Wednesday, October 22, 2014
There used to be a thing called a "warblogger."
Mainly, these were folks with a lot of information and little, if any, analytical experience. They knew the military, they knew something about strategy and games, and they figured that was enough to give them credibility when it came to speaking about how America was conducting itself in Iraq before the war was ended by the Obama Administration.
Some of these people went belly up when their wars wound down--there was nothing to blog about. Their audience shrank because they were a one-trick pony and hating Obama was already being done by people with more talent and skill.
This case is a bookend to the Iraq War, a verdict that should resonate for anyone who has ever been criticized by a warblogger or mocked for not knowing that Petraeus would never Betray Us.
How's your war looking now, son? Are you happy for the results? Did we accomplish everything you thought we would? Or did we just manufacture more enemies and create more Veterans than we could ever handle and did we cut loose a generation of mercenaries who simply had too many guns and too many brown skinned people to shoot?
The great blogger Kos actually served in the military, and his response when some Blackwater guards were left dangling off a bridge was to say, in effect, fuck these people. They were mercs and they were out for profit in exchange for sending rounds through bodies. These men inherited the fight, stepped up to the plate, and emptied their weapons into civilians. Fuck them, too,
We will be paying the price for the Iraq War for the next fifty or sixty years, and we will pay dearly for it, and no one will bother to go back and read the ranting and the raving of the cheerleaders for that war, except to have a good laugh and see what could be done about scrubbing the Internet clean of their filth.
Monday, October 20, 2014
They must be feeling the need for attention or something along those lines in Sweden right now. How could they be shocked that the Putin-era Navy of the former Soviet Union is incapable of doing anything underwater without losing another submarine or failing to cover up their activities?
It's tough out there for a former superpower with no money and a fading and rusting naval force.
I'm reminded of what happened with the disaster aboard the Kursk, a submarine that sank in shallow waters (if you could have stood the Kursk on its nose, it would have extended up out of the water in which it sank). Russia was dealt a humiliating blow when this happened, forced to decline assistance from numerous NATO countries with the money and technology to do what Russia simply could not do, and that's why I suspect that what's happening near Sweden is a repeat of some sort of blunder, triggered by incompetence and outdated technology.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
This is ridiculous. How can someone get away with such a blatant form of plagiarism? And then to use PTSD as a reason as to why plagiarism might have happened is the perfect way to cheapen what others are going through. This kind of logic would be great if you needed to get out of a speeding ticket, and it would be about as effective. What a disgrace.
Senator John Walsh of Montana has a long, proud history of cutting corners and creating opportunities for himself. He is a combat veteran, and we should be grateful for his service. That doesn't mean he should be a United States Senator and he definitely has not earned a higher degree. There's a track record here and it cannot be ignored. No one should get a pass because of their party affiliation or their service.
At a minimum, he should resign and accept the academic discipline that goes with blatant plagiarism, which would include, I suspect, the withdrawal of the degree he was awarded.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Come on. Not another sad old Vet who loves the flag and lives near rich people who hate America:
A veteran could lose his home because of a small American flag he has placed in a flower pot in front of his home.
Larry Murphree explained that his homeowners’ association in the Sweetwater community wants him to remove the flag because it violates home display rules. Furthermore, he is facing $8,000 in fines if he doesn’t take it out of his flower pot.
“I want it to go away. It’s such a minor little thing and they keep coming after me,” Murphree told WAWS. “They just sent me a letter that says I owe them around $8,000 and they put a foreclosure lien on my house.”
Murphree has 30 days to pay the fines and remove the flag or the homeowners’ association will move forward with the foreclosure.
I hate these stories. Buried in there somewhere is usually a telling detail. As in, the dude is a shirtless crank with no money who is mad because they won't let him keep a car with three flat tires in his yard so he put out an American flag just to be difficult.
First of all, Mr. Murphree is being stupid on purpose. When you move into a house in Florida, you are going to encounter the mentality that surrounds exclusionary communities (otherwise known as compounds of scared, semi-wealthy people who fear the hordes outside the gate). They initiate "home display rules" because they don't want anything looking cheap, fake, or stupid to drive the value of their property down in any way, shape or form. When someone sticks the American flag in front of their house, and when they allow it to become tattered and torn and when they display it improperly (like not illuminating it at night), they make the place look run down. Sensible people know that there's nothing wrong with the American flag but there is something wrong with flying it in front of your house in lieu of fixing the siding or keeping the yard looking neat. It drives down property values to have flags and other symbols out in front because it tells the people who come into the neighborhood that there's a VETERAN somewhere around there. And everyone knows that a VETERAN is going to come apart at the seams and start shooting, man, especially if the heroin runs out and a guy named Zeke comes over on a motorcycle to cook meth so you can both buy an electric Harley with a sidecar because your back gives out when you have to put your feet down while riding because your're flipping old.
Second, the fines are a binding aspect of living where there is a homeowner's association so allowing them to climb into the thousands of dollars is immature and foolish. Don't like the rules? Move out. Good luck finding a decent place to live where they want you to fly the flag because then you're going to be all contrary and difficult and assert your free right NOT to fly no damned flag except the Gadsden Flag, which means, when upside down, that Obama is a tyrant and your nephew can't get his pills anymore from the free clinic or something. When you buy a home, you sign a blizzard of papers. Inside of that blizzard is an agreement to accept the rules of a homeowner's association. Good luck fighting that. Just because everyone around you hates flags, symbols, and the cheapening effects of things like a Florida Marlins World Series Victory Banner doesn't mean you can't sit in the privacy of your own home and hum the Battle Hymn of the Republic while watching Bruce Willis movies.
Third, your pride in America does not come from sticking a cheap piece of plastic in a flower pot. It comes from knowing that these phony stories trade on misplaced outrage. Grow up, abide by the rules of your homeowner's association, pay your fines, and stop using cheap local media outlets to draw attention to the fact that you're pathetic and make bad choices. The reporters who write these stories are lazy and can't think of anything to do so they love it when a cantankerous old coot pretends that his dishonorable discharge for going AWOL six times in 1974 when he was stationed in Kansas means he's now a retired Special Forces sniper colonel snake eater bomb expert airborne assassin and HAS TO BE LISTENED TO despite the fact that he marches around with his gut out and can't find his DD 214.
Do you love America? Then love America and stop pretending that it has anything to do with a flag.
Monday, June 9, 2014
The militarization of the police continues unabated:
During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.
The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of “barbering without a license.”
What was high satire thirty years ago with Lt. Hunter getting a tank to use against criminals on Hill Street Blues has become commonplace reality for podunk police departments all across the land. At some point, the police will be as well armed as any military unit. At some point, we will not see police but a de facto military presence everywhere and we're seeing it more and more. There's no rolling back on this--once you give the police military equipment, you have to keep giving it to them because that's what they will train with and that's what they will respond with.
Guns drawn while carrying out raids on establishments that are barbering without a license? What the hell is that but a complete and utter militarization of the police gone horribly wrong. Policing is about a measured response to crime that serves the needs of the community. Body armor is something I completely understand but tanks and drones and SWAT teams converging on permit violators? Come on.
Camouflage, by the way? Really? I thought you had to announce the presence of law enforcement. I thought that a police officer had to identify themselves. Apparently not if they're wearing military grade camouflage.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Charlie Pierce can't get the words out fast enough:
Eric Shinseki resigned today as a result of the unfolding scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This event became inevitable the moment that Shinseki sat down before the Veterans Affairs Committee of the United States Senate. It became clear almost immediately that Shinseki didn't have two votes in that room; Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal who, despite Shinseki's departure, shows no sign of getting this teeth out of this story any time soon, made it quite plain that he wasn't buying anything Shinseki was selling. And thus ends the honorable career of a soldier who was correct about the lies behind the greatest policy disaster of our times, about the essential criminality of the people who launched the invasion of Iraq, but whose primary failures as an administrator were his inability to oversee the people in his department who were directly trying to cope with the flood of casualties that resulted from all of those soldiers that most of official Washington told Eric Shinseki they would never need to create a democratic paradise in Iraq. Irony is the rail on which Shinseki now has been ridden out of town.
Charlie can't help himself--he remembers the neglect of the Vietnam generation. And, neglected they were. But how does that square with what you see above? The VA has tried to modernize itself and deal with the issues that it faces. The VA is a hundred times more available and interactive than ever. And yet, we know for certain that there will always be an institutional distrust and many will fall through the cracks. Shinseki failed to be the Secretary we needed when this transformation was carried out. It's too little too late.
Yes, Shinseki was correct about the need to deploy adequate numbers of troops to stabilize Iraq. But, guess what? Even he was wrong by a factor of more than ten. In order to "stabilize" Iraq after the end of the war, over 2 million fully equipped American soldiers wouldn't have been enough. (Iraq - 26 million people, 1 soldier for every ten civilians, etc = 2.6 million troops for stabilization force).
There is no question--Shinseki was a weak and ineffective leader. We are not quite two years removed from this debacle:
An investigation into two Veterans Affairs Department conferences have led to employees being put on administrative leave and a top official’s resignation as auditors found waste and mismanagement. The VA paid roughly $6.1 million for two conferences in 2011, but the planning was marred by leadership failures and ethical lapses, the department’s inspector general reported Oct. 1.
The investigation has led to the resignation of John Sepulveda, VA’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration (HR&A). He stepped down a day before the release of the report, which criticizes the department’s questionable spending at two Florida conferences.
The IG found that Sepulveda failed to provide proper guidance to senior executives in his organization related to the conferences. Further, his statement was contrary to his memo to the VA’s chief of staff, in which he wrote his office was controlling costs. According to several people, Sepulveda also had seen a video in whcih an actor parodied a famous scene from the movie "Patton," starring George C. Scott as Gen. George S. Patton. The video cost nearly $50,000 to make, and Sepulveda denies having seen it.
“His hands-off approach contributed to a lack of communications between HR&A senior executives resulting in confusion and a dysfunctional execution of roles and responsibilities,” the IG wrote in the report. Largely, “senior leadership accepted little responsibility for fiscal stewardship.”
When you have an inspector general who tells you that "senior leadership accepted little responsibility for fiscal stewardship," you know you have a problem. But did Shinseki carry out a VA-wide audit and go looking for more examples? Did he go beyond allowing an official to resign (he should have fired the person outright) and ensure that these practices weren't being carried out everywhere? No, because we now know that bonuses for administrators were still being paid out well into this calendar year. Despite overwhelming evidence that there was a culture of greed, incompetence, and poor fiscal stewardship, Shinseki left the people in place who ended up bringing him down.
Shinseki is also the man who, in June of 2001, decreed that everyone in the Army would wear a black beret on their head, eliminating the common sense use of the soft cap. This was one of the most selfish and stupid acts carried out by someone trying to change the Army uniform. A beret does not instill pride. A black beret on a soldier's head in a motor pool is the stupidest Goddamned thing imaginable.
Stop thinking that because Shinseki got one thing sort of right he was a saint. He failed to properly lead and administer the Department of Veteran's Affairs. He failed on the information technology front, allowing contractors to waste millions on systems that failed to deliver. He presided over a period of extreme stress in the VA but he also failed to ensure that there were people in place to honestly deal with and report back on that stress. Every single administrator that got a monetary bonus on his watch for running hospitals into the ground while Veterans died is his responsibility. He should have ensured that nobody got a bonus for hiding bad numbers. His lame attempt to carry out an audit of these facilities was too little way too late.
The man's record before taking off the uniform is irrelevant. His tenure wearing a blue suit was a disaster. Neither political party really cares about Veterans anyway. When this blows over, more will die and a grateful nation will refuse to raise taxes to care for the people dying on the waiting lists that are going to be a little more public but left to languish in the hands of whoever can finagle their way into another cushy job doing nothing on the VA's dime.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Dick Cheney's legacy took another beating at the hands of the people who have been trying to clean up the mess created by his old boss. This is why he has lashed out and called the President of the United States weak:
"Some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required," Obama added. "Tough talk draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans."
President Obama's abandonment of neoconservatism and nation-building means fewer contracts for the companies that saw huge profits under Bush-Cheney. Those people are angrily telling Cheney to say something and use what influence he has because they own the souls of neoconservatives and are demanding repayment for their loyalty. An entire way of life is about to come crashing down and the rush to diversify portfolios and invest in providing solar panels to drowned polar bear researchers has people climbing over one another, trying to get beachfront property in Ohio and bid on the contract to provide security for the next drone base in West Africa.
We finally have a President who only wants to start a handful of moderate-sized wars. We no longer have a President who wants to start larger wars that will break the military. It's a slight change, but it's a big enough change to frighten people used to wider profit margins.
Monday, April 28, 2014
...there's only one firm that currently comes anywhere close to making a shoe entirely in America: New Balance. (And even they concede that "Made in the USA" doesn't mean what you think it means: "1 out of every 4 pairs of shoes we sold in the USA was made or assembled here. Where domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes "'Made in the USA.'")
In other words, the military just made a competitive bidding process into a no-bid, one-shoe-fits-all process. All to support "America."
Funny thing is, the military didn't want to do this, in part because "Narrowing the recruit's choice to one or two manufacturers, as they select a shoe for rigorous initial entry training will, 'limit the choices available and may result in more injuries,'" according to a DOD spokesman just two months ago. But politics interceded on New Balance's behalf, again.
If you've been in the military for any amount of time, you know New Balance has long gnashed its teeth on the ample gubmint teat. In addition to the footwear allowance, military recruits (and officer candidates) get issued go-fasters, running suits, and other gear that more often than not comes from the Massachusetts-based sneaker company.
If you've been in the military, the last place you're going to go for information is Gawker, but I digress.
When you go to basic training, there is nothing but confusion and chaos. This is done on purpose in order to weed out panicky, punchy, violent people who cannot conform to military standards. The shoes on your feet don't matter because you're not there to perform at the peak of personal comfort and fitness--you're there because SHIT! Run! OK, now get some food and go to bed and SHIT! do it all over again. This all happens in the back woods of America, and you'll be tired for as long as you can stand it and you'll eat weird food and be on your feet a lot. Boredom is your single greatest enemy in basic training. So, leave it to people who have never been there to get it wrong.
The fact that New Balance is a government contractor doesn't matter--all government contractors are thieving bastards. You must admire them for their cleverness and ignore their ability to screw up your life, otherwise it will just bother you.
If you're a privileged rich person, basic training is the last place you are going to want to be with your $300 running shoes because they'll get wrecked fast. You need a cheap-assed pair of shoes you never want to see again when the 9 weeks or whatever it is are over. You're going to DX your uniforms and boots the first chance you get anyway--that's why you are expected to trash and wear out that basic training gear.
You don't need anything more than a shitty pair of $35 running shoes. If you go with cross training shoes, all the better. But they could be anything because the boots you wear all day are going to change your feet dramatically. When you get to AIT, you're going to throw away the shitty stuff and buy nice shoes and all that when life settles into more of a routine--that's about when the shock of wearing leather boots changes over to more of a military lifestyle. There is a routine at basic training and it's called SHIT! go stand there for an hour and then RUN! You needed to be there before you could be here and SHIT! those shoes don't matter, private. Because they don't.
The biggest shock to your system isn't going to be centered around a cheap pair of running shoes--it is going to be the boots they give you and the wool socks.
Running shoes are a scam perpetrated by greedy companies on the gullible.
It does not matter what kind of shoe you wear on your feet. Buy a $35 pair and run in them. What matters is that you do not use them past their wear-out point; whether that is 300 miles or six weeks is your choice. No matter what brand or style or cost, a running shoe that is worn out will damage your lower body.
In fact, try running without shoes and see if that works for you.