Tuesday, May 31, 2005

"U.S. arrests Sunni leader by mistake"

Interesting...the above headline, (front page, top, The Oregonian, linked) and its story, comprise 33 paragraphs, of those only 11 are dedicated to the headline...including the first, the fifth, and the last nine. And only five paragraphs from the end does the author acknowledge "Iraqi authorities suggested someone had planted lies against him in a bid to stir up "sectarian sedition." " So by my pea brained analysis, I have come to the conclusion that this was an honest mistake by the US. Why does it take till five paragraphs from the end to get this point out?

A couple of other things here. First this "US Mistake" headline string is a great example of biased reporting. Did any one see front page "Newsweek Mistake"? Not me. My take is that the press takes EVERY opportunity to bash Bush, via the country, as an attack on his policies, and in the meantime, this slamming lands on the troops...regardless of how many times the press says it is not intentional...it in fact does.

It is very helpful. By overblowing the Newsweek Koran allegations, and then finally reading the Pentagon report that acknowledged five mis-handlings, the press was able to get tons of anti-American exposure out to the world. Oh, I did catch, buried in paragraph 29, that the Muslim detainees had committed three times as many Koran abuses as did US military personnel. I guess that doesn't count for much when it comes to headline space, but vindicating Newsweek with five, acknowledged examples does. Oh, and it had the desired effect....the American press was able to push the hot button of the Islamafacistterrorists for a second time, and spark dozens more anti-American protests. Nice work.

Secondly, who is "U.S." when "U.S. Arrests Sunni Leader"? "U.S." means our military, and the "military" means our troops in the field. So what the Oregonian meant to say was "U.S. Troops Screw Up, Arrest Sunni Leader, Bush Policies and Actions Suck." Look this constant finding of fault IS slamming our troops. you cannot separate our "Troops" from "U.S." when they are the ones physically doing the work in the field. Yes they are responsible for their actions, but no need to keep slamming them as they have operated remarkably well under arduous conditions. No more..."We support the troops" from the press, at the very time they are going out of their way to throw gas on every single match. The results will never be perfect, but the effort has been superb, and it deserves much more respect than it is currently getting from the press.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Pepsi's Reply. My Reply to Their Reply.

My reply to Pepsi's reply...I feel their's is more of a re-statement, rather than any kind of move towards sincerity...other input welcome.

Mr ____,

I greatly appreciate the fact that you took the time to reply to my email.

I, however still find it somewhat unbelievable that in the time spent in preparation of the speech, and the four days after the speech, that she was not able to comprehend the impact that her words would have. It was only after the furor over her remarks began, that she began her attempts at an apology. Mr. ___, we all know the meaning of the waving of a middle finger, and her multiple humorous references to her example underpin her intent. So, consequently the words "inadvertent" and "unintentional" ring a bit hollow. It is this failure to acknowledge the obvious intent that continues to be a sticking point with me. Gaining my trust and confidence would start with acknowledging the plain truth. I do feel she is sorry, but more for the impact on her and PepsiCo.

Mr. ___, I am sure you have long since rolled your eyes and ceased reading, but hunkering down, and riding this one out isn't a strategy that will bring me back to Pepsi products any time soon. I am sure that Pepsi is counting on the poor short term memories most Americans seem cursed with, but I won't be among that crowd. I have avoided purchasing about $50 in Pepsi products to date, and purposely chose a competitor's product at lunch today. This will likely continue until my memory also fades and I am dying for a Mountain Dew, so the financial impact to Pepsi will likely be negligible, but I will continue to have a negative image of Pepsi because of its handling of this matter.

Sorry, but the PR style apology still lacks traction with me...I am sure it has been sufficient for others.

Thanks again for your time.

Major Michael E. ________USMC (Ret.)

Pepsi's reply to my original email...I authenticate it...but I have removed the names...

Dear Mr. ______,
Thank you for your email to PepsiCo's Chairman & CEO, Steve Reinemund. Steve shared your email with me and asked me to respond on his behalf.

Ms. Nooyi is very sorry that her recent remarks at Columbia University's Business School offended you and others. She realized too late that her words and examples about America depicted our country negatively and hurt people.

We can assure you that Ms. Nooyi has taken to heart the the honest comments that have been shared with her since then, including your thoughts, and she is deeply sorry. This has been a painful and unfortunate experience, which she profoundly regrets. Based on the feedback that people found her remarks to be inappropriate and unpatriotic, Ms. Nooyi issued a public apology which has been posted on PepsiCo's website (
www.pepsico.com) and shared openly with our consumers and shareholders. For what it is worth, we can also attest that Ms. Nooyi really does love America unshakably - without hesitation - and is extremely grateful for the opportunities and support our great nation has always provided her.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write to us. Your point of view is valued, and we understand your feelings. We regret that you feel Ms. Nooyi's apology for her mistake was insufficient, and we'll share your sentiments with her. We are also deeply sorry that we are unable to regain your trust and confidence , but will hold out hope that our future actions might redeem us in your eyes.
Mr. _______
PepsiCo Corporate Communications

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

PepsiCo Purchasing Slowdown Update

So far, by my adept use of my abacus, I have calculated that I have avoided buying over $42 of PepsiCo products. I did stray, as only PepsiCo products were available to wash down my popcorn as Darth Vader turned to the Dark Side. But, I am resolute in my efforts to continue to modestly dent the profit margins of Pepsi until my letter is answered, and Ms. Nooyi is able to secure other employment.

Where is Spartacus?

I am quickly coming to believe that the most useless legislative arm in any government is the US Senate. The body is a collection of the biggest windbags, whiners, jellyfish, and demagogues in the country. Only Hollywood is a close second.

By stumbling around for the last four years, the have effectively squandered and opportunity to recover the courts, and put the power in this country back where it rightfully where it belongs…with the people. The last four weeks of barefooted ice-skating only highlights the ineptness of the Republican leadership in the Senate. In the end, they were out-checked by a former KKK Grand Whizzer, a sot from Massachusetts, and a habitual liar from NY.

Senator Frist ineptly managed this from the beginning. There should have never been any negotiation. He should have given fair warning, and then fired the first shot. Instead his delaying allowed the woefully wrong Dems to gain traction on the left, wrongly define the issue, and gain momentum in the press. Even then it was not too late, but his absolute failure to “lead” the Republican Senators is inexcusable. Clearly, several Republican Senators are putting their Presidential ahead of what is good for this country…and right now that is getting balance into the judiciary.

My vote for President in 2008 will not go to any Republican wrapped up in this fiasco. My 2006 campaign contributions will go to the candidates, not the party. Senator Graham is right, his constituents will be upset with him…hopefully enough not to send him back.

The Republican Party needs cohesive leadership right now. They are demonstrating that they do not have the capacity to lead this nation when they have earned all of the tools. They need to believe the electorate and aggressively pursue the agenda they were sent to Washington to enact. First is get balance back into the judiciary. There is nothing wrong with using the power you were given. Trust me, the Dems will beat you over the head with it the first time they get the chance.

Now is the time for leadership.

Where is Spartacus?

© Michael McBride 2005

Monday, May 23, 2005

Good David Brooks Piece

I really enjoyed this David Brooks http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/19/opinion/19brooks.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists OpEd piece. It ran Sunday in the Oregonian, I found it balanced and to the point.

Highlights from the left…

“Excuse me, guys, but this is craziness. I used to write for Newsweek. I know Mike Isikoff and the editors. And I know about liberals in the media. The people who run Newsweek are not a bunch of Noam Chomskys with laptops. Not even close. Whatever might have been the cause of their mistakes, liberalism had nothing to do with it.”

Highlights from the right…

“Meanwhile, the left side of the blogosphere has erupted with fury over the possibility that American interrogators might not have flushed a Koran down the toilet. The Nation and leftish Web sites are in a frenzy to prove that the story is probably true even if Newsweek is retracting it.”

The sobering conclusion…

“Finally, they are strategically ruthless. Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker, who has spent years reporting on extremists, says they use manufactured spasms of hatred to desensitize their followers. After followers spend a few years living through rabid riots and vicious sermons, killing an American or a Jew or even a fellow Muslim seems no more consequential than killing a mosquito. That's how suicide bombers are made…

These are the extremists, the real enemy. Let's keep our eye on the ball.”

Good idea.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Its Pespi ('s) Time

My letter to Mr. Steven Reinemund...

Steven S Reinemund
Chairman of the Board andChief Executive Officer
700 Anderson Hill Rd.
Purchase, NY 10577

Dear Mr. Reinemund,

I would like to take a moment to tell you how deeply offended I was by Ms. Nooyi’s comments to the Columbia Business School graduating class. Regardless of the published protestations about her words being taken out of context, or being misunderstood, it was very clear to me what Ms. Nooyi’s comments were intended to mean. She was clearly was pandering to her audience, and several times made humorous references to the meaning of an extended middle finger…clearly making the connection that this is often the way America should be viewed in the world.

So that you don’t think I am some rube…I graduated from a private university in the south. I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps flying fighters, and I am currently employed by a well known, and "well branded", $14B Company. I make well over $130,000 per year, and consider myself a savvy consumer. Consequently, I am not misled by the initial, shallow apology, or by the subsequent attempt at brand protection. PepsiCo needs to take clear and unmitigated steps to convey that the anti-American message, delivered in a public forum (a forum granted to her because she is a PepsiCo corporate officer) by one of its officers , is not the corporate view that Pepsi holds of America.

Until this is done, I will cease using any PepsiCo product. I have the complete list of PepsiCo products, and I admit that I find many of my favorites on this list, but I will not use, or buy any of the products until a vigorous condemnation of Ms. Nooyi’s remarks is made via the corporate offices. If that is not forthcoming, I will begin to divest myself of all of my holdings that own PepsiCo stock as part of a portfolio.

The America she defamed is the same America that puts billions of dollars into the world economy everyday. This is the same America that turned the tide of fascism in World War II, and the same America that donated, one dollar at a time, over a billion dollars in tsunami relief.

While it is clearly a right of every citizen to speak their mind in this country, in some cases that right carries a burden. Ms. Nooyi’s comments failed her, her adopted country, and the corporation she works for, and they have negatively impacted all three. Mr. Reinemund, only the most aggressive corporate interest in this will stem the tide of negativity that PepsiCo is currently experiencing, and can expect to experience out into the future.

A "damage control" form letter or response, will not meet my expectations as a reply in this matter.

Major Michael E. ______, USMC (Ret.)

Not Fade Away

One of my favorite Buddy Holley tunes...but I digress.

I'd like to go one more round on the Newsweek story, and here's why. The MSM, even when it makes up stories, or over blows them, gets traction with this tripe because they don't (unbelievably) lose interest in them. They beat the dead horse, until an exaggeration or falsehood is widely believed...even if later to be proven completely false, they still have advanced their agenda. The power of the Urban Myth.

So, one more critique of Newsweek and its defenders. Let's compare this to Tailhook '91. I am sure most remember the facts...Thousands of drunken officers, groping thousands of women. Thousands court martialed. Thousands resigned. The MSM played this image out for months.

In the end, what really happened. No convictions on the most serious charges. The central character would not testify for the prosecution after the Article 32 hearing because some of her own actions during that weekend put her perilously close to earning her a courts martial as well. No conviction on the most serious charge...the one the media leveraged for a year. The people most hurt were those officers who accepted responsibility (pled guilty) for their actions that fell outside of those generally expected of an officer. Most pled guilty to some variation of Conduct Unbecoming, and many received career ending disciplinary action...in many cases, as it should have been. In some cases, they were the sacrificial lambs to get the media off the case. Nonetheless, they were held accountable for their actions, and the matter was resolved. Key here though...most pled guilty. They recognized that their conduct had fallen below standards, and that there were consequences for their actions...even if it meant getting kicked out of the rod and gun club.

Additionally, the impact of Tailhook was felt well beyond the Naval Services...the Army and AF had to adjust for the actions of the Navy and MC. So not only were the guilty disciplined, but the non-participants were drug into the fray as well. ALL of the services had to tighten their behaviors as a result of Tailhook '91.

What is my point?

First, Newsweek lied. This is egregious. This is not glossed over with a reluctant retraction and a scornful apology. This requires attention to fix, and we should not let this fade away because we now have to deal with Pepsico (which will get its turn).

Two, Newsweek intentionally defamed America to the world, and inflamed anti-American feelings, which resulted in deaths. Again, Newsweek must accept the link, even if they can scrape up the anecdotal evidence that maybe not every person was there rioting against the Koran "violations." Clearly their stale lies were fodder for the enemy. They were scooped up by agitators, and subsequently resulted in deaths. Step up and accept it...no more "proof" is needed.

Three, if the Koran lies were true...the media would be on them like a pit bull on a steak. They would be thrashing the US and the military, and I feel that they deserve the same treatment. They need to be reminded of this until they can fix the systemic problems within their organization.

Lastly, the rest of the media needs to pay attention. Closing ranks here, which is basically denying the truth, is tantamount to the Navy saying..."leave us alone, this is who we are," after Tailhook. That would not have been acceptable, and would have only thrown gas on the fire. So, ALL of the media needs to get the hint...this is not just a Newsweek problem...this is an MSM problem. Fix it. Change your institutions. Change your product. Others have been forced to...now is the time for you to change.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Goodbye Mountain Dew

I will go anti-Pepsi until a full acceptance of responsibility is taken by Ms. Nooyi. No "What I meant was..." No "I was misunderstood." No "What did I do wrong?" No "The US military made me do it." No "What about the prisoner abuse?" She must fully acknowledge what she said and acknowledge her intent...which is made clear by the comments contained in the speech. And then she MUST resign. Otherwise, I am the anti-PepsiCo consumer. Sorry to those working for Pepsi, but I will not have my 20 years of service to this country slandered by someone pandering to the liberal Columbia crowd, which she could have done in any manner NOT insulting to this country.

I will post the boycotted list at home...we're boycotting. Thanks Hugh for putting th heat on. http://www.hughhewitt.com/

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Oregonian Slams Military While Protecting Newsweek

Copied from the Oregonian...in its entirety...

"If only Newsweek were to blame

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

On Tuesday, another U.S. soldier was sentenced in military court for abusing and humiliating Muslim detainees in Iraq. The punishment got drowned out by the White House's loud condemnation of Newsweek magazine for a retracted news brief about desecration of the Quran by interrogators at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
There's no question Newsweek damaged its credibility and worsened global disgust with the United States by publishing such a poorly sourced news item. But it isn't true, as White House spokesman Scott McClellan said at a briefing Tuesday, that "there is lasting damage to (the nation's) image because of this report."

The lasting damage to the nation's image has come from years of reports of prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, some unsubstantiated and some chillingly documented. A few of the incidents involved the reservist found guilty this week of abusing detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Despite such incidents, the White House seems offended that anyone might suspect further problems.

Newsweek's report of Quran abuse may have inflamed deadly riots in the Muslim world, though accounts differ on the riots' causes. Ironically, Newsweek may be proven right: A Pentagon spokesman said in a briefing Tuesday that there may have been "inadvertent mishandlings of the Quran." As Abu Ghraib showed, anything is possible.

And there is plenty of blame to go around."

So, the Oregonian defends Newsweek...not by offering some illumination of new information. Nor by making an argument wrapped around some interpretation of journalistic standards, but it takes the opportunity to kick the US military in the face, even while the military is in the process of disciplining those involved in prisoner abuse.

Where is the Oregonian's cry for the press to handle the Newsweek affair in the public, as the military is? Where is the call for justice, since unlike the prisoner abuse scandals where only humiliation was involved, for the dead in the riots following the publishing of the story? Where is Newsweek as an institution publicly outlining its courses of action to prevent further journalistic abuses? AWOL. Yet the highly regarded Oregonian can only deflect criticism directed at one of its sororital organizations by bashing those who defend their right to print.

So, the Bush White House, and the military are to blame for every ounce of hate in this world? And stirring the pot with false stories is a practice that is justified, because they are not responsible for the origin of the hate? C'mon...take responsibility for your sub-standard journalism, its consequences, and the necessary corrective action. Don't use the ..."he did worse" defense...it is not acceptable.

The Oregonian exaggerates with "years of reports prisoner abuse," when it was pretty well documented that the abuses took place over a relatively short period of time, by a relatively small group. And then compounds the effect by adding ..."some unsubstantiated, and some chillingly documented." Again, the Oregonian has left the hint of of cover-up, where none is proven to exist. I guess assassination by innuendo is an acceptable journalistic tool. And there is very little that is "chilling" about the prisoner abuse. While certainly humiliating, and somewhat physical in nature, it is a 1 on the Saddam scale of "chilling" prisoner abuse, torture, and murder. The Oregonian has intentionally skewed the perspective on this one as well.

Why do those in the military HATE the press...kind of hard to figure, eh? I guess it could be the continuous demeaning of the military's efforts and results by the press. It could be because the military dies defending the rights of those who cannot hold themselves to their own lowly standards. And most likely, because we have little respect for their product...a product that has proven itself to be standardless, often fabricated, and nearly always negative.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

NPR Delivers...Not

As I was driving to work this morning, doing my usual 0700 switch to NPR (Nationalistic People's Broadcasting) for their take on the news...I failed to hear mention of the Newsweek debacle. Well, you say, there was more pressing news ahead of that story, and how the heck can you fit it all in? Right you are...the ACLU suing the US government over the "Silver Ring Thing" is much bigger news than a published lie that resulted in at least 15 deaths, that was later retracted. I guess I can see that.

People accuse the military of closing ranks in a crisis...how about the MSM putting them to shame. We get the apology yesterday on CNN on line, but no mention of the retraction today. Hmmmm. Watch who you protect...you may get some on you.

At some point, every member of the MSM who closes ranks with Newsweek, takes a chance on becoming equally un-credible. Another nail in the coffin.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek Outrage



Newsweek comes up woefully short with its "apology." Their "apology" is more the equivalent of inadequate excuse making.

First, they knew that any story about US troops defiling the Koran would spark outrage in the Islamic world. This is unforgivable on two fronts.

One, given the seemingly uncontrollable explosive reaction among violent Islamacists to this kind of news, Newsweek had a reasonable expectation the this inflammatory article, would, not could, spark this kind of reaction, which ultimately led to at least a dozen deaths. Apology doesn't cut it. Selling magazines is not worth one life, particularly a magazine whose popularity is clearly on the wane.

Two, Newsweek knew that this story would result in anti-American activities across the globe, particularly in those countries where troops are currently deployed...putting our troops in additional jeopardy. When are we going to start holding journalists accountable for their treasonous acts? Again, an apology doesn't cut it when lives are on the line, and it falls much further short when those lives are the troops who are protecting their right to lie in print. One American soldier death attributed to this article, and Newsweek should shut down! Newsweek ran this article specifically to undermine the work we have done in Iraq and Afghanistan. They printed this as part of their anti-Bush agenda. Period.

Secondly, this is again, a complete journalistic failure. Does any of this sound familiar?...unidentified source, who later won't back up the story? Asking for confirmation from two sources...one declines, the other is tepid, and again this makes it through their rigorous editorial process? Hello!?!, there is no editorial process at these biased institutions. Why is your readership declining? Maybe because your journalism STINKS!!! You are falling victim to your own mediocrity.

Third, the "well, they didn't deny it" defense. Unbelievable! This is pitiful on two levels.

One, the Pentagon does not have time to answer every half-baked, under-researched story. They would spend all of their time fending off lousy stories of conspiracies, dreamt up by the "next Bob Woodward." I think this particular story is evidence enough, but there is little doubt, if the Pentagon went down this road, managing reporters' confirmation requests would be an endless task. Heaven forbid the Pentagon failed to confirm a suspicion...the conspiracy nuts would come out of the closet in their black helicopters.

Two, it is the journalist's responsibility to put together the story. Conjecture, supposition, and weak facts must be bolstered by the reporter's actions...that is journalism. The absence of denial is not proof. An unbelievable shift of responsibility, and not remotely defensible.

Lastly, some of the responsibility here lies with Islam. I wonder how many bibles are burned, flushed, and torn up in Islamic countries? Somehow that activity doesn't compell a like response from Christians. Islamics need to get a grip on the modern world...nobody is insulated from insults. Technology has connected the people of the world beyond the imagination of our religious founders...now is the time to integrate into the modern age...you cannot be singulary insulated from the rest of what goes on in the rest of the world...regardless of your wishes.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Base Clsoures

My initial take is that there are no huge mistakes on the list. I expect the usual complaints by the politicians about home state closures, and the lamentations about closing down some of our historical bases by those who have had the privilege of living in field grade or General's quarters on those bases, but all in all...looks pretty good going by me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hornet's Nest...Go Back

My former weightlifting partner here at work is an Oregon NG 1/Lt. Aside from being a yeti in size, and complete freak when it comes to pushing weights around, there is no doubt he is a fine and dedicated officer. He worked for me briefly when I first arrived here on campus, but he has since advanced through other opportunities, and has moved on. He spent a year in Saudi, and Iraq, and while being a “combat engineer,” he was been picked up by a grunt unit, and it appears they will be keeping him for some time…good call on their part. Oh, did I mention All-American tight end in NCAA Div III? Obviously, no slouch.

My buddy just gets back from Air Assault training; the class (02-05) went from 6 Apr to 17 Apr. He had a good time, and he followed that up with the Rappel Master course. Great time, great pictures. In telling his story, however something caught my ear, and that is what this post is about…turn back now…dangerous posting ahead.

Of the 339 people who started that course, only 77 graduated. Of the 190 who were left on the last day, only the 77 who completed the 12-mile road march, graduated. I don’t know how else to put this…this is a monumental waste of assets.

Assuming an average travel expense of $500 per person, that was roughly $130,000 in wasted plane tickets…including $57,000 flushed down the toilet on the last day alone. I am not one to encourage lightweight training, but a hundred thousand dollars for eleven days of the harassment package, and no jelly doughnut at the end, is a waste. I understand that the students who washed out of the road march have the opportunity to meet a follow-on class and complete the course, but this would be at additional travel dollars…another $50,000 roughly? This only compounds the expense of the class.

Did I mention the per diem costs? If you figure those who washed out are pretty evenly divided on their washout dates, that’s about $27,000 in lost per diem. For those who missed the road march, on the last day, that would be another, roughly, $44,000. How about the cost of the active duty pay…with benefits? $100 per day per student? My abacus is melting.

Did I mention the wasted assets? Let’s let the pre-road march numbers stand on their own, as typical, but what about all the extra training assets that were consumed getting an extra 114 to that road march, then flunking them out. Instructor salaries, building costs (fair market rental, depreciation, etc), helo sorties (a couple thousand an hour per helo, crew salaries, airframe hours consumption, capital replacement costs on the wasted hours) add up to thousands dollars above what has already been mentioned.

Did I mention this amounts to a stunning 23% graduation rate? For a follow on school…are you kidding me? I am sorry, was this SF training? Seal training? Force Recon? Flight School?

Did I mention the ridiculous irony of it? We spent, sorry …wasted, hundreds of thousands of dollars to train soldiers in Air Assault, only to wash them out, after all the skill specific training, on a road march. Clever.

Here are the problems as I see them.

Units need to do a better job of screening candidates before shipping them of to school, and 109 of the washouts here occurred on day zero…an incredible waste of assets for pointy-end-of-the-spear guys who often bemoan lack of funding and training dollars. Unit commanders need to be held responsible for the performance of their candidates. My buddy admits his commander just signed of the physical requirements certification for him, but I can understand why. What about the CO’s who obviously waved at the paperwork as it was going by their desk, and resulted in the 109 washouts on day zero? Do the words dereliction, gross negligence, and incompetence mean anything? If your candidates aren’t qualified, don’t send them.

Follow-on training is skill enhancement training, not an incremental increase in one’s road to a black belt of some kind. Each follow-on school does not have to carve its niche to be “tougher” or “badder” than the next. This may be true for some very specific skill sets, but highly unlikely that it is necessary to become familiar and proficient in air assault techniques. Maybe a 43% washout rate, going into the road march, is acceptable for this course, but it still seems a little high. I understand the target class size was 220…I can see accepting 230, maybe 240, but accepting 50% (339/220) more applicants than boat spaces almost ensures a minimum washout rate of 33% (119/339), and another gross figure as far as waste is concerned. Don’t program this waste into your course!!!

This school specifically, needs to get over itself and provide a training service to the Army that has value. No general skills, follow-on school can call itself a success with a washout rate of 77%. Only 39 students failed on the technical aspects of the course…this could have been a completion rate of over 88%. OK, wash out the zero day guys, and the completion rate still would have been over 82%. The curriculum, the program of instruction, the screening processes, the staff, the focus, the mission…all need to be re-examined in order to determine how this kind of waste is possible. I may want to provide realistic and challenging training, but I am failing the Army if I can only graduate 23% from an Air Assault course.

I realize that a patch/badge is involved here, and I’ve been in the rod and gun club, but there is no way I can view this as anything other than waste and mismanagement. Does this course stand-alone in this regard? I doubt it.

This post is about value…if I were a unit commander, I would not send another soul to this course. I would stand a 77% chance of wasting my money. Shame. This kind of waste is what sends congressmen clamoring for General’s heads, and in some ways…I can’t blame them. You can’t belly-ache for more money, then pour it down the drain. This needs fixin.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Oregonian Continues to Impress

As I was reading my printed copy of the venerated Oregonian this morning I was delighted to see an article on page B-3 talking about how Oregon's unemployment rate was the lowest since mid-2001...read that as just after GWB took over, and right after the false growth period under Clinton was popping. Hmmm, I say to myself, this is good news, why is it so far back in the paper? Shouldn't this be on the front page? Maybe I should see what kept this great story about the economy, a story that predicts 8.5% growth in the next year, and double digit growth beyond that, off the front page.

The link to today's Oregonian is provided here http://www.oregonlive.com/oregonian/ftp/Monday-A1.pdf ...here is the great lead article about horse training, a good piece about troop deaths in Iraq, the Bush visit to Russia, tribe influence in the NW, and the stunner...OSU develops new glue from mussels. I can see wehre they ran out of room for good news. Geez, how can double digit economic growth compare to mussel glue anywho?

For the fiftieth time...the MSM doesn't get it...they will collapse because they cannot figure out how to take their prejudices out of the process. Good news on the economy...hide it. In fact, my searching on the on-line edition could not turn up the same story. At the very worst GWB has maneuvered us through one of the most challenging economic situations in our history...like him or not, and you don't HAVE to give him the credit he deserves for it, but you have to put the "news" where it belongs...not somewhere behind mussels and horses. The Titanic is sinking, and I doubt it can be saved. The band is playing, and the stern is starting to rise ...

Friday, May 06, 2005

USAFA Holy Rolling

Who gave the AF Gens the gun to shoot themselves in the foot on this one? AFV http://www.airforceblog.typepad.com/ does a credible job of getting the "religious scandal" into perspective, but a few comments from my point of view.

First...stoooopid to let any collegiate academic institution in to evaluate any of the service academies. Geez, there is only one conclusion they will reach...the academies are overly disciplined and too right wing...including religiously. Dumb move. Get some USAF chaplains, some Navy Chaplains, some ruler wielding priests from catholic institutions, whatever, but not straight collegiate academicians. No win here...now you have to comply with their recommendations, or you are whitewashing it...hard place to be...better to not get there in the first place.

Secondly, USAFA has had a string of scandals that they haven't particularly handled too well...so the extra scrutiny is going to come...sad, but true. So, any excursion...sexual, abusive, religious, is going to attract an increased, and often unnecessary level of attention. I don't know the staff there currently, but their mission should be to stay beneath the radar screen, on all accounts, for several years. They have almost continually failed to get a Commandant in there that can do that. What they need is a string of years, with NO excursions, just to get back to the regular breathing room that most other institutions enjoy. Until they can do that...welcome to your world for the foreseeable future.

As for the Bible pushing...I don't doubt that it happened. There have been several times where local or higher unit commanders have tried to push their expectations about religiousness down to us heathen masses. It is wrong. Peer to peer, have at it...you may get some converts, maybe not. But top down proselytizing is off limits...particularly in an environment where hundreds of young, impressionable future officers are receiving their training. These evangelical cadets may come to see themselves as players on the "General's team," and subsequently more special than cadets with other beliefs. All of the academies, including the private ones, are ripe for the growth of secret or "special" groups, which in the end have a wholly detrimental effect on the officers they create and the services they serve. There is no need to encourage this behavior by an over-enthusiastic endorsement of a particular brand of religion, or by creating a "special" or extra-ordinary bond between members of one particular religion, to the exclusion of others. This kind of "tribe" bonding within larger units is a killer on unit cohesion, and it builds distrust from members outside the groups. Frankly, if this occurred in any fashion, and I believe it did, sign of very poor, while maybe religious, leadership. No excuse.

USAFA needs to still the waters, and keep them still for a very long time, if they want the maneauver room they long for. This will take calm, even leadership for the extended future, AND unfortunately, a deft handling of this current situation.

If I Could Be...cont.


If I could be a librarian, I would do a very diligent job of cataloging all of the "articles" in Playboy over the last 50 years.

If I could be a musician, I would back up Jimmy Buffet on every concert from now until I suffered death via acute alcohol toximia.

If I could be a linguist, I would do my best to interpret the nonsensical "arguments" that liberals make when trying to carry on a coherent debate about issues.

And lastly, If I could be an athlete I would be a NASCAR driver...horsepower, speed, tools, air guns, beer sponsors, wrecks, and winner circle babes...man that sport has it all.

Response to Bow Ramp Challenge

The honorable commander of The Bow Ramp blogsite http://bowramp.blogspot.com/ has wrangled me into a challenge...I am to pick five hypothetical professions from his list and give my reasons for choosing each...this may prove difficult for me. Since I was 17, I stumbled into one good deal after another, never really choosing what was going to happen next. So I am not use to "choices."

I will do my best to meet his challenge, but it will have to wait until later in the day...I have to complete my year-end rankings this morning for my team...I am almost done with that task, but I want to give it my full attention...but I will throw out my Number 1 choice now...

If I could be a justice (I'll substitute the word judge here) on any one (I'll list two) court(s) in the world it would be...simulaniously,...a judge in both the World Bar-B-Que Championships, and the world Beermiester Championships. Hate to waffle, but the beer was a neccessary ingredient for the BBQ judging.

More later...MM

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Exoneration For Falluja Marine

I believe justice has prevailed in the November Mosque shooting, in which a Marine corporal shot an injured Iraqi insurgent (linked in the title above).

I am glad that the Marines let the investigation run its course, and let NCIS complete its investigation. Oft times institutions act too speedily in order to relieve pressure from the outside...almost always at the expense of the individuals involved. I am pleased with the Corps and its conclusions in this case.

The video always presented the incident for what it was...a tragic mistake, that occurred during a period of high stress. The corporal never displayed an overt eagerness to kill another human being, but he did what he (and I) felt was right to ensure the safety of his men, based on his past experiences, and his observations of the scene at the time. That is all we can ask of our servicemen and women in the field.

I hope he is able to put this incident behind him, and continue with his service. I think he is a keeper.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Eagerly Awaiting the Italian Report on the Sgrena Affair

I have been waiting all day for the Italian version of events surrounding Sregna’s miraculous escape from kidnappers and her death defying dash through an American checkpoint that had intentionally targeted her for death. Whew…Pulitzer Prize in the making. But I was disappointed. No report today.

I will do my best Carnac impression and predict what the Italians will conclude in their independent, un-biased report.

First, they will conclude that they (who specifically contacted who?) contacted the US command a full 25 minutes before the Sgrena kamikaze machine was throwing itself at a well established, well known checkpoint, manned with armed and determined American servicemen.

They will conclude that 25 minutes was more than enough time for any competent force to coordinate such a pass through. They will not mention that they called L/Cpl Whatshisface, night operations clerk in Eastbygod, Baghdad, who had no idea what they were talking about since there was no prior coordination, BECAUSE they knew we would protest vigorously against paying ransoms…ransom money that has found its way into the violence over the past week or so. My current tally….Sgrena ransom = 100+ dead. Sorry I digressed a bit…and that the US military fumbled whatever information they were given, so instead of an easy pass-through it turned deadly because of American incompetence.

They will conclude that the Sgrena escape Fiat, slowed to 30 kph (metric here), in order to improve their chances of getting through the checkpoint unscathed. This will fly in the face of the evidence that Capt Ed http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/004386.php gives via the CBS report last week, which convincingly shows that the vehicle was going in excess of 60 mph (English units here) when it approached the checkpoint. This will be the first recorded example of the Military Journalistic Complex actually succeeding in coherent messaging while they conduct their ongoing conspiratorial effort to dominate the world through favorable press for military units.

They will conclude that US troops used excessive force in stopping the vehicle, and thus causing the death of the Italian agent. This again flies in the face of the evidence…the force used was actually necessary to stop the vehicle. Warning shots went unheeded, so consequently our troops applied the exact force necessary to ensure compliance by the marauding vehicle. The vehicle could have stopped, if the driver had applied the breaks at any time, and complied with known checkpoint procedures.

The Italian report will conclude that the American report is inaccurate in many areas…sorry the information contained in the envelope is not clear to me, but I am pretty sure that the incompetent Joint Official Cover Up Team of USCENTCOM has made several critical analysis errors, in an attempt to cover up the wrong doing of many up and down the Chain of Command. It will be only with superior, and communistic journalistic influences that the Italian analysis will uncover so easily, what our best cover-up artists thought they could keep from coming to the surface. So a conspiracy of some kind will be revealed through superior, Italian investigative techniques…and the US military will be exposed in their attempts to cover up many egregious acts of commission and omission that resulted in Sgrena’s injuries and the agent’s death.

The Italian report will conclude that those manning the checkpoint were incompetent and under-trained. The usual slams to the “institution” and its marginally mentally equipped members. I’d still say they got the vehicle to stop…mission complete.

Bottom line…the Italian report will slam the US and the servicemen who manned the checkpoint. It will do so, not in an attempt to get the truth out, but in an effort to keep politically viable, Italian candidates who have supported the coalition in Iraq…whatever… again our European Allies will have slammed the efforts of our troops in the field, just to gain political maneuvering room at home. Not the first time, won’t be the last, but I refuse to take it seriously.

I have yet to see a serious journalist piece that takes the Italians to task for adding millions of Euros (metric again) to the insurgency, and the subsequent result in the cost of Iraqi lives. Until the Italians own up to that, nothing they have to say should be taken seriously.

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