Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Politics: I love my country, but...

...its government is full of drooling imbeciles.

Exhibit A:

Some years back, a Navy Chief Warrant Officer at NAS Point Mugu sells off four F-14 Tomcats to a scrap dealer without ensuring that they are completely de-militarized first. An error, sure, but the CWO probably doesn't sweat it too much; after all, they're going to a scrap dealer, right?

The scrap dealer realizes that he has four unflyable but still very sexy-looking fighter jets, and he in turn sells them off intact. Two wind up with the production company that makes the TeeWee show JAG, while the other two land in museums. There they all sit for many years, quietly gathering dust.

Fast forward to the present. The head psycho in charge in Iran is rattling sabers left and right; the UN is threatening to send him to bed without his supper, and the Iranians are trying to buy up F-14 parts to keep their thirty year-old crates at least partially airworthy.

At this point, if you, private citizen Joe Schmoe, realized that you had mislaid four F-14s without de-milling them, what would you do? That's right, you'd call the guy you sold them to and ask what he did with them. That's what my government did, too. Kinda-sorta. Except they told us about it in an official
statement issued Tuesday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which worked with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in a 17-month investigation.
17 months. Two government agencies. To pick up the phone and ask "Hey, Fred, how's the wife and kids. Say, do you remember those four jet fighters I sold you back in '98? What'd you do with those?" I'm sure the government way involved stakeouts. And expense accounts.

Anyhow, once the government obtained the information that the plane-shaped objects in question were residing in a couple of museums and with the TeeWee company, what do you think they did next? The smart and sane thing would be to round up a couple of Navy wrench jockeys who knew where all the naughty bits were on the Tomcats, go knock on their current owner's doors, and say "Hey sorry about this, but when we sold those to you we might have accidentally forgotten to take off a few hush-hush bits. The Iranians are acting all crazy right now, and for your own protection and national security reasons, we'll just make sure we've removed those parts. Sorry about the mess in the foyer. Here's some taxpayer money, go buy some burgers and a fake threat warning receiver antenna."

That would be the sane thing. The smart thing. The good P.R. thing.

But not the government thing.

The government thing sounds more like this:
The jets will be partially dismantled and taken to the military's Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center in Tucson, Arizona, for storage and final demilitarization.


Unknown said...

Interestingly enough, "mugu" is Nigerian pidgin for "fool".

3yellowdogs said...

Uh huh. And for all of those out there who are just pining for that "free" govamint, single payer healthcare nirvana, all you have to do is look at Walter Reed Army hospital. If injured heroes who WORK for us are treated that way, what kind of care do you think Uncle Bill will get for his hip replacement?

Anonymous said...

Come on Tam. Can you really tell me you expected anything different??

shooter said...

In the civilian world, "Military Intelligence" is an oxymoron.

In the military world, "Common Sense" is viewed as the same.

Mark said...

Gee, I wish I was a government contractor.

Gewehr98 said...

Interestingly enough, "mugu" is Nigerian pidgin for "fool".

Yup, and this "fool" flew several hundred hours' worth of P-3C sorties out of Pt. Mugu. Coincidence?

At least they managed to buy 4 high-mileage F14 Tomcats. You cannot buy a used, de-milled military HMMWV, the folks at Bangor have that angle locked down tight.

Regarding CYA maneuvers by the GSA and DoD, it's only a problem when it becomes a problem. There are privately-owned Lockheed F-104 Starfighters (ala' Darryl Greenamyer) out there these days, and it's no big deal - only because there's no saber-rattling by a sandbox nation equipped with F-104s.

phlegmfatale said...

The government is crawling with idiots.

Unknown said...

Ooh...I'd give essential body parts to have a F-104 hangared over at McGhee Tyson, with a clear title.

Talk about visiting the in-laws in a hurry...although I'd have to figure out a place for Quinn's little Martin-Baker seat.

Anonymous said...

There are 4 categories of spending.

Cat 1: you buy something for yourself. You care about value, and you care about cost. You make trades between price and value.

Cat 2: you buy a present for someone. You care a little bit about value, but you buy the present based on price. Uncle Fred is a 40 dollar present, and there is little chance to trade that down, even if a cheaper present would be a greater value to him.

Cat 3: you have an expense account. If you don't spend the entire amount you don't get it. You care about value, but within the limit, price is no object.

Cat 4: you are a government worker, and you have rules. If you follow the rules, you don't really care about value, and you don't care about price either. The rules were made up thinking about situation A, but are going to be applied to situation B.

Sometimes people are stupid, but they can be stupid inside or outside of government. Inside government it is just that their motives are worse.