What a contrast

I meant to write of Paul Ryan’s fabulousness last night at the convention, but the-infant-is-napping clock ticks while I have laundry to fold and dinner to make. I’ll leave you with Pundette’s impression, which is very similar to my own.

Instead, I’ll tell you about my drive on post this morning to visit the pediatrician.

Every time I visit the doctor, take the kids to theirs, or go grocery shopping, I pass this:

 

More often than not, I also pass this:

Then I have to explain my tears to the four year-old. It never fails to bring the tears, either, and the subsequent silent prayer for the family of the fallen. It was an Army family today, by the uniforms. A Navy family last week.

That’s why reading this headline burns me beyond belief:

Obama Honors Fallen SEALs By Sending Their Parents a Form Letter Signed by Electric Pen

There are no words sufficient for my contempt. I have friends who fall for the Michelle does so much for military families ruse, and I try to bite my tongue.

In case anyone wonders, GW spent hours writing personal notes to the families of the fallen. Over 4,000 letters:

Mr. Bush, for instance, has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice. The task, along with meeting family members of troops killed in action, has been so wrenching – balancing the anger, grief and pride of families coping with the loss symbolized by a flag-draped coffin – that the president often leaned on his wife, Laura, for emotional support.

“I lean on the Almighty and Laura,” Mr. Bush said in the interview. “She has been very reassuring, very calming.”

Mr. Bush also has met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans, according to White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Many of those meetings were outside the presence of the news media at the White House or at private sessions during official travel stops, officials said.

The first lady said those private visits, many of which she also attended, took a heavy emotional toll, not just on the president, but on her as well.

I was incredibly upbeat this morning after Ryan’s speech. We can win this, I thought. He represents the future. Now all I can see is red, and that caisson pulling a casket, knowing that the Commander-in-Chief could give a shit less about this family or any other military family. Form letter. Campaign on! Sign it with an auto pen.

Defeat this man. Restore the honor and integrity to the office. To the nation.

UPDATE: NB: I know my husband will be incredibly disappointed that I’m using foul language–a first–on the blog. But after much thought, it stands as it properly reflects the attitude of the CIC and his disdain for our finest and their collective sacrifice, two things he knows nothing of. There, ended a sentance with a preposition, too, so everyone should know how peeved I am!

UPDATE 2: Wow, the family of a dead rapper gets a personally written condolence from Obama. Must be that major contribution to … culture. Defense of one’s country, not so much.

“The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill.”

Ah, she gets a headache, too.

So quipped the First Lady in an interview in 2007. The full Monty:

Every year, Michelle Obama considers quitting her job and staying home full-time to take care of her children. “It was a gift having my mother home every day. I want my kids to feel that way,” she says. But having experienced the pleasures of work outside the home, she is reluctant to give up her independence. “Work is rewarding,” she says. “I love losing myself in a set of problems that have nothing to do with my husband and children. Once you’ve tasted that, it’s hard to walk away.”

So difficult to walk away. Why would your children’s problems ever be more important than ones with no connection or bearing to your family?

Then, too, there is that little-discussed fact that staying home with children can be—how else to put it?—less than intellectually stimulating. “The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill,” she says. “My head starts to ache.” When she mentioned it to her mother, Marian Robinson told her daughter she didn’t think Michelle could handle the boredom of staying home with kids. Obama was surprised to hear that taking care of her had been boring, but now she embraces the idea of discussing it openly.

The boredom. It’s funny, I’m so busy I’m rarely bored.

Bored? What the hell did Michelle do on sick days? Stay in bed herself? Luckily for Michelle, the family decided they couldn’t live on Barack’s humble salary of $162k. How military families like mine decide it’s in the family’s best interest to have me stay home must be a mystery as we do it for much less than $162k a year. Then again, I do know how to cook. That saves a boatload, I guess.

H/t to Pundette for the illuminating Vogue interview with our esteemed First Lady.

“Apparently I’ve got a thing with numbers lately. 720. That’s how many days it’s been since he left this earth. That’s how many days I’ve survived widowhood.”

So writes Mrs. P on the second anniversary of her husband, Cpl. Jonathan Daniel Porto’s, combat death in Afghanistan. I wrote then:

Blogress Mrs. P lost her beloved husband, soul mate, best friend, and father to her infant daughter, Cpl Jonathan Daniel Porto, in Afghanistan last week.

From one military wife to another: I am so very sorry.  I had a difficult time explaining to the toddler on my lap why I was crying while reading your post.

“Mommy crying Mommy owie?” she asked, brow wrinkled with concern.

Yes, baby, my heart hurts.

Thank you for the support, encouragement, and love you gave your husband–and our country–by allowing him to warrior while you held the fort at home.  It’s not easy.   My thoughts and prayers are with you, your baby girl, and your beloved husband.

Semper Fi, Cpl Porto.

Mrs. P writes:

Thank God for that little girl who made me survive through those early days. I had no choice, I had to take care of my little girl, his little girl, our little girl.
I had to survive. And so, I did. I have. Two years later, I’m still here.

[…]

Because our love was so strong, it has carried me through. On days like this, Jonny, I think of you. I think of the way you loved me, and I know it’s not so bad. I had that love, I still have that love. So, to my biggest support (even if you are the cause of all this, ya turd) thank you for your love. Thank you because I know you make sure I feel it from where you are. Thank you for loving me. And thank you, thank you for choosing me to be your wife, thank you for choosing me to be the mother of your beautiful child. I’d never change being with you, even if I couldn’t change the ending, you showed me what true love is and I will always love you for the rest of my years on this earth and beyond. I know you hear me, I know you feel me. Know that I miss you, I love you, and you are my true love.
And with that, I am off to bed to be rested to spend a day at the zoo with our beautiful daughter tomorrow.
Remember to hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them and how much they mean to you. Life is short, appreciate it.

So true.

My prayers were with you then, are with you now. As a military wife with a decade on you, it hurt me even more that you and Jonny are so young. I taught high schoolers who are your age now. I’m so proud of you for thriving, Mrs. P. Semper Fi.

H/t once again to Legal Insurrection.

Oremus

Oh. Pray for this woman. WaPo:

HOPE MILLS, N.C. — A Green Beret recently home from Afghanistan died trying to rescue his two young daughters from their burning home near Fort Bragg in North Carolina early Tuesday, and the girls were also killed in the blaze.

Edward Cantrell and his wife escaped from the 2 a.m. blaze by jumping from the home’s second floor, the Cumberland County sheriff’s office said. Cantrell then wrapped himself in a blanket and re-entered the burning home in Hope Mills, about 10 miles from the Army base that is home to the Green Berets and other Special Forces units, sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said.

Cantrell, 36, was trying to reach 6-year-old Isabella and 4-year-old Natalia, who were trapped in second-floor bedrooms, Tanna said.

“He never made it back out,” Tanna said. Firefighters found their bodies inside the home, Tanna said.

Louise Cantrell was being treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation. The family dog, a Rottweiler named Sasha, also survived the fire and was being kept by neighbors.

To have your husband return from Afghanistan and die trying to save your daughters. Hug your family a little closer tonight. And keep Louise Cantrell in your prayers.

Thanks, Obama, for another knife in the back of the military (but hey, protect those union BFFs at all costs!)

This gets tiring after a while. Why not just abolish the military and be done with it? (Or would that be too radical even for Barry O.? Probably not. Just wishful thinking on his part.)

Via The Daley Gator, the Washington Free Beacon details how the new Obama budget protects all unionized government workers and their benefits (of course!) but hands another crap sandwich to military families and retirees. Eat up folks:

The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.

The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.

The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.

Translation: military will pay more. DOD civilian personnel will not. The retirees would be the ones shifted into the Obamacare exchanges.

 Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.

Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.

According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.

The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.

[One note: using the scenario given, the retired O-5 family would pay $2,048 as an annual enrollment fee NOT as stated for a year of health care. There are still doctor and pharmaceutical co-pays.]

The hardest hit? Senior citizens like my grandfather, a Vietnam vet in his 80s. Via the VFW:

The DOD budget unveiled February 13 recommends 1.7 percent military pay raises for 2013 and 2014, followed by a scant 0.5 percent increase in 2015, and 1 percent in 2016. Also announced were plans to almost quadruple Tricare Prime enrollment fees for some working age military retirees, impose Tricare for Life enrollment fees on those older than 65, and introduce enrollment fees and increased deductibles on Tricare Standard and Extra users. Included in DOD’s healthcare revenue plan are increased pharmaceutical copayments for retirees as well as military dependents.

Emphasis mine. On a fixed income of Social Security and savings, new “enrollment fees” will decimate some folks financially. My grandfather included. Hope and change: how many folks can you ruin financially in one term?

UPDATE: From The Gateway Pundit, I had forgotten about the hazardous duty pay cuts:

They will now only get the $7.50 daily proration for the individual days they are actually serving in harm’s way instead of for the whole month. (DOD)

Barack Obama cut pay for military men and women serving in harm’s way starting this month.

Hopenchange!

 

Why are we still in Afghanistan?

John Hinderacker at Powerline says “Let’s Get Out.”  I’m inclined to agree. After more than a decade of fighting and “nation-building,” we’re left with a country only marginally better than it was before. Yes, the Taliban isn’t in power, terrorizing people. They’re just waiting in the shadows until we leave, terrorizing people. We cannot stay forever.

The Afghan population is less than a quarter literate. It’s a tribal society now inflamed further by the burning of books used to transmit messages among prisoners. We’ve lost soldiers over this nonsense, and we will lose more when our Commander-in-Chief can’t help but issue apology after apology to our enemies. Two officers were murdered execution-style in a protected office. I’m sure we’ll wait in vain for any justice to be served.

An Army Lieutenant Colonel, Daniel L. Davis, published an article in the Armed Forces Journal this month detailing his year of travels in Afghanistan. It’s not a flattering portrait of Afghani reality or of our presence there, and as a military wife, I can say it’s incredibly depressing when we have so many who sacrifice so much in what seems a vain effort. He writes:

Adviser: “No. They are definitely not capable. Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them.

“Also, when a Taliban member is arrested, he is soon released with no action taken against him. So when the Taliban returns [when the Americans leave after 2014], so too go the jobs, especially for everyone like me who has worked with the coalition.

“Recently, I got a cellphone call from a Talib who had captured a friend of mine. While I could hear, he began to beat him, telling me I’d better quit working for the Americans. I could hear my friend crying out in pain. [The Talib] said the next time they would kidnap my sons and do the same to them. Because of the direct threats, I’ve had to take my children out of school just to keep them safe.

“And last night, right on that mountain there [he pointed to a ridge overlooking the U.S. base, about 700 meters distant], a member of the ANP was murdered. The Taliban came and called him out, kidnapped him in front of his parents, and took him away and murdered him. He was a member of the ANP from another province and had come back to visit his parents. He was only 27 years old. The people are not safe anywhere.”

That murder took place within view of the U.S. base, a post nominally responsible for the security of an area of hundreds of square kilometers. Imagine how insecure the population is beyond visual range. And yet that conversation was representative of what I saw in many regions of Afghanistan.

In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described — and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.

We are not helping the Afghans. We are certainly not helping ourselves.  Hinderacker:

It has never been clear why we can’t use drones, air power and troops stationed reasonably nearby to prevent the Taliban or other extremist groups from setting up extensive training centers that can be used for attacks on the U.S., such as those that existed before September 2001. If such measures are feasible, leaving Afghanistan should not damage our security. And, in any event, if our security depends on Afghanistan becoming a decent society within a lifetime or two, God help us.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Linked by Pundette as a “Recommended Read.” Thanks!

Does the First Amendment include the right to knowingly lie about military service?

Has it really come to this? From the LA Times:

Xavier Alvarez told of playing hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, marrying a Mexican starlet, piloting a helicopter in Vietnam and suffering gunshot wounds while rescuing the American ambassador during the Iran hostage crisis. All were lies.

He got into legal trouble, however, when he stood up at a water board meeting in Pomona in 2007 and described himself as a retired Marine who had received the Medal of Honor.
He joined a number of men who lied about their military service and claimed medals they did not win. More than a third of “Who’s Who” profiles that listed top military honors could not be confirmed through military records, a Chicago Tribune investigation found in 2008.

The Supreme Court will take up Alvarez’s case Wednesday to decide whether the 1st Amendment protects not just the freedom of speech but a right to lie about military honors.

In my southern hometown, a dude like this was exposed once. I remember it vividly because he–a man holding an elected political position–proudly proclaimed his honorable military service from every rooftop he could. Heroic deeds. How heroic to lie, eh? This is so much of a problem that it’s now illegal to do. That apparently rubbed Xavier Alvarez, who then sued (seriously?!) after he was fined for breaking a federal law.

Congress enacted the Stolen Valor Act in 2006 to make it a crime to falsely claim a military honor. And Alvarez, once he was exposed, was convicted and fined $5,000.

But his “everyone lies” defense won at the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals, which struck down the law on free-speech grounds on a 2-1 vote. It would be “terrifying,” said Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, if the government’s “truth police” could go after people for the “white lies, exaggerations and deceptions that are an integral part of human intercourse.”

What has Limbaugh always called the 9th? The 9th Circus? That’s it. No wonder. And now we have a boob whose headed to the Supreme Court to fight for his right to lie–oh, ‘scuse me, his “exaggeration and deception” that’s apparently “an integral part of human intercourse.”

Vile. But maybe the judge is right. Why fine a man beyond shame? I’d throw him into a room full of pregnant military their children halfway through a deployment instead. We know how to handle his kind.

Just sayin’.

H/t: Hot Air headlines

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