"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Killing the Ring with Fire

It's a great 80s cult classic, and it's free above on YouTube.  The struggle against an evil empire, by harnessing nature, courage, and heroic attributes that only reach most Americans through the silver screen, as they often have no appreciation or knowledge of history.

The ring in this movie reminds me of the NSA.

Hopefully its unconstitutional activity can be killed with fire, by harnessing the nature of the American spirit.

Or perhaps that is just the plot of a cheese filled movie from the 1980s.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Butters of BaseOps & Proportionality

Dan Tarleton

I was banned in a thread over at The Digital Clown Show, after I gave my opinion that Lt Col Wilkerson likely was guilty of sexual assault as a board of senior officers found him.  Some opinions are not allowed on that forum.  A guy I went to college with, aka Butters, then seized the opportunity to expose my identity, and to make some claims about me.  Of course, I wasn't able to respond to him since I had been banned from that forum.  While I had a suspicion of who Butters was, I wanted to take some time before responding to him.

The other day I sent my old college chum a request on Facebook, and invited him to have a discussion.  I mean we were FB friends, after all.  Instead, he blocked me without comment.  So I puzzled over how to respond to a person who is not interested in having a fair discussion, but who would rather simply run their mouth unanswered.  So, I decided it might be a good opportunity to talk about the concept of proportionality.

Discussion and debate is an opportunity for proportional engagement.  Two people face each other, make claims, ask and answer questions, and provide conclusions in an environment where both can respond in kind.  It's a fair and just arrangement.  It's a proportional arrangement.  The concept of proportionality applies more broadly in the law, as well as in military operations.  According to Wiki:
Proportionality is a general principle in law which covers several special (although related) concepts. The concept of proportionality is used as a criterion of fairness and justice in statutory interpretation processes, especially in constitutional law, as a logical method intended to assist in discerning the correct balance between the restriction imposed by a corrective measure and the severity of the nature of the prohibited act. Within municipal (domestic) law, it is used to convey the idea that the punishment of an offender should fit the crime. Under international humanitarian law governing the legal use of force in an armed conflict, proportionality and distinction are important factors in assessing military necessity.
Unfortunately, there will be no discussion or debate with Butters, as he vigorously avoids a proportional discussion.  Fortunately, there is still a proportional response, and a discussion that can be had, and with that in mind I would now like to demonstrate the concept of proportionality by responding in kind to Butters' claims and revelations about your humble blogger.

Butters explains:

Technically, remotely piloting, not flying.  

Unfortunately, ignoring him will not make him go away. This guy has been like this since High School. He has not changed one bit. This nut job actually spent the time to become an ordained minister in a certain religion just so he could argue with those who follow it. That was almost 20 years ago.
Butters offers up some slightly incorrect information, from his recollection of college.  While it is true that I did study religion in college, and I did go to various religious institutions both as part of classwork and as part of my own personal study, it is incorrect to claim that I became an ordained minister.  I did get a degree in religion, but it was an academic degree, and I did attend various religious meetings across the spectrum, and did visit churches of most every stripe, but I never did become an ordained minister.

Now to demonstrate proportionality, while I know nothing of Butters' high school experience, I did draw a very distinct impression of what it was probably like.  Butters was a scrawny, awkward, timid fellow with a nervous laugh that led me to think he had probably been bullied in high school to some degree.  He seemed a very unsure guy who would be knocked over by a stiff wind, or who would tremble if looked at directly in the eye.  He had a sarcastic dry sense of humor, but his nervous laughter and awkward appearance did not exude any kind of confidence, a fact that was no doubt exacerbated by the great college environment of FSU where all but the most awkward had a great time outside the classroom.  It was a party school, at least for most of us.  While in some ways Butters seemed older than the rest of us, as he was prematurely balding even back in college, he appeared to me underdeveloped socially.  His appearance reminded me of a depressed parrot that had started to peck out its own feathers.  I must admit that I'm unaware of his social life as we did not travel in the same circles, and I'm not sure how he spent his time when he wasn't mastering the rigorous criminology degree program, but I am confident that his college experience was much less satisfying than it was for me.

Butters continues:

No, he is a product of DODDS, I had the displeasure of knowing him in college. Heard his high school stories more than anyone cared to hear and I knew some guys that dealt with him in the Europen DODDS system.

He was passed over.
I didn't realize it back then, but I imagine my high school stories probably would have reminded Butters of those guys back in high school that he didn't like.  Those he would call assholes, and likely label arrogant or cocky.  I imagine it gave him considerable pleasure to relate that I was passed over, as that measuring stick of self worth is likely one that Butters clings to.  For him it's no doubt needed validation.  This, despite Butters once telling me that:
...I am the slow burning Lt Col. Better to be lucky than good. Did a short tour to [redacted]. So, I got a little Jt Staff on my record. Didn't really count because it was only 12 months but it was enough to fool the board. Timing was also in my favor. No shit, my wing only had 2 IPZ Majs. Me and the AMXS/CC. So, he got the DP and I got the poor mans DP.. the DP in the push line they can only put on one PRF, well mine was the only other PRF.
Yes, Butters demonstrates a duality in his communication.  While he may behave one way with an individual, he may behave completely different in an anonymous setting.  Butters says:
Could not stand to be near the guy. Argumentative asshole. Made up argments if there were none to be had.
And Butters helps others unmask my identity:
Sorry been out on the boat all day. He gives his name in the video be posted here showing off his spy car. (but pretended it wasn't him) So put 2 and 2 together. 

Love how the DFC said "his" crew when he was the co-pilot.

I will not come right out and say it since he is a vindictive little bitch with no mortgage and an armored car.
Speaking of cars, I remember upon commissioning, Butters purchased a brand new gloss black Ford Cobra.  His cool car didn't illicit the kind of responses from others that he might have hoped for.  Still, it was a cool car in a mid-life crisis kind of way.  In the spirit of being proportional, I will not come right out and unmask Butters, either.

Butters continues to relate:

He is not cadre at FSU (he wishes) what picture are you talking about? His blog is PYB.net and the picture there looks just like the fat stupid looking guy in the video showing off his spy car. They also have the same name.

No, that is not him. Also, the picture is not the greatest, but my eyes say those are silver oak leaves.

Yes, it's him. I never noticed the ear rings. This guy really thinks the reason he was passed over to O-5 was because a cop pulled him over illegally.
Butters then confirms my identity.  In the spirit of proportionality, I will simply confirm that the major in this news story about a breath-taking aerial achievement, is in fact, Butters.

Finally, when asked to compare your humble blogger with some other personality, Butters says:

No, Tim was a lying asshole. PYB is just an asshole.
Well, it's hard to argue with that.

ETA (10/26/2014):  After this forum falsely accused me of being USAFPilot on their forum, one of their moderators went into a bit of a frenzy mode.  One of the results is he deleted several horribly unprofessional posts celebrated on his forum, and he also deleted Butters' contributions where he outed me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

RIF Postponed for Statutory Authority - Sanctuary No More?

Just when we thought we had the Air Force Hunger Games somewhat figured out, the Air Force has called "Knock It Off" and is poised for a reset.  According to a recent Air Force announcement:
Changes to the scheduled RIF board date will result in changes to the eligible population. Some officers initially eligible to meet the June board will no longer be eligible as adjustments are made to year groups. Likewise, some officers who were not initially RIF eligible could now be eligible.
But that alone does not justify halting all the work that has been done.  There were eligibility matrices and the Air Force already said eligibility year groups and AFSCs would change throughout.  Such changes do not require scrapping existing guidance.  So what is behind this dramatic change, that was touted before Christmas as being released to arm airmen with important information about their futures?  Whatever it is, it's sure to be a whopper to justify the latest of several false starts during this debacle.

If the program has to be changed, it would seem that perhaps the offer of TERA to those with fifteen years plus service, who are not retained by a board, will go by the wayside.  That's certainly an unwelcome possibility.

Or perhaps the assurance that all who are RIF eligible will be eligible for a voluntary program will be done away with.

Or maybe the Air Force is responding to the many rated pilots beating down the door to flee the service, and instead of simply telling them they are ineligible, is going to release a new PSDM 13-130 that makes it clear that aviators are not eligible so that their commanders don't waste any more time on packages for them.  Though this could be much more easily accomplished by changing the color of a box.

All possibilities, but I think there is something more significant in the works.

What I find most interesting in these recent announcements is the justification that the Air Force is seeking legal or statutory authority.  What authority did it not already have that it desires?  According to the recent af.mil article:
“When we initially announced these force management programs in December, we knew the dynamic nature of the programs would result in some changes,” said Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “While the change is necessary to ensure we operate within the law, it was equally important for us to keep our word and minimize the impact on Airmen.”
And according to one email that has been circulating the public sphere, apparently from official channels, "The FY14 RIF Board is being postponed to 1 October 2014 due to limitations in the statutory authority governing the RIF Board and the new accountability date will be 2 May 2014."

So again, what statutory authority is required for the Air Force to legally get rid of people, that it did not already have when it dropped the force shaping bombshell on service members?

If I was a betting man, I would bet they are targeting sanctuary protections for those who have served for more than eighteen years.  There is a lot of money to be "saved" by taking a person's retirement right before they actually retire.  I cannot imagine what else would be driving this dramatic KIO call midstream, after all the weeping and gnashing of teeth that airmen have endured already.  What would require going back to get statutory authority before legally showing folks the door, if not sanctuary restrictions?  Perhaps the managers of fate simply desire to remove TERA from those who are shown the door with more than fifteen years.  Who knows.  Whatever the changes, we can expect them to be significant.

If I'm right that they are targeting sanctuary protections, that would make my earlier predictions correct.

I could, of course, be wrong.  Sanctuary is law, and so changing it would require some hefty lifting to make it go away.  It would take another “provision of law” that would allow folks to be “sooner retired or discharged” according to 10 U.S. Code section 637.  The next section 638, allows a secretary to shorten the continuation time, but still provides protection in sanctuary.  That section also limits the number of people who can be separated through the boards it authorizes, so it is possible the delay of the RIF into the next fiscal year is a harbinger of an increased number the service wants to separate.

Whether the service wants to get rid of sanctuary, or increase the number of people it wants to show the door, it appears big things are on the horizon.

Good luck to all airmen and their families.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tony Carr & the Rule of Law

Tony Carr and I have had several debates over the past year, regarding the Constitution and our rule of law.  They have been lively, to say the least.  Still, we found some common ground recently when the Congress passed a law to break faith with military retirees, and steal money from them in the form of a cost of living adjustment percentage point.  Tony Carr rightfully decried the immorality of government breaking its contract with American service members, and voiced his view that it was unlawful.  I found Tony's position intriguing given other positions he had taken, we discussed it, and he promised after the effort to repeal the retirement cut, that we would debate the inconsistency that I had found in his position.  Fortunately Congress recently changed the law concerning the breach of faith, and so I'm now ready to have this agreed upon debate with Tony.

The inconsistency I noted, was that he had previously championed the position that it was perfectly acceptable, and in fact desirable, for government to ignore constitutional rights, if government felt it was acting in accordance with the majority view of Americans.  No constitutional amendment required.  He said our constitution does not have any rights that are inviolate.

In case he no longer has that opinion, he has of course been invited to debate me here.  He can inform me if he has changed his viewpoint, or if he thinks I did not relate his view properly.

So the question is, why is it okay for government to break the ultimate contract with the American people (the very constitution that contractually creates that government, defines the relationship of it with the people, and ascribes limits to its actions), while it is not okay for the government to break contracts with military retirees?

This is an inconsistency that I think gets to the root of what principle means.  It's not good enough to pick opinions as if selecting from a salad bar, but rather our professed values should be connected by principle.  If they are not principled, then a particular opinion may be "right" or "good" but is hollow and flacid, it seems to me.  My position on this matter is that voluntarily agreed upon contracts must be upheld, and so government violating any contract it voluntarily made with the people (for example the contract it made to not punish journalists and infringe on the right of the media), is wrong and unlawful.  Likewise, I believe government breaking a contract it makes with employees is also wrong and unlawful.

I'm looking forward to Tony's comments on this issue and, if his position remains that there are no inviolate rights in our constitution, then I welcome the debate on how the rule of law can exist in such a situation.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"I Became an Enemy of the American People"

This is a fascinating video segment above from the Young Turks (notwithstanding the idiotic suggestion that trial in absentia is an option), that takes into account statements from an anonymous drone operator made to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, along with statements from a former drone operator, Brandon Bryant.

I know Brandon Bryant from online conversations and we have several disagreements.  But I have been happy to see that post military, he has shared an important perspective about the most important topic in American history, in my view, and is adding to a conversation that should be on the front page of every newspaper, plastered on every news station, and should be the most pressing issue by far, to every single American regardless of their professed politics.

Assassinating Americans without due process of law, is a crystal clear and undeniable violation of our Constitution, and is starkly opposite the action of a free nation.  A nation that is led by a man who kills the citizens of his nation, without charge or trial, based on a secret list, is absolutely not the America that was was founded, or that was perfected through the sacrifices of veterans and civil rights protestors, and it is certainly not the America of our Constitution.  It is not debatable, and no fascist credentials or claims otherwise will change that fact any more than those credentials or claims changed the obvious truth for Ernest Janning.  I was particularly impressed by Bryant's statement in The Intercept describing his participation in a mission with the goal of assassinating an American citizen without charge or trial or any due process of law:
Unlike those who oversee the drone program, Bryant also took personal responsibility for his actions in the killing of Awlaki. “I was a drone operator for six years, active duty for six years in the U.S. Air Force, and I was party to the violations of constitutional rights of an American citizen who should have been tried under a jury,” he said. “And because I violated that constitutional right, I became an enemy of the American people.”
This is a true statement.  While apologies can never make right a sin of this magnitude, it is nonetheless an important service and sentiment, that Bryant now shares with the American people.  It is critically imperative that those of us in the business of providing air power, think very seriously and deeply about this issue, and put ourselves in the role of the person ordered to kill their neighbor in a secret assassination mission.  Military officers, especially, must pick up the mantle of professionalism rather than the lazy ethic of simply showing up to work and following orders to collect a paycheck, and they must be absolutely certain that they have the knowledge, but most importantly the courage, to refuse unlawful orders.  While it will take some professionalism and some courage, it might well prove easier than one day coming to the realization that you used the tools of war, funded by the American taxpayer, against that same American taxpayer in violation of our supreme law and your oath to support and defend the constitutional rights of the American people.

Traitors are real.  You don't want to pull your head out one day only to realize that the traitor to America was you.  That is a judgment you do not want.

And for my AETC brethren who are as far away from the tip of the dagger as they can be, you do not get a pass.  You are training the next batch of warriors.  Officership is more important now than it has ever been in our nation's history.  You see the failures of our leadership all around you.  It's one thing when that is about reflective belts or involuntary separation, or so many other things we have learned to put up with.  Do not let this failure affect you.  Do not feel insulated.  You are the leadership that is required, and you do not need a "been there, done that" story to make your point.  Do not teach your students to pick their battles, or to stay under the radar, or to hold their cards, or to never pass up the opportunity to shut up, or any other lessons on how to be a political coward rather than a courageous military officer who is ready to do the right thing when tested.  Teach them what is important, and teach them when "service" becomes something more than a cute phrase on stupid memos.

You may have never been tested, but your students will be.  You should be eager to not fail in that regard.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ed Snowden is a Magnet for Actual Traitors

The word "traitor" gets applied to everything today that is political, and that is not liked by a political faction.  Whether it's one political party not agreeing with the other political party being described as holding America hostage, or third party types being referred to as traitors, the word "traitor," and by extension "treason," has become incredibly elastic.

One of the biggest casualties in the past couple of decades has been the destruction of words.  Destroying words means destroying law and accountability.

The recent interview with Edward Snowden is excellent, although it has apparently been blacked out by many media outlets here in America, all while it's international news elsewhere around the globe.  When I make the remark that the average American today is not unlike the average North Korean, this is just one more data point.

Treated like mushrooms.

What I found particuarly disheartening, but not surprising, was Snowden mentioning public servants who expressed a desire to kill him.  Not to charge him and put him on trial for any immoral laws he broke, in order to show how lawless his previous government employers were, but to simply kill him because his non-violent actions threaten their power.  Not unlike Dr. Martin Luther King.

You don't need to be involved in violence to be courageous.  You just have to prounounce the truth, and you will be seen as an enemy.

And traitors in America, who would make war on Americans without charge or trial and in violation of our Constitution, will line up against you.