The Code of Support
I - I am an American. I know that the men and women in our Armed Forces are prepared to give their lives to defend my country, my way of life and the blessings of liberty throughout the world. I am committed to their perpetual recognition, appreciation and support.
II - As they have sworn to defend me and protect our country, so will I pledge to support them in every way that I can, and to avoid any action that would increase their risk. I will further do my part to ensure that they are never sent into harm’s way without all of the necessary resources to protect them and to fulfill their mission.
III - If they become prisoners of war, are missing in action, are wounded, or lose their lives, I will keep faith with them and their loved ones. I will not rest until we find them, heal them, and return them to their comrades, their loved ones and their nation.
IV - For our military veterans, I pledge unfailing recognition and appreciation for their contributions to our national defense and our welfare. I will not forget my nation’s responsibility to provide for their continued well-being, and meaningful compensation for their sacrifice.
V – I understand that our service men and women do not make national policy, but are sworn to obey their civilian leadership and defend the constitution. I will respect their faithful service to the nation and always give them my unqualified support.
VI - I will never forget that our service men and women are fighting for my freedom and are dedicated to the principles which make our country free. I will share the responsibility for preserving that freedom with those who proudly wear the uniform of the United States of America.
Also on this day in 1889, Washington became a state.
This Looks Fun
I want one of these.
San Fran Gun Ban
By now, most if not all of you have heard that Prop H, the handgun ban, passed in San Francisco.
Measure H prohibits the manufacture and sale of all firearms and ammunition in the city, and make it illegal for residents to keep handguns in their homes or businesses.
You've probably also heard that the SAF and NRA have filed suit against the law as well.
But did anyone else notice that the law would ban handloading as well? Will folks like me (I don't live there) have to turn in their Dillon 550s and Rockchuckers?
Now, unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit held in Silviera that the Second Amendment doesn't protect an individual right, so any federal court case would have to make it all the way to SCOTUS to have any chance of success. But you'd have a great argument that by banning all ammunition sales, they've essentially voided the right to have even rifles and shotguns in the city, since without ammunition a gun is just an expensive club (or pike if you have a bayonet. Oh wait, you can't have those in Kalifornia.) The NRA and SAF challenges will be in state court, and will be based on state preemption, the same thing that overturned a similar ban by SF (under then Mayor Dianne Feinstein) in 1982. The right to keep and bear arms won't even be involved, since Kalifornia has no such clause in the state constitution.
Army Officer Retention Incentives
This story was posted Saturday at the USA Today website.
WASHINGTON — The Army is offering a series of new incentives to young officers to stem a rising exodus in the past two years of West Point and ROTC scholarship grads.
The number of lieutenants and captains leaving had dropped after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But it has increased almost to pre-9/11 levels because of mounting concerns about repeat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to military analysts such as Bob Scales, a retired Army major general and former commandant of the Army War College.
The percentage of young West Point graduates leaving the Army rose from 6.5% in 2003 to 10.7% in fiscal 2005, which ended Sept. 30. That compares with 11.6% who left in 2000.
The number of scholarship ROTC graduates who left rose from 5.1% in 2003 to 9.3% in 2005. In 2000, 10.6% left.
So, junior officer (which I am still technically one) attrition is rising, due, according to analysts, to "mounting concerns about repeat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan." And yet, it's still lower than in the final year of the Clinton administration. While the increase is something to be concerned about, I'm going to bet it's still below the average for the post-Cold War drawdown years. Interestingly, the press didn't seem to care what was causing the higher attrition rates back then (disgust with our lecherous Commander-in-Chief, along with extended deployments on stupid peacekeeping missions, maybe?) Admittedly, the Army didn't seem too worried back then either, or incentives like these would have shown up when I was a LT.
Among the new incentives:
• The Army will offer free graduate school soon to an additional 200 young officers now serving, and to 600 future officers beginning in 2010 if they agree to stay past their initial hitches. The Army now pays for about 500 officers to attend graduate school each year.
Grad school is great, but if Uncle Sam pays for it, it comes with obligations-usually a 2:1 time trade-so if Uncle Sam sends me to school for a year to get a master's degree (oh, and it'll be in a field useful to the Army), I owe the Army two more years. Not that I would turn down the free school if I was offered to me.
• Some young officers will be able to choose where they will be assigned and what job they will have if they agree to remain three years beyond their first commitment. Currently, prospective Army officers can request what job they want and where they will be assigned, but there are no guarantees they will get their first choice.
I wish they'd define first commitment. It doesn't specify active duty commitment (5 years for West Pointers, usually 4 for ROTC,) or total commitment (8 years, part of which can be done on IRR). But more input in choice of station and job is a big deal (especially to guys like me, who have a serious dislike for the southeastern US.) Note that these are not necessarily compatible: in all likelihood, an officer would have to choose what's most important-the job or the location.
• The Army will ask Congress to approve cash bonuses for officers who stay past their initial stint. The program would be similar to retention bonuses now offered to enlisted troops in hard-to-fill jobs.
I don't want to sound mercenary, but I've often wondered why the Army doesn't do this.
• The Army is cutting the time it takes to get promoted to captain and major. Promotion to captain will drop from 42 to 38 months; for major from just less than 11 years to 10 years.
In my opinion, this is really a way of sneaking retention bonuses, or something like them, in under the radar. Why? Because these officers will, for the most part, still be doing the same jobs, only now they'll be getting paid more. The Army actually started doing this, at least for promotion to 1LT and CPT, back in 1998. When I got commisioned (1996) the requirement was 24 months to 1LT, and another 24 (this was actually a statutory requirement) to make CPT. In 1998, the Army reduces the requirement to 18 months for 1LT, the secondary effect meaning the time to CPT dropped to 42 months. Unless Congress reduced the time from 1LT to CPT, this means what the Army is really doing is shortening the time to 1LT, this time to 14 months.
If I'm right, at least in the case of Infantry LTs, this means they're getting promoted after just a few months with their unit, and it's actually possible for some to get promoted before leaving the Benning School for Boys.
Consider for a moment a new Infantry 2LT, on his way to a mechanized unit. He's got to got through BOLC/IOBC (4 months, IIRC), BFV Leader's Course (7 weeks) and Ranger School (9 weeks, assuming he doesn't get recycled somewhere. Add 4 weeks for every recycle). That's a minimum of 8 months in the schoolhouse, IF all the planets align and he can go from one to the other with no wasted time. 10 months is a more realistic timeline, with 12 months not uncommon. There were some guys in my Basic Course Class who were at Benning for 14 months before they went to their units. That means that young LT will have a max of 30 months (2.5 years) to learn his craft before he makes CPT. Oh, and BTW, as soon as the promotion list for CPT comes out, that LT(P) is able to get pulled off to attend his branch's Advanced Course, which further lessens his time spent with troops at the LT level. Not, in my opinion, necessarily a good thing.
And now, for the kicker that they bury at the end:
In addition, the Army cut the size of incoming officer classes in the 1990s as part of a post-Cold War downsizing. Midcareer officers from those classes are not sufficient to fill the vacancies the Army has at the rank of major.
During the downsizing years, the Army brought in about 2,000 fewer officers than it now needs as senior captains and majors, Patterson says. It hopes to raise its retention rates to make up for the shortfall.
Thank you, Mr. Clinton. So, what really happened is that the decreased attrition rates after 9/11 helped cover up the shortfall for a few years. If not, the Army would have been hit with this problem sooner, thanks to insufficient accessions numbers back in the 1990s. Numbers that I think the Army knew about as early as 1998, but that, in the anti-military climate of the Clinton administration, the Army couldn't really make a big deal about, and that the press didn't care about, especially since it would mean admitting that their boy Bubba was doing real damage to the Army. Of course, now that Bush is President, it's fair game.
Quiz Time: Soldier & Action Hero
OK, they're actually two separate quizzes.
| You scored as Combat Infantry. You're a combat infantry soldier,a grunt, a dogface, a footslogger. While some say you're common, you're a really a disciplined person who realizes the importantce of working in a team, and in reality you and your comrades get most of the work done. This country needs more people like you. Your a brave selfless person. And I salute you.|
Which soldier type are you?
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Seems about right...Infantry (which is what I actually do) followed by Engineer, which would be my second choice if I couldn't have Infantry...kind of odd that officer (which I also am) ended up so low. Maybe I should have been an NCO. But no doubt I'm 0% civilian. But where did Tanker go? HT: John of Argghhh!
| You scored as William Wallace. The great Scottish warrior William Wallace led his people against their English oppressors in a campaign that won independence for Scotland and immortalized him in the hearts of his countrymen. With his warrior's heart, tactician's mind, and poet's soul, Wallace was a brilliant leader. He just wanted to live a simple life on his farm, but he gave it up to help his country in its time of need. |
Neo, the "One"
The Amazing Spider-Man
Batman, the Dark Knight
Captain Jack Sparrow
James Bond, Agent 007
Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
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For the State of Washington, the Hearltess Libertarian endorses:
I-900, performance audits: YES. The only people who are objecting to this are the folks under threat of being audited who aren't performing.
I-901, Statewide Indoor Smoking Ban: NO. Another insult to private property rights.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be
the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under
omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep,
his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our
own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of
their own conscience." -C.S. Lewis
This proposed law is so badly flawed that it wouldn't even allow cigar bars, whose sole purpose for folks to hang out and burn some expensive leaves, to operate.
I-912, Gas Tax Increase Repeal: YES. See my earlier post. As an additional objection, the tax is not only open-ended (unlike the "Nickel Tax" of 2003), but it makes no specification of what projects are to be built with the money, at what cost. Meaning we're likely to get told in a few years that WSDOT needs more money, because they can't pay for idiot boondoogle's like the tunnel (Can you say "Big Dig West?") Seattle Mayor Nickels wants to replace the Viaduct.
I-330, I-336, Medical Malpractice Reform: NO of both. I'm not going to argue whether or not Washington does or doesn't have a malpractice law problem. Both of these initiative have what in my eyes are serious flaws, and thus should be killed so those flaws don't become laws. Furthermore, I think any solution should be part of a larger solution to the overall tort law problem.
I don't live in King County (I live in Thurston County), but given the massive influence kIng County has on the rest of the state, I'm going to endorse David Irons for KC Executive. For reasons why, see this post by The Shark at Sound Politics. I see no prospect for the corruption in KC being fixed unless Sims is thrown out of office.
Picking Nits with Hollywood Twits
Couple little things I just couldn't let go:
Watching a Law & Order rerun last night, where the victim was shot with a pistol in a caliber they called "7.63 Mauser," which led them to suspect a WWII vet. Only one problem: I could find only one pistol that fires the 7.63 cartridge: the classic C-96 "Broomhandle" Mauser pistol, which was a pre-WWI design.
The other one comes from the excellent movie Blackhawk Down. In one sequence, they show an up close, slow motion shot of an M-249 ASAW firing, in which the charging handle can be clearly seen cycling back and forth. Problem here is that the SAW has a non-reciprocating charging handle, meaning that it isn't pulled to the rear by the bolt group as part of the firing cycle, but rather remains locked in the forward position unless pulled to the rear by the firer.
Are all you other gun nuts like this when you watch TV and movies?
Why I Support I-912 UPDATED See End of Post
NOTE: This post will remain on top until Election Day. New Posts will appear below.
Among the many initiatives on the ballot in Washington this November is Inititive 912, which would repeal a gas tax increase passed by the state Legislature this spring. Money from the tax increase are slated to fund transportation projects across the state.
Now, I am in general opposed to tax increases. I don't like them. And, since I make most of my fuel purchases at the Ft Lewis gas station, I don't pay state gas taxes for the most part. But I don't oppose this tax increase (and thus support I-912) for that reason. I don't support I-912 because of how the Legislature decided the funds should be spent. I don't support I-912 because of how the Legislature did or did not provide for adequate controls and accountability on the spending of the funds.
I support I-912 because of how the Legislature passed the gas tax increase, and the biennial budget in general. This requires a bit of background explanation.
Several years ago, Washington voters approved I-601, which limited both the growth of state government spending and the power of the Legislature to increase taxes. Spending increases of more than inflation plus population required a supermajority-3/5ths-vote in both houses of the Legislature. Tax increases likewise required a supermajority vote in both houses, or they could be submitted to voters in the form of a Referendum. In 2002, the Legislature asked voters to approve a gas tax increase in the form of R-58. The referendum went down in flames.
In Washington, Democrats hold a majority in both chambers, but not a 3/5ths supermajority, so they require cooperation from Republicans in both chambers to increase spending beyond the specified limits and/or increase taxes. Such cooperation was not forthcoming on either front, and after the failure of R-58, getting the voters to approve any tax increases was a losing proposition.
So, they found a loophole. It only required a simple majority in both chambers-which the Democrats had-to declare any spending and/or tax increases to be 'emergency' measures. Once a measure is an 'emergency, ' it is exempt from the I-601 controls. So, the 2005-2007 budget became 'emergency spending,' and the gas tax increase similarly became an emergency measure, when in reality, the only emergency was that the Democrats couldn't get their way despite having a majority of both houses plus the governorship.
This stunning display of contempt for the expressed will of the people of Washington is why is will be voting Yes on I-912.
WSDOT Accused of Campaigning Against I-912
Initiative 912 supporters have filed a complaint with the state alleging that the Department of Transportation has violated state law by campaigning against the anti-gas-tax measure.
The complaint, filed on Friday, contends in part that the agency has put misleading statements about the initiative on its Web site, posted links to articles critical of the initiative, and used booths at county fairs to influence voters to oppose the measure.
The complaint has three allegations: that DOT has used its Web site, employees, facilities and equipment to help campaign against I-912; the department has acted as a political committee but hasn't registered with the state as one; and that its actions should be considered in-kind contributions to the campaign against I-912.
It shouldn't really be a surprise that the government department that stands to receive all the money from the tax opposes repeal of that tax. And, of course, the WSDOT is headed by someone who was appointed by the Governor who approved the unethical bypass of state law to approve the tax increase in the first place. My disgust with the state Democratic party continues to increase.
Also, we have this article from the Snohomish County GOP addressing the myths and facts on I-912.
Even Those We Despise Are Sometimes Right
Those of us who value the Second Amendment have an intense dislike for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). But Captain's Quarters captures this exchange between the Senator and a Dr Vlasek, a spokesman for the ecoterrorist group Animal Liberation Front in which Lautenberg actually gets it right:
Dr. Jerry Vlasak of North American Animal Liberation was quoted as saying at an animal rights convention: "I don't think you'd have to kill, assassinate too many. I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, or 10 million non-human lives."
Sen. Lautenberg: Dr. Vlasak, you approve of these dastardly acts in the name of liberation, of a liberation movement?
Sen. Lautenberg: Do you have any children?
Vlasak: I have no children. And may I – Just to be clear, I don’t approve of any unnecessary suffering and I wish these things didn’t have to happen…
Sen. Lautenberg: You do, and what you said confirms this, so I just want to go there. I want to know who you are and what makes you tick, because it is so revolting to hear what you say about murder. These aren’t extermination camps. What is being done whether you like it or not is to try and improve the quality of life for human beings. This isn’t Germany. How do you feel about the people? You said you think that people who have a cause have a right to violence. How about the guys who kill our soldiers and who killed the people in the Trade Towers? They have a cause. Is that okay with you?
Vlasak: No the unnecessary loss of life is never okay with me. But I extend that loss of life to animal life, non-animal (sic) life as well.
Sen. Lautenberg: You are the super moralist. You are deciding where it is right and where it is wrong. There are many people who have causes. Some of them are justified, but to take tactics like the intimidation of people, to spoil their lives or spoil their ability to make a living is an outrageous thing to propose. You are anti-social in your behavior, obviously. But to sit here so smugly and be proud of the fact that you stand by this statement about five or ten lives…if those lives were your kids…maybe you don’t have anyone you love. Maybe you don’t have any kids.
That sorry excuse for a "doctor" has no respect for human life, unless that life meets his standards. Lautenberg had his sorry ass thrown out. Have to give him credit for that.