Thursday, April 26, 2007

"I am become Death...

the destroyer of enlistments."

Well, I'm in charge again for the week. During my periods of being "the boss" the station is a cumulitive -2. I don't know if it's me, or if SFC SC2 simply times his leave so that I'm left standing when bad things happen. Or it could just be sad coincidence. Sad, sad coincidence.

Fortunatly none of the losses have been mine. Thank heavens for small favors.

I shipped one of my 09Ls today. That was good. This guy has been in the DEP for a while and he was eager to get out of here. While I'm glad to have him gone (I don't mean it like that), he was the best Future Soldier I've ever had. He provided several referrals, some processed, and a couple even joined. He's excited to finally get to start his time in the Army. However it's been delayed because the airline overbooked the flight and booted him. Wonderful.

With the losses taken it's been a rough week. My standing order when the phone rang today was "Tell them I'm not here, I'm in the hanging by my boot laces from the plumbing in the bathroom." The bastards never followed that simple order and I had to speak to everyone who called. Suffice to say it was not a happy day all around.

As if to add to the suffering I was called to the carpet on a distinct lack of seniors who have enlisted. Of course this required everyone's favorite solution: mandatory prospecting. With the front door locked, blinds closed, wireless cards removed from the laptops LRLs were broken out and numbers were dialed. The old Murphy's Law of Combat is still in effect: If it's stupid but it works it isn't stupid. Smilin' and dialin' might be boring, repetitive, occasionally depressing, but if you do it long enough production will happen. It's like magic or something.

However, to commemorate how today has made me feel I bring you this:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Me too!

So, it seems that Darth Commando has been getting some hate-mail love. Apparently the writer of the mail knows how much I hate feeling left out because he sent me a missive as well. I made a couple of edits for privacy, things I changed are in italics.
Dear SFC B;
I am your worst nightmare...a highly decorated Nam vet who responded to Military Recruiter. He printed my letter with a lame response and two weeks later he was off the net. Since then I have received 13 ,000 hits from his site (more than he could have ever dreamed of) from INTELLIGENT GIs who want to know the truth.
Bring it on, Dude as your wienie Commander-In-Chief would say. Wanna debate me? I will print everything you have to say at, unedited. I don't expect to hear from you because most recruiters I know are liars and cowards. Greg Lastname
Greg too the time to write to me, and it would be rude for me to not respect that and respond. As they told me in Basic "You've got to write mail to get mail."
Howdy Greg, thanks for taking the time to write me. I always enjoy having my ego stroked by my adoring public. I guess, thanks to you, I can say I've got nine readers. Yay me!

Actually my worst nightmare involves high-siding my motorcycle into a den of snakes. As the great philosopher Dr. Henry Jones Jr. said: " I hate snakes, Jock. I hate 'em ." Actually I don't hate them so much as get creeped out by them. But Dr. Jones didn't say "creeped" he said "hate" so I've got to go with it.

Thank you for your service Greg. One of the (few) pleasures of this job is getting to meet and speak with those who came before me. Not a day goes by that someone doesn't approach me on the street to tell me about their service, and to thank me for what I'm doing. I never allow those conversations to end without telling them how much I appreciated their service, and that I couldn't be doing this without them blazing the trail. I carry around pins which say something to the effect of "The Army honors America's Veterans" which I give to any who approach me.

I've been looking to upgrade a few things about my site, so I'm curious what IP tracker you're using which tells you whether your visitors are veterans or not. That's pretty cool. Although you might want to see what you can do to grow your website. Recruiter Confessions has been offline for almost a year and you've only gotten 13,000 hits since then? I've gotten about that much traffic from people Googling Fergie's Butt.

Oh, and I hate to be inciteful, but if the only recruiters you know are liars and cowards, then maybe you should be more careful with the company you keep. While I've known some recruiters who are too willing to stretch the truth, the vast, vast majority are fine NCOs who simply want to succeed in a difficult assignment and get back to the mainstream Army. I hate when I hear someone maligning Vietnam veterans, or watch some 80's movie or TV show which assumes all Vietnam Veterans are alcoholics who are losing their battle with their personal demons. I'd like to think that a fellow servicemember, even one long since out of the service, would be more careful about throwing around insults like "liar" and "coward". However I've been wrong before.

Anyways Greg, if you're interested in debating me about the Astros chances this year, whether the latest generation of Honda Interceptor lives up to the history, or how much the latest software update to the RWS screwed up my ARISS I'd be more than happy to.

I look forward to hearing from you again and I wish you a great Army day.

I do like it when people write to me and give me something to write about. It makes it a lot easier to fill my blog with my innane ramblings. Again, thanks Greg.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Follow-up to Mr. Moore

Back in November I'd responded to an open letter Michael Moore had written in regards to the retaking of the legislative branch by the Democratic Party. I figured I'd look back on what he had said the Democratic Party would do with their new found relevance, and what my responses were.

I'm trying to work through some writer's block, so forgive me for scraping my archives. Mr. Moore's words are in italics, mine are not.
1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

I don't know if I call you unpatriotic. I'd call you a useful idiot at best, a defeatist at worst. I'm glad to know that "unpatriotic" is off the table. Now we just have to worry about being called a torturer, a murderer, or an lazy and uneducated. And that's just how the small segment of society that serves in the military is treated. But at least patriotism wouldn't be questioned.
I'm yet to have my patriotism questioned, however Mr. Moore did provide additional media coverage to a guy who was lying about his time as a recruiter. So in the once instance where I paid attention to Mr. Moore since November it was because he was enabling fraud. I'll call this one a wash.
2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

Actually, if enough of you consider a behavior to be "different" or "immoral" then you won't allow people to amrry who you want to marry. Does Mr. Moore not understand how this voting thing works? Did a gay marriage amendment pass when I wasn't looking? Was there a rider to some legislation which allowed gay marriage that I didn't read when I went over my ballot? Did the election of a Democratic majority actually make the majority of the people in the US decide to change their minds regarding marriage? Cart before the horse here.
Last time I looked there still wasn't a single credible movement to expand gay marriage. However it's still not 2008 yet. I imagine this issue will rear it's ugly head sometime during the Presidential election. I'm taking this one as a win, however I'll be open to revisiting it.
3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.

So, what will you spend it on? As for my checkbook, Mrs. SFC B handles that very well thankyouverymuch. However I'm glad to see he recognizes that my checkbook belongs to me "too". I know I'm mixing metaphors, but this "pledge" really is flying in the face of several decades of prescedent. While I'm less than thrilled that my taxes were not cut to the bare minimum required for basic government services by the Republican majority, I'm not too stupid to realize that the only way for the government to have a surplus in the budget is if they took too much money from me. I'd much rather have the government a little overdrawn than in the black. But I'm not an economist.
The Iraq funding bills pretty much seal this one as a win for me. With around 20 billion dollars in pork for various projects in the two bills that's my great great great grandchild's money being spent. Win for me.
4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

Cut. and. run. Depressing. Moore is straight-up channeling John Kerry back in the 70's with the "mistake", and there are so many things wrong with "lie" that I can't think of where to start. I'm just not in the mood to argue a strawman while I'm making a pathetic attempt to fisk.
I'm tempted to call this one a win because there is no way the retreat bills will overcome a veto, but since it's still an open question I'll consider it a tie. People can disagree though.
5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

Universal health coverage does not bode well for the future of my income taxes. It will also make America the last Western democracy where cutting edge medical research and treatment is done. You'd think someone as rich as Mr. Moore would better understand how profit can be a more motivating factor than altruism. Canada is another Western democracy with universal health care, and they were the only Western nation to suffer a SARS outbreak a couple years ago because the delays in their health care system prevented those ill from being identified, isolated, and treated in a timely manner. I can't go shopping for groceries without having someone offer me a flu shot. People in the country illegally don't get turned away from urgent care. That everyone in the nation can't afford bleeding edge medical treatment for everything that ails them strikes me as a "too bad, I'm sorry" moment. That universal health care probably wouldn't cover stem cell treatment because it's too expensive and unproven strikes me as ironic. With the profit motive diminished by universal health care wouldn't it delay the research, development, treatment, and acceptance of stem cell research? I'm glad Mr. Moore doesn't have a problem with letting those who disagree with him access to the same treatments he'll be able to receive. However his hope for equal care for all would likely ruin the chance for those advancements to happen.
While I'm sad to say it, this one is a win for me. I'd love to know that everyone in the US will get some sort of Utopian perfect health care, but reality doesn't agree. So, while I was really pulling for Mr. Moore on this, chalk it up to me.
6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

And what magic wand will be waved to do this? I assume this means that the Democratic majority will pursue a policy of supporting and encouraging clean, safe nuclear power plants. Maybe they'll offer tax breaks and research grants to industries that lower their emissions and cut down on pollution. One can hope.
While it's still early to claim victory either way for something as long term as the enviroment, I think Mr. Moore was right on this one. The recent Supreme Court decision requiring the EPA to enforce CO2 thingys is probably a step in the right direction. Good for you Mr. Moore.
7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.

Unless the methods to used to track him down involve monitoring of financial transactions or phones calls from know terrorists to people in the US. I'm going to call straight bullshit on this one. The Democratic minority showed no interest at all in actually supporting methods to help capture terrorists.
Fortunatly we continue to be mass foreign terror attack free so this one is going to be a tie. I don't look forward to either of us ever getting a "win" here.
8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

And the women of Earth heave a sigh of relief that Michael Moore's nose will never go near their womb. Cheap shot. I know. I'm sorry. I should be a better person than that.I'm all about there not being laws restricting what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home. I have a very personal dislike of the thought of it being legal to kill a person when they're able to survive outside the womb. And because of that I don't like the thought of abortions being legal after a certain point. Where that point is will probably be debated until Rapture, but I'd much rather err on the side of caution than not. If forced to choose between barring all abortion, and allowing all abortions I'll choose the former. That Mr. Moore by this statement prefers the latter is his own call. I think he's wrong, but I think that about a lot of his opinions.
I thought I caught Mr. Moore peeping into my bedroom the other night, but it was just the cat. That was creepy enough. However since everything remains the status quo on this issue it's another tie. I'm starting to think it might be too soon to revisit this post. However I have no other ideas so I'm going to go with it.
9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.

I'd prefer to hunt with a rifle rather than a gun, but that's just my personal choice and I don't like hunting anyway so it's probably a moot point. I'd feel a lot better about gun control if the people advocating it had any idea what they were talking about. I agree with Mr. Moore that there is very little need for a civilian to own a M2. But I doubt that Mr. Moore appreciates the difference between an automatic, semi-automatic, and single shot weapon. In his Bowling for Columbine he displayed a willingness to outright lie about gun ownership procedures and I don't consider him an honest broker when it comes to gun ownership. The best way I can think of to protect my own children, when I have some, is through the proper application of force against threats to their well-being. To me that includes the use of deadly force should the situation require. Mr. Moore can afford to hire professionals for the protection of his family and property. I'm limited to what caliber the state will allow me to own. If that's my limit I want the biggest caliber, capacity, and rate of fire I can find.
I'm thinking this one is too soon, but I'm sorry, I cannot. While I am loathe to introduce such a charged topic, it's been pointed out many places that a gun ban is an ineffective deterrent to crime, and also lets criminals know where people are defensless. This one is a win for me, and I hate that it is.
10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.

I'll ignore that he said that conservatives will only be able to make minimum wage because I know he didn't mean that. However I wonder what new social programs will be implemented to help those who are now unemployed because their employers can't afford as many employees at the new minimum wage. Sure, it's great for those who survive the firings, but it sucks for the poor bastards now unemployed. The "pay women less" amendment must have been one the same referendum where gay marriage was allowed. I looked at Mrs. SFC B's pay stub and it turns out she earns the same as a male who works the same hours and has the same seniority. I looked for the different male and female pay charts for the government and I didn't find one. That women as a whole make less than men as a whole isn't a function of gender discrimination. Maybe this is Mr. Moore's way of letting the WNBA know that soon laws will be passed that require them to be to signed to $100,000,000 contracts? Who knows.
Well, the minimum wage was raised so good on Mr. Moore. The WNBA still doesn't make what the NBA makes, but I'll concede that Mr. Moore was right here.
11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world."

Blessed are the peacemakers"? Maybe Mr. Moore is more pro-gun than I'd imagined? The irony of him quoting that camel-needle passage just smacked me in the head like a frozen fish. Mr. Moore is fricking loaded. He's written a couple of best selling books, and two mof his movies have been box-office hits, one of which won an Oscar. However I'm glad to see they're going to work to stop religious fanatascism here at home. Lord knows it's time for us to stop living in fear of religious extremists blowing up our buses, beheading kidnap victims, and acting like murderous savages in general.
I refuse to allow him to take a win on such a flamingly pretentious statement. Suite Jeebus watching Mr. Moore rail against someone being wealthy just makes me want to choke on the irony.
12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.

Okay. If you say so. Good luck going after the few dozen Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff. Oh, and Mr. Moore, while you're crusading to abolish corruption from government the presumptive Speaker of the House is touting a federal judge impeached for corruption as chairman for the Intelligence Committee. Oh, and the presumptive speaker is also backing for House Majority Leader the same person who unjustly called a squad of Marines murderers, and is one of the best practisioners of the black art of congressional earmarks. Appointing someone impeached for corruption and someone who has made a career out of getting a much money for his district by whatever means necessary is not a good start on reducing corruption. However, this is all theorhetical since no one has actually been appointed to a new position yet. Maybe the next month will see a turn-around of epic proportions and the newly elected class of 2006 will become a paragon of virtue ushering us into an era of greatness.
I'm calling you on this one Mr. Moore. The retreat spending bills are all I need to know that your party is just as corrupt as the one who proceded it.

So, I'm 6-2-4 against Mr. Moore about four months out. Feel free to look it over and tell me how you feel.

That's new

I should check my USAREC Messages more often. I suppose I disregarded this as an April Fools joke.

Effective 1APR07 the Army Reserve Education Career Stabilization (ECS) went into effect. For those with access to the USAREC homepage you can find it on UM 07-109. Read it. It's some good stuff.

What it boils down to is this:

Qualifying reserve applicants can receive a 2-4 years exemption from deployment for OIF/OEF to attend college. They must be a full or part time student and maintain at least a 2.0 GPA. Only Non Prior Service (no split-op, PS, or DOS) Alphas are eligible for the program. They must enlist for an 8x0 contract to receive a 4 year exemption, and can receive a 2-3 year exemption for a 6x2. They're also eligible for any other incentives in effect at the time of their enlistment.

So, basically, I can honestly tell someone they will not go to Iraq or Afghanistan for up to four years. Tomorrow I'll be looking through my processing list to find those kids who are going to college, or whose parents were the issue. This is similar to the College First option the RA had years ago, and is almost exactly the same as the College First Program the National Guard has now.

It is refreshing to see an acknolwedgment that recruiting for the Reserve has changed in the years since 9-11. More than once I've stood at parade rest, or sat at attention, across from someone telling me how successful they were in recruiting for the Reserve back in the late 90s. Yesterday marked my 12th year in the Army Reserve. I've served both as a TPU and an AGR during this time. When I joined the Army Reserve my recruiter told me that the Reserve was a great scholarship and that the Reserve unit I was going to would never be activated during my 6 year enlistment. I would have joined anyway, but hearing that was reassuring. A recruiter making this same statement today would be, rightly, branded a bald-faced liar.

Recruiting for the Reserve during a time when the Reserve is no longer "strategic" but "deployed into the freaking war" is fundamentally different from back in the day. The ECS is an official acknowledgment that something needs to change in recruiting for this force. I'm glad to have it as an option. Now I just need to try and put it to use.

Because I'm curious, was anyone else out here aware of this earlier? Cause Lord knows I didn't find out about it until two weeks after it was out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wow... I'm a dork

Yes, I am a Paladin damnit. An Iksar Paladin. Care to make something of it?

Don't laugh, Mrs. SFC B worked at a Renissance Fair when I met her. She's one of thse people too.

I did this just to have a place to link images for SSG Tomas. I swear.