March 20, 2012

“You’d have to be blind and deaf not to know how much this project has gone off the rails”

Filed under: Cancon, Economics, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:22

In the National Post, John Ivison explains why he thinks the new Auditor-General will have a field day examining the F-35 project:

Alan Williams is a retired assistant deputy minister, responsible for procurement at DND in the early years of the F-35 project, and recently he shared his thoughts on the shortcomings of the tendering process with the Office of the Auditor-General. “The whole process was twisted to suit the needs of the military, with the acknowledgment and support of ministers. It was totally unacceptable,” he said.

He thinks the government should write a new statement of requirement and put the whole project out to an open competition.

“You could run a competition today and have it done within two years,” he said. “You’d have to be blind and deaf not to know how much this project has gone off the rails.”

He said that in his experience, maintenance costs on sophisticated military equipment run at two to three times acquisition costs. He believes the eventual cost to taxpayers for the F-35s is likely to be $25- to $30-billion — double the current government estimate.

It’s quite possible that the F-35 purchase was a bad idea, and that the military rigged the competition from the start. Not inevitable, but possible. The criticism of the military procurement process in the article is a bit over-done, especially here in Canada where almost any military spending has to be assessed primarily for political advantage and regional distribution before the actual military benefit or value to the taxpayers is taken into account. Every major project’s specifications are “tweaked” to meet certain overriding criteria.

To oversimplify, if the item in question is available from two different suppliers that provide effectively the same function, tacking on a secondary requirement that only one of the suppliers can readily meet distorts the process to favour that supplier. It’s not usually that blatant, but if it happens when the item in question is as simple as network cable or packaging material or socks, you can be certain that it happens for multi-billion dollar purchases whose specifications are the size of paperback novels.

UK naval strategy needed

Filed under: Britain, Military — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:15

Writing in the Telegraph, Chris Parry says that it’s not going to be possible to resolve the debate over the proper size and shape of the Royal Navy without deciding on the strategy first:

Vigorous debate about the role, size and shape of the Royal Navy is all the rage at the moment. Numerous broadsides are being exchanged over whether the Navy is equipped to defend the Falklands; the affordability and configuration of future aircraft carriers; the appropriate numbers of destroyers and frigates; and the introduction of new uniforms that wouldn’t look out of place in a fast food outlet.

Lord West, the former First Sea Lord and a Falklands veteran, suggests it is “bonkers” that the Royal Navy has only 19 frigates and destroyers. But such is the culture of intellectual and strategic relativism in which these arguments take place that neither politicians nor the public have any idea whether 19 or 25 or 30 frigates and destroyers is the right number. All of these issues tinker around the edges of the real problem — the fact that no one is prepared to define what Britain wants the Royal Navy to do as part of a coherent maritime strategy.

The essence of military strategy lies in reconciling ends (what the public and politicians want), means (what they can afford) and ways (the ability of the military to deliver, in practical and technological terms). When these elements are out of balance — or one or more of them is inadequate — then defence programmes and spending tend to be incoherent and wasteful. On operations, an imbalance leads to mission failure and in some cases can be fatal, as was seen in Afghanistan, where it is doubtful whether at the start there were adequate levels of political direction, resources or military delivery.

It’s especially important that Britain and other NATO countries get their naval houses in order, as the US Navy is facing its own “east of Suez” crisis right now. The bedrock of NATO naval planning has always been the strength of the US Navy: every other NATO country could skimp a bit, here and there (or, as Canada did in the 1970s and 1980s, everywhere), and the Americans could always scrape up a spare carrier task force or submarine patrol to fill the gap. That won’t be true soon, and may already not be true now — the US Navy is at or approaching maximum strategic stretch … and will be retiring more ships soon.

Kathy Shaidle on the SPLC’s most recently discovered threat to national security

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:39

In her column at Taki’s Magazine, Kathy examines the Southern Poverty Law Center’s most recent revelation:

The armchair Freedom Riders at the weirdly named Southern Poverty Law Center (or “$PLC” as one of its dogged critics prefers) have been courageously, er, browsing the Internet and have uncovered a potentially devastating threat to not only America’s females, but its national security:

Dudes trading tips on getting laid.

Yep. The biggest threat since David Duke and the rabid Klansmen are … pick-up artists.

Woodland white supremacists? Old and tired. New hotness? According to the SPLC’s most recent “Intelligence Report,” the latest “hate group” plaguing the United States is the online “pickup artist” “community,” AKA the “manosphere.”

[. . .]

Roissy” — he took his nom de poon from a character in the S&M classic The Story of O — is the Tolkien of pickup artist Middle Earth, having invented or refined the manosphere’s glossary: alpha male, game, wingman, the “anti-slut defense” (“I don’t usually do this sort of thing…”), and negging (offering attractive women teasing insults instead of compliments: “You have really big ears. Don’t worry, I think it’s cute, kind of like a bunny.”).

Speaking of “Roissy” (who now uses the name “Heartiste” for his online activities), here is his take on Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of a Politically Acceptable Bell Curve:

I don’t have an argument with his economic numbers, although I think he probably understates the role automation, immigration and skill prerequisite inflation have had in the gutting of working class men’s job prospects and ability to merge seamlessly into functional family formation.

Murray is closer to the truth than a lot of his critics are when he blames cultural factors and bad policy for the dysfunction of the left side of the bell curve.

[. . .]

How absolutely brave… brave, I say! …of Murray to apportion most of the blame for the current state of affairs to men. Or, in this case, white men. This will surely win him lots of enemies amongst the feminists and social elites whose cocktail party invitations he haughtily throws in the trash in righteous, principled fury.

Look, I have no problem with shaming men who don’t want to work, or who can’t muster the motivation to at least try to find work. It’s not like the existence of self-destructive male bums is unheard of. But Murray DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS his proposed shaming solution with his explanation for the bleak male employment scenario just a few paragraphs above in the very same article! Once more:

    Simplifying somewhat, here’s my reading of the relevant causes: Whether because of support from the state or earned income, women became much better able to support a child without a husband over the period of 1960 to 2010. As women needed men less, the social status that working-class men enjoyed if they supported families began to disappear.

Where, pray tell, in that explanation does it follow that men are primarily to blame for their poor employment numbers? Doesn’t the exact opposite conclusion — that women’s mate choices are to blame for men dropping out — seem more obvious? Shouldn’t it be the case then, that single working women on the fast track to single motherhood and alpha cock carouseling are the ones deserving of shame?

New Zealand facing “Marmageddon”

Filed under: Australia, Health, Pacific, Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:18

Oh, the Marmanity!

An announcement by New Zealand’s leading manufacturer of the black sandwich spread, Marmite, has sparked “marmageddon” fears among Kiwis.

Food company Sanitarium said on its website that supplies “are starting to run out nationwide” after “our Christchurch factory was closed due to earthquake damage”.

Even Prime Minister John Key said he is rationing his personal supply.

[. . .]

“Supplies are starting to run out nationwide, and across the ditch in Australia. We know that we will be off shelf for sometime but we are doing everything we can to minimise how long,” the company said.

“Don’t freak. We will be back soon!”

Of course, the announcement set off a buying-and-hoarding frenzy, making the situation all the more dire. But not to worry: supply and demand has already set in — prices are rising to help even out the distribution of the remaining stocks.

Suppressing one shoot of the Arab Spring, with British and American help

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Media, Middle East — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:02

Tim Black talks about the oddly different reaction to the Bahrain “Arab Spring” protests:

For decades, the people of this Middle Eastern state have lived under what is effectively a hereditary dictatorship. In spring last year, however, it looked like things might finally change. A long-repressed people began to feel emboldened. Protests gathered momentum. At last, it seemed, a more democratic, more open future beckoned. And then, the crackdown. The troops moved in, the shooting (and killing) started, and the summary arrest, detention and torture commenced in earnest.

Now, you could be forgiven for guessing Syria. But you’d be wrong. The place I’m describing here is the small Gulf state of Bahrain, just off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Still, given the brutal repression, given the popular unrest, you would expect the West to have responded to events in Bahrain much as it responded to events elsewhere in the region. After all, Bahraini troops effectively began firing on their own people; and a disenfranchised majority struggling for some degree of political sovereignty, long withheld by Bahrain’s decidedly unconstitutional monarchy, is still being repressed.

[. . .]

As I have written before, Bahrain is the point at which the hypocrisy of the West’s attitude to the Arab uprisings is writ large. While America, the UK and France were happy to pose, posture and bomb when it came to a pantomime villain like Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, the far more problematic state of Bahrain offers no such easy moral capital.

[. . .]

So what of the situation now? With ‘human rights-trained’ police out on the beat, it must be hunky dory, right? Well, given that around 200,000 people (about a third of Bahrain’s population) gathered to protest in a suburb of Manama a few weeks ago, and given the near nightly explosions of tear-gassed violence in the villages and districts around the capital, it all seems far from hunky dory. As one activist put it last week, ‘This is a war’. And it is a war which officials from Saudi Arabia, America and Britain are fighting in — on the anti-democratic, liberty-crushing side.

Australian billionaire claims Greenpeace accepts CIA funding to fight coal exports

Filed under: Australia, Economics, Environment, Pacific, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:41

Australian bush hats can apparently be made of tinfoil:

Australian Mining Magnate Clive Palmer has declared the CIA is behind a Greenpeace campaign that aims to slow the growth of Australia’s export coal industry.

[. . .]

The Greenpeace campaign centres on a document titled Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom (PDF) which explicitly states that “Our strategy is to ‘disrupt and delay’ key projects and infrastructure while gradually eroding public and political support for the industry and continually building the power of the movement to win more.” Greenpeace hopes to do so in order to build support for fuels other than coal, in order to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions.

The Greenpeace document says it is “… based on extensive research into the Australian coal industry, made possible by the generous support of the Rockefeller Family Fund.”

That statement is Palmer’s smoking gun, as he said at an event today, as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and other outlets, that “You only have to go back and read the Church Report in the 1970s and to read the reports to the US Congress which sets up the Rockefeller Foundation as a conduit of CIA funding.”

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