31 January 2008

Why 121?

I blogged earlier about 121 murders by veterans, now it seems to be 121 suicides.

What is it about 11 squared? It seems 121 is a magic number when it comes to reporting Soldiers and killing.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a jump of more than 20 percent over the year before, officials said Thursday.

That's the headline from cnn.com

What they try to convey is that suicides are UP BY 20% OMFG WTF?!?!?!

But when you are dealing with rare events, even small jumps have big percentage points. This is the type of fluctuation that we see even in peacetime. This is not news.

So why does it get it's own article? Well because not only does the NYT want you to believe that serving in the military will make you a crazed murderer, but they want you to think that maybe the victim will be you!

It's fucking disgraceful.

Berkeley

The City Council has voted to tell the Marines their downtown recruiting station is not welcome and "if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome guests."

The measure passed this week by a vote of 8-1.

The council also voted to explore enforcing a city anti-discrimination law, focusing on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

In a separate item, the council voted, also 8-1, to give protest group Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting office once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week.

The military has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy because that is what our elected leadership gave us. Most of us really don't give a rats ass which way you swing as long as you can shoot straight. Pun intended.

You know the Marine Corps just might have a legitimate case to sue Berkeley for harassment. Or maybe the Federal government should stop all funding to the Liberal City altogether.

I hope that karma kicks codepink in their collective pink parts.







29 January 2008

Veterans with disabilities

A "Tiger Team" found that Ft. Drum produced more "disabled vets" than other posts, traced the reason behind this to Veterans Affairs employees who helped soldiers leaving the service with their paperwork.

Instead of praising the practice, the "Tiger Team" asked the VA to cease and desist.

So far the Army hasn't issued a reason behind the decision.

You know it seems to me like a dumb move for an Army with a recruiting shortage.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18492376

27 January 2008

Rangers in trouble, again

The Ranger Training Brigade runs the US Army Ranger School. Three camps, Camp Rogers at Ft. Benning, Camp Frank D. Merrill outside Dahlonega, GA, and Camp Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The Ranger Training Brigade is not to be confused with the 75th Ranger Regiment. The 75th Regimental headquarters are located at Ft. Benning, as well as the Special Troops Battalion, and 3rd Battalion. 1st Battalion 75th is located at Hunter Army Air Field near Savanna GA. 2nd Battalion is up in balmy Ft. Lewis, Washington.

The "Rangers" that are in trouble for stealing money and cocaine from drug dealers are from the 5th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Frank Merrill. All of their ages hover around the 30 year mark, which means they are all old enough to know better.

This is different from the Rangers at Ft. Lewis who robbed a Bank of America back in 2006.

These guys from RTB shouldn't have gotten caught. From what I can gather from the CNN article it sounds like the ATF was tipped off.

The investigation began in November, when the ATF "became aware" that some soldiers were interested in robbing drug dealers of their cocaine, Turner says.

He posed as a disaffected security guard for the drug traffickers who wanted to "rip them off." The first try to set up the "robbery" failed, but a second attempt earlier this month succeeded, leading to the arrests at the storage facility and, a day later, the Ranger camp.

A subsequent search found that Lopez, White and Champagne were carrying semiautomatic pistols and had an AR-15 assault rifle and a field pouch with 15 magazines of ammunition for it in their vehicle. Agents also found a ski mask, binoculars and a Taser among the items the men brought with them.

I expected the Rangers at Ft. Lewis to get caught, they were young and made youthful mistakes such as using their own vehicle, a vehicle with Colorado plates guaranteed to arouse suspicion.

Cnn shows it's own bias when it calls an AR-15 an "assault rifle". An "assault rifle" is a select fire weapon, and an AR-15 is not a select fire weapon. But how could we scare the public about rifles unless we give them scary names?

Personally I hope that this is simply a case of somebody tipping off the Feds, and not a case of the Feds keeping a close eye on military units. I don't really care if a coke dealer gets robbed, or even killed for that matter. I do care when men trained in snatch and grab operations get caught, if they can get caught by us then they can get caught when they are really on the job.

26 January 2008

Peace at any cost, and why it isn't worth that much.

Priceless is a word we use to describe unique things, one of a kind artifacts and relics.

Now "peace at any cost" is a nice statement, and one that I actually believe in. However when anti-war protesters say "peace at any cost" what they really mean is "peace at any cost but war".

When I say "peace at any cost" it means that I'm willing to lead young men to their deaths in a faraway place. When they say "peace at any cost" they mean "if we leave them alone they'll leave us alone".

People have sacrificed their lives for freedom. People on both sides of political issues have fought tooth and nail to set up their ideal form of government, and in modern times these were often the proxy wars of the cold war. Notice I wrote "freedom" not "peace".

Fighting for peace is like having sex for abstinence. Fighting for freedom however is a natural act. Ever watch a picked on kid fight back to the bully? The kid isn't fighting to beat up the bully, he's fighting for freedom from the bully, being left alone, the "peace", is only the dividend of the freedom.

Freedom and peace go hand in hand. Which is why liberal protesters also say "I don't need a soldier to die for my freedom, I'm already free!" which has made its rounds from SanFran to wannabes hippies everywhere.

The truth is that the freedom we all have was bought with the lives of those who sacrificed and ensured by the continuing service of those who put on the uniform. Force and capacity for force keep the riffraff in check, mostly. When capacity for force fails to keep the peace, then those who are willing to kill and die step forward to fight.

The cost for peace is the cost of freedom. The price of keeping freedom is eternal vigilance, and the price of gaining freedom is bloodshed. There are no peaceful revolutions.

23 January 2008

Gilmore Girls

Stories tell us something about the storyteller. Inevitably stories are about relationships. Between the hero and the villain, or between a cast of characters bound together by the most tenuous of threads.

I love stories with good dialog, Douglas Adams and Joss Whedon are probably my favorite sources of good witty (and sometimes silly) banter.

Gilmore Girls has all the witty banter of "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" without the super powers or saving the world. Instead of those cool martial arts scenes they have tense drama about, relationships.

Sometimes I miss the cool martial arts scenes. But hot women and witty banter are best two out of three.

22 January 2008

Why liberals want to fear "psycho" veterans.

Liberals want proof that military service breaks people, turning normal healthy individuals to angry brooding killers ready to snap at the drop of a hat.

They believe that violence is always evil and solves nothing. It isn't logical, but logic isn't a liberal trait.

A mother using her gun to shoot the man trying to rape her daughter is using righteous violence. A soldier using his rifle to shoot the guy pointing the RPG at market shoppers is using righteous violence. A surgeon using a sharp knife to cut out a tumor is using righteous violence.

Not all doctors stay doctors, the stress of the job drives a significant number away. Also doctors can be murderers too, google "Dr. Harold Shipman" sometime.

Then again doctors kill more people every year than "psycho" veterans do. Of course the only Hollywood example of a psycho doctor that I can think of is Hannibal Lecter. You'll never drink chianti the same way again...

But there is a difference between Hannibal Lecter and the psycho veterans. Lecter's backstory is one of abuse that somehow twisted him into a cannibal. The backstory for "Taxi Driver" was simply that he was a vietnam vet. It couldn't be that the life experience he had before going to Vietnam had more to do with his behavior than a one year stint in country.

War brings out the extremes in people. The good and the bad. But that good and bad existed in those people long before they ever went to combat. That is a fact that Libs don't want to acknowledge.

20 January 2008

121 Veterans involved in death.

The New York Times is a liberal rag hardly fit to hold fish.

But like most liberal mouthpieces the NYTimes has an ax to grind against the military. Some sort of obsession to prove that military service twists good little boys into psychotic killers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/us/13vets.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

This showed an 89 percent increase during the present wartime period, to 349 cases from 184, about three-quarters of which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The increase occurred even though there have been fewer troops stationed in the United States in the last six years and the American homicide rate has been, on average, lower.

Let's do some math 349-184=165. Is this such a statistically significant number that it deserves nine full web pages? And where does the magical 121 cases of homicide actually come from? Instead of focusing on cases of actual premeditated murder, the authors with the go ahead from their editors, included drunk driving deaths as well to swell their numbers.

But these killings provide a kind of echo sounding for the profound depths to which some veterans have fallen, whether at the bottom of a downward spiral or in a sudden burst of violence.

Of course they provide a "kind of echo", only because they have no significant proof that serving in the military makes you wacko. And since we can't find positive proof in fine Liberal Tradition lets bring on the anecdotal evidence.

“He came back different” is the shared refrain of the defendants’ family members, who mention irritability, detachment, volatility, sleeplessness, excessive drinking or drug use, and keeping a gun at hand.

Everybody comes back different. Maybe the Times didn't want to spend the time tracking down success stories of the vast majority of returning veterans.

Decades of studies on the problems of Vietnam veterans have established links between combat trauma and higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, gun ownership, child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse — and criminality. On a less scientific level, such links have long been known.

Studying the conscripts of Vietnam, people usually from so low a social station that they couldn't avoid the draft, has exactly what to do with todays all volunteer force? If we break it down by income, education level, IQ, family support, and race we would probably see much more useful trends. And linking "gun ownership" to "combat trauma" is an underhanded tactic designed to scare you the reader into thinking that gun owners are inherently unstable and dangerous individuals. Maybe comparing the rate of gun ownership among combat vets with non-combat vets would be more useful than comparing gun ownership of combat vets with the regular population which has been largely disarmed in California, Chicago, Washington DC, Massachusetts, etc.

Oh yeah that "a less scientific level" is called "prejudice". I guess as a gun owning vet I'm one of those uppity gun niggers.

Liberals fear soldiers because we are trained in violence. Liberals truly believe that "violence doesn't solve anything" which is demonstrably false. Liberals also fear gun owners because they have the capacity for violence. An out of control veteran (or servicemember) is one of Hollywood's standby villains, from classics like "Taxi Driver" to B grade crap like "Goodbye America".

I don't pretend to be a good man. A few generations ago eugenics was used to justify everything from Jim Crow laws to "The Final Solution". I really feel that men and women just like me are being targeted to become second class citizens if the Liberal elite get their way. We don't need to be taken away from the good folk of common society. We don't want your pity. We want the same respect that is expected in polite society.

19 January 2008

Laptops

Every once in a while you meet someone who thinks that "only idiots join the military because they have no other options".

For the bulk of my career I spent it working on and with communications gear. From phones to WAN's and everything that goes into making data flow, I did it.

So lo and behold the Best Buy clerk told me that Brand X of laptop doesn't do well in the desert, because he sees a lot of them coming back. So I asked him what made Brand Y superior, and his answer was "airflow".

Now I've dealt with overheating before. But what mister minimum wage didn't know is that laptop overheating isn't much of an issue since processors and motherboards generally work to shut down before they fry themselves like a broken egg on a Baghdad sidewalk.

Maybe if I knew nothing about computers I would have bought his recommendation. As a general rule AMD machines run hotter than Intel machines. I bought an AMD, but I bought a "budget" processor that doesn't pull the power the way a performance processor would. Also laptop designers have had several hardware generations to fix cooling issues since the last time I bought a laptop.

Maybe my experience taking this laptop to the big sandbox will change my mind, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

18 January 2008

The Best Army We Can Buy


By DAVID M. KENNEDY

Published: July 25, 2005

THE United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits - a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify.

We sign up for the benefits, I did. We don't normally stay for the benefits, we stay for something else. Whether that is job satisfaction or pure patriotism or some other reason it is a different reason for each soldier.

Neither the idealism nor the patriotism of those who serve is in question here. Oh yes it is, you insult us by calling us mercenaries. The profession of arms is a noble calling, and there is no shame in wage labor. But you wouldn't know anything about wage labor, would you? But the fact remains that the United States today has a military force that is extraordinarily lean and lethal, even while it is increasingly separated from the civil society on whose behalf it fights. We are seperated because you don't want to associate with the "hired help" you snobby bastard This is worrisome - for reasons that go well beyond unmet recruiting targets.

One troubling aspect is obvious. By some reckonings, the Pentagon's budget is greater than the military expenditures of all other nations combined. It buys an arsenal of precision weapons for highly trained troops who can lay down a coercive footprint in the world larger and more intimidating than anything history has known. Our leaders tell us that our armed forces seek only just goals, and at the end of the day will be understood as exerting a benign influence. Yet that perspective may not come so easily to those on the receiving end of that supposedly beneficent violence.

We serve the republic, the republic elects it's leaders through the democratic process. If you don't like what we do, take it up with those that you elected. The goal of the Armed Forces is given to us by those same democratically elected leaders. We accomplish those goals to the best of our ability.

But the modern military's disjunction from American society is even more disturbing. Since the time of the ancient Greeks through the American Revolutionary War and well into the 20th century, the obligation to bear arms and the privileges of citizenship have been intimately linked. It was for the sake of that link between service and a full place in society that the founders were so invested in militias and so worried about standing armies, which Samuel Adams warned were "always dangerous to the liberties of the people."

The "disjunction" exists mainly in his own mind. Right now the US Army is more diverse and better educated than any other point in history. I find it ironic that those who hate the military usually hate private firearms ownership guaranteed by the second amendment which is a requirement for a militia. You can't have it both ways, either "We don't need the second amendment because we have the Army (or National Guard)" cancels out "We can't trust the Army because it is a threat to liberties". This is why I really appreciate the legal gun owners of the US. 80 million firearms in private hands is quite a deterrent from any oppression by those of us (who also happen to be citizens or in the application process for citizenship) in uniform.

Many African-Americans understood that link in the Civil War, and again in World Wars I and II, when they clamored for combat roles, which they saw as stepping stones to equal rights. From Aristotle's Athens to Machiavelli's Florence to Thomas Jefferson's Virginia and Robert Gould Shaw's Boston and beyond, the tradition of the citizen-soldier has served the indispensable purposes of sustaining civic engagement, protecting individual liberty - and guaranteeing political accountability.

That tradition has now been all but abandoned. A comparison with a prior generation's war illuminates the point. In World War II, the United States put some 16 million men and women into uniform. What's more, it mobilized the economic, social and psychological resources of the society down to the last factory, rail car, classroom and victory garden. World War II was a "total war." Waging it compelled the participation of all citizens and an enormous commitment of society's energies.

But thanks to something that policymakers and academic experts grandly call the "revolution in military affairs," which has wedded the newest electronic and information technologies to the destructive purposes of the second-oldest profession, we now have an active-duty military establishment that is, proportionate to population, about 4 percent of the size of the force that won World War II. And today's military budget is about 4 percent of gross domestic product, as opposed to nearly 40 percent during World War II.

The implications are deeply unsettling: history's most potent military force can now be put into the field by a society that scarcely breaks a sweat when it does so. We can now wage war while putting at risk very few of our sons and daughters, none of whom is obliged to serve. Modern warfare lays no significant burdens on the larger body of citizens in whose name war is being waged.

This is a stupid argument, "deeply unsettling" can be used to describe every aspect of progress, from automobiles to computers to military technology. Fear is not an enabling emotion, fear is a disabler, and fearing progress is stupid.

This is not a healthy situation. It is, among other things, a standing invitation to the kind of military adventurism that the founders correctly feared was the greatest danger of standing armies - a danger made manifest in their day by the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Jefferson described as having "transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm."

If military adventurism is to be avoided then the responsibility lies with the Executive and Legislative branches of government (Hillary said "I was against the Iraq War from the start", even though the voting record clearly shows she voted yes) duly elected by the democratic process. If we elect idiots it's our own fault.

Some will find it offensive to call today's armed forces a "mercenary army," but our troops are emphatically not the kind of citizen-soldiers that we fielded two generations ago - drawn from all ranks of society without respect to background or privilege or education, and mobilized on such a scale that civilian society's deep and durable consent to the resort to arms was absolutely necessary.

You know this guy is so wrong on this issue that it isn't even funny. We have more blacks, hispanics, and asians serving alongside the cornfed whiteboys like myself. Oh yeah, we let in girls too. Did I mention that we aren't populated by criminals because congress passed recruiting standards laws? Did I mention the high school diploma/GED requirement? Did I mention that many of our NCO's have college degrees or are working towards one?

Leaving questions of equity aside, it cannot be wise for a democracy to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability. It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking military solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy.

This type of thinking, that diplomacy can solve all problems is well, stupid. For a professor of history he should know intimately that carrots only work if you also have a stick. Diplomacy offers carrots, military might offers a thrashing. Diplomacy won't work all the time, in fact it seldom produces lasting results.

The life of a robust democratic society should be strenuous; it should make demands on its citizens when they are asked to engage with issues of life and death. The "revolution in military affairs" has made obsolete the kind of huge army that fought World War II, but a universal duty to service - perhaps in the form of a lottery, or of compulsory national service with military duty as one option among several - would at least ensure that the civilian and military sectors do not become dangerously separate spheres. War is too important to be left either to the generals or the politicians. It must be the people's business

So this ivory tower asshat thinks that bringing back the draft would make people more involved. Well the draft is illegal, has been since the 70's. We have an all volunteer force, and the American public is as involved as they want to be. Talk to Cindy Sheehan sometime. Or talk to those involved in Operation Cookie Drop. Or talk to Vern Harrison, a patriot whose generous donations in time and training help keep soldiers alive. Methinks that this asshat wants the draft so that the mass protests against the war ala Vietnam come back. What a dick.

David M. Kennedy, a professor of history at Stanford and the author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning "Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945," is working on a book about the American national character.


The original article, copyrighted, can be found here http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/25/opinion/25kennedy.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

This is one of the articles that contributed to my blog title, others may follow at random intervals.

Assault Weapons Ban, what it did and didn't do

The AWB didn't take "assault rifles" off the streets simply because there weren't any assault rifles on the streets.

An assault rifle is a select fire weapon. This means it has options for semi-auto which is one shot to the pull of the trigger, and multiple shots either as some form of "burst" or fully automatic.

Any form of automatic weapons has been so prohibitively expensive in the US that you don't find them on the streets. Last year there were 69 police officer deaths, only one death was due to a rifle that looked like an "assault weapon". Notice I said "looks like" because it wasn't a select fire weapon.

But if we take a step back from reality and catch a glimpse into Hillaryland we can see that "assault weapons" are the scourge of mankind. "I would also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We now have, once again, police deaths going up around the country, and in large measure because bad guys now have assault weapons again. We stopped it for awhile. Now they’re back on the streets." Hillary Clinton, presidential debate.

Yup, one death is "police deaths going up". Evidently Hill didn't study much math in college.

What the assault weapons ban did was cause manufacturers of AR-15's and AKM's is to sell their goods sans flash suppressors and bayonet lugs. Cosmetic features that nothing to do with the business of sending lead downrange. I just might have some sort of experience using an M16, maybe you could trust my opinion when I say that if you took the compensator and bayonet lug off of every m4/m16 in the US government arsenal it WOULDN'T CHANGE HOW WE OPERATE ONE IOTA.

The bayonet lug is there for when we run out of ammunition and the enemy runs out of ammunition and we still want to kill each other. Not a whole lot of bayonet fights in war. Not a whole lot of drive by bayoneting going on either.

The flash hider, isn't designed to stop viewers from seeing the muzzle flash. It is designed to keep the muzzle flash from blinding the guy pulling the trigger in low light. I guess in Liberal Logic somehow flash hiders and bayonet lugs turn a "sporting rifle" into an "assault weapon".

It is complete BS. The Dems want to confiscate your guns, for your own protection of course. Anyone who says differently had better explain the firearm confiscations in NOLA after Katrina.
And before anyone tells me I'm a heartless meanie and that it's really "for the children" let me make this perfectly clear. Our children will have a better future by being free citizens with access to firearms, not being disarmed serfs.

Mexico to get access to non-existant gun database

Gun registration leads to gun confiscation. It happened in Germany, Cuba, China, and New Orleans.

One of the limits to our government's ability to set up a gun registration database is that the BATFE must purge their records after 90 days.

However there is no such limit on the United States of Mexico.

Just like it is illegal for the CIA to monitor the email traffic of US citizens from US soil, it is perfectly acceptable to monitor those same emails from a foreign country, say Australia.

Now if the "temporary" ATF firearm purchase records are "shared" with Mexico it would allow a permanent database to be built and stored on Mexican soil. This data would then be "shared" back to the US to help out the gun confiscation efforts as needed.

Database sharing
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7193487.stm

Gun confiscations in NOLA
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/08/national/nationalspecial/08cnd-storm.html

You can Google your own sources for Nazi/Communist gun control policies.

17 January 2008

Why "AmericanMercenary"

Over the years people have said nasty things about my chosen profession. "Brainwashed Baby Killer" has an alliterative ring to it but does not convey quite the same disdain as the accusation that I am a "mercenary".

A mercenary is someone who fights for a paycheck. Some have more scruples than others, but no matter how evil dictator/regime is there will always be "mercenaries" who will take the job. Morality is a sticky subject, how can you pass judgment on a former Russian Special Forces commando who really needs to make a buck?

Kinda like I can't condemn an uneducated woman in a third world country from resorting to prostitution to earn income. When your options are limited choices become easier.

Soldiers the world over fight for various reasons. Some are patriots, others are conscripts, some are pure mercenaries.

I wouldn't do what I do if I didn't get a steady paycheck. But I wouldn't do what I do for any other country than my native land. So that makes me an American Mercenary.

As much loathing and disdain as others have heaped on my choice, it is my choice and I'm ok with it.