Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama taps veteran senator Biden as running mate -

Obama taps veteran senator Biden as running mate - "Barack Obama has selected Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware to be his vice presidential running mate, choosing a veteran senator with a strong foreign policy background, Obama's campaign announced early Saturday."

Here's where it's going to get ironic.

Senator Biden is known for sometimes letting his mouth get ahead of his brain. Personally, I like the guy. From time to time, Senator Biden opens his mouth before he has thought things through and the results vary from coarse to (unintentionally) hilarious. I respect him for his willingness to stray off of prepared remarks and answer important questions.

This is very different from someone else who we won't name, (but whose last name rhymes with "Bush") whose malapropisms come from his inability to remember his prepared remarks.

This won't stop the Republican party from making a big deal about Senator Biden's speaking style.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sheriff goes to jail for an education | Oddly Enough | Reuters

Sheriff goes to jail for an education | Oddly Enough | Reuters: "Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County Illinois walked into his own jail on Wednesday to spend a week as a prisoner saying he was divinely inspired to learn what it was like to be confined and to sample jail programs designed to reduce recidivism. 'The biblical adage that we reap what we sow is very true in criminal justice ' said Curran 45 before exchanging his business suit for a prison jumpsuit at the Waukegan Illinois facility near Chicago."

Hopefully, he's an elected official and this kind of ridiculousness will be remembered come election time. Honestly, if he doesn't already know what the conditions are in his facilities than he doesn't need to be the sheriff.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Me and the Veteran's Administration Part Deux

Last week I got a letter from the VA telling me that I'd been approved for vocational rehabilitation. That was the first paragraph. The rest of the letter went to tell me about my right to appeal the VA's decision to give me what I'd asked for.

Here's the thing, I still have hoops to jump through for the qualification process. So a "yes" isn't possible, only a "no" is possible. I did 26 years in the military and I know how bureaucracies work. You have a bunch of steps where you can get disqualified and if, after dutifully completing all those steps you aren't disqualified then you're approved.

Since I'm only partway through the process and the letter went on and on about my appeal rights, I figured I misunderstood the letter and I had been denied. So I reread the letter over and over and the first paragraph really said "you have been approved" and the rest of the letter really said "you can appeal this decision." I finally put the letter in the "this may be important someday" box and moved on.

Today I got a call from the counselor that's supposed to administer a bunch of tests as part of the approval process. She said: 1) I have been approved and 2) I have to finish the screening process. I wasn't going to argue with her. If the VA's really going to pick up the tab for finishing my degree I will jump through, over or around any hoops they want jumped in the order they want them jumped.

But yeah, it's a little strange.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Me and the Veteran's Administration

I'm 40% service-connected disabled. The disabilities are not that big a deal. One example: 10% of that rating is for ringing in my ears. I would prefer that I not have ringing in my ears, but some hearing damage is part and parcel of going to wars.

My disability rating is high enough (over 20%) that I'm eligible for job training. One way that the VA can provide job training is by footing the bill for college. I would like to be a high school science teacher which requires a degree that I don't have. The VA's help could go a long way toward getting me into the classroom.

Well, dork that I am, I didn't apply for benefits until this month. Today, I just got tentatively approved for my education goal. There are tests to take, advisors and counselors to meet and stacks of forms complete but my objective has been conditionally approved.

The process is far from over, but it's off to a good start. What a huge load off my mind.

Friday, May 2, 2008

About damn time....

Military Stressing Veterans' Counseling - "Applicants for government security clearances will no longer have to declare whether they sought mental health counseling after serving in combat zones, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced yesterday."

Well, it's a baby step in the right direction.

The wording is still lame "strictly related to adjustments from service in a military combat environment" is not going to reassure many folks who are still on active duty. I'll give you an example: Airman Wingwiper deploys to the sandbox for 180 days and his marriage self-destructs when he comes home. Why is he seeking counseling? Does that meet the criteria? Will everyone think that? I'll tell you why that's important. The one absolute sure-fire way to get your clearance denied to to get caught in a lie on your SF86.

The effect of the current policy on security clearances and other special-access programs is that it drives folks to the chaplains. Some chaplains are excellent counselors. Some chaplains are not up to the challenge. (And some chaplains are rapists.)

I have a friend who took a bad shot in a war zone. He did not join the military and did not make the sacrifices he has made in order to kill innocent civilians. He went were he was sent, he did what he was told to do and the results were tragic. The USAF moved on and he didn't. He was saddled with nightmares and anger issues. He went to a chaplain for help because a chaplain's help was the best he could get without risking his career.

My personal take is that chaplains should stick to their area of expertise: religion. I would no sooner see a chaplain about battlestress issues than I would a fry cook.

I appreciate Secretary Gates' intentions, but he's still way short of the mark.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego and Nationalism?

What Motivates a Spy to Betray His Country? Add Nationalism to the Equation - New York Times

Interesting piece in the NYT about a shift in the motivations for traitors.

First off, I want to be picky here about word use. Spying is a profession. Sure, spies tell lies and violate other countries' laws but spies are professionals who are serving their own nation. Traitors, on the other hand, are betraying their own country. I can respect a spy, I cannot respect a traitor.

The trend amongst traitors seems to be shifting away from money. According to the NYT article, approximately half of the new batch of traitors are motivated by ideology to their native country.

I disagree with the article on the importance of sexual compromise. It's always been part of the game. It's not new.

I recommend reading article.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Re-entry system parts shipped to Taiwan

Pentagon Admits Mistaken Arms Shipment - "The nose cones, designed for a missile system that dates to the 1960s, were declared excess in March 2005 and shipped to a warehouse on an Air Force base in Wyoming, officials said. It is unclear whether they were placed in a classified storage area or how they were eventually mistaken for crates of batteries."

Honestly, if someone had asked me if this was possible I would have said "Hell no." So I guess I have revise (and lower) my opinion of my former co-workers. I am betting that these were time change items that had gone past service life and were returned to Hill AFB for the depot weenies to do whatever they do with them. How they got tagged at UH-1 batteries beats the hell out of me.

How the heck could anyone not notice we were missing forward sections to Mark 12 re-entry vehicles? (The Mark 12 is the assembly the contains the part that goes boom as well as support electronics.) It would seem to me that Mark 12 forward sections are accountable items.