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June 2012

The Soft Ones

A pair of stories today show the way that the current regime in Washington is moving to soften the forces that defend the frontiers.  From Norfolk:

The Navy will not use a target depicting a Muslim woman holding a gun at a new training range for SEALs in Virginia Beach.

The announcement came hours after the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the Pentagon to remove the target. A picture of the cardboard target, which shows a woman in a headscarf holding a pistol, was published in The Virginian-Pilot on Tuesday.

There's no bigger advocate for the principle of chivalry on earth than me:  but really?  

You guys know what the SEALs are for.  What exactly would you like them to do in this case?  You'd better start training them for it.  If they're not to shoot her, what are they to do?  Drop their weapons?  Withdraw?

At least so far they aren't directing the SEALs to 'run and hide.'

Border Patrol agents in Arizona are blasting their bosses for telling them, along with all other Department of Homeland Security employees, to run and hide if they encounter an "active shooter."

The Border Patrol's been taking it on the chin for a while now. It's good to know they have the institutional spirit to resist a stupid directive like this. Even what they are calling 'civilians' have a duty to resist an armed felon who is killing their fellow citizens to the best of their ability. "Run and hide" is not advice a free man can follow.

Egypt's Islamist President

Not an unforeseen outcome by any means. My good friend Frank Gaffney has said the likeliest outcome of the Arab Spring was the sprouting of the Muslim Brotherhood all over the region. It is interesting to see the fact of the newly sworn in President of Egypt's Islamism acknowledged in the pages of the Washington Post, however.

CAIRO — Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s new Islamist president, took the oath of office Saturday afternoon before the country’s top court, vowing to help build strong, independent government institutions in a country still struggling to overcome its authoritarian past.

In fairness to their political correctness, they do pay lip service to his farcical claims to build strong independent institutions to aid in overcoming the authoritarian past. They fail to note he wants to replace the old tyranny with a theocratic authoritarianism that will make Hosni Mubarak seem like a Sunday school teacher, ooh bad analogy, OK a sweetheart. In an odd, but I think strategic, way I am OK with that. Things have to get worse in the Middle East before they can get better. The people who voted these terrorist-supporting, freedom-crushing, religious fanatics into power need to feel the iron sandal of Islamism on their necks before they will refute them.  I find it fairly likely there will be some major, war-like conflicts over the next few years as this plays out.

Morsi said Egypt would not seek to meddle in the affairs of other countries or attempt to export its revolution to other countries in the region.

Yeah, right.

But he expressed support for Palestinian unity and for Syrians battling an autocratic government.

Of course he has to get them back in the game of battling the evil Joooooos, and he and his Muslim Brother amigos have expressly discussed putting the Camp David Accords with Israel to a vote. Wonder how that will turn out? No I don't. It will result in a de-recognition of Israel's right to exist and things will head downhill from there. Mubarak kept the border with the terrorist-run Gaza Strip sealed. Do you think the now terrorist-run Egypt will care about stopping the flow of weapons to the oppressed people of Palestine? Yeah, me either. He has even publicly asked for the release of the Blind Sheikh who we have in jail for the first World Trade Center bombings. This guy is s true reformer who will bring sweetiness and light and the milk of human kindness.

But hey, Islam means Peace, right? Oh wait, no, it means Submission. Let's see how that works out.

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Team-rubicon-logoTeam Rubicon and Omaze are partnering to raise money to empower 250 veterans to become first responders for Team Rubicon and to raise awareness about Team Rubicon. 

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Be sure to sign up for Team Rubicons email list to be among the first to know about the raffle experiences.



ICYMI: White House talks veto threat because TRICARE fee hikes eliminated

It’s called caring for our troops and veterans in DC:

The Obama administration on Friday threatened to veto a defense appropriations bill in part because it does not include higher health care fees for members of the military.

“The Administration is disappointed that the Congress did not incorporate the requested TRICARE fee initiatives into either the appropriation or authorization legislation,” the White House wrote in an official policy statement expressing opposition to the bill, which the House approved in May.

President Obama’s most recent budget proposal includes billions of dollars in higher fees for members of TRICARE, the military health care system, and is part of the administration’s plan to cut nearly $500 billion from the Pentagon’s budget.

Feeling the love?

See you in November.


Twitter: @McQandO

Hiring Our Heroes/VOWS Follow-Up

In my original post, Mr. Wolf asked to be proven wrong, and over at This Ain't Hell Tman and some others had questions that also deserved answers.  So, let me tell you a bit about the event. 

It began bright and early on a very warm day, and I was glad for the change in venue.  This year, it was actually held on Wall Street, and was indoors with air conditioning which made it much nicer for all concerned.  Even better, it brought the employers and VSOs together in one area which made it a target rich environment for those attending.  Employers had more traditional tables and booths, while the VSOs had smaller round tables interspersed with the employers.  This allowed those there to easily find resources even as they went to prospective employers. 

Unlike many job fairs, there was one major rule for the employers present:  they had to have jobs available now.  A minor rule was that they had to be set up by a certain time or their space would go to someone else -- and not only was there a waiting list for prospective employers, there were people on that list present who did get any spaces not set up on time.  If a company snoozed, they did lose.  It was understoond that they would also have people present capable of making decisions and I think most did so. 

Keep in mind that it was not just a job fair, and was not limited just to Wall Street-type jobs.  There were a variety of opportunities on the latter, and there was a conference with multiple sessions on the former.  The conference was split into two sections:  one focused on helping veterans transistion into the civilian workforce, and the other focused on teaching companies and HR departments why veterans make excellent hires.  Sadly, I did not get to attend any of of the conference sessions I had planned on.  Well, not so sadly as I did not get a break until well after the job fair officially ended as I was talking with veterans and company representatives the entire day.  I'm told that the sessions were very well attended, however. 

So, the meat of the matter is as follows:  Right around 500 job seekers attended; 44 received firm offers that day; 84 provisional offers were extended; 15 secondary interviews were scheduled; and, some 830 interviews were conducted.  No, the latter is not a typo -- it means that many attendees interviewed at multiple firms.  My thanks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the figures. 

Despite this, I've read a very few complaints about the event.  I do have to wonder, however, if one person complaining about it being a "meat market" was the individual who showed up at my table in an outfit that would not have passed muster for a very lenient casual Friday; or the person who was wearing a pink t-shirt; or, the person who showed up in cut-offs... 

If you don't show up to an interview (much less a job fair) dressed appropriately, don't expect to be taken seriously.  Frankly, it's insulting to the people there willing to interview and hire, much less to those putting it on.  It's not like there are not projects in the NYC-area (and others nationwide) to get our troops and veterans into appropriate civilian attire for cheap or for free.  Those programs can be fairly easily found, and in this case there is a link in the media section of the VOWS site to a press release about such an effort. 

On the complaint that the range of jobs was limited, I have to call BS.  There were a range of jobs there, and while not all job fields were represented it was fairly easy to find out in advance what was likely to be there or not be there.  That they didn't have the specific job you wanted with all bells and whistles does not mean the event was a bust.  It does say much about you that you feel that way, however. 

VOWS, and Hiring Our Heroes, is not about a handout, or giving jobs to veterans no matter what.  The goal is to open doors that were or are closed.  What you do at that point is up to you.  They are opening the doors, giving workshops on how to take advantage of that open door, and even providing assistance on doing so.  My "neighbor" at the event was a new program from the VA that is focused on that, and I have to admit I took notes on what he was telling people. It is also about educating companies and HR departments on the advantages of hiring veterans, as without that portion all the job fairs in the world will do no good. 

Was the event perfect?  No, but there are opportunities to provide constructive feedback to the organizers on both sides so that next year can be even better.  For me, the new location was a huge step-up, and while I wish we could get power to the tables, I'm more than prepared to work within that limitation next year in order to keep the many advantages of the new location.  I might have a few other tweaks to recommend, but nothing major in terms of the job fair portion.  I'm sure that some whiners can be found, but much of what I heard in the way of complaints published at the time sounded more like ten percenter sour grapes than valid criticisms.  Remember, reporters can always find a complainer.  What is missing from such reports are the many positive comments I heard from attendees. 

For me, how this was done represents a very good model of how things should be done nationwide.  It is not just enough to have a job fair:  there have to be real jobs available then; there have to be efforts undertaken to prepare troops and veterans for civilian hiring practices; there have to be efforts to provide the other resources needed (clothing for one example); and, there have to be efforts made to education HR offices and companies on WHY veterans make excellent preferential hires.  Frankly, on the latter we can face an uphill fight, especially with the falacious memes of the crazed PTS vet, too dumb to get a real job to start with vet, and other media fantasies. 

Yet, it can be done and the VOWS/HoH event shows a good way to do it.  I would strongly recommend other areas of the country look at the model, as the numbers show it can and does work.  With constructive feedback from all concerned, it can be made even better.  For me, I'm already looking forward to next year, and finding ways I can help make it even better. 


Stolen Valor, Round II

So the Supremes said no to the 2006 Stolen Valor act finding it too broad and, in essence, because of that a violation of free speech.  The point?  Hey, Congress, don’t make it so broad.

That’s where round 2 comes in:

Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03) today released the following statement after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled a federal law passed in 2006 which made it a crime to lie about one's military record or awards unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that such fabrication of military service or awards is free speech protected by the Constitution.

"While originally very popular, the 2006 law went too far in that it attempted to limit individuals' speech. My bill takes a different approach – making it illegal for individuals to benefit from lying about their military service or record. As a colonel in the US Army Reserve, I feel strongly about protecting the honor of our service men and women, and the Stolen Valor Act of 2011 will help do that.

"Now that the Supreme Court has laid down this marker, I will be pushing for a vote on a version of the Stolen Valor Act that will pass constitutional scrutiny."


In May of 2011, Congressman Heck introduced H.R. 1775, the Stolen Valor Act of 2011, which would make it illegal for individuals to benefit from lying about their military service, record, or awards. It is likely that this bill would pass constitutional review on the grounds that it does not attempt to limit speech. Rep. Heck's bill has 52 bipartisan co-sponsors. Senator Scott Brown (MA) has introduced the Senate companion bill, S. 1782.

I think that would partially fill the bill.  It would make it a crime for any faker to benefit from their fakery whether with veteran benefits or otherwise.  After all, that’s fraud.  It seems that should be covered already under fraud statutes, but maybe not (I’m sure that getting VA benefits would be fraud under existing law, but I’m not sure about benefits, pay, compensation, etc. garnered in the civilian world based on a faked military background – like faking out a military charity with a hard luck story and bogus documents).

That sort of leaves us with the problem of fakers who aren’t “benefitting” though, doesn’t it?

How about this as a start:

In his opinion striking down the Stolen Valor Act on Thursday, United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy offered an alternative solution for defending the military’s award system against fakers, one he said would not infringe on First Amendment rights.

“The government could likely protect the integrity of the military awards system by creating a database of medal winners accessible and searchable on the Internet, as some private individuals have already done,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “Were a database accessible through the Internet, it would be easy to verify and expose false claims.”

Gee what a good idea.  Why haven’t we done that already?  Well, we all know how awards are given and that many awards aren’t centrally approved, but there is nothing that says that awards given can’t be reported to a central database.  After all it’s not like the military does that daily with a lot of requirements, does it?

… Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran who for more than a decade has been painstakingly logging military award citations into a public database, a task the Defense Department has declined to take on.

So far, Mr. Sterner said on Thursday, he has logged more than 104,000 award records, including every recipient of the top two tiers of military honors: the Medal of Honor, the highest military award, and the Air Force Cross, the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross. (The Congressional Medal of Honor Society also maintains a database of all Medal of Honor recipients.)

Mr. Sterner says he has done all that data entry himself, helped on the technical side by Militarytimes.com, which hosts the database, known as the Hall of Valor. He asserts that for a few million dollars, he could hire a team of data entry workers and, within three years, log every military valor award ever awarded by the United States military.

My guess is Sterner is right – he could likely log them all with a team and some money.

If you’re not familiar with the Hall of Heroes, you ought to be.  It is extensive and a source for me, at least, for the Someone You Should Know segments I do each week on WRKO 680am out of Boston on Sunday nights.

But this isn’t much of a priority for DoD.

In fact till now DoD has used the privacy excuse not to do so:

The Defense Department says it has not created a public database of valor awards because federal privacy laws prohibit it from publicizing identifying information about recipients, such as their dates of birth or Social Security numbers. Without such data, the database would be virtually useless in checking an individual’s claim to have received a medal, the department asserted in a 2009 report to Congress.

But as Sterner points out, there are ways to do it anyway, as he has demonstrated.

Mr. Sterner says he has put together his database using public records, some obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. He says he does not log Social Security numbers, but will include a date of birth if if it is already publicly available on the Internet, or the recipient is deceased, or has voluntarily agreed to provide it.

He also includes other identifying information when available, such as birthplace or home of record, which he says are often found in the citations or in the press releases issued by the Pentagon itself. And he sometimes includes a photograph, though he will avoid using a picture if the recipient is still active in the Special Operations Command.

Sounds to me as if it’s just not a priority to the DoD, which, you’d think, would want the valor of its members protected.

You’d think.

Time for DoD to get on the ball and help stamp out this epidemic of stolen valor.  Brave men and women died for those awards.  The least DoD could do is enable work to ensure they and they alone are honored for their bravery instead of making it easy for some fat clown who has never seen a day in uniform but has decided to act out his militaristic fantasy publicly from stealing that valor.


Twitter: @McQandO

Rule #6

Para hires_120615-A-3108M-020cU.S. paratroopers fire at insurgent forces during a firefight on the outskirts of Spedar village in southern Afghanistan's Ghazni province, June 15, 2012. This was the first of several firefights U.S. and Afghan soldiers encountered during their daylong partnered patrol. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

Real Heroes and Fake Ones

Two of my personal heroes, Jonn Lilyea and Doug Sterner, talk to ABC News about the Stolen Valor decision from the Supremes yesterday.  In reality, TSO and others agree that the law was written too wide for the first amendment and that legislation coming down the pike will soon fix the need.  It's tough to let it go for now, but that's our system...in the meantime, the guys at This Ain't Hell are on it.

Stolen Valor act struck down by Supreme Court

In case you missed it in all the hype and coverage about the ObamaCare ruling:

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law that made it a crime to falsely claim being awarded a top military honor, saying the law infringed on the Constitution’s First Amendment protection of free speech.

Fine.  Those are the rules?  Well “free speech” works both ways.

Richard L. Denoyer, C-i-C of the VFW tells you how that works:

“Despite the ruling, the VFW will continue to challenge far-fetched stories, and to publicize these false heroes to the broadest extent possible as a deterrent to others.”

And that’s what everyone should do.  Facts are facts.  They stand on their own.  So if you have the facts, don’t be shy about sharing them with everyone who should know because, as Jan Scruggs says:

“Public humiliation is now the most effective tool to expose the delusional Walter Mittys of American Society.”

Indeed.  In fact it is the only tool available – and that’s fine too.  They may not go to jail, but if the humiliation is done effectively, they may wish they had.


Twitter: @McQandO