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Happy Veteran’s Day

I wrote this in 2006, and it is as true today as then. Our combat troops are the best the world has ever seen – but without those who support them so well they wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective as they are.

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Anyone who doubts all veteran’s are heroes need read no further. But for the vast majority of you who do, I’d like to take a little different slant in my tribute than you might read elsewhere. Most of the time when you read tributes to vets, they’re filled with the stories of those who’ve suffered in combat and we see pictures showing the battle-weary combat vets which pointedly make the argument about the sacrifices our veterans have made and continue to make.

But not all sacrifices are made on the field of battle. While infantry, armor and artillery are the combat arms – the tip of the spear – they, better than anyone, know how important the team that makes up the rest of the spear are to their success on the battlefield.

Those F-16s don’t show up on target at the right time unless that kid flying the boom of a KC10 tanker at 30,000 feet at 2am doesn’t do his job. That sabot round from an M1A1 fired at a threatening T72 isn’t there unless the truck driver hauling ammo day in and day out gets that ammo where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

Veterans are the guys like the cook who gets up every morning at 3:30 am and begins to prepare breakfast for his guys and gals. The kid below deck on an aircraft carrier who makes sure the F/A 18 he’s responsible for maintaining is in perfect shape and ready to fly. The nurse who holds a dying soldier’s hand as he takes his last breath, wipes away the tears, straightens her uniform and heads out to do it again.

He’s the kid in the fuel soaked coveralls who hasn’t slept in 2 days gassing up another Bradley from his fuel tanker. The company clerk who makes sure all of the promotion orders are correct and in on time, or the instructor in basic training who ensures those he trains get his full attention and who puts his all into helping them learn important lessons that will save their lives. He’s the recruiter who’d rather be where the action is, but does what is necessary to make sure he gets the best and brightest available for his branch of service. Or the MP at the gate who shows up every day, does her job to the very best of her ability and never complains.

Most vets have never seen combat in the sense we think of it. But every single solitary one of them has contributed in vital ways to the success of our combat efforts. Without those who support the combat troops, success would impossible. Without the wrench turners, truck drivers, fuel handlers, cooks, clerks and all those like them, the greatest military the world has ever seen is an “also ran.”

It doesn’t matter what a vet did during his or her service, it matters that he or she chose to serve and do whatever vital job they were assigned to the best of their ability. It isn’t about medals, it isn’t about glory, it isn’t about what job they did. It is about the fact that when their country called, they stood up and answered. They are all, every one of them, heroes.

To all the vets out there – Happy Veteran’s Day.

And thank you for your service.

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My Favorite Part of the House Health Care Bill

Coming in at 1,992 pages, I’m sure there’s something in there that appeals to everyone.  But if I had to pick any part of the bill to single out for special mention, it’s this:

Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

Now, it’s a bit more complicated than that, because it requires that you wilfully evade the tax by refusing to pay it, or by fraudulently claiming reduced income in order to evade income taxation under the IRS code.  But still, the statutory authority is there to send you to federal prison for five years for essentially refusing to maintain the appropriate medical coverage, and then refusing to pay the 2.5% income tax surcharge.

No doubt this will make the public much more excited about the House version of health care reform then they were previously.

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Serving

As Uncle J at Blackfive says, this is  “the most realistic depiction of life during wartime you may ever see short of enlisting yourself.”

Gotta agree with him about that:

Best description I’ve ever heard?

98% pure boredom punctuated by 2% stark terror.  This covers 98% of the experience.

~McQ

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Surprise – Health Care Reform Is Just Another Costly Entitlement

Interestingly the truth, in this particular case, comes from a liberal writer from the New Yorker – Joe Cassidy – who says:

“The U.S. government is making a costly and open-ended commitment,” he writes. “Let’s not pretend that it isn’t a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won’t. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration . . . is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind.”

Word.

Also what this blog and may others have been pointing out for months – 9 months to be precise. This monstrosity is exactly what Cassidy says it is. But it is worth it according to Cassidy because it will have a positive two-fold effect as far as he’s concerned:

Because, according to Mr. Cassidy, ObamaCare serves the twin goals of “making the United States a more equitable country” and furthering the Democrats’ “political calculus.”

The radical egalitarians plan on ramping the welfare state back up to a degree hitherto unknown, only to satisfy their radical and uneducated view of “fairness”. And, the “political calculus” remark is fairly depressing too. The whole point is to make more people dependent on government and thus strengthen the Democrat’s base. If you think this will be the end of their redistribution machinations, you haven’t been paying attention.

As for lying about both the cost and the effect? Well, Mr. Cassidy finds that pretty easy to rationalize:

“Putting on my amateur historian’s cap, I might even claim that some subterfuge is historically necessary to get great reforms enacted.”

Subterfuge. Of course. All’s fair when the goal is “good”.

It’s pretty contemptible if you ask me – but there it is, in Cassidy’s own words. My guess is he was one of those who was highly offended by what he considered to be Bush’s “lies”. But for his cause – no problem. Because Joe Cassidy and his ilk know so much better than you or I what is good for us – just ask him.  And he has absolutely no problem with government ramming it down our throat if necessary.  After all, “that’s how great reform is enacted”.

~McQ

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So Again, Why Are We Headed Down The Same Road?

In a little noted Financial Times article yesterday, it reported:

The European Union’s public debt could by 2014 rise to 100 per cent of gross domestic product – a year’s economic output – unless governments take firm action to restore fiscal discipline, EU finance ministers will be warned on Monday.

The EU claims that the measures the countries of the union took to “rescue Europe’s financial sector and combat recession” are to blame.

But then, 7 or 8 paragraphs later, we get to the real “tip of the iceberg”:

The Commission identifies five countries as at particular risk – Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Spain and the UK – because their public finances will come under strain from large increases in pension and healthcare costs, and high deficits triggered by the financial crisis.

This is particularly the case for Greece, which faces the second-highest increase in age-related expenditure in the EU, while its high debt ratio adds to concerns on sustainability.

Pension and health care costs? Translated into US lingo – Social Security and Medicare. You know the two programs with 50+ trillion in unfunded future liabilities? So tell me again why we want to go even further off this debt cliff by enacting government run health care?

Now I know you’ve been led to believe that Euro socialism is magic and that their health care delivers amazing care at much less cost than ours. But in reality, it doesn’t do better on either measure. The 5 countries listed above are only those in the “worst” shape. Any guess what they’ll have to do to bring their “free” health care costs in line, so, like Greece, they won’t see the cost at 135% of GDP next year?

Cuts in spending. Cuts in benefits. Cuts in care. Rationing.

And for countries like the UK, where the medical workers work for the government, what options or choices will medical consumers be left with? There is no real private market.  Government killed that decades ago.

Is that really what we want here? My goodness, the evidence is out there and many of us seem to want to remain willfully blind to the consequences of what we’re considering here in countries who are now doing it. The arrogance and hubris of that is simply mindboggling. Want to see the economy killed and debt skyrocket? Hope the Senate passes “health care reform” then. We can race Greece to see who can run up the biggest percentage of debt vs our GDP. And given the way this Congress and President think, we’ll “win”.

~McQ

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Help Valor IT Reach It’s Goal

Folks I normally don’t ask for donations or money.  But I’m making an exception today for one of the best organizations I know and for one of the best causes I know.  The organization is Soldier’s Angels.   The cause is their “Valor IT” fund raiser – now heading into its final weekend.

Soldier’s Angels is an organization of volunteers which adopts individual soldiers and keeps them in the things they need during their deployments. They also work extensively with the wounded and the families of the wounded. They have representatives in Germany who care for our wounded when they arrive from the theaters of war. They fly families there to be with their loved ones. They are, in short, one of the most magnificent volunteer organizations going.

Valor IT is their brain child. Back a few years ago, they hooked one of our wounded who was not doing as well as everyone hoped with a lap top and software that could translate his spoken word. As he later said, it made him feel whole again and reconnected him to the world and his loved ones. More importantly, it made all the difference in the world to his recovery.

So now SA has a drive every year to buy and give laptops with that voice capability (if necessary) to our wounded warriors. And the difference it makes is, as with the first one, unbelievable.

With today being the birthday of the United States Marines (Semper Fi Marines) and with Veteran’s day on tomorrow, I ask you to consider a small donation to the cause. You can go to Soldier’s Angels here.  Just click on the laptop icon and you’re on your way to helping to change the life of one of our badly wounded warriors.

If you’ve already given thank you for doing so. If you haven’t, please consider doing so – you don’t know how much good it will do and how very much it will be appreciated.  And, as mentioned, it is the perfect way to say “thank you” for Veteran’s day.

~McQ

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So Where Does Ms. Kelo Go To Get Her Home Back?

I‘m sure she’d appreciate it given how hard she fought to save it.  But alas it is no longer there.  In one of the biggest “Constitutional” travesties in my lifetime, the Supreme Court sided with the city of New London to essentially give the property to a private concern which had promised to “lure jobs” to the town.  In a total misuse of eminent domain, the property on which Ms. Kelo’s house used to sit is a “wasteland of weeds”.  And Pfizer, the company that was going to bring all those jobs in return for the condemnation?

Pfizer’s laying off and closing up shop there:

Pfizer Inc. will shut down its massive New London research and development headquarters and transfer most of the 1,400 people working there to Groton, the pharmaceutical giant said Monday….

Pfizer is now deciding what to do with its giant New London offices, and will consider selling it, leasing it and other options, a company spokeswoman said.

How about just handing them over to Ms. Kelo? In this disgraceful, but landmark case, 5 justices managed to somehow twist the law to the point that they agreed taking the town’s taking of the Kelo property for redevelopment at the be behest of Pfizer, a private concern, on the promise of more jobs somehow met the ‘public use’ criteria. The ruling put the property of every American in jeopardy of taking for almost anything a local government can dream up. And it remains in jeopardy today.  Pfizer should have been left to offer homeowners a price if they wanted that land so badly.  It should never have seen the government, at any level, involve itself.  And it darn sure shouldn’t have seen the Supreme Court approving the use of “eminent domain” to take the property.

Scott Bullock, Kelo’s co-counsel in the case, told me: “This shows the folly of these redevelopment projects that use massive taxpayer subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare and abuse eminent domain.”

I’ll go one further than Mr. Bullock – this wasn’t an “abuse” of eminent domain, this completely rewrote eminent domain, to the detriment of the right of private property. The Kelo ruling was wrong and it was as anti-liberty as any recent ruling the Supreme Court has made. If you had confidence that the SCOTUS had your back on Constitutional matters, this ruling alone should have disabused yourself of that notion.

And look how well it has ended.

~McQ

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This Is What Freedom Looks Like

Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall, erected by the totalitarian DDR to keep it’s citizens in, fell.  Not long after that, like dominoes, the totalitarian communist regimes of the East, to include the USSR, fell as well.  Watch the video and remember what freedom really looks like:

And where is American leadership at the celebration of this world changing event largely brought on by the perseverance and commitment of the US?

Nowhere to be seen.

You’d think this was a moment at least worthy of the VP (isn’t that what VP’s are for?).

Oh, wait, he’s in Detroit – a city with 17% unemployment – at a political fundraiser. Much more important.

~McQ

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When, If Ever, Will Obama Begin Acting Like The Commander In Chief?

I am not impressed. You may say I was set up not to be impressed simply because of my ideological preferences and the fact that Barack Obama is the antithesis of those preferences. But this has nothing to do with politics. No I don’t agree with most of what he stands for on the political scene, but that really has nothing to do with him acting like the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. And a photo op at Dover doesn’t fulfill the role. Nor does a substitute visit to Walter Reed when soldiers are hurting at Ft. Hood and 13 are dead.

Nor does an insensitive and tone deaf “shout out” prior to finally getting to the horrific news of Ft. Hood cut it either. The tragedy at Ft. Hood was a moment and a chance for a president, about whom the armed forces aren’t yet sure, to step up and assume one of the most important roles he has – that of commander in chief. And, frankly, he blew it. Even the liberal Boston Globe understood he’d blown it:

“It takes more than scripted eloquence for Presidents to connect with fellow Americans. It requires a visceral ability to grasp the scope of tragedy, calculate its impact on the national psyche, and react swiftly. Obama missed the first moment to show he understood how much it hurt.”

Even with that, he had a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the military. There were a lot of hurting people at Ft. Hood who would have appreciated a visit from their CiC. Instead he left it to a former Commander in Chief to fulfill the role while he took “R&R” at Camp David for the weekend.  As the Globe puts it, he seems to have completely missed the “scope of the tragedy” and its impact. More importantly he seems indifferent to his duties as CiC.

One of the best bloggers on the net when it comes to this sort of a subject is my friend Cassandra at Villainous Company. She has a must read essay in which she eloquently points out why Obama simply doesn’t “get” the military, and most likely never will. In my opinion, given what I’ve seen thus far, he appears to be totally unsuited to be the Commander in Chief.

Eloquence or style are no substitutes for leadership. An effective Commander in Chief leads. He doesn’t vote “present”. He doesn’t outsource his job. He doesn’t give it lip service. When those he’s leading are hurting, he’s there immediately. He acts like a leader, he empathizes like a leader and he makes decisions like a leader. And what he gains is one of the hardest things in the world to earn and keep – respect.

At the moment I have absolutely no respect for the Commander in Chief of this nation. And I suspect that feeling is shared by a very good portion of our military and military families. My title is a rhetorcial question.  Unfortunately, given his performance so far, I’m pretty sure I know the answer.

~McQ

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Chavez: Prepare For War, Here Come The Americans …

Apparently peace, love and the Obama magic have a 9 month shelf life. Hugo Chavez has determined that the US is up to its old tricks again – and besides, things aren’t going particularly well in the Bolivarian socialist paradise, so it is time to gin up the usual existential threat – the US:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the military and civil militias today to prepare for war as a deterrent to a U.S.-led attack after American troops gained access to military bases in neighboring Colombia.

Chavez said a recently signed agreement that gives American troops access to seven Colombian bases is a direct threat to his oil-exporting country. Colombia has handed over its sovereignty to the U.S. with the deal, he said.

“Generals of the armed forces, the best way to avoid a war is to prepare for one,” Chavez said in comments on state television during his weekly “Alo Presidente” program. “Colombia handed over their country and is now another state of the union. Don’t make the mistake of attacking: Venezuela is willing to do anything.”

Of course this is all a Bolivarian fantasy concocted to distract attention from internal problems, but it is a fantasy that one assumes is useful in some way to the collection of tin pot socialist dictators how holding forth in Central and South America. After all, Fidel Castro has made a career of it:

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro expressed concern similar to Chavez’s on Nov. 6, saying the U.S. might send Colombian troops to crush Venezuela’s government.

“The empire hopes to send them to fight against their Venezuelan and Ecuadorean brothers and other Bolivarian and Alba peoples to crush the Venezuelan revolution, just as they tried to do with the Cuban revolution in April 1961,” Castro wrote in a “reflection” published on the Cubadebate.cu Web site. The Alba bloc is a nine-member group of Latin American countries led by Chavez.

Wow – the US would do that? Send Columbian troops to “crush” Venezuela’s?

Hey, I thought this Obama guy was different and his ascendency and willingness to grip and grin with dictators would change all this?

The U.S. may try to help Colombia invade Venezuela, as the U.S. supported Iraq’s invasion of Iran in the 1980s, Chavez said.

A military attack on Venezuela would spread to other countries in the region because Venezuela has “friends” from Mexico to Argentina, Chavez said during the program.

“If the Yankee empire tries to use Colombia to attack Venezuela, the war of 100 years would begin,” he said.

Guess not.

~McQ

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