Sunday, January 31, 2010

They Are Not Forgotten

Each time it happens, it touches me.
Today it was the names "richard mckown wilford john house roger alex".
Put into a search engine. They found my Memorial Day remembrance.
Who puts the names in? An old friend? A family member who knew them? A family member who never knew them?
It doesn't matter.
What matters is that these people are remembered.
They were Naval Cryptologists.
They died in the line of duty.
They are not forgotten.

Two Sailors and a Marine, forever young. And You.
You remembered them. Were you young with them?
You thought about them.
You wanted to see if anyone else knew.

I know. I remembered too. Because of you.

Today it was the Kami Seya fire on September 24, 1965

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Zero Tolerance is Dead

CDR Salamander has a post about a football star at the Naval Academy who popped positive and has been allowed to stay in the Navy.

This makes me sick.

I remember a DRB for one young Sailor who popped positive when I was a CMC back in the 1990's. The guy was almost in tears, knew the consequences, and said, "Master Chief, I'm sorry, all I want is a second chance."

You know what I had to tell him? "You can have a second chance, just not in the Navy."

That sucked. Many in the 70's and pre-USS Nimitz 80's got that second chance and went on to become fine Sailors and leaders of men.

But the rules changed to zero tolerance. And we followed them.

Compare the young enlisted Sailor in my story and the future officer in Phib's. One admits guilt, accepts responsibility, and asks to give it another try. The other lies and gets others to lie to cover up his error.

Who would you rather have on watch?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hotts and Aircraft

Not my usual type of post, but...

Click here for some more images of Aviation hotts. The images are only risque, not pron but the host is a NSFW Russian website.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Blinding Flash of the Obvious

The Washington Post editorial today excoriates the Obama administration for bungling the interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. (Via HotAir) The money phrase
This was myopic, irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

The editorial goes on,
We originally supported the administration’s decision in the Abdulmutallab case, assuming that it had been made after due consideration. But the decision to try Mr. Abdulmutallab turns out to have resulted not from a deliberative process but as a knee-jerk default to a crime-and-punishment model.

Assuming the decision had been made after due consideration? In other words, we think they're good guys, so we gave them a pass and didn't ask to explain how they considered the decision. Nice work there, big, rich newspaper in Washington DC.

It looks like it is worse than I thought back when he was charged. This was not a thought out policy, agreed at the highest levels. They were basically winging it.

And the press wasn't interested in asking why.

Good grief.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thoughts on Corporate Influence

On Thursday, in response to the US Supreme Court decision on McCain-Feingold, the President said,
With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington

There has been a lot of commentary agreeing with the President. But I haven't heard an honest discussion of what I consider to be some fundamental truths in the matter...

These arguments are based on the assumption that the Federal government must continue to grow and exert growing influence over the country, its markets, and its people. Special interests and lobbyists only pay Washington because it gets them something. As the Federal government grows in scope and control over society, so does its ability to determine winners and losers in the marketplace. That's why special interests and lobbyists want a seat at the table - so that the government doesn't decide that they lose.

If the Federal government were smaller... much, much smaller, then power and influence in Washington wouldn't matter so much. People could succeed or fail in the marketplace based on the value of what they had to offer consumers, not "the power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Tactical President

The Supreme Court did the right thing today. It upheld the First Amendment and struck a blow for free speech by striking down the odious political speech restricting provisions of McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. Below is the response from the White House
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 21, 2010
Statement from the President on Today's Supreme Court Decision

With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.

Someone* said recently that while Clinton had the policy people at the center, with the political people at the edges, Obama has the political people at the center, with the policy people at the edges. This statement looks like something straight from a campaign trial. Populist pandering.

What's the policy?
To try to reduce the influence of big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies? In Washington? Yeah, right.

Are we now to believe that the President is concerned about that special interests and their lobbyists will have even more power in Washington? Or is it that's he's concerned that the special interests and lobbyists not aligned with him will have more power. Based on what we've seen the last year, color me cynical.

After what we just saw in Massachusetts, I've got renewed faith the power of average Americans who make small contributions to have a real impact on the process. Especially if that contribution is increased involvement and voting.

As far as the President's call for a forceful response... why is he so combative on everything? This sounds like he's angry again, looking to pick a fight where the law has just been settled. Is he really ready to get another big thing on his plate? This First Amendment stuff is a big thing for many Americans. Does he really not get that?

This just doesn't play to the big picture, strategic change many of us thought this President would bring to Washington. It smacks of pettiness. Maybe we should just start calling him the tactical President.

*I read that this week, but can't find it. If you know the article, please tell me where it is so I can link

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A single data point

From the NY Times Election map of the contest between Brown and Coakley, this shows that the elite of Cambridge still, overwhelmingly, support their party.

Looks like the Democrats haven't lost their base.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Who is this Military Imposter?

Phibian Salamander has posted an image of General Douchey McChinpubes that was reportedly taken at one of the events celebrating the inauguration of Houston's new mayor.

Who is this imposter Douche?

UPDATE: XBrad TC also has a post up with a larger image

UPDATEII: We have an ident! The imposter is Michael Patrick MacManus. Bouhammer has the details. Oh, yeah, just watch, the only part of his military bio that will turn out to be true - that he went to DLI. A linguist. Great, just fuckin' great.
Fuck me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bad Logo Choice of the Day

Lots of mothers would support this I'm sure...

Ouch... it's really for the Massachusetts Literacy Foundation

Here's the full banner from their site

Funny, but true

Frank J. has a post over at Pajamas media with a list of funnies to follow up on the book Game Change. His book will be called "Bad Stuff about Politicians"

My favorite
When it started to look like Sarah Palin wasn’t fully vetted, the press immediately took up the slack, analyzing everything about her — a process that continues to this day. When they get done, the press swears they’ll then take a look at Obama.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Terrible Choice

US search and rescue teams from Virginia, California, and Florida arrived in an earthquake-devastated Haiti this week. News reports showed many major buildings in Port Au Prince were destroyed - killing thousands (some say more) and trapping hundreds, maybe thousand of people alive in the rubble. For those trapped, time is of the essence, within days many will die of dehydration or from their untreated injuries.

So how do emergency rescue team select what buildings to go to first? With so many people in need, this is a terrible choice.

To learn about this, I did some searching this morning and found "NFPA 1670, Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents," "UNDAC 2006 H. Urban Search and Rescue" and finally, from the UNITED NATION OFFICE FOR THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS Field Coordination Support Section (INSARAG Secretariat), the INSARAG GUIDELINES AND METHODOLOGY, or more simply, the INSARAG Guidelines.

In the Guidelines it tells us

WORK-SITE TRIAGE is the process of prioritising work-sites in order to save as many lives as possible. In some cases the order of priority is obvious from the number of people missing in each building. When the order of priority is not obvious a systematic procedure of categorizing work-sites based on an estimation of voids, an evaluation of stability and available information on missing persons can be applied to facilitate the decision-making process.

That's pretty straightforward. Go to the buildings where you can save as many lives as possible. It then gives guidance on prioritization and the factors to consider.

F11.4 Operations
1. A work-site triage is based on the following five steps:
1) ZONE: Determine the zone that the triage should cover. Mobility of the assessment team performing the triage is a determining factor;
2) COLLAPSE: Identify as potential work-sites all totally and partially collapsed structures within the designated zone;
3) INFORMATION: Collect information from locals that may eliminate potential work-sites or affect the work-site triage in some way, such as available information on missing persons, structural information (use, layout, size, material, construction type, etc.) and prior search and rescue attempts.
4) CATEGORIZE: Determine the category of each potential work-site. Triage Categories and Triage Factors are listed below
5) PRIORITIZE: Based on the missing-persons information, triage category and access to priority voids determine the order of priority for the work-sites.

2. Many other factors may eventually affect the final order of priority, such as:
2.1. Lack of necessary transport or access to site;
2.2. Lack of specialised equipment to mitigate hazards;
2.3. Security and cultural factors;
2.4. Age of victims (for example a school vs. an old people’s home);
2.5. Priorities set by LEMA;
2.6. Aftershocks.

It gives the triage categories with the highest priority going to live victims where the collapsed building are not in extreme instability. I get that. Rescue people, leave the bodies for later. But my question is still -"How do rescue teams prioritize among the living victims?" Everything in the literature seems to indicate that resuce team should go to where the number of trapped victims is highest. Rescue the most living people.

So quantity, number of lives, is one priority.

Item 2.4 above, in case you missed it, gives another priority: Young people should be rescued before old people. (Wow...only in a UN document)
Item 2.5 above, tells us to look for the priorities set by the local emergency management authority. I'm not sure how much help that is here, becuase I read several reports stating that local authorities disappeared (or just as likely, were dead).

Watching a rescue on Thursday, live on CNN, showed the reality of where international rescuers go first. The collapsed UN building.

This shows us the reality of the priority of rescue.
Number of lives (save more)
Age of living victims (save younger)
United Nations employees (save government workers)

As I said, a terrible choice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

They Still Don't Get It

Lots of chatter across the blogosphere about the special US Senate race in Massachusetts between Coakley (D) and Brown (R). Talk about how if Brown wins, then (1) the Republicans could stop the President's agenda dead in its tracks, and (2) it would be the bellweather of significant Democratic losses in November.

That's all fine and good. But something in the Boston Herald's endorsement of Brown caught my eye,
And while Brown is a solid fiscal conservative, he is a compassionate conservative, voting to override gubernatorial vetoes and restore funding for breast cancer screening, suicide prevention programs and the METCO program.

“My record speaks for itself,” he added. “If it helps people and creates jobs, I’m for it.”

"If it helps people and creates jobs, I’m for it." That statement tells me that he doesn't get why many people are so upset with the spendthift ways of the Democrats and Republicans of the last nine years. The problem with the Republican party has been that kind of thinking.

Based on the GOP fundraising letters I read before shredding, I see a Republican party that is still more interested in winning and being in power than advancing a policy of limited government. They still don't get it.

If you want to see a Republican who "gets it," take a look at this quote, from Paul Broun in Georgia (I heard him speak at a Tea Party event in 2009)
I am committed to protecting the constitutional rights and pocketbooks of every American. I will apply the following four-way test to every piece of legislation that comes before the House for a vote:
1) Is it Right/Moral?
2) Is it Constitutional?
3) Is it Necessary?
4) Is it Affordable?

That's the kind of thinking we need more of. Not "If it helps people and creates jobs, I’m for it."

Friday, January 08, 2010

Tea Party Pizza Party Republican Party

In an article in National Review, Jonah Goldberg describes the political fortunes of the Republican Party by comparing their potential for turnaround with Domino's Pizza.
"..the GOP’s troubles over the last decade have a lot to do with the fact that Americans didn’t stop liking what the Republican party is supposed to deliver. They stopped liking what the GOP actually delivered."

It has been the source of constant frustration for me reading the fund-raising letters sent from the GOP. My reaction is, "They don't get it." I'm not as concerned about stopping the Democrats or winning back the house as I am about being able to support something that shares my values.

The Republicans aren't my team. I am not "a Republican." I am a libertarian who would like less government interference in the day to day lives of Americans. The party talking about doing that is the one that will get my support.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Somali Pirates and their Captives

On NPR Monday morning I heard a report of a second ship taken by pirates off the Somali coast. Nothing very unusual until the end of the report when the announcer noted that "Both crews are safe."

I immediately took that to mean that the crews were not being held, but had my doubts. When I looked up some more reports, I saw that the crews were still being held captive.

Who in their right mind would say that people being held captive by pirates are "safe." They've been kidnapped by pirates! They are being held for ransom by pirates! They are not safe.

Good grief. I hope those men can rejoin their families soon. Safely.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Washington Post Editorial on Al Quaeda in Yemen

Sudarsan Raghavan has an article in today's Washington Post titled "Al-Qaeda benefits from a decade of missteps to become a threat in Yemen."

While it appears accurate, I thought it lacked some balance, (some might say it was bias) in the report. Here's the opening

SANAA, YEMEN -- Nearly a decade after the bombing of the USS Cole, a combination of U.S. and Yemeni missteps, deep mistrust and a lack of political will have allowed al-Qaeda militants here to regroup and pose a major threat to the United States, according to Yemeni and U.S. officials, diplomats and analysts.

This would lead us to believe that Yemeni and U.S. officials, diplomats and analysts are going to be quoted in the story. Good. Now let's look exactly at who says what...

The U.S. failures have included a lack of focus on al-Qaeda's growing stature, insufficient funding to and cooperation with Yemen, and a misunderstanding of the Middle Eastern country's complex political terrain, Yemeni officials and analysts said. U.S. policies in the region, they said, often alienated top Yemeni officials and did little to address the root causes of militancy.

Frustrated American officials say Yemen never made fighting al-Qaeda a top priority, which has stalled large-scale U.S. support.

The (Yemeni?)government said it struck an al-Qaeda training camp, killing at least 23 militants. But tribal leaders and residents say mostly civilians were killed.

"I saw parts of bodies, mostly women and children," said Mukhbil Mohammed Ali, a tribal leader. "America says it supports Yemen to eradicate terrorists. But America is only supporting Yemen to kill the innocent."

Assistance will more than double this year, Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, said Friday

But many say the war could arrive too late to change the trajectory in Yemen. Since the Cole attack, the nation has been on a path toward dissolution.

"The attack on the USS Cole should have been the loudest wake-up call against al-Qaeda," said Abdul Karim al-Iriyani, a former prime minister of Yemen. "But I don't think, even when I was in government, every attention was given to fighting al-Qaeda. Now, it is much more difficult than 2000."

That decision eroded Yemeni trust in the United States and damaged efforts to combat terrorism, Yemeni officials said.

"I was so angry," Iriyani recalled.

U.S. intelligence officials acknowledge that the strike posed a political liability for Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. But they also contend that Yemen's government wavered in its commitment to fighting al-Qaeda even before that attack.

By 2003, the United States was focused on the Iraq war and appeared more intent on fighting corruption and promoting democracy in Yemen than on tackling al-Qaeda, experts said.

U.S. officials say the aid was cut largely because of corruption concerns.

"When you look back and see how little attention Yemen was getting several years ago, it's shocking," said Christopher Boucek, a Yemen analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "None of these problems with Yemen's stability are new, and we've known what was coming down the road."

Yemeni and U.S. officials say the militants were helped by Yemeni security officials sympathetic to al-Qaeda.

Yemeni officials say their constitution bars the extradition of Yemeni nationals.

U.S. officials said their counterterrorism efforts have also been hampered by a Yemeni government that has frequently been unpredictable and fickle in its support.

In southern Yemen, opposition politicians and newspapers have accused the government of killing civilians in order to appease the United States. Yemeni officials have acknowledged that women and children were killed, but say they were the relatives of the militants.

Mukhbil Mohammed Ali, the tribal leader, said his tribesmen are angry. They have even more sympathy for al-Qaeda, he said, as well as a growing animosity toward the Yemeni government and its benefactor, America.

"We all want revenge," he said.

Here's the tally I got:

Yemeni Officials 6
US Officials 6
Tribal Leaders 3
Carnegie Analyst 1
Experts 1
Many 1
Opposition/newspapers 1

Looks pretty balanced. Why doesn't it read that way? The only named US Official was General Petraeus, and his quote looks like it was taken from a different context.

Bonus Round.
"U.S. development aid to combat Yemen's soaring poverty rates and high unemployment -- key factors in enticing new recruits to militancy -- was minuscule. It declined from $56.5 million in 2000 to $25.5 million in 2008, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development."

Wow... between $25 to $56 million is miniscule. That's pretty perverted.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

In Praise of the Otter Box

Early in December my son and I got 3G iPhones for Christmas. While I was at the store buying them, another customer introduced us to the Otter box by drop kicking his Otter Box Defender-encased $500 iPhone against the wall. Having seen the punishment a phone takes under normal teen use, I was sold. The things are expensive, retail $50 each, but AT&T had a 2 for 1 offer, so we got Otter Box Defender cases for both phones.

I am impressed. These boxes are tough. I even used my phone in the rain the other day. Haven't dropped it yet, but when it happens, I know my machine will be well protected. After a month of daily use, there is not a single scratch on the new phones. (My son takes them out of the case for cleaning every few days). ATT doesn't insure the iPhones, so if you have one - an Otter Box is one of the best ways to protect your hard earned money.

BTW, it took me a while to make the linguistic connection between Otter Box and Outer Box. My son saw it. My wife saw it right off, and English is not even her first language. Some days I'm a little slow I guess.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and yours a safe, health, happy, and prosperous New Year!

To the cop on the beat - thanks for your service to the community. Duty on holidays sucks, but hats off to the people who do it. To the neighbor who calls the cops to report fireworks on New Years eve... I feel sorry for you. Your life must be truly difficult.