From a simple observational point of view, our Nation in the earliest days of the new Obama era faces significant threats. First and foremost, I believe, is the knee jerk reaction to the out-going President. That began when the assemblage on the Mall chanted as President and Laura Bush left the Capitol.
Na na na na na na na na
Hey hey hey
A close associate of mine, a former Democratic Congressman, agreed that it was one of the more disrespectful displays he had witnessed. That notwithstanding, and despite what is now cast as an unpopular (in some circles unjustified) and widely misunderstood Global War on Terrorism, one simply needs to examine a few of the immediate first week examples of policy shifts that are at best, worrisome. For the moment, this will only touch a few of the highlights.
Illegal Immigration - the "soft glove approach"
What are they thinking? OK, this started before the inauguration, but can this be a serious tactic in preventing illegals from crossing the border?
The Border Patrol's spokesman in Washington, Oscar Saldaña, told Efe that the "corridos" entitled "La carta" (The letter), "La tumba" (The tomb) and "El funeral" (The Funeral) are part of a publicity campaign to send to Mexico a message about the dangers of trying to cross the border without legal papers.
Our economy is more likely to stem the flow of illegal immigrants than a few songs. Besides, as written in a currently incomplete and therefore not published post, the problems in Mexico are far greater than the flow of illegal workers, whether they become "guest workers" or whether they are deported.
The GWOT (without the "ism")
First there was the attempt to cleanse the rhetoric of words like "jihadism" and "Islamic fundamentalism." So, now, we are fighting terror, but not terrorism? Where really is the distinction, except in the minds of those who feel better about not calling the act an "ism."
Defunding the DoD
I have already been told that the approved FY'09 Defense budget is expected to have a 3% reduction sometime early in 2009. Further, I am told that the Defense Appropriations Committee goals are to reduce "plus-ups" to 2006 levels, but that there is a White House desire to get that down to 1998 levels. It needs to be understood that not all "plus-ups" (otherwise known in negative terms as "earmarks") are bad. Often times, programs of merits find themselves out of synch with the budget request and appropriations cycles (October is generally budget request time for agencies for the next fiscal year and February is generally the deadline for "plus-up" requests to Congressional staffs). Not all earmarks are pork!
Recently, Secretary Gates made a point that country's economic woes (as I see it mostly brought on by greed in the housing market based on a presentation I saw given by a representative of the Dallas Fed recently), might cause a reduction in defense programs and a change in procurement.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday warned that the defense funding "spigot" is closing in the face of a national economic crisis and an acute problem with the Pentagon's weapons-buying practices.
"With two major campaigns ongoing, the economic crisis and resulting budget pressures will force hard choices on this department," Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee in his first hearing as President Obama's Pentagon chief.
One of the programs at risk is the Future Combat Systems program . Another program that could also fall prey to these reductions is what is often referred to as the "Future Warfighter" program.
When the time comes, and it will come, that we need to re-gear up to fight another fight, whether it's a time when we need modernized and combat ready equipment, or Future Warfighter vehicles etc. Jumping topics a slight bit, if the US auto industry compresses, or we lose heavy equipment manufacturing capability etc. We lose.