Oct 22, 2009

Mo' money, mo' problems 

I get a pay raise. Yay! Most everything else is screwed up, though...

Allow me to deconstruct:

Military personnel will get an above-inflation pay raise of 3.4 percent (sweet) under a Pentagon policy bill the Senate passed Thursday and sent to President Obama for his signature.

The pay increase was a half-percentage point more than Obama sought earlier this year and beats the average pay boost in the private sector. (Dirty little secret: this is the last time this is gonna happen for a LOOONNG time. Every budget that touches DoD is about to dry up faster than your tongue after an all-nighter.)

The popular legislation also gives Obama a few victories in his bid to kill some especially costly weapons systems, though it contains an effort by lawmakers to continue development -- over the president's strong objections -- of a costly alternative engine for the Pentagon's next-generation fighter jet. (More on that in a moment...)

The Senate cleared the House-Senate compromise measure by a 68-29 vote.

The far-reaching legislation also prohibits the Obama administration from transferring any detainee being held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba to the U.S. for trial (wait for it...) until 45 days after it has given notice to Congress (and there it is. I waited longer for GI Joes that I ordered with UPC symbols through the mail when I was a kid. The fact that Gitmo club members can come here at all is ludicrous). Guantanamo prisoners could not be released into the U.S. (Yeah, just tried here and then sent... where?)

The bill also contains unrelated legislation strengthening federal hate crimes laws to include violence against homosexuals, angering Republicans who objected to the military measure carrying social legislation. (This is offensive for the same reason that ALL hate crime legislation is offensive. Why are there two sets of rules? Either a crime was committed or it wasn't - the WHY doesn't matter. How can you justify that I - as a white male - could face a whole different set of laws if I were to punch a black guy than if I were to punch a white guy? And somebody tell me the last time that a GAY dude was charged with a hate crime against a straight dude. Stupid.)

The bill also contains significant changes to voting procedures for U.S. troops and other American voters overseas. (Such as? Will have to look this up later, as they totally dropped the topic right there.)

Some Pentagon reform advocates had hoped Obama would take a more aggressive stance against costly and poorly performing weapons systems. But Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates focused most of their attention on a handful of items, especially trying to kill the jobs-rich but well-over-budget F-22 fighter program, which has its origins in the Cold War era and, its critics maintain, is poorly suited for anti-insurgent battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The measure would terminate production of the F-22.

And there is perhaps the WORST part of this bill. There's an old saying: you always end up fighting the last war. In other words, tactics don't keep up with technology or, more importantly, a different and forward thinking enemy. The Civil War was fought with rifles, but troops formed in lines of battle that George Washington would have been comfortable with to mass the fires from his men's muskets. The French set up for a repeat of the trench warfare of WWI and were greeted by the Blitzkrieg. In this case, we're so focused on THIS war that we're about to kill a weapon system that has "next war" written all over it, under the delusion that it's a complete waste of time because it was designed during the last war. When the feces impacts the rotary impeller and there are MiGs on the horizon (and make no mistake - even if we're not shooting Russians, we will be shooting MiGs... and some bad ass star-fighters they will be, at that) you're gonna want that cowbell boys. I promise ya.

No, no... instead, we're gonna spend more money on an engine for the F-35 that nobody asked for, nobody needs, and - more than likely - nobody will use. Don't get me wrong. The F-35 is a great bird and will do wonders, but it can't do what the F-22 will. We've closed bases and shut off systems in the name of redundancy, but now we've gotta keep that widget factory open to make a totally redundant and useless piece of gear save jobs. Nice politickin' there, boys.

Oh, and this is also is the official legislation ceding Poland and eastern Europe back to the Russians, making final the death of the missile defense system that POTUS crushed with his open hand/unclenched fist back in September... on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.

So, to sum up: I'll enjoy the pay bump because I won't be seeing another one for awhile, hardened terrorists may be able to take advantage of new hate-crime legislation in US courts, we will squelch a great aircraft to make worthless crap for another aircraft, and the Cold War v2.0 loading bar is reading somewhere around 50%. I think that covers it. Oh, and I'm supposedly about to get 55,000 new friends in camouflage... but considering the state of DoD funding - like I said before - I think that's a recruiting goal that will be downsized. Maybe we can get some of them jobs building that useless F-35 engine instead.

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