No More Tanks: Army Tells Congress to Stop Spending

Abrams tank

Whenever people call for cutting the military budget, the usual response goes something like  ”How can you keep the Army from getting the equipment it needs to fight wars?” Well, the problem with that response is highlighted today by this story from ABC:

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”

It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.

Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.

Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.

If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.

Today in Liberty: Labrador says coronating McCarthy sends the “wrong response,” Army begins Bowe Bergdahl investigation

“The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.” — H. L. Mencken

MT Senate: Ethics questions dog Democratic frontrunner

Democrats had hope that Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D-MT) would give them a shot at keeping control of a Senate seat that seems poised to be taken by Republicans later this year. But Harry Reid’s hand-picked candidate is facing questions over an alleged impropriety that occurred when he oversaw the Montana National Guard.

With Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) slated to serve as President Barack Obama’s next Ambassador to China, it looked as though Walsh would get a boost in the race with an appointment to the Senate by Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT). But the questions over Walsh’s behavior could set him back in what needs to be an error-free campaign.

The questions about Walsh stem from an August 2010 U.S. Army inspector general report which found that the then-adjutant general of the Montana National Guard had improperly used his office for “private gain.”

“The [inspector general] report says Walsh improperly solicited other Guard leaders to join a non-governmental group, the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS),” reported Helena-based KXLH-TV. “Walsh wanted to boost Montana Guard membership in that association because he was running for vice-chairman of the group.”

The report described Walsh’s emails to colleagues as “coercive” and that he had “improperly used government resources,” including his federally-issued computer, to send emails on behalf of NGAUS. The news outlet points out that one of his subordinates described Walsh’s conduct as “very threatening.”

Supreme Court strikes down the Stolen Valor Act

Somewhat lost in the fray over the disappointing ObamaCare decision was the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Stolen Valor Act, a law passed in 2006 that made it a crime for anyone to lie about receiving a medal or decoration.

But in a 6 to 3 decision on released on Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down the law on First Amendment grounds:

In United States v. Alvarez, No. 11-210, a highly anticipated First Amendment case, the Court held six to three that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. The Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. § 704, makes it a federal crime to lie about having received a military decoration or medal, punishable by up to a year in prison if the offense involved the military’s highest honors. The key issue in this case is whether knowingly false statements of fact – made without any apparent intent to defraud – are a protected form of speech, and if so, what level of protection they deserve.

No, the crowd didn’t “boo” a gay soldier

Among the things that stuck in people’s minds from Thursday’s debate were some boos tossed the way of a gay soldier serving in Iraq who asked if Republicans hoping to become president would reinstate the now defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” (or DADT) policy. As you can imagine, these served as fodder in the liberal blogosphere as they sought to use it to their advantage.

This was an incredibly unforunately incident, but the crowd didn’t erupt into boos at this soldier, who has both bravely served his country and revealed his sexual orientation. Accounts from inside the auditorum indictate that it was maybe a few idiots that sounded louder than they would have due to the acoutics of the room, and they were hushed by others around them (although that is inaudible in the audio). Have a listen for yourself:

Guns and society

There are those who still don’t accept that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, despite the decision in Heller vs. District of Columbia.  They argue that it protects a state’s right to maintain a militia, and that form today is the National Guard.  So let’s take a look at that faulty thinking and lay it bear.

First, let’s look at the text of the Second Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The right of the people.  Those who support the idea that it is a collective right seem to ignore one inescapable fact.  At no other point in the Constitution, does the word “people” refer to anything but individual rights.  So why should we accept that it does in this one instance?

Next, let’s take a look at the nature of militias and the National Guard.  The militia was the defense force made up of individuals who came out to protect their homes and families in time of war.  These were true citizen soldiers who answered to officers from their locality.  They owned their own weapons and equipment and could respond to threat of invasion even when the governor or president were still in the dark about the threat.

By contrast, the National Guard is part of the United States Army. They answer to the governor in times of crisis, but can be deployed overseas at the whim of the federal government. Further, their equipment is owned by the federal government and is maintained in a locked armory, making their response to invasion no different than the regular Army’s.

DADT critic discharged by Army

A leading critic of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been honorably discharged from the Army because he is open about his sexual orientation:

Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and Army National Guard first lieutenant, said he learned of the decision on Thursday. “It’s painful, mostly — not that my career is coming to an end, but really that it’s been a very difficult year,” he said in an interview.

Choi announced that he is gay during a March 2009 interview on MSNBC. He has since served as a leading Pentagon critic.

He has been arrested several times, most recently on Tuesday in Las Vegas at a rally calling for the passage of the Employment Non Discrimination Act. In March, he was arrested for handcuffing himself to a White House fence; prosecutors dropped charges against him last week.

The House included a repeal of “don’t ask” in its version of the annual defense spending bill. The Senate is expected to do the same.

Choi says that he would like to serve when DADT is finally repealed. That’s so odd to me considering our interventionist foreign policy. We’re constantly getting involved in the affairs of other nations, the government should want any healthy person they can find. I’m puzzled by that. So is Doug Mataconis, who asks, “So let me get this straight — we’ve got a guy who actually wants to serve and we’re kicking him out ? Explain that to me.”

Screw Afghanistan

Editor’s note: This video is not safe for work or for families who would not take their child to see an R-rated film due to the language contained within.

I have been a supporter of the war effort in Afghanistan since 2001, but after seeing this I say screw ‘em.

If the best we can do there is to get an army of giggling stoners who throw their hashish cigarette* when they get caught like a kid trying to hide the note they’ve been passing in class from the teacher, then forget about it.

Strategically, this sucks.  On the other hand, I think I just found the perfect place to send hippies.

*I’m not saying it shouldn’t be legal.  But come on, it’s the army.

The US Army is Getting Desperate

When the government insists on waging unwinnable wars around the world, the Army can never seem to maintain the manpower for these missions. To recruit more young Americans to fight in the war on terror, the US Army is getting creative by offering high school dropouts free GED’s if they enlist. Here is the story of one young beneficiary:

After dropping out of high school, William Kamicka, now 28, wanted to join the military, but his family talked him out of it. So the Columbiaville, Mich., native got a job. He eventually found work at a gift shop where he met his wife. They got married, and now they have four kids. Kamicka says having a family made it hard for him to get his GED.

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