The left falls for the phony soldier gambit every time, as long as the impostor tells them the kind of stories they want to hear, usually amalgams of anti-military urban legends, doctrinaire leftism, and just enough jaded anti-Americanism to make his story an indictment of our country. As long as they tell the left what they want to hear, any con artist can pretend to be a war hero no matter how obvious it is the person is lying. Rick Strandlof a.k.a Rick Duncan is just one in a long string of liars and con artists the left has willingly aligned themselves with when it served their agenda:
From The Denver Post:
A tattoo of an angel illustrates his right leg. A devil decorates his left.
But a trail of deceit has stamped Richard Glen Strandlof with another indelible mark: fake military hero who misled veterans, politicians and voters. Many had bought into the story of Rick Duncan, the wounded soldier rallying opposition to the Iraq war and support for struggling vets.
Like the contradictory body art, Strandlof’s story winds between malicious deception and actual good works. And it muddies the issue of whether his offense was simply that he fooled the people he purported to champion or that he broke the law.
He awaits arraignment in the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center in Colorado Springs on a misdemeanor traffic charge after his
arrest May 12. And while the FBI is investigating possible fraud, no charges have been filed.
Strandlof, 32, spared no detail in his alleged resume: Annapolis graduate. Marine captain. Survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon. Wounded three-tour veteran of the Iraq war. An American hero who, in his next act, would stand up for his band of military brothers on whatever stage was set before him â€” from the Capitol steps in Denver to the campaign stump.
He backed mostly Democratic candidates sympathetic to his anti-war views in the run-up to the 2008 election. Beyond politics, he worked on behalf of homeless veterans in Colorado Springs, an effort that earned him widespread respect.
Indeed. Don’t they all. Here’s a campaign commercial Rick Duncan did for retired Lt. Col Hal Bidlack, a twenty-five year veteran who should have seen through this charade. Conveniently for the Democrat he didn’t when he could use an openly gay combat veteran who shared his policy views:
This amuses me because Bidlack, aside from his unsuccessful congress bid and lackluster service in the Clinton administration is best known as a proponent of rational skepticism. I guess his logic skills failed him on this one.
But back to the story:
Army Spec. Garett Reppenhagen met the man he knew as Duncan at a veterans gathering two years ago in Colorado Springs. He remembers him as “spastic, a lot of energy, all over the place, an excitable person.”
That night, Duncan related how he’d been wounded by an improvised explosive device during his second tour in Iraq. He told others how the explosion had caused a severe brain injury â€” a circumstance that seemed to explain his twitchy mannerisms and sometimes erratic behavior.
Another more likely explanation is drug use. It would also explain why he needed to create elaborate cons to make money and more importantly this little scene captured on video of “Duncan” using his influence and alliances to get local cops to stop searching the homeless people for drugs:
Hmm. A “twitchy” guy with “erratic” behavior not wanting to have the homeless people he works with everyday searched for drugs. Go figure.
He advanced his anti-war politics by connecting with like-minded candidates.
He even launched his own organization, the Colorado Veterans Alliance, which he said represented 32,000 veterans on a massive mailing list â€” though the only visible members seemed to be a cadre of local vets.
Which of course no Democrat questioned because it worked for their agenda.
The well-told combat tale, delivered by an accomplished liar, has become almost cliche. It has been known to yield any number of perks: a job, a date, a fundraising boost, a political leg up â€” even a free parking place via Purple Heart license plates. It can conceal character defects or even criminal histories.
“It’s a great way to deflect criticism â€” ‘I was a war hero for my country. How can you not like me?’ ” explained Loren Pankratz, a professor of clinical psychology at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, who testifies in court cases involving military imposters or veterans who inflate their records.
Still, in that pantheon of anti-heroes, Strandlof isn’t even exceptional.
“There are many, many worse cases than this,” said Doug Sterner, the Colorado Springs man who has cataloged hundreds of military fakes on his Home of Heroes website. “These imposters are all over the place. But when I look at Strandlof’s case, I am thankful to him because he put this problem under the spotlight.”
And therein is the problem. Too many people fall for bogus stories because too many people in our country have no life experience. I’m not saying people need to join the military, but people need to stop reading DailyKos and start getting outside. By the time I was in my mid-20s I could spot a liar, and a drug addict or mentally ill person stands out to me like a sore thumb. Why? Because I don’t sit at home TIVOing Keith Olbermann or forwarding emails from MoveOn.org. I went outside and met people, including liars and drug users. Guess what? They’re all basically the same. Meet one and you’ll be able to see that person in every subsequent con artist you meet.
Americans in general, but liberals and libertarians in particular, cocoon themselves in layer upon layer of soft velvety lies designed to help them understand a world they won’t bother to become a part of. Unaware of reality they make up their own that conforms to their personal shallowness, bigotry, and self-interests. Some people call them children of post-modernism. I call them marks.
The Denver Post report shows that many of his former colleagues are still claiming he’s done some good work (including raising a boatload of money under false pretenses which no one is sure what happened to) and this Boston Edge piece paints him as a tragic hero as opposed to a bold carny who just took hundreds of people for a trip through the magical money magnet machine.
Of course now that the F.B.I. has arrested him maybe opinions of him are changing:
SAN DIEGO â€” A 32-year-old man accused of violating federal law by masquerading as a decorated Marine combat veteran from the Iraq war was arrested in San Diego Friday.
Richard Strandlof, who used the name Rick Duncan, is charged in Colorado with violating the federal Stolen Valor Act. He was taken to the federal lockup in San Diego and faces an extradition hearing Tuesday.
For more than a year, Strandlof passed himself off as a Marine officer who received a Silver Star for bravery at the battle of Fallujah in 2004, according to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in Denver.
He allegedly told reporters and veterans in Colorado that he was a Naval Academy graduate, had deployed three times to Iraq, and was wounded by a roadside bomb and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to an FBI affidavit. He also claimed to have been awarded a Purple Heart.
If convicted, Strandlof could face a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Congress in 2005 passed the Stolen Valor Act after complaints from veterans about phonies masquerading as heroes and tarnishing the reputation of true heroes.
His fakery began to unravel when veterans noted that on official documents for the group he formed, his name was listed as Strandlof, not Duncan, according to the criminal charge filed by federal prosecutors. When he showed up at a veterans gathering without the medals he had allegedly received, suspicions deepened, and the FBI began an investigation.
Strandlof is a suspect in a fraud scheme involving a grand prix race in Nevada and was once convicted of car theft in that state.
After the charge against him was filed last week, FBI agents found that he had fled to San Diego. He was arrested without incident.
I wonder what the marks will say now?