matters in this country.  People will not give it up lightly.  You think that by equating Freedom of Speech with genocide people will just shut up and leave your views unchallenged?  That’s not the way it works.

We will not be giving up Freedom of Speech.  So you might want to think about what would happen if you really do convince us that Freedom of Speech and genocide are the same thing, that murder, that genocide, is no worse than wearing a MAGA hat.

Do you really want to convince people of that?  Are you sure?  Do you really want to convince the majority of gun owners, the majority of military veterans, the majority of people that there is no moral difference between saying things with which you disagree and killing you?

Are.  You.  Sure?

Success in that will not convince people to give up their Freedom of Speech.  Just the opposite.  Convince people that their Freedom of Speech is morally equivalent to murder and you don’t make Free Speech anathema.

Instead you convince people as describe above–the ones trained in and capable of violence of a scale most of you cannot even imagine–that they might as well go to violence.

I want you to stop because I don’t want to see the end of that road.

And if you had a lick of sense, neither would you.

 

On this day: The Invasion of England

September 28, 1066, Duke William II of Normandy invades England and begins the Norman Conquest of England which, in essence provides the foundation for Great Britain as we know her today.

To understand these events we have to go back a bit farther.  In 911, “Charles the Simple”, “negotiating” with a group of Vikings and hoping to create a buffer against other Norse raiders, allowed that group of Vikings, led by one Rollo, allowed that group of Vikings to settle in a region adjacent to the English Channel.  These Vikings were called “Northmen”, shortened to “Normans” and the region called “Normandy.”

The Normans quickly assimilated, adopting Christianity and mostly adopted the local language (keeping some elements of their own).  They did not entirely give up their warlike ways and acquired some of the neighboring lands, incorporating them into Normandy.

In 1002 King Æthelred the Unready married Emma of Normandy, the sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy.  Their son, Edward the Confessor lived in Normandy in exile for many years before ascending the English Throne in 1042.  This, however, led to the Normans casting their eyes across the channel and becoming quite interested in the situation in England.

In England, Edward found himself in conflict with Godin, Earl of Wessex.  He may also have “encouraged” William, Duke of Normandy, Grandson of Richard II, in his own ambitions for the English Throne (wink wink nudge nudge).

When Edward died, still childless, there were a number of claimants to the throne.  The primary claimant was Harold Godwinson, the son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex.   Harold was elected King by the “Witangemot” a “meeting of wise men” an assembly of the ruling class and duly crowned.

Two powerful forces immediately rose to challenge that crowning.  One was Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Haradrada–based on a supposed agreement between earlier Kings of Norway and England that if either died without issue the other would inherit both Kingdoms.  The other was William of Normandy who claimed that Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne.

Both Harald Haradrada and William of Normandy began assembling troops.

A spoiler of a sort arose in Harald Godwinson’s exiled brother Tostic, who began raiding England’s southern coast.  Driven back, Tostig retreated to Scotland to recruit fresh forces.

Harold Godwinson continued to patrol the south of England with levied troops but as the troops were levies and not full-time soldiers they needed to go back to their farms in time for harvest son on September 8, Harold dismissed them.

Of the two main rivals, Haradrada struck first.  In early September he invaded England.  Tostig joined his forces to Haradrada’s and together they defeated an English force raised by Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria.  They then moved on York and took it.

Harold Godwinson had to raise his army again and march North.  And on September 25, Harold Godwinson defeated Harold Haradrada, killing both the Norwegian king and Tostig at the battle of Stampford Bridge.

In the meantime, in Normandy, William was gathering forces.  Modern historians say probably about 7-8000 men.  Contemporary writers claim as much as 150,000.  In any case, they landed at Pevensey in Sussex on September 28.

Harold (easier to write now that there’s only one of them left), with his army tired and depleted by the hard fighting at Stamford Bridge, had to march south where he met William near the town of Hastings.

Whether through strategem or chance (I have seen arguments for both), William’s forces drew part of Harold’s out of position and was able to concentrate the larger part of their force on a smaller part of Harold’s, severely depleting the defenders of Harold’s forces.  Eventually, Harold fell.  Tradition, and one interpretation of the scene depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, says that Harold was struck in the eye with an arrow.  In any case, his forces, now leaderless, were routed.

And that was pretty much the end of Anglo-Saxon England.  There was some resistance over the next few years but in the end, William, now dubbed William the Conqueror, and his Normans had control of England until the ascension of Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet Kings in 1154.

Politics in Uniform

When I went through Basic Training one thing that was explained to us was that any kind of partisan political activity while in uniform was absolutely forbidden.  No taking opinion polls, no campaigning for candidates, or any other kind of overt political activity that implies, or appears to imply official sponsorship of one side or another of a political issue.

That includes not showing up at political rallies wearing a uniform unless one has official duties that require one to be present (like, say, the President’s Marine Corps guard detail).

That was 35 years ago.  The basic policy has not changed.

From the Army’s web site:

That’s not to imply, however, that military members and civilian employees can’t participate in politics. In fact, DOD has a longstanding policy of encouraging members to carry out the obligations of citizenship, officials said. DOD encourages its military and civilian members to register to vote and vote as they choose, they said. Both groups can sign nominating petitions for candidates and express their personal opinions about candidates and issues.

However, officials emphasized, they can do so only if they don’t act as, or aren’t perceived as, representatives of the armed forces in carrying out these activities.

Beyond that, the list of do’s and dont’s differs depending on whether the employee is a member of the armed forces, a career civil service employee, a political appointee or a member of the career Senior Executive Service, officials said.

Military members, for example, may attend political meetings or rallies only as spectators and not in uniform. They’re not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions.

They also are barred from engaging in any political activities while in uniform.

Then there’s this asshat:

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Army Ranger, West Point Graduate, and now Infantry Officer.

While I may disagree with his twitter posts under the handle “Commie Bebop”, those, at least were done at one remove from being “in uniform”.  One might question whether a series of posts/tweets on the same topic might constitute “public political speeches” but as a First Amendment near-absolutist, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt there.  It’s not in uniform and doesn’t even give the appearance of implying any kind of official sanction.  His beliefs?  Well, I doubt they are compatible with honorably serving his commission but, again, I would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he actually demonstrated through his actions that his beliefs are incompatible with honorable service.

But in uniform at a military (including military academy) event?  That’s a clear violation.  Indeed, that the very demonstration that his beliefs are incompatible with honorable service.  He needs to be court martialed and discharged with something other than honorable (I won’t hold out for a dishonorable–I want him gone and without the benefits of those who serve honorably more than I want sanctions beyond that.  I won’t even hold out for a prison sentence although one is applicable–let’s not make him more of a martyr for the anti-American Left to celebrate).

Of course the usual suspects will bleat about “First Amendment” and “Right of Conscience” (Hey, he’s not being asked to bake a cake).  Those who have served in the military know that Freedom of Speech is limited.  Try saying “Our commander is an utter moron, unfit to lead a marine to a whorehouse, let alone a company into battle” and see where that gets you. (You folk currently serving know that would be a bad idea, right?)

This crosses the line so this disgrace to the Uniform needs to go.  He can go with public panapoly or he can softly and silently vanish away, but he needs to be gone.