November 11, 2009

It's never been more important to remember those who served

Prior to 1954, what we now call Veterans Day was called Armistice Day to commemorate the end of the Great War on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

I mention this only because this day of remembrance was dedicated to the end of one horrible war, not the others in which Americans fought. In fact, Armistice Day wasn't even a federal holiday until 1938, just as it became clear that another great war was on the horizon. It's important to know because there will always be Veterans. There will always be those who serve and honor themselves, and this nation, with their service. And, as we all know too well, there will always be conflicts in which our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and friends are fighting.

Remember them all. Say a prayer for those who've lost loved ones as a result of service. And click here to support something very worthwhile.

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July 21, 2009

Putting another face on DADT

Go read this and tell me that there's a reason for DADT.

As he looks back on his career in a volunteer force that is largely composed of men and women who are married, a philosophical Alva knows its risks and sees dysfunction amid the high stress of war. Spouses and kids have seen their loved ones deploy for Iraq and Afghanistan again and again, but they enjoy the cushion of a fine-tuned support system.

Service to the nation is full of difficulties for gay troops as well, but their partners and children are largely unseen. They have no right to join support networks like family readiness groups, or to receive counseling and medical care. Some don't show up for ceremonies as partners deploy and return from war for fear of jeopardizing their careers.

“When all the buses are lined up to take all the soldiers, Marines or whatever, to get on the planes, you have all your family members there,” he said. “Same-sex partners aren't even going to the tarmac or the staging area to say goodbye because of that fear.”

There's no doubt in his mind that some of the thousands of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan were gay.

What Alva finds perhaps most galling and unjust is the lack of support that gays have when their partner has died for their country.

“Some of them actually had partners back home who were of same-sex relationships, and hopefully they were in contact with that other person's family, because who was going to call and give them the knock on the door and say, ‘By the way, your loved one has died'? No one.”

Lives unseen, unheard

Facing the truth

Back to war

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July 18, 2009

I do not think this means what you think it means...

Ditto, Pam. Of all the ridiculous excuses that have been made for not ending DADT, this one takes the cake. We can't let LGBT Americans serve because some of the Straight Americans they'll be serving with might just go whack and kill them?

That's the kind of logic that makes sense only after huffing paint. As anyone opposed to killing DADT would probably know.

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May 05, 2009

Guess what... things aren't going well in Pakistan

Looks like our friends the Taliban (who were supposed to be all dead by now but, in a weird twist, aren't) are pretty close to realizing their dream of taking over a second country.

Oh, and the one about having nukes, too.

Initially, Buner was a hard place for the Taliban to crack. When they attacked a police station in the valley district last year, the resistance was fearless. Local people picked up rifles, pistols and daggers, hunted down the militants and killed six of them.

But it was not to last. In short order this past week the Taliban captured Buner, a strategically vital district just 60 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad. The militants flooded in by the hundreds, startling Pakistani and American officials with the speed of their advance.

The lesson of Buner, local politicians and residents say, is that the dynamic of the Taliban insurgency, as methodical and slow-building as it has been, can change suddenly, and the tactics used by the Taliban can be replicated elsewhere.

The Taliban took over Buner through both force and guile — awakening sleeping sympathizers, leveraging political allies, pretending at peace talks and then crushing what was left of their opponents, according to the politicians and the residents interviewed.

Though some of the militants have since pulled back, they still command the high points of Buner and have fanned out to districts even closer to the capital.

That Buner fell should be no surprise, local people say. Last fall, the inspector general of police in North-West Frontier Province, Malik Naveed Khan, complained that his officers were being attacked and killed by the hundreds.

Mr. Khan was so desperate — and had been so thoroughly abandoned by the military and the government — that he was relying on citizen posses like the one that stood up to the Taliban last August.

Today, the hopes that those civilian militias inspired are gone, brushed away by the realization that Pakistanis can do little to stem the Taliban advance if their government and military will not help them.

The people of Buner got nothing for their bravery. In December, the Taliban retaliated for the brazenness of the resistance in the district, sending a suicide bomber to disrupt voting during a by-election. More than 30 people were killed and scores were wounded.

Of course, it gets worse. The T have people inside the government and who knows how many in the military. Considering the weakness of Pakistani command and control, it's only a matter of time until they are in control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Of course, I don't want to alarm you and keep you from being overconcerned about swine flu.

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March 02, 2009

For troops, a good start

Last week I posted this about an Army charity that's not so charitable. In that post, I wondered what was being done by government to help troops and vets and why wasn't more being done?
This'll help but it's still not enough...

The program does not cover all military members facing a loss because of a home sale.

In an attempt to limit the number of claims, the program applies only to a service member's primary residence, and only to homes purchased before July 1, 2006, roughly the time the market began its free-fall. The Army Corps of Engineers said it has not determined what proportion of families will be eligible.

This was the 'fiscally responsible' compromise our centrists wanted in the stimulus bill which establishes this program. Thanks to Joe Lieberman, Olympia Snowe, etc, some of our active duty servicemembers are going to get screwed.

What really pisses me off about this is that it's not unusual in the private sector for a company to relocate an employee and pay those expenses, including buying the current residence. DoD doesn't do that. This is really awful in light of the fact that having a foreclosure or other derogatory credit event can prevent you from being promoted in the military. Which means some of the best and brightest might be replaced by some clueless moron with good credit.

Sleep well.

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February 25, 2009

Luke 16:2

And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

It appears that a semi-private charity that's supposed to give aid to active duty military personnel and veterans is really not giving much at all.

From 2003 to 2007 — while military families dealt with long deployments and more home foreclosures — Army Emergency Relief grew into a $345 million behemoth. During those years, the charity put $117 million into its reserves while spending only $64 million on direct aid, according to an AP analysis of its tax records.

Tax exempt and legally separate from the military, Army Emergency Relief projects a facade of independence but actually operates under close Army control. The AP investigation found that the massive nonprofit organization — funded predominantly by troops — allows superiors to squeeze soldiers for contributions; forces struggling soldiers to repay loans, sometimes delaying transfers and promotions; and has violated its own rules by rewarding donors with such things as free passes from physical training.

In case you were wondering, it's typical for a charity to to keep up to three years of spending in reserve to deal with tough economic conditions. The AER has 12. Not surprisingly, veteran's groups are very upset.

Now, while it's shameful that this fund is being so stingy, it's even more shameful that our soldiers and veterans are having to ask for help. Where are the laws requiring forbearance of debts? Where is the easy and fast financial aid to soldiers returning to civilian life?

Now that the Republicans are out of power, can we finally do something to help these folks other than giving them bad body armor?

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November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day


Take a moment to thank a Veteran for their service and remember those who gave their lives in service to their Country.

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July 02, 2008

Work to stop fraud, get fired by DoD

This is, I would assume, largely the fault of the political appointees at DoD, not the career military personnel. At least I hope so. If it's not, then we're in deep trouble.

Mr. Smith, a career civilian employee, did his duty: He confronted KBR and warned that unless they supplied credible justification, he would levy penalties of 15 percent on future work payments while also, needless to say, blocking any performance bonuses for the company.

Whoops. Mr. Smith was replaced suddenly by the brass in overseeing the contract and the Pentagon took the unusual step of second-guessing its own auditors by hiring an outside contractor to reconsider the claims from KBR. Such is the clout of the Texas-based company and largest Pentagon contractor in Iraq, once part of the Halliburton conglomerate so dear to the heart and wallet of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Sure enough, KBR’s claims were soon unblocked. The contract Goliath got performance bonuses, too.

It's going to take an act of Congress to put KBR and it's professional employees on the EPLS. Where they belong. So, what's holding you up, Pelosi?

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March 19, 2008

Don't ask, the policy smells

It appears that the majority of military leaders support Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Persue. The policy has been widely derided as a compromise that delayed full equality for LGBT service members. Without arguing that, it has allowed some members of the LGBT to serve as they wished, even if they couldn't be open about themselves.

What's interesting is not that the majority now supports this policy, it's that a full 22% support repeal and allowing openly LGBT citizens to serve. That's a substantial change from 10 years ago.

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December 28, 2007

Kill Them All

The asassination of Benazir Bhutto neatly points out just how miserably Connecticut native and President George W. Bush has failed in the war on terror. Word has just now crossed Bloomberg that a Taliban leader with links to al Qaida is responsible for the death of Bhutto yesterday.

Now, my question is, why are these people still alive? Because, Bush got focused on invadin' Iraq and got distracted from his real job, killing extremists. Which brings up an important side note, one we'll address later... the US never formally declared war because there is no state we're fighting. It's a collection of individuals. One has to wonder about the Administration's claims invoking the Constitutional war powers of the Presidency. We'll come back to that another time. Now, I just want to know why these people aren't dead.

We've asked that question every time Bin Laden pops up with another of his dumbass videos or tapes. We've asked it when there is news out about how swimmingly everything is going in Afghanistan. Now, we're asking it again.

WHY HAS BUSH NOT KILLED ALL THESE PEOPLE??!?!? The only way you can deal with an extremist is to kill him. So where are the roving teams of assassins? Why are we hellbent on invading countries?

There are two ways to win the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kill all the troublemakers they can't bring themselves to kill (because of fear or religious beliefs) and dump money into rebuilding the countries.

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November 21, 2007

Anatomy of failure

Q. What happens when you combine:

1) The unrealistic expectations of the National Reconnaissance Office in setting requirements for a new spy satellite system.
2) Competitive bidding
3) No oversight over the winning bidder, in fact, you let them write reports telling you how things are going
4) Congress sets a budget without adequately determining what the new system would realistically cost
5) Few or no people with advanced systems engineering experience?

A. You get the disaster known as the Future Imagery Architecture .

Oh, and there's blame to go around for this one... Democrats and Republicans.

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November 13, 2007

Dregs : Some things you missed

  • Bush refused to allow a Marine Corps lawyer to testify on waterboarding.
  • Speaking of waterboarding, the Senate voted to confirm 'Let's-Take-A-Bath' Mukasey as our new Attorney General! Frank Rich wrote a brill piece on why this was not such a good idea for our esteemed sellouts, Senators Schumer and Feinstein. Just as a reminder, give money to Senate candidates. Don't bother giving to the DSCC because Schumer will waste it on losers. Like himself and Feinstein.
  • Ahead of still more protests in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto is once again under arrest. By order of our good friend and ally in the war on terror, General Musharraf (the same one Frank Rich also said some things about in the piece I linked above),
  • The really big winner from last Tuesday's election? No, it's not our good friends at Zachry Construction, it's none other than T. Boone Picken's who created his own water district so he could use tax payer subsidized funding to transfer water from the depleted panhandle wells to Dallas/Fort Worth. You're the suck, Boone.No, really, you are. I know suck and you, my friend, are defintely the SUCK.
  • ELLN has a good post up about the IEA's conversion to environmental concerns, not to mention their questions about the feasibility of making the investments necessary to continue running the world off fossil fuels. Their estimate? It'll cost $22 trillion, or far more than it'll cost to convert the planet to biofuels.
  • Texas Monthly calls for the impeachment of Sharon Keller
  • Oh, there's more...

  • Dungeon Diary has a post up about a whistleblower at AT&T who's coming clean about the Administration's illegal wiretapping.
  • Jenny Hoff over at KXAN is doing an interesting series on her trip to Afghanistan
  • Once again, Texas ranks #1 in the nation for the most expensive home owner's insurance. And that's after all the tort reform 'savings'. You can thank the Republicans for that. I suggest you do it when you go to vote next year.
  • Congrats to the D's in Congress who voted for the Tax Relief Act... to those who voted along with the Republicans, we're hating on y'all.
  • Have a goodun!

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