Thoughts as they occur...
Thoughts from a chaotic mind
Sunday, February 27, 2005
How About This?Dear Friends,
An earlier e-mail noted the issue sources of information in the military. This appears to be an actual account disguised by a pen-name. Please come to your own conclusions. I forward it because the events pretty much align with what I've heard or read short of the specific readiness comments and also ties in with an e-mail sent a week or so ago about inconsistencies of thinking about U.S. presence in the world. Pity the poor cad that would generate such stories to later rank in the halls of SNOPES http://www.snopes.com.
Guest Column: No Relief in Sight for the Lincoln
By Ed Stanton
It has been three weeks since my ship, the USS Abraham Lincoln, arrived off the Sumatran coast to aid the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami that ravaged their coastline. I'd like to say that this has been a rewarding experience for us, but it has not: Instead, it has been a frustrating and needlessly dangerous exercise made even more difficult by the Indonesian government and a traveling circus of so-called aid workers who have invaded our spaces.
What really irritated me was a scene I witnessed in the Lincoln's wardroom a few days ago. I went in for breakfast as I usually do, expecting to see the usual crowd of ship's company officers in khakis and air wing aviators in flight suits, drinking coffee and exchanging rumors about when our ongoing humanitarian mission in Sumatra is going to end.
What I saw instead was a mob of civilians sitting around like they owned the place. They wore various colored vests with logos on the back including Save The Children, World Health Organization and the dreaded baby blue vest of the United Nations. Mixed in with this crowd were a bunch of reporters, cameramen and Indonesian military officers in uniform. They all carried cameras, sunglasses and fanny packs like tourists on their way to Disneyland. My warship had been transformed into a floating hotel for a bunch of trifling do-gooders overnight.
As I went through the breakfast line, I overheard one of the U.N. strap-hangers, a longhaired guy with a beard, make a sarcastic comment to one of our food servers. He said something along the lines of "Nice china, really makes me feel special," in reference to the fact that we were eating off of paper plates that day. It was all I could do to keep from jerking him off his feet and choking him, because I knew that the reason we were eating off paper plates was to save dishwashing water so that we would have more water to send ashore and save lives. That plus the fact that he had no business being there in the first place.
My attitude towards these unwanted no-loads grew steadily worse that day as I learned more from one of our junior officers who was assigned to escort a group of them. It turns out that they had come to Indonesia to "assess the damage" from the Dec. 26 tsunami. Well, they could have turned on any TV in the world and seen that the damage was total devastation. When they got to Sumatra with no plan, no logistics support and no five-star hotels to stay in, they threw themselves on the mercy of the U.S. Navy, which, unfortunately, took them in. I guess our senior brass was hoping for some good PR since this was about the time that the U.N. was calling the United States "stingy" with our relief donations.
As a result of having to host these people, our severely over-tasked SH-60 Seahawk helos, which were carrying tons of food and water every day to the most inaccessible places in and around Banda Aceh, are now used in great part to ferry these "relief workers" from place to place every day and bring them back to their guest bedrooms on the Lincoln at night. Despite their avowed dedication to helping the victims, these relief workers will not spend the night
in-country, and have made us their guardians by default. When our wardroom treasurer approached the leader of the relief group and asked him who was paying the mess bill for all the meals they ate, the fellow replied, "We aren't paying, you can try to bill the U.N. if you want to."
In addition to the relief workers, we routinely get tasked with hauling around reporters and various low-level "VIPs," which further wastes valuable helo lift that could be used to carry supplies. We had to dedicate two helos and a C-2 cargo plane for America-hater Dan Rather and his entourage of door holders and briefcase carriers from CBS News. Another camera crew was from MTV. I doubt if we'll get any good PR from them, since the cable channel is banned in Muslim countries. We also had to dedicate a helo and crew to fly around the vice mayor of Phoenix, Ariz., one day. Everyone wants in on the action. As for the Indonesian officers, while their job is apparently to encourage our leaving as soon as possible, all they seem to do in the meantime is smoke cigarettes. They want our money and our help but they don't want their population to see that Americans are doing far more for them in two weeks than their own government has ever done or will ever do for them. To add a kick in the face to the USA and the Lincoln, the Indonesian government announced it would not allow us to use their airspace for routine training and flight proficiency operations while we are saving the lives of their people,
some of whom are wearing Osama bin Ladin T-shirts as they grab at our food and water. The ship has to steam out into international waters to launch and recover jets, which makes our helos have to fly longer distances and burn more fuel.
What is even worse than trying to help people who totally reject everything we stand for is that our combat readiness has suffered for it. An aircraft carrier is an instrument of national policy and the big stick she carries is her air wing. An air wing has a set of very demanding skills and they are highly perishable. We train hard every day at sea to conduct actual air strikes, air defense, maritime surveillance, close air support and many other missions - not to mention taking off and landing on a ship at sea.
Our safety regulations state that if a pilot does not get a night carrier landing every seven days, he has to be re-qualified to land on the ship. Today we have pilots who have now been over 25 days without a trap due to being unable to use Indonesian airspace to train. Normally it is when we are at sea that our readiness is at its very peak. Thanks to the Indonesian government, we have to waive our own safety rules just to get our pilots off the deck. In other words, the longer we stay here helping these people, the more dangerous it gets for us to operate. We have already lost one helicopter, which crashed in Banda Aceh while taking sailors ashore to unload supplies from the C-130s. There were no relief workers on that one.
I'm all for helping the less fortunate, but it is time to give this mission to somebody other than the U.S. Navy. Our ship was supposed to be home on Feb. 3 and now we have no idea how long we will be here. American taxpayers are spending millions per day to keep this ship at sea and getting no training value out of it. As a result, we will come home in a lower state of readiness than when we left due to the lack of flying while supporting the tsunami relief effort.
I hope we get some good PR in the Muslim world out of it. After all, this is Americans saving the lives of Muslims. I have my doubts. Ed Stanton is the pen name of a career U.S. Navy officer currently serving with the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group.
Winning The FutureDear Friends,
I just finished Newt Gingrich's new book, "Winning the Future". I was a bit reluctant to obtain it, at first, due to his version of hanky-panky about the same time Clinton was having his. Nonetheless, I am fascinated with persons that have a strong grasp of history and are able to keep people's interest as historians relaying the whys and wherefores of things past.
I've reproduced his "21st Century Contract with America" below. This was printed near the front of the book. If interested, you can find out more at: http://www.newt.org
Winning the Future
A 21st Century Contract with America
Tuesday, February 8, 2005
by Newt Gingrich
We are committed to a safe, healthy, prosperous, and free America.We believe our children and grandchildren deserve the opportunities our parents and grandparents gave us.
In a rapidly changing world with new threats and new competitors, we must implement policies that will ensure America’s leadership, safety, and prosperity. And we must reinvigorate the core values that have made America an exceptional civilization.
We do not believe the traditional instruments of government will reform themselves fast enough and thoroughly enough for the twenty-first century.
The entrenched lobbyists and entrenched bureaucracies will do all they can to minimize the changes no matter how vital those changes are to America’s future. Self interest will dominate national interest if the normal political system operates with business as usual. The pressure of daily events will keep both the news media and most politicians focused on the immediate and the trivial rather than the long-term and the profoundly important.
Only a grassroots citizens’ movement can insist on the level of change that is needed for our children and grandchildren to have a successful future.
Such a citizens’ movement would have to be focused on goals rather than on interest groups. The goals define the America we want our children and grandchildren to have.
To achieve this future we will:
Defend America and our allies from those who would destroy us. To achieve security,we will develop the intelligence, diplomatic, information, defense, and homeland security systems and resources for success.
Transform the Social Security system into personal savings accounts that will enable every worker to have higher retirement incomes from their own work and avoid the need for financial support from their children.
Recenter America on the Creator from Whom all our liberties come. We will insist on a judiciary that understands the centrality of God in American history and reasserts the legitimacy of recognizing the Creator in public life.
Establish patriotic education for our children and patriotic immigration for new Americans. To achieve this,we will renew our commitment to education about American citizenship based on American history and an understanding of the Founding Fathers and the core values of American civilization.We will insist that both our children and immigrants learn the key values and key facts of American history as the foundation of their growth as citizens.
Meet the triple economic challenges of an explosion in scientific and technological knowledge, an increasingly competitive world market, and the rise of China and India by implementing:
A new system of civil justice to reduce the burden of lawsuits and to incentivize young people to go into professions other than the law.
A dramatically simplified tax code that favors savings, entrepreneurship, investment, and constant modernization of equipment and technology.
Math and science learning equal to any in the world and educating enough young Americans to both discover the science of the future and to compete successfully in national security and the economy with other well-educated societies.
Investing in the scientific revolutions that are going to transform our world—particularly in energy, space, and the environment.
Transforming health care into a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that improves our health while lowering costs dramatically. In the process, American health care will become our highest value export and foreign exchange earning sector.
Work to include every American in a system of patriotic stewardship so every person has a real opportunity to pursue happiness as their Creator endowed. Prepare for the aging of the baby boomers and their children so we can have active healthy aging with the best quality of life, the longest period of independent living, and the greatest prosperity. We will:
Develop a system in which those who wish to stay economically active are encouraged and incentivized to do so because active people live longer and healthier, have a greater opportunity to pursue happiness, and are less of a burden on their fellow citizens;
Develop a system of independent living and assisted living that increases the years in which people can be on their own and in most cases enables people to live their entire lives with freedom and dignity;
Develop a new model of quality long-term care in which both the care and the quality of life are compatible with a twenty-first century American expectation of progress and innovation.
Use the new technologies and new scientific knowledge to turn disabilities into capabilities and change government regulations and programs to help every American achieve the fullest possible ability to pursue happiness.
Change the mindset of big government in Washington by replacing bureaucratic public administration with Entrepreneurial Public Management so government can operate with the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of the information age.
Balance the federal budget and insist on a lean government, low tax, low interest rate economy to maximize growth in a competitive world.
Insist on congressional reform to make the legislative branch responsive to the needs of the 21st century.
Ensure an election process that is honest, accountable, accurate, and free from the threat of illegal votes or subsequent litigation.
If we insist on these goals and insist on electing leaders at all levels dedicated to these goals, we will be able to leave our children and grandchildren an America of safety, health, prosperity, and freedom that would make our parents and grandparents proud.We too will have done our duty to our country and our achievements as citizens will be worthy of the America we inherited.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Clarity - Illegal Aliens
For once, I believe there is a reasonably bipartisan issue on the table... illegal aliens...however, both major political parties have their heads in the sand on the issue, and, of course, the Libertarians believe in open borders anyway.
The deafening mantra from many business leaders and the uninformed is, "They take jobs that no one else wants, anyway." This is an extremely naive way of looking at the matter for the following reasons:
1. THEY ARE HERE ILLEGALLY AND IT IS A SLAP IN THE FACE TO ALL THOSE IMMIGRANTS THAT FOLLOWED THE LEGAL PATH. This bears repeating... THEY ARE HERE ILLEGALLY!!! THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW!!!
2. Who knows what low level of humanity is coming in this porous border flood, including persons with mass murder on their minds.
For many, many years there was an orderly flow of migrant farm workers. Little-by-little, this started to move to ditch digging and other hard labor. Now, it has permeated nearly every type of non-desk service job nationwide, with the crowd of itinerate laborers in front of Home Depot everyday.
Why is this happening? They do a very good job very inexpensively.
What is the effect?
Coupled with the tidal wave of outsourcing white collar jobs overseas, this is having a tremendous downward pull on overall wages and the resulting drop in our standard of living. Heaven knows we are still suffering a hangover from the roaring '90's and recent political events, but the lack of clarity in real trends and the up and down of the stock market is distressing to say the least. What about all those entry level jobs we used to have for our children? Kid's now jump from college to the workplace with little or no work experience of any kind.
I am not against such outsourcing moves, nor am I against business' attempt to keep wage growth under control.. I have long thought that the C++ programmers working in coding sweat shops, better known as the hi-tech industry, should have made a transition long ago. The problem lies with the relative size of the flow and industry's under-whelming inability to come up with the next "killer app" to spur the next flood of technological innovation, productivity and upward mobility. Moreover, loving this country as I do, I cannot tolerate it slipping backwards toward some mediocre "2nd world" standard of living...for our shrinking middle class.
What to do?
1. Get control of our northern and southern borders...especially the southern border immediately.
2. DO NOT allow our government to give these law breakers drivers licenses. The prime reasons are that this is the key identification to gain access to many public services OF RESIDENT ALIENS AND CITIZENS AND it allows them to get on airplanes. The airplane issue should be well understood, however I've attached a link on my web site to a report about...
The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Californians
This does not even touch the horrible situation in our sister states of Arizona and New Mexico.
3. Make strict penalties on ANY business hiring illegal aliens. Make the penalties high enough that it will not be worth the risk to hire these aliens.
4. Etc. etc. (I have to say this as this is not simple issue and the list is long)
To many, Vincente Fox, the ACLU, La Raza, etc. this may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but too, too many Hospital ER's are closing due to bankruptcy or non-recoverable expenses. What other statistics are being buried by local weak bureaucrats. Furthermore, I am sorry to say, President Bush appears to be quite deaf to this matter with his own amnesty plan pushing forward. Certainly the opposition isn't a fountain of ideas and proposals either.
As with any human situation, implementation cannot be overnight, except the border control issue. I am mainly referring to the proper way to deal with 10-12 million individuals that are integrated into our economy. All actions related to those individuals already here must be phased in over a 1-2 year period giving all parties time to adjust their affairs and then strict "0" tolerance implementation thereafter.
Somebody has to bite the bullet and the sooner the better.
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