Thursday, March 31, 2005

Procurement programs and "Divine Wind" - Lessons Learned

Last Sunday I spent the day being lazy. From the late afternoon and into the evening, either on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, or National Geographic Channel, there was a series of documentaries on Genghis Khan, and his son, Kabuli Khan. I caught it from the beginning, when Genghis Khan’s father was murdered, thru the sinking of the great Mongol Fleet off Japan in 1281. It was fascinating. There's a link near the end of this article, because that's where it belongs in this story (that's a hint to the drive by readers here to hang on for the good stuff). One of the early notes I took mentally, was how Genghis Khan began to really consolidate his power when he made his military a meritocracy, and got rid of the tribal associations. This has a parallel in the entire history of the US Military, unlike many other countries, who, even today, rely on a class system of sorts to determine who leads and who follows. If there’s any question that letting people get ahead, in any form of endeavor, based on their ability to perform, look at our economy, and our military. It’s a win-win through history. Genghis Khan controlled 4 times the territory of Alexander the great. I knew he took over a lot, including Rome, but I didn’t realize it was that much. I’m sure the meritocracy has something to do with that. Lots of other good lessons in the entire story, but the end was the most fascinating to me. It was the story in which the Kamikaze or "Divine Wind" philosophy came from. It seems, as the Mongols were laying offshore at anchor, trying to figure out, after one attempted amphibious assault, to successfully create a beachhead, as super typhoon came from the south. Some Chinese researchers went diving for evidence of the fleet and finally found the sunken ships, beginning with the finding of an anchor. They eventually found ten anchors. They analyzed the positions they found them in, and all of them had been dug in, pointing southwards. The show followed the research thru the work with storm experts and realized the fleet of 4400 ships (about the same number that invaded Normandy) were sunk for two main reasons. 1) No warning system (duh!) 2) Most of the vessels were not the 230 ft long ocean going ships, with watertight bulkheads and keels, they had been craft designed to operate in the Chinese rivers. Why does it matter that they were river boats? They had flat bottoms, and were not equipped with a deep keel, which would have provided some resistance to the wind’s force to try to capsize the ships. It gets better. They looked at the workmanship of the blocks on the lower decks of the ships where the masts were "stepped in," and realized the quality was very poor and would have allowed a masts to twist, and in a strong wind, most likely shear off. The analysis continued, trying to determine how these things could have happened. They realized the workers who made the ships were the conquered Chinese, who were now slaves, but they had the ship building skills. Obviously, the conquerors weren’t treating them well, so you can imagine they sort of cut the holes for the mast slightly large. Crafty guys. We’d call that "sabotage" today. The next interesting point, was the fleet of 4400 vessels was built in one year. Kublai Kahn had insisted in rushing the building of the invasion fleet, and making the river boats was faster. This speaks to today and our military procurement process for major systems. While many didn’t like McNamara, he did bring a better decision making process to the table, which was good, and continues to be good to the tax payers today. Had Kublai Khan spent some time following this type of thought process, he would have build a better naval force, and possibly had some of it left over after the storm to consolidate and try again. Lessons learned from the guys back in 1200 AD: Analyze your enemy and build the right thing to take them on. Oh, yeah, let the people who are the best rise up and do what they do best. My last six months in the Navy was spent at Operational Test Force. That command is charged with ensuring top level systems being purchased perform to the contract specs, which have been derived by the Fleet. It’s an important job, and can’t be rushed. The Marine Major in the desk next to mine was the Project Manager for the V-22 Osprey. We’re still not done making sure it does the job, but that was 11 years ago. Good procurements of major systems take time, and it’s important the taxpayer gets what they need. And on that note, link over there to "The Wrong Army." As you read it, think about the procurement process, and it’s time line (which we used to use 12 years for the nominal major system to take from drafting boards to IOC (Initial Operating Capability). I agree wholeheartedly with Chief Edwards. He did a great job on that editorial.

After the Felos News Conference

Once more, just after hearing this guy, my blodd pressure is up. Thankfully, I have really great blood pressure, so it's aggravation, but not life threathening. AN open comment to Mr George Felos: George, the biggest lesson in my life is when it's the "right thing," no explanation is needed. You took about 20 minutes.... He referred to Terri "entering her final death sequence." Wow! I think he really meant to say "final life sequence." Life does has some sort of gas exchange system, and ability to control bodily functions. Terri certainly was living, so I'd say she has now entered her initail stages of death, and completed her final stages of life. Thanks for the information saying Terri needed to have a death with dignity. I agree. Who was it keep ithe family away from her all these years? It wasn't any one from the Schindler's side...And, I suspect he was afraid Bobby Schindler would have taken Michael's head off, right there at the bedside. I do like the question: Since everyone knew this day would come, why didn't anybody paln for how to handle this(implied to have the families in there at the same time)? What a great lawyer answer, something like "I dunno." Let me see, you can use all the medical words about the "death process," yet you can't figure out how to manage all the family being present for the death. That dog just don't hunt.... And the gaul of George Felos to functionally demand that all the priests and family and protestors and politicians and the Governor, all see it his was for healing to happen. George, I'm sorry your client was called a murderer, but I want to know when the wedding announcements will be coming out...... His further comments about all the power of the government sticking their nose into family business, another clue to George: That's what they do all the time. You're a lawyer, look up domestic violence. How about child abuse? Smart people without one shred of common sense. And, the really big clue: ELIAN GONZALES, you smuck! Worse yet, an America that didn't recall more than "there are three branches of government" from civics. Once more, I thank NEA for helping make "us" so stupid (not ignorant, for the information is there for the reading) that we don't even know what is supposed to be happening in the government. Enough for now. Another step down the slippery slope....

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

"Is there a bunch of Chiefs following him?"

A little "humor in uniform" from one day during my XO tour, most likely about mid-1989: It was lunch time during a regular in port work week in Charleston, SC. I can't recall why, but the Captain wasn't aboard for some reason. As might be expected most of the officers were sitting around the Wardroom table when the Officer of the Deck (OOD) called from the Quaterdeck and asked me to give him a decision. Situation: We were berthed at Pier "Zulu" (where they put you during short maintenace periods), which, like the other piers, had been equipped with a gate at the end of the pier, in order to control access to the ships. Each of the ships berthed there took turns putting a petty officer (E-4 to E-6) in the guard shack to check IDs and other authorizing paperwork for contractors, etc. What happened: The OOD had received a radio call from the petty officer at the gate, saying there was a man at the gate, claiming to be the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), accompanied with a photographer, and he wanted to come down the pier to have some pictures taken. The problem noted by the petty officer was the man had an ID card, which indicated his paygrade was E-9, but his insignia (an anchor with three stars) showed he was an E-10. For most all of us, we think E-9 is the highest paygrade, but there is an E-10, specifically for the MCPON (and I'm sure for the senior enlisted person of each service). Therefore, the petty officer saw a discrepancy, and suspected this may be someone trying to illegally gain access and take all sorts of unauthorized photos. Great call on his part. Besides that real world consideration, the Squadron and Group staffs would constantly test the system, to see if our people on watch let someone through. I pondered the situation for a moment and asked the OOD to call back on the radio and ask if there were a whole bunch of chief petty officer types all following this guy. The OOD did and responded no, it was just this guy and a camera man. For those of you in the service, the rest of my response needs no explanation. For you who haven't been in, I said something like: "Well, then it obviously can't be the MCPON, because all the 'politicians' would be (let me be polite about this) mere inches behind him, risking a broken nose if the MCPON stopped." Of course, the chuckle on the phone and laughter at the wardroom table ensued. The man was turned away by the E-5 on watch. About 5 days later, the Captain calls me to read the mail he received. A short, handwritten note from the MCPON to the CO said he was writing to let the Captain know the fine job one of his petty officers had done that day, asking to pass on his "Well Done." He also noted he had failed to update his ID card, and had gotten back to DC and done that right away as a result. We xeroxed that note and hung a copy on the Plan of the Day for the following day, and a few days later, the CO awarded a Letter of Achievement to this young man, who stood his watch properly.

Courage, Leadership and Friendship - Here's a model

Digging about the blogosphere, I came acoss a plea to visit the site of The Irish Lass, where she was posting a series of articles as a tribute to a California politician, B.T. Collins, who had been a wounded Vietnam Vet. I read thru a the series and came upon a speech B.T. Collins made about a man who showed up to be his Company Commander, Sam Bird, in the boonies of Vietnam. In a short read, there are incredible messages about leadership, gratitude, courage, and a friendship. It may have been written because of a war that is fading with time, but the lessons are timeless.

"Under Construction" here

I have a new drive sitting beside the big beast and besides the fact I spent good moeny on it, the current drive is acting strangely. It's time to back up and then swap drives and rebuild. For the next few days, I'll be in the data salvaging and reassembly mode, so I may not be making many posts during that time. I still have my trusty TC1000 tablet PC, so I'll most likely get a few posts done I've had rolling about in my head. If you're coming regularly, as I see some of you are, please don't get discouraged and abandon the check ins if it gets a little stale this week. In the meantime, here's a link to the association of men who served on the ASHVILLE Class gunboats, back in the late 60s-early 70s. Armed with a 3"/50cal, and some smaller arms, as well as surface launched versions of anit-radiation missiles, they were powered by diesels or a J-79 jet turbine, the same engine the F-4 Phantom used. They could get up and go. One officer I served under had been a CO of one of these boats during Vietnam and had some great stories to tell. I found the link after I got to emailing the author of Bowramp, a retired Navy Mustang. He had been one one of these classes of boats as well. I'll be back in a few days, or sooner, depending on how easily the rebuild of the data goes. Thanks for stopping by.....

I met another "piece" of history

Yesterday, I had we had to run out and do some repairs and pick up somethings to be refurbished. The owner was an elderly gentleman, and I noticed a stack of Kit Plane magazines on a table in the house. I asked if he had flown them and he tolds me, no, he didn't but he liked flying and figured that was the only kind of plane he could afford. He then volunteered he had once flown in the Army, many years ago. I sked what he had flown, and he told me he had flown C-47s and gliders. Well, not only was he just an Army Air Corps pilot, he had flown on D-Day. We didn't have much time there, but he showed me a few pictures of himself and his co-pilot, then and now at a reunion, and told me he did some public speaking to tell the story of what the gliders did, so the history wouldn't be lost. I let him know I'd enjoy attending next time he did that. They are all around us, the men and women, who were once youngand left home to fight the wars of our past. Sometimes we don't get the chance to find out that the person we are talking to was one of them. About a year ago, I was in line at the groocery store and the man behind me quipped "hurry up and wait." I asked what service he had been in and he said "I was in the Air Force, but they called it the Army Air Corps back then." We then struck up a conversation, and found out he had been a B-17 bombadier in Europe, with 27 missions to his credit. The humbling thing was to hear this man, very matter of factly say, he didn't have it bad, that his friend, who had been with Merrill's Marauders in the Pacific, living behind the Japanese lines, and eating what they could scrounge of the land. were the one who had is bad. He said the raids over germany were only about 30 minutes of combat, the rest of the time was just getting there, and getting back, usually pretty uneventful. A few weeks back, a man come into the office and we bagen atlking and he had been a soldier in the Okinawa invasion and later landed in Japan and was part of the occupying force. We discussed that briefly, but then he got into telling some of the real stories of what soldiers do when they are not fighting, which generally involved "borrowing" government equipment to better one's own unit's standard of living. He also talked at length about how a few of them realized how they could execute a sort of money laundering thing by trading the military script fo Yne and then to dollars and make some exceedingly high return on their meager pay, unitl the people up the line realized the loop hole and closed it off. He calimed to have come home with a pretty good bit of money in the bottom of his barraks bag, hidden under his uniform items. I asked him how it had been in Japan as far as violence. He said in the first area they were sent, they had no problems. He recalled marching into one town and the Japanese police were at the intersections, saluting the units. There were no people on the streets, but sometimes, you'd see one of their doors cracked open, with a few sets of eyes peering out. The second place he was in initially had some problems and the order went out to turn in all weapons in three days, and after that, if you were caught with a weapon, you would be executed. He said the mountains of weaponry was incredible. rifles, swords, knifes of all eras were brought forward. Each of the soldiers were allowed to pick out one rifle, one sword and one knife to take home. Many of the swords he said were old family heirloom samurai swords. He had brought them home and given them to his brother. Anyhow, those are some first person stories, you generally won't find in the press, but it's even better when it's living history to me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Fallen Heros Display

A tribute to over 1300 service members is on display at Arlington. Defense Link Article

A Marine Lieutenant's Report from Fallujah

This showed up in my email. Just read this and have one more article that speaks to the intelligence and compassion of the people who are at the pointy end of the spear. He included his email, so I assume it's fine to spread this around...
The letter below was written by a Marine lieutanant about to rotate home from Iraq. An eloquent summation of the situation and one far different from that which is found in most media reports. -------------------------------- To All, This will be my final letter from Iraq. I will be leaving the country in the next week and should be home in the United State soon after. Spring is now here in Iraq. The weather is pleasantly warm with the occasional sunny day. On a recent trip, I flew in a helicopter North of Baghdad over miles of small farms, criss-crossed by irrigation canals, each surrounded by bright green fields. It all gave an impression of timelessness, life unchanging but for the season. In the days since the elections it has been very quiet here and all my Marines remain safe. Everyone is very ready to go home. Before I give my final impressions of Iraq, I have one final experience to relate. Recently I spent several days in Fallujah. As the largest battle fought in this war and the most brutal fight for the Marine Corps since Vietnam, the name "Fallujah" tends to engender visions of smoke and fire, death in the streets. I cannot speak for the condition of the city before and during the assault but what I witnessed was perhaps the most secure and peaceful urban area I have yet encountered in Iraq, including the Green Zone. For four days on security patrols in and around the city I did not even once hear the report of gunfire in anger or the echo of an explosion. Of course, when you systematically kill or capture every insurgent in a completely cordoned city and search, blast or burn every single structure, you can expect resistance to become light or nonexistent. My hosts were the warriors of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, who fought along the regiment's right flank during the battle and back-cleared the entire Northern sector of the city following the operation's conclusion. These men fought a grisly, tedious and exhausting battle street-by-street, block-by-block for almost two months. For all my imagination, until I walked the streets, listened to the stories, saw the pictures and read the after action reports I had no concept of what a fight it had been. Covering enemy dead with ponchos as they went, they killed Muj (as they nicknamed the insurgents) in the streets or toppled buildings on top of them with mortars, artillery and aerial bombardment. They shot dogs and cats caught feasting on the dead, found the mutilated corpse of aid worker Margaret Hassan, discovered a torture chamber with full suits of human skin and refrigerated body parts right out of "Silence of the Lambs", opened a cellar with chained men who had starved to death and broke down doors to find rooms full of corpses, hands tied behind their backs, bullet holes in the back of their heads. These are just in the pictures I saw. The enemy they encountered was fanatical and often fought as if pumped up on drugs. His ethnicity was varied and his tactics ranged from insurgents attempting to cross the Euphrates River on inflated beach balls to houses detonated on top of Marines as they entered the first floor. As I listened to the stories I Had visions of Henry V's warning before the walls of Harfleur to "take pity of your town and of your people, whiles yet my soldiers are in my command; whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace o'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds of heady murder, spoil and villany." I thought of all the times in history where invaders had systematically destroyed a city, extinguishing the population and sowing salt in the earth. Yet, for the battle damage on all sides, the city of Fallujah had more children and a more industrious citizenry than any other I encountered here in Iraq. Almost every house had been re-occupied following the invasion, gutters cleaned of garbage, white flags flying over newly patched garden walls, "Family Inside" written in large letters in both English and Arabic. Marines control access to the city; Marines mediate civic disputes; Marines provide food, water and are protecting those who are repairing city infrastructure; Marines patrol the streets, policing both the citizens of Fallujah and the Iraqi Army who sometimes abuse their authority. Fallujah is a city on lockdown and ironically is probably the safest and most progressive place in Iraq right now. I now understand why the citizens in a nearby neighborhood here in Baghdad worriedly asked the Army command we are attached to "What have we done? Why are Marines here?" when we began to patrol there. With that experience, I more or less close my time here in Iraq. I have a few more hurdles to overcome before I am home but now all tasks are related to ensuring a safe journey there. Reflecting on what I have seen here in Iraq, the overwhelming emotion I feel is of pride, not In myself or even in my Marines, but in being an American. Patriotic sentiments tend to gravitate between cliché and taboo in the sensibilities of popular culture but if I was not defined before as a "patriot", I am now. I am very proud to have been a small part of this effort and to come from a nation where not only could such an effort be sustained but whose aim was the betterment of another people a world away. A few months ago, I was walking at night through a logistics yard and as I weaved between mountainous stacks of crates stamped with the names of a dozen nations, I was struck by how fortunate I was to be an American. The perspective bordered on the sublime. Just outside the wall lived people in poverty and squalor who had been subjected to their lot by a tyrannical ethnic and political minority who shrugged off human misery with the medieval belief that it was the "will of Allah." Not much has changed in the Middle East in the last few thousands of years, except for the religion and identity of the tyrant in question. Just South of where I sit now, in the city of Babylon in the 5th Century B.C., the Persian Xerxes planned his doomed invasion of Greece, his logisticians collecting mountains of supplies, compiled from the labors of subject millions. There is no difference between that tyrant 2500 years ago and Saddam Hussein whose palaces dot across this country like vainglorious lesions, one built just miles away from here, complete with fresh water dolphins in artificial lakes, observation towers with night clubs, and irrigated tree-lined walks, built in the midst of international sanctions levied against his country. As I stood dwarfed by piles of water bottles and phone cable I realized two distinctions. The first is this: as countless millions of dollars are spent, what American citizen can truly point to the cost that this war has had on his quality of living? What a magnificent nation we live in where we can wage so massive an effort without bankrupting our citizenry in the process. The second contrast is our motive: for all the insinuations of imperialism, corporate benefit and hawkish war-mongering, the most dramatic moments I witnessed here revolved around an election not an exploitation. What other nation would spend such sums to give a people so far away self-determination? I am not advocating war. Being so far from home for so long, smelling and seeing the dead and placing Marines in harm's way are not truly enjoyable experiences. Yet I agree wholeheartedly with the much-criticized statement by General Mattis, it IS fun to wage war against a foe who seeks only his own self-gratification, who tortures, murders and abuses the weak. You can opine all day long about Wilsonian self-determination, but without the will to do what is necessary to make such visions reality, they remain mere words. In short, as I give my farewell to this country in the next week, I leave with overwhelming pride in being an American and an unshakable belief, based in what I have seen here, that this effort will not fail. Whatever comes in Iraq, the impact of this invasion will not be as that of every other conqueror, relegated to a wind worn mound of stones in the desert. I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read these often-verbose letters. Just being able to write to this audience has been a great stress relief. I especially want to express my gratitude to those who have written to me both electronic and snail mail, sent care packages and kept me in their thoughts and prayers. This was without a doubt the best experience of my life thus far and would have not been so without the support and generosity you have shown my Marines and I. Once I leave the country I will no longer be able to access this e-mail address. For those who are not sighing with relief at the end to these e-mails, my new e-mail address, effective 15 March, is: or I would love to hear from any and all who these letters reached. Thanks once again for all you did for me. Semper Fi! Out. Brian Donlon

50 Years ago and it's still in "there"

I was doing my daily blog rounds and found out Redleg 07 cracked a bone in his ankle on a night jump last night. He blogged about it in "Dumbass Cherry Move." I recalled a time back in 94 when a guy showed up to make a static line jump. I posted this story in Redleg 07's comments section, but it's a little piece of history to share here: In about July 94, I was hanging out at the DZ, catching the rays, waiting for the 1st jump class to get done. When they got out, I got assigned a plane load to take up for static line. One of the new jumpers was there to make his first jump in 50 years, a Normandy Vet. This spry old guy did all his "Arch Thousand, 2 Thousand, etc, etc" practices on the ground just fine, even his practice hangings from the Cessna 182 strut was fine. Because he was the smallest of the jumpers, I put him out last. He climbed out fine, hung out there, looked at me, I pointed at his face and said "GO!" Off he went, into a perfect Airborne body position for exit, hands on his reserve, chin tucked, legs together and slightly forward. He was stable, I recovered the static line, smiling, stowed in under the pilot's seat and did a front loop as I dove out heading aft. I had so many jumps at the time, I could maintain my own logs without a witness signature, but I had him sign mine. Good training is a beautiful thing, and the mind is a wonderous organ.

What did I just hear?

I didn't catch his name, but just a few short moments ago on the Tony Snow Show, a former Congressman and former US Attorney from Atlanta (during the Reagan years), was interviewed by John Gibson (sitting in for Tony, while he recovers from cancer surgery). Quote by this attorney: "We have to respect a consistent process." This was when he was asked if the Terri Shavaio case should go to the Federal system of courts. He said since the State of Florida has a law covering this, then the US should "butt out." When John Gibson tried to make a point by presenting a scenario for a "second look," by asking what if a prosecutor found out the defendant was, in fact not guilty, and told the judge that, upon review, there was new evidence and the defendant wasn't guilty. Sounds like the stand up thing for someone to do when the truth is presented. Here's the answer (I remind you, from and attorney and former Congressman, just in case you forgot): "A prosecutor should never do that, as it would be an abuse of power." Either this guy missed the whole point, or he just said the "State" should never say they have made an error. I just hope this guy mis-understood the question....

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

And why isn't this fair game for federal courts?

Ah, the Terri Shavaio law just passed by Congress is making many people very unhappy! Specifically, one of the local talk show hosts likes to pretend he has a complete grasp of the issues involved, by saying the Florida State Courts were trampled and the 10th Amendment says the states have rights. Yes, the states do have rights, right up until they are planning on doing something wrong. I recall in my education, a little note about States seceeding from the Nation, wasn't that illegal? If not, lots of people died for nor reason. Maybe that was one of those Kerry Wars, you know, "Wrong War, Wrong Time." Toss in the loud screeches of those who you can almost tell are pulling their hair out yelling "THE RIGHT WING CHRISTIANS ARE PUSHING THIS THROUGH THE PRESIDENT!" I think that's really what they are angry about, more so than states rights. First off, so what? It was a majority of the congressional members who enabled this bill to be signed into law. Did many of them suddenly become born again when I wasn't looking? I'd suggest, if you have a problem with that, you find a civics course, and refresh your knowledge of a representative government. Secondly, it may save you from an upset spouse one day, you morons! Thirdly, and most importantly, It's a good thing (as I heard on Dr on the radio say today) the "so-called religious people" (thanks for judging me without any knowledge of who I am, nor how I live my life, you overly educated person who admitted "I hadn't been to chruch in a long time.") are allowing Terri to be tortured by keeping her alive. Wow, some "so-called" religious people are taking a stand, because that would mean that the "so-called non-religious people" (which, by derivation from the Dr. statement, is everyone else out there) are chickening out and hoping they won't get killed one day in a case like this. Next, let me now pose a question, refreshing the memories of those who I believe don't want to hear this: Did you object to Texas having it's rights trampled when Lawrence vs. Texas went to the Supreme Court? Isn't that the same issue you're apopletic over? How about Roe vs. Wade? The lady in the case was only a citizen of one state, wasn't she? Would you bother to admit that that case also trampled on the rights of a state? Oh, yes, Virginia, the liberals and "anti-extreme-right-wing-Christian" types will use the SCOTUS when it fits their agenda, but when their own tactics are employed successfully against them, it's just not fair, is it? Pick up a copy of "The Pelopenisian War" by Thucydides and do some focused reading about what Sparta did to the Athenians, then come back and have a logical discussion. And, if you're one of those "right to death" people, I suggest Kool-Aid.

"I don't want the Government telling me what to do!"

I just shake my head sometimes. Twice today, when talking to my friends, they said "I'm afraid/concerned, I don't want the Government telling me what to do!" hhhuuuummmm...Am I in a parallel dimension? As I leave my house to come to work in the morning, I drive a car, and I can, because the state gave me a drivers license. I pass numerous speed limits signs along the path to my job. The some of the money I am paid, I am told by Federal law to send to the Government. I can't murder someone, because both the State and US Governmental organizations say so. I can't steal property of others, I can't deface public or private property, in fact, I can't do a mulitude of things BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT TOLD ME! Maybe my two friends don't live in the same universe I do, but my cell phone allows me to make cross-dimensional calls (pretty cool, huh?). The government, by laws passed by our representatives, whom we elected, by regulations from local, state and federal agencies, and because courts interpret laws brought before them for decisions. So what's the problem?

"America's Muddy Diplomats"

Thunder 6 is at it again. If you're inclinced to get teary eyed at a story of compassion, grab your kleenex now, before reading his post. If you're not inclined that way, READ IT ANYHOW! He relates a story of how men in dirty BDUs are building democracy, and mutual respect. It has to be just one of very many stories that we have never heard about. Pass the link around, the people of America, and the rest of the World need to read this story.

Monday, March 21, 2005

"Turning Point"

Another blog worth the read. A young 2LT, who was in the Marines in 1990 (based on a comment I read in one of his posts), is now in Iraq. His post, titled "Turning Point" is about his interaction with and Iraqi family. I dropped back to his first posts and am almost to the current post. He saw something special when he made a human to human connection with this group of people on the far side of the world. Near the end of his post, he says this:
Protect the future at all costs. What is worth living for must be worth dying for. I found another reason to live yesterday, and I found something else I’d fight to the death for.
That's not the heart of an occupier, but the heart of a real person who cares a lot of weaponry, but cares for his fellow man's well being.

To support and defend the Constitution....

The current events of last Friday and today made me consider what I saw on Saturday. A group of guys from Church had bought our tickets to the Gator National NHRA races several months ago. We took off on our "mission" at O-Dark-Thirty, rendezvousing near I-75 in two vehicles. Our convoy quickly covered the distance to the first objective, the Chick-Filet in Ocala. We arrived just prior to opeing time (0630) and the staff wasn't ready....gotta love those civilians who don't read the OP Order... We ate and headed to Gainesville, so we could get a great parking spot. Besides seeing and hearing the massive displays of horsepower, we (the crowd) had the priviledge of standing while about a platoon sized group of young men and women stood near the starting line and took their oath of enlistment. I didn't see anyone not standing, and it took me back, to the last time I stood before a sailor and had the priviledge of administering the same oath. The words came back to me, and while not perfect, I almost had all the words off my lips, quietly, before the Captain from the Jacksonville Recruiting Office did over the loud speaker. It has to have been at least 12 years since I re-enlisted someone. To most everyone around me, I suspect they were just words, but they are lodged deep in me, dignified in thier simplicity, powerful in their meaning, life changing when you come to understand fuly what you just did. Today the talk shows were full of people ranting about the Terry Shaviao case. It has become an issue far bigger than a lady, who is not brain dead, but many personal accounts, even as evidenced by the recording her Father made with her last Friday, just before her feeding tube was removed. The issue is the preservation of the Constitution. The amount of acrimony tells me something is off the tracks at one level, yet on the right path at another. Polls taken today and reported indicated a vast majority of people thought the President and Congress overstepped their bounds. Some talk show hosts, adn Rep Jim Davis, made brash statements about the court system of Florida being overruled by Congress, strongly indicating something illegal had happened. Rush Limbaugh pointed out clearly it is the Constitutional responsibility of the Congress to set up courts. Only one court is specificed in the Constitution, the Supreme Court. All the rest come from Congress, and Congress has the Constitutional authority to limit any courts actions. Somehow the educational system (thank you, NEA) has failed us when citizens on the street don't have a clue how the three branches interact. The Democrats just love to take things like Lawrence vs Texas, gay marriage and Roe vs Wade to the Supreme Court, becuse they don't think the States will handle it to their satisfaction, yet when the tables are turned, they howl like they have had appendages removed, and then lie to the public by saying this can't be done. They do it all the time. They do not serve the public interest, as is their responsibility, when they distort the facts. The good news, is our elected representatives voted in the interest of a human life. I applaud the two bodies of Congress for stepping up to the plate late at night. Anyhow, to link the enlistment of new soldiers to this, it comes down to the oath of office line: "To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." I doubt there will be bloodshed over this, but it seems this core statement about the requirements of service is only know to a small percentage of the population these days. Maybe this is a bad outcome of a smaller, leaner military, where it's a very small minority who understand this, witht eh majority never serving. I for one, despite having hung up the uniform, still feel obligated to continue serving that calling. The "battleground" is different now, as are the weapons, the pen being mightier than the sword (where does the keyboard fit in?), so I commit to doing what I can. I am proud to see the youth of America still has those who will take that oath, and I just pray that it will be something they take seriously for the rest of their lives.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Thunder6 says why he is a soldier

This man who is a company commander in Iraq has written a story about how he answered the question from one of his soldiers about "wouldn't you like to be doing something else?" His answer is the one that comes from a warrior wanting peace, but knowing someone has to stand the watch against evil, so those we care about may not have to see it or deal with it. He does justice to a topic that many vets and active duty military members would like to be able to answer, but couldn't find the words. He did.

"Right to Die?"

Full disclosure: Despite the following opening line versus the time this is posted, I actually wrote much of this on Friday the 18th of March. I set it aside, with a feeling I had left some things out, which I will add, but most of this is the raw stream of consciousness moments after the “right to die” crowd held their press conference on local media a few days ago. It’s 3/18/2005 and the press conference with Michael Shaviao’s lawyer, George Felos, just ended. Here’s my stream of consciousness. I live in the immediate area where all of this has been occurring. The local papers and talk shows have been full of information for years. George Felos said Americans should be afraid of the Congress, because they can issue subpoenas. I’m more afraid of judges who will decide they have the power of life and death at their discretion and they steadfastly, or even arrogantly, dismiss every one else’s judgment, as if they hold some monopoly on precise decision making. Wasn’t it judges who upheld that slaves were property and only the landed could vote? Yes, and they were Supreme Court justices, who should be among the best and the brightest. That being the case, how can a local judge uphold himself as something far above even those people? We all need a voice of reason sometimes, even if it’s hard to listen. Interestingly enough, Rush Limbaugh made an interesting observation today. He said not a single liberal law maker was on Terri Shaviao’s side. They were silent. The Republicans are trying to save her. He commented that the Democrats handed Elian back to the Fidel Castro, while the Republicans wanted him to stay here. Two significant cases: Republicans on the side of life and liberty, and the Democrats on the side of death and slavery. I’ll take this a step further: Republicans are against abortion, Democrats for it. Republicans: Life, Democrats: Death. How about the issue of save the whales? Democrats: Rabid protection of the environment, but let people die. Ok, let’s take a second to review the Constitution of the United States. Aren’t the inalienable rights of “LIFE, LIBERTY…” in there? Yep, right up front. And people have the gall to act like any government interaction in this case is Unconstitutional. Get a grip, it’s in there, and Judge George Greer could stand to do some professional reading in this area, as it seems he’s pretty irritated that people go over his head. There’s a reason: One of the most basic functions of a government anywhere has been the protection of the citizen group it represented. Question at the press conference: Was Michael Shaviao with his wife when they removed the feeding tube? Answer “No.” Explanation: This is an emotionally difficult time, and he couldn’t be there. My question, since he has a live in girlfriend of several years, with whom he has two children, was he home celebrating? Was he absent so the press and medical staff couldn’t attest to him high fiving the people around him? This is one more event, out of many that scream to me that he has no interest in Terri’s well being, but only his “getting on with his life.” For all you “rabid right to death” types (the opposite of the “rabid right to life” types that the local Mark Larsen foams at the mouth over), tell me this (well, actually, it’s rhetorical, so just answer it for yourself): When a family member of yours is in the hospital for major, life threatening operations (which this certainly is), are you in the waiting room outside the surgery area, keeping vigil, or are you out at a movie, or shopping? I bet you’d have to admit you’re waiting for the report form the doctor on how it went. Why couldn’t Michael be there? At this point, this husband by law (certainly not by practice), should have put his emotions second and gone to be there. It’s about sacrifice, you know, like those horribly inconvenient lines in the wedding vows: “for better or worse,” “in sickness and in health.” Given he has been sleeping with another woman for many years now, It would be easy to lower the discussion to crude remarks, but I think intelligent people will understand what I mean. 3/20/2005 additions to this part of the monologue: Michael Shaviao is a registered nurse. On one side of the coin that could lead you to believe he has the medical knowledge to know when a case is hopeless in the hands of mankind. On the other side of the equation, he has enough medical knowledge to “assist” people along a path of chemical imbalances in their systems, that, shall we say euphemistically, aren’t good for them. If someone already has an eating disorder (Terri did), might one use that already off medically off balance condition to their favor? There are plenty of crime novels, many taking their core story line from real world cases, where someone tried to commit “the perfect crime” by making a death look just like something natural. I submit a heart failure is not normal for a early 20 year old person of either gender. On top of that, while I’ll admit I haven’t had time to do the research, many cases of people having a heart attack have successful outcomes, with people’s lives being restored, without any significant long term after effects. If someone who has had their heart stopped is allowed to lay there, without the normal blood circulation for a period of many minutes, they may be revived, and yes, there will be brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation. I would think a medically trained person would know about how long to wait until the time was approaching when any longer would dramatically reduce the probability of resuscitation. I lean towards this case. Michael Shaviao, as the guardian of Terri, has denied access to her medical records. While many think the Department of Children and Family Services recent motions to stay Terri’s starvation has been grandstanding, the allegations of noticeable bone damaged, noted by Terri’s brother from interviews with the Doctors from the Emergency Room, that the injuries were similar to those one would suffer in a car accident. If there is nothing to hide on Terri’s x-rays, why won’t Michael release them. If you have nothing to hide, then the x-rays shouldn’t result in any legal action. The family reports the relationship was abusive, and there may be some linkage to Terri’s coma and things that happened to her in the weeks leading up to that. A litany of things just don’t square with all of Michaels demands to let his wife die: Michael already has planned for Terri’s cremation upon her death. That will remove a tremendous amount of forensic evidence. To include the detection of broken bones in the neck and back area (with certainty). Michael won’t allow Terri’s parents in to be with her while she is starving to death. He has successfully petitioned to keep them away from her for a very long time, and even has restraining orders to keep them from photographing and video taping her. Judge Greer has granted one last photo session of Terri and her family, but the pictures are to be turned over to Michael Shaviao, as his property. Why will he get to keep the pictures? Might he fear the release in a public forum will both turn all public opinion against him (and the Judge), as well as producing evidence that will incriminate him in a homicide? He has denied Terri access to her Priest. Just what does he have to fear here, except a report from a man of integrity that will undermine Michael’s continued declaration that his wife is in a “persistent vegetative state?” Priests in Florida, as with health care professionals and counselors are required by law report the commission of a crime. I can see where Michael might fear being caught. All of this sounds exactly the opposite of what a well-balanced human being would do. I believe Judge Greer, and Michael Felos have crawled so far down in the pit of lies with Michael Shaviao, with Michael not telling them many details, that they are so insistent on carrying out this death sentence, hoping their won’t get caught up in the community backlash, when they try to say “I wash my hands of this.” Won’t fly, and I think they know it. Being duped in the lies for so long, they hope pressing through will save them. No, I submit standing up and telling the truth is the antidote at this juncture. Even if all they want to do is look at this from a political viewpoint, then their professional reputations will be ruined forever as a result. If that is the only way to make them wake up, that’s fine, but I’d not want to be them, trying to sleep nights, knowing I helped kill someone who didn’t deserve it. If anyone else does this, the same judge would charge them with murder in the first degree. While I cannot confirm this, a lady from the area called the Michael Savage radio talk show on Friday evening, the 18th, claiming she worked in the local court system and that Judge Greer was legally blind and all he could see was colors and shapes. All legal briefs and documents had to be read to him. I have many questions about this, but also an observation, that such “breathtaking” (to use the New York Times editorial words) decisions, that seem to be unsupported by the facts presented, can possibly be explained by this situation. If someone either failed to read all of a document (implied: partial omissions), or failed to read some documents (implied: complete omissions), or “misrepresented” (implied: LIED!) about what was contained in the documents, Houston, have a problem. Who was assigned to read these documents to him? Were representatives from the parents and Michael Shaviao present? If Judge Greer is legally blind, I think it’s time to question his ability to judge, merely based on the large volume of material he must absorb in any case. This isn’t discrimination, but just plain common sense. Would you want a blind pilot in the cockpit of the 767 taking your to London, just to avoid a discrimination law suit, while hazarding 300 plus lives? Even the economic analysis by the bean counters would say “risk the ADA suit, we’ll be way money ahead!” How much is the cost of human misery, in this case, versus the feelings being hurt judge who can’t access the material required to do his job? If he could assure all documents he requires to be familiar with the contents of are read to him by unbiased staff, that would satisfy me, and I’m sure the people coming into his court. If he has too much pride to admit this is a real limitation to overcome in order to pass “blind” justice (how ironic to have to make that comment), then, Houston, we still have a problem. Back to 3/18/2005 in the writing time machine. Press conference comment: Terri Shaviao has been a pawn of the “right to lifers.” Wow, I hope I have right to lifers defending my family, and country. I agree she has been a pawn. She has been a pawn of the group who wants to extinguish life. Here’s my logic: The main argument for Terri “being allowed to die” has been she told her husband that she wouldn’t want to live like this. Ok, I can admit that conversation may have happened. Here’s the rub: She never executed a Living Will, outlining those wishes. So she is without paperwork, required by a law of the state in order to remove life support, and he gets into court to and somehow convinces a judge to violate a State Law. I see it this way: without some prior mess, since we are a reactive culture, there would not have been a State Law saying people had to keep you alive, unless you specifically executed a legal document saying they didn’t have to and you fully appreciated the ramification of your voluntary, PRIOR completion of the paperwork. Am I wrong, or without law school, do I understand something Judge Greer does not? Now the wheels are set in motion to “let” Terri die, on Michael’s word (oh, yeah, the guy who has a life with a girl friend and two children with her) that that’s her wish. Isn’t this sort of like how we get incensed when a report comes out saying we need to take this drug for out well being, and we find out the research staff just sort of happened to be paid by the company that makes the drug? We used to acknowledge this as “conflict of interest,” prior to today. I’d say there’s a HUGE conflict of interest in the case of Michael Shaivo. He’s got a real family that takes his attention, so it certainly follows that having Terri “expire” would clear the way for him to devote himself fully to his girl friend. I think it will be interesting to see just how long it takes for him to marry this woman. Maybe we should hold our breath as soon as Terri dies, for I suspect we won’t have to hold it long enough to pass out. 3/20/2005: I sat down at the local bookstore and someone had left a copy of the 3/19/2005 New York Times National edition. Here’s an amazing line from the lead editorial titled “The Shavaio Case”:
“Meanwhile, we can only lament the Republican’s theatrical effort to expand their so-called pro-life agenda to include intervening in a case already studied and litigated exhaustively under Florida Law. Congress’ rash assumption of judicial power and trampling on established state and federal constitutional precedents in ‘right to die’ cases is nothing short of breathtaking.”
My response: The adjective of “so-called right-to-life” is said in this editorial like it is a bad thing, and that it’s anything but a right-to-life. Excuse me for being impertinent, but I would recommend that the editors of the New York Times return to the basic of what is life, and some basic philosophy. I would home these editors are more educated than I, but I object to someone impugning the motives of to keep someone alive as a “so called right-to-life.” I submit it is a push for a “right-to-life,” as the facts show they are asking for a life to be retained. By modifying it with the “so-called,” it takes on the air of disgust, suggesting hypocrisy. The Republicans haven’t been hypocritical in supporting measures that save lives, they have openly stated their beliefs, and then have worked to pass laws, control funding, etc, etc, in order to promote their world view on the topic. Had the Congress not stepped up to the plate, I’d think the editors had plenty of ground to prod the Republicans for a “so-called right-to-life” as they let Terri Shaviavo die without lifting a finger. I’ll say the editors of the New York Times are fully in the “right to die” world view and I’ll grant you they are not hypocritical in the least, they want people to die. There is nothing “so-called” about their position at all. Back to 3/18/2005 comments: Consider this contrast: The Constitution disallows “cruel and unusual punishment.” Many people in this country, and around the world, think dogs barking at people held for terrorist activity were the victims of this form of abuse. Since the word “punishment” is part of the sentence, then I assume people only think this applies to criminals. I think we can acknowledge any survey would yield an almost 100% result in agreeing that this equally applies to all US citizens. Functionally, we don’t let people beat on people, except in paid for sporting events, with the intent to physically harm others, without arresting and charging them with battery. This is particularly true for children. If this applies in this way, how can anyone imagine starving to death does not fall under this clause of the Constitution? The very form of the way in which Judge Greer has sentenced her to death would result in severe criminal penalties for any citizen, in addition to being clearly Unconstitutional, by any thinking person’s reading of the Constitution. As someone pointed out a few days ago, even Scott Peterson will have his arm swabbed with alcohol before a lethal injection, in order to protect him from possible infection. We hate the killers, yet we have functionally provided them more respect than we have for Terri Shaviao. How about PETA and their friends in all levels of government? Just try to stave your pet kitty to death? There’s criminal penalties for that. Really cool, we regard animals with greater worth (as measured by the laws to protect them), than a human being. I doubt anyone from the “other side” will take the time to come and read my thoughts, but if you do, you need to examine your very soul, if you think you can justify the protection of an animal over protecting human live. This is a complicated issue, yet it all points at one thing: The precedent that a spouse/guardian can proclaim the wishes of the other person, and the Judge then just lets it happen. This in validates the law requiring a Living Will, because now case law sets this precedent. Years ago, I heard G. Gordon Liddy explain that this is what takes an “untested” law to the “tested” category. I think this is the correct connection here, as other lawyers can now parade this decision before a judge and ask for them to rule the same way. In this all, I’d find it easier to not be struggling with all of this if Michael had stood by his woman, but he was out “moving on.” His behavior speaks the truth nature of his feelings, not his words. Here’s the hard spot: If you are disabled and become a burden to those carrying for you, specifically the guardian, they just tell someone you don’t want to live this way, and they are absolved of any criminal activity, as is the guardian, based on this decision. While compassionate, carrying people will labor long and hard to avoid this, many more will merely use this as an out to “get on with their lives.” Even if a majority of cases are not handled this way, as I’m sure they won’t be, if this plays out at all, then it’s what we would have properly called, before today, murder. Will we have the misplaced compassion to release those in jail who have “put a loved one out of their misery?” I’d say that’s only fair. For the husband who had actually slept next to the women he loved for so many years, watching her suffer through the agony of terminal cancer, before he finally smothered her with a pillow, and is now serving any time in prison, or even probation, will we as a society, exonerate them and beg their forgiveness? I doubt it. Judge Greer has just done that for Michael Shaivo. Years ago, thinking I’d get off easy doing a paper for a Master’s course, I picked the topic of genocide. Of course, due to the compulsive nature of the German culture to record data, the “Final Solution” is always a good case study. He’s the chilling part of this case of killing: Hitler began by convincing the populace that the terminally ill were a burden on society, taking more than their fair share of resources, and *voila!* they could now be euthanized. He went on to use the exact same arguments, now that he had “climbed over the fence,” that the disabled and mentally handicapped fit the same set of circumstances. Soon, he was killing the people of Jewish descent. We have just crossed the Rubicon in our own journey down this path. The moral question is how far will we go? The citizens of this country have continued to reject euthanasia, except in Oregon, when it has come up. Dr. Kevorkian is reviled and was arrested for his acts of “assisted suicide.” That is how Terri is being used as a pawn by the “right to die” lobby. Look how this entire issue has been marketed. The “grieving husband” says she wants it this way. It’s a real tear jerker and now, “we” have been conditioned to believe it’s ok to grant a “right to die.” Ok, so if someone wants to commit suicide, will people be obligated to help them, since it’s their wish? I don’t know, I bet that’s not going to fly, so therefore we’ll be caught, trying not to have our heads explode when faced with this issue. It’s tough enough with medical professionals leaving the field due to insanely high malpractice insurance, due to the lawyers pushing people to sue, and us taking up the litigious life style as an alternate to the lottery. What happens when doctors are faced with having to try and keep insurance, when families of the departed show up on their doorstep for “pain and suffering?” We’ll have to get legislatures to pass laws, exempting them from killing. Oh, wait, we already have those under Roe vs. Wade. We’ll still have to modify them, as people who can speak will probably need a piece of paper to declare their intention to want to die, so they can hold it up to the judge and get their “get out of jail free” card. That, in a nutshell is my concern. Along the way, the issues of judicial authority, the protection of citizens from harm as a function of government, the legitimate authority of family members in life decisions, but, the “tap root” of the topic comes right down to just what moral lines will we draw? I’ve long known that setting a precedent is a dangerous thing. Before you make any serious decision, it’s worth the effort to come up with “scenarios” to test the effect. Specifically, you need to dream up circumstances for the most unlikely occasions of the situations, and then, if the application of the ruling/law/regulation works well, then you probably have a good ruling/law/regulation. If it seems completely out of whack in these circumstances, then you need to review the wording and recalibrate it accordingly. I think this ruling from Judge Greer has a very narrow application, but now that it will be available for “general use,” the floodgates will open and it’s going to get ugly. Will you be person enough to then admit this was a bad thing, and stand up to reverse the ruling, or will you hide your shame and let it just keep happening, praying it will never darken your doorstep? “We” usually pick the second set of conditions. Imaging yourself, screaming silently, comprehending everything and knowing they are doing everything they can do to kill you. 3/20/2005 additions: To weave this discussion into a more complex picture, just look at how “good intentions” are taking us down a very interesting path: Animal rights take precedent over that of people (rationale: As above, we can’t starve our dogs and cats, with being charged with a crime, but we can starve Terri Shavaio). If you need a second source to confirm my “projection,” take a look at the PETA crowd, it’s clear all the evil visited upon the animal kingdom is the result of the human population of the earth. People are the cause of all the pollution (no where near true, but it keeps the environmentalists in grant money), and the end game of that argument would be to get rid of people (read: culture of death, or not just a right to die, but a demand that you die philosophy). The Pro-Choice (read: you must choose to abort your child, or you are not exercising your choice) crowd wants you to kill off the coming generations. Hmmm…seems to me that’s the ultimate in population control yet just one step taken farther, “executes” the strategy of the radical environmentalists. These groups should form an alliance. The “gay marriage” agenda crowd is either a front for the human cloning industry, and alternative path of attack to the medical community wanting to grow “spare parts” in the form of cloned people. If not, the end game to this philosophical world view is to attrite humanity to nothingness, as the issue of procreation is out of the question in those marriages. Once more, a viable tactic in ridding the Earth of the most devious, invasive, evil that ever evolved. The smart thing is this is all being carried out with multiple angles of attack, and an entire campaign in the press to have us accept the de-population of the planet. Euthanasia: George Felos has been supporting this movement for years. If he can get this seeming small, but in actuality, landmark case through the court system, and then have Michael Shavaio, under a cloak of privacy, destroy the evidence, he’ll be another proponent of clearing the planet of human life. Sound like this is too far out? Think about the consequences of the end game of those agendas. Can you disagree that they object to humans? Which of them strikes a balance in life? None of them in my eyes. In summarizing, I chose to err on the side of life. I think “death by family” is a dangerous precedent to establish. If people think that Congress, the Florida Legislature, DCF and, by implication, Governor Bush and President Bush, is onerous, what will they say when someone shows up in court to pull their plug at the first sign of financial discomfort? How about if the family just thinks having the emotional burden of a handicapped person around the house, that no longer can exercise the ability to communicate in ways sure as speech or writing, is just too much to bear? What if the cost of modifications to the home to support a disabled person is too much? These conditions can be responsibly extended in this case of this argument. I would hope to have public officials on my side, if I was in this state. If I elect to put in my Living Will that I don’t want to have “extraordinary and/or invasive” procedures to maintain my life, then that is my choice, and my wishes will not be a question, but a known fact. I submit we have become short sighted, interested only in the “now” of the moment, and disrespectful of the long term consequences of our choices. The only impact of concern is that of what it is to “me” and not of how it affects anyone around. I say “choose life.” Now retuning to your in progress ranting: You know what’s interesting? The “breaking news” about 20 minutes ago said the man who was the “person of interest” in the Jessica Lunsford kidnapping case just confessed to killing her. The outpouring of grief for her will be tremendous, as it should be, and sadly, it will be forever linked to the same date in history, in the same state, and only a few counties apart, where the law will direct a human to die.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

It's been quiet here and busy in the "real" world

Sorry about the lack of thing is I have made a decision to breathe life into a 91 RX-7. That will be a probably frustrating effort over the next few weeks, but it cranks up now... The 73G SCSI Seagate Cheetah drive in the "Beast" wouldn't come up last night, so I just crashed. As far as the posts about the Military skill set series, I think I've gotten stuck at a dead end of generic skills. I'm thinking I'll try to encapsulate some of what I know from nine years of sea time, with most of the rest of my 20 years being spent close to the "waterfront." There are some things surface sailors, and those on submarines, picked up from life aboard the little floating (or sinking) towns, that may be useful for potential employers to know. I've linked to the trackback for Mudville Gazette, in an effort to get a little more traffic. A really well written blog I found a few days ago is 365 and a wake up. I took the time to read it all and this young officer has an amazing ability to tell a story simply and just to document life. It's only going back to February, and I invite you to also read it all and then stay tuned. I'll be back. To the few faithful readers, who I see via the site meter, thanks. If you have any input, please feel free to share. I've found feedback is always a good thing.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Unmarked bills and requests to change WMD reports?

Well, well, well....(hat tip to Mrs Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette) If you have nothing to hide, why would you take the time and money and try to get someone to "doctor" reports? Even the average person on the street inherently understands that if someone offers you money to change the facts to be "not facts" and a thick envelope of cash is sitting on the table, there's something amiss. I wonder how long this story about Saddam trying to bribe a UN Weapons Inspector will take to get across the Atlantic and into ABC, NBC and CBA broadcasts. Too bad Dan Rather is gone, he might be able to come up with fake memos (with a creation date of today and properties that they were authored by "DR" in Word) saying this entire story was planned before the war and is a total fake.... Will the Democrats and critics of the War now eat crow? No, that's asking for too much. On the other hand, we may possibly get out of them they just hate the President and hate not being in power. That's really been their complaint all along, they are just too cowardly to say it, fearing someone would consider them un-American. I have news for them: TOO LATE! Be happy the WMDs are buried and under control of the Syrians, only because it's keeping them from beuing used on you, while the enemy waits until you get complacent, or back in power, when it will be safe to use them on us, so you can reach out and try to appease them. I recall one local talk show host, Todd Schnitt asking a caller who was against the was "because there were no WMDs" if he would change his mind if WMDs were found. Boy, did thay guy ever tap dance and try to get out of answering it. The same thing happened for several callers several months ago, when the "THERE ARE NO WMDs!" idiotic stories were going around. I can only imagine the early press, "THE EARTH IS FLAT!" mentality that is still around, like they have some claim to all knowledge of the entire universe. On the other hand, while $2M sounds like a lot of money, just do some research and find out the CWO John Walker gave extermely sensitive information on anti-submarine efforts to the USSR for about $100k. The USSR got a real bargain, because that information essentially nullified most every acoustc detection system we had. The defense Budget during the Reagan years ahd to pick up that slack, so we could put new systems in service to defend the country and our amphibious and carrier battle groups from submarine attack, to the tune of billions. That was the 80s. I bet if we adjusted for inflation, Saddam was offering far too little to keep his country from being smashed and hiding in a hole like a hunted animal.

Sgerna Giuliana - Digital magic added....

Found by following some stories on the Italian journalist that was wounded after returning from captivity: Sgerna Giuliana Photoshop Contest

Just plain funny....

Just found this one over on Dave's not here:
Heard on a Bus in Baghdad A soldier steps on board to check identification and asks, "Anyone from Texas here?" Several passengers reply to the effect that the bus is full of Texans, and the guard replies, "Right on, anyone from Austin?" Before any of the passengers can say anything one passenger chimes in with "Don't mess with Texas." The guard stops and says, "No, don't mess with me. I'm the one with the gun."

Fortune Favors the Bold

In a post on Little Green Footballs on a recent editiorial by Victor David Hanson (who was a Democrat before 9/11/2001 and has since had a radical change of political affiliation) titled "A Look Back," the author points out what we can already see happening because of the Global War on Terrorism and the liberal side of the political equation. Many grudging "Bush was right" statements, usually delivered with much less clarity of wording, but that's what they are having to say. Read the post on LGF here. A cogent comment regarding the proper application of the full toolbox of diplomatic tools was listed that caught my eye and it's a wonderful synopsis of what history, in the past few decades has shown to be the right and wrong way of handling aggression (credit to commenter "Malleus Dei"):
"Every time the United States the last quarter century had acted boldly — its removal of Noriega and aid for the Contras, instantaneous support for a reunified Germany, extension of NATO, preference for Yeltsin instead of Gorbachev, Gulf War I, bombing of Milosevic, support for Sharon's fence, withdrawal from Gaza and decapitation of the Hamas killer elite, taking out the Taliban and Saddam-good things have ensued. In contrast, on every occasion that we have temporized — abject withdrawal from Lebanon, appeasement of Arafat at Oslo, a decade of inaction in the Balkans, paralysis in Rwanda, sloth in the face of terrorist attacks, not going to Baghdad in 1991 — corpses pile up and the United States became either less secure or less respected or both." The Romans knew the truth two thousand years ago. The great Roman poet Virgil put into words: "Audentes fortuna juvat." FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD.

Where has our awe gone?

I know this is a few days late, but it got back up behind work on other stuff... On Thursday afternoon, 3/3/2005, something incredible happened. It went by with pretty minimal notice. Steve Fossett flew around the world, unrefueled, and alone in 67 hours, 38 minutes, and some seconds. I was at work, and had been checking the news sources, and while there was a live feed on the web at, there was so much demand on the servers that it was like watching grass grow. I turned on the idiot box. Seeing as how I’m on the east coast of the US, that was prime Soap Opera time. As I surfed back and forth thru the local channels (no cable at work), I eagerly awaited coverage of at least the landing. One station, channel 8, interrupted the soaps to show the landing and make a coherent, yet brief statement of the event being successfully completed. Friday morning, 3/4/2005, and the news organizations of the world had an had a second opportunity. The headlines on the Tampa Tribune highlighted the release of Martha Stewart and the upcoming testimony in the Michael Jackson trial. I’m sorry, but I think they missed something, or maybe I’m being too sensitive. How about this: “Christopher Columbus returned today, having made a major discovery of new island full of wealth. Details at 11! Back to your soap opera in progress.” Discovery. Conquest of the seemingly impossible/unreachable. Ho, hum….what’s for dinner, honey? How have we arrived at a point where a major feat of years of brilliant research, trial and error and blood, sweat and tears, is looked upon as something barely worth a mention on the major news outlets? Maybe I know the answer, and since I object to it (I’d say I’m offended, but I’m a white male, and therefore unoffendable for the sins of those before me who were also white and male), we focus on the things we desire, kind of like when you buy a gift, but you really get something you like. We’d like to be rich and famous, and the lure of that is tantalized by the reality shows, and the soap operas, and gluing our sights on celebrities. I think back to 1969, as Apollo 11 headed for the moon. For several days, most people were following that story in detail. As a nation, we watched anxiously while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Their return was greeted with a ticker tape parade, but that was a different time. Before home computers, before instant access to anything to make us feel good. As with all discoverers, adventurers and voyagers, their efforts lead to things we all benefit from. Lewis and Clark opened the west. Jacque Cousteau made the way for the sport of SCUBA diving. The space programs of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo gave us personal computers, light weight alloys and major advances in geriatric medical care and understanding. I heard it said years ago that for every dollar spent on the Apollo program, we derived $8 in economic benefit. The technologies used in that program, to get to the Moon have become prolific and interwoven into much of our every day lives, and we still have yet to realize the benefit of some things, most notably the hydrogen fuel cell, which may soon power our cars, and help us toss of the mantle of oil dependence. While flying around the world may not sound like much, it required the construction of a vehicle that had the “legs” to make it. The Global Flyer has one engine. This engine had to be reliable, as there wasn’t a “redundant” capability for the pilot to rely upon. It has only been recently that FAA certified twin engine aircraft for long haul transoceanic commercial flight. Prior to this, 3 or 4 engines were required. This engine also had to be tremendously fuel efficient. Jet fuel weighs about 7 pounds to the gallon, so you also have to have a single engine that has the capability to lift the weight of the aircraft and the fuel off the ground and to altitudes of 40+ thousand feet, plus its own weight. A high “thrust to weight” ratio was required. Light weight materials, of considerable strength were required to ease the strain on the engine. On top of all of this, the pilot had to have certain life support systems, and I’m sure they were pretty austere, as a result of the weight calculations. So what does this all mean? The “proof of concept” was just done on highly efficient, highly reliable jet engines, and lightweight, composite materials. These proven concepts will now have a better chance of adoption in the aircraft industry, which means less fuel consumption. Less fuel consumption means less pollution. Maybe if we’re lucky, it will actually mean lower ticket prices, as commercial travel rolls these materials and equipment into their airframes. The innovative work will eventually find it's way into other sectors, possibly the autombile market, and others, the technology, or the mixing of a combination of technical ideas/equipment must have some applicability elsewhere. I’d venture to guess that the team of Burt Rutan, teamed with the efforts of Richard Branson’s money and Steve Fossett’s piloting skills have done much more for mankind than Martha Stewart could hope to do in 200 lifetimes. We missed a chance to take this in. And while I’m on the topic, I think we should get the President to put Burt Rutan in charge of becoming oil-independent. If he can score two major break throughs in a few years, getting into space commercially and building two places that can circumnavigate the plant, I bet he could come up with a team who would take us into a new age of energy consumption.

The Value of the Military Skill Set - Part X

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 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 At a mandatory briefing about getting out and working in the “real” world, the briefer said in many cases, you won’t know how to make money for you employer, but if you can show them how to save money, there is the same result on the bottom line: Financial increase. It took the surge of the “Total Quality Leadership” (TQL) push under Admiral Kelso as Chief of Naval Operations to get me to see there was something we had already been doing for the same reason, but we didn’t know what to call it. We constantly did things with an eye towards spotting trends, so we could figure out how to do things better, or to see things coming off the tracks, by catching the trends early on. I was “exposed” to the formalized TQL methodology as a senior Lieutenant Commander, and then used the methods more effectively for the rest of my career. While getting my training in TQL, I realized processes carried out by those around me, most notably the engineers aboard ship, during my initial sea tours many years before were, in fact, the very methods discussed under TQL. As time passed over the next several years, the culture of the Navy adopted more to the process control mentality, and much of it became almost subconscious. The great part, was even the skeptics, who thought the time involved in sitting down and looking at how things were done was a waste of time, were gradually converted, as improvements couldn’t be denied after a while. In addition to the formal drive to make things more efficient, don’t forget the human condition of trying to get things done with the least amount of effort is a powerful force, especially in the enlisted ranks. I say that as a compliment, not in a derogatory manner, because it made the system work better. If the goal was to get it done, and the way there faster was to spend a few minutes gaming it out, so you could “hit the beach” earlier, then you could see that in action. The fall out of all of this TQM/TQL/CI/Process Engineering experience, involving many levels of the pay structure, is it has become a way of routine business for many service members. This means you can reasonably expect these people to come to you, unafraid of figuring out how to look at systems and procedures and then consider how to make it work better. This means more efficient operations, and therefore, more $$$ in the bottom line.

The Value of the Military Skill Set - Part IX

Part IX - "Give a smart person with potential a chance" 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 This post can be best catergorized by calling it "Give a smart person with potential a chance." This part of the series is a little bit of the reverse side of the equation. It’s a topic that I think merits being brought forward and it’s about how the military’s hiring system has a specific method of recruiting to other major corporations. It might do well for the civilian sector to consider this. My experience is that there are few places, outside of the military and military contractors, that take more than a passing consideration in hiring someone who doesn’t hold the specific “tickets” for a position. After leaving the military and working for a two contractors, I went out and tried to run my own business for a while. I realized I needed to head back into the work force, and as a result, I applied to many jobs that I had the hands on experience to fill. Since I had a degree in hard science, and not engineering or computers, I didn’t get the phone calls. Since then, I have found two good friends who have been recruiters for years and they confirmed my suspicions. If I didn’t have the degrees, I wasn’t going to get a call. I had lots of hands on, in and out of the military, but that didn’t count. Consider this: The US Military is one of the few places that looks at the potential of people and, based on their aptitude at fundamental skills, they are then accepted and trained. In industry, it’s basically if you haven’t got the experience, you can’t play. It’s a catch 22 for people trying to enter a new field, either for a first time job, or to change career fields. I suspect a lot of great people never get where they can do the most good, because they didn’t have some diploma from a recognized school. I don’t mean employers should wantonly accept anyone, but it may be prudent to consider those who have spent the time doing the work, without the benefit of schooling, and who are successful, for filling some positions. Another story from my effort at being a headhunter involves the story of a major bank, that relented and let a Marine Major join the company. In short order, they were amazed at how productive he was. In addition, his calm demeanor, in what was perceived as chaos to the bank employees, was noted. Think about it: After being trained as a Marine, what can possibly be a chaos anymore? They wanted more like him, having seen a glimpse of what an ex-service member could do, even without the “training.” The ASVAB battery of tests, and the AFQT exams are some of the basic skills tests the military uses. The ASVAB is for general skills, and the AFQT is for fitness to be accepted into a flying billet. From tests like this, many people have successfully performed incredibly complex duties, under incredibly difficult circumstances. Granted, the military also has an extremely well developed training capability, in order that those with the aptitude can then be provided with the actual specific skills necessary. This overhead of the training commands is a large expense, but it is a proven process. It boggles the mind to realize many of these young people who get through this would probably be rejected by major corporations, for a lack of capability, due to not having the experience. Think about it, potential employer, can you ask some questions that prove a basic aptitude for the position, and also to assess the ability of that person to absorb the information? If you can do that, you may just find an enthusiastic employee, that a few years down the road, has proven themselves to be able to outperform that person who showed up with only the certificate saying they knew something, but had no other life experience.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Supporting information about the value of the Military experience

Interesting reading about a submariner who has been awarded the Bronze Star. It's in the later part of the story, where the author ties in some comments by Victor David Hanson, who apparently believes that our military produces tremendous results in our warriors. I think it fits well with the multipart post I've been doing on value of the military skill set.

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

Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette said to link to a post on his site to get more timely. Thanks, Greyhawk! Part VIII - Communications in the Workplace 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 Communications in the Workplace is the topic of this post. The military engenders a different sort of work communications ethic. In any service, in any place, there is an undercurrent, unspoken, yet allowed for, that at any moment, any one may not be there to pull their share of the work load. Most people will not leave a unit due to a medical casualty, but they all will leave. Whether it is at the end of active obligated service (EAOS), or to transfer to another unit, people will come and go. The reason this work ethic is different, is the essential need for the unit to continue its mission with greatest efficiency, regardless of who is there, or not. Side note: At one level, it’s a pretty interesting system that can plan out a year or so in advance, as to who will be where, what training they may receive (or not) enroute to join a unit, and also, a similar time out, who is being replaced. More often than not, this is the normal cycle of events. Subconsciously for many units, but most importantly the ones directly linked to potential combat service, the loss of a person, whether a leader or a junior team member, there is the understanding the change may take place in the blink of an eye. The people one step up and one step down from that person need to be able to fill the gap and make things happen. What this does is give service members a work ethic of keeping things organized, and keeping the people around them “briefed in” as to what they do, where the files are, who to call in this and that situation, etc, etc, etc. This mindset, is very necessary for the survival of the unit. It differs from the civilian workplace. It keeps a unit up to speed, which translates into efficiency in pretty much anything they do. But….it exposes to the people around you how you get the job done. In the outside world, this mode of operation seems that is a scary thing… If you let someone around you know the real detail of your job on the “outside,” you take the risk of them being able to show they can perform your job, and therefore, make a pitch to management to move you along the path, which may take you to the door. Personally, I don’t think that ends up being as fun in execution, as it sounds. You send a knowledgeable person packing, and guess who gets to take up the slack? While your ex-military people may seem like they want to find out too much, its merely that defensive mechanism showing up, that allowed units to be so successful. Keeping your staff “briefed in” on the business of the business makes them more efficient. The lessons of this was taught to me most clearly when I worked for Captain Pete Bulkeley. Pete was the son of Admiral Bulkeley, who, as a young Lieutenant, took General MacArthur out of the Philippines on his PT boat in 1942. His nickname was the Sea Wolf. Quite a man, who served the Navy for many years, even after retirement, but that’s another story for another post. Anyhow, I was assigned to a mobile training team unit, and well we were pretty well staffed, and on shore duty, I might add, we mostly all lived out of a suitcase, traveling the east coast almost weekly to train the surface ships. It wasn’t unusual for one of the administrative staff to come down the hall, and say “The Captain is having a meeting” several times a week. I “disliked” those meeting, when we sat around the table, the senior representative from each department and he’d ask each one of us: “What’s going on?” We’d layout what our department was up to and he’d go to the next person. At the end, he might issue a few directions, but generally, that was all we did. I’d be happy to get back to the work at hand, but it wasn’t until after he transferred, and the new officer-in-charge came, that I captured the meaning of his many times a week interruption to our busy days, when we managed to get to the office. The next OIC wasn’t as communicative, but we still kept the organization going. What Pete’s meetings did for us was to allow us to get on the phone, responding to a call from our “customers” (read ship commanding officers, department heads, and senior enlisted in most cases, or the staff personnel from the head of the surface forces for the Atlantic Fleet, whom we did our training and inspections for), and we could pretty well coherently answer their questions of scheduling and training initiatives in the works, because Pete had made us sit around the table and communicate that information to each other, when I assumed it was for him. It certainly was, but it had a broader audience. That is a snap shot of what is bred into all levels of the chain of command, to one degree or another. I always despised the voice at the other end of the phone telling me “They aren’t here right now, but they’ll be back next week.” We didn’t try to assume the authority of the other departments, but since most of us were in and out, we certainly could represent them at a moderate level of detail, and then we could determine how important it may be that we tracked them down, if something was that important. I have come to gauge the organizational skills of a company by how well they can handle a call, when the specific person isn’t around to help you, viewed through the filter of the discussion above.

Friday, March 04, 2005

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

Part VII - “Total Care” 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 "Total Care:" The concept is when you have a military unit, leadership at all levels requires “total care” of those assigned under you. Most every aspect of their lives are now a responsibility of the leaders. Whether it’s a fire team leader, a platoon leader, battalion commander, or the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, everyone in your "down line" is your responsibility. I suspect the top level of this concept isn’t lost on most employers, but for those without any military experience, much of the subtlety can be missed. As a result of the need to have this person ready to work 24/7, the "system" has a complete care system that completely outclasses any human resources department you might imagine in the civilian sector. The difference is there are few dedicated "human resource" professionals in the loop. Much of what is required is part and parcel of what a military leader is required to do. What this means if any service member who has had any responsibility, in combat or not, will have a broader view of what a managerial position requires. We ensured routine wellness checks were done, that teeth were cleaned, that training was scheduled and held, that administrative records, documenting professional performance were properly entered in formal records, the right gear was packed, that families were prepared legally and logistically, for time to be spent apart, that single members personal belongings were stowed safely away, that financial arrangements were completed to ensure money went to the right banks, that life insurance forms reflected the proper beneficiaries, etc, etc, etc. On a daily basis, this may not have much effect, but you can bet these people, in management, will be more in tune with HR programs, which makes for a better cared for work force, and therefore happier employees.