Is the “The U.S. Military Pampered, Safe And Very Scared”?

Summary: Here is another look at the worldview of the high-energy political extremes that dominate the political stage, dividing us with their lies. These “useful idiots” are allies of the 1% (by effect, not intent). So long as we listen to them we will remain weak.

America politics

As has been amply documented in these posts, among the most serious problems facing America is that both Left and Right are moving against the rest of us. The Right has gained great power at all levels of government, and now implements an openly extractive program to harvest and increasing share of America’s income for the 1%. They sell this program using lies, as seen in their campaigns to repeal Obamacare and their third wave of tax “reform” (cutting taxes for the rich, as did Reagan and Bush Jr.).

The Left has moved to oppose us in a different way, seeking massive changes in American society — using a program of lies. The fictional campus rape culture, and the false claim that “rape victims don’t (or seldom) lie.” The campaigns to redefine gender, schools’ The War Against Boys.

Those are just examples of the broad movements moving against us from Left and Right. Appropriately so. We have been apathetic and passive, resistant to leadership (as seen in the Occupy and Tea Party movements). We have become sheep. It is natural that wolves appear to prey upon us.

Each side clearly sees this problem in the “others.” Conservatives clearly see flaws in the liberals and vice versa. We cannot begin effective reform movements until we remove the blinders and see ourselves. More about this in the Conclusions section below. Here is another example illustrating the daftness of our politics. This one is about the left, and usefully read by leftists and their friends.

The U.S. Military – Pampered, Safe And Very Scared” posted by “b”at Moon Of Alabama.”

This went viral on the Left. It was sent to me by two bien pensant leftists. The title tells the tale. It is an amazing window into a Leftist’s mind. Every paragraph is wrong in some sense. In response to comments the author played the “just kidding card”, adding a “/snark” tag. This is a widespread belief on the left, but seldom stated so clearly. It shows why the left has been losing influence in America since the 1970s. Let’s “deconstruct” it.

(1)  It is an example of the limousine liberal’s world-view.

This shows the typically class-based view of the world (where the servants and proles are invisible) of intellectuals and elites.

My wife just finished a batch of 9 baby quilts for the Blue Star Mothers. Most go to families of enlisted personnel (lots of corporals and sergeants; E-4 and E-5). Many of them live in housing much like the public housing that welfare recipients lived in when I was a social worker in the mid-1970s. These families have few possessions, compared to most Americans. These mothers are delighted to get the quilts.

Here is the output of goods (most made, some donated) year-to-date for 2017 by one chapter of the Blue Star Mothers: quilts and fleece blankets to military and Vet hospitals (174 to adults, 159 to newborns), 128 knitted goods (hats and socks), 102 baby goods (bibs, diaper bags, burp towels, stuffed animals), 8 pillows/towels. These are appreciated by people who have little. Especially since many of these people any have nobody; they are totally alone (lots of orphans in the military). The total value of these goods is less than what an average upper middle-class family spends on booze in a year. These are gifts mostly from blue-collar families to other blue-collar families.

Military life is often quite hard. Frequent forced relocations. Discipline. Military pay is not high vs. civilian standards until reaching general. The pay for officers has to be high enough to retain sufficient numbers of experienced officers vs. what they could get in civilian jobs. Before the pay increases in the late 1990s — and those that came with the war — there was a massive problem with retention in the captain – colonel ranks (see section 3 here). Also, the px’s are not the great benefit they were in the past (there are many complaints like this one).

Military amputee
DoD photo.

(2)  Military life is “safe”.

The author compares the very healthy young people the military accepts to the general population — and conclude that it’s safe (i.e., it lowers their mortality). Their average IQ is probably higher also (for the same reason). Does joining the military makes you smarter?

Joining the military is like playing the lottery — if you’re in during a war, the fatality rate goes up 3x or 4x (far above civilian levels; see page 3 of this study). The injury rate goes up even more.

Factoid: 2016 was the first year without a combat-related amputation since the invasion of Afghanistan. It’s a milestone. Trump’s surges in Afghanistan and Africa might reverse that soon.

(3)  People in the military are “fearful”.

This is quite nuts (some favorable comments to the post state that this was the major claim of the article). As evidence the author gives headlines by journalists. That’s a cut above citing scrawls on lavatory walls.

Also, it is a grade-school level mis-read of the word “fear.” Look at the first 5 bullets:  The U.S. Military Fears Russia’s Electronic Warfare Capabilities, Air Force Fears New ‘Drug Craze’, U.S. Military Fears Volcano Could Harm Jets, U.S. Military Fears Outcome of Rape Trial, U.S. Army Fears Major War Likely Within Five Years. To understand their meaning, “fear” could be replaced with “concerned about”. In none of them is anybody afraid of anything.

Wellington: Will we be ready to move tomorrow?
Quartermaster: I fear not, milord, but the next day.

Little fish can defeat big fish

Conclusions

These articles must fill some need on the left (they’re so common), but their political effect ranges from counter-productive to suicidal. The military is the only institution in America that retains broad support (per Gallup). Bogus attacks like this get applause from the faithful but alienate many others. As does their political violence to suppress conservative’s speech at colleges (see the latest example at UC – Santa Cruz: “Students storm library, shut down College Republicans meeting“).

These divisive politics warm the hearts of the 1% because they make impossible a broad-based movement capable of challenging their growing power — like the progressive-populist movement that created the New Deal. We have to get smarter and learn to see what unites us. Only then can we be strong.

 

Flag of a Blue Star Mother

The Blue Star Mothers of America.

See their website to learn about this valuable organization.

“We are mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and female legal guardians who have children serving in the military, guard or reserves, or children who are veterans. We support each other and our children while promoting patriotism. Our organization focuses on our mission every single day and will never, ever, forsake our troops, our veterans or the families of our Fallen Heroes.

“We have over 6,000 members from over 200 Chapters throughout the nation. Our members are extremely active and have accomplished the following in …2012. 74,123 care packages sent to members of the Armed Forces, giving more than 250,000 military personnel a little bit of love from home. 137,654 letters sent to members of the Armed Forces. 9,439 veterans’ events throughout the year. 287 events honoring Gold Star Mothers. 2,800 cards honoring Gold Star families.”

Plus many other forms of help, such as making quits for military casualties and their families. They do this every year. Locate a chapter here. Or just go here to join!

For More Information

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also see all posts our left-wing politics, our right-wing politics, and especially these…

Books to help understand how the Left & Right lost their way

Here are two books well-worth reading by Thomas Frank, among the most perceptive political analysts in America today.

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (2008)
Available at Amazon.
"Listen, Liberal" by Thomas Frank
Available at Amazon.

14 thoughts on “Is the “The U.S. Military Pampered, Safe And Very Scared”?

  1. Larry, I just finished reading a post on the Belmont Club a site I have followed as long as yours. Richard Fernandez used to have DNI on his blog roll and that’s how I discovered you.

    Today he posted on the same subject and places blame on Putin’s Troll Farm which supposedly disrupted our last election and got Trump in office. His assessment of Big Tech is very good IMO.

    I mentioned factionalism and our Founder’s fear which I learned from you and agree with.

    Belmont Club is a Right Wing echo chamber. You opened my eyes to it. This is why I quote you there and post links to your site. I still like it because the values of most commenters are in line with mine. Yours and his I read most often.

    This post is on it’s way. It is excellent as usual.

    Thank you.

    1. Longtrail,

      I love reading about the super-Putin and his Amazing Russia. It evokes nostalgia for the good old days when US elites could produce a frenzy in the America public by evoking mythical Soviet weapons. My favorite is the Soviet nuclear-powered bomber. That scam was too-fantastic to actually drive a surge of DoD funding, but that it got traction showed that the outer limits of American’s gullibility is far out there.

      The current stories about Russia hacking the 2016 election, so far quite baseless, appear to easily exceed anything in the Cold War. More evidence of our decay. Sheep are stupid and easily led to shearing, the ideal citizens for plutocracy.

  2. Dear Longtrail and Mr Kummer and all,

    LK: I love reading about the super-Putin and his Amazing Russia.

    I never thought I would see the day that the Soviet, now Russian, propaganda machine would be oriented to just factually showing what the American media and political elite “thinks” they’re doing or or capable of. Astonishing! It’s gotten so bizarre, that in acknowledging factual statements (though perhaps *very* deceptive), you have to condition it by saying that, yes, Russia is a messed up kleptocracy, but they can say with a straight face why they’re in Syria (saving the Syrian people from Daesh!) while we shoot missiles in because all of the beautiful babies or something. It’s gonna be uge. Just watch! Strangely, Lindsay Graham and John McCain wants to bomb them harder longer.

    Russian PSYOPS are now just parroting existing movements in America. Simple hyperbole! Was it the Russians who hacked Pokemon Go or was it a legitimate BLM or some other thing which would be completely feasible, unless, of course, it was the Russians! If the Russians do America better and harder, it’s… what? Un-American? I don’t know where we jumped the shark, (maybe when the Fonz actually jumped it), but Voice of America used to tell it straight and fill in with some jazz and rock and roll. And football. I used to listen to football on VOA when I was way up North and way East with a radio and not much else. Now, American reporting is just shown *as is* with a really damn accurate translation as propaganda in Russia. A gift to Putin and his kleptocratic entourage. Putin probably *wants* MSNBC/FOX/CNN to broadcast in Russia. It would be a goldmine. This is what those jackasses actually believe! Who is going to come out looking better in the discussion mediated by Rachael Maddow between Vladimir Puty-put Putin and Barrack Hussein Obama? I’d love to see it, and as sad as it may sound, I’m thinking the guy with the bare chested riding the bear meme would probably win this one from the Harvard law dude. How is that possible? We can’t explain Libya, Russia can explain Syria. Ad nauseum. And now I’m a traitor for merely observing that our foreign policy is inexplicable in a public forum? But the Russians can? Wow… just… wow.

    The Russians are so damn smart, I wish they’d just read a little Adam Smith and get hooked on that old-time classical liberalism, they’d be a world beater. Unfortunately, everyone in history has tried to annihilate them from the Mongols to the Nazis to the Edward Tellers weeping tears in his beers because anything more than 70 or 80 megatons shoots up through the atmosphere and doesn’t contribute much to the destruction.

    As my dear old mother used to say: dadgummit!

    With very kind regards,

    Bill

    1. Bill,

      “Russian PSYOPS are now just parroting existing movements in America”

      Most US writing about Russian “psyops” is analysis based on spy fiction plus their imagination. There is near-zero evidence that the material is coming from the Russian government. Even if it is, it might be just test probes to evaluate reactions. That would be smart, since modern world history is largely about government leaders making wrong guesses intents and goals of other’s nations’ leaders — and false beliefs about other nations’ peoples.

      US policy-makers have a near-perfect record of misunderstanding rival nations’. Perhaps the US government should do some investigation.

      We can eliminate the “psyops” theory, as the alleged Russian actions are two orders of magnitude too small to have a substantial affect on the US political dynamics. Unlike our media gurus, the KGB’s experts probably know this quite well.

    2. Bill — follow-up about the alleged Russian psy-ops.

      Contrast the current alleged Russian ops with US and Soviet propaganda during the Cold War. To influence Soviet population the US built one of the world’s largest radio networks, plus manufacturing content for it. To influence the US population, the USSR ran entire newspapers (in the 1930s) and spent large sums on US agents that recruited and ran people who were centers of influence.

      By comparison, the alleged Russian efforts are the equivalent of running ads in the Sunday newspaper’s classifieds ads — hoping to have big big results.

      Now for the kicker: what was the effect on US and Soviet actions of the US and Soviet propaganda efforts? Near zero. The effect of Russia’s current actions is pretty much zero.

    3. Hi Mr Kummer,

      LK: Most US writing about Russian “psyops” is analysis based on spy fiction plus their imagination. There is near-zero evidence that the material is coming from the Russian government.

      Right. Exactly. Unlike the past when there was an actual propaganda campaign, now Russia Today just shows unedited CNN freaking out about the power of the KGB (GRU, whatever) to hack Pokemon Go to subvert Black Lives Matter. To what end? Well, the analysis doesn’t go that far. Hyperventilate enough and you pass out.

      Why is there a Russia investigation in the first place? It’s a total phishing/fishing operation, looking for a blue dress and a misstatement that can get turned into an impeachable offense. The ungreat thing about “democracy” is that you can actually elect the guy too stupid to drive the clown car. You don’t need Russians, you just need a very incompetent DNC, and wow, incompetence in spades. Now the mainstream media needs an out, too, so might as well blame the Russians.

      As POTUS might say, sad.

      With kind regards,

      Bill

  3. Wow! That post on moonofalabama is truly execrable. Your rebuttal is quite effective. I have one quibble, though, so perhaps you can enlighten me. I’ve often heard people saying that military pay is low. My impression, from personal experience, is that this point may be a bit exaggerated. I was enlisted for a time not too long ago, and did quite well, at least compared to any realistic alternatives I had at that time. You have to remember, rent is free. Both I and everyone else I knew who stayed away from the strip clubs were able to stash away sums of cash that seemed huge to us at the time.

    I got out and finished my college degree, and took a fancy-sounding white-collar job in a big city making LESS, after accounting for Army housing and other benefits. But that’s just my anecdote. Probably there are good reasons to say that military pay in general is low, right?

    1. Matt,

      “did quite well, at least compared to any realistic alternatives I had at that time.”

      That’s not a relevant measure. Would you accept slightly higher than WalMart pay to be a cliff diver for tourists?

      We live in a market-based society. The indication of price too high or too low is shown by excess or deficit of supply vs. demand. That’s esp. true of military service where there is no equivalent civilian job.

      The military has to spend large sums to recruit the necessary numbers of young people — people who meet their standards for intelligence, low drug use, clean criminal background, health, and physical fitness. They have full-time recruiters in every city plus massive advertising budgets — and still struggle each year. Not only do McDonald’s and Amazon not need to to that, they offer jobs with low pay, part-time, irregular hours — and get long lines of applicants.

      That’s how we know the pay is low in the military.

      For another perspective, calculate your hourly wages in the military. Does McDonald tell you how short to cut your hair, have early morning physical training? Do their supervisors scream in your face and require push-ups for minor mistakes? Does Amazon decide on short notice to force relocation away from family and friends to locations in god-forsaken wastelands? Can McDonalds decide to send force you to work in a war zone? (PFC Jessica Lynch was a unit supply specialist with the 507th Maintenance Company in Iraq.)

      The military believes recruiting will become more difficult in the future. See the studies in sections 6 & 7 here. That’s the big reason they want more women, and women in combat jobs.

    2. Matt — a follow-up point.

      When calculating pay per hour, consider the time someone on active duty is “on call”. As you know, you serve 24/7. The phone can ring any hour of the day or night, and you have to obey. This is easiest to see in combat, but it is true for all personnel. You don’t get 1.5 time after 40 hours/week, as you do for most low-wage jobs.

    3. Matt,

      A follow-up on the comparison of low wage civilian jobs with the military, showing the attractiveness of those jobs at the wages paid.

      Last year, 150,000 people applied for around 1,200 flight attendant jobs” at Delta. Grueling hours, high injury rates. “Work-life balance can be tricky for flight attendants early in their careers since they don’t have a lot of control over their flight schedules.”

      Any the pay: “Average entry-level flight attendants earn roughly $25,000 a year, according to the company.”

  4. I, too, was struck by the author’s mockery as “fearful” of the military’s various responsible concerns. I wonder how b’s own fears and worries would look if we listed them all in a row? I dare say that anyone who pays attention to the world would look like a coward under such analysis.

    I thought that most Lefties were smart enough to say that they hate the military but love the soldiers. After all, many people who actually do love the soldiers detest the military for how it treats its own. But no, apparently not.

    1. Tice,

      “I thought that most Lefties were smart enough to say that they hate the military but love the soldiers. After all, many people who actually do love the soldiers detest the military for how it treats its own. But no, apparently not.”

      That’s a powerful comment. I saw that in general terms, but not so clearly.

  5. Hi Mr Kummer,

    I am not sure that the referenced post at MoA is indicative of the American Left’s opinion of the American military. I have been reading the MoA and the preceding Whisky Bar since around 2004. Judging by the commenters audience includes American leftists but there are also many international posters. ‘b’ (Bernhardt) of MoA himself is German and my impression from his posts from over that time is that he is a former Bundeswehr officer. He also comments on Colonel Pat Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis blog, where Col. Lang chides him occasionally for anti-Americanism (specifically where ‘b’ accuses the USG of collaboration with IS and AQ in the Syria-Iraq theatre) but hasn’t banned him.

    Rightly or wrongly, the US Army is often held by personnel of its’ allied forces in slight contempt (my experience here is with Australian Army personnel). US soldiers can disparaged as pampered by comparison with themselves, or over-reliant on technology or a bit too ‘gung-ho’, or a bit dim etc. Perhaps ‘b’ did not get a favourable impression when he served alongside them in some capacity. Certainly the French and Russians acting as peacekeepers in the former Yugoslavia didn’t (it seems that the contemptuous Russian term for Americans, “Pindosis” originated there).

    Personally, my impression from all the US citizens and military personnel I have met over the years is positive. I can separate any misgivings I have about the USG from any individual US citizen. I do have some relatives living in the USA so I am hoping that you can ‘turn it around’, as such. Keep up the good work Larry.

    1. David,

      “I am not sure that the referenced post at MoA is indicative of the American Left’s opinion of the American military.”

      Thank you for the background about the author!

      However, no matter what the author this is a commonplace belief on the Left, as seen in the excited reaction to the article — and many other similar articles. These kind of anti-military beliefs, and even stronger ones, are commonplace on leftist venues such as alternet.

      Also — Moon of Alabama began as a base for Billmon’s followers. He started posting at the Daily Kos, and still does. I’m unfamiliar with his work, but that suggests that he was (broadly speaking) on the Left. From what little I’ve seen of M of A, that’s true of it also.

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