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August 17, 2007

Comments

The U.S. army should be disbanded.

Geez. I'd send that guy $42 but I'm sure I'd have to get in a long line. Can't do much about the $20 mil but vote.

news: the Army's blogs are a danger to The Army.

fake news: Confederate Yankee does 17 part exposé on the threat. doesn't blame The Left.

Dammit cleek, get it right, it's Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Yankee.

To clarify cleek's comment, a bit it's official Army websites that pose a far greater security risk than milbloggers, according to the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell.

I think it's quite fair to juxtapose these.

This past weekend I was at a wedding and got to chatting with another guest. It turns out he's an electrical engineer who deals primarily with national security contracts. Even though he makes a good living off of it, he was bemoaning the horrible waste that occurs. They abandon expensive projects midstream but still pay out. They order parts and systems they never use, even when they could re-sell them. The ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark came up, with items stored away and forgotten. The Pentagon always fails audits, and at an annual budget 440 billion or so, it's a big problem. But almost every politician is scared about getting smeared if they take it on.

"news: the Army's blogs are a danger to The Army."

Backwards misread: it's about how official .mil Army sites have revealed stuff and that blogs haven't.

Hmm, I was reacting from the major stories, but Cleek's link's headline: "Official Sites, Not Blogs, Breach Security."


:-) ?yaw siht retteb ti si?

"But almost every politician is scared about getting smeared if they take it on."

Hard to believe any politician with a clue about history isn't aware how many Senators and Representatives have made their reputation on "fraud and waste," and in modern times (hell, they were debating it about George Washington, and then the Whiskey Rebellion, and throughout the Civil War on both sides), specicifically in the DoD.

How the hell does anyone think Harry Truman was picked for Vice-President? Does anyone know why he became famous? Do any of them know what "the Truman Committee" did?

And does anyone remember what party he belonged to, and who the party in power was during WWII?

I don't recall any politician ever being smeared for going after "waste and fraud" -- that's the most cliche, apple pie, issue ever.

Really, any politician who is worried about smears from defenders of waste and fraud should just retire, because they're too incompetent to even take bribes. That's crazy.

Medals at military surplus stores?

This answers the question of where Major Hugh Hewitt and the rest of the armchair warriors procured all that manly, egg salad bling for fighting the enemy on the homefront.

Do they sell epaulettes? I've always been keen on epaulettes since I was court-martialed at Culver Military Academy all those battles ago. Something about slipping several earthworms into my bunkmate's bottle of calomine lotion, which at the time, was a crime considered on a par with driving while Muslim.

It turns out he's an electrical engineer who deals primarily with national security contracts. Even though he makes a good living off of it, he was bemoaning the horrible waste that occurs.

I can second that, but from a somewhat different viewpoint. It's not just the feds wasting tax dollars on their own. Federal grants get tossed around to various organizations, not unlike the one for which I work as an engineer, for projects of, let's say, "questionable value." It's almost as though the feds do a keyword search because they've allocated grant money for X, and some organization just happens to have X. Now, X may come in a great many shapes and sizes, and one could see where a more big-time X would be of national-security importance. But the organization in question may have a very small-time X, which is of virtually no national-security importance. The feds only see an X, and the organization with the small-time X sees free money. Forget that the money has to be spent in a way that is of almost no real benefit to the organization. It's FREE MONEY. You operate under the assumption that you somehow need whatever it is someone else is willing to pay for. Then you design a project that, to someone who knows nothing about your operation, appears to satisfy the assumed need. Of course, you have to use this thing, that you never really needed in the first place, to justify spending the grant money that paid for it. And you also have to maintain this thing you never really needed. This all means forcing your employees to spend time doing things that have no meaning to them, at least until no one's paying attention anymore, at which point you can abandon this thing, let it deteriorate and ultimately pay someone to demolish, dismantle and remove it. Yeah, it's a real morale booster.

Medals at military surplus stores?

I believe they purchase them from the same manufacturers as Army exchanges. Clothing Sales runs out of things a lot. I'll refrain from making the obvious comment about monopolies.

After waiting 55 years, however, Reed decided to pay $42 for his own Purple Heart and accompanying ribbon

Damn right. I hate the medals, they are an insult to the dead, but I kept two of 'em, and I still get 'em out and look at 'em every now and then - just to remember.

Those two are my CIB and my Heart...

mikey

Perhaps an urban legend, but I remember reading that there was an enormous -- half-a-million -- backlog of unused Purple Hearts, made in anticipation of the wounded in the final invasion of Japan in 1945, enough to take care of Korea, Vietnam, and all the smaller conflicts since then.

Anyone else remember this?

"I'll refrain from making the obvious comment about monopolies."

Maybe it's obvious, but not to me; I don't know how monopolies come into play here.

It's almost as though the feds do a keyword search because they've allocated grant money for X, and some organization just happens to have X.

We need Xs, all the Xs we can get, of any size, and anyone who withholds Xs is aan anti-American Islamofascist!

Like criticizing Guilianinini for demanding extra submarines to fight the terrorists.
But I forgot, the Turks use minesweepers to suppress the Kurds*

*obscure reference: there were once demands not to sell those ships to Ankara with that reason.

They only caught the fraud mentioned in the story above because the fraudsters got greedy. If they had billed $455 instead of $455K for shipping three machine screws, I'm sure they could have gotten away with it indefinitely.

Oh, for the days of $600 hammers!

Or those (in)famous toilet seats

Checking in later, so apologies for a late reply.

To Gary Farber @ August 17, 2007 at 03:48 PM

Really, any politician who is worried about smears from defenders of waste and fraud should just retire, because they're too incompetent to even take bribes. That's crazy.

I'd love that to be the case, but there's a huge difference between opposing waste in general and opposing it at the Pentagon. Perhaps once that was more common, but do you really see many politicians in the mold of Truman these days? How many politicians spoke out against that horrible Boeing lease deal before more wrongdoing came to light? McCain was the only prominent one I recall. Why does the Pentagon continually fail audits but get so little oversight? Why can't they account for over one trillion dollars over time? What's the missile defense budget, something like 10 billion per year? Chuck Spinney's one of the few people I've seen speak out about the problems at the Pentagon, but I see very few politicians doing it, and the "weak on security" attack flies pretty quickly. Hell, it's a committed minority that's pushed for oversight, investigations and accoutability for the waste in Iraq, and few if any of those are in the GOP! If you want to talk about fighting waste as a cliched campaign line, fine, but the Pentagon's budget is a hot potato for many pols, and I don't see how you can argue that we actually have a political culture that fights waste.


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