I had an opportunity to comment on air last night on the Hugh Hewitt show about Charlie Rose's interview with Bill Clinton in Davos, Switzerland. Kudos to Radioblogger for his adept Tivo'ing of the ridiculous exchange...a masterpiece to be preserved for the ages.
I will elaborate on my main "on-air" points. Foremost, it seems that Bill is auditioning for the Chauncey Gardiner role in a remake of "Being There." He adds about as much depth to a conversation as adding water to broth would thicken a soup, but Charlie is hanging on his every word as if he was gaining insight from Pythia at the Oracle at Delphi, or was that the Dalai Lama? His rambling comments left me open-mouthed as I was driving home. I am sure those in the fast lane could count my full set of teeth. I simply cannot understand how Clinton can get away with his slack comments on Tianemen Square, have them lapped up by the audience, and not pounced on by Charlie Rose.
Some potential follow-up questions...What pressure did you put on the Chinese government post-Tianemen Square to insure expansion of human rights in China? Do you view China's inclusion into the WTO as appropriate based on their human rights performance? How can Charlie not ask tougher questions?
Bill Clinton is not a fountain of accurate historical, political, or geo-political discourse, but because he is who he is...the only bright light for the Dems since, hmmm, JFK (the first one)...he gets the hanging fastball every time. And even with this advantage, he fails to impress with his embarrassingly shallow and inane answers.
Secondly...the increasingly more frequent and biting attacks that he launches at GWB, via America, are a sign that the Dems are about out of useful political ammunition. The fact that they are relying on JC (not that one, Jimmy Carter) and BC to engage in post-presidential politics to carry their water is a sign of their desperation. If the Dems HAD political capital they wouldn't be relying on delaying nominees in the Senate, nor would they have to trash America to get to the President and his policies. When former Presidents have to carry the fight for the party it is a sure sign that they are running out of tools in their tool box. The VIABLE end of the Democrat Party is near. They will hang on and suffer for some time, but their viability is diminishing along logarithmic lines.
And lastly, it is shcoking to me how little a two term President understands about about the intricacies and delicacies of nuclear weapons and their influence on foreign policy. His glib comments about an exchange with Boris Yeltsin, are near criminal. While certainly no one expected Bill Clinton to launch an unprovoked attack into Russia, we certainly expected him to have the capacity to do it if required. The crux of nuclear deterrent policy for nearly fifty years was that sane men would not initiate the irrational, BUT it was made clear that these same sane men would respond in kind if required. Clinton leaves in question whether he ever understood this basic premise of nuclear deterrence...a strategy, while tenuous, proved to be the correct mechanism for guiding us through and eventually winning the cold war. Scares the bejeeezus out of me. I recommend that Hillary take a few sophomore foreign policy and history courses before she runs...I certainly wouldn't be relying on Bill for any meaninful help with complex issues.
I won't be posting over the weekend, unless my pool team is eliminated early from our 8-ball tourney (not impossible, but not expected).
Friday, January 28, 2005
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Credit to Jonathon Rauch for doing an honest re-assessment of his work (HughHewitt.com). Having had a couple of my printed articles blue penned into a non-recognizable state, yet improved, I know it can be hard to accept well meaning criticism. I believe Jonathan has graciously taken all of the input, and he as deftly clarified his reasoning.
I still have a small disagreement with his argument for inclusion of the activist elements of each party. Unfortunately via the eco-movement, some elements of the anti-abortion movement, and the many violent protests of the sixties, activism has come to mean disruption, destruction, anarchy, and sometimes, violence. In the MSM driven hype to sell newspapers and airtime, these behaviors garner a disproportionate amount of coverage. Sit-ins and hunger strikes are scoffed at for their effectiveness and they have given way to more aggressive methods. Burning houses and SUVs, vulgar chanting at high visibility events, and using subterfuge to gain entry into private events are aptly rewarded by the press, and thus adopted as future strategies. This is why most “activists” are preferred outside the tent, because once inside the tent there is no guarantee that these elements will conform to the established “rules” of the respective parties. And rather than being outside nuisances, they then become destructive forces from within.
If you want to REALLY change either party’s platforms in a meaningful way, you have to do it with reason, logic, salesmanship, and sometimes, political maneuvering. Changes made in this fashion will, indeed, change the party. Changes made through aggressive momentum, coercion, and destructive activism have little chance of taking root in the short or long term, e.g. Howard Dean fizzle.
While the Democrats have given Michael Moore and Howard Dean a voice, I don’t believe they have strengthened their party in any way. The Dems problem now is what to do with them now that they are in the tent, e.g. Howard Dean’s desire to be Dem Party Chair. Today’s activists are useful in bringing to light many issues, however these issues, and their messengers, need to be carefully considered before letting them in the house.
Posted by Major Mike at 10:26 AM
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Comments on the Jonathan Rauch piece linked at HughHewitt.com
“On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.”
I have a couple of problems with this piece. First, not all religious conservatives are abortion clinic bombers. And second, embracing the true radicals into either party is a strategy that will, in the end, erode social peace not promote it.
True religious conservatives no more embrace the potential harm that abortion clinic bombers may cause workers in those clinics, than they embrace the carnage that routinely takes place inside. Additionally, the actions of these nut cases is not embraced by the mainstream pro-life crowd. And lastly, when exactly was the last abortion clinic bombing?
Michael Moore and his proven falsehoods are being accepted as truth by the “moderates” within the Democrat Party, and subsequently moving the moderate position even farther to the left. Counter to the rejection that abortion clinic bombers receive from the mainstream elements of the Republican Party, the acquiescence of the moderates within the Democrat Party to the Michael Moores and Howard Deans has virtually handed control over to the radical elements within the party. While this may be better for the “social peace,” is doesn’t bode well for future Democrat Party success, and may in the end lend legitimacy to the violent radical elements as frustration at their eroding support grows.
I think Jonathan is on thin ground here, for this country is not in need of violent change via radical elements, it is in dire need of improved political discourse based on reason, compromise, and common sense. None of which has been shown by Michael Moore and his ilk.
Posted by Major Mike at 10:07 AM
Maureen Dowd, NYT Jan 20th
Maureen Dowd publishes an inane and witless piece on Jan 20th, replicating Barbara Boxer’s ridiculous attacks on Condoleezza Rice last week. Coincidence or strategy? Barbara Boxer’s voodoo like skewering, was a completely naked attempt to blame MS. Rice for every issue she has with the Bush Administration. Ms. Dowd’s piece is no better clothed, and in the process she manages to offend sensible people, mathematicians, economists, physicists, and even Sam Cooke fans.
Ms. Dowd must need a refresher course in civics, if she believes that the National Security Advisor is responsible for the signing of death notices to soldier’s families, oil revenue projections from Iraq, and offensive military tactics in Iraq. Certainly, when a nation is engaged in war, all of these issues are up for discussion. These issues are likely to be politicized to the greatest extent possible, but these strikingly similar strategies of trying to blame a Presidential Advisor and post nominee for the wide range of issues that Dowd and Boxer are trying to blame Ms. Rice for, cannot be ignored.
In the short time since the Rathergate report has been released the MSM has fought to preserve its routinely doubted, air of neutrality. This lock-step message by Boxer and Dowd only highlights the continued skepticism we should continue to give the MSM, as such parallel attacks could hardly occur without the syncopation that has become the hallmark of Democrat party operations and MSM productions. The press will not escape this until they can truly wean themselves from their liberal bias.
Condi Rice is a job applicant, and needs to be asked probing questions. But truly, a candidate for a position cannot be held responsible for activities that occurred in departments outside of her purview, where again, she held the position of “advisor” not “policy maker.” Swing at Rumsfeld, swing at the President, swing at DOJ, in the proper forums. But don’t swing at a highly respected, highly qualified, exceptionally bright, diverse candidate for a critical office during a confirmation hearing where her connection to these issues is thin at best.
Remember, critics have their place, but… “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Teddy Roosevelt.
I don’t see individual Senators leading anything, nor do I see Maureen Dowd as anything more than a shallow, witless critic. Let the doers do, and have the critics get out of their way.
Posted by Major Mike at 9:17 AM
Monday, January 24, 2005
Sunday, January 16, 2005
I sent Hugh the following email after his appearance on The Factor last Friday. The email contains most of my thoughts, but I am still struck by the hypocritical nature of the TV press, including O'Reilly, who believe that their pre-formed opinions are the Rosetta Stone, and that they remain intent on shoving them down our throats regardless of the information their well-informed guests bring to the table. If FOX isn't careful, the self-righteous nature found in the MSM will begin migrating to them. As the big three start to slip, and FOXNEWS' rating climb, they will be susceptible to the same pitfalls the Big 3 are nose-diving from...snobbishness, elitism, and deafness.
To this point, bloggers still have plenty of mistakes to make before they come close to rivalling the MANY egregious mistakes made by the the print and video media...many of which they still have yet to rectify or apologize for.
It is the RESPONSIBILITY of every American to protect the information flow in this country, not just the responsibility of good looking(?) news anchors and biased print editors. Technology has collided with opportunity, and the internet is empowering us with this responsibility. Use it wisely, but don't be drowned out by the likes of O'Reilly.
Interesting that Bill was "really" interested in what you had to say...NOT. It seems that even FOX will succumb eventually (soon?) to the snobbish assumption that they have the all answers and that the guests are simply props to add to the production values. Great job of staying on message, but unfortunately you were drowned out by Bill's control of the production elements and his preproduction bias. He didn't hear a word you had to say. How can he harp on a few rogue bloggers, in the face of the bloggers' excellent work on Rathergate and many other issues (SwiftVets, etc.), which the cable TV News orgs (FOX) are now taking credit for breaking/illuminating. Shameful on their part.
Hugh, I admire you for sticking your nose into the fight EVERY day. Keep it up! In the end the calm voices of reason will win out. Although I am just discovering the allure and responsibilities of blogging/publishing, I am convinced that the multitude of well informed and printable bloggers will indeed see that the intentions of the First Amendment are more purely exercised than the self righteous, "conventional" media, including FOX.
In its purest form, the First Amendment was meant for the Thomas Paines of the world. Blogging is just expanding the intentions of the First Amendment. O'Reilly's artificial protestations about the limited problems encountered on line to date, are just the early signs of defensive measures the will eventually put FOX in CBS's category if they don't adapt.
Great job tonight. Personal thanks for your encouragement and support. You are on the mark. It won't be long before you have O'Reilly's spot.
Best Wishes. Sincerely,
Posted by Major Mike at 10:09 AM
Saturday, January 15, 2005
I read with interest this month’s (January 2005) editorial in the Marine Corps Gazette concerning relieving Commanding Officers of command. Indeed it was a cautionary note to senior commanders to seriously evaluate whether relieving COs of command is truly beneficial in all cases. There are often, as the editor points out, clear cut and legitimate reasons for COs to be relieved, and in these types of cases (serious UCMJ violations, inappropriate behavior with subordinates, etc.) relief of command is the proper solution. He cautions about relief in more ambiguous circumstances such as erosion of confidence, squadron safety records, and other less clear-cut circumstances. I couldn’t agree more here.
Relieving a CO midstream can be devastating to a unit. And while I am not familiar with the specifics of the two cases the Editor cites, he is correct about its short term and long-term effects. I experienced this twice in my career. Each time the unit cohesion was reduced; unit confidence was shattered, as many junior officers wrongfully assumed a share of the blame; and reconstruction was long and painful.
Also to the editor’s point, is the need to use relief as the last resort, and to very carefully use it after extensive counseling and mentoring by the senior commander. The implication is that this rarely happens, and based on my experience, I would agree.
The other chilling message these unscheduled COCs send is that we are returning to a zero-defect system. A management approach that punishes mistakes and risk taking, and rewards risk avoidance and anonymous, benign activity. There are officers who can remain virtually unknown as they fail to take measured risks, and rarely stick their necks out when appropriate. In the end, they will have the records that will get them commands, but they will have little of what it takes to be in command. We are better off being a bit bolder and making mistakes, than we are continually working to stay off the skyline with the next higher echelon. The hasty relief of COs reinforces the zero-defect mentality amongst officers, and in the long run, will produce increasingly less capable COs.
I will take one issue with the editorial, and I will belabor the point to some degree. In combination, our evaluation system, our promotion selection system, and our command screening system are incapable of producing consistent, high quality results. I am not saying we are not getting good COs. In fact on a visit to MCAS Miramar last summer, I was impressed at the choices the Corps had made, of the COs that were known to me. These systems, however do not support the objective of consistently getting the best leaders into our leadership ranks, and into our leadership billets.
First, the performance evaluation system needs a lot of work. At best a CO is in position to directly evaluate an officer less than 5 percent of the time. The remaining 95 percent must then be filled in with supposition, opinion, and conjecture. There needs to be broadened input into the system. Modern technology supports the idea of anonymous peer evals at a low consumption of time and energy. Dial in, or computer assigned evals, done by contemporaries of the officer reported on, works is a legitimate way to fill in what Reviewing Officers are physically incapable of seeing.
The officers within a unit HAVE to be rated on a curve. Period. This will give a level statistical base in which to compare officers of different units and different MOSs competing for promotion against officers that have been assigned to different size staffs. The current system is abused when statistical derivatives are used in the selection process, where no level statistical field exists. The statistical “truth tellers” are invalid if the original basis for their calculations are not mathematically based.
Eliminate all reporting occasions that are easily manipulated to avoid ranking some officers in the bottom 50 percent. We all now what I am talking about. This kills the legitimacy of the evaluations, and skews the data…compromising the “purity” of the system and potentially opening the door for lesser-qualified candidates.
The conduct of the current promotion systems is archaic at best. Today’s computer and video technology can lend depth to the current one-dimensional view now delivered to promotion board via a review of an Officer’s Qualification Record (OQR). Reliance on a paper file to select LtCols who will lead our combat maneuver elements is outdated in the era of web conferencing, PALM devices and PDF files. Allow Marines to “talk” to the board via the fitness reports, giving each MRO a space to describe the challenges and successes of the reporting period. Get more input to the board, and use technology to do so.
Change the way promotion selection boards work. As I am going through the “Case Preparation and Briefing Guide” Rev. 2 Apr 96, I am amazed to learn that,
“Case preparation should take no more than 60 minutes per case. You will eventually reduce record preparation to approximately 45 minutes ore less per case as you master the techniques.”
Wow. A whole hour to review a 14-15 year career. Combined with the actual presentation before the board, a record will get a whopping 66 minutes (max) consideration at an officer’s most critical juncture. Looking at it the other way, the Marine Corps has spent only 66 minutes in the first step of the process to select future COs. Seem adequate?
Promotion to LtCol and screening for command, HAVE to be more rigorous. By accepting them in there current forms we are leaving in place a woefully weak system that is not modeled anywhere in business. I had two days of interviews, conducted by ten people, in order to get my first job out of the Corps. That was for a position that paid $53K and had only 25 direct reports. Promoting a Major to LtCol, then giving him command of a half a billion dollars worth of airplanes based on a couple of hours spent screening a paper record, does not measure up. Period.
Great editorial, but let’s don’t skip over a systematic problem that could be a large factor. Fix the evaluation, promotion, and screening systems, and you will reduce unscheduled Changes-of-Command.
Posted by Major Mike at 2:01 PM
Thursday, January 13, 2005
I am quickly reaching my limit with two groups of people…cowards, and the press that seeks them out and prints their pathetic stories. At the top of my list today is Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman with the 3rd Infantry at Ft. Stewart, Ga. The intrepid Sgt. Benderman failed to deploy with his unit because “you just don’t know how bad it is.”
My patience has run out on cowards who refuse to live up to their obligations, leaving others to do their work. Others to carry their load. Others to take their risks. Sgt. Benderman bravely declared, one week before his impending deployment, himself a Conscientious Objector. Right.
I have no issues with COs, other than I usually feel that it is obvious that the business of the average serviceman/woman is generally to use the lethal weapons that he/she is issued. So, I am a bit down on post enlistment COs, but slightly less so than the pre-deployment CO declarers. Sgt. Benderman, age 40, suddenly found himself blessed with the divine illumination of his new moral foundation miraculously just a week before the risks to his life were about to climb. He is a deserter. He needs to be prosecuted to the greatest extent possible.
Sgt. Benderman, I suggest you ask all of the Naval Aviators, crewmen, and carrier deckhands how bad it is. Ask the hundreds of aviators, crewmen and deckhands that risk their lives to a much higher degree everyday, than you can expect in your tour in Iraq. They have been living it, and dying in it, everyday since carrier operations became the heart of the naval operations. Ask LtJg. Martones who died on his very first night landing on the USS Midway in June of 1983 while in training. Ask John Hutalla, Capt. “Buddy” Holly, Pete Keenan, and the hundreds of others who died in training, each carrying a higher risk in training than you will see in Iraq.
Inflaming my ire to a higher level is the fact that after going UA, he ran to the press and told his sad story to a press all to eager to lap it up. The press loves this story…obviously each soldier who refuses to do his duty is not necessarily a coward, but a repudiator of the President and his policy in Iraq. Of course, this qualifies for immediate front-page coverage, written in a way to make Sgt. Benderman out to be a hapless soul who is being beaten down by the unfair Army, not the COWARD that he is. Where is the coverage of the Silver and Bronze Stars that are being awarded to servicemen who have earned them through courageous and valorous action? Nowhere. I have not seen the press cover one personal award locally, or nationally. That would of course be glorifying the President and his policies.
Caution to the Services here, have the courage to prosecute these cases to the max…if you don’t these cowards will begin to eat the heart of your organization. This harsh assessment applies to those who refuse specific missions as well.
Sgt. Benderman, talk to anyone who survived flying the Brewster Buffalo in WWII, any torpedo bomber in the Battle of Midway, or any sub commander firing torpedoes early in WWII…all of whom went into critical battles with clearly substandard equipment, but who heroically found the courage to do their duty, they will tell you how bad it is.
Posted by Major Mike at 4:48 PM
I think the discussion needs to be broadened a bit when is comes to troop strength, insurgent submission, and post-submission occupation.
All-in-all I think the comparisons of the various occupation force levels, while mathematically interesting, take little of the operational differences of each of the circumstances into account. I won’t belabor the point, but insurgency strength and organization, insurgency weaponeering and available re-supply, leadership capability, popular support, terrain, insurgent tactics, and occupier objectives will all drive the force levels and organization. Generally, the better the weaponeering of the enemy, the more difficult the terrain, the more popular support for the insurgency, the better the tactics of the insurgents; the more forces it will take for the liberators/occupiers to be successful. I think the variables are too great to put a marker down as the “correct” number or ratio.
Casualties will not correspondingly be lowered simply because occupying forces add troop strength. Occupying force casualties will certainly rise if these forces are unable to adapt their force structures and tactics to EFFECTIVELY combat the insurgent group(s) or population. Adding more troops on the ground without developing winning strategies and tactics only increases the target density for the enemy. Highly effective and adaptive tactics could easily have the effect of lowering the overall troop requirements and casualties. Conversely, poor tactics and strategies have always resulted in higher unit casualties, and bear a greater role in overall casualty rates than force strengths. This is true in all operational environments.
Additionally, I cringe a bit with talk of re-organization to “colonial” style forces, or a variation thereof. The post World War I explosion of nationalistic movements throughout the world can be attributed directly to the occupation of nations by colonial forces. Fighting an insurgent nationalistic force would be logarithmically more costly than fighting a disgruntled band of malcontents and outsiders. Our current reliance on our conventional forces necessitates development of efficient and effective tactics to be successful in Iraq. In our current situation, our force limitations are a driving factor for immediate tactical innovation and strategic re-thinking, both key elements in finding a quick, but decisive tactical/strategic combination for exiting Iraq. Developing specific occupation forces would lessen this sense of urgency, re-invigorate grass roots nationalistic movements world wide, and plant the vision of the US as a global conqueror.
The reasons for post-invasion occupation success are as varied as the situations in which they have occurred. Docile and defeated populations, free from outside agitation, have been relatively easy to pacify. Divided nations where the unpopular will of an outside nation is being imposed, have been costly and deadly to occupy. I doubt this will change in the near future, regardless of the amount of strategic analysis that occurs. I submit that our current force structures, with our ability and experience in task organizing, our weaponerring, and our advanced military educational programs, can provide workable solutions long into the future without major force or structural changes. In the end, it will be our mastery of the operational art that will be the difference between success and failure, not mathmatics.
Posted by Major Mike at 1:08 PM
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
I guess Dick Thornburg could have easily reached his unreasonable conclusions in the CBS/Rathergate controversy considering the following 24 major problems with the story and CBS’s and Rather’s subsequent behavior.
Issues with the Aired Story
Authentication of the documents never occured
Lied about the degree of authentication
Failure to scrutinize source
Failure to find original source
Failed to prove documents came from LtCol Killian’s files
Failure to provided adequate corroboration to support statements and to carefully compare documents
Failure to interview a range of Guardsmen with different perspectives
Misleading statements about authenticity
Failed vetting process to match speed and accuracy
Made telephone call to Kerry campaign
Post Airing Issues
Out of hand dismissal of new information
Same producers prepared follow up segments
Inaccurate info calling materials “unimpeachable”
Defended on CBS Evening News
Myopic search for document experts to authenticate vice seeking the best experts
Preparing associated stories to bolster the original
Was a major investigative piece that was produced in a very short period of time
Was pursued intermittently for over five years, which could cause the correspondent and producer to become too personally invested in the story;
Was to be released in the middle of a presidential campaign and was highly negative to one candidate (President Bush);
Involved a source who did not want his identity disclosed;
Involved a second source who had never been located by 60 Minutes Wednesday
Relied on documents that could not be verified by their purported author because he was deceased
Relied on documents that were not originals
Was the first original story aired under the direction of the new 60 Minutes
Wednesday management team.
A couple of thoughts popped into this 1130 combined SAT head that I am sure were lost on the more brilliant mind of Dick Thornburg.
How could rush to air, because of competition, be the least bit justified in this case?
At air time there were at least ten major issues with this story. Who in their right mind would be competing to get this Swiss cheese on the air? After five years of floundering due to lack of evidence, I seriously doubt that there was any competitive pressure that necessitated airing this “story” in September. Without legitimate evidence there was no story, so there would be no competition. Who else would be trying to push this rope uphill? Nobody. So rush to air, due to competition is a conclusion not supported in logic. Hmmmm, why else would CBS try to push this story in September? Sweeps week? Avoid Summer Olympics? Leverage Back to School advertising? Disrupt Presidential election?
On page 28, The Panel rejects the notion of CBS of trying to influence the election, but offers no logic stream for this rejection. In the absence of fully explaining why, we are encouraged by default to draw our own logical conclusions. Mine is…this recognized, left leaning organization, was trying to influence the election. Not by logic and credible argument, but by giving free air time to a story that had about zero merit.
In today’s spin/headline MSM environment, airing of this story has as much chance as a legitimate story of carrying the day, and having a negative influence on an election. Heck, CBS was still pushing the original story two weeks later, in spite of an OVERWHELMING amount of evidence proving its falseness. I am a bit surprised Dick wasn’t able to grasp that the story might stick as a negative in voters’ minds regardless of its veracity.
Fairness in Parallel Universes
If CBS’s motives throughout the campaign were truly to provide fair treatment to each candidate, then why were they not publicly and aggressively pursuing the Kerry campaign to release the COMPLETE military records of John Kerry. The release of his records should have included from the start: John Kerry’s complete Naval Medical Records, including all documents concerning all of his wounds; all of the correspondence between Senator Kerry and DOD regarding the characterizations of ALL of his discharges; and all of the other loose ends adequately pointed out by SwiftVets and others.
If CBS’s focus was on fairness and Vietnam era documents, they could have pursued each story with equal vigor. This would have demonstrated a drive to fairness and it would have been a major factor in deflecting charges of bias and attempts to influence. No such vigorous search for Kerry documents was pursued by CBS. In a fair game each team gets to play offense and defense. Apparently at CBS, the Dems only have to play offense. CBS’s narrow focus on the Bush documents while they ignored an enticing, parallel story that was in play in the Kerry campaign can only be judged as biased. This bias, combined with the timing, again smacks strongly of attempting to influence the election. I am pretty sure Dick’s own “myopic focus” failed to reveal this to him.
Lastly and most simply, how could Thornburg conclude that bias was not an issue, when a “well respected, and credible” news organization commits over twenty-four MAJOR errors in the airing and subsequent follow-up on this story? The “perfect storm” theory is perfect hogwash. These errors of omission and commission could not have occurred WITHOUT the left leaning bias that oozes from the MSM, and especially DR and CBS, everyday. Lottery winning odds could not get the stars lined up again without the will of the participants. Period.
Well threaded circumstantial cases have been pursued by prosecutors throughout history. While not as easy to win as “smoking guns” cases, they are prosecutable and winnable, e.g. the Scott Peterson case. Dick Thornburg has left his work undone by not making the logical conclusion that is available to him…CBS and Dan Rather aired an intentionally biased story that was aimed to influence the election against President Bush. Dick needs to look for other work.
Posted by Major Mike at 4:57 PM
After less than a week at blogging I am ready to break my first big story. I know what you’re thinking, “That rookie is getting way ahead of himself.” I know, but this story is so big, and so hot, I have to go with it.
I have an unidentified, unimpeachable source inside CBS that was able to provide me with a copy of the original text of a transcript of the screening questions used by CBS in hiring Dick Thornburg to conduct an independent review of the fake Dan Rather Bush TexAng memos. I will be happy to provide re-copied originals once I can find a Remington Model 1972 typewriter with an OCR ball, but that can wait. Here is a transcript of the questions.
CBS: “Mr. Thornburg, you are shown a clear glass, nearly filled with a clear liquid. The liquid is odorless and tasteless, but it is refreshing when consumed. It is known to freeze at 32 degrees F, and change state to steam at 212 degrees F. And finally, when frozen, crushed into pieces and mixed with the appropriate amounts of gin, tonic and lime juice, make an excellent cocktail. What is the glass?”
Mr. Thornburg: “After careful study, I have concluded that there is an odorless, tasteless and colorless liquid in the glass.”
CBS: “Excellent. Last question. You look in the mirror and in the middle of your face you see an appendage. It appears to aid in the intake and exhalation of air. It can detect unique aromas. And it conveniently holds up your glasses. What is it?”
Mr. Thornburg: “After careful study, I have concluded that the item you describe is a facial appendage that aids in breathing, and that can detect odors, while holding up glasses.”
CBS: “Excellent. We believe you will excel at this task. You’re hired to investigate the Dan Rather memos, draw any conclusions you like.”
I know there are those out there who believe I should have done a bit more homework on this one, but I was afraid of being scooped by Time, Newsweek and alas, CBS. I’ll produce my unimpeachable evidence at my earliest convenience. Thanks for your patience.
More later on Dick Thornburg’s brilliant conclusions after his thorough four month investigation of the Dan Rather memos.
Posted by Major Mike at 8:04 AM
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Thanks for the initial feedback…I’ll keep posting. I am glad to know that I am not stuck out in left field.
WHY IRAQ IS NOT LIKE VIETNAM
While I am sure most to the American population has this figured out, it pains me every time I hear an analogy, a reference, or a prediction that Iraq is, or will turn out like Vietnam.
Iraq is not like Vietnam:
The terrain in Iraq favors the conventional forces. The terrain in Vietnam favored an asymmetric or guerrilla strategy. The almost contiguous cover afforded to the Viet Cong and the NVA was ideal for insurgency ops. It provided cover for MSRs, staging areas, and nearly all troop movements. It mitigated the effectiveness of our technical advantages and leveled the playing field for the enemy forces. Although the foreign insurgents in Iraq are taking cover in the cities, the lack of secure mobility and their inability to mass forces at critical junctures will keep the insurgency in its current stages. Iraq may be unpleasant, but it is not like Vietnam.
The insurgency in Iraq is not a popular rebellion. The seeds of the NVA victory in Vietnam were planted in the early 1920’s when nationalistic movements of all types were hatched in Europe. The Viet Minh, as did the Communists in China, gained momentum out of their efforts in fighting the Japanese in World War II. Both were modestly successful, but there were no other viable political or military organizations in existence, so they each became the preeminent forces within their countries, regardless of the desires of the US and the rest of the world. The post World War II agreements that attempted to restore French colonialism to Vietnam and the subsequent agreements that divided Vietnam, sealed our eventual fate. The NVA had gained valuable experience fighting the French. They had a safe operating base in the North, and at worst, they had the support of 50% of the entire population of the combined Vietnams. The insurgents in Iraq are largely foreign fighters intent on disrupting the democratization efforts. They have, at best, tepid support from 13% of the population. They are also not a viable political force, which in the end, regardless of the casualties they inflict, will never give them clout in the political arena. They may kill people, but they won’t be a political success.
Our entry into Vietnam was clouded and ambiguous. Our entry into Iraq was clear and purposeful. We were hip deep into Vietnam even before the dubiously credible Gulf of Tonkin incident. President Johnson worked overtime to keep our depth of commitment and troop strengths hidden from the American public. In the end, the depth of our commitment could not be hidden, and the public rightfully became angry at what had been perpetrated. Regardless of if you are for our involvement in Iraq, or against it, President Bush was straightforward in telling the public what he was doing and why he was doing it. Debates about the viability of specific intelligence reports may linger, but there has been no repeat of the rampant lying that hindered our effort throughout the Vietnam War.
The quality of our forces far outstrips the quality of the forces we had fighting in Vietnam. I am not a believer of the “every soldier a druggie” crowd post-Vietnam, but I saw first hand what low morale and poor leadership had done to the USMC on my very first day of duty in MCAS El Toro in 1979. In barracks drug use, unscheduled intramural boxing matches, and complete disrespect for officers and Staff NCOs was common. Those Marines were the remnants of the Vietnam era Corps, and they were a mess. Units failed to meet basic training requirements, such a going to the rifle range…my unit was NOT the exception. It took a long view and hard work to revive the professionalism that had once been the hallmark of our services. Our forces excelled in Afghanistan, a country once thought impervious to outside military operations. They rolled through Kuwait in 1991 and Iraq in 2003 with unmatched speed and precision. They are arguably the best forces this world has seen. While individual soldiers and Marines in Vietnam may have been every bit the match of today’s troopers, collectively they were not nearly the cohesive force we have today.
There are clearly major differences in our involvement in Iraq and our participation in Vietnam. Calling a donkey a horse does not make it one. There is no excuse for the shallow and off base analysis that is nearly continually comparing these two military operations. Let’s learn from the mistakes we have made in the last twenty months, not from a completely unrelated excursion 30 years gone by.
We clearly need to guard against a protracted low-intensity conflict in Iraq, but the final solution will ultimately be a political one. The Iraqis will have their freedom, and hopefully they will have the will to keep it. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, our participation in Iraq will reveal itself to be less a post-colonial folly, and more a necessary attempt to fight the next battle in the war on terrorism, a battle that is effectively reducing the capability of terrorists. At its worst, it has been a battle that has stopped the murder and torture of hundreds of thousands, and freed millions in the process.
Iraq is Iraq. Vietnam was Vietnam.
Reference material: Vietnam, Stanley Karnow. A Bright and Shining Lie, Neil Sheehan, In Retrospect, Robert MacNamara. The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam. Dereliction of Duty, H.R. McMaster. And about 20 others
© Michael McBride 2005
Posted by Major Mike at 2:21 PM
Friday, January 07, 2005
This is a time for courage. We need to find the collective courage of a nation, and we need to rediscover our individual courage. Terrorism is effective only if people become terrified…if individuals cower, if a nation cowers. It is time for every American to refuse to be afraid. It is time for every American to have the courage to intervene, as did the passengers of Flight 93. It is time for Americans to find the courage to see our fight in Iraq to its necessary conclusion.
The high water mark of terrorism was achieved with the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, but the tide was turned back when the passengers of Flight 93 had the courage to fight back. They put terrorism is on the defensive. They were put on the defensive, not by Interpol. Not by the FBI. Not by the Pentagon, but by individual Americans who refused to cower. They will be kept on the defensive by Americans who refuse to quietly acquiesce to violence, and by Americans who from this point on, refuse to be afraid. And when appropriate, by Americans who are courageous and decisive in dire times, regardless of the odds.
Americans have often found this courage, but lately we have found it only in our uniformed services, our firefighters, our policemen, our Federal agents, and precious few others. But we have lost it in our individual selves. We are afraid in our cities, we are afraid in our neighborhoods, we are afraid of conflict.
Our affluence as individuals, and as a nation has made us soft. It has centered our focus to materialism, self-preservation, and individual isolationism. We have failed to help our neighbors being assaulted, because we were afraid. We have avoided testimony in court, because we are afraid. We have avoided military service, because we are afraid. We have lost our soul, because we are afraid.
The erosion of American national courage began with the final settling of the American West. At that time, entire families possessed courage. They had the courage to fight the elements, to fight the terrain, to fight against brave American natives. They found the courage to tame a wild country. They had the courage to pursue a dream of opportunity and freedom. Indeed, our national courage arrived with the discovery of, and early settlements on the continent. It continued to grow, fueled by the citizens in Boston, by the Declaration of Independence, by the American Revolution, by the fighting of the Civil War, and through the settling of the American West.
But that was the acme. Slowly we began to demand less courage of ourselves, and found others to do our bidding. A smaller and smaller percentage of our population required this bravery, this courage. It was no longer required of women and children, and fewer and fewer men were asked to find this courage. Certainly, there were generational spikes for WWI and WWII, but deferments and exemptions still did not demand this courage of the collective population. And by the time of the Vietnam War, these deferments and exemptions began to demand this courage of only a few of our citizens. We have become affluent. We have become soft.
Today, courage is expected only of those who have volunteered for dangerous occupations. It is time for us to become brave and courageous. It is time to find our inner toughness. It is time to do a “gut check.” It is time to discover what we are made of. It is time to rediscover that it takes courage to maintain our dreams of opportunity and freedom.
The heroes of Flight 93 showed us how to defeat terrorism. Fight back. We must fight not only as a nation, but also as individuals. We must be toughened by this tragedy. We must be reinforced by our anger at the terror and injustice these individuals bring into our lives. We must recognize that true “self-preservation,” at times, requires aggressive and dangerous, and even perhaps, mortal action.
I continue to salute the heroes of Flight 93. I salute their courage; a courage equal to those that have earned medals in combat. I salute them for showing America that, as with Gettysburg, a scarred hillside in Pennsylvania is again the turning point in a desperate fight for true freedom, freedom from fear.
© Michael McBride 2005
Posted by Major Mike at 7:52 AM
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Welcome to Major Mike Blog. I intend to elaborate, pontificate and illuminate on issues historical, military, political, and occasionally, cultural. I am a retired Marine Corps Major, with a B.A. in History (emphasis on American, Asian, and Russo-European), from the Harvard of the South (a little insecurity in branding here?), Tulane University. I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1978 via the NROTC program…big thanks to SSgt. (later SgtMaj) Raymond Edwards for his hard grizzled approach in taking a scrawny 17 year-old and turning him into a hard charging Leatherneck. I flew F-4s for ten years, AWS for a year, trained Lieutenants at TBS for 3 years, flew F-18Ds for 5 years, and finished up writing requirements papers for the Navy staff in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
For those in the culture of professional military publications, I have had eight articles published between Proceedings and The Marine Corps Gazette. Topics have included counter-point articles on comparative value of aviation weapons systems…I am 3-0 in defending the F-18 against all comers, CMC backed me up in Proceedings on one of these articles. I published two book reviews, including The Nightingale’s Song and Once Upon a Distant War; an excerpt from The Nightingale’s Song review is printed on the inset of the first edition paperback. I wrote a well received article on dovetailing and modifying the performance evaluation and promotion systems…this one came with a nice little email from DCS Manpower telling me what a great article it was, but no changes like that were going to be made. I was not overly shocked that none of my changes were incorporated in the modest modifications that took place in 1997/1998 as I was retiring from the Corps. I have also released for publication two articles that have not, and probably won’t make it to print, one challenging the efficacy of the current promotion board structure and operating schemes, and the other a leadership extract. Additionally, I have had an article published in Plant Engineering magazine on effecting change within maintenance teams.
Although, I don’t totally rely on editors to correct my many punctuation mistakes, I endeavor to minimize them. I keep my 12th edition Harbrace College Handbook at the ready, so tight criticism of my punctuational (new word) shortcomings will not be welcome.
I landed on my feet after retiring, getting a job as a maintenance manager with a well-known investment casting firm in the Pacific Northwest. I eventually was leading five departments, including two production departments, when I was contacted by a major sports footwear and apparel company, also located in the Pac Norwest, about taking over the facilities maintenance operations for their world HQ. I must admit, I overcame 20 years of Marine Corps indoctrination, and went for the opulent surroundings, and rarely miss the 120 plus temperatures found in the business end of a foundry.
What do I think? I am a daily listener of Hugh Hewitt at hughhewitt.com, who makes me use my brain everyday. I think Larry Elder has the best discussions on race in this country. President Bush is the right man to be President in this difficult war on terrorism. Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a great job of trying to guide the military into a modern, sustainable force capable of fighting myriad of threats with myriad of options. I think that our military is the best it has ever been, culminating a thirty-year drive out of the post-Vietnam doldrums, to a zenith unmatched in history. I credit the hard work of a lot of junior officers in the eighties, some brilliant staff work in the eighties and nineties, and the superb quality of the officers and men serving throughout the services today.
I think ice hockey is the best sport for kids. I think getting old sucks, but if you keep working out, you can delay its effects. I prefer bass fishing to trout fishing. I haven’t caught enough fish to let any legal catches go yet. I drink Tanqueray and tonic, but settle for Gordon’s when in a financial pinch…but I digress.
First topic…Winning an Asymmetric War in Iraq
There are several critical factors in eventually winning an asymmetrical conflict; adaptability, flexibility, tenacity and will, both on the battlefield and at home. Operational forces and national institutions must yield to these requirements in order to meet operational, tactical, strategic and national objectives in the asymmetric combat environment.
These simple truths should be of no surprise to Americans; our own freedom was won through a combination of conventional and asymmetric war. We won our Revolutionary War because the British failed to develop an operational strategy that would allow them as occupiers to successfully conduct operations against a strong-willed, popular rebellion. Although we were highly successful in winning our freedom through asymmetrical action, no one has yet developed an effective strategy in efficiently defeating such tactics.
Even our touted victories over Native American tribes show very little adaptation on the battlefield. Our eventual vanquishing of the Native American tribes and their asymmetric tactics was very much attributed to the offensive nature of our pursuit operations, but it was equally influenced by the offensive nature of our population push west. Although there we some notable pursuit/attrition operations in the west, fundamentally there were no major shifts away from basic cavalry operations, and hence there were few specific adaptations to the enemy or his tactics. We won simply because our industrial resources and population were able to wear down an opponent that was rapidly running out of maneuver room.
On to our national boogey man…Vietnam. I am going to move quickly through some big issues here, because I don’t want to get bogged down in pointing out the myriad of differences between Iraq and Vietnam. We learned some very important lessons about winning an asymmetric war from our experience in Vietnam, even though we couldn’t claim strategic victory. Tactically we have filled gaps in our operational capabilities. The proliferation of night vision devices has been key in denying the asymmetric enemy the full cover of darkness. Our technical surveillance capabilities across the broad spectrum of the electronic battlefield is garnering volumes more useful intelligence than was readily available to tactical units in Vietnam. Aviation weapons systems accuracy and response times have improved on a logarithmic curve, and they can provide unmatched firepower and accuracy in both the offense and defense. These improvements, among others, have greatly enhanced the ability of force commanders to adapt to the specific tactics of the enemy. We have the tools we need to adapt to today’s war.
Failure to adapt operationally and tactically means we will always be playing defense. The enemy will be dictating the action. We will always be back on our heels, rendered ineffective in our counter-punching. By playing defense we surrender the initiative and fail to master the most critical element of war…offense.
Could we improve here? I believe the answer is yes. While our casualties do not alarm me, I think we need to adapt in a couple of areas. Combat service support and logistical supply tactics need to evolve so that we are not exposing high numbers of men and material to low cost threats. Re-examination of MSR use and routing, aggressive patrolling of MSRs, and airlift strategies all need to be continually examined and refined.
Most of all, we need to get out of the “hunker down”, “compound” mode and get back on the offense. It is not OK for the Iraqi domestic forces to suffer 30 casualties a day while hunkered down in police stations all over Iraq. The responsibility here lies with the smart guys who attended the various Command and Staff Colleges throughout the Armed Forces and the operational S-3s. Tactics also need to evolve from those engaged with the enemy, and they need to be developed by those specifically trained to provide answers to difficult problems. It takes better intelligence, better coordination amongst the services, imagination, resolve, and ferocity, but it needs to happen before a handful of suicidal maniacs erode the national will of two countries. Urgency would be good here. We will be defeated if we are not routinely defeating the enemy. Adapt quickly, now.
Our forces are, and have been, inherently flexible. Reducing the basic maneuver element down to battalion level, repeatedly task organizing units to meet mission requirements, forward and mobile basing, and the purchase of multiple mission platforms (ships, aircraft, vehicles, munitions) have given the current military a nimbleness that can meet the current challenges in Iraq, period. Monday morning quarterbacks need to back away and let unit level commanders do their job with the resources at hand, and they’ll be amazed at what gets accomplished. Lack of armor on support vehicle for which it was never envisioned, is not an issue; it is a red herring…being stuck with B-52s to do precision bombing would be an issue. Move on.
Our forces MUST remain tenacious in the field. Deaths by indirect and unseen means are quick to erode unit confidence and morale. Small unit leaders and unit commanders MUST ensure that our troops in the field, and those preparing to deploy, are as tough mentally as they are physically tough. A demented, hateful, and murderous enemy will test their mettle. The knowledge of this alone should buttress the will of every trooper on the ground, but it will take a relentless focus on mission, continued training, and AGAIN, offensive operations to prevent an erosion of our fighting spirit. Second to the huge negativity the world press injected into our efforts into Vietnam, was the degradation of unit and individual morale that sealed our ambiguous fate in Vietnam. Regardless of what occurs here with our oft idiotic and biased press, it is imperative that unit and troop morale and ferocity remain intact. Timidity and reserve on the battlefield will beget an ambiguous outcome in Iraq.
The final, but most important factor for success in Iraq is to maintain and cultivate a strong national will. Sorry to say, but our individual and collective will have been in decline since we completed the settlement of the west. Our national will has indeed ebbed and flowed over the years, but each time it has been tested in the last fifty years, it retreats farther from its previous mark. This has largely been influenced by the now unabashedly, left leaning press, and the continuous stream of negativism that it spews. Americans MUST be convinced that the fight for peace and freedom is righteously occurring in Iraq. Americans cannot let their collective will be polluted by the anti-Bush negativism that is flowing like the Euphrates from Iraq through the US media.
The enemy has the Ho Chi Minh playbook, and they are counting on the American press to do their part,…and the press is. They are counting on the erosion of our unit effectiveness and morale,…this will not happen. They are also counting on the American public to do their part and become weary of this fight, righteous or not, in order to seal their victory and our defeat, this CANNOT happen. Toughen up America. Our future really does depend on winning in Iraq.
© Michael McBride 2005
Posted by Major Mike at 10:29 AM