Free Markets, Free People

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Super-sniper emerges in Fayetteville w/ 316 “confirmed” kills

I’m always somewhat naively amazed by stories like this (Google cache version – original link has been pulled) because I have to wonder how these guys think they can get away with claims like this.  The first thing that obviously catches your eye are the inordinate number of ARCOMs and AAMs the man claims (54?).  He claims he was a Ranger and claims “six Overseas Service ribbons for combat” but no CIB (all this apparently dutifully written up without question by the “reporter”).  And of course the award from the “emperor of Saudi Arabia” along with “several dozen others”.  Several dozen, mind you:

Jeff "Rock" Harris refuses to display his medals and honors in his Kinston home.

He tries to keep the awards – three Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, 23 Army Commendation Medals, 31 Army Achievement Medals, six Overseas Service ribbons for combat, an award from the emperor of Saudi Arabia, along with several dozen others, he acquired during his time as a U.S. Army Ranger – packed away. However, those around him refuse to let him forget how important his time in the military was.

Yeah, I can understand why he refuses to display them (someone wondered what the gross poundage of the oak leaf clusters would be). Then this:

"I have 316 confirmed kills as a sniper, and that’s only in that last three years I was in the Army," Harris said. "Every one of those horrifies me regularly because they were somebody’s children, somebody’s husband or father."

He still feels conflicted about what he had to do, but in the end, he knew it was his duty as a sworn soldier.

"They’re bad people and they’ve done bad things, but who am I to take that away from them?" he asked. "But it was my job to do. Lives were safer because of that – but it’s never easy."

Gee, really?   316 confirmed kills, eh?  Funny, but the 4 most storied snipers in our recent history, the top four snipers, only had a little over 400 confirmed kills between them.  So here we have super-sniper who apparently absolutely no one knows about and he killed almost 3 times the confirmed number of our most lethal sniper, Adelbert Waldron (109 confirmed) had in VN.  In fact he so badly outshot Chuck Mawinny (103 confirmed -VN), Eric England (98 confirmed-VN) and Carlos Hathcock (93 confirmed-VN) that he ought to be a legend in the SpecOps community.

Except apparently no one there has ever heard of him.

Finally there is this bit of “corroboration” which is just as puzzling:

James Murphy served in the Army as a Ranger with Harris and said he wouldn’t be alive if not for Harris’ heroic actions. Murphy recalled after he and another soldier were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Mogadishu, Harris ran to their position and carried both of them a half-mile away "not knowing if we were alive or not." He drove them to safety in a burning vehicle and returned to continue to fight.

"If you know him, you are privileged," Murphy said. "If you served with him, you were in the presence of a true American patriot. If he is your friend, you should be honored. He gives hope to humanity that there are still decent, amazing people all around you."

Mmmm … half-mile.  Didn’t know if they were alive or dead (really?).  Drove them to safety in a burning vehicle.  Huh … so that relief taskforce in Mogadishu wasn’t really necessary – all they had to do was follow super-sniper out … in his burning vehicle.  Hey, at least it would be easy to follow.

Of course this should all be easy to check out – as I recall, it was B Co., 3rd Bat, 75th Ranger RGT that was at Mogadishu.  This nonsense has already caught the attention of the US Army Ranger Association (that’s where I found out about it).   Their quick internal checks came up empty on the guy and Murphy.

Two questions – how does a person think such a story will pass undetected and unchallenged?  The irony is this piece was in the Fayetteville Observer.  Yeah, that’s right, the newspaper of the town in which Ft. Bragg, NC is located.  Yeah, no one there is going to notice, are they?

Which brings me to the second question – how does something like this get through the editorial process without being heavily questioned, especially in a paper that should have a staff thoroughly educated in the military given their proximity and the huge part the base plays in the life of the town?  Whatever happened to fact checking?  What ever happened to knowing enough about your subject that you’re not as easily gulled as these folks appear to have been?

Anyway, something tells me this isn’t going to turn out well for “Rock”.

/sarc

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Political fiction of "Trustees’ report" too much for CMS actuary

You remember last week when the supposed “good news” was released – Social Security wasn’t in as dire shape as we’d been told and Medicare was going to be fine too?  Yeah, since ObamaCare passed and the doc fix was sure to be implemented, not to mention the half trillion in cuts to Medicare, why we were on the road not only to solvency but to deficit reduction.

And the yearly bit of political theater played out as planned:

The normal process with the annual Trustees’ Reports is for the Trustees to develop and publish the best available projections for the future finances of Social Security and Medicare. The respective Social Security and Medicare actuaries then sign a pro forma blessing of those projections, which is tacked to the back of the report when released to the public.

“Pro forma” is the key.  Usually, whether they believe the rosy projections or not, their signatures appear on the report.

But this year, one of them just couldn’t do it in good conscience.  The Medicare Chief Actuary just couldn’t sign his name to the fiction without adding a memo of his own.

The actuary’s alternative memo explains that “the projections in the report do not represent the ‘best estimate’ of actual future Medicare expenditures.” Worse than that, they are not even in the ballpark of reasonability. The official 2010 Trustees’ Report tells us that total Medicare expenses will be total 6.37% of GDP by 2080. The CMS actuary’s alternative memorandum explains that 10.70% of GDP is a more reasonable estimate for that year – though one that is roughly 68% higher.

The two reasons the actuary cites are the “doc fix” – a formula the actuary describes as "clearly unworkable and almost certain to be overridden by Congress” (both the Obama administration and leaders in Congress are on record opposing them – yet there they are in the report on the “plus” side of the ledger).

The other assumption the actuary dismisses as unrealistic is the assumption that future program cost will be contained by “downward adjustments in annual price updates reflecting in turn the assumption that health service productivity growth will parallel “economy-wide productivity.”  The actuary flatly states there is no evidence to support this assumption and, on the contrary, much to call it deeply into question.

E21 notes:

This is a key point; the glowingly optimistic projections in the official Trustees’ Report assume that we as a nation will be content to have 40% of our medical facilities go under within the next 40 years, and that we will happily accept these severe constraints upon beneficiaries’ access to health care. If that is not in fact the societal will after the enactment of health care reform, then the official cost estimates should be tossed into the nearest receptacle.

Bad though all of this is, none of it is actually the worst gimmick in the official report’s advertised improvement in Medicare solvency. That involves the double-counting of Medicare savings. Earlier this year, Congress passed a health care bill containing various new Medicare taxes and constraints on program expenditures. Such savings are assumed in the official report to extend the solvency of Medicare. But Congress chose instead to spend the savings on a new health care entitlement.

Remember, the Trustees’ report, like CBO projections, must be based on current law.  So they must include the assumptions contained within those laws.  What the actuary says very bluntly is the assumptions are a fantasy and that the reality of the situation is far from that included in the report.

“(T)he financial projections shown in this report for Medicare do not represent a reasonable expectation for actual program operations in either the short range. . . or the long range. . . . I encourage readers to review the ‘illustrative alternative’ projections that are based on more sustainable assumptions for physician and other Medicare price updates.

You can read that “illustrative alternative” here.  Needless to say the Trustees’ report, as published, belongs on the same shelf in your library as “The Wizard of Oz.”

~McQ

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