Mostly Morale

Welcome back to the Scuttlebutt. Grab some burgers and a brew, and let’s talk.

The primary topic of the day is going to be morale: How to maintain it, how we have destroyed it, and why it matters.  Of course, as usual, I’m going to wander and cover some things that are morale-related only by the loosest possible definition.  Ready? Let’s go.
This first piece has been on my sonar screen for some time, but I’ve been tracking more important threats. It’s not going away though, so it’s time to bring it up.  The Navy is losing troops at an unprecedented rate, and they “Don’t know why!” (well, kick back and listen up admiral Shitbird, and I’ll see if I can help bring a little light into whatever cave you’re living in!)

It’s worth noting that when I say “losing troops” I don’t just mean “folks not reenlisting.”  I mean folks deserting, and folks deciding to make a permanent end to a temporary problem. (in other words, committing suicide.) As WELL as people refusing to re-enlist.  Oh, and I have to mention, that while the Navy was the whipping boy in this particular article: it’s not JUST the Navy that is having retention problems, they’re just the poor fools that wound up in the spotlight lately. (in fact, the US Army had 4,698 deserters last year!) The military as a whole is having real problems holding on to their folks… As are the various civilian firms, and the various other government agencies.  In point of fact, “The Great Resignation” has done an infinite amount of damage to workplaces across the nation. But while losing workers at Amazon means you don’t get your shit as quick, losing soldiers and sailors means you might just lose a war… That’s a little more important IMNSHO.

The basic thrust of the article I referenced above would have you believe that it’s “MENTAL HEALTH!” and what these troops need is more time to talk to a therapist without the risk of stigma.

Well, that might be part of it, but on the whole, I don’t buy it.  Look Mental Health issues didn’t just suddenly crop up out of nowhere in the last couple of years.  No one sprayed crazy juice over the nation, ala some bad supervillain plot out of Batman. (Sometimes it feels that way, but…)  

There are a number of things that have driven this current mental health thing, from the way we have encouraged fragility at all levels, to the last two years’ worth of mental and physical isolation driven by Covid, and a lot of other things…

Yeah? You in the back? “What do I mean by encouraging mental fragility?” Well, I’ve raised two children and assisted in raising many more.  Watch a young child when they fall down and skin a knee (for example.) They look at the parental unit, (Mom, Dad, the babysitter, whoever is in loco parentis) for a cue.  If mom is freaking out, they are suddenly sure that they’re about to die, and start sounding like an air-raid siren.  If on the other hand, Mom laughs or just goes back to what she was doing, unless they are REALLY hurt, they go back to playing.

We have two generations now of helicopter parent victims, who were told that it was the school’s fault if they got bad grades, the other kid’s parent’s fault, if they got in a fight, (and GODS forbid that they FIGHT BACK!) that needed participation trophies for everything they do, who’s slightest scratch, engenders a trip to the ER,  and who, if they were at all depressed, angry, or suffering from any other emotion, needed to seek counseling.  The very concept of Stoicism is as completely foreign to these people as Self Control is to Kim Jong-un. They are fragile. Is it everyone in the last couple of generations?  OF COURSE NOT.  But the percentage is way up, compared to, oh say, kids who grew up in the 50s or 60s.  BUT, as we learned last week, you can lie a lot with statistics, and it only takes one person in 10,000 to make a huge difference in the rate of occurrence, if you start with a low enough baseline.

Take this desertion thing. 157 sailors deserted last year, compared to 98 in 2020 and 63 in 2019.  Well, that looks like a hell of an increase, and it is, but compared to the 346,200 personnel in the Navy, well that’s one in .00045, or .045%, which, again reaching back to last week’s post, means that it’s less than a quarter of the rate of suicides for the nation as a whole.   Now let’s compare that to, oh say, “The Greatest Generation.” During WWII desertion rates were 6.3% in 1944, and 4.5% in ’45. In Nam, the rate was 1.47% in 1966 and 5.2% in 1970. So, not nearly as big a thing as the press would have it be.  That said, it’s still a problem and this fragility piece is only a part of it, and probably not the biggest part.

See, fragility speaks to desertion, and to a lesser extent suicide, but it doesn’t speak nearly as much to people that are just getting out.  The military’s version of “The Great Resignation.”  For that, we have to look to morale and leadership.  Especially leadership, which DRIVES morale.  The article makes a big deal of some of the blows that crews have taken about the head and shoulders lately: The water contamination crisis in HI, the shitty barracks in Walter Reed, the barracks closure SNAFU in Key West… And the Navy, driven by bean-counting civilians from GS-14 and up, to people with first names like “senator” HAS dropped the ball on housing and such.  

Some idiot several years ago looked at the management of Navy Housing and came to the conclusion that it would be better (read CHEAPER) managed by commercial housing firms.  Well, now that has gone to the point where the navy housing is rented out to civilians on a first come first served basis here in Washington (and I suspect everywhere else too), and “fuck the Squids!” 

(THIS IS BROKEN, Mr. and MS senator, the military needs to be in control of military housing.  It needs to be managed by the military, for the military, with the military’s interests first and foremost.  It is NOT an opportunity to slide some jobs and some money in the direction of your favorite campaign donor!)


We had issues like this when I was in too.  There was contamination on the wells serving Bangor Submarine base when I was in, there were a couple of race riots, and there was the US Army Fort McClellan water contamination thing that the VA will be paying out compensation for over the next 40 years or so… 

In short, none of this is new, soldiers and sailors have been screwed over for as long as there have been armies and navies.  The difference in morale, which drives things like re-enlistment issues, suicide issues, and desertions, is how the leaders handle it.  Contrary to that stupid broad Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D. FL) statement that we need to spend our money on our troops, and not spend it on “toys,” we need those “toys” to stay alive in a fight.  

Our troop numbers don’t matter at all, if they have nothing to serve on, or fight with.  What we DO need, is leaders that LEAD, not “manage.”  We have indeed forgotten how to “take care of your people” as MOH recipient Thornton is quoted as saying in the above article.   Contrary to this article’s thrust though it’s NOT by getting them more time in front of a therapist. 

It’s much simpler. It’s making sure you know your people, and what they need, and getting it for them or telling them why it’s not available. It’s NOT beating them about the head and shoulders with the latest LGBTQI+ propaganda or calling them racist sexist extremists who are out to overthrow the government, rape every living thing in sight, or any of the other woke shit that passes for military training these days.  Sometimes it’s being honest and telling your troops: “Folks, this is gonna suck.  It’s our turn in the barrel, and I’m not going to lie to you about it, this is not going to be a good time.  But I promise I will be there right alongside you and will fight to the death to make it go as well as we can.  I also promise I’ll make it up to you when this is over.” Then making good on that promise.

In other news, I am in disagreement with the SCOTUS.  They came out with a new decision today (6/8/22) that stated Border Patrol Agents are protected from lawsuits for violations of Fourth Amendment rights, and excessive force unless Congress authorizes the suit.  Look, I’m an ex-cop. I don’t think that having a “federal” badge makes you any more special than having a city, state, or even university badge.  Sorry folks, but I side with the liberal side of the court on this one!  Which matters not at all.  This decision (Egbert vs. Boule) gives every badge heavy asshole in the border patrol (and any other federal level badge) free reign to be all the asshole they can be.  We’ll end up regretting this.  

Next, we have a piece from Politico (a left-leaning news rag that covers the government beat) talking about the report by the Ronald Reagan Institute’s Westminster 2.0 working group.  

“What’s that all about,” You ask?  Well so did I.  It refers to Reagan’s address to the British Parliament in June of ’82 when he said “the march of freedom and democracy … will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history.” This was the start of the “Reagan Doctrine” or to put it very simply, “fuck détente, we’re in it to win it!” It was one of the best speeches Ronnie ever delivered, and since he has gone down in history on both sides of the aisle as “the great communicator” that’s saying something! 

Anyway, this working group examined how to promote the ideas from this speech in the modern world, now 40 years later.  You can find the report, here:

The piece about this that really caught my eye was the suggestion for a modern version of this speech, to continue to develop the principles of the Westminster speech, including “We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings.”

In principle, this sounds admirable, no one would dare go on record as saying that we’re against freedom for any but a lucky few!  SO, their suggestion for the new version of this speech includes an interesting piece: 

“America must find ways to make technology work for democracy activists seeking to wrestle power from dictators. We must deliver support to embattled independent voices in closed countries, especially civil society activists and journalists. And we must provide activists fighting repression and corruption with more tools to expose corruption and show that democracy is a bulwark against the abuse of political power for illicit gains. 

New technologies can also be used in emerging democracies to advance efforts by elected leaders and citizens to promote government transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.”

Wow, that sounds GREAT.  They say “Charity begins at home.” How about we start with supporting embattled independent voices, providing tools to expose corruption” right here in the US.  As long as people like Ilya Shapiro are shut down for daring to say that the system is rigged, and the color of a SCOTUS nominee’s skin, along with her plumbing is the only thing that got her there, in spite of there being more qualified candidates,

As long as people like the “Tampa Bay 5” are screamed at, and canceled for daring to refuse to wear a rainbow mafia patch:

(This article is originally an NYT piece, and takeaway quotes include: “Yet by allowing the players to opt-out of the promotion — and to use the platform to endorse an opposite viewpoint — the Rays undercut the message of inclusion they were trying to send. Words like “lifestyle” and “behavior” are widely known tropes often interpreted as a polite cover for condemning gay culture.” 

“When people use their interpretation of religion to justify discrimination against people for the way they were born, it’s really an indictment of them and their faith,” said the author Andrew Maraniss, who wrote a biography of Burke, who died in 1995, titled “Singled Out” that published last year. “Acknowledging that people are people and all fans are welcome, that’s not something you should be able to opt-out of.”  In other words, fly our flag and approve of everything we do, or we’ll get you fired!  And as long as people get away with lying and defrauding the nation because they were working for certain families (cough Clinton cough) we have issues right here.  

Let’s do something about that.  Maybe bringing back the fairness doctrine isn’t a bad idea after all… We have a morale problem in this nation, just like we do in the military, and part of it is from the same cause.  Failure to provide good, honest leadership.

California’s Governor Nuisance I mean Newsom has been bragging about how California’s gun policies are so wonderful… The problem, once again, the left cherry-picked the data.  Three years makes it look like CA is nice and clean.  That might just be because if they went back four years or five years, the numbers look entirely different.  CA gun laws have been the same since 2014 and most of them since 2000, yet Nuisance only wants to talk about the last three years… That would be because if you go back one more year, you have the Thousand Oaks shooting with 13 dead. Go back a couple more years, and you get the San Bernadino terrorist attack, with 14 dead and 22 wounded.  Now this article: goes too far the other way and looks all the way back to 1982 or 1970 depending on which part of the article you look at, but the telling point is that California’s gun laws have not, over the life of them, made a damn bit of difference in spree shootings. 

One thing CA does have going for it: It’s before the statehouse that it be forbidden for a school employee to report a student to law enforcement for threatening or committing an act of violence at school. (It’s already past the senate) Yeah, you read that right, schools wouldn’t be allowed to report the sort of things that would be a warning that, oh, I don’t know, maybe Johnny is about to trip off line and shoot the place up?  

According to the sponsor of the bill change, Los Angeles Senator. Steven Bradford, reporting such violence harms the student: “Our existing system has led to alarming disparities in the type of students who are most likely to suffer these harms. Black students, Latinx students, students of color, and students with disabilities are disproportionately referred to law enforcement, cited, and arrested.”  Oh no, we wouldn’t want someone who might be about to shoot up a school to be ARRESTED!  Why shit, that might harm their little Id.

“So, congratulations again to Gavin and California. Ranked #1 in Gun Safety, with the most mass shootings and the most school shootings in history.”  Not the sort of leadership one should emulate.

Finally, we’re starting now, to see nationally what the right has been saying all along.  The “defund the police” movement was idiocy.  San Francisco just pulled a recall on their Anti Cop, Anti prosecution, pro drug, pro-crime, DA, proving that as impossible though it may be to conceive, you can go too far left even for San Fran.  (the fact that the crime, the drugs, and the shit in the streets have finally gotten into the rich areas of S/F might have a little to do with it!) Seattle is admitting that taking parking enforcement away from the cops was an abysmal failure, and has cost them $5 Mil in fines written by people that don’t have the authority to do so because the city messed up the paperwork.  They’re also admitting that overall crime went up dramatically after… wait for it… they defunded the police force!  Seems that cutting the cop shop budget in half, caused there to be not enough officers to answer all the calls, not enough officers to man the sexual assault team, not enough officers to fully man the homicide team, oh, and they needed to pull more officers off to run training on things like “use of force,” and being nice to your suspect, which takes even more officers off the street.

This might have something to do with big business (like Pemco bailing the fuck out of the city since their employees aren’t safe to get to work.  Oh, they were careful not to say it in the article listed above; but there’s sure a lot of implications that in general big business just doesn’t find doing their thing in Seattle is a good bargain anymore.   Not that I blame them, I avoid that city like the plague. And for the same reason.  A man could catch their death there.

Take care, watch your six, 
Until next time I remain,
Yours in service.
William Lehman.


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