12 April 2007

Two Senators, Zero Clues on their jobs

The following is from Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution, in part:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Yes, you have seen this here before and you will, most likely, end up seeing it repeatedly as Clueless Congresscritters go on and on about things. Lets face it: they volunteered to run for a hard job.

And they aren't doing it.

The Congressional job is to ensure that the Armed Forces of the Union have proper sizing, equipment, supplies and care. The Executive executes based on what Congress provides. Got it?

So now for today's clueless Congresscritters!

Today it is Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) who has decided to parade around her lack of job credentials and inability to properly understand the Constitution. In a series of visits to VA Hospitals, she has taken it upon herself to decry conditions at a few of them and the paperwork involved in them. Thus she gets a spotlight! Here are some excerpts from a USA Today story on her outlook from 11 APR 2007:
FORT DRUM, N.Y. — One by one, their eyes on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, more than 40 soldiers recited a somber roll call: name, rank, company and where in Iraq or Afghanistan they had been wounded.

Later, after hearing their tales of chaos, confusion and shabby treatment by the military health care system, Clinton vowed to send her own staff here to help.

"These young men go off to war. They are motivated. They have volunteered. … And then we turn around and don't take care of them," Clinton told USA TODAY late Tuesday. "It's outrageous. I don't know how people sleep at night. I don't get it."

Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has spent the week highlighting the medical needs of soldiers and veterans leading up to a hearing today on their problems by her committee and the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. Her appearances underscored her dual role these days as a Democratic senator from New York and a presidential candidate seeking to be the nation's first female commander in chief.
Now here is absolute cluelessness par excellence on display! Shall we take it from the top?

Starting with the paperwork, I have some news for Sen. Clinton: Congress created all of that paperwork and overhead and all the lovely twists and turns in the bureaucracy! Believe it or not, all of those laws, rules and regulations that fall completely and utterly within the Congressional oversight are seen here working properly! Yes, ineed, if you fill out scads of paperwork in quadruplicate and have tens of pages to fill out to get a simple examination, it is Congress that sets the work rules and what must be done, NOT the Executive. Indeed, the Executive must carry out all of that and ensure that all of these rules are carried out. Apparently Sen. Clinton does not know this. How unfortunate that she has no clue as to her job in the Senate of the United States in this regard.

Second up: the VA and Armed Forces have their funding *set* by Congress along with all of those lovely work rules and regulations and such like. If you are finding shortfalls in the care being given and the conditions of the buildings then it is not the Executive to blame, but Congress for not ensuring that sufficient pay and outlays for caring for the wounded veterans of the Nation has been done. Even further, the language for 'other needful Buildings' is for the VA amongst many other things, and it is Congress that outlays the budget for these things and sets the standards for them. If the standards are set too low, then Congress can, yea and verily, RAISE THEM. And if the funds are not available, then Congress can decide upon shabby buildings or high standards. That also goes for care giving and ensuring that supplies and proper medicines are procured in quantities enough to meet the needs of the Nation's wounded veterans. Somehow Sen. Clinton has forgotten that.

Third up: Sen. Clinton, with having so much oversight outlook and say in the Senate Armed Services Committee, how well are you sleeping at night? The things you see around you are a direct result of Congressional rule making, pork barrel expenditures taking away from necessary jobs of the Armed Forces and the exact amount of care that Congress determines it will give to the wounded veterans of the Nation. Do you sleep well at night knowing that the people who should be ensuring that money is laid out for this are snoozing on the job?

A bit later she continued onwards to show her disingenuous clueless attitudes:
She chatted with disabled veterans at their bedsides. She heard wounded soldiers here talk about problems in getting treatment and information, negotiating a chaotic bureaucracy, coping with denials of disability and life insurance claims, and making sure their records — and even they themselves — do not get lost in the system.

Clinton marveled at some tales and shuddered at others. "This has got to get fixed," she said at a tightly controlled meeting where military authorities didn't allow soldiers to be identified or quoted.

Later, she ripped into the Bush administration for talking up the troops but skimping on people, money and equipment. "To me, all this talk about 'We're going to go to war and we're going to demonstrate freedom and we're going to promote democracy and we're going to support our troops' — where's the reality?" she demanded. "The reality is what we do to take care of these people who are serving us and doing the mission that they are ordered to do."
All of those claims, double-checks, denials, appeals... all of that is set by Congress. If you want to fix it, Sen. Clinton, then you can put up a mirror and start doing so via introducing legislation and pushing for it to be passed so as to *reduce* paperwork and overhead, remove hurdles to be jumped and otherwise ensure that less money is spent on paperwork than on care. If you shudder at the paperwork these wounded soldiers must go through, then why, Sen. Clinton, do you think your idea for a National Healthplan would have been any better? And, if you really and for true mean what you say about taking care of the wounded soldiers that have served the Nation, then can we expect to see robust funding for the VA coming from this trip?

But the absolute kicker of this is the following:
Hospital aides raced to get pictures taken with her. A meeting with 12 soldiers at Fort Drum turned into a meeting with nearly four times that many — and they lined the hall afterward to shake her hand. "Defending our country is the paramount job" of a commander in chief, Clinton said in the interview. "I think I'm equipped for that job, but I think that I also have to make the case because a woman has never been president."
Dear Sen. Clinton - If you cannot figure out how to do the job you HAVE then why should anyone seek to push you higher than your obvious level of incompetence? Because you do not understand the sharp dividing lines of the Constitution and do not realize that this overhead, this bureaucracy, this lack of funding, these individuals are all provided for by Congress which *makes* their budget. You can, in actuality, start changing this TODAY if you do the job you volunteered for, just like the Armed Forces of the United States. Unfortunately they have to live with the rules that Congress makes, and as you have now had time to sit yourself there for a few years it is you, Sen. Clinton, that are part of the cause of this.

Next up is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who, amidst his support for the conflict in Iraq, decided to demonstrate some cluelessness of his own. For this I rely on the Good Captain from Captain's Quarters blog and his group phone conversation with Sen. McCain as related in a post from 11 APR 2007:
Ultimately, though, he blames Donald Rumsfeld for shrinking the military and using too light of a footprint in post-invasion Iraq -- a position McCain has consistently maintained for over three years. He also blames Generals Casey and Sanchez for their roles in supporting Rumsfeld's strategies.
*Honey, I shrunk the Armed Forces!*

Yes, the backseat driving of a Senator is always appreciated, no doubt. So lets start with the very start and 'shrinking the military'. Perhaps Sen. McCain would like to check out the US Constitution and review those sections from Art. I, Sec. 8 on the Congressional role in - 'To raise and support Armies...' and 'To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States...'? Now Sec. Def. Rumsfeld could not 'shrink' the Armed Forces unless he wanted them on a weight loss program to increase physical fitness! Perhaps that is what Sen. McCain meant? Somehow, however, I think he meant to say something else, because a mere Sec. Def. can't 'shrink' the Armed Forces, only Congress can do that. Poor Sen. McCain - sitting and warming his Senatorial seat for decades and has forgotten, completely, that it is Congress that sets the size of the Armed Forces.

Now, this 'too light a footprint' in Iraq deal is a direct consequence of force sizing. If you don't have enough forces to support rotational schedules, then you have a problem getting more forces in and sustaining end-strength level in-theater. To reprise just a bit from my Dropping the dime on the oil-drop article:
Lets say that you had those wonderful 500,000 troops that all the naysayers love to cite! I mean, its a great fantasy and would actually *work* if you were willing to bug out of Germany! What? The US keeps 115,000 to 125,000 troops stationed there, depending on rotation status, exercises and such like. In one hit you would have almost instantly doubled the US forces and told Europe: 58 years is enough, you are on your own now.

Next you strip out about half of the Pacific Command... What? They have 100,000 forward deployed and 200,000 in non-forward deployed capability. So stripping out half of the 200,000 would get you pretty close to that lovely 500,000 and throw in the National Guard for the rest! And a year after you had put them in the desert, which would be AUG-OCT 2003 they would all go home leaving you with...

Ah, getting the point now?
The point is that to have end-strength sustainment you *must* have enough skilled troops to back the rotation schedule. If you wanted higher end-strength, Sen. McCain, you could have introduced bills to expand the Armed Forces and start allowing greater flexibility for rotation schedules. You did not do that. Considering that Afghanistan was ongoing, but with a small forces sort of affair, and the number of troops that can be committed to the fight from CENTCOM limited, due to such things as alliances and troop dispositions in other theaters requiring their levels, then why, Sen. McCain do you complain about Sec. Def. Rumsfeld when it is your job to ensure that enough flexibility in the way of manpower is available in the Armed Forces to start with?

And you may want to consider that the good Generals you criticize were having to deal with the hard and fast Congressional limits on the size and scope of the Armed Forces, commitment to previous obligations in other theaters, and that they had to figure out how to get the job done that Congress sent them to do. You do remember the Joint Congressional Authorization for the use of force in Iraq, don't you Sen. McCain? You did vote for it.... and do you remember all of those long months in which nothing was done, save to build up forces so that it could be carried out? Months in which Congress did *squat* on its responsibilities and obligations to the US Armed Forces.

There, perfectly fair to hit both sides of the aisle and show their inability to do their current jobs and even unwillingness to recognize that it IS their jobs. It must seem so easy to them, looking up at the President and decrying the problems of the Nation. They have forgotten that it is their setting of the laws, rules and budget that are making things as they are. If they had done their jobs we would not have these problems, although others would, assuredly, take up news time. But *these* problems are not amenable to a change in the Executive.

Only Congress can address these things.

If they had actually bothered to read their job descriptions.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent post!
Thoroughly researched and well written, as always!

Either they are so stupid as to not have a clue what the Constitution says about their duties or they are liars.

I'm inclined to believe the latter, but regardless, I will never vote for Hillary or John.

A Jacksonian said...

Ben - My thanks! I do try harder... or just end up being trying...

I will only call them outright liars when the lie is obvious. Here, however, by taking their disingenuousness at face value and their vituperation at same they can be shown to be totally ignorant and clueless and unable to do their jobs! No need to lie when simple stupidity will suffice... yes, that is the wonderful part about taking these folks at their face value... they self-incriminate so they are either clueless dolts or conniving schemers if they protest otherwise. Their choice now: truly at the level of their incompetence deserving not to go higher OR absolutely conniving and two-faced beyond any help of rehabilitation.

Such grand choices we are presented with in this extended election season. Perhaps we can find someone who actually will show up to *work* at the President's job?

SERENDIP said...

Outstanding post. I think they are all clueless about their jobs. They manage a parallel reality of their own once they get to the life style of rich and famous.

A Jacksonian said...

Serendip - My thanks!

And I wish it was parallel instead of at such a harsh angle into another dimension that they are now divorced from this reality and living in an alternate universe that only they can see...