Wednesday, June 08, 2005

John Thune Sings A Different Tune

Senator John Thune (R-SD) is in political hotwater at home.

The BRAC Commission recommended closing Ellsworth Air Force Base, SD. -- a recommendation that "could result in a maximum potential reduction of 6,768 jobs (3,852 direct jobs and 2,916 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Rapid City, SD, Metropolitan Statistical economic area, which is 8.5 percent of economic area employment".

(If you aren't familiar with the BRAC Commission, check out Base Realignment and Closure 2005)

Senator Thune is threatening not to support President Bush's nominee for Ambassador to the UN unless Ellsworth AFB is saved from closure.


Senator John Thune

I guess he's doing what he has to do for the folks in South Dakota (specifically, the Rapid City metropolitan area), but it comes across as playing politics with national security.

Look, if he promised his constituents that he could keep Ellsworth open, then he, at best, over-reached. At worst, he was foolishly pandering for votes. Anyone remotely familiar with the BRAC process knows better than to make promises.

Maybe President Bush can help him out, but I doubt it will be by keeping Ellsworth AFB open. The BRAC is an "all or nothing" proposition. The commission's recommendations are accepted or rejected in their entirety. First, the President accepts or rejects. If he accepts the recommendations, it then goes to Congress which will have 45 legislative days to accept or reject the recommendations -- in their entirety.

Ellsworth AFB's continued operation is a big deal for South Dakota, but not for the rest of the nation. It's not like the B-1 Bombers stationed there would be mothballed. The recommendation (included at the end of this post) is to move the assets to Dyess AFB.

If Senator Thune wants to argue the merits of keeping Ellsworth AFB open based on national security, then he is up against some pretty stiff competition.

Thune's military experience: 0. Thune's national security experience: near zero.

BRAC Commission's military and national security experience:

- Chairman Anthony J. Principi: 1967 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, combat in Vietnam, Navy JAG officer, legislative counsel for the Department of the Navy, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

- Former Congressman James H. Bilbray was a member of the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1955 to 1963.

- Mr. Philip Coyle is a Senior Advisor to the Center for Defense Information. He served as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director of Operational Test and Evaluation at the Department of Defense.

- Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., USN (Ret.) served on active duty in the U.S. Navy for over 35 years. His last assignment was as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic and as the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Joint Forces Command.

- Former Congressman James V. Hansen was a member of the Armed Services Committee. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955.

- General James T. Hill, USA (Ret.) served in the U.S. Army for 36 years. His last assignment was as Combatant Commander of the U.S. Southern Command.

- General Lloyd Warren Newton, USA (Ret.) served in the U.S. Air Force for 34 years. His last assignment was as the Commander of Air Education and Training Command.

- Samuel Knox Skinner served as Chief of Staff and as Secretary of Transportation for President George H. W. Bush. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1960 to 1968.

- Brigadier General Sue Ellen Turner, USAF (Ret.) is a member of the American Battle Monuments Commission. She served in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years, most recently as the director of nursing services in the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General at Bolling Air Force Base.


These members didn't make their recommendations on a whim. They made them based on years of experience and careful study of the national security needs of this country. They made them in good faith and they've got nothing to hide. For goodness sake, just go to the BRAC website.

But you wouldn't know that from some of Thune's press releases. Take this one for example:

THUNE, SNOWE DEMAND DOD RELEASE DOCUMENTATION SURROUNDING BRAC DECISIONS - Senators Introduce Bill to Shut Down BRAC if DoD does not Comply

"In this country, we simply do not allow our government to make decisions in the dark that profoundly impact so many citizens’ lives," said Snowe. "We cannot allow the Department of Defense to continue to withhold the data, methodology, and assumptions it used to arrive at its BRAC recommendations. DoD has not even provided this information to the BRAC Commissioners, who are charged with reviewing the recommendations. This is an issue of basic fairness and transparency – we call on DoD to live up to its responsibilities and shed light on its BRAC decision-making process."

"Too much is at stake for the Defense Department to withhold valuable information," said Thune. "Communities cannot adequately defend their bases without knowing how or why the Pentagon made its recommendations. The Department of Defense has a responsibility to shed light on the data, methodology, and assumptions it used. The BRAC process cannot move forward if the Pentagon fails to meet its basic responsibility to share information."


Great! He's teamed up with that conservative stalwart, Olympia Snowe. Smooth move. If Thune and Snowe are so concerned about transparency of BRAC proceedings, why weren't they making this an issue months earlier? Why didn't Thune make this one of his campaign issues? Why did he wait until the BRAC commission released its recommendations?

How much more transparent does the BRAC commission need to be? Has Senator Thune not seen the hundreds of megabytes of information on their website, Base Realignment and Closure 2005?

If he wants to cross sabers with President Bush, so be it. I don't see any good that can come from it.

For another take on this, see R. Andrew Newman's excellent piece, Not Another Maverick.

UPDATE:

Citizens Against Government Waste Names Sen. John Thune Porker of the Month

In a thinly-veiled attempt to punish the Bush administration for not compromising the integrity of the BRAC process, Sen. Thune threatened to reverse his decision on ambassador to the United Nations nominee John Bolton, whom he had vocally supported in the past. Sen. Thune has also signaled that he will vote against the administration on the upcoming CAFTA-DR free trade agreement and legislation regarding importation of drugs from Canada.

But Sen. Thune's sabotage campaign is completely unnecessary to ensure the economic survival of his constituents, according to CAGW. A May 2005 Government Accountability Office report showed that towns affected by base closings continue to recover and fare well compared to average rates for unemployment and income growth. Creative planning from local leaders has helped recover 90 percent of the civilian jobs lost during the past four rounds of base closings.

For throwing a congressional tantrum instead of seeking to understand Pentagon decisions, for impeding military transformation and placing parochial interests above the interests of taxpayers and national security, for threatening to alter votes based on political grudges, and for failing to show proper leadership for constituents that could soon face a difficult period of adjustment, CAGW names Sen. John Thune its Porker of the Month for June 2005.


=================================


Below is the BRAC Commission's recommendation concerning Ellsworth AFB:


Ellsworth Air Force Base, SD and Dyess Air Force Base, TX

Recommendation: Close Ellsworth Air Force Base, SD. The 24 B-1 aircraft assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing will be distributed to the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, TX. Realign Dyess Air Force Base, TX. The C-130 aircraft assigned to the 317th Airlift Group will be distributed to the active duty 314th Airlift Wing (22 aircraft) and Air National Guard 189th Airlift Wing (two aircraft), Little Rock Air Force Base, AR; the 176th Wing (ANG), Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK (four aircraft); and the 302d Airlift Wing (AFR), Peterson Air Force Base, CO (four aircraft). Peterson Air Force Base will have an active duty/Air Force Reserve association in the C-130 mission. Elmendorf Air Force Base will have an active duty/Air National Guard association in the C-130 mission.

Justification: This recommendation consolidates the B-1 fleet at one installation to achieve operational efficiencies. Ellsworth (39) ranked lower in military value for the bomber mission than Dyess (20). To create an efficient, single-mission operation at Dyess, the Air Force realigned the tenant C-130s from Dyess to other Air Force installations. The majority of these aircraft went to Little Rock (17-airlift), which enables consolidation of the active duty C-130 fleet into one stateside location at Little Rock, and robusts the Air National Guard squadron to facilitate an active duty association with the Guard unit. The other C-130s at Dyess were distributed to Elmendorf (51-airlift) and Peterson (30-airlift) to facilitate active duty associations with the Guard and Reserve units at these installations.

Payback: The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation is $299.1M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period is a savings of $316.4M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation are $161.3M, with a payback expected in one year. The net present value of the cost and savings to the Department over 20 years is a savings of $1,853.3M.

Economic Impact on Communities: Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 6,768 jobs (3,852 direct jobs and 2,916 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Rapid City, SD, Metropolitan Statistical economic area, which is 8.5 percent of economic area employment. The aggregate economic impact of all recommended actions on this economic region of influence was considered and is at Appendix B of Volume I.

Community Infrastructure Assessment: A review of community attributes indicates no issues regarding the ability of the infrastructure of the communities to support missions, forces, and personnel. There are no known community infrastructure impediments to implementation of all recommendations affecting the installations in this recommendation.

Environmental Impact: There are potential impacts to air quality; cultural, archeological, or tribal resources; land use constraints or sensitive resource areas; noise; waste management; water resources; and wetlands that may need to be considered during the implementation of this recommendation. There are no anticipated impacts to dredging; marine mammals, resources, or sanctuaries; or threatened and endangered species or critical habitat. Impacts of costs include $3.2M in costs for environmental compliance and waste management. These costs were included in the payback calculation. There are no anticipated impacts to the costs of environmental restoration. The aggregate environmental impact of all recommended BRAC actions affecting the installations in this recommendation have been reviewed. There are no known environmental impediments to the implementation of this recommendation.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Look, if he promised his constituents that he could keep Ellsworth open, then he, at best, over-reached. At worst, he was foolishly pandering for votes. Anyone remotely familiar with the BRAC process knows better than to make promises."

First, South Dakota legend has it that Tom Daschle saved Ellsworth in the 1990's BRAC round by going directly to President Clinton. Daschle certainly says that.

"Ellsworth AFB's continued operation is a big deal for South Dakota, but not for the rest of the nation. It's not like the B-1 Bombers stationed there would be mothballed. The recommendation (included at the end of this post) is to move the assets to Dyess AFB.

If Senator Thune wants to argue the merits of keeping Ellsworth AFB open based on national security, then he is up against some pretty stiff competition."


Second, it isn't just Thune arguing this. John Loh, a retired 4-star general, and the former commander of the Ar Combat Command (the Air Force Bomber fleet), told the BRAC yesterday when they visited Rapid City, that "the Pentagon, in its zeal to consolidate and reach some perceived quota for base closures, picked the wrong base by putting Ellsworth on the list." He said that putting all the B-1's at Dyess AFB in Texas is "a recipe for unmanageable congestion and never-ending chaos that spells inefficiency, waste and degraded operational readiness for the B-1s."
Now those comments are from someone who doesn't have a dog in this fight, except that he thinks national security is HURT anytime you put more than 36 heavy bombers at one base.
Samuel Skinner, the BRAC commissioner who chaired the Rapid City hearing said that Loh had "great credibility," that his testimony would be given "great weight", that Ellsworth is "a spectacular base" and that Rapid City made "the most precise challenge" to a Pentagon base-closing recommendation.
You don't have to agree that keeping Ellsworth open helps this our military ready, but don't just assume that it's all economic self interest at work. And, keep in the mind that the bureaucrats in the Pentagon sometimes make bad military choices. Who do you think made the decision to use unarmored vehicles in Iraq?

"I guess he's doing what he has to do for the folks in South Dakota (specifically, the Rapid City metropolitan area)"

Third, Gee, Thune is looking for the economic self-interest of the people who elected him. Wow, ain't representative government a bummer.
And, let's look at the economic self interest of the area (which, though not the most important factor is something the BRAC is supposed to consider.) The BRAC numbers on job loss are understated. The Rapid City area (115,000 according to the Census) could lose 10,000 to 13,000 people, and the largest employer in that part of the state. The area has 3,000 retired veterans; many of those might move because they would lose access to the Commissary and other facilities. Many of them never would have come to Rapid City in the first place, without Ellsworth. There are more than 2,600 indirect jobs at stake.
Western South Dakota is about 40,000 square miles, with a population of 215,000 or so. (for comparison, Alabama is 50,000 square miles with a population of 4.5 million). This isn't like Lowery AFB in Denver, which could be closed and converted into housing and be a positive for the Denver metro. Rapid City/West River will never replace an employer like Ellsworth, far and away the biggest employer in West River.

"it comes across as playing politics"

Which brings us to
Fourth, politics. Thune won by about 4,000 votes, and was helped by a huge turnout (a turnout unlikely to be that high in 2010). A lot of Thune's margin came from the people at Ellsworth, and Rapid City is a Republican stronghold. In 2010, Thune is likely to face Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D). SD Representatives run statewide every two years; they are as well known as Senators, and often win. (Rep. Tom Daschle and Rep. Tim Johnson come to mind). Thune could have continued with his lobbying business and made a lot more money than being Senator. GWB asked him to run; GWB needs to deliver (just like Clinton did for Daschle). People outside of the high plains (call it Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming) often can't understand why the Democrats win so many races for Senators and at-large Representatives in these states. It isn't a fluke when Kent Conrad or Tom Daschle wins. Except for Wyoming, all of these states have large geographic regions with small populations that vote strongly Republican, and swing regions, with far more voters. Republicans generally need big wins in the Republican region. (Wyoming, with the smallest population, lacks that swing region of the other states, and ususally elects Republicans). In South Dakota, Rapid City is the heart of the Republican region. If you aren't interested in playing politics with EAFB, then don't be shocked, if after the closure of Ellsworth, Democrats manage to take control of all three seats for some time in SD.

MerryMadMonk said...

You make a spirited defense of Senator Thune, but it is hardly convincing. You base your argument mostly on political/economic issues. You offer the opinion of one retired 4-star general to argue that Senator Thune is doing the right thing based on national security. I don't take lightly General Loh's assessment, but he is just one. I'd want to hear from several more recently retired Air Force 4-stars as well as Active Duty Air Force 4-stars. If Senator Thune gets that kind of backing, then enough pressure might be applied to cause the President or Congress to reject the BRAC recommendations -- in their entirety. That's the way it works.

I'm not going to let this comment slide:

"And, keep in the mind that the bureaucrats in the Pentagon sometimes make bad military choices. Who do you think made the decision to use unarmored vehicles in Iraq?" (emphasis added)

That sounds to me, as General Patton so aptly put it, like a bilious bastard who doesn't know anymore about real battle than he does about fucking. In short, you don't what you're talking about.

There was no decision to use unarmored vehicles in Iraq anymore than there was a decision to use M1 Abrams tanks. The vast majority of wheeled vehicles are unarmored with few exceptions. Do you know how many unarmored vehicles we presently have deployed? Thousands. We later up-armored HMMVs, yes, to try to counter the effects of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The insurgents targeted HMMVs with IEDs. Why HMMVs? To try to kill leadership. Lessons Learned.

And where were you in the Fall of 2002 when we were debating Iraq? Were you writing letters to the editor demanding armored HMMVs. Give me a fucking break.

There are soldiers over there in "up-armored" HMMV's that will tell you that all that armor sacrifices speed -- 1 or 2 seconds matter when you're trying to get out of an RPG kill zone. That the additional armor cuts down on observation. Observation matters bigtime when you're scouting for bad guys. Does the "up-armored" HMMV stop shrapnel better than the unarmored HMMV? Yes. Does it stop a bullet better? Yes. Does it stop RPGs? No. Does it stop Improvised Explosive Devices (one of the biggest killers in Iraq)? Depends on the explosive charge of the IED. So, yes-no-maybe.

And lastly, you make the point that President Bush owes Senator Thune? Owes him? For exactly what? President Bush didn't make Thune run for the Senate seat. If you mean, that Thune could have gone on to make the big bucks as a lobbyist -- then fuck him. Don't bring up financial sacrifice. Not when we have men and women fighting and bleeding and dying in service to this country. Maybe Thune needs to serve his country as an infantryman.

Anonymous said...

Well Mad Monk, I’ll attempt to address your points.
First, let me say that I read your piece on your high school coach and the profound influence that he had, and was quite moved. I had a high school coach who was a great influence to me, and I remember the lessons that he taught, that you are responsible for your decisions, that decisions have consequences and that bad decisions have bad consequences. More on that later though.

You offer the opinion of one retired 4-star general to argue that Senator Thune is doing the right thing based on national security. I don't take lightly General Loh's assessment, but he is just one. I'd want to hear from several more recently retired Air Force 4-stars as well as Active Duty Air Force 4-stars.

Lt. Gen. Thad Wolfe (retired 3-star general) also spoke at the Rapid City hearing. Wolfe was Loh’s deputy at Air Combat Command and the former commander of the Strategic Warfare Center at Ellsworth AFB. That’s the best I can do: active duty offcers aren’t allowed to engage in activities to move bases off of the BRAC list. I’m not sure how many generals you need, but I would suggest, that even without additional generals, Wolfe and Lohs have far more expertise in regards to heavy bombers than the BRAC members. Wolfe came up to Ellsworth from Colorado Springs because he thinks keeping Ellsworth open is important to national defense.
Things like the BRAC or a Roads Commission exist to isolate politicians from accountability in decision-making. There are positives to this approach in that these kinds of commissions can make decisions that would be politically impossible, but the negative is that we get to vote for our political leaders and not for four-star generals. I want to be able to hold political leaders directly accountable for decisions. As to the BRAC decisions; you have cast this as politics versus national security. I think that it’s fairer to say that the purpose of BRAC is to save money without compromising national security. I fully understand that politics is always about money so keeping Ellsworth open means money that can’t be spent on something else or taxes that can’t be cut, but I don’t believe that keeping Ellsworth open is a reduction in national security.

I’m going to take this point a little out-of-order:

And lastly, you make the point that President Bush owes Senator Thune? Owes him? For exactly what? President Bush didn't make Thune run for the Senate seat. If you mean, that Thune could have gone on to make the big bucks as a lobbyist -- then fuck him. Don't bring up financial sacrifice. Not when we have men and women fighting and bleeding and dying in service to this country. Maybe Thune needs to serve his country as an infantryman.

I never suggested that John Thune’s sacrifice was on the order of someone who risks life and limb in defense of this country, and frankly, if you want to send him over to Iraq now, well, in politics you have to distinguish between friends and allies. As for what George Bush owes to John Thune: if Thune doesn’t run, than Sen. Tom Daschle is still the minority leader of the Senate. As for Thune--he was already making big bucks, and could have continued to do so. John Thune doesn’t run in 2004 without some assurances that Ellsworth isn’t going to close. Yes, I expect George Bush to deliver on his end, and I think that the BRAC commissioners ought to know how the president feels. I know--the BRAC is above politics. That’s a bedtime story for small children because not only is the BRAC not above politics, it shouldn’t be above politics. Call me an optimist, but I prefer electoral politics, warts and all, to the alternatives.
Monk, you sound like a man who expects to live a few more years and wants Republicans in the US Senate. Doesn’t more Republicans in the Senate make you sleep better at night and add to your national security?

I'm not going to let this comment slide:
"And, keep in the mind that the bureaucrats in the Pentagon sometimes make bad military choices. Who do you think made the decision to use unarmored vehicles in Iraq?" (emphasis added)
That sounds to me, as General Patton so aptly put it, like a bilious bastard who doesn't know anymore about real battle than he does about fucking. In short, you don't what you're talking about.

Where to start on this comment.
I’ve enjoyed what I have read of your postings as entertaining and thoughtful, and I think you’re capable of making better arguments than this rather lame ad hominem attack. I remain anonymous in these kinds of postings to focus on the ideas. You want to call my ideas stupid, fine, but I don’t have any interest in a series of postings that just degenerates into rudeness. (And while George Patton was capable of profound insights--hopefully, he really did say that you don’t win wars by dying for your country but by making the other guy die for his--the quote that you’ve used is catchy but meaningless).
Second, this was intended as an illustration: that decision makers, even with a military background, can sometimes make the wrong decision. As such, if you object to this illustration, then you can insert your own example.
Third, while I know I’m not going to convince you on this, I’m quite comfortable that I know enough about the topic to comment. Now, please try not to punch the monitor when you read that as you’ve made your disagreement quite clear. Let me make an appeal to an expert here (Lt. Col. Joe Voswa, of the Pentagon Public Affairs Department) who said that
The U.S. military's fleet of vehicles was not designed for the kind of insurgent warfare that has evolved in Iraq. In a conventional war, unarmored trucks and Humvees would be tucked safely behind front lines.

You suggest that

There was no decision to use unarmored vehicles in Iraq anymore than there was a decision to use M1 Abrams tanks. The vast majority of wheeled vehicles are unarmored with few exceptions.

Well, there’s a decision right there: the decision to purchase unarmored vehicles instead of alternative armored vehicles, (and not just adding armor to Humvees) Another decision was the one not to add more armored vehicles before invading Iraq.
I’m not saying I would have made better decisions, or that the people who made these decisions were incompetent or malicious. But if we can’t acknowledge bad decisions, we can’t learn from them. The people who were presumably in the best position, with the most knowledge, made bad decisions about the kind of vehicles we needed, and the kind of situations we would face. I don’t bring this up to claim moral superiority because I’m not claiming that, but to illustrate that the BRAC, even with its credentials and hard work, could be wrong.

We later up-armored HMMVs, yes, to try to counter the effects of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The insurgents targeted HMMVs with IEDs. Why HMMVs? To try to kill leadership. Lessons Learned.

Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your above point, but it sounds like you’re saying that we have learned from our mistakes. Good.

I’ve spent enough time on this post. If you want to publish additional details as to why I’m wrong about armored vehicles in Iraq, I’ll certainly read it, but I’m not planning any more comments on that topic. In any event, thanks for putting your stuff up there and have a happy Fourth of July.

MerryMadMonk said...

Damn! Senator Thune, is that you?

I'll reply to Anonymous's latest comments in a couple of days. It's time to go to sleep. I've got a long drive in the morning.

BTW, anonymous comments are fine. If I didn't think so, I'd disable that feature.

Back in a couple of days......

MerryMadMonk said...

Thought I forgot ya, huh? I did... but just for a few days. We had some "inclement" weather when I returned.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post on Coach Peace. He meant a lot to us.

I agree that BRAC and commissions like it are fig leaves for our elected representatives. It speaks volumes about the character of a lot of our senators and representatives that they can't be trusted to place national security over pork barrel politics. I'll give them credit for admitting as much by creating the BRAC to deal with base closures.

So BRAC was created by Congress to deal with the issues and present recommendations to be voted on as a package. In other words, no cherry-picking recommendations. Take 'em or leave 'em. It was designed that way by Congress.

Do I agree with the process? I'd much rather our elected representatives be capable of rising above their own political interests and look out for the security of this nation. That, I suppose, is another pipe dream ... another "bedtime story for small children".

"As for what George Bush owes to John Thune: if Thune doesn't run, than Sen. Tom Daschle is still the minority leader of the Senate. As for Thune--he was already making big bucks, and could have continued to do so. John Thune doesn't run in 2004 without some assurances that Ellsworth isn't going to close. Yes, I expect George Bush to deliver on his end, and I think that the BRAC commissioners ought to know how the president feels."

You know that for a fact? You know, for a fact, that John Thune was promised that Ellsworth would stay open if he ran for senate? If so, who, exactly, made this promise to Thune? Why hasn't Thune gone public with this "broken promise"? This is something the public needs to know. If President Bush made a promise to John Thune and then broke it, I guarantee you that I will not be the only one to write about that.

If you have information of this nature, I urge you to go public.

"Monk, you sound like a man who expects to live a few more years and wants Republicans in the US Senate. Doesn't more Republicans in the Senate make you sleep better at night and add to your national security?"

The Good Lord willing, I expect to live more than a few more years; however, I don't necessarily sleep better at night knowing Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lincoln Chafee, Mike DeWine, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain are in the Senate. Chuck Hagel is another one that I'm not too sure about. If having a Republican majority means having these folks, then what is the point?

If Senator Thune wants to join these mavericks and knuckleheads, so be it.

You may feel comfortable that you know something about the military, but when you start quoting PAO Lieutenant Colonels as experts, you need to know that you're giving it away that you know little to nothing about the military. If you try this in a public setting where people know who you are, you will only embarrass yourself.

And I didn't call your ideas stupid. I said you didn't know what the fuck you were talking about when you brought up the issue of unarmored vehicles in Iraq as an example of a bad military decision. And you don't know what you're talking about; however, that doesn't stop you from continuing to demonstrate your ignorance on this topic.

As for bad military decisions, I've forgotten more than you will probably ever know. If you want one of the latest examples, see Negligence.

So don't even think you can come here with your horseshit knowledge of the military and not be roughed up a bit.

Yeah, I can be rude. Rude and crude.

"Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

Now, back on the topic of BRAC and Senator Thune. We can agree to disagree, but I want to make it clear where I'm coming from (and you might have guessed that it's not as a defender of South Dakota's economy or politics. Look around this blog -- what in the hell did you think my take was gonna be?):

I'm for the security of this nation. If we can't secure this nation, nothing else matters. Not social security, not health care, not taxes, not education, not John Thune's income.

Is Ellsworth critical to the security of this nation? The BRAC didn't think so. Could the BRAC be wrong? Yes. If so, will the situation be remedied? I trust, that if that's the case, it will be. I have yet to hear the President/Commander-in-Chief say Ellsworth is critical to national security. Haven't heard the Secretary of Defense say so or the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee or the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

What I have heard is more than enough from Senator Thune about how if he doesn't get his way, he's not gonna play. That goes over about as well as a turd in a punchbowl.

I had great hope for Senator Thune. I'm disappointed, but glad to have learned more about him sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be gone so long. I'm sorry for the devastation in your part of the country and hope that my Red Cross contribution can in someway help.
First let me point out that BRAC (and both of us are guilty of saying "BRAC" when we meant the Pentagon base closing commission) kept Ellsworth open, deciding that rather than a $1.8 billion savings over 20 years (Pentagon number), there would be a $20 million cost (BRAC numbers) That Mad Monk, is not accounting. It's politics.
Second, as to promises made to John Thune. Why doesn't he call the president a liar? That is a question that answers itself.
Third, You have frequently criticized me in this thread by saying that I don't know enough about the military-correction, that I don't know ANYTHING about the military. Well, what you've written so far tells me you don't much about politics. I don't care how many campaigns you've helped out, or how many times you've served as an elected official: You haven't been in the room when decisions were being made. As for me going public, well that's not my role in the scheme of things.
Fourth, the first rule of politics is not that all politics are local, but all politics are local and now.
Why didn't Bush, Rummy and the DOD and so forth publically help Thune out? The blunt truth is that Thune isn't up for re-election until 2010 and George Bush isn't running for office again. It may be that George Bush always intended to help John Thune out, and if true, Thune's grandstanding didn't help him. It may be that his grandstanding did change George Bush's mind. I don't know. But I do know that there is no long term thinking in politics, and you have to represent the people who elected you.
Fifth, as for your idea of getting rid of Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lincoln Chafee, Mike DeWine, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Chuck Hagel, and I presume, Arlen Spector and John Thune, and their counterparts in House: that gives you the minority leadership. Politics isn't about who you like. It's not about getting your way all the time. But you have to recognize your allies, and sometimes you have to help them out. Earlier you wrote "Senator Thune, is that you?" You really don't know how funny that is. John Thune isn't a friend of mine, and he isn't my first or second or third choice as the junior Senator from SD, but politics is the art of the getting elected. People like to blame politicians for making stupid decisions, but those politicians are often quite aware how stupid a decision is and still support it because that's where the votes are. Politicians who don't know this don't last long.
Finally, whether my military knowledge should be called stupid, ignorant, non-existent, or horseshit, is a decision I will leave up to you. But, even though I said I wouldn't, just two quick points as to vehicles in Iraq. Even my example is wrong, it was meant as an illustration that the Pentagon can make bad decisions, and as you provided examples of bad decisions, the larger point that the Pentagon can make bad decisions still stands. Second, and this will probably get you going, is that the very fact that vehicles have been "uparmored" is proof of the point that mix of vehicles was wrong (whether due to short term tactical decisions or long term strategic decisions)

MerryMadMonk said...

Anonymous -- did you forget to take your medications?

I've never claimed to know anything about politics. You, again, don't know what you're talking about.

I'm happy for the people of South Dakota. I was never against Ellsworth remaining open, only the way Senator Thune went about pitching a hissy fit.

You persist in making an ass of yourself when it comes to military matters.

Really, I had already considered that you were one of those moonbat, tinfoil hatters from Moveon.org who was only trying to make matters worse for the young Senator.