Showing posts with label Defense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Defense. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Trump Lies About Everything

 

One of the standout lies from last night's disastrous presidential debate was when Trump made the claim that 308,000 veterans died waiting for care because of something that President Obama and Vice President Biden somehow didn't do.

We all know that Obama and Biden inherited two wars and an avalanche of claims from veterans because of the way Bush and Cheney ran the government. They started those wars and failed to anticipate the results. Thousands of our troops died and many times that number came home wounded and injured. The relentless deployments left far too many men and women with the after effects of multiple tours of duty overseas. Blaming them for what happened with the VA system is ludicrous, especially given the fact that the GOP blocked funding for Veterans as often as possible.

I mean, honestly. What can you do with lies like this?

President Donald Trump’s allegation at Tuesday’s debate that former Vice President Joe Biden’s policies while in office killed hundreds of thousands veterans rests on a five-year-old inspector general report that found widespread problems with Veterans Affairs record keeping but does not directly connect deaths to delayed care from department officials.

The report — compiled in the wake of the 2014 VA wait time scandal where numerous hospital administrators were found to cover up wait times at their medical centers — drew headlines at the time as another sign of incompetence and mismanagement at the embattled department. 

[...] 

Biden disputed both allegations. Trump’s campaign team tweeted out news coverage of the 2015 report in support of the president’s attack just minutes after the debate remarks.

In the report, the VA Inspector General looked into reports of nearly 900,000 pending enrollment applications within the department’s health care system as of September 2014. However, investigators “could not reliably determine how many pending records existed as a result of applications for health care benefits.”

Trump will lie about everything he can come up with. We have never fully appreciated the efforts undertaken by the Obama/Biden administration to solve problems that were dumped on them and exacerbated by Mitch McConnell's obstruction policies. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This is Why We Shouldn't Go to War in Iraq Ever Again


There used to be a thing called a "warblogger."

Mainly, these were folks with a lot of information and little, if any, analytical experience. They knew the military, they knew something about strategy and games, and they figured that was enough to give them credibility when it came to speaking about how America was conducting itself in Iraq before the war was ended by the Obama Administration.

Some of these people went belly up when their wars wound down--there was nothing to blog about. Their audience shrank because they were a one-trick pony and hating Obama was already being done by people with more talent and skill.

This case is a bookend to the Iraq War, a verdict that should resonate for anyone who has ever been criticized by a warblogger or mocked for not knowing that Petraeus would never Betray Us.

How's your war looking now, son? Are you happy for the results? Did we accomplish everything you thought we would? Or did we just manufacture more enemies and create more Veterans than we could ever handle and did we cut loose a generation of mercenaries who simply had too many guns and too many brown skinned people to shoot?

The great blogger Kos actually served in the military, and his response when some Blackwater guards were left dangling off a bridge was to say, in effect, fuck these people. They were mercs and they were out for profit in exchange for sending rounds through bodies. These men inherited the fight, stepped up to the plate, and emptied their weapons into civilians. Fuck them, too,

We will be paying the price for the Iraq War for the next fifty or sixty years, and we will pay dearly for it, and no one will bother to go back and read the ranting and the raving of the cheerleaders for that war, except to have a good laugh and see what could be done about scrubbing the Internet clean of their filth.

Ottawa




Ottawa is under attack:

The Canadian government has informed the United States that one shooter is dead in Ottawa, a senior U.S. official said. So far, there is "no indication the shooter has ties to violent Islamic extremism," but it is still extremely early in the investigation, the source said.


In response to the ongoing situation at Canada's Parliament, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has increased its alert posture, CNN has learned. That means that it has increased the number of planes on a higher alert status ready to respond if needed. NORAD and Canadian authorities are in contact, an official told CNN.

Never underestimate America's ability to panic and make something worse than it is. The media will go nuts with this until the facts are in. If this is domestic Canadian terrorism, the American opportunists will use this to attack President Obama. It is entirely possible that this attack on Canadian soil will be viewed as an attempt to attack America and panic will take hold in places like New York City or Chicago and you'll see armed men everywhere in response to absolutely no threat whatsoever. This will be done because to be seen doing nothing is politically untenable.

One disaffected loner with a grudge against women can trigger a massive counter-terrorism response. We don't know if there actually are multiple shooters or if this is a Mumbai-styled attack. We don't know anything, other than the fact that this will be "Obama's Katrina."

And no, none of this is supposed to make any sense. Fear is the only partisan tool the Republican Party is eager to use on a regular basis.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bored in Sweden




They must be feeling the need for attention or something along those lines in Sweden right now. How could they be shocked that the Putin-era Navy of the former Soviet Union is incapable of doing anything underwater without losing another submarine or failing to cover up their activities?

It's tough out there for a former superpower with no money and a fading and rusting naval force.

I'm reminded of what happened with the disaster aboard the Kursk, a submarine that sank in shallow waters (if you could have stood the Kursk on its nose, it would have extended up out of the water in which it sank). Russia was dealt a humiliating blow when this happened, forced to decline assistance from numerous NATO countries with the money and technology to do what Russia simply could not do, and that's why I suspect that what's happening near Sweden is a repeat of some sort of blunder, triggered by incompetence and outdated technology.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Ethically Challenged World of Senator John Walsh




This is ridiculous. How can someone get away with such a blatant form of plagiarism? And then to use PTSD as a reason as to why plagiarism might have happened is the perfect way to cheapen what others are going through. This kind of logic would be great if you needed to get out of a speeding ticket, and it would be about as effective. What a disgrace.

Senator John Walsh of Montana has a long, proud history of cutting corners and creating opportunities for himself. He is a combat veteran, and we should be grateful for his service. That doesn't mean he should be a United States Senator and he definitely has not earned a higher degree. There's a track record here and it cannot be ignored. No one should get a pass because of their party affiliation or their service.

At a minimum, he should resign and accept the academic discipline that goes with blatant plagiarism, which would include, I suspect, the withdrawal of the degree he was awarded.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Another Neoconservative Gift to the World










Iraq is a failed state, in case you are keeping score at home:


Militants seized control of the airport, TV stations and the governor's offices in Iraq's second-largest city as police and soldiers ran away from their posts in Mosul on Tuesday, a stunning collapse of the security forces that has raised questions about Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ability to hold the country together.


In perhaps a sign of just how serious the threat is to Iraq's stability, al-Maliki took to the airwaves to call on all men to volunteer to fight, promising to provide weapons and equipment.


"We will not allow for the remainder of the ... province and the city to fall," he said in a live broadcast carried on Iraqi state television.


The militants are believed to be members of the extremist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda splinter group also known by its acronym ISIS. Many foreign fighters are believed to be among their number, senior police officials said.



Joe Biden's idea was to partition Iraq into three distinct states--one Sunni, one Shia, and one for the Kurds up north. If we had gone with that plan, Iraq would be less of a failed state than it is now, but it would still be a brittle, violent place. This region will be fought over again and again until someone can play the part of strongman and slaughter the weaker groups opposed to a centralized power.





Large tracts of Iraq will soon be in the hands of groups crazier than al Qaeda and meaner than a snake on LSD in a petting zoo. Once the country gets around to electing Rand Paul the next president, get ready for Iraq War III, starring Sylvester Stallone and the Texas National Guard.





Not a single neoconservative will ever be held accountable for Iraq. My guess is that it's all Obama's fault, now and forever.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Focus on the Record, Not the Man




Charlie Pierce can't get the words out fast enough:

Eric Shinseki resigned today as a result of the unfolding scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This event became inevitable the moment that Shinseki sat down before the Veterans Affairs Committee of the United States Senate. It became clear almost immediately that Shinseki didn't have two votes in that room; Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal who, despite Shinseki's departure, shows no sign of getting this teeth out of this story any time soon, made it quite plain that he wasn't buying anything Shinseki was selling. And thus ends the honorable career of a soldier who was correct about the lies behind the greatest policy disaster of our times, about the essential criminality of the people who launched the invasion of Iraq, but whose primary failures as an administrator were his inability to oversee the people in his department who were directly trying to cope with the flood of casualties that resulted from all of those soldiers that most of official Washington told Eric Shinseki they would never need to create a democratic paradise in Iraq. Irony is the rail on which Shinseki now has been ridden out of town.

Charlie can't help himself--he remembers the neglect of the Vietnam generation. And, neglected they were. But how does that square with what you see above? The VA has tried to modernize itself and deal with the issues that it faces. The VA is a hundred times more available and interactive than ever. And yet, we know for certain that there will always be an institutional distrust and many will fall through the cracks. Shinseki failed to be the Secretary we needed when this transformation was carried out. It's too little too late.

Yes, Shinseki was correct about the need to deploy adequate numbers of troops to stabilize Iraq. But, guess what? Even he was wrong by a factor of more than ten. In order to "stabilize" Iraq after the end of the war, over 2 million fully equipped American soldiers wouldn't have been enough. (Iraq - 26 million people, 1 soldier for every ten civilians, etc = 2.6 million troops for stabilization force).

There is no question--Shinseki was a weak and ineffective leader. We are not quite two years removed from this debacle:

An investigation into two Veterans Affairs Department conferences have led to employees being put on administrative leave and a top official’s resignation as auditors found waste and mismanagement. The VA paid roughly $6.1 million for two conferences in 2011, but the planning was marred by leadership failures and ethical lapses, the department’s inspector general reported Oct. 1.


The investigation has led to the resignation of John Sepulveda, VA’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration (HR&A). He stepped down a day before the release of the report, which criticizes the department’s questionable spending at two Florida conferences.


The IG found that Sepulveda failed to provide proper guidance to senior executives in his organization related to the conferences. Further, his statement was contrary to his memo to the VA’s chief of staff, in which he wrote his office was controlling costs. According to several people, Sepulveda also had seen a video in whcih an actor parodied a famous scene from the movie "Patton," starring George C. Scott as Gen. George S. Patton. The video cost nearly $50,000 to make, and Sepulveda denies having seen it.


“His hands-off approach contributed to a lack of communications between HR&A senior executives resulting in confusion and a dysfunctional execution of roles and responsibilities,” the IG wrote in the report. Largely, “senior leadership accepted little responsibility for fiscal stewardship.”

When you have an inspector general who tells you that "senior leadership accepted little responsibility for fiscal stewardship," you know you have a problem. But did Shinseki carry out a VA-wide audit and go looking for more examples? Did he go beyond allowing an official to resign (he should have fired the person outright) and ensure that these practices weren't being carried out everywhere? No, because we now know that bonuses for administrators were still being paid out well into this calendar year. Despite overwhelming evidence that there was a culture of greed, incompetence, and poor fiscal stewardship, Shinseki left the people in place who ended up bringing him down.

Shinseki is also the man who, in June of 2001, decreed that everyone in the Army would wear a black beret on their head, eliminating the common sense use of the soft cap. This was one of the most selfish and stupid acts carried out by someone trying to change the Army uniform. A beret does not instill pride. A black beret on a soldier's head in a motor pool is the stupidest Goddamned thing imaginable.

Stop thinking that because Shinseki got one thing sort of right he was a saint. He failed to properly lead and administer the Department of Veteran's Affairs. He failed on the information technology front, allowing contractors to waste millions on systems that failed to deliver. He presided over a period of extreme stress in the VA but he also failed to ensure that there were people in place to honestly deal with and report back on that stress. Every single administrator that got a monetary bonus on his watch for running hospitals into the ground while Veterans died is his responsibility. He should have ensured that nobody got a bonus for hiding bad numbers. His lame attempt to carry out an audit of these facilities was too little way too late.

The man's record before taking off the uniform is irrelevant. His tenure wearing a blue suit was a disaster. Neither political party really cares about Veterans anyway. When this blows over, more will die and a grateful nation will refuse to raise taxes to care for the people dying on the waiting lists that are going to be a little more public but left to languish in the hands of whoever can finagle their way into another cushy job doing nothing on the VA's dime.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hammering Away at Legacies




Dick Cheney's legacy took another beating at the hands of the people who have been trying to clean up the mess created by his old boss. This is why he has lashed out and called the President of the United States weak:

"Some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required," Obama added. "Tough talk draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans."


President Obama's abandonment of neoconservatism and nation-building means fewer contracts for the companies that saw huge profits under Bush-Cheney. Those people are angrily telling Cheney to say something and use what influence he has because they own the souls of neoconservatives and are demanding repayment for their loyalty. An entire way of life is about to come crashing down and the rush to diversify portfolios and invest in providing solar panels to drowned polar bear researchers has people climbing over one another, trying to get beachfront property in Ohio and bid on the contract to provide security for the next drone base in West Africa.





We finally have a President who only wants to start a handful of moderate-sized wars. We no longer have a President who wants to start larger wars that will break the military. It's a slight change, but it's a big enough change to frighten people used to wider profit margins.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Great Running Shoe Scam




So what?

...there's only one firm that currently comes anywhere close to making a shoe entirely in America: New Balance. (And even they concede that "Made in the USA" doesn't mean what you think it means: "1 out of every 4 pairs of shoes we sold in the USA was made or assembled here. Where domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes "'Made in the USA.'")


In other words, the military just made a competitive bidding process into a no-bid, one-shoe-fits-all process. All to support "America." 


Funny thing is, the military didn't want to do this, in part because "Narrowing the recruit's choice to one or two manufacturers, as they select a shoe for rigorous initial entry training will, 'limit the choices available and may result in more injuries,'" according to a DOD spokesman just two months ago. But politics interceded on New Balance's behalf, again. 


If you've been in the military for any amount of time, you know New Balance has long gnashed its teeth on the ample gubmint teat. In addition to the footwear allowance, military recruits (and officer candidates) get issued go-fasters, running suits, and other gear that more often than not comes from the Massachusetts-based sneaker company.


If you've been in the military, the last place you're going to go for information is Gawker, but I digress.





When you go to basic training, there is nothing but confusion and chaos. This is done on purpose in order to weed out panicky, punchy, violent people who cannot conform to military standards. The shoes on your feet don't matter because you're not there to perform at the peak of personal comfort and fitness--you're there because SHIT! Run! OK, now get some food and go to bed and SHIT! do it all over again. This all happens in the back woods of America, and you'll be tired for as long as you can stand it and you'll eat weird food and be on your feet a lot. Boredom is your single greatest enemy in basic training. So, leave it to people who have never been there to get it wrong.

The fact that New Balance is a government contractor doesn't matter--all government contractors are thieving bastards. You must admire them for their cleverness and ignore their ability to screw up your life, otherwise it will just bother you.





If you're a privileged rich person, basic training is the last place you are going to want to be with your $300 running shoes because they'll get wrecked fast. You need a cheap-assed pair of shoes you never want to see again when the 9 weeks or whatever it is are over. You're going to DX your uniforms and boots the first chance you get anyway--that's why you are expected to trash and wear out that basic training gear. 





You don't need anything more than a shitty pair of $35 running shoes. If you go with cross training shoes, all the better. But they could be anything because the boots you wear all day are going to change your feet dramatically. When you get to AIT, you're going to throw away the shitty stuff and buy nice shoes and all that when life settles into more of a routine--that's about when the shock of wearing leather boots changes over to more of a military lifestyle. There is a routine at basic training and it's called SHIT! go stand there for an hour and then RUN! You needed to be there before you could be here and SHIT! those shoes don't matter, private. Because they don't.





The biggest shock to your system isn't going to be centered around a cheap pair of running shoes--it is going to be the boots they give you and the wool socks.





Running shoes are a scam perpetrated by greedy companies on the gullible.





It does not matter what kind of shoe you wear on your feet. Buy a $35 pair and run in them. What matters is that you do not use them past their wear-out point; whether that is 300 miles or six weeks is your choice. No matter what brand or style or cost, a running shoe that is worn out will damage your lower body.





In fact, try running without shoes and see if that works for you.