Monday, February 28, 2005

How a stuffed toy changed the World

Back in Dec, the story emerged from Iraq about a little Iraqi girl, who sat in an intersection, clutching a stuffed toy (a present from the US, distributed by our Marines in the area). When the convoy stopped and the Gunny Sargent got out to talk to her, she pointed to a mine. Matt at Black Five was the one who posted the story. As a result of this unusual occurance being promulgated about the blogosphere, many reporters contact Matt for more info. He indicated he had to delay passing on any specifics, unitl the permission came from the unit where the story began. Only one editorialist had enough respect to respect the word of a retired Army Officer, and waited patiently to get the story, and to get it right. Tim Chavez wrote and editorial on the time when a little girl had the courage to save lives of the Marines, all because some people had a heart to help a new nation in the midst of their suffering how ever they could. In this case, it was all some people could do, and they did it. They sent stuffed toys to the Marines to hand out. Tim gets it right: Love wins over hate. Take the time to read his editorial yourself, you won't be disappointed. Do you think you can't help? Can you find a Wal-Mart or Toys-R-Us nearby and part with maybe $15 or $20 of your wages to make a differnet world? If you can do that, you can help in the commission of random acts of kindness. Got to this link at Black Five and Matt has posted an address of the Marine responsible for receiving the toys. In the meantime, understand that Staff Sgt Tranchitella has plenty of warrior "stuff" to keep up with in his life, just to make sure he comes home in one piece. This type of activity falls under the "collateral duties" arena, which is code for "there's more to do than people to do it, so here's more for you." In this case, I'm sure the Marines glady trade some of their personal time to handle the flow of toys. Make a difference in history and part with a few $$$$!

Her son's a Marine, but I think you'd not want to take this lady on....

When it comes to "out of the box" thinking (a polite way of saying it can be compeletely stupid, and competely unhindered by fact, or even a degree of maturity, in this case), take a moment to see what Deb of Marine Corps Mom found coming from a mind of mush at UMass.... It got her attnetion and she needed a little stress relief, so she chose to express her opinion in return. Fair is fair, right? If you want to see some articulate writing, protraying a level of understanding, compassion and selflessness of thought, as well as a grip on the state of world affairs, now take the time to peruse her letter, complete with young Naughton's meager effort to justify his pitful behavior. Scary as it is, it seems to be the fundimental MO of the liberal, victimized mindset. If you can't stand up and defend your position (because you know it's rottent to the core from the start), hide in the shadows and wait until you can, in the darkness, take what you want. If you deserve it, I ask why don't you do it in the light? Because you know someone withh take exception and bring justice to your life.... Anyhow, she did a fine job of communicating an essential message about life, liberty, the freedom of choice and why this is important.

The Value of the Military’s Skill Set – Part II

Part II - Auditing skills Index to the Series: Part I: Initiative, marketing, sales, project planning and program management skills Part II: Auditing Skills Part III: Operations 24/7/365 Part IV: “Point Papers” Part V: Collateral Duties Part VI: The “Git ‘er done!” Factor Part VII: “Total Care” Part VIII: Communications in the Workplace Part IX: "Give a smart person with potential a chance" Part X: Process Engineering, Continuous Improvement, Total Quality Management, Total Quality Leadership, or what ever you call it. The bottom line title: Making “it” better Part XI: The Military's Supply System Part XII: “Red Blood or Red Ink” Part XIII: Constructive Plagerism In Part I, I discussed how an interview for a Navy A-6 pilot helped educate a civilian headhunter on how the military develops initiative, marketing, sales, project planning and program management skills. In this part, I discuss the development of auditing skills from the military experience. I worked for a few months as an executive recruiter. While I was terribly ineffective then, and looked at it as a failed experiment, I essentially paid for an education. I learned several things while there. I was tasked to find people for the computer center of a firm you may have heard of, Cantor-Fitzgerald. The reason I had sort of an in to work at this was because a few of my professional friends had been Naval Aviators and had had one of their friends hired there. It seemed he was doing so well, they wanted more people like him. This man got in the door because one of his old commanders was now on the board at Cantor-Fitzgerald. This old commander did what you would expect, when this other pilot was being “downsized,” his old boss went to bat for him and convinced this firm to hire him. The retiring pilot was a “recipient” of the “peace dividend” at the close of the Cold War. He had been an F-14 pilot by trade, with no college level training in either computers or business, but given that he was a bright individual, they took a chance on him. He was put in charge of the computer center in the World Trade Center office The operation had to run 24/7/365, because they had offices in London and Hong Kong. With in a few days of arriving, he was tasked to audit the operating budget of his center. He announced he had found a few million dollars surplus in the books. The management was amazed, as this man didn’t have a certificate of degree that said he knew anything about this. How did he do this? Simple, the military gave him the skills. As officers, and sometimes senior enlisted personnel, are called upon on a regular basis to validate the resources entrusted to the people in uniform, for good reason. It helps identify theft and inappropriate use, but also enables tracking of the proper resourcing of different things. The process is pretty direct: What has come in, what has gone out and what’s still present. It’s not rocket science. By taking a systems view, you can apply this technique to just about anything where you need to make sure things are being handled properly. In my career, I counted postal money orders, stamps, gas masks, small arms, ammunition (small to very large), classified documents, communications codes, dollars in various accounts and probably a few other things I lost track of. The assignment to the process to count what ever needs auditing was usually handed out by the Executive Officer, either via a formal assignment on the collateral duties list, or when you got grabbed to just get it done. I don’t recall any officers I served with being exempted. If you were the custodian of something, you didn’t get a hand in the accounting, other than make sure the auditors had the records and access to the things to be checked, but there was plenty of other stuff you didn’t own, so you would always get a turn eventually. That’s a long discussion about how leadership positions in the service get their hands dirty with auditing, which is a baseline skill that becomes subconscious, and therefore not mentioned in resumes or interviews (“you mean everyone doesn’t do that?” sort of thought). This skill is certainly a “force multiplier” for the potential employer and will be, almost without exception, be a capability the interviewee has. The “side” moral to the story: A large civilian firm took a chance and found out they got a lot more than they expected, and then asked for more help. As a side note about what happened to this downsized pilot, he was promoted in 5 weeks to managing director of the computer center. Not bad for a stick and rudder guy the taxpayer didn’t want anymore.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Value of the Military’s Skill Set – Part I

Part I - Initiative, marketing, sales, project planning and program management skills Index to the Series: Part I: Initiative, marketing, sales, project planning and program management skills Part II: Auditing Skills Part III: Operations 24/7/365 Part IV: “Point Papers” Part V: Collateral Duties Part VI: The “Git ‘er done!” Factor Part VII: “Total Care” Part VIII: Communications in the Workplace Part IX: "Give a smart person with potential a chance" Part X: Process Engineering, Continuous Improvement, Total Quality Management, Total Quality Leadership, or what ever you call it. The bottom line title: Making “it” better Part XI: The Military's Supply System Part XII: “Red Blood or Red Ink” Part XIII: Constructive Plagerism I had the occasion to sit in on a pre-job interview between a professional recruiter (“headhunter”) and a Navy pilot about to leave the service. I had worked a few doors down from the headhunter for a few months and the Lieutenant had worked for me for six months before I left the Navy, so I knew both of these people at a professional level. The headhunter was a very successful recruiter in the sales and marketing fields. He had grown up in a mostly Navy town, his father having been a labor lawyer. The pilot was an ROTC graduate, who flew A-6 Intruders and wore a Silver Star from the first Gulf War. He had attended a local college with a long and outstanding history, earning an Executive MBA during his off hours. I had mentioned to the recruiter that one of my associates was leaving the service and would be looking for a job, and he agreed to look at the pilot’s resume. I had him send it over and a few weeks later, the headhunter told me the Lieutenant was coming over for a pre-interview that afternoon and invited me to sit in. I joked, having no clue as to what I was really saying, that I could be the translator. I ended up doing exactly that, but what struck me was the inability of two very capable and intelligent people to communicate, as they had both lived very different lives. The pilot arrived and the recruiter got down to business. The first few questions about qualifications and some information on the client and position he was being looked at for, as well as a overview of the company’s product line went easily. One of the first questions was “How can you explain to a small, innovative company that you will be able to help them, since you have worked for a large monolithic organization?” That rocked me back on my heels. I know the recruiter didn’t think he was being offensive, but it quickly came to me he had little clue, despite living in one of the largest ports that Navy has for all his life, except a few years being away at college. The pilot seemed to have a little problem getting out of the starting blocks, not because he was unintelligent, but his life experience kept him from easily discerning the recruiter’s lack of understanding of the military. After a few moments of silence, I asked the pilot to explain how he had been given the task to figure out just how the navy would use modeling and simulation to approve testing requirements for major systems procurement. He then told the story of how someone, armed with only a modicum of detailed technical understanding of computer simulation capabilities did the homework to find out what could be done and how, drafted the concept, briefed it to three levels of leadership, got it approved and wrote the instruction. The recruiter seemed to have a new appreciation for what “junior officers” got to do and I made it a point to let the recruiter know this was common. The result of that conversation allowed me to realize myself, and then communicate an inherently understood situation. Here’s how I summarized it to them: If a successful senior enlisted person or officer is sitting in front of you, it is almost a certainty that person has done the following: 1) Come up with and idea (innovation) 2) Communicated that idea to their boss (marketing) 3) Figure out how to implement it (program development) and, as a result of opening their mouths in the first place, been assigned to make it happen (program management). Many people with military experience just take all of this for granted, never realizing they have practiced all of those skills, as well as an entire gamut of supporting skills, such as budgeting and “human resources,” along the way. I sealed the deal when I asked the recruiter if those skills would be valuable to a small, innovative company and he quickly agreed that’s what this company was looking for. There were other questions, but one led me to ask the pilot to describe his first job. He had been assigned as the Line Division Officer. He had 90 people working for him as a “nugget” in a medium bomber equipped squadron. He was the only officer, and only had a single E-7 to help out at the khaki level. That got the recruiter’s attention as well. The discussion came to issues of monetary dealings. I asked the pilot how much his OPTAR was as a 23 year old division officer. “About $1M” he said. I took over and explained to the recruiter that that meant the pilot was responsible for managing the expenditure of that money in a single fiscal year. In addition he had had to plan the next year’s budget by estimating the resources needed, then at the end of the year, reconcile the end of year accounting for the Supply Department. This allowed the recruiter to see an entirely different picture of the professional experience of the man who sat across the table from him. If you think about it, unless the interviewer has some understanding of the military leadership requirements, none of this is a factor in their hiring decision making, and, from the other side, “we” forget that things like this are top level jobs on the outside (project manager, marketing, sales, etc), so we don’t even try to weave them into the conversation or resume. Additionally, they are such secondary skills to us, we just think of them as inherent tasks required to get things done. So much for a world view of “a big, monolithic organization” (implied: inflexible, employing a bunch of automatons). More to come…..stay tuned for Part II!

The Transformation of a Man....

In the process of reorganizing the links to blogs, and giving each an appropriate amount of honoring of their "lineages," I stopped by one I hadn't been to in a few weeks and was rewarded with a personal testimony about the transformation of a former military member and veteran, from a stand on the side lines kind of personality to being a leader of a group established to get involved and let the troops know they are appreciated. A counter to the counter-culture, as it were, in this age of where the tearing down any authority, or governmental protective agency, is standard fare, as I discussed in two posts in the last few days ago. Part I and Part IA are here. Please get a cup of coffee, a coke, or a bottle of water and follow this link to read Smash's story, and also realize it just takes us, one at a time, to connect with like minded people, to become a voice for a cause. You won't be dissapointed.

A response from an Airman about too much pay

This is an Airman's response to Cindy Williams' editorial piece in the Washington Times about MILITARY PAY, it should be printed in all newspapers across America. On Nov. 12, Ms Cindy Williams (from Laverne and Shirley TV show) wrote a piece for the Washington Times, denouncing the pay raise(s) coming service members' way this year -- citing that the stated 13% wage was more than they deserve. A young airman from Hill AFB responds to her article below. He ought to get a bonus for this.
Ms Williams: I just had the pleasure of reading your column, "Our GIs earn enough" and I am a bit confused. Frankly, I'm wondering where this vaunted overpayment is going, because as far as I can tell, it disappears every month between DFAS (The Defense Finance and Accounting Service)and my bank account. Checking my latest earnings statement I see that I make $1,117.80 before taxes. After taxes, I take home $874.20. When I run that through the calculator, I come up with an annual salary of $13,413.60 before taxes, and $10,490.40, after. I work in the Air Force Network Control Center where I am part of the team responsible for a 5,000 host computer network. I am involved with infrastructure segments, specifically with Cisco Systems equipment. A quick check under jobs for Network Technicians in the Washington, D.C. area reveals a position in my career field, requiring three years experience with my job. Amazingly, this job does NOT pay $13,413.60 a year. No, this job is being offered at $70,000 to $80,000 per annum...I'm sure you can draw the obvious conclusions. Given the tenor of your column, I would assume that you NEVER had the pleasure of serving your country in her armed forces Before you take it upon yourself to once more castigate congressional and DOD leadership for attempting to get the families in the military's lowest pay brackets off of WIC and food stamps, I suggest that you join a group of deploying soldiers headed for AFGHANISTAN; I leave the choice of service branch up to you. Whatever choice you make, though, opt for the SIX month rotation: it will guarantee you the longest possible time away from your family and friends, thus giving you full "deployment experience." As your group prepares to board the plane, make sure to note the spouses and children who are saying good-bye to their loved ones. Also take care to note that several families are still unsure of how they'll be able to make ends meet while the primary breadwinner is gone -- obviously they've been squandering the "vast" piles of cash the government has been giving them. Try to deploy over a major holiday; Christmas and Thanksgiving are perennial favorites. And when you're actually over there, sitting in a foxhole, shivering against the cold desert night; and the flight sergeant tells you that there aren't enough people on shift to relieve you for chow, remember this: trade whatever MRE (meal-ready-to-eat) you manage to get for the tuna noodle casserole or cheese tortellini, and add Tabasco to everything. This gives some flavor. Talk to your loved ones as often as you are permitted; it won't nearly be long enough or often enough, but take what you can get and be thankful for it. You may have picked up on the fact that I disagree with most of the points you present in your opened piece. But, tomorrow from KABUL, I will defend to the death your right to say it. You see, I am an American fighting man, a guarantor of your First Amendment rights and every other right you cherish On a daily basis, my brother and sister soldiers worldwide ensure that you and people like you can thumb your collective nose at us, all on a salary that is nothing short of pitiful and under conditions that would make most people cringe. We hemorrhage our best and brightest into the private sector because we can't offer the stability and pay of civilian companies. And you, Ms. Williams, have the gall to say that we make more than we deserve? Rubbish! A1C Michael Bragg Hill AFB AFNCC
It reminds me of a conversation I had with my then sister-in-law sometime in 1989. We were at dinner and she began to tell me how my health care was being paid for by her medical insurance and how outrageous that was. At the time, I was XO on a guided missile frigate, working up for a Middle East Force deployment. I told her she was wrong, and when she shifted "fire" to how I was being paid too much, I asked her a long question something like this: How much would you pay a civilian to sleep a few feet away from 600 rounds of highly explosive gun ammunition? How about one deck above 20 torpedos full of TORPEX and a highly carcinogenic oxidizing fuel? To live in a place where you could be lost at sea at any moment, on a very small airport, where you have to fly three helicopters from day and night, surrounded by all sorts of containers labeled "hazardous," and books full of Material Safety Data Sheets listing just how toxic and/or dangerous they are? Where people may intentionally come near and try to kill you, and to top it all off, you have to sail away from your family and friends for 6 months or more at a time, missing holidays and birthdays, and trade that separation for at least 120 hour (or more) work weeks? I went on about the dangers of line handling, moving mechanical equipment, boating far out to sea when necessary, etc, etc, etc. I ended with the comment that she knew she could never be able to pay the kind of salary that that "PD" would ask for in civilian life, and she was getting a great baragin paying me only about $40k a year (or so that annual piece of paper told me, when it added in all the cost of benefits i was getting. I also told her I was one who rarely used any medical facility, and I was then (and still now) blessed with extremely good health, so since I wasn't using the medical, she was getting a break there. That ended the conversation for the night, but it's now (yes, I'm kind of slow like that) that she could be saying this in front of her sister and our two children, as though they were unworthy to have me be paid fairly for the career I had to support them....but, Patty was one of those bonafide dope smoking, flower children of the late 60s-early 70s that never grew up. I love to watch good counter-battery land on target with no adjustment, aided because I could directly observe the target.

Is the Military targeting Gays for Separation?

Just a quick note: On the radio this morning, the reporter stated some group says the Pentagon is intentionally targeting gays to discharge them. The response from the Pentagon is this: 37,000 people were discharged in 2004 for disciplinary problems. 1.7% of the case were related to homosexuality. Applying “new math” to this set of numbers, I get a total of 629 as the actual number of people put out of the service for this reason. That sure isn’t many. If the liberal side of the world would take a few moments to focus on the positive, they could conclude that if 629 out of 37,000 were discharged for homosexuality, they could says that 98.3% of the disciplinary problems, severe enough to require discharge, are caused by hetrosexuals. From there, they could go one to say it’s a “calming effect” to have gays in the military, as shown by 2004 statistics. It wouldn’t take much for them to further spin this to say all military members should be gay, so we can almost eliminate disciplinary problems in the service of this country. You know, there’s an old saying, be careful what you wish for. They got in an agenda of more acceptance in the military by a campaign promise of Bill Clinton. Now they have it their way. What’s the point now? Discipline problems are discipline problems, and are a matter of personal choice. If any service member takes up that much leadership time, they are bound to be sent packing. From “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” Sgt Stryker (played by John Wayne) said: “Life’s tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Rules of Engagement (ROE) - an introduction

This is a term regularly used in the media to discuss how our military decide when and when not to use force. This post is just a short “primer” on what some of the issues are that go beyond the superficial discussions, hopefully to prepare you for more reports to come in the potential Courts-Martial of Marine Lt Patano. Rules of Engagement are not designed to tell you when to use force as much as they are to control the onset of the use of force. The first manner in which you apply ROE is to see if the enemy actions will allow the use of force. So long as they are doing nothing to meet the criteria in effect, you just have to sit there, wearing a tactical poker face. ROE are not something unique to the U.S. military, they are recognized by the International Laws of Warfare. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a “rule book” for the conduct of war, but that’s an entirely different post. Back to the regular program “Rules of Engagement.” The basic premise accepted in the International forum is that self defense is always an acceptable reason for the use of force. That sounds pretty straight forward, but one must be well prepared to be able to sanely make a determination as to what moment when “self defense” is necessary. The constant problem generated in the aftermath of such action is well known to us, whether it was something a local police officer did, or a Marine in a mosque in Fa1lujah during the height of the fighting earlier this year. This is where the ”Monday Morning Quarterbacks” stir from their recliners, have a cup of coffee, scratch their chins and, in the comfort of their office, begin to speculate how the “force” wasn’t necessary. In this oversight, the warrior (or law enforcement officer) is expected to fully justify their response. This is necessary to a degree, for there are those few in the small minority that would actually bend the rules and commit an unlawful act, but that is the few of them. At this point, leadership can choose to support or pillory the subject, who is at their mercy, regardless of how correct their use of force was. Several considerations now should be applied in the determination to use force in self defense. First of all, did the assailing force or person pose a real threat? Did the arms they carried have the range to reach you? If yes, were they in a condition to be used with deadly effect? That may sound silly, but an example of this from sea-borne warfare was something as simple as a patrol boat carrying a cruise missile may be close enough to have its missile hit, but it may need to have a radar turned on to give it targeting information. If the radar isn’t on, then it’s not a threat. On land, you may see some one with an RPG launcher, but if it isn’t loaded with a grenade, then they don’t pose a threat. The other main criteria in determining the employment of self-defense is the use of “proportional force” to control the situation. The tactical situation may allow you to move out of range without compromising your position or mission, and remove the threat. A butt-stroke to their jaw may calm things down in close quarters; or the use of other countermeasures, such as IR and electronic decoys being deployed. On the other hand, as the enemy eyes you with evil intent and takes action to harm you or unit, or American citizens, then the use of deadly force may certainly be the appropriate response. The bottom line: Use the least amount of force to get the situation under control, but you are not obligated to be harmed. Under general peacetime situations, those things discussed above are usually all service members need to be concerned with. Despite how simplistic it sounds, I did mention that people need to be trained and prepared to make these life and death decisions. A through understanding of friendly and enemy weaponry, and tactics, in addition to related environmental conditions (terrain, oceanographic considerations, visibility) must be an integral part of these peoples instantly accessible mental “databases” in order to prevent an unnecessary loss of life on either side the equation, let alone prevent an international incident (very much a secondary determination). In wartime, the ROE is regularly modified with specific rules for various forces, thereby increasing the complexity of the decision making process for the person with a finger on the trigger of weaponry. The bottom line of this post: when you read/hear about discussions about our military use of force, understand it’s a well thought out process that governs how outcrops decide to shoot, or not, as the case may be. Add to this that the troops or their leadership have to do this thinking on their feet, in an almost subconscious manner, in milliseconds, not having the luxury of hours or days, nor any “forensic” quality evidence to temper their choices.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Speaking of “Problem Solving” and how someone is helping service people

I saw an Army Colonel sitting at Borders tonight in his DCUs. I went over and thanked him with a hand shake. I thought I’d do that and be on my way, but providence would have it otherwise. I sat down and we began to share and here’s what I found out: He’s a 33 year vet and a National Guard Officer. He is not assigned to MacDill, as one might expect, but he’s stationed in Plant City, a town east of Tampa, but not as far as Orlando. He’s part of a program where they receive injured and sick service members from major military medical facilities. These service personnel are transferred here (or other places where the NG is, allows them to be near their families while they await their operations or other treatments. It seems the military active duty medical facilities are being stressed dramatically by the war, and this program, which I now realize I failed to ask if this was a Florida initiative, or a nationwide one. In any case, it is something someone dreamed up to help make the lives of sick and wounded service members more comfortable. They began by figuring they would take the orthopedic cases, but it has expanded to include people with things such as cancer and MS. While the troops are there, they assist them in getting care at local MTFs (Military Treatment Facilities), the VA, or with civilian doctors (via TRICARE). They give them jobs with the NG units, so they have something to keep themselves busy with. Sounds like a great idea to me, and I’m thankful that the innovation of someone is some office somewhere became more than a “wouldn’t it be great if…” conversation. This is one thing the military teaches people, to think ahead, to work through a problem and put a plan together to fix it…and in most cases, stick with it until the plan is actively functioning.

A call to arms for NOW equivalents, this time from someone in Europe

As a regular reader of Little Green Footballs, I regularly noticed comments from someone using the nickname “Norwegian Kafir.” More often than not, he was making “OT” (off topic) posts, with links to articles about what was going on in Europe in reference to the influence of the Islamic religion on European culture. I chased a few of those links, and the reading was always quite illuminating. Good news! He has begun his own blog, Fjord Man. His first post discusses the growing problem with sexual assaults and crime increase in Sweden. The horrifying situation is that about 80% of the rapists are muslim immigrants, and about 80% of the victims are native Swedish women. Law enforcement has refused to make the issue of the “profiles” up in bright lights, for some PC reason. That’s scary. Your native society is being preyed on by an identifiable group with in the population, and no one wants to say that’s a problem. His second article is relating the adoption of Shari’a law principles by European courts in recent cases. That’s another scary thought, where the laws of your native culture, which are pretty “people friendly” as they are are being overrun by those of immigrants, and they are in conflict with the gender equality of the existing laws. So, how about it NOW members? When will it get so bad that you will stir from your complacency and get into the fight? I’ll assume I’m correct in saying your “foremothers,” who got out to get the right to vote, and secured so many other rights for you by their campaigning, would be ashamed of you right now.

Idea Men and How I Learned to Not Love Them

Idea people. I dislike them. These are people who have lots of ideas, many of them absolutely wonderful, yet they can’t seem to take on the “fix” for the very problem their idea addresses. I really learned to dislike one in particular, a Master Chief Petty Officer (the highest ranking enlisted rank in the Navy (or Coast Guard)), because he’d wander about all day, thinking up great ideas, then he’d nonchalantly wander into CDR Pat Gruase’s office (my division head at a major shore command) and lay them out. Here’s what got under my skin: CDR Grause would assign these idea to the Lieutenants that worked for him (I was one, of course). All of us has shops to run, involving training crews from the ships, or replacements, so our schedule was fixed at an upper level for when the classes met. Given that, it was hard to do “extra,” regardless of the merits. In the meantime, the Master Chief wandered about, in search of other problems to fix. By the way, big problems we fixed, because that was the right thing to do, but the Master Chief wasn’t looking for big stuff. After that lead in, I have to honestly say Master Chief Flack had a degree of honor in his “idea” making. I say this in contrast to the society of today in the political world. Today, we have people who escaped being taught, or played hooky the day it was discussed in class, the concept and skills for a valuable skill: Problem Solving. Take for example the counter-battery fire to the opening salvos of President Bush’s State of The Union Address regarding the reform of Social Security. We’re barely out of the starting blocks, and before the evening was over, the Democratic Congress members had done something not done before: They booed the President in front of the World, and sat like spoiled little school children who were told they couldn’t have a cookie after school. Yes, that’s the sort of adult leadership I’d like making long term decisions for me. Forget that President Clinton proposed changes in one of his addresses, and he got a round of applause (from both sides of the isle). Now, President Bush does know about "problem solving." He’s demonstrated it. Not only that, he knows that there is a time you ask others to join in the planning, knowing you aren’t smart enough to do it yourself. Guess what? The "other side" can’t even muster up the guts to even be "idea people." They say it won’t work, and I have yet to hear how they would solve the problem, even if the plan is pretty sketchy at the beginning. Things in this country would sure get done sooner and better, if was just saw a problem and rolled up our sleeves, mental and physical, and got to work planning and carrying out a solution. In the meantime, for anyone who figures as part of humankind that they have no responsibility to do this, I say (SU)3!

We’re all in this together – Part I A

I don’t think I wrapped up Part I of this unstructured multi-post, but here’s what the final issue should have been: Disrespect runs rampant, from the minor to the major demonstration. When I grew up, I wasn’t bludgeoned into submission, but I was taught those who went before me had some valuable life experiences that may be something I didn’t understand just yet, so I was to bite my tongue. It certainly has proven to be a valuable thing over the years of my life. The message also was there are “offices” that are worthy of respect, and sometimes the person in there isn’t the most respectable, but the submission to that position, and not the person was appropriate. This, of course includes that of the President of the United States. I did have the occasion to work with and for some people who really either didn’t care what they were ding, or actually didn’t know what they were doing. In particular, these people would demand things that were wrong, out of ignorance, or laziness, but the net result was things would go off the tra.cks. Then it was time to jump in and properly disagree. I had to do that in a few occasions. After an upbringing that taught me respect for my elders/seniors, it was a difficult set of emotions to deal with, but it had to be done. By approaching them in the correct forum, and providing a coherent argument, unemotionally stated, things got better, or when I was mistaken, things got explained. Facts carried the day many times, instead of emotional appeals, particularly ones with a lot of “I feel” statements. My point? Where has this level of respect gone to? If someone doesn’t think the President is doing the right thing, they grab the ear of a local media outlet and do a lot of ad homonym attacks, generally devoid of any substance, or alternative solution. The media, having been perverted, quickly trots the videos/sound bites out, and off we go. We need to get back to teaching basic civility to a wide age range of many of us, since the problem has been percolating for several decades already.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

And just when you think the Pledge was on the way out....

I found a new blog tonight, by Major K, a National Guard Officer recently deployed to Iraq. From his work so far, it should be another "boots on the gound" feed for those interested in keeping up with real current events. This section of one post caught my eye as it carries a powerful message:
I was standing in the foyer of one of the Cavalry Battalion’s headquarters waiting for a friend to finish up in the latrine so that we could go to the chow hall. The battalion colors were posted next to Old Glory (That’s the American Flag for those of you on the Westside.) in the foyer not far from the entrance. As I was standing there waiting, a squad (9-12 men) of cavalry soldiers walked into the room wearing full gear and gathered around the two flags. They removed their helmets, faced the American Flag, placed their hands on their hearts and recited the pledge of allegiance. After that, they closed into a tight circle and each man put a hand in the center. A Sergeant from the group, presumably the Squad Leader, then led them in a prayer. He prayed for a successful and safe patrol, a successful time while remaining in country, blessings upon the soldiers, upon their replacements, upon all of their families at home and upon the Iraqi people. At the conclusion of the prayer, they all shouted their battalion motto in unison as if starting a football game, put their helmets back on, walked out the door, climbed into their vehicles and drove away. I was awe-struck and humbled to be in the same room.
I can't add more than to say our future has possibilities if this is happening....

Synergism in Simulation

I’m a computer game fan. I’ve played plenty of flight simulators and first person shooters over a few decades. The more realistic the simulation, the happier I am. I like as real as it can get. Now, a “your tax dollars at work story.” In the Mid-90’s I was sent to a command where we were maintaining various computer programs, mostly all for Navy combatant (Crusiers, destroyers and frigates). We also had some tasking for development of new programs, but that wasn’t the main mission of the command. We had 60 military and 300 civil servants working there. One of the projects that was in development, different from the vast array of ones being maintained was Battle Force Tactical Trainer (BFTT). The goal of this program was to allow ships, planes, submarines and shore bases to run realistic training scenarios. It was a unique project for its time, as the program manager had a the foresight to find out what other developed, or in development, programs were around that contained parts that could be woven together in order to save funds by not re-inventing the wheel, as it were. That was unusual at the time, as program managers for just about anything else being developed, jealously guarded their developments, and their funds, being afraid that they would have to admit a weakness in their organization, if they couldn’t do it themselves. I’m also convinced that they were scared that if they showed some of the working details, someone else may tell them (or worse yet show them) a better way, which would make them not look all knowledgeable. Anyhow, BFTT was an ambitious project, in funding and schedule, and I watched, at close range, some incredible innovation to make it happen. The project has been absorbed at the joint level, so all services can share in the technology development, and subsequently, save lots of money (and that’s a good thing that has been done for us taxpayers, in the name of reason). The BFTT was essentially a central control system, that would interface with simulators and real equipment to present a coherent picture to operators, so their reactions would be properly developed. In this scheme, units could be connected via the Defense Simulation Internet (DSI) and live radio signals, while BFTT managed the responses of the many training modules, imbedded in various systems. The way information was conveyed between units was via data “packets” which were in the Distributed Information System (DIS) format. The “packet” would define an entity in the battle space, to include the characteristics to allow the training systems portray it properly to the operators. An entity could be a .50 caliber machine gun bullet, a Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier, or a SCUD missile. The idea was to put sufficient information in a format that a sensor display would show the operator what he may see if the entity would have been real. Pretty innovative, and complex engineering went into this, all in the name of creating a virtual reality to train war fighters. Somehow, and I’m not sure how the connection came to be, the console game developers caught wind of the work the Department of Defense was doing in this “virtual reality” modeling. Since they were also trying to replicate the real world in their game consoles and computer games, they ended up at the DIS protocol meetings and became active players in helping design the standards for the DIS data packets. This interaction between game developers and the military training simulating community has helped to provide us with the richness of the games we see in the Xbox, Play Stations and PCs today. The military training is superior as a result as well, resulting in tremendous reduction in training costs, and an increase in realism. To take the synergism a bit further, after I completed the tour with the software development command, I reported to the Navy Operational Test Force, where the mission was to design and run test programs to make sure the top level procurement programs had in fact created systems that did what the military contracted them to do. As systems were becoming more complex, and budgets getting tighter, I walked into the early stages of the development of the use of modeling and simulation to verify equipment met the design specifications. The prior work of the BFTT and associated training programs became a building block to leverage from to help move more testing from the real world ranges to the internals of computers, at a quality to assure systems worked. The next time you load up your simulation games, know some far sighted military and civil servants helped put your tax dollars to use to make your games really rock.

We’re all in this together – Part I

This is a real stream of consciousness issue with me. I sort of have no clue where it will lead, but it can be somewhat coherent (well, at least from my point of view). Possibly you may agree with me, and if you do or you don’t there is a link below each post for comments, so feel free to take advantage to voice your opinion. For several years, I’ve thought about the influences we have had on at least two generations, and how that relates to events of today. One recurring thought has been how the differences in how “authority figures” have been portrayed. My perception, and it’s certainly not from rigorous application of statistical methods, is that we have been through a long period where the leadership and authority positions have been directly or indirectly portrayed as, at the least, inept, and at the worst, just overtly criminal. This “attitude” is promulgated by TV shows, commercials, and movies. Simply put, take something like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Wildly popular, still much a part of the current cultural memory, but it said 1) It’s OK to blow off authority and 2) the authorities, in particular, the principal, were oppressive, and stupid as well, and therefore the object of ridicule and disdain. Movies like “Spy Kids,” “War Games,” and so many others provide us with a regular feed of the message that people in government are lazy and uncommitted to doing their job. Since this is the perceived case, then the follow on message is it’s OK to go around them, or, better yet, take things into your own hands, as kids, teenagers, and young adults are immanently more knowledgeable and experienced. They then take on dangerous tasks, and win, showing that the stupid “authorities” would never have been able to solve the problem, or better yet,, they were so corrupted, they were actually hiding the bad guys. Then come Michael Moore, trying to feed us some story about how the President really knew about all that went into the current war, and he invaded Iraq just for the oil. There are many sources that can factually refute portions of what “Fahrenheit 911” said, to include showing how images were graphically manipulated, then presented as the reality. I have pointed out a few examples to support my conjecture, but there is “The Simpsons,” “South Park,” and many others. In music, rappers want to kill police, as well as many others around them and Green Day gets a Grammy for “American Idiot.” So, what does this several decades long assault on authority and basic decent interpersonal behavior get us? We elect a president and a substantial portion of the country wants to deny he is the president. School children disrupt classes, denying learning opportunities to those who want to learn, and parents come down on the school administrators. The rule of one offended becomes the loudest voice, regardless of how wrong they may be. Lawyers are eager to jump in and take on the authorities. Maybe I’m off base, but the lack of basic civility we experience today seems to be the natural outgrowth of the message that those in authority deserve to be mistrusted, and are all out to take advantage of us for their own gain, regardless of the cost. The “reflective result” (that’s a new term I just thought of) is authority becomes calloused and distrustful of the youthful, and even well intentioned things are turned aside, which, in turn, fuels this fire, and none of it to our benefit. As the son of a career federal civil servant, and as one who spent 20 years supported by and working with many federal civilians, yes, there are the lazy and stupid ones who help make for good jokes. In the grand scheme, and the far more likely case, they were (and still are) hard working people, who are prone to make the same mistakes and omissions as many of us do. We expect sometimes impossible performance, and knowledge that approaches omniscience, yet we would never want to be held to the same standards. For most of my career, I didn’t work directly with the civil servants, but a few times I did. Several gave us more than our money’s worth, most al of them gave us a fair days work for a day’s pay, and a few were “skating” when they could, and only a handful were approaching the criminal aspect of performance. Enough for one post. We’re in this together for many things, but it’s a “hot button” with me to see how it’s culturally Ok to be disrespectful of those who have been charged to help the next generations to grow and thrive.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

"Driver carries no cash..."

The art and psychology of those making bumper stickers seems to provide me with some moments of bliss. After all, you have to pack a few powerful words on a small piece of vinyl....and it still be large enough to be readable by someone in a moving vehicle. Anyhow, after a few posts about those bumper stickers from the left(one is here, here's one many of us can grasp and understand, and if not crack a smile, maybe even laugh out loud. It needs no commentary, and what I have said is already too much: Seen on the back of a really big duallie pickup truck on I-75: "Driver carries no cash. He's Married"

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A voice in the wilderness…well, almost….

I generally figure the editorialist Ellen Goodman is good to help my cardiovascular system with spikes of blood pressure, but today I have to tell you she wrote something today that almost lent her support to her sisters half a world away. Her opinion seems to be clouded with a negative feeling about the issue (could it be driven by a severe dislike of the President?), but she managed to quote an expert that presents the reality of what has happened. “Constitution Will Unveil Status of Iraqi Women” is the title of her piece today (2/17/2005). Just a few days ago, I was thinking that not only is the Islamic world of the terrorists threatened because of democracy, but the “one person, one vote” means for the first time, Muslim women will have a voice within the culture. In most cultures, the women comprise about half of the population, so therefore, a potentially significant voice that will reflect a female view is going to emerge. That alone is exceptionally significant. It’s overpowering to witness a country being able to speak clearly through its votes, where before it may cost their life, but in a male dominated society, now the women will be able to stand up and be counted. The fruition of this may take some time, but it’s been set loose, and, in military terms, a beachhead has been established. I only expect it do nothing less than gain traction and will aid in moderating politics in that region of the world. It’s a reflection of Normandy for the women of Iraq, with the coalition forces being the allies that have been with them crossing the sand. It’s a shame that we can actually agree that NOW, and the Ellen Goodmans of the world failed to show at the ports of embarkation for the invasion. The quote from a UCLA Law professor, Khaled Abou El Fadi says “Iraqi women have been very persistent in terms of their rights. I’m skeptical that anyone will be successful in rolling back their rights. The population is too diverse, and the women too educated.” That’s exactly right. I suspect any referendum to make them relinquish their voting rights, now they have had the chance, will result in the men being rightly admonished for trying to take it away. That commentary feels like the truth to me. Back to Ellen’s opinion: “Questions about Iraqi women rumble across an America that has sent its daughters as well as its sons to battle. They echo in the words of the president who has promised that ‘young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming.’ But will they?” Nice, Ellen. It certainly looked like a good topic to take a shot at President Bush, didn’t it? Yes, we did send our sons and daughters to battle. First I ask, isn’t this remarkable in the course of women’s rights? Yes, it’s a cliché, but, “You’ve come a long way…” It’s true, the options of women in the military, which have been lobbied for for decades have resulted in a culture that now accepts women as pretty well equal. Isn’t that worth commenting on in a personal way, after all the passion that wanted this to happen? On one hand, the feminist movement wants the complete access to every profession and every level of the workforce, and this swipe has a sour tone. Is it because she doesn’t believe in the mission? In addition, there seems to be a question in her mind that what the sons and daughters did somehow isn’t going to result in the Middle Eastern women having equality and justice. If Bill Clinton had led the charge, would the Iraqi women’s voting right, which they exercised on January 30th, 2005 have then been hailed by her as some great historic moment? Well, I have news: It was a great and historic moment, regardless of who is president. Ellen goes on to say it’s hard to know what shari’a law really means, since different Muslim run nations interpret it differently. She lists examples of polygamy vs no polygamy, burkas vs blouses, but never does she says the open to interpretation debate on the Koran encompasses equality of women vs the subjugation of women. How strange she might leave that out. The reality is that is not open to debate, and yet, that is the fundamental issue at hand. “No less a woman’s advocate than Zainab Salbi, head of Women for Woman International,, says Iraqi women have to be prepared to follow the lead of other Muslim women in other countries and argue their rights in the language of shari’a” says the editorial. Great idea. Can you imagine a former slave, after the Civil War and the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln, making a public statement that told other slaves, whose freedom had just been bought by the blood of a divided nation, to be prepared to follow the lead of slaves in other countries that maybe had found some degree of freedom? Might not a better course of action be to find an example of women who have made great leaps forward and can offer many lessons learned and follow their lead? Once again, where is NOW when other women need them? “Women are the barometer of society. If women’s rights are pushed back into their homes, they will pull back the whole society” says Salbi. I concur. That quote ended the editorial, and there was no comment from the editorialist. That was a perfect line to lead into a battle cry for the American women to do the right thing, to stand in solidarity with the women of Iraq, to ensure their right to speak and take part in the reconstruction of a society was guaranteed. It also is a telling statement about human kind. Salbi has it right, the lack of the balanced influence in a society denies its own constituency the benefit of that very moderating influence, and they only take from themselves. So, when I first scanned the article, I was pretty pumped at the opportunity to make a positive remark, but when I really read it, it became clear Ellen let her bias get in the way of rejoicing over the fact that more of humanity was allowed freedom. I tried, why didn’t she?

America Supports You Website

If you're either curious about what is being done to help support our troops, or not sure what you can do, I recommend this site, America Supports You. It's great stuff, including the posts from those who have been the recipients of your time, energy and money.

It's our turn to defend those who have defended us!

In the prior post to this one, I commented on a bumper sticker that read "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Speaking of that, it seems it's become politically correct to charge military members operating in a war zone with murder. I can't say people wearing uniforms and properly belonging to an establihed military of a soverign nation have not ever committed murder in the history of warfare, but the particular case right now seems to be a pretty clear cut case of proper military action, in concert with effective rules of engagement. It seems a Marine 2nd Lieutenant has been charged with pre-meditated murder, months after he reported the action he took during a raid on a house full of insurgents last April. While listening the the Tony Snow show this morning on the radio, a reporter from the Washington Times was on, and indicated Lt Pantano has also been charged with destruction of property over $500 (he shot the tires of a SUV that two men ran and got into during the raid). Just as a point of reference, Lt Ilario Pantano left his 6 figure job to join the Marines after 9/11. Hmmmmm...could he believes in what he does, or was he a closet psychopath, in a stockbroker's job, hoping for a chance to kill someone? Not likely. Here's what his peers, subordinates and seniors have had to say about the character of this junior officer. The report is a disgruntled subordinate registered the complaint. Not to say the enlisted don't see what happens and tend to actually be a good "BS" filter more often than not, once in a great while, one of them has a bad attitude and have a propensity to take out their "displeasure" on their seniors with allegations they full well know will end the careers, even if the person being accused is found innocent. The military rarely returns a person that is exonerated to any position of respect. There's a "well, there must have been something to it for it to have gotten that far" aura that follows that person around to the day they depart. When women at sea was still a fairly new thing, one of the Destroyer Tenders in Norfolk had a substantial sized female crew component. One of the female 1st class petty officers (E-6) was turned in for being a lesbian (this was in the later 80's), and that pretty much ended her career. The result of the investigation was the junior sailors she had working for her objected to being told to "turn to" (get to work), so they made up a false statements to hand into Naval Investigative Service. The planned conspiracy to get back at someone asking them to do what they committed to do in return for the paycheck from American taxpayers left a good Petty Officer behind. One day I'll get to a post on my thoughts on how this has come about via the themes from the TV and movies of the last few decades. I think this is part of what we are seeing here. Another part of this is the "delayed fusing" attibutes of it all. When ever I see that long time lag between an event and the accusation, there seems to be more to the story, and not in a good way for the accusers. While all of this may seem like fun to the ACLU type crowd, it will cause our service members in a combat zone to think a few milliseconds longer than they should. Will any American lives be lost as a result? There is some merit to "Shoot first and let God sort them out" in the tactics of staying alive in a combat zone. On top of that, will this trend continue to law enforcement within our borders? The truth needs to come out, no question on that. I'm confident that the military justice system will do that for us. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is well written, and years ago, F. Lee Bailey (a former Marine, btw) said he'd rather defend someone under the UCMJ than US law, as it granted more rights to the accused. It's sad that this situation will run it's course on the back (and emotions) of a combat Marine, now saddled with the doubts of the correctness of his action in a combat mission by those who have not experienced the same world. However, this may also be the forum to "put to bed" future attempts to hold warriors to a standard that is attainable only by complete withdrawal from World affairs and dismantling of the US Military. Both actions would not result in a safer world for anyone, least of all, us. There is something you can do to help. Lt Pantano's mother has put a site up, Defend the Defenders. It's not a registered non-profit right now, but who cares? It's important we stand behind the troops, in the combat zone, and where ever else they are called to serve, and as this situation points out, when they are accused and in need of being defended, as they have defended our freedom. It's ridiculous, at the least, and, as the bumper sticker exhorts us, outrageous at best. I'm outraged and I have been paying attention.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Hurtling towards Utopia without any traction in reality

Life is interesting. Today I was behind a car adorned with the following bumper sticker: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Sharing the rear surface area of the car were also a peace sign and one of those cute little fish outlines with legs and “Darwin” in the middle. The driver was a female, maybe late 20s. Is that too old for unfettered (with truth) passion? Maybe not, I’d say. Anyhow, I saw no stickers about women’s rights, any with anti-beheading slogans, nor anything about the massacre in Sudan, or the Food-for-Oil debacle. Yes, she’s right, we should be outraged. The MSM, whose senior level leaders executives seem to have learned nothing from Dan Rather’s recent “fact checking” experience, feel they can make recorded statements, then, in the very era where the speed of delivery of reports on world-wide events from their own reporting staffs (have the guys at the top ever heard of “file footage?” Sorry, I digress.) confound National Command Authority (That’s the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff), and never be held accountable. It’s actually kind of funny, since their own technology seals their own fate. This is analogous to the Internet becoming a world-wide forum, where the major news outlets can be “scooped” by regular people, being the bane of the existence of the Democrats in 2004, when groups such as the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” were able to mount a “low budget” campaign, that had its toll on John Kerry. Is it any wonder that you never hear anything about Al Gore anymore? If he just hadn’t invented the Internet, John Kerry might be President today. I’m sure the entire Democratic Party will never find it in them to forgive Al for his initiative. He’ll be a marginal, backwater guy the rest of his life as a result. Ok, so the drive looking for Utopia. Peace, yes, we want some of that. Somehow, if you manage to sit down with the various groups around the world, such as al-Queda, the Shining Path, the drug cartel bosses, Kim Jong Il, etc, etc, etc, could you please offer them a latte and ask if they’d be so kind as to give up their power and just buy a nice house in your neighborhood? Offer them a moving in present of a bundt cake. I’m sure they’ll ask for the number of a realtor you’d recommend. Problem solved! I spent in excess of 24 years directly serving “the Beast” of war. Due to my misfortune, partly due to the time I was born and the rest to the assignments I was given in my service time, I only got close to combat one late night in the Mediterranean Ocean, and then it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, and it wasn’t a couple of Libyan Osa Boats bearing down on the Battle Group. Did I want war? If it was to happen I wanted to be there to use the training the American public paid for, but I had no visions of provoking it. Actually, in one large scale war game, I was put in charge. When you are now the last one, for practical purposes, in the chain of command to have to make almost instantaneous decisions, you do, in fact, come to an entirely new understanding of what “accountable” and “rules of engagement” (ROE) really mean in application. I had the opportunity to play the Naval equivalent of “Dirty Harry” that day, and I chose to stick with the ROE. We still pounded them soundly, thanks to a good plan, and we created no simulated “international incidents” as a result. I left that experience with a new appreciation for those in command at any level. War has been with us, with varying levels of damage infliction and “team size,” since Cain wanted something his brother had. Pick up just about any history book, about any culture, and yes, they almost all have that component of bad interpersonal behavior in their background. The solution? Actually, it’s quite simple: Love that person next to you the way you want to be loved. When you can “feel the love” all around, there’s no reason to hate and covet the other person’s stuff, or situation. At a pragmatic level, it is like the Communism, Marx and Engels thought we could have, but they were almost 2000 years late proposing their ideas. On those grounds, you’d think the liberal left would be the biggest supporters of Christianity, but they are juxtapositioned now. What irony. Oh, and by the way, the historical record says it’s not democratic societies that attack their neighbors, it’s the theocracies, the monarchies, and the others. Democracies take the first blow in most cases, so I ask how intelligent it is to oppose the democratization of other parts of the World, let alone to try to damage the one we are so blessed to have where we live in the US? As far as the walking fish thing, I ask this: If the Darwin model of every organism vying the become the best in terms of survival, why have not all forms of life, many of which have been around millions of years prior to humanity appearing on the scene, all as smart, if not smarter, than we are? I think Darwin left that piece out of his mechanism. Could anyone reasonable argue that the development of a highly refined thinking capacity would not offer superior opportunities for survival? I’ve yet to run into a talking lizard, either in my yard or out in the woods. My cat is kind of smart, but I never have been able to get her to take dictation and type up my rambling thoughts while I’m at work. And, let me toss this one out: If I dig a pit and put in quantities of copper, plastic, aluminum, transistors, paint and various other components for a plane, can I have someone go look about 2 million years from now for a Boeing 727 assembled there? I’d admit Darwin was right if a 727 was there, but I’d personally hope for a F-22 Raptor, myself. That’s a machine that certainly could assure its survival. Now, I just realized that maybe we’d first see a 727, and later, when it found out carrying passengers around wasn’t keeping it alive, then it would start evolving to be an F-22. I’d argue that everything has been designed to fill a certain niche, and a controlling mechanism has been put in place in each species to make it fit, much like you put a governor on a public school bus engine, to keep the drivers from driving it at a speed that makes no sense for its intended purpose. Outraged? Yes, we should be. At those who would keep the World on the edge of their seats through the mechanism of fear. More often than not, these days, the planned outrage is at George W. Bush, which ignores the fact that 290 million some of us are all part of the equation, and that’s not even considering the other about 5,710,000,000 people on the rest of the planet. They are players, too. Now, if you’re outraged, just what are you doing about it? I have a suggestion: (SU)3. Find something you can have a positive effect on and “git ‘er done!’

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The run for 2008 is upon us or why the fuss over Condi?

We’ve just inaugurated the President. The next election is 3 ½ years away, but much like retailers having the gall to advertise for Christmas before we get to Thanksgiving, the Democrats have already put the overt Presidential Campaign for 2008 in the public view. Why do I say this? Polls out this past week “testing the waters” amongst Democrats, asking who do you favor to win in 2008? John Kerry, as if he hasn’t been beaten once in the past few months, is many points behind Hillary, and IT’S THREE YEARS AWAY! Hillary has moved to the Armed Services committee and visits bases now. She gives a speech, listing many of the horrible statistics of abortion (yet never really says what her position is – call it plausible forgetfulness when the topic comes up in the future and she still is in favor of it), and generally is trying to make us believe she is moving towards the center. That’s a long, hard drive from the far left, but IT’S THREE YEARS AWAY! (so maybe she’ll make it look good by then). Now, what does this have to do with Condoleezza Rice? I think it’s simple: The Democrats are scared senseless, that the party that is for both Women’s Rights, and Civil Rights in their rhetoric, see there may be a black woman who has what it takes to make a run for the Presidency, and SHE’S NOT A DEMOCRAT! It’s bad enough that it has taken both the Bush Presidents to put minorities in places of esteem and authority, while Bill Clinton didn’t and Howard Dean claimed since there were few black people in his home state, he shouldn’t be held accountable for preaching equality, just never seems to practice it. Just how are they going to stand in front of the US constituency, let alone the World and tell us once more, this time with even more passionate words, that they are the party of the oppressed and the mis-treated, while the Republicans present a real person of substance, who is not only a minority, but a woman? Sorry, it just doesn’t play well when what you say and what you do are so far apart. Oh, the votes that will shift….they cried because 2000 was close, they tried when they thought they could toss out the votes of enough hard working citizens, via the courts, to take over the popular vote in 2004, but I envision the word “LANDSLIDE” for 2008. How could they possibly pull out of this power dive in time to avoid a virtual “crash?” And this is why they are taking every means available to criticize and vilify Condi. They have to try and push some really big lies long and hard to hope they can keep people from voting for her. It’s simple. They want back in, not because they have any agenda, but because they just want to wield the power. Ask Golem what that means, or just re-read the Lord of the Rings once more. In all fairness, I did hear a report that Howard Dean, after being elected as the DNC Chairman (Hey! What’s with the sexist title?) did say they would have to start working towards some other agenda than to beat George Bush. Yes, I think he’s got it. In the coming months, as the attack poodle Dems nip at Condi’s heels, know it’s only because they are going to try and bring her down early, so they have a shot at it later on. Honestly, I’m looking forward to a well experienced, forthright Secretary of State making the planet a safer place for everyone, and the record that comes with that, as well as a “ticket punch” in the international relations field that Hillary has no hope of getting. Condi will be one formidable candidate.

A tribute to the US Navy

There's an enjoyable post on Villanous Company and the writer's tribute to the Navy. In the comments, I found this little movie clip of an FA-18 pilot "at the office." He sure looks like it's no big deal, and the sound track is "Magic Carpet Ride." Check it out!

See what they do to feminists in a theocracy?

Once again, a wake up call for the NOW crowd: I just found this site tonight. I like the name "The Big Picture." Before I get to the article, a quick side track: While I was a merely a young ensign, at my basic surface warfare training, we would go to the ship simulators and practice maneuvering drills, where no paint was ever scraped, and no metal bent. Courts of Inquiry, and especially Courts Martials were avoid many times whe the dreaded "Loss of Big Picture Accident" occured. Being as how the Navy loves acronyms, we had to and shorten this to "LOBPA." In context, you'd say something like: "Yep, Mickey was doing OK just before the LOBPA and his tin can got sliced in half by the CV!" I mention that, because the MSM has been having an LOBPA for some time now. Back to the main point of this post: This link is to a post about an Iranian female blogger, and her experience with the "system." Read it and weep, NOW members, and change your tune before this comes to a neighborhood near you....or, alternatively, if you can't stand up for Women's Rights around the world, come up with a new title for your organization, such as "Greedy, Rich, Whiny, American Women Who Want Everything Their Way, at the Expense of Everyone Else." Makes for an ugly acronym: "GRWAWWWETWEEE." If I have some time this weekend, I'll work on that, no charge, just so we can tag you appropriately.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Another report from Fallujah - This one from Jan 30th, 2005 - Election Day

I picked up on LtCol Bellon's emails to his Dad when they had been posted on Black Five, and here's another one. I'm actually surprised I found it before it was linked on several other sites, such as Black Five. Dave Bellon's Battalion of Marines fought in Fallujah. this email talks about how his Marines took the city, then helped the rightful residents come home. On the day of the election, these Marines saw freedom in action. I did note, that after the Iraqi National Guardsmen voted, the first Fallujah resident he saw walking into the polls to exercise her new opportunity was a woman. Let's pray the women of Iraq will gain their independence as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A new "acronym" for general use....

Many times I have talked to or read stuff written by people who fall into the "Yeah? And what about BUSH-HITLER?" when you comment on problems. Only complaints, never a plan, liberally laced with constant negativism. I regularly think they just can't see they also have the option to solve problems.... So...I have decided to come up an abbreviation to toss in their face: "Shut Up, Suit Up, and Step Up!" is the long form. Shortened, it's just "(SU)3." I put up a post last month speaking my piece on how I feel about the current lack of concern about the National Organization of Women. I'd just love to see these complainers put their actions in line with their complaining, and to realize they can be agents of change. Thoughts? I need no royalties, nor credit, but just the faith that will get a few of them thinking.....

Doesn't this guy watch "24?"

Two afternoons ago, whilst I sat and listened to the semi-local Todd Schnitt afternoon talkshow, some "mucadoo" (thanks for the appropriate title to Frank J. of IMAO) called in to the host and began to talk around, but not very throughly, his anger at some unnamed major companies, and how he was planning to do something very big, and very dramatic to teach them something. Wow, telephonic threats, which were illegal before 9/11/2001, and here he is making them on a radio show that plays in Tampa, San Antonio and Miami, and is also on a webcast from 970AM WFLA. It gets better: After the host kept him on the line for several minutes and skillfully tried to extract lots of information, Todd just tried *69. Guess what? It gave the number and it turned out to be a pay phone in TX somewhere. Next caller in, was a man claiming to be the brother of the muckaoo, saying his brother had it in for Monsanto, was a was a long haul truck driver, and currently out of town. He was all for his brother being called to be accountable for his actions. Todd called the local FBI office and yesterday he reported they came over, talked at length and then left, with CDs with the audio tracks of the phone calls. Somehow this person has failed to comprehend call tracing, or even modern audio recording technology. And, he sure never heard of the Patriot Act..... Feeling like a few minutes of "stupid criminal" sound tracks? Here are Part 1 and part 2 of the actual phone calls...enjoy!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Gunner Palace - My Review

What a wonderful movie....I saw the preview in Tampa, now yesterday evening. Michael Tucker has done a masterful job of making a real life documentary of the real world. The words of the junior enlisted, and sometimes the Battalion Commander were unrehersed and right from the heart. It is a movie that shows you just who these young men and women are, and not in any puffed up way. I don't recall every seeing anything this captivating, because of it's "inside" view. The movie neither glorifies the war, nor denigrates it. It reports on humanity, and also gives you a view of the life of the Americans and Iraqis I suspect you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else. The website is yourselves a favor: sign up for the newsletter and ask when the show will be in your area, and then clear your schedule to get there to see it. I heard him say it opens March 11th. Warning: The troops do what people do when they are in those types of environments, they liberally use all sorts of words, but I can attest it's part of the culture, not only in the service sometimes, but it shows you real people.

Monday, February 07, 2005

"I can't thank you enough..."

I found this while wandering about the web yesterday. It is a confirmation of what a good leader does, he takes care of the people who do the hard work. He may have not been in their chain of command, but an O-5 "in the rear" knew when it was time to give the baptized with blood warriors a break and some ice cream, and he knew it wasn't very much, but it was what he could do right now. Like RDC "Mac" taught me: Take care of your troops first and foremost, as he had taught many others..... Here's the email from CDR Kurt Storey that tells an important story:
I was going to the gym tonight ( really just a huge tent with weights and treadmills), and we had heard that one of the MEUs (Marine Exp Units) that had come out of service in the "triangle" was reploying (leaving country). We saw their convoy roll in to the Kuwait Naval Base as the desert sun was setting. I have never seen anything like this. Trucks and humvees that looked like they had just come through a shredder. Their equipment was full of shrapnel blast holes, and missing entire major pieces that you could tell had been blasted by IEDs. These kids looked bad too! I mean, sunken eyes, thin as rails, and that 1000 yd stare they talk about after direct combat. Made me pretty damn embarrassed to be a "rear area warrior". All people could do was stop in their tracks and stare... and feel like I wanted to bow my head in reverence. A Marine Captain stationed with me, was standing next to me also headed to the gym. He said, "part of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 8th Marines sir. Took the heaviest losses of any single unit up north as part of Task Force Danger, sir." As the convoy rolled up, all of us watching just slowly crept toward these kids as they dismounted the hummers and 5 tons. Of course, we were all shiny and clean compared to these warriors. These kids looked like they had just crawled from Iraq. I had my security badge and id around my neck, and started to help them unload some of their duffle bags. A crusty Gunny came up to me and said "sir, you don’t have to do that..." "Gunny... yes I do..." They all looked like they were in high school, or younger!! All held themselves sharply and confident, despite the extreme fatigue you could tell they had endured. "You guys out of the triangle?" I asked. "Yes, sir". 14 months, and twice into the grinder sir" (both fights for Fallujah and ). All I could do was throw my arm around their shoulders and say "thanks Marine, for taking the fight to the bad guys...we love you man". I looked at these young kids, not one of them complaining or showing signs of anything but focus, and good humor. 'Sir, they got ice cream at the DFAC sir?" "I haven't had real ice cream since we got here..." They continued to unload... and after I had done my hand shakes and shoulder hugs, the Captain and I looked at each other... They want ice cream, we'll get them ice cream. You see a squid O-5 and a focused Marine O-3 can get just about anything, even if the mess is closed. Needless to say, we raided the closed DFAC (mess tent), much to the chagrin of one very pissed off Mess SGT. and grabbed boxes of ice cream sandwiches (as many as we could carry), and hustled back to the convoy. I felt like Santa Claus. "Thank you sir.." again and again from each troop as we tossed up the bars to the guys in the trucks. "Son, what the hell are you thanking me for...? I can't thank you enough..." and they are so damn young....

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Too much time on the net this morning......

"Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance." --Sam Brown I like it...Maybe I should forward this to Dan Rather... If you like interesting toys and T's, try this link.... This anonymous quote is priceless: "Now that the electoral college has elected George Bush as president, I hereby admit that I was part of a vast conspiracy to steal the 2004 election from John Kerry. I don’t have all the conspirators’ names, but there were 61 million of us in on it." News of the Wierd...'nuf said here

Is that "old" digital camera sitting gathering dust?

I'm sure there's more than a few older digital cameras kicking around in bags and on book shelves, feeling lonely from non-use, when the new 4 mega pixel version came this past Christmas... Here's a link to an organization who is taking the older ones as donations to provide to military families....sounds good to me! Pass it along, please!

The first Operation Iraqi Freedom Congressional Medal of Honor winner - SFC Paul Smith, U.S. Army

The CMOH will be awarded to a man who gave his life in order to save 100. I believe by reviewing this link to a multimedia tribute to SFC Paul Smith, you will see the story of a man who lived for this moment. He didn't live to die in the moment, he lived in a way to ensure his men had victory. I noted throughout the tribute, there is a significant thread about SFC Smith's philosophy, one that rang true with my own service: Train, train, train and then train like you mean it. The short term result is the men he was responsible for, his peers and his superiors gurglingly went along, while complaining about it. The significant meaningful measure of effectiveness of the ideals of SFC Smith is when one of his men, who survived said he had trained them to work as a team and that was what saved them that day. Morale of the story: Train for the worst day, it will make a difference.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Hillary: Abortions have risen in 8 states during the 4 years Bush has been in office

Source: Time, February 7, 2005 issue, pg 30, “Trying a More Soulful Tone” by Perry Bacon, Jr. discussed Hillary’s speech “a few days after the Democrat’s November defeat.” A “Dean Scream” seems appropriate, yet that’s not a very mature reaction, so I’ll just furrow my brow and contemplate just how you might construct a rationalization that can connect President Bush as a causal agent in that situation. Was it something he said, or maybe some states he purposely ensured any anti-abortion messages (in 8 to be exact) were skillfully extracted from his speeches and campaign ads? Did he drive by high schools in the Presidential limo, offering a free ride and funding to go to the nearest Planned Parenthood office? Was it because of President Bush’s anti-abortion stance that couples got pregnant in order to exercise their legal right, based on the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973, to be able to have an abortion before it became illegal (chalk this one up to fearing strict Constitutionalists being appointed to the benches)? My brow is still furrowed even after considering these possibilities. Could it have been that couples (comprised of a male-female pair, as biology would have it) engaged in a union that resulted in an “unwanted” pregnancy with absolutely no regard with who was the President? While Hillary inhabited the White House, might there have been an increase in abortions in any of the 50 states or U.S. Territories? If so, as I suspect was the case (albeit without doing my homework), would she accept anyone making a similar statement about her husband’s influence on life in general? Maybe it depends on what “is” means….. I further suspect that the abortions increased in more than just 8 states in the eight years President Clinton was in office. Regardless of what happened in those years, I refuse to try to pin the blame on President Clinton. It was fairly the choice and responsibility of the women who made the choice, whether or not they sought outside advice. Hillary is trying to mask her support for abortion on demand, in order to begin to woo “conservative” voters for her 2008 run. She is good at pandering; but the veneer she glues on is very thin indeed. I just need to file this under the heading “Egad! It makes the ganglia twitch!” (and we’re not even talking about acceleration over-thrusters).

Hillary spoke on how she is a “praying person.”

Source: Time Magazine, February 7th, 2005 issue, page 30. And? What does she view as the “higher power” where she forwards her requests? While it is a matter of personal conviction, once she has made herself a “public official,” we rightly can ask questions to ascertain how suited she is to represent us. I say this, not as a New York voting resident (but since I live in Florida, maybe I can vote there, too), but as someone who anticipates being around to vote for president in the next election. I’m sorry, the rush to the nearest churches by Democrats causes me to think hypocrisy. On the other hand, I’m hopeful that those who elect to work their way into the social circles of the segment of society they label “evangelicals,” will find there is more the fabric of the Church than they have been led to believe by the media, their po1ls, and Saturday Night Live skits. As they come to cultivate their relationships with those church attendees, they will see the "warts" and hypocrites, but they will see those that are humble and graced with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Then lives will he forever changed. If their experiences are anything like mine, they will see those who will welcome a gay person into their midst, and lovingly care for them. They will see support for the poor at levels they never knew existed. They will witness divorces being prevented, and strong, emotionally healthy families as the outcome. They will find out that almost all of the support, whether it is a helping hand, cash, food, a listening ear, or a prayer partner, is done without any PR campaign and therefore invisible to those who aren’t so blessed to be present to see the work done by so many, in the true modeling of the life of Christ. That brings up another point: Jesus often performed miracles, and many times, instructed the recipient of the miracle to not tell anyone. As we are human, and therefore imperfect, in each of these cases, the people exercised free will and were disobedient to the direction of the Lord, and they ran right off to tell others. Just as much as I dislike statements being attributed to Christians, in particular to the Bible, using out of context meaning from without, I equally dislike it when Christians throw out a single verse, that seems to fit, but is out of context as well. The Bible is an intricate document, full of wisdom, in single verses, and larger pieces, but should always be studied before flippantly quoting single verses. If you need to share it, be mindful of being faithful to “the Source,” just as any of us who have had to write a paper in school were. I certainly don’t mean to imply one in their “newness” shouldn’t learn scriptures hang on to. Why should we not apply the same rules in these circumstances? If you led and so inclined, I’d ask for your prayers for these politicians seeking to find out more about “evangelicals" that God will send the messages they need to hear, or things they need to experience. Romans 8:28 comes to mind as an underpinning for this time.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Was it really fair to count 44 as dead?

Just a quick mid-day post: Rush Limbaugh reported that in the count of 44 dead on January 30, 2005 in the Iraqi Elections, 8 of the 44 were suicide bombers. I believe it would be fair to reduce the count of those who died, not of their own volition, as they tried to vote as a more meaningful "measure of effectiveness" to 36. Add to the situation that of the 8 suicide bombers, 7 were Saudi citizens. How can people hang on to the thought that it's the Iraqis that didn't want us there. I think it's more the case of the neighboring countries, that hang onto power through heavy handed religitcs, are shaking in their boots at the thought that the people may gain a voice and strive to make things, including the distribution of wealth, a real thing. Who could really oppose that happening in the grand scheme of things?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

You're welcome, Ward Churchill

If you haven't heard or read anything about this professor from Colorado, his long standing hate of his own country (the United States) is stunning. I'd just like to say, in this public forum: Mr. Churchill, you're welcome for the thanks you owe myself and the millions of others now and before me, that have spent time in the United Sates Military, defending the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, so you may hold these personally abhorrent view points. Don't bother to say "thank you" for I know, deep inside you, you must appreciate all of us for doing what you cannot stomach, but only take advantage of. I am, however, saddened that you share a name with one of the great men in the history of the world, who not only led a nation in desparate times, but also wore a uniform in the service of his own nation.