Patterico's Pontifications


National Guard Deployments To End One Day Before Members Qualify for Education and Retirement Benefits

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This is not good news:

More than 40,000 National Guard members currently helping states test residents for the coronavirus and trace the spread of infections will face a “hard stop” on their deployments on June 24 — just one day shy of many members becoming eligible for key federal benefits, according to a senior FEMA official.

The official outlined the Trump administration’s plans on an interagency call on May 12, an audio version of which was obtained by POLITICO. The official also acknowledged during the call that the June 24 deadline means that thousands of members who first deployed in late March will find themselves with only 89 days of duty credit, one short of the 90-day threshold for qualifying for early retirement and education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill.

The looming loss of crucial frontline workers, along with questions about whether the administration is shortchanging first responders, would require a delicate messaging strategy, the official — representing FEMA’s New England region — told dozens of colleagues on the interagency call.

“We would greatly benefit from unified messaging regarding the conclusion of their services prior to hitting the 90-day mark and the retirement benefit implications associated with it,” the official said.

The decision has compelled both sides of the aisle to seek an extension from the White House:

Governors and lawmakers in both parties have been pleading with the White House to extend the federal order for several more months or until the end of the year, warning in a letter to Trump that terminating federal deployments early in the summer just as states are reopening “could contribute to a possible second wave of infection.”

Here are the numbers:

More than 40,000 Guard members are currently serving under federal orders known as Title 32, which grants them federal pay and benefits but puts them under local command, in 44 states, three territories and the District of Columbia — the largest domestic deployment since Hurricane Katrina.

Tens of thousands of them have been working full-time since early March on a wide range of sensitive and dangerous tasks, such as decontaminating nursing homes and setting up field hospitals, along with performing tests for the virus. They’ve provided a crucial backup for understaffed and underfunded state public health agencies trying to contain the pandemic.

The cost of the deployment is as much as $9 million per month for every 1,000 troops, according to the National Council of State Legislatures — an expense that states would have to shoulder should Title 32 expire. In addition, state deployments do not count toward federal education and retirement benefits.

It’s possible for National Guard members who have extra deployments within the same fiscal year to qualify for GI Bill benefits or early retirement.

So far, “more than 1,100 guardsmen had been diagnosed with coronavirus, many of whom were deployed for pandemic response missions.”

FEMA is the federal agency responsible for the final determination of how long National Guard members are activated.

I checked out FEMA’s Coronavirus Rumor Control page (yes, they have one), and found this:

On March 22, President Trump directed the Secretary of Defense to permit full federal reimbursement, by FEMA, for some states’ use of their National Guard forces. The President’s action provides Governors continued command of their National Guard forces, while being federally funded under Title 32. Each state’s National Guard is still under the authority of the Governor and is working in concert with the Department of Defense.

I perused President Trump’s Twitter feed, and given the incredible array of tweets covering any number of subjects, I was only able to find this mentioning the National Guard (it is in response to the recent flooding in Michigan):

My team is closely monitoring the flooding in Central Michigan – Stay SAFE and listen to local officials. Our brave First Responders are once again stepping up to serve their fellow citizens, THANK YOU!

We have sent our best Military & @FEMA Teams, already there. Governor must now “set you free” to help. Will be with you soon!

One National Guard member has publicly voiced her disapproval of the decision by the Trump administration:

According to reports, the White House has declined to respond to any inquiries about the matter. But of course…


Flynn Lawyer Melodramatically Asks Court of Appeal to Shut Judge Sullivan Down

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

Sidney Powell, the lawyer for disgraced convicted liar Michael Flynn, has filed a Very Dramatic Document with the D.C. Court of Appeals, titled Emergency Petition for a Writ of Mandamus.

Powell describes the district court’s role as a “ministerial” rubber-stamping of the Government’s decision. She wants Flynn’s case dismissed with no further discussion. No amicus briefs. And give Flynn a different judge too! The reason? Flynn is a Victim, and he has been Victimized Enough.

An innocent man has been the target of a vendetta by politically motivated officials at the highest level of the FBI. The egregious Government misconduct, and the three-year abuse of General Flynn and his family, cry out for ending this ordeal immediately and permanently. The district judge’s orders reveal his plan to continue the case indefinitely, rubbing salt in General Flynn’s open wound from the Government’s misconduct and threatening him with criminal contempt.

Oh, my.

Petitioner has already suffered an unimaginable ordeal at the hands of unscrupulous high-ranking Government officials and a three-year prosecution. He has suffered the opprobrium of much of the country — which he reveres and for which he has risked his life — financial ruin, and the mental anguish caused by the prospect of prison and the unscrupulous threat to prosecute his son. All for no legitimate reason

Oh, my!

Petitioner, through no fault of his own, has been drawn into a Kafkaesque nightmare that is a cross between The Trial and In the Penal Colony. He has been subjected to deception, abuse, penury, obloquy, and humiliation.

Oh, my!

Had they stopped with the deception, abuse, and penury, they could have gotten away with it — but when they piled on with [Siri consult online thesaurus for synonym of humiliation] obloquy and humiliation, well, that’s when the shiitake mushrooms got real.

I mean, Flynn, who never did a single thing wrong [muttering: other than lie to incoming Vice President Pence, other incoming Trump administration officials, and federal agents, and also some other stuff he never got prosecuted for], is facing the possibility of a modest prison sentence almost certainly served at home if he is not pardoned, which he will be the equivalent of being subjected to a torture device in which his sentence is carved onto his skin before he dies a painful death. How could a court not act?

Here in the real world, a court does not have to rule on the merits of such a petition — especially one as patently silly as this one. The most common result of such petitions is a denial with a single sentence: “The Emergency Petition for a Writ of Mandamus is DENIED.” Denial does not mean that Flynn would lose an eventual appeal. Just that the court doesn’t think it’s an emergency.

I’m trying to get out of the prediction business. I told friends that the Trump tax returns cases were well covered by precedent and then listened to a Supreme Court argument with “conservative” justices wringing their hands about PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! I watched the D.C. Circuit issue an absurd (now vacated) decision saying the House can’t enforce subpoenas in court. Back in my predicting days, I would have said the judges of the D.C. Circuit would issue a postcard denial of this nonsense in two seconds flat. Now? Who knows?

Meanwhile, am I correct to understand that neither Roger Stone and Paul Manafort is in federal prison but Michael Cohen is?

[UPDATE: Due to an attack of brain flatulence, I somehow said Powell wants Flynn “sentenced” when obviously she wants the case dismissed. I think everyone understood what I meant but still, embarrassing! Sorry for the error, which I have fixed.]

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