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October 06, 2007


You Democrats are always about the tax and spend.

This is yet another way in which the Bush Administration has adopted the generally accepted business practices of the private sector.

They hired the same guy who said, in his last job, "Whoops, your medical insurance lapsed yesterday before that tumor showed up." He was formerly in charge of springing defined contribution plans on 64-year-olds who had been assuming their benefits had been defined for 35 years.

We must do the shareholders bidding unless, of course, the workers become armed and learn how to spell the word "tyranny".

Then we'll need to revisit the intent of the Second Amendment. Let's see: individual right, nope; community right, nah; corporate right? Bingo!

Let's call it Blackwater.

The good news is that the body armour arrived on day 729.

[...] even if the last day has to be a special mission to investigate threats to our luxury beach resorts or Caribbean cruises through on-site inspection and testing.

But that's not supporting the troops! They _want_ to be in Iraq. I hear that all the time, so it must be true. Still, even they must make sacrifices in the name of fiscal discipline.

I figure being in the National Guard ought to entitle you to a free education in a state run school, as long as you can make the grades. Of course, I feel like pretty much anyone ought to be given that option, frankly, in or out of the military, so that's not a big surprise.

It must work differently in the National Guard than it does in the Reserves, because I know that when you're in the Reserves, you're eligible for the GI Bill while you're on inactive duty (ie, doing one weekend a month, two weeks a year), but once you're actually discharged you don't have any educational benefits whatsoever, no matter how long you were deployed. Which means that it's entirely possible to join the Reserves, do your training, immediately get sent to Iraq for a year or two, get hurt, get medically discharged so you're no longer on active OR inactive duty, and then have no education benefits available to you.

Brought to you by the very same people who don't enforce the law requiring employers to keep jobs open for deployed Reservists!

The only way to support the troops is by sending them to die in needless wars.

The idea of going out of our way to deny people who have served in Iraq for 22 months their benefits is just abhorrent.

Sometimes it’s just about the bureaucracy and there’s no sinister motive. The military has more red tape than your local DMV ever dreamed of. It’s a yes/no decision for some clerk somewhere. Does this person applying for this benefit qualify? No? OK – next…

Given the staggering cost of deploying 2,600 members of the Guard for 22 months, do you really think that pentagon brass thought to themselves we can save some green by screwing them out of education benefits that only about one in ten will ever apply for?

The whole story makes no sense anyway. Were they originally deployed for 729 days or were they extended? The article has it both ways. I don’t think anyone is being initially deployed for that long. So they ended up being deployed for 729 days but I’m pretty sure that when their orders were cut 2 years ago that those orders did not say “you’re going to Iraq for 729 days”.

In any case they are fixing it:

Members of the Minnesota congressional delegation have been working with the Minnesota National Guard to correct what they consider an inequity.
The state's U.S. senators, Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar, announced Monday they had received word from Army Secretary Pete Geren that he was attempting to fix the problem.

The thing is, OCSteve, it shouldn't have ever come to this. If you serve, a college education ought to be an automatic benefit, whether or not you ever step foot on foreign soil.

Incertus: I agree completely.

Anyway it appears to be a typical SNAFU:

The Minnesota Army National Guard's 1/34th BCT was extended in January 2007 for a period of 125 days; as a result, Soldiers of the 1/34th BCT were on orders longer than any unit in the US Military -- Active, Guard, or Reserve -- in either OIF or OEF. The Army cut orders to account for this extension. Inexplicably 1,338 orders reflected a 730-day duty period; and 1,162 orders reflected a period shorter than 730 days. 730 days (2 years) is the cut-off point for a higher level of Montgomery GI Bill benefits.

Someone just screwed up the orders for about half of the unit. Nobody tried to screw over anyone.

OCSteve: I think, after the last three years, that it's fully justified to suspect the worst. (Which I've found is generally over optimistic).

After all, we've read reports of soldiers medical records being altered to send them back to Iraq despite permanent injuries that should prevent it, we've read about the god-awful care and penny-pinching going on a Walter Reed, and of course we're all very aware of how much this war is costing, and how seriously stressed the Army is.

And of course we know that the budgets of the last few years have been focused more on useless pie-in-the-sky weaponry than things like pay raises for troops and the military equivilant of "better benefits".

This sort of bean-counting, "letter of the law" violations is amazingly common in the private world (especially when it comes to whether or not the company has to offer you a health care plan). Why would you be surprised that a strained military, that has been presided over for 7 years by a party that LOVES the efficieny of the private world (which does things like never schedule you for more than 31 hours a week, so you can't get health care, which saves them a bundle!) wouldn't do this sort of thing?

Mind you, no one's claiming that Bush ordered it personally. He doesn't have to -- ideology flows downwards, because of the people he appoints, and the people they hire, and the people they promote....it self-selects all the way down for the "right sort" of people.

And in the cutthroat private world, you have to admit -- squeezing EVERY bit of work out of these folks than canning them right before they could claim the expensive benefits is not just common, it's the sort of thing that gets you a nice bonus at the end of the year. Corporate approves!

Morat: I guess I just don’t understand the point of assuming some evil motive. Assuming that they were all actually deployed the same amount of time (a valid assumption I think as they wouldn’t send half the unit home a couple of days early) then they could still claim the benefit. Orders are how you would typically prove you are eligible, but there are other ways. If they were deployed the 730 days they could appeal the decision and prove their eligibility. It would be a pain, but if they were deployed long enough they’d still get the benefit. Paperwork screw ups are pretty common.

And why screw over only half the unit? There’s just no evidence of intent here IMO.

OCSteve: Morat: I guess I just don’t understand the point of assuming some evil motive.

Where the Bush administration is involved, it generally saves time to do so right away, rather than waiting.

"In any case they are fixing it"

A press release announcing intent, and actually fixing something -- which is what you've stated is the case -- are, in fact, two different things.

I don't mean to shock you, OCSteve, but sometimes press releases are true, and often they're just tools to get a story out of the press long enough for it to die. Six months from now, how many reporters will be looking into what happened?

In this case, the fact that it's 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard makes it reasonably probable that it will, indeed, get fixed. It's more in the interests of Minnesota's politicians to get it fixed than it's in the interests of the DoD bureaucracy to not care. In this case. Probably.

But I'd save announcements that it's being fixed until it's actually been fixed, myself.

Because all you have to go on is a press release, and people who play the odds of finding those credible don't often win.


Okay, it's been days now, and my comments are still blocked with "Invalid email address '[email protected] '"

But it worked with info switched. Particularly weird is that the URL field was blank, but mine still was posted.

Although switching info didn't work yesterday.

This seems to happen every couple of weeks or so. The software here is very wacky.

"Someone just screwed up the orders for about half of the unit. Nobody tried to screw over anyone."

"Major Ian Hay, back in the 'War to End War,' described the structure of military organizations: Regardless of T.O., all military bureaucracies consist of a Surprise Party Department, a Practical Joke Department, and a Fairy Godmother department. The first two process most matters, as the third is very small; the Fairy Godmother Department is one elderly female GS-5 clerk usually out on sick leave." -- RAH, Glory Road

On a side note, I expect we could pay for full GI bill-level benefits for every member of the US Armed Forces serving in Iraq for a small fraction of what the taxpayers are "saving" by having private contractors like Blackwater doing support roles.

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