Friday, April 12, 2019

Q Anon Files: The Irrelevance of Dr. Sebastian Gorka

Dr. Sebastian Gorka disparaged Q Anon on April 10, 2019, linking to an article that he wrote on his website. On January 31, Gorka tweeted "Q is Garbage." On March 14, Gorka reiterated "Q Anon is Grade A GARBAGE." On April 5, Gorka lectured the Q'verse: "Try thinking for yourself. Q is a fraud. Leave the cult." These are not the only instances where Gorka criticized Q, but they are the most recent.  

Q Anon is a superconspiracy, defined in the literature by Barkun, a sociopolitical movement, and a psyop in the classical sense. Psychological operations influence emotions, motives, reasoning and behaviors at sociopolitical, governmental, organizational, group and individual levels. For certain Anons, and they know who they are, Q is a moneymaking enterprise. 

Sebastian Gorka wades into the Q'verse with typical belligerence. Gorka's academic reputation is contested: dismissed by political scientists as a weak researcher with partisan publications to his credit, Gorka's PhD was issued by Corvinus University of Budapest. Keep in mind that up to now, Gorka's critics were partisan themselves. 

With a resume primarily as a guest lecturer with defense agencies of the US government, Gorka failed to complete a degree at Harvard, yet he cites his incomplete attendance on his LinkedIn page. I am impressed that he was even admitted to the program, and not interested in why he failed to matriculate. 

Sadly, Gorka brings weak methods to the Q arena: Gorka hates the Q'verse, and Q partisans hate him right back. Donald Trump, Jr. defended Gorka, but the collective Q'verse shrugged: nobody who follows Q Anon respects Gorka. 

I harbor no animus for Gorka, and I am no cultish partisan of the expanding Q'verse: I am a political scientist and critic of the Q phenomenon with lesser academic credentials than Gorka. But I lack patience with bad analysis of Q, and Gorka's analysis is defective. 

On April 10, 2019, Dr. Gorka tweeted "Q is NOT on America's Side. It's all a con job." 

Gorka's first sentence is debatable. His second sentence contains elements of fact. Then Gorka links to that article on his website. I will address the Q moneymaking grift and the ex-convicts that perpetrate it in a later work. For now, let us focus on Gorka and his article. 

In this article, Gorka harkens back to signs at Trump rallies in the lead-up to the 2018 Midterm Elections. Gorka remembers: 

"...strange signs started appearing at political rallies. Held up by nondescript attendees, the signs read simply, "we are Q." 

Gorka explains: 

"The group appeared from the fringes of internet chat rooms, such as on the website of 4Chan, a peculiar mixture of cyberpunks and various online misfits." 

(Sebastian Gorka, "The Truth About Q-Anon--America First with Sebastian Gorka," SebGorka.com, April 10, 2019).

"Nondescript?" "Online misfits?" Gorka managed to alienate me with two simple sentences. Gorka's characterizations coincide with fake news descriptions of Trump supporters as mouth-breathing Walmart shoppers. Gorka's elitism is on full display. 

More, Q was no longer on 4chan at the time of the Midterms, as all Q partisans and informed Q critics know. Not to belabor facts, but Q was on 8chan, an entirely different site, and on Discord, Reddit, Voat, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Gorka intends to malign Q: so he mentions only 4chan, where Q was born on October 28, 2017. 

Gorka is merely getting started. He calls Q loyalists "Far Right activists on gonzo internet forums." Before you read past this statement, think about it: Gorka is endorsing the equalization of the "far right" with White nationalism pushed by the fake news media.  The unspoken implication is that Q partisans are "far right," therefore they are also racist. 

Gorka confirms his intent when he mischaracterizes Q Anon using the same derisive talking points disseminated by the fake news media. 

"The conspiracy goes like this: the real purpose of the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation was not to investigate Donald Trump, but instead to investigate Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and people like former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta ... One addition ... to the conspiracy last year was that the Mueller probe was also looking into the now-deceased Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for his illegal activities." 

Gorka adds:

"QAnon conspiracy theorists have simultaneously argued that the ultimate target of the Mueller investigation is either the "Deep State" of nefarious anti-American, globalist actors, or the aim is to pursue high-profile pedophiles in the United States government and in other powerful circles related to the government."

What surprises me is that Gorka turns out to be just another fake news fake journalist. We thought that Gorka was one of us, one of the MAGA faithful. Not so much. But read on. 

Gorka's mixing of correct and incorrect assessments of Q offend even me, a critic of the Q movement. Gorka not only does not understand Q, he cannot persuade anybody who does.

After reading his article on his eponymous website, I went from indifference to Gorka to opposition. Gorka's reputation for weak research follows him even to the Q'verse. 

Then Gorka compounded my dislike by sowing fake news talking points:

"Now for the most pernicious aspect of the QAnon conspiracy theory. In 2016, conspiracists on 4Chan and other similar fringe messaging boards claimed that the emails stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s (and subsequently made public by WikiLeaks) contained secret messages referring to a powerful ring of pedophiles who were using a local Washington, D.C. pizzeria as a base of operations to conduct their crimes. None of these claims were true. But, what ended up happening was that the highly irresponsible conspiracy theory triggered a mentally unstable man, who in turn took a gun to a D.C. pizzeria with intent to use it."

This is not what Pizzagate alleges, and any honest conspiracy theorist knows it. The Podesta Leaks do contain a substitution code pertaining to pedophilia: anyone who reads the emails of John Podesta walks away changed for the experience and convinced of it. 



Fake news defenders of social elite pedophilia insist that Comet Ping Pong is the epicenter of the conspiracy. I will be quite specific. Comet Ping Pong matters because its owner, James Alefantis, posted Instagram photos that were more than problematic. They remain unaddressed and un-investigated to this day, by all but PedoGate researchers. 

Comet Ping Pong also matters because its website featured an encrypted section that was accessible only to those with the URL, which was distributed by word of mouth. Hacktivists found the page, they found the encrypted data, but they failed to crack it. This secret portion of the Comet website remains un-investigated by all but independent researchers. 



The Pizzagate conspiracy theory does not claim that Hillary Clinton raped infants in the nonexistent basement of Comet Ping Pong. That is how the fake news media defines Pizzagate, erecting a straw man, painting the theory as ludicrous, so they can disprove it and declare victory. 


Not only does Gorka adopt the deliberate mischaracterizations of the fake news media, he declares, "None of these claims were true." This statement by Gorka ruined him for me, and removed him from my good graces. Gorka is not just wrong. Gorka is in the enemy camp, an enemy that covers up elite circle pedophilia. 

You will find elsewhere on this website an analysis of PedoGate in 48 chapters. I eviscerate these fake news claims that Gorka adopts with such alacrity. 

Worst of all, Gorka throws out the "conspiracy theorists are potentially violent" trope so beloved by the purveyors of fake news. 

But this article is not about Pizzagate or PedoGate. It is about the defective analyses that Sebastian Gorka steals from the fake news media and foists onto the Trump faithful. Gorka then passes judgement on the 'chans. He condemns 4chan first. 

“The source material for these theories is the vile, uber-fringe 4Chan and 8Chan. 4Chan was launched in 2003 as a place to share images and discuss Japanese anime. In fact, it was modeled on the Japanese anime internet boards, such as Futaba Channel. Over time, though, the already eclectic group of online personalities that 4Chan attracted devolved into something darker. It became a haven for crazed conspiracy theorists from both sides of the political divide. 4Chan also became popular among the white nationalist community, and also became a place for hackers and other criminals–including child pornographers. If there was a Hell on the internet, 4Chan was Hell.” 

Gorka does not understand the 'chans, much like the fake news media does not understand them, and what people do not understand, they sometimes fear. The 'chans may be the lone remaining bastions of free speech, so it is inevitable that the worst sort of antisemitism and bigotry would infest them. 

It is not my intention to defend the 'chans, but to explain them--you know, the way that political scientists are supposed to do. 

Nobody is under any compulsion to visit 4chan. 4chan does not target the same audiences that patronize Twitter or Facebook. If you are incapable of contextualizing stupidity, then you should not explore 4chan. Those who bring intellectual maturity and a thick skin to the exercise realize that 4chan provides a safe harbor for opinions that literally cannot be expressed anywhere else. For this reason alone, we must protect and defend 4chan and 8chan. 

(For the record: Blogger refused to allow me to link to 4chan and 8chan, and threw up Save errors after I inserted links to them. Net censorship is real, it is pernicious, and it is ubiquitous across all net services--except for the 'chans, where it is beleaguered.) 

Then Gorka turns his stereotypical guns on 8chan. 

“Meanwhile, a similar website, created by gonzo software developer, Frederick Brennan, 8Chan (sic) was launched in 2013 as a response to what Brennan believed was the rise in authoritarianism, censorship, and surveillance on 4Chan. Despite the fact that 8Chan has become the 3,857th most viewed website in the world, with an average of 35,000 unique visitors per day and 400,000 original posts per day, it too has become mired in controversy. 8Chan, which has been billed as the more libertarian (though, perhaps libertine would be better) 4Chan, has apparently become a hub of international child pornography postings. This became such a problem that, in 2015, 8Chan was blacklisted by Google search. It is a profound understatement to claim that anything positive or good comes from these boards. Yet, it is precisely from sites like these that the “Pizzagate” and now the QAnon conspiracy theories emanate.”

Q emanated from the 'chans because Q began as a LARP (Live Action Role Play), and the world's most effective LARPers are on the 'chans. It is as simple as that. When you fold in the fact that the 'chans may be the lone remaining strongholds of free speech on an increasingly siloed, censored and balkanized internet, there is no mystery why Q began on 4chan and why Q persists on 8chan. 

Those who are incapable of understanding 'chan culture should stay off those boards. Again, nobody is under any compulsion to browse either service. The Anons on 4chan and 8chan never put out  "Welcome" signs, and they are unsparing towards "normies" who do not belong there. 

If you bruise easily, if your feelings are readily hurt, if racism, bigotry, misogyny, sexism and antisemitism offend you, then stay off the 'chans. 

As for child porn--the Anons know who posts it on both boards, and it is not them. External actors post the worst content on the 'chans to attract official scrutiny and to get them shut down. The Anons delete child porn found on their boards. You can imagine who might want to shut down the last remaining centers of free speech on the internet.  

The Anons who masqueraded as Q on the 'chans knew that Q needed to be disseminated to a broader audience immediately after its inception. They accordingly migrated to Reddit in November 2017, until Reddit banned them--not once, but twice. 

As the world witnessed these successive attempts to throttle the growing Q movement in March and September, 2018, coordinated with thousands of fake news articles criticizing Q, the attempted censorship predictably backfired and Q spores spewed across the internet. 

Yet another iteration of Q continues to post Q drops to 8chan as I write these words. After a ten day pause to regroup after exposés of the ex-cons running the Q grift were published in late March and early April, Q returned to 8chan on April 11, 2019. 

The 8chan con artists running the psyop needed to reorganize. The BO, the Board Owner of the Q board on 8chan, resigned. One prominent Q interpreter threatened critics with "10,000 Anons pilfering through their garbage," then pulled language from his website claiming that donations to his religious ministry were tax deductible. He promised to cease accepting donations on Patreon. 

I discuss the perceptible versions of Q in a forthcoming work. For those who are not familiar with the Q movement, Q posts on 8chan, and "bakers" analyze Q's gnomic utterances on dedicated 8chan boards, on Discord, on VOAT, on websites, on forums, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on multiple YouTube channels.

History will record that the attempt to kill Q instead disseminated Q to millions of mainstream readers that recognized censorship and rejected it. The fake news media committed ideological suicide by trying to suppress Q and they still do not realize it. By failing to ignore Q, by demonizing Q, by ranting against Q, the fake news media facilitated the proliferation of Q, like a virus. 

Human curiosity is boundless. The fake news media maligned Q in such derisive terms that millions of eyeballs that never explored alternative media before found themselves in Discord chat rooms, on 8chan boards, on VOAT, and following YouTube channels, researching conspiracy theories that resonated with their own politics and their own values. 

Gorka then lists failed Q predictions, which are legion, and which require a separate treatment. So I will elide past them here. 

But Gorka confirms: not only does he not understand Q Anon, he does not understand the 'chans. Worst, Gorka does not understand the MAGA Faithful. 

I apologize for the length and the number of these quotes from Gorka's article, but it is better, I think, to let him hang himself with his own words. Gorka continues:

“The fact that the QAnon conspiracy theory is tied in with the “Pizzagate” fiasco is bad enough. The more damaging part is that these cult-like actors link themselves to the Trump movement, despite the fact that no member of the Trump movement has anything to do with these insane theories. They are the outgrowth of a pathetic group who exist online, in the dark corners of the worldwide web. That they have attached their delusions to the Trump movement is unfortunate. But, they do not represent and are not affiliated with President Trump, his supporters, or those who work for the president.”

I am still shaking my head all the way on the other side of the world in Bangkok. Pizzagate is real. Gorka confirms his reputation for weak scholarship by parroting the fake news media's talking points that dismiss it. 

Then Gorka states: "... no member of the Trump movement has anything to do with these insane theories."

Precisely whom does Gorka believe comprises the Trump movement? QAnon partisans comprise a large part of it. If Gorka understood Q, he would know this. If Gorka understood the Trump movement, he would know this. 

Some may not like it, but Q loyalists are the most fervent supporters of the 45th President. The truth is, the Trump movement is evolving in ways that leave weak researchers and abrasive personalities like Gorka in the dustbin of history. 

Gorka is off on a solo ideological tangent. He says that Q is "decidedly not close to the President, they are not Conservatives, and with every post that they make, they subvert the MAGA Agenda." 

I agree that Q is not "close to the president," and I address this in another work about the Q movement. Q is not a military intelligence operative within the President's physical orbit. Q is an imaginary "patriot" concocted by Anon moderators on 8chan, posting cryptic drops which are not classified. 

As for claiming that Q partisans are "not Conservatives," I think that this remains to be delved, as what, exactly, is a Conservative these days? We see a breakdown of historical and traditional definitions of Democrat and Republican, the dual-party paradigm is more blurred every day. 

We see this much: the deep state is real, and it includes both Democrats and Republicans. The true battle for the future of the Republic is globalism v. nationalism. We find globalists in both parties. Economic nationalists appear to be condensed in the old Republican Tea Parties, which are reemerging in the Q'verse. 

The worst members of the deep state are, in fact, Republicans, if only because they masquerade under false pretenses and pretend to be conservatives. The term "RINO," Republican in Name Only, is apt. 

For purposes of moving along, let us just agree with Gorka that Q partisans are conservatives of a new type. I think that Q loyalists would agree, and I think that this is an accurate characterization. We can belabor it further elsewhere. 

But we must wonder: whom does Gorka think devises the so-called "MAGA Agenda?" 

The President? Assuredly. The supporters of the President? I think so. But not Gorka. Clearly not him. Gorka does not speak for me, and after his article, I do not think that Gorka will speak for more than a small, irrelevant slice of the collective Trump movement. 

The MAGA Agenda is bigger than Gorka realizes. It is more inclusive than Gorka understands. It is unsparingly exclusive, and Gorka will find himself outside the MAGA movement looking in after this article. We do not need Sebastian Gorka. We do not want Sebastian Gorka. We are leaving him behind. 

Reading this analysis by Gorka, I realize that Gorka not only fails to understand Q, Gorka does not understand President Donald J. Trump. 

Nor does Gorka understand modern conservatism, nor the direction that our conservative movement is heading. 

No matter how much fake journalists like Gorka may hate it, Q is a movement, and it is still--despite reams of bad analysis and lies, despite massive counter propaganda--still growing, it is still spreading, and those who follow Q are becoming more entrenched as Q teaches them more effectively than any other form of media. 

Q is new media. Q tells Q partisans to research for themselves, to think for themselves, and in the process, Q red-pills millions of deplorables who previously were asleep, passively absorbing fake news propaganda. 

These good Americans, all of them deplorables like you and me, the Q masses, our tribe, are now awake. They will not go back to sleep. The puppeteers pulling our strings are only gradually realizing that we see the strings, and we refuse to dance for them anymore. 

For now, dismiss the superficial and stereotypical analyses of bad researchers like Sebastian Gorka. Do not waste another moment of your time on him. 

Gorka is irrelevant. Gorka does not understand Q, Gorka does not understand you, and Gorka does not understand me. 

Doc T sends. 

Bangkok
Updated, April 16, 2019
===


Sunday, February 10, 2019

On Pseudonymity





My bro Marty wrote the lone Amazon review that is up on my second book, Revelation, though one reviewer did post comments on SOCNET that were so perceptive that I was compelled to publish them as an article

The irony is that some will consider this all incredibly vain: I am just selling books, friends. And I give away more than I sell. In the end analysis I am just a writer who wants to write more and who wants to be read.

My SOCNET reviewer prefers not to identify himself beyond his pseudonym, SMP52, the significance of which I happen to know, but his secret is safe with me. 

The strange thing is that Revelation outperforms on Academia.edu, where it is available for free download. I wrote a follow up article that hit the top 2% on that site, pushing me into the top 4% of writers there, if only for a little while. 

That article and Revelation attracted a global audience, with readers across Europe, in Tibet and Nepal and India, in South America, and throughout the US. This is all supremely satisfying, but there is a Darwinian bottomline for books, and Revelation's sales barely exceed a thousand copies.

One question for a writer is how many readers are willing to spend precious minutes reading something that the writer wrote. Another question is how many readers are willing to spend money to read that writing. These are points on a continuum, but there is a chasm separating the two. 

It is impossible for me to confirm how many times Revelation was downloaded and read for free on GoogleBooks, on Academia and ResearchGate, or from my website Samizdat. But we can safely estimate that more than a thousand readers across all modalities read it since I released it on my birthday a couple of months ago. 

We cannot assume that everybody who purchased Revelation read it. Some surely found it unreadable. I feared as I wrote it that nobody would read it. It is a very different manuscript for me. Still, I was compelled to write it. 

Conversely we cannot assume that everybody who read Revelation for free turned around and purchased it. It is human nature to accept something freely given and to think nothing more on it.

It must be enough for me if those who can benefit from Revelation find their way to it. The multiverses do work in mysterious ways, and that is not just a platitude. The book is proof of it. 

For eBooks, and for print-on-demand softcovers, I am told that a thousand copies sold is very good. I enjoy no marketing budget and I wield no marketing expertise. I just write my books and then I talk about them until my friends are tired of me. 

My recent books are exceptional for me in that I put my birth name on the byline. I published many times using noms de plume. Many of my works will never be connected to me. There were good reasons for using a pseudonym. 

In some cases I was motivated by safety. In other cases by vanity. In yet other cases, I knew that an anonymous work or a work written under an obviously fictitious byline would achieve greater traction in the popular mind space than one written by me. 

Some may consider it strange, but pseudonymity carries farther and delivers harder. We need look no further than Anonymous for example, or better, at the infamous Q Anon. 

Q was concocted on the 'chans, 4chan and 8chan, like many other LARPs, and it was initially done for the Lulz. But the mystery over Q's identity morphed into a social juggernaut, scaring neoliberals silly and so mesmerizing the MAGA faithful that Catherine Austin Fitts characterized Q as "hope porn." 

Nobody wants Q to be real more than me, but the origins of Q were unassailably exposed on YouTube by Nathan Stolpman of Lift the Veil and grey hat hacker Defango, whose real name is Manuel Chavez III. Defango also blew the cover of Cicada 3301, but he is very much a niche informant: most YouTube viewers do not watch Defango and normal folks never heard of him. 

Still, there is enough perplexing coherence to Q drops that the Q phenomenon continues. Many of the Q faithful do not care who Q is, and no matter how you assess Q's Socratic statements, they do make loyalists question and research. For many, this is enough. 

Alex Jones claims to know the identity of the authentic Q, but this must be weighed like everything else that master showman says. While early interpreters of Q's gnomic utterances like Dr. Jerome Corsi faded away, successors continue, reaping eyeballs and payments from YouTube. 

For myself, Q lost me forever when promised arrests and prosecutions never happened, no matter how much the Q'verse wanted them. When those mythic sealed indictments precipitate convictions, then I will consider once again giving Q the time of day. 

Until then, Q, for me, is just entertainment. One more stream of consciousness to consider in a deluge of information, most of it fake, most of it propaganda. 



But pseudonymity enjoys a long tradition: too long, really, for this article. I could write a book on pseudonymity in literature. During the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment, publishing could literally be a life-risking endeavor. The Inquisition is mute proof of it. I address the immolation of Giordano Bruno in Revelation

In antiquity, imitations and commentaries on the classics were written by writers who felt that they would receive broader distribution by pretending to be ancient. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite is an example, and there are many others. 

In my own case, for writing that is published under my own byline, I now follow a modern template adapted by JD Salinger and Thomas Pynchon. They both forbade photographs and videos of themselves during their lifetimes.

Former 2d Bat Ranger John Czarnecki, myself and Phil Warner at the FBI HRT Safehouse on BIAP in Baghdad, circa 2003. Both Phil and Czar were assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group at the time and I was employed by a notorious private military company. I still miss my "going out to dinner" submachine gun. I had a glorious gun collection in Baghdad. 

I promote historical photos of myself. Nothing contemporary. The most recent full face photo that is available of me on the net is circa 2003 in Baghdad, with myself and Ranger brother John Czarnecki and Phil Warner at the FBI HRT safehouse on BIAP.

There are also some profile shots of me taken in Malaysia when I worked with LTC Jack Muth, USMC, at the Malaysian Infantry School in 2005. 

Malaysian Infantry Center, 2005. 

When I was interviewed for a Military Channel video on Operation Urgent Fury in 2005, the appearance contract negotiated by my attorney dictated that I must appear in silhouette. This worked gloriously. 



All of this is deliberate. I have been famous, more than once, and fame holds no allure for me. The problem is that it is nearly impossible to maintain visual anonymity in the age of social media. We are photographed and videotaped by iDevices everywhere.

I cherish my ability to stalk the sois of Bangkok in anonymity. I am just an old, fat farang, nobody important. People who encounter me forget me immediately. And that is how I want it. 

Mike Yon and myself a couple of years ago after dinner in Bangkok. 

I prefer that any attention that I attract be diverted to my writing. It was foretold that I will die within the next ten years. I want to be remembered for what I write--not for whom I was photographed with. Not for how I look. 

You see, I am not aging gracefully. Maybe this is about vanity after all. But vanity of a different kind. When I write about myself I am also writing about our generation, about the children of the 1960's whose twilight years are already upon us. 

It is for fate to decide whether I will succeed. We do not have long left. The clock is ticking. It never stops, it never slows, it is implacable, and it is impervious to all human manipulations. 

In the meantime, it will please me if those who possess recent photos of me will embargo them until after my death. Just save them. Release them after I die. 

Then it will no longer matter. In the end, we are all destined for oblivion. 



Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Interview with Karl Monger at GallantFew

Karl Monger is the Director of GallantFew, a charity for veterans. 

My Ranger brother Karl Monger interviewed me for the second time a couple of weeks ago, and he posted the interview as a podcast on the GallantFew Podcast page.

Karl interviewed me for the first time last year, in 2017, for his New American Veteran series. 

Karl distinguishes himself tirelessly assisting Ranger veterans in transition: from serving in uniform to returning to civilian life--a transition that is supremely challenging.

Think on this for a moment. Young airborne Rangers face the same dilemma year after year: to remain in the US Army for 20 years? Or to separate and attempt to return to civilian life? 

I advise anyone who asks me to stay in for 20. When you get older, that retirement income is vital. The medical insurance through TriCare is far superior to medical care purchased on the economy. When you get older, medical treatment becomes a major line item in your monthly budget. 

Either way, transition is not simple. Serving soldiers in the Ranger Regiment are immersed in an encompassing culture. You know precisely where you fit, you know exactly what is expected of you, and it takes everything that you have to meet those expectations. 

The Ranger Regiment is comprised of world class soldiers. 

Many do separate to return to academia. Speaking for myself, I was too young, too unfocused, too undisciplined when I attended university the first time in 1978-9. I was more interested in the esoteric bookstores surrounding the CU campus. 

I ended up dropping out, and I enlisted in the US Army via the Ranger option in 1979. By 1987, after four years in the 2d Ranger Battalion and two years in the 1st Special Forces Group, I was ready to return to academia. 

I was a relentless student, laser focused on my schoolwork. I earned a 4.0 GPA by the time that I was commissioned a lieutenant in the Infantry in 1990.

I learned discipline in the US Army. While I was a student, I remained attached to the Green Machine through ROTC. I was an airborne Ranger, a combat veteran: I was virtually unstoppable. 

My own transition happened after I resigned from DEA in 1991. I was suddenly cut loose, no longer a soldier. The USG determined that I was physically incapable of being a soldier. I refused to accept this, and I returned to the Special Warfare Center, the home of the Green Berets, in 1992. 

By 1994, the verdict was impossible to deny. I was done. 

I literally did not know what to do. This is what is meant by transition. When an individual is faced with the fact that they no longer have a place in the Green Machine, when they realize that they no longer belong to the greatest Army in the history of mankind, it leaves you adrift, unrooted, and confused.

Serving in the US Army, working for the federal government, means that you serve something larger than yourself. We identify ourselves with what we do: "I am an airborne Ranger." Or, "I am a Green Beret." We do not think about this while we are doing it. It is only after we separate, after we can no longer do it, that the bill comes due, and we are confronted with an implacable metaphysical fact. 

"I am just Stephen." 

This is difficult to handle. Many handle it better than others. Some handle it poorly. I was one of those who mishandled transition. I wish that GallantFew was available to me in 1994. I stumbled through my own transition on my own with no resources, and little guidance. 

I talk about the years that I spent forging my identity as a soldier in Metamorphosis. I have not yet addressed my transition from soldier to civilian. That may come as I wrap up my final forecasted book, In the Valley of the Shadows: A Place of Smoke and Rivers Like Mirrors, projected for 2020. 

Karl is endlessly supportive of the books that I publish, and I am very grateful to him. 

If you are still serving in uniform, please donate to GallantFew, particularly if you are serving in the Ranger Regiment. 

If you are in mid-career or retired, please donate to Karl's nonprofit. You can google his organization's ratings, which will reveal that GallantFew is too small to be rated by Charity Navigator. But you will see that Karl has GallantFew on a straight path. 

Karl Monger and GallantFew focus on the transition from soldier to  civilian. Whether you separate to return to school or finally retire after 20 years in uniform, you will make that transition from soldier to civilian. 

I just met with members of the GallantFew network in Orlando, former airborne Rangers that get together for breakfast every month. Wonderful men. 

Excellent fathers. Good husbands. Fine examples for other civilians: superb sons of the Republic. 

These two interviews with Karl Monger are the only interviews that I have given since I was interviewed by the Military History Channel in 2005. 

I prefer to keep all this within the Ranger brotherhood. 

Please listen, comment, and share!

We thank you for your time and your mindshare. 

Doc T sends. 
=





Thursday, January 10, 2019

Call the VA White House Hotline!

This is what happens when you call the VA White House Hotline with a legit gripe: they fix it, and fast. Many veterans do not know that such a mechanism exists, so I write this piece explaining how to use it. 

BLUF: VA White House Hotline:  1-855-948-2311.

Those who read my work and follow me on Facebook know that the Department of Veteran's Affairs and I tussle, and a lot. 

My latest dispute with the VA was caused by schedulers at the VA's Lake Nona facility in Orlando. I need to renew my medications, and my last visit to Lake Nona was over a year ago. So I scheduled appointments, and I bought a plane ticket. 

Then the schedulers canceled appointments that I made months in advance. 

It is my decision to live as an expat in Bangkok, and this complicates my health care. I see a cardiologist every month and a pain specialist at my own expense, and it is not cheap. 

I could seek reimbursement for these expenses through the VA's Foreign Medical Program, but the process is complex, it requires meticulous documentation, and it is prone to error. 

The last time that I tried to get reimbursed the VA clerk told me that the medication in question was not on the VA formulary. I just shake my head. The VA prescribed it for me, and they provide it for me every month. 

Just one example. I have stacks of receipts that need to be submitted to the FMP. They repay expenses two years in arrears. Someday. I wish that they offered an online process for reimbursement. They are stuck in the 1970's. 

I need to monitor my INR levels as every cardiologist that I see tells me that I will die from a stroke and it is impossible to know when that stroke will strike. So I take warfarin every evening and I pray the Jesus Prayer when I do so. 

My cardiologist also monitors my blood sugar levels, and she is nagging me fierce. What I put in my mouth is one of my lone pleasures, and she is crowding me. So my diet is increasingly strict. No carbs. Ok. Few carbs. 

My pain specialist is a psychiatrist, she prescribes my opiates, Methadone and Codeine. My addiction to opiates began with a gall bladder that tried to kill me several years ago. It was excruciating, and that was when I encountered the solace of Mother Demerol. 

My opiate addiction is controlled, I take strict dosages of Methadone to manage addiction, and Codeine when I cannot sleep due to breakthrough pain. I suffer from crippling arthritis, the price that I pay for 333 parachute jumps and many years under a heavy ruck. 

I would love to transition to a hemp or cannabis treatment, but it is not yet legal in Thailand. Medical marijuana is legal in many American states, and it seems inevitable that it will finally be legalized at the Federal level--which would make it available to veterans through the VA. 

In time. If I live to see it. 

Enough about that. I made appointments to see my primary care physician, my shrink, my neurologist and my cardiologist at the Lake Nona VA facility all the way back in September and October 2018. I made the appointments for one week in January 2019, so I could fly to Orlando, check into a hotel, and knock them out over a few days. 

All was well until December, when the Lake Nona facility began canceling my appointments. Doctors were canceling them for various reasons, and the schedulers then told me that no appointments were available for many months. 

I flipped out. I harangued a scheduler on the phone, I called the patient advocates at Lake Nona and complained my ass off, and then finally, I remembered: The VA White House Hotline fixed a problem for me before. Why not try them? 

So I did. I called, I was immediately connected to an agent, his name was John, I laid out the problem, John heard me out, then he said that he would open a case file and poke his liaison at Lake Nona. I received an email with a case number in moments. 

And just like that, shazam, the problem was fixed. 

Two days later schedulers from Lake Nona called me, Google Hangouts gloriously rang the calls through to my iPad in Bangkok, and they made new appointments for me during the week that I will be in Orlando. 

When the VA tells you that no appointments are available for several months, do not believe them. They can squeeze you in. This is proof of it. When somebody with sufficient authority tells them to fix their shit, they can do it. 

The VA then sent me an email a few days ago telling me that those appointments were rescheduled, and I almost flipped out again, but I reminded myself that the VA White House Hotline fixed issues for me twice before, and I could just call them again. 

I prayed. I pray and I meditate during my daily walk in my neighborhood, so I walked and I prayed, and the next day, I received the letter above in my mailbox. 

The Medical Center Director at Lake Nona who sent me that letter included a list of my upcoming appointments, and they were all listed. Mr. Timothy W. Liezert, Medical Center Director, sent that letter to my address in Bangkok. Other automated letters were sent to one of my addresses in CONUS. All the appointments are for the week of 22 January 2019. 

Victory. 

I will take it. 

There is no guarantee that a doctor at Lake Nona will not attempt to cancel another appointment before that week, but I suspect that my patient record is flagged to the effect of "Do not mess with this veteran because he will raise an unholy ruckus." 

Plus, we have an ally there, a man on the inside: Norm Hooten is on the Pharmacy staff at Lake Nona. I will make it a point to say hello. And Mr. Liezert gave me the name and direct phone number of Ms. Sanchez, whom I suspect is a manager of scheduling. At minimum she is a manager. She may be the Director. 

I wrote before that somebody anonymously helped me with previous challenges with the VA. I still do not know who that person is, or was. But I know that somebody out there in the vastness of the internet picked up a phone and advised somebody at Lake Nona to take care of me. 

To that anonymous angel, I again render my thanks. I know that you are no mere figment of my imagination. Too many synchronicities occur. I do not believe in coincidence. 

And yes, I thank President Trump, whose gatekeepers deep-six every letter that I ever send to him, I thank him for following through and setting up the VA White House Hotline. 

It just works. We desperately need a way, any way, to contend with the VA, which is tied with the IRS for most frustrating and incompetent government agency in the federal constellation. 

Some 22 veterans a day kill themselves. Each is an individual, as the Hindu put it, a universe, irreplaceable, a sudden black hole in the human continuity, but there is no doubt in my mind that frustrations with the VA are implicated in most of them. 

I understand that frustration. Before you eat your gun, call the VA White House Hotline and talk to an agent there. 

I will leave this at that.