Birther in the Military

I wonder if a discharge for chronic stupidity comes under “dishonorable” or “medical”?

U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, who should be getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan, is instead seeking a temporary restraining order under the guise of being a conscientious objector. Cook is a birther who is arguing that President Obama is not a natural born citizen and, therefore, ineligible to be commander-in-chief.

[snip]

When not filing suit against his commander-in-chief, Cook has also made time to post at the conservative website FreeRepublic.

That’s punchline enough right there. But this is the really hysterical part: in his complaint, Cook states that he “would be acting in violation of international law by engaging in military actions outside the United States under this President’s command. … simultaneously subjecting himself to possible prosecution as a war criminal by the faithful execution of these duties.”

Now they worry about international law, committing war crimes, et al. How… convenient.

Another Hilzoy Must-Read: the F-22 Fiasco

This is among the many reasons I don’t want to see Hilzoy retire:

Yesterday, Barack Obama repeated his threat to veto the defense authorization bill if it contains money to buy more F-22 fighter jets. He’s absolutely right. I hope he prevails over the various Senators who are trying to put the money back in. For one thing, it’s not clear that our biggest need right now is for an even niftier fighter plane, as opposed to something that might come in handy in, say, Afghanistan. For another, the F-22 has a lot of problems. This Washington Post article is worth reading in its entirety. A few bits:

“The United States’ top fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-22, has recently required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000, a far higher figure than for the warplane it replaces, confidential Pentagon test results show. (…)

“It is a disgrace that you can fly a plane [an average of] only 1.7 hours before it gets a critical failure” that jeopardizes success of the aircraft’s mission, said a Defense Department critic of the plane who is not authorized to speak on the record. Other skeptics inside the Pentagon note that the planes, designed 30 years ago to combat a Cold War adversary, have cost an average of $350 million apiece and say they are not a priority in the age of small wars and terrorist threats. (…)

There have been other legal complications. In late 2005, Boeing learned of defects in titanium booms connecting the wings to the plane, which the company, in a subsequent lawsuit against its supplier, said posed the risk of “catastrophic loss of the aircraft.” But rather than shut down the production line — an act that would have incurred large Air Force penalties — Boeing reached an accord with the Air Force to resolve the problem through increased inspections over the life of the fleet, with expenses to be mostly paid by the Air Force.

Sprey said engineers who worked on it told him that because of Lockheed’s use of hundreds of subcontractors, quality control was so poor that workers had to create a “shim line” at the Georgia plant where they retooled badly designed or poorly manufactured components. “Each plane wound up with all these hand-fitted parts that caused huge fits in maintenance,” he said. “They were not interchangeable.”

[snip]

One of the problems with its high-tech skin is “vulnerability to rain”. Perhaps we’re only planning to use it in rain-free environments.

Think about this, though. Here we have a plane that suffers from huge problems, is incredibly expensive, and meets only seven of its 22 “key requirements”. It was designed for the Cold War, which is over. An Air Force Major is quoted in the article as saying that “it is one of the easiest planes to fly, from the pilot’s perspective”, but I’d imagine that ease might be outweighed by being imprisoned inside it, or having the boom give way and suffering “catastrophic loss of the aircraft”, or any of the other “critical failures” that occur once every 1.7 hours of flying time.

And yet, at a time when we need to save money, somehow Senators from some of the many, many states in which Lockheed-Martin’s suppliers are located cannot be persuaded to cancel it.

We need jobs. But there are many, many more efficient ways to produce them, and many investments that we genuinely need to make. This is not one of them.

Good on our President for recognizing such facts.

And damn it, Hilzoy… don’t leave us.

Our Military May Be Headed In the Right Direction

For anyone who, like me, worries about all of the fundamentalist fanaticism that’s infiltrated the military over the last many years, this comes as a joyous surprise:

The military was regularly providing flyovers at countless evangelical Christian events all over the country, not only violating the regulations prohibiting military participation in religious events, but spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money in the process.

MRFF began exposing these events, which included flyovers on the five holidays when flyovers at civilian events are permitted, and even a few at National Day of Prayer events, and began to see some decline in their frequency, but we weren’t sure if the number of flyovers at these events was really decreasing, or if the military and organizers of these events were just being more careful not to make the nature of the events so obvious.

Well, needless to say, the following letter denying, for the first time in 42 years, the request for a flyover at one Christian rally, released on many websites in conjunction with a Christian Newswire article titled “Pentagon Denies Flyover of Patriotic ‘God and Country Rally’ in Nampa Idaho Because of its Christian Content,” was the best 4th of July present MRFF could have asked for.

In case you might be one of those who didn’t see the harm in the military getting so cozy with Christianity, you might want to read this typical letter to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Peruse a few of the dozens of posts Ed Brayton’s written regarding the infiltration of our armed services by religious fanatics. And then ponder the fact that we have a military with some of the most powerful ordnance in the world.

America is a secular country. We can’t afford to allow our military to become sectarian. It’s good to see them begin the long journey back to neutrality.

Methinks It’s Time to Repeal DADT

In case no one noticed, we’re in the midst of two fucking wars, here. The military’s so desperate they’re letting convicted criminals serve. But they’re still enforcing DADT – WTF?

Rachel Maddow’s introduction of the segment on Lieutenant Colonel Victor J. Fehrenbach last night told a rather remarkable story.

“[Fehrenbach is] an F-15 fighter pilot, 18-year veteran of the United States Air Force,” Rachel explained. “On Sept. 11, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach was picked to be part of the initial alert crew immediately after the 9/11 attacks. The following years, in 2002, he deployed to Kuwait, where he flew combat missions over Afghanistan, attacking Taliban and al Qaeda targets. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach deployed there, flying combat missions in support of mission Iraqi Freedom.

“Over the span of his career, he has flown 88 combat missions, including missions that were the longest mission sorties in the history of his squadron. He’s logged more than 2,000 flying hours, nearly 1,500 fighting hours, 400 combat hours. Lt. Col. Fehrenbach is also highly decorated — he’s received nine air medals, including one for heroism. After 18 years of active duty in the Air Force, this experienced, decorated fighter pilot says he is ready and willing to deploy again. He’s ready to do what his country and the United States Air Force ask of him.”

Except, Fehrenbach will no longer able to serve, because the Air Force is kicking him out of the military because he’s gay. This genuine American war hero, who’s put his life on the line over and over again, and who the U.S. government has invested $25 million in training, is two years from retirement. Instead of thanking him for his extraordinary service, the country he’s served with honor and distinction is firing him for his sexual orientation.

Just once, I wanted to hear someone explain why the United States is stronger, safer, and more secure with Lt. Col. Fehrenbach out of the military.

So do I.

*crickets*

So if we’re not safer, can we just get the fuck on with repealing this bloody stupid law? Why are we coddling a handful of homophobes? Tell them to grow the fuck up or get the fuck out. And while we’re waiting for the repeal, Obama’s got plenty of options for end-runs around this bullshit. Steve’s got a short rundown at the above link.

It’s not like soldiers like Fehrenbach have to be drummed out. It’s time for Obama to stop pretending there’s no alternative.

The Military-Industrial Complex Ain’t Gonna Like It

Watching Defense Secretary Robert Gates prepare to inflict pain upon defense contractors delights me:

It’s got to be done, and using someone like Gates to do it is a smart plan. But we can expect defense contractors to throw a lot of political muscle and money into the fight:

[snip]

Now, as the only Bush Cabinet member to remain under President Obama, Gates is preparing the most far-reaching changes in the Pentagon’s weapons portfolio since the end of the Cold War, according to aides.

Two defense officials who were not authorized to speak publicly said Gates will announce up to a half-dozen major weapons cancellations later this month. Candidates include a new Navy destroyer, the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet, and Army ground-combat vehicles, the officials said.

More cuts are planned for later this year after a review that could lead to reductions in programs such as aircraft carriers and nuclear arms, the officials said.

It’s about bloody time. And yes, using Gates to do the slash-and-burn is a brilliant idea. Considering he’s a Bush carryover, it’s kinda sorta a little bit harder for the corporate leeches to play the usual cards. They can try to paint him as a bleeding-heart el pinko softie who wants to sell America to her enemies, but that paint won’t stick. Gates is the last person who would slash weapons programs for ideological reasons. It’s beyond question he’d do it simply because that’s what needs to be done in order to keep America’s military strong and prepared to face current threats.

Now if Obama could pull these moves in other areas, we’d have no reason to visit the woodshed, now, would we?