Head vs Heart-Fear and Loathing in Iraq
Read the posts here and here from the blog Fear and Loathing in Iraq.
I read those posts, and I am tremendously torn. Before the Army sent me to Ft Jackson, SC, I was assigned to the Stryker Brigade-3rd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, at Ft Lewis, WA. Those are my brothers in arms out there in that shit. The CO he talks about may very well be a guy who was in my platoon at Ranger school, seven years ago, and one of my fellow platoon leaders in Germany after that. Guys I've hung out with, smoked cigars, drank beer, and grilled burgers and brats with. And it hurts to know that they're in heavy fighting while I'm safe here in the states. I feel guilty, like a malingerer.
My head knows that my job-training new soldiers for the Army-is important. Critical even. Hell, the post commanding general tells us that constantly. Without new soldiers, the Army can't exist. And if those new soldiers aren't well trained, they're going to get themselves or other soldiers hurt or killed in combat. Because a lot of these news soldiers go straight from AIT to units deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. We're all the training they're going to get before they hit the two way live fire range.
But just because I know my job is important doesn't mean I like it. My heart says Take my rank, give me a rifle, and get me on a C-17. Because I don't want to be safe while my brothers are under fire.
God speed, guys. Come home safe.
Home State Election Coverage
Ron Sims, the King County (WA) executive-and backer of that county's proposed 65-10 land use rule-is currently running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Mr. Sims has proposed as far reaching overhaul of the state tax system. I'll give him points for having the guts to propose this-Washington is one of seven states with no income tax, and part of his proposal would impose one. In the past, all attempts to do this have gone down in flames. So, let's look at the four parts of Mr. Sims' proposal.
1. Income tax-Sims proposes a graduated income tax, with rates starting at 2% and increasing up to 10%. Your basic class warfare, soak-the-rich tax scheme that we've all come to know and loathe. Or course, there would be deductions for various sorts of government approved activities, such as mortgage interest, which are a playground for special interests and would eventually make the state tax code as huge and complicated as the federal one. Wonderful idea, Mr. Sims.
Also, the intent to soak the rich ignore a key fact: many of those high income people live in Washington precisely because there is no income tax. And they can leave for a more tax friendly state quite easily. So what would happen to the tax plan when Bill Gates, Paul Allen, et al decide that they'd rather live in Florida, Texas, or Tennessee? And what if they decide to take their businesses with them? I'm sure there are plenty of states that would love to have Microsoft move there.
2. Business taxes-officially called the Business & Organization, or B&O tax, this is one of the most screwed up sections of the state's tax code, badly in need of fixing. Such fixes would go a long way toward making Washington more attractive to small business. Currently, businesses pay taxes on gross receipts-which means that you have to pay even if you're losing money. Very stupid.
Sims proposes scrapping the current tax entirely. The news coverage states that there would be no taxes at all, providing a business reinvests its profits. But I thought that the purpose of running a business was to earn a profit for the owner(s)? The news coverage doesn't say, but I can assume, that any profit that isn't ploughed back into the business somehow-that is, the money that the owners keep for themselves-would be taxed.
To me, this is an indirect attack on the profit motive-the very thing that makes the free market economy function. As long as your business doesn't make any net profit, the state will leave you alone. But dare to turn a profit, and keep some for yourself, and they're going to take some for themselves.
3. Property tax-Sims proposes lowering the tax rate on less expensive homes, exempting the first $100,000 entirely, while increasing the tax rate on more expensive homes-those worth over $600,000. Yet more class warfare tactics. Sims is counting on public anger over increasing property tax bills-tax bils driven primarily by increasing property values, especially in the King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties (these three counties comprise most of the Seattle metro area). Ironically, much of the spike in housing prices in those three counties has been driven by increasingly restrictive environmental and land-use laws, such as Sims' treasured 65-10 proposal.
4. Sales tax-Sims proposes eliminating the state's portion of the sales tax, calling it "regressive." Nevermind that the sales tax is probably the fairest way to apply taxes, for two reasons. First, it's almost impossible to avoid (except for those residents who live close enough to the Oregon border and don't mind paying for things in cash) and second, because it's a simple fact that wealthy folks buy more stuff, and more expensive stuff, than the un-wealthy, and thus they pay more in taxes. Consumption based taxes also encourage savings, because money not spent is not taxed.
Overall, the proposal, while bold and making sops to business, is basically standard "progressive"
Socialist Democratic party stuff-get lots of people off the tax rolls entirely, concentrating the cost of government on as small a group of people as possible, and punishing those who work hard and achieve success. This is a great way to buy votes-it would lower taxes, at least initially, for lots of people, and it insulates all those people who are thus removed from the tax rolls from the costs of the government programs they demand. What it is not, however, is anything approaching fair or equitable, and definitely cannot be called good government.
How Soon Can We Put Him in Charge of Something Here?
Gunner at No Quarters has the scoop on the Georgian (nation, not state) Minister of the Economy (I shall not attempt to spell his name) who is trying to eliminate his own job.
My only question is basically the same as Gunner's: How many parts of the U.S. government can we put this guy in charge of, and how soon?
AWB Bites Our Troops Again
GeekWithA.45 pointed out a few months back how the standard capacity magazine ban portion of the AWB was making it difficult for our troops in the field to procure good, functioning, 15 round magazines for their M9 pistols.
Well, guess what? It's happening again. Our brigade commander informed us a couple of days ago that the Army has a shortage of something like one million magazines for the M-16/M-4 rifles. That's the basic personal weapon of almost everyone in the Army. And I don't know how many the Marines are short. But that one million magazines is enough to equip just over 142,000 soldiers-roughly the number now in Iraq.
The one factory in the U.S. that makes the magazines is cranking them out as a fast as they can and shipping them directly to Iraq. Why only one factory? Because the magazines can't be sold to civilians, and there's not enough profit to be made selling only to the government. Maybe after September 13th, Colt, Armalite, etc will spin up production again and hopefully help ease the problem.
Just remember-when a candidate says they support the AWB, they're supporting something that's keeping our troops from having magazines for their rifles.
Maker of pistol cleared in death of teenager; Jury finds design of weapon didn't cause accident
From the SF Chronicle; story also found at KABA, but I can't access that at work.
So, for the second time, a jury in the PRK has found Beretta not responsible in the accidental death of Kenzo Dix (a third jury was split on the issue, resulting in the most recent trial.) This trial is another of the many battles in the anti-gunners' (in this case Handgun Control Inc, now the Brady Campaign) attempt to drive the firearms industry out of business by massive numbers of lawsuits. With the notable exception of Bryco, I don't think they've actually won any.
Of course, they don't need to-they just need to make gun makers spend lots of money to defend themselves. Every time I see one of these suits, which the gun maker wins, I keep hoping that they'll grow a pair and countersue to recover legal costs. I've always been disappointed. Maybe Beretta wil change the trend, but probably not. But I strongly feel that playing hardball with the antis is the only way to beat them in this arena. A "loser pays" legal reform law would be even better, but that's another post in itself.
According to the article, Dix's father hasn't decided if he will appeal. Meaning that the Brady Campaign hasn't decided. I get the distinct feeling that Griffin Dix, like Tom Mauser of Columbine, has become a willing dupe for the Bradys The original lawsuit was filed, not by him, but by HCI on his behalf. The fact that the Bradys are willing to use the legitimate grief of people such as Tom Mauser and Griffin Dix, in order to advance their agenda of denying the American people their rights, sickens me.
UPDATE: Say Uncle! beat me to the counter-suit idea. Alphecca also beat me to the story. But they only beat me because I had to be at the grenade range all day.
Sorry about the sparse posting. We're at that stage of the training cycle where we spend lots of time on the ranges, with lots of work to get done at the office as well. There's lots of stuff rattling around in my head, but I'm too tired to put them in coherent form.
Feinstein needs to say something stupid, so I can go on a rant and get lots of linkage again...
Gun Show Musings
I went to the South Carolina Arms Collectors Assn. gun show today here in Columbia. Very nice smaller size show. Had some interesting displays, not for sale, of M1 Garands, match and sniper Enfields, and WWII Polish Radom pistols. Also featured the usual assortment of overpriced milsurp rifles. I can get a Mosin-Nagant from any number of places on the internet for $60-75; why do these guys expect that I'll pay $150?
I almost bought an SAR-1 that one dealer was selling for $350. Don't know if he would have gone lower if I'd have tried to haggle. I'm really torn over what to do about buying a rifle of this sort. I don't actually own any Evil Black Rifles (I do have a Federal Ordinance (semi-auto) M-14 that has enough 'evil' features to make it an 'assault weapon.') and I really want to get one. And other than the fact that the evil features annoy DiFi, Chuckles, and friends, I don't really have any reason to need things like a bayonet lug or flash suppressor on a rifle.
So, do I wait until September, and hope that maybe the price on the 'ban-era' weapons goes down? Or should I buy one now, just on general principle? I don't need one-I'm plenty well stocked for homeland defense, but I won't be able to equip my friends and neighbors just yet. So I can wait to get a good deal on a rifle.
Of course, as I mentioned a while back, if sKerry and his attorney get elected, I've got a good list of guns I'm going to buy, and permission to spend the cash necessary to get them.