Valve to put player saves and identities online
Friday, May 30, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I know only my fellow nerds will appreciate this, but Valve is putting all their saves and player ids online via the new Steamcloud service. This is pretty exciting stuff - it means that any saved games you have can be accessed from anywhere. It also means any customized settings (i.e. keyboard mapping) will also be saved and linked to your profile.

This is really great for people who game across multiple computers. For example, if I'm playing TF2 on my boyfriend's laptop, I won't have to re-setup all the controls to how I like it (this is an annoying thing that takes 10-15 minutes to do). Also, if I have another epic system crash in the future that causes me to reinstall all my games, it won't lose all my progress or preferred settings. Awesome.

As an extra bonus, as Valve continues to blaze trails with their game download service, it makes it even easier to restore games you purchased online (no more hunting for the original install disc) or to move those games to new computers.
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Great News, Questionable Timing
Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
NY To Recognize Gay Marriages from Other States and Countries. Good for you, David Patterson. And yet, I can't help but worry, because there seems to be some unwritten rule that gay marriage (and gay civil rights in general) doesn't matter in this country except for once every 4 years. The timing of this is difficult, because it's an easy way to rile up the crazy right-wingers and get them out to the polls. I'm not sure why they are so opposed to gay people having a basic civil right, but whatever. The fact of the matter is, these people are not voting for Obama. In a critical election year, it's not great to have such a polarizing issue driving up poll numbers. I mean, this couldn't wait until after November, California Justices and David Patterson? Really?

In other news, Scott McClellan, Bush's former White House Press Secretay, is making the rounds, peddling his new book. I'm sure most of you are aware that it's a doozy - full of criticism for the man he previously served so loyally (to the point of absurdity). Not surprisingly, the White House is fighting back.

While I'm glad McClellan seems to have seen the light, the timing is all a bit convenient. He waits until the public is completely against Bush, and then comes out with a book bashing him (thus riding public sentiment to higher book sales) . But really, he's spewing the same bullshit as all the rest of the Bushies (former and current): "Oh, I was deceived. It's not my fault people lied to me and didn't give me the right information. Blah blah blah." Apparently, there's no responsibility to do any critical examination of oneselves anymore. I mean, it was pretty fucking obvious what was going on, so don't give me that crap. Which will it be, Scott: 1) I'm a liar and knew exactly what was going on and what lies I was selling, or 2) I'm a moron who can't see the obvious truth in front of me?

You can argue that this guy has no leg to stand on, because he probably never voiced his concerns to the President at any point. However, you can also argue that Bush has shown an insane pattern of crushing dissent and purging those who have an opinion that isn't convenient to him. So you can say that ultimately, while all these advisers (McClellan, Feith, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc), epically failed in their civic duties, the ultimate blame has to be on Bush for fostering an environment where his people were too scared (or misinformed) to make sound, reality-based recommendations to him.

I'm updating this to post this unbelievable quote from the article on McClellan's book:
It's also hard to feel bad for the treatment McClellan is getting when he said this about Richard Clarke's tell-all book in 2006: "Why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he's raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book."
This is almost word-for-word what the administration is saying about him now. The irony is just delicious.
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The Estrogen Edition
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
There's a great article in the L.A. Times about the role of women in combat. The article contends that the issue of opening all positions (including combat positions) to women will have to be addressed in the next few years. This is an interesting question and it doesn't have easy answers. I do believe that women are less physically strong than men on average, and that's a legitimate concern. There's also the concern about what the American public will think, and what our adversaries will do.
Policymakers would need to confront societal taboos against putting women in jeopardy, including the risk of rape that captured female soldiers commonly face. They also would have to tackle such issues as whether women could be involuntarily assigned to the infantry or required to register for the draft.
I personally believe that jobs that truly require massive physical strength and endurance should probably stay unavailable for most women (i.e. infantry, special forces). Now, I do think that there are exceptional women who are more physically capable than average (I met a female Marine recruit in college who could out-run most of the men), and they should have the opportunity to join those career fields. But they are going to have to be held to the same physical standards as their male counterparts (and in fact should have to place near the top of the PT test male scores).

The simple fact of the matter is that women are in combat, whether we like it or not. Recruiting is down and the unorthodox nature of urban warfare means that the battlespace is not easily defined. Women are ending up in firefights just like male soldiers. And many of them are excelling. It just doesn't make sense to keep them out. It's been well documented that career advancement (particularly in the Marines and Army) often relies on having deployed and combat experience, so women soldiers will need that to truly have an equal opportunity to advance.

I really like this idea:
The Air Force's most senior female fighter pilot, Col. Martha McSally, has even called for eliminating dress code and grooming distinctions.

"Women's hair should be at least cut extremely short upon entering basic training in all services," she wrote in a Duke University law journal last year. "Uniforms should be standardized, and skirts, high heels and pantyhose should be removed from the military uniform."
I've always thought that allowing long hair is a ridiculous idea. Trust me, as a woman I can confirm that having long hair in demanding situations (i.e. field training) is an extra logistical nightmare that unnecessarily distracts the woman. I can't imagine trying to maintain a long hairstyle in the field. I agree that entering basic training females should have a short cut - the Air Force Academy already does that for new recruits, and the female cadets all seemed to have gotten over it. I'd also add that any woman deploying to a combat zone should maintain a short hairstyle.

In sports news, it was a rough day for the ladies at the Indy 500. Sarah Fisher cracked up her car pretty good when she ended up t-boning another driver who had spun out in front of her. Danica Patrick was running a decent race (probably would have finished at 7th place or so), when another driver smashed into her in pit lane. It was fun to see the diminutive Patrick start striding down to confront the other driver (security held her back, which is good because she looked pissed).

Also, I'm trying to get people together for the upcoming Washington Mystics vs. L.A. Sparks game on Saturday, May 31st. If you'd like to go, post in the comments or shoot me an email.
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Shut up, Icahn
Friday, May 23, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I'm not sure why it's news that a particular rich guy doesn't like Obama, especially since he was a Rudy Giuliani donor. Icahn claims Obama would go on a spending spree that would undermine the economy. Funny, because I don't remember him speaking up at any time over the past 7 years while Bush and the Republican-led Congress went hog wild with their tax cuts and increased spending.
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Fooooosball commentary
Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
According to, Jason Taylor and the Dolphins have pretty much severed ties completely. This doesn't surprise me - I know that Parcells was livid about Taylor participating in Dancing With The Stars, instead of doing a traditional workout. Taylor is on record recently talking about his post-football career (he wants to be an actor). He wants to win, but the Dolphins are in a rebuilding year and won't be close to contention, so I'm not sure what he would get out of another season with them. This is definitely his last year, and you have to question how much his heart is going to be in this at all.

Also from Don Banks discussing 10 off-season questions about various NFL issues. The one that intrigues me the most is "2. Is JaMarcus Russell ready for his close-up in Oakland?" I personally don't think Russell is ready for his close-up. Holding out last season was stupid and incredibly short-sighted - for a few more pennies (really, what's another million or so), Russell sabotaged his chance to participate in critical learning experiences like training camp. He also sabotaged his opportunity to start earlier in the season (in fact he could have started from the beginning of the season perhaps). It's common knowledge that Russell was going to be a work in progress - he just wasn't NFL ready right out of college. He needed that playing time to get to the level where he can win games. Now he's in a situation where he's not a rookie anymore (and therefore will have elevated expectations put on him), but hasn't had as much time to develop his skills as he needed. Stupid stupid stupid.

The smart thing would've been for Russell to structure a contract with bonuses based on playing time (say 6-8 games or more during the regular season) and then shown up on time, hoping to compete for the starting job from day 1. Holding out wasn't the smart thing to do, and personally made me respect him less. It was selfish and ended up not only hurting the team, but himself. Instead of being eager to get in and prove his ability and love for the game, Russell demonstrated that he was more interested in squeezing another million bucks for free. I believe the NFL really really needs to move towards rookie salary caps, to avoid crap like this - a rookie with no proven ability in the NFL makes more in guaranteed money than a large chunk of starters around the league who are proven performers.

In other news Chris Cooley is marrying the cheerleader who was fired for dating him. I'm sorry, maybe Cooley is a nice guy, but he's not a very good writer. Check out this brilliant piece of prose:
Christy stepped through my back door two Julys ago. She walked into the house like she had climbed out of a poster in my high school bedroom. Past fashionably late, she had given me way too much time to sit and drink, and I knew it would be hard not to make an ass out of myself. By the time I was face to face with my favorite Redskins cheerleader, all I could muster was a shrugged shoulder handshake.
The line about climbing out of a poster cracks me up to no end. It reads like a cheeseball letter to Penthouse. He goes on to tell how the girl pretty much came over to his house with the intent of seducing him. At the end of the "article" (if you can call a fluff piece about how much of a hot babe one's fiancee is an article) we are encouraged to visit Cooley's personal blog where "he gets awesome all the time." Ha!
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McCain's wacky supporter
Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
McCain Backer Hagee says Hitler was fulfilling God's Will. I can't even make this stuff up. Again, had Rev. Jeremiah Wright said this, they'd be crucifying Obama right about now for supporting this nut job. But McCain, who pursued this guy's endorsement for over a year, will likely not get any flack for this. And that's just bull. I can't decide whether it's more appalling that a person has personal ties with less than savory people, or if they pursue such people solely for political gain. Which is more offensive? You could make arguments either way.

Mind you, Hagee is the same preacher who is on record calling the Catholic the "great whore" and a "false cult system". This is how morally bankrupt McCain has become. Back in 2000 he condemned people like this. Now, he's speaking at Pat Robertson's "university" and allying himself with scumbags like Hagee.
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Random news bits
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
"McCain to mark Cuban Independence Day with new attack on Obama". For some reason, this headline cracks me up. "Hi! Happy Cuban Independence Day! And in completely unrelated news, here's why my opponent sucks...."

Oh my.... this is one effective ad.

Time magazine has an interesting article on Obama's Cuban policy and why it just might play in Florida this election year. It's definitely worth a read and gives you just another look into how foreign policy will be different under his presidency. It's about addressing the fact that some of our policy that's been a "fact" or a "given" (i.e. "We don't deal with Castro", "Appease the Cuban hard-liners") simply don't work.

Oil prices climb to a new high of $129 a barrel. I'm just shocked it took this long. If I were an oil producer and I knew that people would apparently pay just about any price to keep their oil addictions, I'd jack up the prices too. I'm not sure that traditional supply and demand models can apply in this situation. There's only so much consumption that the world is willing to cut, so no matter how abundant or scarce oil is, the prices will be high because demand is always ridiculously high.

There's a great article/editorial over at io9 about how ridiculous the statement "Girls just don't like sci-fi" is. Right on, sister.

Lastly, I managed to kill my beloved computer this weekend while trying to install a new video card. I'm very sad. Right now it's over at Best Buy with the Geek Squad, where I hope that they will be able to fix it. It could be bad news (dead RAID controller, dead hard drives or more). Please pray for my computer.
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There's No Crying in Baseball (or MMA or Basketball)!
Monday, May 19, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
God fails yet again to take Teddy Kennedy. Seriously, Teddy has the luck of the devil. I like to think God is up there, trying to pin down both Kennedy and Dick Cheney, but failing constantly (and screaming "Dammit! Missed again!").

A quick update on some female athletes that I follow:

Candice Parker had an amazing rookie debut this week with the L.A. Sparks. For those of you who don't follow women's college hoops, Parker was one of the best players in the nation, and was the first player taken in the draft. She's very reminiscent of Lisa Leslie - a really tall girl who can handle the ball. She was the first female to dunk in an NCAA tournament game and the first to dunk twice in one game. She's one of those athletes that can take the WNBA to the next level physically. I'm excited to see what she does this year. In fact, I'll probably go to the Mystics/Sparks game this year just to see her play.

Gina Carano will be fighting on the new CBS MMA show. You may know Carano from American Gladiators (she plays Crush), or perhaps from the pages of Maxim. She's super hot, that's true, but she's actually not a bad mixed martial arts fighter. Steve usually resists my attempts to watch MMA fights (he thinks it's barbaric), but I may actually be able to get him to watch, since he does like Gina Carano.
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Hooray for John Edwards
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Holy moley! John Edwards endorses Obama. This is pretty big news. That's a major endorsement, and will go a long way towards ending this whole primary fight, I think. I'm not sure that it'll matter much to the general voters (and thus will not impact the Kentucky primary), but will likely influence those superdelegates still hanging out sitting on the fence.
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Rock Band for reals
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
A friend today brought up the fact that it's funny that several of us get together to jam on the game Rock Band, when we are all perfectly capable of playing real instruments. So now I'm thinking perhaps I'll try to get a band together. I'm not sure what kind of music we'll play - I'd imagine the two boys will be into some kind of heavier rock. I, of course, will be playing the drums, though I still hold the fantasy that one day I'll get around to really learning how to play guitar.

I went into a music store today where they were having a big sale on sheet music, so I bought a bunch of books just for the hell of it. Consider this an open call, by the way - if you can sing or play an instrument and want to jam, let me know. Also, you must be willing to travel to my house, as I am not lugging my set anywhere.

Any suggestions on songs we should learn? I'm partial to stuff from the 90s - the Cranberries, Hole, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, etc.
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More on the Back Door Draft
Monday, May 12, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
A prominent blogger and author of a book about his Iraq War experiences has just been recalled to active duty. This is a really sad op-ed piece to read and I really feel for the guy. It's not just active duty guys being stuck via the Stop-Loss policy, which I've previously discussed. It's also guys on the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) program who are also being called up.

A bit on IRR and military commitments: IRR basically means you agree to keep your uniforms in functioning order and that you can be called back up if you're needed. As a ROTC graduate, I agreed to serve for a total of 8 years. The standard agreement for an officer coming out of ROTC is 4 years active, with the remaining 4 years spent in the IRR. Military academy grads usually owe 5 years active, 3 years IRR. Certain career fields can be obligated to serve longer than that, due to the extra training they receive (i.e. USAF pilots sign up for 10 years of active service).

A key passage from his article:
When I voluntarily enlisted in the Army, I remember asking my recruiter about the fine print on the contract about being called back up to active duty once my enlistment was completed. He assured me not to worry, that every contract said that and it would only happen if "World War III" broke out.
This same thing was said to me, literally almost word for word. Both Stop-Loss and active duty recall are technically on the multi-page document they make you sign, that much is true. However, I was taught (as I'm sure many other military people were), that it was only for times of extreme crisis. People weren't happy about being Stop-Lossed after 9/11 first happened, but we all understood why it was invoked - major attack, didn't have a bead on the enemy, etc. The idea was not that we could be forced into longer service because a politician wanted more time to make some ridiculous nation-building plan work.
As terrible as this might sound, whenever someone asks me about enlisting, I'm tempted to encourage them. I figure that the more people who enlist, the slimmer the chances that I'll get called back up. But of course this is ridiculous: No one in their right mind would enlist now, whereas I've already signed the papers. I'm now going back to Iraq for a second time because people like me - existing service members - are the only people at the Army's disposal.
Again, the people in charge don't want a draft, because they know there'd be a public outcry on the level of Vietnam. So they violate the trust of their existing soldiers. There will be people, of course, screaming about how it's in the contract that this guy signed, so he should get over it, because his failure to follow up and find out if the recruiter was lying isn't the military's fault. And 90% of those people have probably never served, nor do they have family currently serving. Betraying the soldiers' trust based on a technicality ("Well, we know that this person in an obvious position of expertise and/or authority told you this one thing, but their failure to be more specific is just too damn bad") just burns me.
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30 Rock
Monday, May 12, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist

A '30 Rock' Quiz

Score: 100% (13 out of 13)

That's right, I scored 100%, so you can suck it! In other news, this reveiwer has no idea what he's talking about. He claims that 30 Rock is on the decline and that he hated how over the place the season finale was. I, on the other hand, thought the finale was fantastic. We got the return of some of my favorite guest stars (Jack's love CC the senator, the evil page Donny, the Beeper King), the A, B and C plots were all sharp and again the episode was chock-filled with great quotes. They really did a great job showing how much Jack and Liz have come to depend on each other as confidantes. Plus, I thought the FEMA stuff was absolutely hilarious.
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Returning On A Jet Plane
Saturday, May 10, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Today was my last full day in Hawaii. So sad. And yet, I'm sort of glad to be going home. I miss sleeping in my own bed. I miss sleeping with my boyfriend. And before you start snickering, I mean the actual act of sleeping. It's this weird thing that happens after you co-habitate for a period of time. You get used to having that particular presence in bed with you, and when you have to sleep alone, it feels weird.

Anyway, enough schmoopy thoughts. Soon I'll be back, which means daily postings shall return shortly.

On to other news: according the the L.A. Times Stop-Loss orders are up again. Welcome to the secret draft. Over 58,000 soldiers have been stop-lossed between 2002 and 2007. Take a good look at that number. I'm just shocked that this isn't a bigger issue. To me, this policy is a slap in the face to Americans who have faithfully served out the term of their service. They honored the terms of their contracts, often faced imminent danger, and served their country faithfully. No phrase pisses me off more than "supporting the troops", because to me that's just empty rhetoric. If we really wanted to support the troops, we'd be screaming about this policy and demanding that our government show them the same respect they did, and honor the terms of the contract. I'm not going to get into a long debate about the merits of Stop-Loss overall - there are legitimate times to invoke it, etc. But I think it's obvious to all rational Americans that this policy has been grossly abused, to the expense of our soldiers.

Meanwhile, your tax dollars are still hard at work. "Government contracting giant KBR rehired a man its own officials had fired after catching him with what they believed could be child pornography." The fact that we continue to spend billions on morally disgusting companies like KBR and Blackwater baffles me.

I have been golfing up a ton while I've been in Hawaii, so last night's Office segment featuring Jim, Kevin and Andy at the golf course really made me laugh.

In sports news, look for Joe Flacco, Chad Henne and Matt Ryan to start this year at some point. I think Ryan may be the Day 1 starter (and maybe Henne, unless John Beck got a lot better in the off-season). Flacco may start by mid-season, depending on how Boller is playing. Also, yes, I know Danica Patrick ran over a pit crew guy at Indy trials, but I swear to God, if any of you make a "women can't drive" joke, I will fucking kill someone.

Okay, that's all. I leave tomorrow, but won't land in DC until Sunday (gotta love crossing multiple time zones). I look forward to seeing all my DC-area peeps soon. Stay golden, pony bitches.
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All My Thoughts Fit For Print
Wednesday, May 07, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Haven't posted in awhile, so here are all the things I've been thinking about, in random order, vomited out on the screen for your reading pleasure:
  • Went golfing at Hickam on Monday. I did a walk-on, which is the best way to go, since actually reserving a tee time is nigh impossible. I was paired with a really cool dude named Iain (the Scottish spelling), who is a pilot for UPS. Our golfing buddies for the day were the Deitz brothers - the elder of who is a youthful 86 years old, and yet he still walked the course. I drove a cart. I am a big fat loser, yo. I played a decent game - still too many strokes over par, but I managed to complete the round using a single golf ball, which tells me that I was accurate enough that my drives were all recoverable.

  • I saw Baby Mama a few days ago. It was okay - there were definitely some laugh out loud moments. Steve Martin is particularly great in a supporting role as Tina Fey's wacky new age boss. Still, for the first feature starring the unstoppable duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, I wanted a storyline with some more teeth. It was painfully gentle comedy, which feels particularly wrong for a woman like Poehler. You want her to be in something insane, something dangerous, something that leans towards "Strangers With Candy" levels of weirdness. I want a character like her murderous incestuous figure skater from Blades of Glory. This one is worth seeing once, but wait for the DVD version.

  • You haven't lived until you've driven around Oahu with two tiny, ancient Chinese women as your guides. You haven't eaten until you've been encouraged by those same ladies to "Try the beef tendon" and yes, that's a real freaking tendon. Eeeee.

  • Obama seems to have cruised in North Carolina, and barely lost in Indiana. I was hoping he'd steal Indiana, but the margin of defeat was ultra-slim, which is a good sign. It means the delegate math is getting that much more impossible for Clinton to spin.

  • If Kristy Yamaguchi doesn't win Dancing With The Stars, I'll be pissed.

  • Just finished reading Dan Savage's new book "The Commitment" and Nicola Griffith's "Ammonite". Both rocked my world. If you like brainy sci-fi, check out the latter. If you like hilarious and touching personal tales, check out the former (but read his first book "The Kid" first). Next up: Cormac McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men" and Iain Banks' "The Player of Games".
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You're Doing a Heckuva Job, Bushie!
Friday, May 02, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
A special congratulations to our Commander in Chief, who has broken a notable Presidential record today: the highest disapproval rating ever! That's worse than Nixon during his impeachment trial. What's amazing is how broad the failure spectrum is. Many presidents, it's one issue: Lewinsky, a recession, etc. Bush has:

1) The politicizing of government agencies (a.k.a the Loyalty Tests)
2) An illegal and unpopular war
3) Record deficits
4) Cronyism at the highest levels
5) A blatant campaign of misinformation against the American Public
6) An economy in tatters (while countless billions flow into a war effort that only benefits the oil companies, and Bush cronies)
7) Immoral torture practices discussed and endorsed by the Pres, VP, Secretary of State, AG and more...

Really, this list goes on and on. It's mind boggling.

In less depressing news, 30 Rock was awesome tonight. Good to see that my favorite sitcom hasn't suffered from a sophomore slump. One of the best lines from tonight came from Jenna (Jane Krakowski), when asked to participate in a drinking contest: "A drinking contest? What am I, 12 and at my boyfriend's frat party?!" Wrong, and yet so right.
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How to Really Support the Troops
Thursday, May 01, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Another day, another chance for me to remember why I just love Jimmy Webb. His G.I. Bill is causing a bit of a stir in the Senate. And surprise, surprise... guess who isn't rushing to support this? That's right. John McCain.

From Annapolis to Vietnam and back to the Pentagon, John McCain and Jim Webb trod the same paths before coming to the Senate. Iraq divides them today, but there’s also the new kinship of being anxious fathers watching their sons come and go with Marine units in the war.

So what does it say about Washington that two such men, with so much in common, are locked in an increasingly intense debate over a shared value: education benefits for veterans?

“It’s very odd,” said former Nebraska Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, a mutual friend. And that oddness gets greater by the day as the two headstrong senators barrel down colliding tracks.

An Arizona Republican, McCain has all but locked up the Republican presidential nomination and is preparing for a fall campaign in which his support of the Iraq war is sure to be a major issue. Yet the former Navy pilot and Vietnam POW makes himself a target by refusing to endorse Webb’s new GI education bill and instead signing on to a Republican alternative that focuses more on career soldiers than on the great majority who leave after their first four years.

I like how later in the article McCain complains that he hasn't had enough time to review the bill. This sort of points out one of the major flaws in the Presidential race - these people are still allegedly active Senators, but can't seem to find time to do their real jobs, while campaigning for their desired one.

In any case, SecDef Gates complains that the bill is open to all who have served at least a 4 year term, while he wants one that has a sliding scale based on time in service. But I agree with Webb - those who serve should be rewarded, not trapped into staying in. And don't forget, we're already trapping a lot of troops into longer tours than they signed up for, thanks to the little known policy of Stop-Loss. So, the least we can do is say, "Look, if you sign up, there's a good chance we'll screw you and make you stay longer than you think. But we promise to at least pay for your college."
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