Thursday, October 20, 2005

More needless spending

Here's the latest: Federal welfare money for buying new digital TV boxes. Apparently there are some folks who'll be left in the dark next year when TV begins to go digital, so the Feds (along with broadcasters and other corporate sponsors) want to subsidize the purchase of these boxes for lower income folks. Just what we need, Medicaid for impoverished TV viewers! I wonder what the income test for these folks will be; and if minors, seniors and pregnant women would be expent from them?

I'm not sure about this, but if you can't afford to buy the new TV or decoder box, then you probably shouldn't be sitting at home watching TV or expecting the government to pay for one so you can watch Oprah in HDTV. I've got another solution: go get a job or two. This solves both issues: you can pay for your own TV box and its a sure fired money-making scheme! and who knows, you might be able to afford other things in life, like food and shelter w/o public assistance. What a shocking thought!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Finally, some common sense advice

Finally, there's a common sense medical opinion regarding the bird flu hysteria that's sweeping the world. At least one memner of the medical and scientific community has the sense to say what many think and the MSM ignores: that there's little threat to humans from the bird flu!

The only pandemic that the flu is responsible for is the media frenzy in covering it and the mass uneeded slaughter of fowl around the world. Here's the best way to control it: wash your hands, bathe regularly, use high-quality feed and don't live in a chicken coop 24 hours a day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Here come the unfunded mandates.

Once again, we find ourselves heading down the road paved with good intentions, and only now are seeing the flames that surround it. Yes, I'm talking about feel-good, politically charged entitlement programs which do nothing but break the bank and get foisted upon the states as an unfunded mandate when its discovered that there's no money to pay for them. Yes, I'm talking about the Medicare prescription drug fiasco and how the states are reacting to it.

Thanks to this year's hurricane season, the folks on the Hill are spending money faster than drunken sailors on a 48-hour liberty (my apologies to the drunken sailors). However, unlike the sailors, they don't stop when the money runs out; instead thet keep spending until they're satisfied and the budget is broken. Well, at some point all these expenitures are going to collide in a fiscal train wreck. Combine these three programs: Medicare Prescription, FY 2006 Highway Funding and hurricane relief, and what do you get? A mess of extreme magnitude that we can't afford.

And, of course, suddenly the Beltway folks are having a fiscally conservative revelation that they're spending too much so they're going to try and carve off some fat, and this leads to statements that our government is operating more efficiently than in the poast and that there's no more to cut. Huh??? Obviously these folks never took or passed any basic economics course in their educational careers since they can't even do basic math!

Instead, what they've (both the administration and the Congress) done is to unleash a tidal wave of socialist style programs that will make FDR & LBJ look like small potatoes when its all done. And to pay for all this, they're going to change many of them into unfunded mandates to the states so that the states have to pay for everything out of their own pockets. This will push the states even futher into the abyss, since most states are constitutionally required to balance their budgets annually. Because of this, many states are protesting the Medicare program since its the most visible and will have the biggest impact on thier budgets starting next year. Unfortunately, this is all falling on deaf ears in Congress and the White House since they're more concerned about making 30-second sound-bites and looking like heroes than actually adhereing to the fiscally conservative values that they were elected on.

And to top this all off, they haven't passed the FY 2006 Federal budget yet, so they're operating on a continuing resolution until they figure out how to fund all this! They can't even fund the operating budgets of such things as the military and Congress because they're trying to figure out how to fund all these new socialist entitlement & welfare programs.

My view on these matters is this: states should be allowed to keep thier road money for thier own use; run and fund their own medical subsidy programs if they wish; and private industry should determine how to rebuild the hurricane disaster areas with minimal state and no federal intervention. Unfortunately, the DC folks are too busy spending our money to grab the spotlight and look like the good guys.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Harriet who?

I've been away for the past month, busy with a job search and just overwhelmed about the disasters in the South and in DC, where FDR seems to have been resurrected, the House GOP leader indicted on ethics issues and money laundering charges, and croneyism rules the day. I haven't posted since, in my opinion, there wasn't anything new for me to post regarding these events other than to say that I'm highly critical of FEMA, DHS, Congress, POTUS, and the entire Louisiana governmental establishment and that the only thing they know how to do is play the blame game to try and save their own sorry rears.

But now that we're into October, fall is in the air and the winds of change are sweeping through our nation. Except for inside the Beltway, where business as usual continues. POTUS, after the successful installation of Cheif Justice Roberts to the bench, has in his hand the power to shape the SCOTUS for the next generation by appointing a true strict-constructionist and conservative justice, not as a swing vote, but as a way to rebalance the court and start leading our country back into the realm of balanced power and proper interpretation of the law from the bench. Unfortunately, POTUS has decided that his historical legacy should be one of mediocrity, political spinelessness and inappropriate political awards, so he's nominated his chief council, Harriet Miers.

I don't mean any dispariagement toward Ms. Miers; she's obviously more intelligent than I am at the legal and political game since she's in a position to be nominated. But a better choice shoe could not be further from. She has no judical track record to speak of and little is known about her ideological leanings. Granted, the media is trying to dig up some dirt such as old contributions to the Gore 1988 campaign, but there's very little on her to begin with, so that might be a moot point. Rather, this is a reward for Ms. Miers' enduring loyalty to President Bush and that seems to be the primary reason for the nomination.

I think that I can speak for many when I say that croneyism is not a sound qualifier for an appointment or nomination, especially for an associate justice slot. We've seen how poitical appointees based on repaying favors and loyalty have helped muck up the works in the halls of power over the past six weeks, so why use it as a basis for an appointment that will last at least 20-30 years and have immense influence over the legal evolution of our country? And, to add insult to injury, the Republican controlled Congress seems poised to let her in without even a minimal fight lest they anger President Bush and his team in the White House. Be afraid, be very afraid of what Ms. Miers might morph into over the span of her term.

We had a chance to set the tone of the SCOTUS for the next generation, and we've blown it. Once again, the GOP has managed to wrest defeat from the hands of victory, and the battle was all ours to lose. I don't know what happened to the party of Lincoln and Reagan, but it certainly sounds and smells more like the party of Johnson and Carter.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

NO, FEMA and Katrina: a malestrom of ineptitude

With all that's happened over the past week along the Golf Coast, one wonders why the situation is as bad as it is. Here's an article that I fell puts it all in perspective, and exposes the truth regarding the poor handling of this disaster by the New Orleans & Louisiana authorities.

This article doesn't touch on the handling of this disaster by FEMA, which has been nothing short of horrendous. Having worked for six weeks for DHS/FEMA on a contract with them (I left the contract on 8/30), I was exposed firsthand to a level of incompetency and bureaucratic infighting that rivals none other on in the country, maybe the world. Each subordinate agency of DHS is so worried about protecting their own little fiefdoms and their governing elite that they have lost all focus on their primary missions. FEMA is especially notable since they're the most visible due to the current situation, with the TSA running a close second. I can't go into more detail due to the nature of my position there, but it was not the most pleasant of working experiences.

This disaster and the recovery effort will be a massive one, and it could give FEMA a chance to shine as a leader in the effort. Unfortunately, I doubt this will happen since they're just now, with the prodding of POTUS and most of Congress, getting their act together and starting to work the situation.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I stand corrected...

...about the speech I posed yesterday. Apparently it wasn't made by thge current CNO, but rather by a retired Chief who posted to my site yesterday. I've posted the reply below so that the proper disclaimer and credit can be conveyed:

I'm glad you liked "The Wrong Army," but it is not a speech by the Chief of Naval Operations. It's actually an opinion column I wrote for Military.Com.

A reader copied the column off the Military.Com website and began emailing it to friends. So far, so good. But somewhere in the strange netherworld of internet email, it picked up the headline "Navy Chief Fires a Broadside." I have no problem with that. I am a retired Navy Chief, and I was definitely firing a broadside.

After a few hundred more bounces, that became "Navy Chief of Operations Fires a Broadside," which eventually morphed into "Speech by the Chief of Naval Operations."

The CNO’s Public Affairs staff has been jumping through hoops, trying to make sure that the big boss doesn’t end up taking the heat for something I said.

For the record, I am not the Chief of Naval Operations. I may have delusions of grandeur, but they don't stretch the boundaries of reality quite that far. Also for the record, the CNO did not write "The Wrong Army." I did. If you like it, the credit goes to me. If you hate it, I get the blame. It's not part of a CNO speech, nor any part of his professional writings. "The Wrong Army" is my baby, warts and all.

Please set your readers straight on this. Admiral Mullen has quite enough on his hands, without catching flack for something he didn't say.

Respectfully,

-- Jeff Edwards

STGC(SW) USN
(Ret.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Great speech from the CNO

Here’s a speech that was sent to me today by the new CNO, ADM. Mike Mullin. As a fellow shipmate, I think his speech says it all.

Subject: New CNO's Speech

On the 22nd of July, Admiral Mike Mullin
became the Chief of Naval Operations. Below is his speech.

Subject:
CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS SPEECH

America's military can win wars. We've done it in the past, and I have absolute confidence that we'll continue to do it in the future. We've won fights in which we possessed overwhelming technological superiority (Desert Storm), as well as conflicts in which we were the technical underdogs (the American Revolution). We've crossed swords with numerically superior foes, and with militaries a fraction of the size of our own. We've battled on our own soil, and on the soil of foreign lands -- on the sea, under the sea, and in the skies. We've even engaged in a bit of cyber-combat, way out there on the electronic frontier. At one time or another, we've done battle under just about every circumstance imaginable, armed with everything from muskets to cruise missiles.

And, somehow, we've managed to do it all with the wrong Army.

That's right, America has the wrong Army. I don't know how it happened, but it did. We have the wrong Army. It's too small; it's not deployed properly; it's inadequately trained, and it doesn't have the right sort of logistical support. It's a shambles. I have no idea how those guys even manage to fight.

Now, before my brothers and sisters of the OD green persuasion get their fur up, I have another revelation for you.

We also have the wrong Navy. And if you want to get down to brass tacks, we've got the wrong Air Force, the wrong Marine Corps, and the wrong Coast Guard.

Don't believe me? Pick up a newspaper or turn on your television.

In the past week, I've watched or read at least a dozen commentaries on the strength, size, and deployment of our military forces. All of our uniform services get called on the carpet for different reasons, but our critics unanimously agree that we're doing pretty much everything wrong.

I think it's sort of a game. The critics won't tell you what the game is called, so I've taken the liberty of naming it myself. I call it the 'No Right Answer' game. It's easy to play, and it must be a lot of fun because politicos and journalists can't stop playing it.

I'll teach you the rules. Here's Rule #1: No matter how the U.S. military is organized, it's the wrong force. Actually, that's the only rule in this game. We don't really need any other rules, because that one applies in all possible situations. Allow me to demonstrate...

If the Air Force's fighter jets are showing their age, critics will tell us that Air Force leaders are mismanaging their assets, and endangering the safety of their personnel. If the Air Force attempts to procure new fighter jets, they are shopping for toys and that money could be spent better elsewhere.

Are you getting the hang of the game yet? It's easy; keeping old planes is the wrong answer, but getting new planes is also the wrong answer. There is no right answer, not ever. Isn't that fun?It works everywhere. When the Army is small, it's TOO small. Then we start to hear phrases like 'over-extended' or 'spread too thin,' and the integrity of our national defense is called into question. When the Army is large, it's TOO large, and it's an unnecessary drain on our economy. Terms like 'dead weight,' and 'dead wood' get thrown around.

I know what you're thinking. We could build a medium-sized Army, and everyone would be happy. Think again. A medium-sized Army is too small to deal with large scale conflicts, and too large to keep military spending properly muzzled. The naysayers will attack any middle of the road solution anyway, on the grounds that it lacks a coherent strategy.

So small is wrong, large is wrong, and medium-sized is also wrong. Now you're starting to understand the game. Is this fun, or what?

No branch of the military is exempt. When the Navy builds aircraft carriers, we are told that we really need small, fast multipurpose ships. When the Navy builds small, fast multi-mission ships (aka the Arleigh Burke class), we're told that blue water ships are poorly suited for littoral combat, and we really need brown water combat ships. The Navy's answer, the Littoral Combat, isn't even off the drawing boards yet, and the critics are already calling it pork barrel politics and questioning the need for such technology.

Now I've gone nose-to-nose with hostiles in the littoral waters of the Persian Gulf, and I can't recall that pork or politics ever entered into the conversation. In fact, I'd have to say that the people trying to kill me and my shipmates were positively disinterested in the internal wranglings of our military procurement process. But, had they been aware of our organizational folly, they could have hurled a few well-timed criticisms our way, to go along with the mines we were trying to dodge.

The fun never stops when we play the 'No Right Answer' game. If we centralize our military infrastructure, the experts tell us that we are vulnerable to attack. We're inviting another Pearl Harbor. If we decentralize our infrastructure, we're sloppy and overbuilt, and the BRAC experts break out the calculators and start dismantling what they call our excess physical capacity.' If we leave our infrastructure unchanged, we are accused of becoming stagnant in a dynamic world environment.Even the lessons of history are not sacrosanct. When we learn from the mistakes we made in past wars, we are accused of failing to adapt to emerging realities. When we shift our eyes toward the future, the critics quickly tell us that we've forgotten our history and we are therefore doomed to repeat it.

If we somehow manage to assimilate both past lessons and emerging threats, we're informed that we lack focus.Where does it come from: This default assumption that we are doing the wrong thing, no matter what we happen to be doing? How did our military wind up in a zero-sum game? We can prevail on the field of battle, but we can't win a war of words where the overriding assumption is that we are always in the wrong.

I can't think of a single point in history where our forces were of the correct size, the correct composition, correctly deployed, and appropriately trained all at the same time. Pick a war, any war. (For that matter, pick any period of peace.) Then dig up as many official and unofficial historical documents, reports, reconstructions, and commentaries as you can. For every unbiased account you uncover, you'll find three commentaries by revisionist historians
who cannot wait to tell you how badly the U.S. military bungled things.

To hear the naysayers tell it, we could take lessons in organization and leadership from the Keystone Cops.

We really only have one defense against this sort of mudslinging: Success. When we fight, we win, and that's got to count for something. When asked to comment on Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. Army's Lieutenant General Tom Kelly reportedly said, "Iraq went from the fourth-largest army in the world, to the second-largest army in Iraq in 100 hours." In my opinion, it's hard to argue with that kind of success, but critics weren't fazed by it. Because no matter how well we fought, we did it with the wrong Army.

I'd like to close with an invitation to those journalists, analysts, experts and politicians who sit up at night dreaming up new ways to criticize our armed forces. The next time you see a man or woman in uniform, stop for ten seconds and reflect upon how much you owe that person, and his or her fellow Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and Airmen. Then say, "Thank you." I'm betting you won't even have to explain the reason. Our Service members are not blind or stupid. They know what they're risking. They know what they're sacrificing. They've weighed their wants, their needs, and their personal safety against the needs of their nation, and made the decision to serve. They know that they deserve our gratitude, even if they rarely receive it.

Two words -- that's all I ask. "Thank you." If that's too hard, if you can't bring yourself to acknowledge the dedication, sincerity and sacrifice of your defenders, then I have a backup plan for you. Put on a uniform and show us how to do it right.