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 notion of allowing women into Ranger School because denying them the experience would harm their careers makes Ranger graduates cringe.”

So explains former Army officer and Ranger Stephen Kilcullen in the WSJ as to why the current discussion of allowing women access to Ranger school as a necessity of opening Infantry units to women would be disasterous. “It’s a career enhancer” isn’t the best of reasons, no? That it proves to be a good marker for success for the officers and enlistees who brave the course is an after effect: they pass against all odds because of grit and determination, not because it’s a career enhancer. More:

Ranger School isn’t about improving the career prospects of individual candidates. Our motto is “Rangers lead the way.” Many a Ranger has lived these words before being killed in action—certain that if a Ranger couldn’t accomplish the mission, nobody could. This unique culture lures the kind of young, smart soldiers needed to get the toughest jobs done. The promise of something bigger than oneself—bigger than any career track—is what motivates these men.

It is this culture of excellence and selflessness that attracts young men to the Ranger brotherhood. The Ranger ethos is designed to be deadly serious yet self-deprecating, focused entirely on teamwork and mission accomplishment. Rangers put the mission first, their unit and fellow soldiers next, and themselves last. The selfishness so rampant elsewhere in our society has never existed in the Ranger brotherhood.

And that is the secret of the brotherhood’s success. Some call it “unit cohesiveness” but what they are really describing is a transition from self-interest to selfless service. The notion of allowing women into Ranger School because denying them the experience would harm their careers makes Ranger graduates cringe. Such politically correct thinking is the ultimate expression of the “me” culture, and it jeopardizes core Ranger ideals.

The military has changed many policies in recent years, based on individual self-interest masquerading as fairness and antidiscrimination. As we debate new policies, decision makers need to ask two simple questions: Is a proposed move good for the majority of service members? And does it improve or hinder our ability to execute our mission?

After all, the military does not exist to provide careers. It is a responsibility, a way of life and a higher calling that only 1% of our citizens choose to follow. A top-notch fighting force composed of dedicated and strong men who are the very best at what they do is what defines our armed forces—and the Rangers as among their best. Let’s not destroy this small but incredibly important culture under the banner of “me.”

Hoorah.

Liberals will do all they can to destroy the  one arena of American life where merit, grit and determination can truly guide someone from obscurity to success. All in the name of “politically correct.”  Read the rest.

H/t: Hot Air headlines

UPDATE: now a Memeorandum thread, but sans much discussion. Why? This is a big deal, y’all. Either way. Waiting for Allahpundit tonight. (Warning: the one thread linked is… viciously feminist and imagines irony behind every word. How does the Army having to lower physical standards in order for any female to pass allow “women to pursue equality”? Really.)

We can’t help ourselves: Obama admin celebrates intel success a little too much

To the detriment of future operations. Much like our military successes during this administration. Makes you wonder, no, if the boasting has an ulterior motive? Or if the Obama-infatuated media can’t quite grasp that they arent helping their BFF out by printing the info gleaned? What a tangled web. From the UK Guardian, our friends across the pond have had enough:

Detailed leaks of operational information about the foiled underwear bomb plot are causing growing anger in the US intelligence community, with former agents blaming the Obama administration for undermining national security and compromising the British services,MI6andMI5.

The Guardian has learned from Saudi sources that the agent was not a Saudi national as was widely reported, but a Yemeni. He was born inSaudi Arabia, in the port city of Jeddah, and then studied and worked in the UK, where he acquired a British passport.

Mike Scheur, the former head of theCIA‘s Bin Laden unit, said the leaking about the nuts and bolts of British involvement was despicable and would make a repeat of the operation difficult. “MI6 should be as angry as hell. This is something that the prime minister should raise with the president, if he has the balls. This is really tragic,” Scheur said.

He added: “Any information disclosed is too much information. This does seem to be a tawdry political thing.”

He noted that the leak came on the heels of a series of disclosures over the last 10 days, beginning with a report that the CIA wanted to expand its drone attacks inYemen, Barack Obama making a surprise trip to Afghanistan around the time of the Bin Laden anniversary and “then this inexplicable leak”.

Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, said: “As for British Intelligence, I suppose, but do not know, that they must be very unhappy. They are often exasperated, quite reasonably, with their American friends, who are far more leak-prone than they.

“In their place, I would think two and three times before sharing with the Americans, and then only do it if I had to. The problem with that dynamic is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and what opportunities you might be missing when you decide not to share. The Americans are doing a very good job of undermining trust, and the problem starts at the top.”

So many of our current woes do.

H/t: memorandum

Going rogue: elite Afghan soldier kills US Special Ops mentor

The translator, too. So much for being so closely vetted. Get our guys the hell out:

An elite Afghan soldier shot dead an American mentor and his translator at a U.S. base, Afghan officials said on Friday, in the first rogue shooting blamed on the country’s new and closely vetted special forces.

The soldier opened fire at an American military base on Wednesday in Shah Wali Kot district, in volatile Kandahar province, said General Abdul Hamid, the commander of Afghan army forces in the Taliban’s southern heartland.

“The shooting took place after a verbal conflict where the Afghan special forces soldier opened fire and killed an American special forces member and his translator,” Hamid told Reuters.

At least 18 foreign soldiers have died this year in 11 incidents of so-called green on blue shootings, which are an increasing worry for both NATO and Afghan commanders, eroding trust as Western combat troops look to leave the country in 2014.

The latest shooting will be of grave concern to both sides, at it is the first involving a member of Afghanistan’s new special forces, which undergo rigorous vetting as part of their selection into the country’s top anti-insurgent force.

Rigorous vetting.

“When we analyze the problem, it occurs for a number of reasons, and not as many as you would expect show any evidence of insurgent initiation, or insurgent backing,” a senior NATO official who could not be identified said last week.

“Quite often people resolve their personal problems by resorting to the use of a weapon. It’s more of a cultural thing here.”

We will not change the tribal culture in Afghanistan. It’s long past time to go. As Mark Steyn wrote last month in the wake of the murder of two American officers:

Say what you like about Afghans, but they’re admirably straightforward. The mobs outside the bases enflamed over the latest Western affront to their exquisitely refined cultural sensitivities couldn’t put it any plainer:

“Die, die, foreigners!”

[...]

In Afghanistan, foreigners are dying at the hands of the locals who know them best. The Afghans trained by Westerners, paid by Westerners and befriended by Westerners are the ones who have the easiest opportunity to kill them. It is sufficiently non-unusual that the Pentagon, as is the wont with bureaucracies, already has a term for it: “green-on-blue incidents,” in which a uniformed Afghan turns his gun on his Western “allies.”

So we have a convenient label for what’s happening; what we don’t have is a strategy to stop it – other than more money, more “hearts and minds” for people who seem notably lacking in both, and more bulk orders of the bestselling book “Three Cups Of Tea,” an Oprahfied heap of drivel extensively exposed as an utter fraud but which a delusional Washington insists on sticking in the kit bag of its Afghan-bound officer class.

Read the rest.

H/t: Hot Air headlines

Change: “the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.”

Lesson learned for college kids? Will they know to blame GW for their employment woes? I’m sure. Via memeorandum, the AP reports:

The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.

A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor’s degrees.

Opportunities for college graduates vary widely.

While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.

We know a wonderful young man about to graduate from a major state  university. He’s fortunate enough, however, to be leaving school debt-free thanks to a ROTC scholarship. And oh, he’s guaranteed a job as a newly-minted 2nd Lieutenant in the Army with an in-demand BS.

He didn’t vote for Obama, either. Go figure, eh? The kids willing to work for what they want–rather than taking the liberal bait that they’re owed something–are the ones who will emerge successful and debt-free. If only we could all be so savvy.

More from the article:

Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

“I don’t even know what I’m looking for,” says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.

Initially hopeful that his college education would create opportunities, Bledsoe languished for three months before finally taking a job as a barista, a position he has held for the last two years. In the beginning he sent three or four resumes day. But, Bledsoe said, employers questioned his lack of experience or the practical worth of his major. Now he sends a resume once every two weeks or so.

Bledsoe, currently making just above minimum wage, says he got financial help from his parents to help pay off student loans. He is now mulling whether to go to graduate school, seeing few other options to advance his career. “There is not much out there, it seems,” he said.

Emphasis my own. What a shame no one told Bledsoe that the practical worth of his major amounted to next to nothing. He is pictured with a nose ring and giant gauges in his ears. Call me old-fashioned, but I wonder how his appearance plays into his inability to garner more than a minimum wage job. (Hint: remove the jewelry, dude!) Further, he asked his parents for money to pay his loans rather than trying to find another low-paying job. No wonder it sounds like a great idea to stack up more debt! Go get that MFA!

Liberal disconnect: our too-successful military must be destroyed

Sometimes I think to myself: liberals really can’t be that different, right?

Then I read drivel like this:

Since the end of the military draft in 1973, every person joining the U.S. armed forces has done so because he or she asked to be there. Over the past decade, this all-volunteer force has been put to the test and has succeeded, fighting two sustained foreign wars with troops standing up to multiple combat deployments and extreme stress.

This is precisely the reason it is time to get rid of the all-volunteer force. It has been too successful. Our relatively small and highly adept military has made it all too easy for our nation to go to war — and to ignore the consequences.

Our all-volunteer force is too successful, therefore liberals must try to destroy it. Resuming the draft would do so, quickly, which the author acknowledges:

Resuming conscription is the best way to reconnect the people with the armed services. Yes, reestablishing a draft, with all its Vietnam-era connotations, would cause problems for the military, but those could never be as painful and expensive as fighting an unnecessary war in Iraq for almost nine years. A draft would be good for our nation and ultimately for our military.

I wish I could say this were printed in some far-lefty blog. But it wasn’t. I’m not sure which scares me more, that those among us exist who would intentionally destroy our military for “the good of the country” or that the WaPo would print it.

H/t: HotAir headlines

“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!

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