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View Full Version : Career military people think they are conservative. They are liberal.(By John T Reed)



Rusty Jones
06-02-2015, 06:55 PM
Interesting article I came across. Bear in mind that it's dated (appears to have been written in 2008, at the latest):

http://www.johntreed.com/liberal.html


‘Family values,’ yes; results, no

The U.S. military is very conservative with regard to religion, “family values,” patriotism, the defense budget, veterans benefits, and all that. But when it comes to how they live their lives and do their jobs, they are radical leftist liberals.

How so?

They work for the government.

They live in government housing the size of which is determined by their rank and family size. They and their dependents get 100% bottomless pit, no co-pay medical care from cradle to grave. In many assignments, they also get all their food free.

They get paid a lot for doing nothing when they retire which they can do as soon as 20 years—sooner if they have a service-connected disability. The U.S. military’s payroll for its retirees surpassed its payroll for active duty personnel decades ago. In my area, Vallejo, CA went bankrupt recently. Municipal bankruptcies are almost unheard of in the U.S. When asked why, the mayor said,

We have three police forces: one on duty and two retired.

How many Armies, Navies, Air Forces, and Marine Corps are the U.S. taxpayers now paying for?

Defend freedom? yes; Exercise it? no

They have no freedom of speech and they’re fine with that. Although they are quick to tell you they will die to protect freedom of speech. I guess they will, but I wish they would exercise that freedom more.

But here’s the biggest problem.

Good intentions = results

Career military people think good intentions are a complete substitute for results.

Liberals enact all sorts of do-gooder programs like the War on Poverty, The Great Society, Medicare, Department Education, and so on. Invariably, those programs spend enormous amounts and accomplish very little. Poverty marches on undented by the War on Poverty. We have a Not So Great Society in spite of hundreds of billions being spent to create the Great one. If we just gave the poor the per capita amount spent “helping” them, they would all be millionaires, yadda yadda.

Look! Progress!

When criticized, the liberals point to their good intentions and occasionally—progress.

Just like the U.S. military. We lost the Vietnam war and got 58,000 killed in the process. Who was punished? No one. What was changed? Nothing. To this day, the U.S. military says they had good intentions in Vietnam and they did a great job and it was somebody else’s fault we lost.

No excuse

The first words spoken to me when I entered West Point were,

Mister, From now on you have three answers: “Yes, Sir.” “No, Sir.” and “No excuse, Sir.”

That was a great lesson, but, in fact, the U.S. military has millions of excuses. Just ask them why they lost in Vietnam or Somalia or Lebanon.

Iraq is now seen as a victory. We’ll see. Afghanistan seems to be getting worse in spite of more U.S. troops there than ever before.

I am not sure the U.S. military has the resources and rules of engagement to let them win in Afghanistan, but if that’s the case, they need to tell their civilian superiors that and get out. They do not.

They endlessly point to their good intentions and occasional progress (not necessarily net progress, just bits and pieces of apparent good news). Remember the daily “Five O’Clock Follies” briefings about “the light at the end of the tunnel” for ten years in Vietnam?

No substitute for victory

In his farewell address to the Corps of Cadets at West Point, General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur said,

There is no substitute for victory.

I agree. But the radical leftists who make up the career U.S. military personnel are quite willing to substitute their War-on-Poverty-like good intentions for results for as many decades as the U.S. public will let them get away with it. There is no end in sight to the proclamations of good intentions, lack of hard results, and happy-face briefings on “progress.”

Career military figure all they have to do is look the part and talk a good game and they’ll be praised as heroes. Intentions are enough. No results required.

For the last 40 years, they have gotten away with that completely and there appears no prospect that the American people or Congress are going to hold them to account for lack of results any time soon. We have become a nation of draft dodgers and draft dodgers are afraid to criticize military personnel. The longer the U.S. military are immune from criticism and not held accountable for lack of results, the worse the condition of the national defense will become.

I expect to think of additional examples that show that career U.S. military personnel are as radical as the most die-hard leftists when it comes to the elevation of good intentions over results and other behavior patterns. I hope readers will also remind me of others they recall seeing when they were in the military. I will add them to this aricle. See also my article Process orientation versus results orientation.

FYI: I am a registered Libertarian and voted for their candidate Bob Barr in 2008. I have never been a Republican or Democrat or conservative or liberal. I believe most people are actually Libertarians but they either do not realize it or do not admit to it because they fear it will result in their being ostracized from polite society.

John T. Reed

Mjölnir
06-03-2015, 03:01 AM
Interesting article I came across. Bear in mind that it's dated (appears to have been written in 2008, at the latest):

http://www.johntreed.com/liberal.html

It is an interesting article, but I think some of his perspective is particularly skewed to prove his thesis:


They work for the government.

They live in government housing the size of which is determined by their rank and family size. They and their dependents get 100% bottomless pit, no co-pay medical care from cradle to grave. In many assignments, they also get all their food free.

True, but he is not really accounting that housing / BAS etc. is part of our overall compensation package which is exacly when DoD puts out the "Total Compensation Information" that it does ... we only pay you [xxx] in base pay, but when you account for your housing, medical, dental, food etc. you really make [yyy].


They get paid a lot for doing nothing when they retire which they can do as soon as 20 years—sooner if they have a service-connected disability. The U.S. military’s payroll for its retirees surpassed its payroll for active duty personnel decades ago. In my area, Vallejo, CA went bankrupt recently. Municipal bankruptcies are almost unheard of in the U.S. When asked why, the mayor said,

We have three police forces: one on duty and two retired.

How many Armies, Navies, Air Forces, and Marine Corps are the U.S. taxpayers now paying for?

Military retired pay is deferred compensation; I don't think a defferred compensation program is inherently 'liberal' nor radical. I have said many times that I think we are fairly adequately compensated for what we do ... but without that deferred compensation, I don't think you will find too many people that would complete a 20 or more year career; I could make a lot more money as a contractor ... but cost companies don't offer the same type of pension.


Defend freedom? yes; Exercise it? no

They have no freedom of speech and they’re fine with that. Although they are quick to tell you they will die to protect freedom of speech. I guess they will, but I wish they would exercise that freedom more.

This is the part that made me say "he was really in the Army ... an Army officer?" Military discipline and the chain of command is not really comparable to a civilian company or job. Telling your boss to go hell and storming out of the office works for civilians; not for military professionals. Orders are orders and there is legal authority behind them. Now, beyond that ... there are not many restrictions on our freedom of speech or ability to communicate with our elected representation. Based on my time in the Senate ... military members were not the majority of people contacting our office ... but percentage of them vice the percentage of civilians was disproportionately in favor of the military folks (active & retired) contacting us.


But here’s the biggest problem.

Good intentions = results

Career military people think good intentions are a complete substitute for results.

Liberals enact all sorts of do-gooder programs like the War on Poverty, The Great Society, Medicare, Department Education, and so on. Invariably, those programs spend enormous amounts and accomplish very little. Poverty marches on undented by the War on Poverty. We have a Not So Great Society in spite of hundreds of billions being spent to create the Great one. If we just gave the poor the per capita amount spent “helping” them, they would all be millionaires, yadda yadda.

Look! Progress!

When criticized, the liberals point to their good intentions and occasionally—progress.

I would wholeheartedly disagree that the military is not concerned with results.


Just like the U.S. military. We lost the Vietnam war and got 58,000 killed in the process. Who was punished? No one. What was changed? Nothing. To this day, the U.S. military says they had good intentions in Vietnam and they did a great job and it was somebody else’s fault we lost.

No excuse

The first words spoken to me when I entered West Point were,

Mister, From now on you have three answers: “Yes, Sir.” “No, Sir.” and “No excuse, Sir.”

That was a great lesson, but, in fact, the U.S. military has millions of excuses. Just ask them why they lost in Vietnam or Somalia or Lebanon.

Iraq is now seen as a victory. We’ll see. Afghanistan seems to be getting worse in spite of more U.S. troops there than ever before.

He is confusing 'winning' with achieving the mission goals.

What was the mission in Vietnam? To prevent the fall of / assimilation of South Vietnam to the North. Yep, we lost.

What was the mission in Afghanistan? Depose the Taliban. Done.

What was the mission in Iraq? Depose the Hussein regime. Done.

Now, when you get into the extended mission analysis of both Iraq and Afghanistan, the socio-political post Phase III objectives where changing and had little military measures of effectiveness. I would call neither a stunning success in nation building, but is nation building the role of the DoD or the DoS or the UN.


I am not sure the U.S. military has the resources and rules of engagement to let them win in Afghanistan, but if that’s the case, they need to tell their civilian superiors that and get out. They do not.

They endlessly point to their good intentions and occasional progress (not necessarily net progress, just bits and pieces of apparent good news). Remember the daily “Five O’Clock Follies” briefings about “the light at the end of the tunnel” for ten years in Vietnam?

I think the military leadership in both Afghanistan and Iraq were open about the difficulties in a lengthy occupation of either country, but we are the servants of the civilian leadership. The military leadership doesn't just say "too hard to do ... I'm taking my guys and going back to CONUS I don't care what the DEPORD from SECDEF says."

The rest was really more commentary (that seemed rooted in a bad experience in Vietnam) than statement.

Absinthe Anecdote
06-03-2015, 04:47 AM
FYI: I am a registered Libertarian and voted for their candidate Bob Barr in 2008. I have never been a Republican or Democrat or conservative or liberal. I believe most people are actually Libertarians but they either do not realize it or do not admit to it because they fear it will result in their being ostracized from polite society.

John T. Reed

I found the tone of this article a bit insulting, but no big deal.

I view my military career as a contract that I entered into with the government. I promised the government to serve and obey, and for that service and loyalty the government promised me compensation.

My agreement to suspend certain liberties for the term of my service was a decision I made consciously. The government actually got a pretty good bargain for my loyalty and pledge to follow orders that could potentially result in my death, not to mention the most productive years of my life.

That doesn't make me a leftist or a conservative. It makes me someone who entered into a contract and upheld their end of it.

There is a patriotic component to the equation, but I will never pretend that patriotism was the primary factor in my relationship with the government. It had more to do with honoring my word.

Reed's last point does resonate with me to a certain extent. I am probably closer to a libertarian than anything else, but there are aspects of the Libertarian platform that bother me. It has nothing to do with a fear of being ostracized.

Reed comes across as a condescending prick, and I'm not sure what the purpose of his message was other than to blast the two party system.

TJMAC77SP
06-03-2015, 04:50 AM
It is an interesting article, but I think some of his perspective is particularly skewed to prove his thesis:

That sums it up.

One point though. It's an op-ed piece not journalism in the sense of reporting facts.

Mjölnir
06-03-2015, 05:29 AM
That sums it up.

One point though. It's an op-ed piece not journalism in the sense of reporting facts.

True, and he is certainly entitled to his opinion; I disagree with his opinion in most of the article and when I look at how he states things to support his opinion I think he is skewing things to support his point.

-Military service members get deferred compensation in the form of a pension: true fact

Is it for doing nothing? I thought the 20 year career was the qualifier -- what you did -- to earn the pension. If a service member wants to not work post their military career and live entirely off their savings and pension, that is their prerogative based on (as Absinthe Anecdote put it) the contract they entered into with the government.

If the author wanted to make the point that the military pension is too much (some have argued that) he could / should have. He more equated this to how many pension funds are bankrupting civil localities (also a true fact) and he could have made that argument (since it is also a true fact that the DoD pension fund is going to require exponential growth to maintain the status quo) but I think he also did not really explain it well focusing on his thesis that military folks are more liberally-minded than conservative.

Now, to his overall point ... I think there is a pretty decent mix of political viewpoints in the military and I don't necessarily agree that most of the military self-identifies as politically conservative. I think the military does a better job than most of society of pseudo-forcing us to put our political/personal/social viewpoints aside to get shit done ...

Absinthe Anecdote
06-03-2015, 12:28 PM
Now, to his overall point ... I think there is a pretty decent mix of political viewpoints in the military and I don't necessarily agree that most of the military self-identifies as politically conservative. I think the military does a better job than most of society of pseudo-forcing us to put our political/personal/social viewpoints aside to get shit done ...

I think the phenomenon of political branding occurs mainly at the party-level through the messages each party puts into the media, and has less to do with the self-identification of members from any particular group.

Reed's exclusive use of the terms liberal and conservative over simplifies the political spectrum.

The Democratic Party commonly lays claim to union workers, and democratic polices to tend to be pro-Union. However, can one safely assume that all union workers self-identity as liberals?

If we look at how the liberal wing of the Democratic Party has been very successful in branding itself with minorities, Reed's premise gets even more confusing.

In my experience, I have found that many black and latino voters have views on social issues that are largely conservative. In my estimation it would make them conservative democrats, not liberal democrats.

The conservative wing of the Republican Party tries to lay claim to the military, and their policies of maintaining a strong Department of Defense does win them the support of some military members.

However, to suggest that all military members self identify with conservative values is ludicrous.

Lastly, Reed's statement about voters fearing that they will be ostracized if they self-identify with Libertarians. That points to an extreme branding problem that the Libertarian movement has been plagued with for decades, and not the fear or ignorance of voters.

They are largely seen as the party of cranks and crazies. That has more to do with their message being diluted by Libertarian candidates imploding in the media spotlight, year after year.

Absinthe Anecdote
06-03-2015, 01:42 PM
Career military figure all they have to do is look the part and talk a good game and they’ll be praised as heroes. Intentions are enough. No results required.

For the last 40 years, they have gotten away with that completely and there appears no prospect that the American people or Congress are going to hold them to account for lack of results any time soon. We have become a nation of draft dodgers and draft dodgers are afraid to criticize military personnel. The longer the U.S. military are immune from criticism and not held accountable for lack of results, the worse the condition of the national defense will become.

A second read of this self-published opinion piece and a visit to his website helped clarify this guy's message for me.

The passage I quoted above speaks to a common Libertarian theme of bringing back the draft. His message here speaks to the military being corrupted by careerists, and although he doesn't directly call for instituting a draft, I have little doubt that he is for it.

Rusty Jones

I can see why you thought that this was interesting, but a visit to this guy's website made it much less interesting for me.

How much did you poke around his website? I would characterize him as a grouchy Vietnam Veteran, a real estate agent, and wannabe author after my visit to website.

While he is entitled to his opinion, he doesn't have the credentials of a political analyst and that puts his message into perspective for me.

I would like to see this topic explored by someone who investigated it and dug up evidence about the political affiliations of military members.

I see Reed as making the claim that by accepting "goodies" or military benefits, that alone makes the military careerist a radical leftist and a corrupting influence on the military as a whole.

I think I just did Reed a tremendous favor by putting the essence of his article in one sentence. I think he is a lousy writer and needs some help in developing his thesis in written form.

Reed is making the claim that career military people are either outright corrupt, or blind to their service of a radical leftist institution. He isn't really speaking to their political affiliations at the voting booth.

Something I didn't entirely grasp when I first read this piece.

Rainmaker
06-03-2015, 03:45 PM
Agree with Much of what he writes. But, take issue with a couple things.

1. "the U.S. military has millions of excuses. Just ask them why they lost in Vietnam or Somalia or Lebanon."
- It's True the US Military hasn't won a war since WW 2. But, we haven't fought in a total war since. The Military does not make policy, The Military executes Policy. This is why the Powell doctrine shouldn't have been thrown overboard.

2. "They work for the government"
- No they don't. They serve on behalf of the American People. We are Citizens not Subjects.

Bos Mutus
07-24-2015, 05:06 PM
It is an interesting article, but I think some of his perspective is particularly skewed to prove his thesis:

True, but he is not really accounting that housing / BAS etc. is part of our overall compensation package which is exacly when DoD puts out the "Total Compensation Information" that it does ... we only pay you [xxx] in base pay, but when you account for your housing, medical, dental, food etc. you really make [yyy].

Military retired pay is deferred compensation; I don't think a defferred compensation program is inherently 'liberal' nor radical. I have said many times that I think we are fairly adequately compensated for what we do ... but without that deferred compensation, I don't think you will find too many people that would complete a 20 or more year career; I could make a lot more money as a contractor ... but cost companies don't offer the same type of pension.

The author has confused "working for the government" with "living off the government"...


This is the part that made me say "he was really in the Army ... an Army officer?" Military discipline and the chain of command is not really comparable to a civilian company or job. Telling your boss to go hell and storming out of the office works for civilians; not for military professionals. Orders are orders and there is legal authority behind them. Now, beyond that ... there are not many restrictions on our freedom of speech or ability to communicate with our elected representation. Based on my time in the Senate ... military members were not the majority of people contacting our office ... but percentage of them vice the percentage of civilians was disproportionately in favor of the military folks (active & retired) contacting us.

It also had me saying "how is being supposedly against Freedom of Speech being liberal?" Freedom of Speech is very much a liberal ideal. There is nothing liberal about wanting to quash Free Speech.


I would wholeheartedly disagree that the military is not concerned with results.

I actually agree that this is a problem for the military...while, I disagree that this is a characteristic of liberals.

The military very rarely, if ever, holds people accountable for job performance/failure. If you hear of a commander or senior person get fired...it's almost always personal conduct.

The AF spent $1.2 Billion on a failed ECSS system...what company would allow you to screw up that big without some heads rolling?

From the Senate report on the ECSS failure:

Root Causes:

1. Unrealistic performance expectations--okay, who was in charge when they set the expectations? A general officer, no doubt...was he even marked down for leadership? Sure, by the time the report came out he's probably long gone, 4 assignments away somewhere

2. Poor program management--"the earliest PM failure was the decision to delegate the leading role in requirements development..." Okay, so who made that decision and were they held accountable for poor professional judgement? Or are they the program manager for a different project today?

Part of the problem is systemic...senior officers rotate every 2 years...so the requirements kept changing, later program managers did not implement the earlier program managers strategy....they "restructured" the acquisition at least 3 times...

Then, you have dozens if not 100s of "decision-makers" because every MAJCOM has to sign off on every step...and the newly appointed Lt. Col. or MSgt wants to get their name next to a thoughtful comment.

I had the extreme displeasure of sitting in on a couple ECSS meetings at ACC...basically, pretty much all the people didn't really understand what was going on...they spoke in big nebulous words to make everything think they did..."rolling out a notional implementation plan to sequence the various spirals in a way that makes operation sense..."...and just continued to kick the can down the road with a thoughtful sound comment to inspire everyone with the importance of what they were doing.

The real problem is they had a billion dollar acquisition with nobody in charge...but dozens of people getting awesome bullets for impacting a billion dollar acquisition until it was determined to be a complete and utter failure and then everyone is all, "It wasn't me, maybe we should try to sue the contractor"

This entire thing should be a movie...not sure if it'll be a comedy or horror.

His point about career military needing to only "look the part and talk a good game" to be considered heroes...there is also something to that. Criticism of the military is not well received...military members are pretty much uniformly considered "heroes" by the general public and a suggestion otherwise generally finds one run out of town in disgrace. There is something to that...though, I'm not sure the military invented it, but we don't mind perpetuating it.



He is confusing 'winning' with achieving the mission goals.

What was the mission in Vietnam? To prevent the fall of / assimilation of South Vietnam to the North. Yep, we lost.

What was the mission in Afghanistan? Depose the Taliban. Done.

What was the mission in Iraq? Depose the Hussein regime. Done.

Now, when you get into the extended mission analysis of both Iraq and Afghanistan, the socio-political post Phase III objectives where changing and had little military measures of effectiveness. I would call neither a stunning success in nation building, but is nation building the role of the DoD or the DoS or the UN.

I think the military leadership in both Afghanistan and Iraq were open about the difficulties in a lengthy occupation of either country, but we are the servants of the civilian leadership. The military leadership doesn't just say "too hard to do ... I'm taking my guys and going back to CONUS I don't care what the DEPORD from SECDEF says."

The rest was really more commentary (that seemed rooted in a bad experience in Vietnam) than statement.

Agree that his criticism of military actions is unfounded...in most of those the military did what is was asked and trained to do...the military is just one arm of US power...I believe we won most of the military battles in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan...again, not sure why he thinks lack of desired results makes someone a liberal.

Rainmaker
07-24-2015, 05:26 PM
The author has confused "working for the government" with "living off the government"...



It also had me saying "how is being supposedly against Freedom of Speech being liberal?" Freedom of Speech is very much a liberal ideal. There is nothing liberal about wanting to quash Free Speech.



I actually agree that this is a problem for the military...while, I disagree that this is a characteristic of liberals.

The military very rarely, if ever, holds people accountable for job performance/failure. If you hear of a commander or senior person get fired...it's almost always personal conduct.

The AF spent $1.2 Billion on a failed ECSS system...what company would allow you to screw up that big without some heads rolling?

From the Senate report on the ECSS failure:

Root Causes:

1. Unrealistic performance expectations--okay, who was in charge when they set the expectations? A general officer, no doubt...was he even marked down for leadership? Sure, by the time the report came out he's probably long gone, 4 assignments away somewhere

2. Poor program management--"the earliest PM failure was the decision to delegate the leading role in requirements development..." Okay, so who made that decision and were they held accountable for poor professional judgement? Or are they the program manager for a different project today?

Part of the problem is systemic...senior officers rotate every 2 years...so the requirements kept changing, later program managers did not implement the earlier program managers strategy....they "restructured" the acquisition at least 3 times...

Then, you have dozens if not 100s of "decision-makers" because every MAJCOM has to sign off on every step...and the newly appointed Lt. Col. or MSgt wants to get their name next to a thoughtful comment.

I had the extreme displeasure of sitting in on a couple ECSS meetings at ACC...basically, pretty much all the people didn't really understand what was going on...they spoke in big nebulous words to make everything think they did..."rolling out a notional implementation plan to sequence the various spirals in a way that makes operation sense..."...and just continued to kick the can down the road with a thoughtful sound comment to inspire everyone with the importance of what they were doing.

The real problem is they had a billion dollar acquisition with nobody in charge...but dozens of people getting awesome bullets for impacting a billion dollar acquisition until it was determined to be a complete and utter failure and then everyone is all, "It wasn't me, maybe we should try to sue the contractor"

This entire thing should be a movie...not sure if it'll be a comedy or horror.

His point about career military needing to only "look the part and talk a good game" to be considered heroes...there is also something to that. Criticism of the military is not well received...military members are pretty much uniformly considered "heroes" by the general public and a suggestion otherwise generally finds one run out of town in disgrace. There is something to that...though, I'm not sure the military invented it, but we don't mind perpetuating it.




Agree that his criticism of military actions is unfounded...in most of those the military did what is was asked and trained to do...the military is just one arm of US power...I believe we won most of the military battles in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan...again, not sure why he thinks lack of desired results makes someone a liberal.

Rainmaker waited 2 months for this. You're Johnny on the spot with that reply!

Bos Mutus
07-24-2015, 05:33 PM
Rainmaker waited 2 months for this. You're Johnny on the spot with that reply!

Sorry, I didn't know there was a time limit...are you gonna mark me down a grade or what?

garhkal
07-24-2015, 07:09 PM
Na. you need to do 20 burpies and 50 crunches.

Rainmaker
07-24-2015, 07:33 PM
Sorry, I didn't know there was a time limit...are you gonna mark me down a grade or what?

Well, You've obviously done your homework on this one. but, at only 528 words, you've barley met the minimum required to express an opinion....... After two months, Rainmaker expected more out of you.

Bos Mutus
07-24-2015, 07:45 PM
Well, You've obviously done your homework on this one. but, at only 528 words, you've barley met the minimum required to express an opinion....... After two months, Rainmaker expected more out of you.

I don't currently have a staff opening for personal post editor...but, thank you for your interest..

Salty Old Dog
07-31-2015, 02:59 PM
They and their dependents get 100% bottomless pit, no co-pay medical care from cradle to grave. In many assignments, they also get all their food free.

Both points are so incredibly wrong, that it's obvious the writer was working off of dated and/or incorrect information, that they were either too lazy to fact check, or too foolish to care.

Reminds me quite a bit of mass media writers/reporters, who don't bother getting their facts right on any firearm-related stories they put out, and instead rely on misinformation put out by anti-gun lobbyists.

The problem with this, of course, is that the average citizen in this country is also too lazy to fact check the articles they read, or the news they watch, so are easily swayed to have opinions based on "facts" that are either presented with a political skew, or just plain incorrect.