Friday, June 30, 2006

The Next Front in the War on Terror

FNC just announced Bin Laden will release another tape in the next half hour dealing with Iraq and Somalia. You all know how I feel about Iraq - that we ARE winning and will be gradually withdrawing troops over the next several years as the Iraqi government assumes and asserts control.

I want to focus on Somalia, which is the next Clinton-era mess we'll be cleaning up. I'm not party to any classified information to that end, just reading the tea leaves as reported on the evening news.

The good news is that our invasion of Iraq not only removed Hussein from power, but it also denied the terrorists fleeing our alliance in Afghanistan a safe haven in a relatively modern country with vast oil resources. Had we not removed Hussein, they'd be operating from Iraq today with governmental protection and the economic freedom to move money to support their terrorism world wide. Had we not invaded, the panty waists in the Security Council would have found a way to lift sanctions on Hussein and he'd have free reign to regenerate his own form of terror. We already know AQ was operating in Iraq, and he'd have had to establish an unholy, unwanted, but unavoidable alliance with them in order to maintain control of his own country. Today, we're there and the only thing Al Queda can do is use hit-and-run tactics to try to tie us down.

To one extent, that tactic has worked. They have used an "economy of force" mission in Iraq under the direction of Zarqawi and others to keep a lot more of our troops there longer than we'd have liked. We've been working behind the scenes to try to cut them off from other potential safe havens in other parts of northern & eastern Africa, but we aren't in Somalia any more.

Meanwhile, Al Queda has been very busy building the next best safe haven they can. They have taken control of large parts of Somalia. Terrorists have probably been flocking to Somalia ever since Zarqawi's first letter to Bin Laden bitching about his inability to make headway against us in Iraq. Bin Laden isn't going to confront us where we are strong, so he directed Zarqawi to fight the good fight while AQ began building strength in the chaotic hell-hole Somalia has increasingly become since we ran away from trying to civilize it under the Clinton administration.

Al Queda has begun to institute Taliban-esque Sharia law in Somalia and tighten the bindings on the people there. They will establish a totalitarian Islamic sultanate in Somalia and establish it as the safe haven they lost in Afghanistan and were unable to create in Iraq. They may, in the end, be stronger in Somalia than they were in Iraq because we won't have the battle-tested Mujaheddin that kicked the Russians out of Afghanistan as allies to help defeat the terrorist regime that is building in Somalia.

The one disadvantage they'll have is a lack of an indigenous source of major funding. In Afghanistan they had narco-trafficking money that these alleged Islamic fundamentalists relied on heavily. Had they been able to move into Iraq, they'd have siphoned off a lot of money from the oil industry (in fact, Al Queda in Iraq is largely funded from oil industry corruption today). Somalia has neither a developed oil industry nor a cosmically large narco-industry from which to derive funding. My guess is that they will attempt to use human trafficking as their source of funding from Somalia, merely because the one thing Somalia has is a helluva lot of people without productive means of supporting their families. Non-Islamic Africans will face a new slavery and AQ will be the slave traders.

Note: AQ has already tried piracy and that hasn't worked out too well for them, en toto.

Regardless, Al Queda has established substantial control over Somalia. They are already imposing Sharia law in the capitol we vacated after the "Blackhawk Down" incident. There are reports in the press of an influx of foreign Islamic terrorists and terrorism training camps in the sticks.

Meanwhile, the Pakistanis and the Afghan coalition are tightening the noose on the remaining Taliban and AQ holdouts in the mountainous areas of Eastern Afghanistan and Western Pakistan.

It's only a matter of time before Bin Laden and his principal confidants end up drinking tea in the deserts, hovels, and jungles of Africa.

The war on terror will be long, and I think the next place we confront it will be Somalia.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A "Compassionate" Compromise Solution for Illegal Immigration

Here's my solution to illegal immigration.

1. Seal the border for inbound traffic, let anybody who wants to go, go. Build the damn wall and put law enforcement personnel on it to watch for tunnels, climbers, floaters, or anyone else trying to get through. Do it on both land borders. There is no such thing as a "virtual wall". Any obstacle that isn't overwatched isn't an obstacle, it's a nuisance.

2. Establish a guest worker program that allows alien workers to be here for 9 months each year (the other 3 months they can go home to their families instead of bringing them here).

3. Organize the registration process for the guest worker program so it happens at U.S. Embassies and consulates outside this nation's borders, with applicants having to appear in person and give DNA samples, as well as other biometric data. Ensure there's a thirty day waiting period during which the applicant is called in at least once to the consulate/ embassy to provide a DNA sample to verify identity (making sure they aren't back in the US). During that 30 days, DNA and biometric data will be compared against all known criminal databases in the US to see if applicant has ever committed a crime in the US. What does this serve? First, an applicant must leave the US to be allowed to come back legally - which sends a very important message. Second, background/DNA/biometrics can lead to arrest of those who come back as known/suspected felons. Third, it provides incentive for illegals to leave, rather than relying on us catching them and enforcing the law (penalties below provide additional incentive).

4. Once an applicant is approved, he/she is issued an identity card with biometric and DNA data encoded on it so their identity can be verified with a fingerprint scan. This data must be checked by any potential employer, labor union, or job training program (fingerprint scanners are not that big an expense any more). Identity cards and biometrics will be checked at all border crossings to ensure the actual applicant is complying with the 9-month/year restriction.

5. One year after the first LEGAL guest worker is allowed into the US, it becomes a felony with mandatory five year sentence and immediate deportation for an illegal alien to be here in the US. During the five years, they'll perform hard labor for free to offset the legal income stolen from someone who follows the rules. No probation program of any kind. This is enforced regardless of the legal status of any children they may have dropped who became US citizens.

6. One year after the first legal guest worker is allowed into the US, the officers of any company failing to verify the legal status of any worker has committed a felony. Penalty: mandatory 25 year sentence, confiscation of all personal assets of the officer(s) involved. Forfeiture of all business assets if it is shown the business knowingly or systematically relied on illegal workers for their labor force.

7. One year after the first legal guest worker is allowed into the US, it is felonious for any labor union or similar organization to fail to verify the legal status of every member. Any union found to have granted membership to illegal workers without due diligence in verifying their identity will be dissolved and it's officers subject to the same penalties as the officers of corporations failing to verify status.

8. One year after the first legal guest worker is allowed into the US, any trade school, vocational program, apprenticeship, or other job training program must verify the legal status of applicants. Penalties similar to those for companies and unions.

9. Any officer of a company, union, or training program that fails to immediately report an illegal alien applicant to local police and INS will be subject to a felony conviction with one year & one day sentence.

10. Any state, county, or local governing body that fails to ensure its law enforcement agencies verify the legal status of every person arrested and charged will immediately forfeit every thin dime of federal funding provided to public entities in that jurisdiction - schools, construction programs, roads, etc.

11. Legal guest workers may simultaneously apply for legal immigration, and enter the line at its very end. They can, however, earn the opportunity to move towards the head of the line faster for each year they complete the program by the rules (which include obeying our laws).

12. Build a new federal prison in Gitmo for housing any illegal alien found guilty of committing any felony (other than being here illegally). They can serve their sentence outside the borders of this country and never return to it when their sentence is served. They can be immediately deported from Gitmo to their home country. If no country wants them back, they can stay there until they die.

13. Change the law (the constitution if necessary) to reflect that US citizenship can only be granted to children born here of parents who are US citizens or those here on any other Visa program EXCEPT the guest worker program.

What am I missing?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Democrats: There's a better way, but don't ask us what it is

The democrat "response" to the President's State of the Union address tonight was more of the same - lots of criticism, no solutions.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

West Point Garrison Captured Without a Shot, Traitor Arnold to Blame

1 August, 1780
New York, New York - The Colonial Fortress overlooking the Hudson River at West Point, New York, was captured by the British Army last week, apparently without having to fire a single shot.
Soldiers formerly garrisoned at Fortress West Point, who escaped the fort during the occupation by the Redcoats, report that the forces commanded by Sir Henry Clinton were escorted through the front gate by embattled Colonial Army Major General Benedict Arnold.
The day began, according to the brave escapees, with Arnold ordering all the garrison's weapons being locked in storage for an inspection and inventory. Shortly thereafter, he received a visitor, one John Andre, who had been a frequent visitor to General Arnold since the Spring. Hours later, Arnold ordered the fortress's gates thrown open and all the men garrisoned therein to assemble in the large fore-court.
Moments later, Sir Henry rode through the gates accompanied by several thousand Redcoats who immediately began placing Arnold's men in leg irons. Arnold and Andre, however, were treated as long-lost relatives, granted parole, and appeared an hour later in the uniform of the British Army, Andre wearing the rank of Major and Arnold that of a Brigadier.
The escaped soldiers speculate that Andre had been carrying communications between the traitorous Arnold and Sir Henry. They first recall Andre's visits to Arnold begin shortly after the Tories insisted that General Washington abandon checkpoints designed to monitor messengers moving between Colonial- and British-held portions of the upper Hudson Valley.
At the time, General Washington insisted that the checkpoints were necessary to prevent collaboration between British Sympathizers and the British Armies garrisoned in Canada.
Prominent Tories, however, demanded removal of the checkpoints as the monitoring of their communications was considered a breach of their privacy.
One Mr. J. Kennedy, Esquire, of the Massachusetts Colony, was particularly insistent in demanding, "That Scoundrel Washington must stop this unwarranted monitoring of our communications with our contacts in Canada." The Tory, privateer, and sometimes smuggler went on to criticize the Washington checkpoints as "a grave breech, regardless of the benefit that may be derived by the British Army by their removal."
In reality, Major John Andre was captured attempting to deliver communications between Benedict Arnold and Sir Henry Clinton as they negotiated the surrender of the vital fortress at West Point that controlled river traffic on the Hudson River. Andre was convicted in a court martial and hanged. Arnold escaped and died in ignominy in England.
But what if we weren't monitoring traffic with enemy agents outside the country? I think we'd have lost West Point, lost control of the Hudson, and probably lost the Revolutionary War.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Finally, A Prominent German that Publicly Supports the War on Terror

Pope Benedict, in his first Christmas address, on Sunday urged humanity to unite against terrorism, poverty and environmental blight and called for a "new world order" to correct economic imbalances.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Judge James Robertson: Moral Coward, Political Grandstander

Make no mistake that Judge James Robertson will be lionized - scratch that - canonized by the leftist, anti-Bush, America-lasters. You know, the folks who are twisting the wire-tapping of terrorists and their accomplices resident in the US into something WRONG.

Robertson is the Clinton-appointed judge who 'resigned' from the FISA court after the story broke about the wire tapping.

What heroism! What convictions! What Principles!

Or rather, what principles?????

Robertson didn't resign from the court before the story broke, only when his 'resignation' would make a newsworthy splash.

Robertson didn't resign from the bench, either. He merely decided he didn't want to be on the FISA court anymore.

And, of course, Robertson didn't resign when his sugar-daddy, Bill Clinton, used FISA in defense of our nation, only when it became public knowledge that Bush was doing so.

My hero. I think not.

Friday, November 18, 2005

House Vote on Iraq

OK, I think it's time for all you gutless, spineless, French-whine-swilling, left wing surrender monkeys to step up to the plate. Show us how patriotic you are by voting for our troops to fail in their mission. I dare you.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Can you support the troops and not the war?

Here's the analogy I use when I hear the BS argument about supporting the troops but not the war:

You're a parent and your kid is a star on the HS football team. You love your son, feed him, clothe him, give him proper medical care. On the other hand you hate his football coach because of personality conflicts. The football team makes it to the state championship, but you're going to root for the opposing team and you're going to pull your kid out at halftime to undermine the coach's strategy to win, all because you don't like the coach.

Do you think you're supporting your son?

THIS TROOP says, NO! You don't have to like Bush, you don't have to like this war (or any war), but now that we're in it, you cannot support the troops without hoping, praying, and doing everything you can to help them win it. Bringing them home before the job is complete or denigrating the job itself is not support because it helps our enemies. It's that simple.

What is above is the version for the anti-Bush-at-all-costs crowd. The version I use for those who are anti-war-any-war replaces hatred for the coach with dislike for the game of football because it's too violent. Either way, not hoping your kid's team wins is disloyal and definitely not supporting him.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

US Troops Prepare to Deploy to Maintain Order in Paris

BSNN has learned that the Defense Department is mobilizing troops and planning operations to restore order in the capitol city of the Europpean province of France following a straight week of rioting that the provincial government is either unwilling or unable to quell.

An unnamed White House official, who insisted we tell you he is not Carl Rove or Scooter Libby, said, "Our recent experiences in dealing with hostile, ungovernable violent nations in Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq have prepared us for dealing with the Chirac government. Plus, our experiences in the Islamic world will make it easier to deal with most average Parisians."

He further stated the reason for the burgeoning deployment is that the President fears the lack of stability in France may ultimately lead to unrest in the entire region. Recent events in Spain support that conclusion.

An unnamed spokesman for NATO indicated there was strong support for this operation in the nations that support the military arm of the alliance. Britain and Germany have offered police officers to support the mission citing their experience with football hooliganism as an eminent qualification. France, meanwhile, refuses to provide troops citing the lack of a UN mandate for establishing order on its own soil.

Contacts in the office of UN Secretary General Kofi Anan claim he opposes the mission because, "France is too corrupt for even us to profit from this opportunity."

While planning and mobilization continue, the deployment may be delayed by US Europpean Command planners' inability to develop a viable exit strategy that would leave behind a democratic nation upon US forces' departure.

Said one unnamed military planner, "We're not going into this one without a plan for leaving, and establishing democracy in France will be no cake-walk. It's not like Kosovo where, while they all hate each other, at least they're able to talk to each other through interpreters. Our war-gaming gets hung up every time we get to a point that requires the French to talk to each other or anyone else civilly. We may have to depose Chirac just to get someone to answer the phone."

He continued, "And then there are the economic problems. Unemployment rivals that of many third world countries we operate in. We're hoping conditions won't be as bad as the Tsunami was last year, but we're expecting the worst."

They're hoping they can cope with the multicultural environement as well: "In Iraq there are only three conflicting cultures. IN Paris, we believe each individual building is its own, distinct subculture, and each subculture prides itself in being diametrically opposed to each of its neighboring subcultures on at least three issues."

A staffer for a prominent, drunk democrat Senator from a New England state immediately claimed the deployment was Bush administration retribution for France supporting virtually the rest of the world's assessment that Saddam Hussein had WMD before the invasion of Iraq. She was incapable of explaining this incoherent statement.

Meanwhile, failed president Jimmy Carter claimed that there was no evidence that there has been any unrest in France, and went on to claim that he could solve the problem that didn't exist with a raid consisting of seven broken helicopters and a Boy Scout Troop. Before he explained his strategy in depth, he was taken away by his handlers who told us he was late for a formal straight-jacket fitting.

America's highest ranking National Guardsman, Lieutenant General H. Stephen Blum, was overheard to say, "Nuts!!! We're not ready for this!!! All our French linguists are still trying to unscrew New Orleans!!!" Apparently he made this comment while bording a helicopter to fly to the US capitol to hit congress up for another $17 Billion in funding for armory office furniture because, "Our desks and chairs are 1998 vintage, maybe 1999 at best, while active component furniture is at least as new as 2000."

Career CIA burrocrats contributed heavily to this report, so think twice before you choose whether or not to believe it.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Alito Nomination: Your Constitution at Work

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I believe the Constitution of the United States of America, as originally written and properly amended since, is the most brilliant political document ever written - the opportunity to support and defend it is one of the reasons I chose the profession I did. Its system of checks and balances brilliantly distributes power and authority across the branches of our government in such a way that no one branch can get too far out of balance with the others, thereby establishing supremacy. I don't think it's perfect, but it's pretty close.

What we're seeing with Alito's nomination are the checks and balances at work. We saw it to a lesser extent with Roberts' and Miers' nominations, but it is really coming clear this morning.

The checks and balances on the Supreme Court are several, but the ones I'm talking about today are the ones that determine who sits on the Court in the first place. Simply, the justices are not directly answerable to the electorate through the ballot box, but are appointed and 'consented to' by politicians who are.

These elected politicians - the President and the members of the Senate - are the filter through which public opinion and temperament pass in order to reach the Court. This filter allows the mood of the country to influence the interpretation of our laws in a very indirect way that is both necessary and necessarily indirect.

The mood of a country can change on a dime in a historical sense, but we don't want our guiding principles to do so. A country whose every policy and principle changed with the wind would not last long, with a race being run between internal strife and external mistrust to determine which would strike the death blow.

The relative constancy provided by our Constitution and the Court that interprets it are important to maintaining a balance that keeps mood swings (political change) from tearing us apart or leading other nations to fear dealing with us out of mistrust.

Equally important to the country is that the Constitution and the Court be capable of adapting to actual, long-term values changes in our national personality. For instance, over a long period of time the national psyche came to the conclusion that the phrase "all men are created equal" should apply to all adult men and women in good standing in the community, not merely male, white landowners, and that this principle should permeate all aspects of the Constitution. In some cases, the Constitution itself was amended to reflect these emerging, widely held values. In others, Court decisions brought about the changes in how we applied the Constitution in much a broader sense.

NOTE: This is not to say that I believe in the 'living Constitution' meme often proposed by non-originalists, because nothing could be further from the truth. The primary method for changing the Constitution to reflect emerging values should always be the amendment process defined in it. The Court has a role in keeping the interpretation of the Constitution current as well, but this authority should be rarely used and only in ways that use the formal amendment process as a basis. For example, the court applied equal rights for women under all clauses of the Constitution once the country's principled value change that women are people, too, was demonstrated by ratification of the 19th Amendment. The power to broadly apply values changes can be and has been misused in other instances and has been improperly defended using the 'living Constitution' argument (don't you just love the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals?).

Now, lets get back to Alito and what his nomination means today.

The 'filter' of the appointment process that I talked about before allows for the current moods of the Nation, some of which may eventually result in long-term values changes, to infiltrate the Court, and this is a good thing.

Currently, the mood of the country is (or at least during the last several election cycles has been) moving towards Constitutional originalism (which is defined for this discussion as strict interpretation of the written Constitution, as amended, with a lesser emphasis on narrow, contentious precedent-setting cases). I believe recent decisions like the approval of government-sponsored land theft in Kilo v. New London and the restriction of our First Amendment represented in the approval of McCain/Feingold are exactly contrary to the Constitution's protections on property ownership and political speech, and are (among others) a driving force in this current 'mood swing'.

President Bush ran on a platform that included a plank that he would appoint originalists to our nation's courts. This plank is one of the reasons he received the nomination of his party and was elected to office. Thus, the originalist 'mood' has made its way into the White House and is represented in the nomination process.

Likewise, many of the Senators currently in office ran on platforms that included 'originalist thinking' with respect to how they would vote on approval of presidential appointments to the bench (any bench). The group of 'originalist' senators is mostly Republican, but doesn't include all Republicans (the most germane to this discussion being the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) . Nor does it necessarily constitute a majority in the Senate - that is yet to be seen.

Based on recent appointment battles (to SCOTUS and other US district courts and courts of appeal), there are clearly many Senators who don't hold an originalist view of their role in the appointment process - at least not one consistent with my interpretation of their role. [Failure to provide consent in the form of the vote indicated by the Senate's own rules is neither advice nor consent. Nor is voting based on one's narrow, extreme political views on a single issue rather than a nominee's qualifications to interpret our laws - something individuals on both sides of the aisle are guilty of recently.]

Regardless, what we're seeing in all the media hyperactivity regarding Alito's nomination is the importance of the appointment process as a filter for the nation's mood. Clearly, the originalist camp has a head start, because a guy that apparently reflects this mood has been nominated. Senators who don't support an originalist view now have the opportunity to play catch-up and see if their views can predominate in the Senate. Ultimately, the Senate will (hopefully) vote on Alito based on what they deem best for their constituent states.

We'll all know whether the process came to the right decision in the coming election cycles when we see how We the People react with our votes - who we keep or toss based on the outcome at the ballot box.

Thinking Constitutionally ,


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Casualties down

Anybody wonder what's going on in the GWOT lately? In case you hadn't noticed (and damn few people have in the hurricane furor this month), the coalition casualty count is down. Way down. Lowest since March. At current pace, September will be only 6th deadliest since we invaded Iraq.

There are lots of reasons for this, I'm sure, not the least of which is that the bad guys have been targeting civilians again instead of our team.

Nonetheless, the recent decline in casualties is remarkable when you consider we are
conducting offensive operations in some of the toughest towns along the terrorist infiltration routes into Baghdad, that Al Queda in Iraq has allegedly forged alliances with most of the other insurgent and terrorist factions, that Iran is stirring up trouble in the relatively peaceful south, that terrorist recruits are allegedly pouring over the border, and that Sunnis are reported to be largely dissatisfied with the draft constitution. And this is all occurring as we expect an upward trend in violence prior to the coming constitutional referrendum.

So what does this mean? It means the bad guys have lost their better planners, their knowlegeable bomb builders, and their competent troops. We're fighting the second string, now. And we're doing it with the help of competently
trained and led Iraqi forces. We've passed the tipping point.

I think it means we're winning.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Silver Linings

As the bulk of the life-saving effort is behind those dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, it’s time to begin to look beyond tomorrow, and toward the future.

As we do so, we must, of course, review our collective performance in this emergency to fix the problems we had so we can do better next time. It’s soon going to be the appropriate time for the inevitable, unavoidable, and extremely distasteful blame game (although many have already jumped the gun on that one). But whether your approach is to fix problems or to fix blame, these functions are both backward looking, not forward looking.

What we really need now is for people to start looking forward. The silver linings of the dark, wrathful clouds that were Katrina and its aftermath are the opportunities that face us if we truly look forward.

The opportunities ahead face individuals, local communities, the region, and the nation as a whole, if we only stop our backbiting, political wrangling, or self-serving opportunism long enough to recognize them.

Those who have been dependent on the government or the largess of others for their basic needs have an opportunity to overcome their dependency lifestyle with an independency mindset. For individuals who, before the hurricane, were living at or near poverty level, were unskilled, and barely made enough for their families to survive, the opportunity is to get involved in the reconstruction of their communities, and in so doing learn skills that can lead to a comfortable life in the future.

Of course for these individuals to benefit from this opportunity, they need a hand up, not a hand out. If we have people in the public and corporate worlds really thinking ahead, we'll be setting up skill training centers near all shelters (in the effected states and in the cities where many of these have been evacuated to). We'd be teaching the currently homeless who have no prospect for returning to their old jobs (not just NOLA, but casino workers in MS, etc, too). What would we be teaching them? Basic carpentry and masonry skills. Worksite safety. Drywall hanging. Paving. Stringing electrical, telephone, cable TV. Plumbing. So many other basic skills. Lets license folks on bulldozers, backhoes, and forklifts, in the parking lot of the Astrodome.

Home Depot and other big hardware chains run classes for folks wanting to do home improvements, so they've already got SOME capability to help with this. So do community colleges and other publicly and privately funded skill training centers. The effected areas outside NOLA already need these skills. By the time NOLA is ready for folks to begin working, we can have the folks ready to start doing the work on their own city. We can set up temporary worker camps near the city for those doing the work.

The best part of all is that this is an opportunity for ALL concerned. Clearly the opportunity for the individuals who get good jobs by learning basic skills and use those jobs to get experience and even more skills is potentially life-changing.

For all levels of government, this same situation is an opportunity to simultaneously reduce those who are dependent on the government, increase the numbers of those paying taxes, and make necessary repairs and reconstruction happen with a workforce that has a vested interest in the quality of the outcome.

For the business world, the opportunity is to bring into their workforce fiercely loyal employees who will appreciate and enjoy working for a company that has shown faith and hope in them. It also offers them an opportunity to build a fiercely loyal customer base. As those folks are raised from poverty or subsistence, they’ll be building homes for themselves and their families. Aren’t they more likely to go to companies that helped them in their time of need when spending newfound wealth to build homes?

This, of course, is just one set of closely related opportunities that exist if we’re bold enough to seize them. There are so many possibilities that we can exploit it’s impossible for one blogging soul to imagine them. Those who rebuilt the Mississippi coast after Camille tried to do this. They saw the opportunity to bring wealth into the nation’s poorest state by building the coastal casinos. Lets hope the next version of Southern Mississippi is as bold in its design, but does a better job of preparing for the next major hurricane (no more floating facilities, please).

New Orleans must be rebuilt (don’t argue – it WILL be rebuilt, so lets get over that discussion and decide how best to do it). What do we want NEW New Orleans to be? Do we want it to continue to be an industrial/port city? Then lets make it the best industrial/port city in the world. We have the opportunity. Do we want it to be the most ‘wired’ city in the world? We have that opportunity, too. Would a modern transit system have made that city and its outlying areas easier to evacuate, better to live in, and an economic boon? Build one. For that matter, can we rebuild it to be safer from the next storm? Compartmentalize it with more levees within the city limits? Backfill the below-sea-level areas and build on top of it? We did it to Manhattan Island over a hundred years ago and it seems to be working so far.

Regionally, there is a lot of infrastructure that has been damaged or destroyed. Here’s an opportunity. Did I-10 need to be widened? Let’s widen it. Were there enough rail lines? Build more in the rebuilding process. Were the shore-bound portions of pipelines - the life’s blood of the rest of the country – too vulnerable to storms? Fix that problem now by hardening, redundancy, and reducing our national dependency on them to begin with by building other facilities elsewhere, creating a regional mass-transit system that pays for itself, and exploring REAL alternative energy sources (ethanol? Give me a break).

We need our politicians at ALL levels to stop looking backwards for the witch hunt long enough to appoint some truly forward-looking folks to lead the reconstruction planning. We need those who can grasp opportunity from the jaws of disaster. We need them to produce some unconstrained ideas and figure out later either how to pay for their ideas or how to get as close as we can with the funds available.

And then the partisan politicians can get back to their name-calling and finger-pointing while real American leaders rebuild the south.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

STOP Them Before They Commission Again!!!

Lets stop all the politicians before they ram another failed commission down our throats. We don’t need another stinkin’, failed 9/11 commission on our hands. We need an After Action Review (AAR).

A commission, which is just a fancy Washington DC term for ‘witch hunt’ didn’t solve the problems of 9/11, and won’t solve the disaster preparedness and relief problems we are experiencing over Katrina. All the proposals I’m hearing for commissions and other investigative bodies pay lip service to fixing problems and focus on fixing blame. Everybody wants a “blue ribbon panel of experts”, or some similar nonsense, to come in, give a superficial anal exam (yes, it’s a contradiction in terms, but an intentional one), and then make some heads roll. When they’re done, they quit and go home and we still haven’t fixed anything.

For one thing, there are NO EXPERTS on what happened the past week. We have never faced anything of the magnitude of a major hurricane and major urban flood at the same time before, and we’ve never in modern urban history had to evacuate a major city. Actually, I take that back. There are experts on what happened. They’re the ones who were in the middle of the action – the ones so many people want to establish a blue ribbon panel to lynch.

There’s a reason witch hunts, commissions, lynch mobs, etc, never fix problems: Everybody clams up. Everyone involved goes into CYA mode. The only ‘evidence’ or ‘testimony’ they provide is self-serving claptrap that either hides what happened or, worse, seeks to focus attention and blame on someone else in order to save one’s butt. See the 9/11 commission report and some of the things we’re only finding out now about how far off target they were in many ways. Also, see how well their ‘recommendations’ have paid off in preventing a debacle with Katrina as another example.

OK, so we’ve got a problem, and a commission is not the solution, so what is? How about a professional discussion at every level (each locality, each state-level, and the national level), as well as between each layer of ‘command’ about what the real problems were (root causes, not personalities) and how we prevent them from happening the next time. In the military, we call this an AAR (After Action Review). This is the only way to, as the president put it, “fix what’s wrong, and identify what’s right and duplicate it elsewhere.’

We do this all the time in the military, and the AAR process is most often identified as the ONE MOST IMPORTANT reason we’ve got the best, most professional, and most respected military in the world. We use the AAR process to focus on fixing problems, not fixing blame. AARs don’t result in firings, either, except in one specific instance: If someone goes into an AAR and either doesn’t participate in the spirit of fixing problems in which its intended, or fails to learn from the AAR and apply the fixes afterwards, then they can get fired. We don’t fire those who try and fail, but we fire those who fail to try to make corrections.

Why does the AAR process work? Well, one reason is because everyone in the military understands that we’re there to make the collective organization better, and that you only get fired if you DON’T approach it with a positive attitude. The flip-side of that reason is we can focus on being better prepared to accomplish the mission the next time we have to execute if we know we won’t be fired for telling the truth and recommending solutions. Compare that to what happens in a witch-hunt.

So what does that mean about Katrina? First, we have to ALL stop ALL the damn finger-pointing and name-calling. And that means me, too. When folks started pointing the finger of blame lots of folks started getting defensive and pointing back or pointing at third parties. I know better and I fell into that trap as much as many others as I tried to defend folks I thought weren’t worthy of the fingers pointing at them.

I described in a previous entry what I considered a failure of leadership. Well, I was wrong to do it. I wasn’t there, and I sure as hell don’t know all the facts or factors behind what happened and why. I WILL say, though, that if any of the folks at whom fingers have been pointed don’t drop their shields and their own pointing fingers long enough to professionally discuss and fix the problems, THAT WILL be a failure of leadership.

Another thing this means for Katrina is that the politicians have to back off. No commissions, at least not now, and damn-sure no firings of those who know what happened and can contribute to fixing problems if we give them the chance. We need to let those involved conduct AARs and report their findings and recommendations for fixing things to Congress and the other political bodies involved. Congress can review the AAR findings & recommendations and THEN determine whether or not their concerns have been addressed and whether or not a ‘commission’ is required. After those involved have had a chance to fix themselves, then you can appoint your commissions and conduct your witch hunts, but they can be focused on folks who fail to learn from the ‘lessons learned’ or fail to implement the recommended fixes. Why? Because it’s those who don’t want to learn from this mess that deserve to be fired, not those who did their best in the middle of a completely unique and complex situation, came up short, but are determined to do better next time.

That’s what I think MY lesson-learned is.


P.S. I’ll continue to defend those that I think deserve defending, but I’ll try to do so without pointing fingers. On the other hand, expect me vilify anyone who is more interested in fixing blame than fixing problems.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Oh, No! NOT the football analogy!!!

OK, folks, it's time for a football analogy to describe what happened here with federal aid for Katrina.

Lets say the offense called a counter-trey (running play) to the right (Gulfport/Biloxi). The defense called a running defense play to the left (New Orleans) and set up to defend. The defensive captain (FEMA director) saw the offense set up and correctly read the play to the right. He did the right thing and called an audible to adjust the defense to the right.

So, the offense (Mother Nature) snaps the ball and everybody (offense & defense) starts moving to the right. The running back hits the line & does some damage - driving the lines a few yards deep into the defense. The defense swarms to the point of penetration and is getting a handle on things, when that Bitch running back fools everyone and runs backwards & around the end to the left (breaking the levy in NOLA). Most of the defense is tied up with the initial penetration, and one skinny little defensive end (NOLA first responders) is left to stop the biggest, baddest running back in the league. The DB slows down the ball carrier, but not much.

Lucky for us, though, we've got some very agile and talented folks backing up the defensive line. They've been able to get back to that skinny DB, latch onto the ball carrier, and have drug it just about to its knees, and done so short of the end zone - and done it while still containing the rest of the offensive line to keep them from breaking the ball carrier loose, again.

This was an incredibly flexible defense that reacted to two major penetrations at nearly the same time and prevented the loss of the game.

As LTG Honore has been trying to make clear to everyone, this was two disasters. The first and most obvious to the folks on defense was the worst parts of the hurricane hitting Gulfport/Biloxi and tearing a state-wide hole through Mississippi. Even the press idiots who have been so quick to criticize everyone at the federal level were at first proclaiming from the highest transmission tower that NOLA had dodged a bullet. Gulfport/Biloxi area, however, were leveled. They even started moving cameras there.

Then, on Tuesday, the levy broke. The defense couldn't STOP reacting to the very real, very severe damage on the coasts AND inland areas of LA, MS, and AL, even as they then had to switch focus and find resources to do something we've never done in my memory in recent history - evacuate the whole of a major American city. This second, major disaster had to be handled, even though most resources had already been moving for over 24 hours to help with the first.

Critics of how the feds reacted to two different and nearly simultaneous disasters, both in an area with damn little remaining infrastructure, just don't comprehend what the challenges were.

Yes, that's what I think.