Controlling the Overhead
In business, one learns very early that overhead can drain profits faster than politicians can drain the US Treasury. In a breathless report I saw the other day our airline security system was faulted because in the author’s phrase our security technology "dates from the 1970s". This is just one of many no duh moments I have experienced in the last few months. The author’s criticism was that the ubiquitous metal detectors we have all come to know and hate do not (surprise), sniff explosives.
Well duh. The damn things were installed to keep passengers from smuggling weapons on to airplanes. The x ray machines and human checks are systems designed to scan carry on bags for bombs. You know the ones, like Sonny Bono bought in Airplane II. Wires, clocks and all that other exploding stuff. Are we now expected to pour many more billions of dollars into "sniffers" to detect the until here to for unknown "shoe bomb"? The sad fact is that we can never guarantee that a man who is willing to give up his own life can not design some insidious method to blow up a plane. Our government carries billions and billions of dollars in overhead costs and they are never reduced, updated or otherwise changed until some "crisis" real or imagined arises. Unfortunately there is no constituency for overhead so we go on blindly spending billions on maintaining things that were the latest technology in 1965.
But be of good cheer travelers, we are only a short step away from body cavity searches.
Montgomery and Patton
Much has been made of the bloodthirsty hawks who wish to smite Saddam Hussein and his nest of vipers. But more good cheer here, they have been handicapped by Bill Clinton. Yes, that Bill Clinton. Apparently the military has expended nearly their entire stock of air launched conventional cruise missiles. What’s more the lack of ammunition is directly attributable to the lack of spending in a certain previous administration. Boeing, the manufacturer, is being horse whipped by the Pentagon to increase production at a rapid rate.
In the opinion of the wise men at Jane’s Defense this shortage will stall any action against Iraq because while we have adequate stocks of Tomahawks (sea launched land attack missiles); the range is inadequate to strike remote Iraqi targets. This would subject our pilots to that all purpose bugaboo: risk.
Maybe they are thinking of re-fighting El Alemein. Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, hero of the western desert is famous for his intricate battle preparations. The Montgomerys at Jane’s apparently forget that our military tradition descends from men like Washington, Grant and Patton. All war involves risk. It is the job of the commander to use all his available assets to best effect.
Would you like to be the general who tells George Bush that we can’t attack Iraq because we don’t have enough ALCMs? I didn’t think so.
Bush Right: Bush Wrong
A new staple of the editorial pages is how Bush is doing such a marvelous job on the terror war, it’s just too bad he is insistent on being so unilaterlist on everything else that matters. Georgie Anne Geyer had the most outrageous screed just this past weekend in the Dallas Morning News.
Like most liberal columnists she proceeds from the assumption that her views are the correct views. She wasted not one word attempting to make her case for Kyoto or retaining the ABM treaty. She just assumed that the great unwashed shared her views. Bush, the genial idiot, was falling back into his old habit of bowing to the extreme right. Yup, that’s it in a nut shell. Brilliant war leader, domestic dolt. Somehow I just don’t think the American voters can hold those two conflicting views at the same time.
Perhaps the level of their invective is the greatest tribute to the wisdom of Bush’s policies.