Dependable Erection

Monday, May 07, 2007

Connecting dots

Mondays after a couple of days off from work tend to be the same: a full inbox, a lot of catch-up on emails and voicemails, very little time to read anything non-work related, let alone think or write about anything else.

Scanning a few news stories today, though, a couple of lines jumped out at me. I don't know if they make a pattern or not, but they're tantalizingly close to revealing something significant.

The Washington Post today ran a story describing exactly which cracks it was that Seung Hui Cho, the gunmen who killed 32 people in Blacksburg last month, fell through between the judicial and mental health systems.
Teel (Cho's court appointed attorney) said he does not remember Cho or the details of his case. But he said Cho most likely would have been ordered to seek treatment at Virginia Tech's Cook Counseling Center. "I don't remember 100 percent if that's where he was directed," Teel said. "But nine times out of 10, that's where he would be."

And there, he said, ended the court's responsibility. The court doesn't follow up, he said. "We have no authority."

. . .

Virginia law says community services boards -- the local agencies responsible for a range of mental health services -- "shall recommend a specific course of treatment and programs" for people such as Cho who are ordered to receive outpatient treatment. The law also says these boards "shall monitor the person's compliance."

When read those portions of the statute, Wade (of the New River Valley Community Services Board) said, "That's news to us.

I'm sure that i'm going to end up putting my foot in it, but there's at minimum a disconnect between what the probably very good people who serve on these Community Services Boards believe their jobs to be, and what they actually are. The cynic in me wants to say that they would be good training centers for FEMA supervisors.

Speaking of FEMA, a Reuters story from earlier in the day regarding the killer tornado in Kansas over the weekend, casually mentioned that "Kansas Emergency Management spokeswoman Sharon Watson said because of the shortage of National Guard equipment, the state was rushing to hire contractors to help clear debris." Turns out that all of that equipment is over in Iraq. The missing equipment is now the centerpiece of the Reuters article, which leads with this quote from Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius:
A shortage of trucks, helicopters and other equipment -- all sent to the war in Iraq -- has hampered recovery in a U.S. town obliterated by a tornado, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said on Monday.

"There is no doubt at all that this will slow down and hamper the recovery," Sebelius, a Democrat, told Reuters in Kansas where officials said the statewide death toll had risen to 12 on Monday.

"Not having this equipment in place all over the state is a huge handicap," Sebelius said.

Finally, Tony Snow returned to his job as White House spinmeister recently. Today, he told the press that:
"We are getting to the point now with the Baghdad security plan where there is going to be real engagement in tougher neighborhoods and you're likely to see escalating levels of casualties," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

"We've known that, been saying it all along. We're getting into some of the grittiest security operations."

OK, fair enough. We could dispute the timing of when things were supposed to be getting better, but i'll grant that the White House has not hidden the fact that they'd get worse first. But what does that leave us to say about Major General Rick Lynch, in Baghdad, who had this to say in response to the deaths yesterday of 8 US troops:
"In the next 90 days we're going to see increased American casualties because we're taking the fight to the enemy," Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of U.S. troops south of Baghdad, told reporters.

Lynch predicted that U.S. operations would produce a "decisive effect on enemy formations" by September, but the task of building stable Iraqi political institutions and security capabilities will take much longer.

Enemy formations?

Enemy formations? Is this guy fighting World War I?

Is there really a pattern of incompetence showing itself through all levels of our government, or is it just my imagination running away with me?

UPDATE: This article in the Fort Wayne Journal features many more pearls of wisdom from Maj. Gen. Lynch, including this:
“You got a thinking enemy out there,“ Lynch added. “As soon we do something to prove our capability, he does something to defeat our capability. It is a continual cycle.

Try to wrap your heads around that. We're spending upwards of $2 billion per week fighting against a bunch of "dead-enders" who are, seemingly without any effort, able to "defeat our capability" every time we upgrade. And all the heavy equipment we might need back here at home to assist in recovering from the natural disasters which happen with predictable regularity every year is tied up and probably being destroyed in Iraq.

But don't worry. In another three months we'll have a decisive effect on "enemy formations."

Good God.


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