Sunday, February 27, 2011

Obama Warns "We Cannot Allow Gridlock To Prevail”

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: With the possibility of government shutdown looming next Friday, President Obama calls on both parties to evade “gridlock” and says he “expects them to find common ground.”

Somehow the news further lessens the punch behind the President's demand for Gaddafi to leave. His own government is facing a shutdown and states are busy battling unions over collective bargaining.

The news last night reported we are likely to see gas climb to $5.00 by the summer. The gas tank in my car holds about 17 gallons, which means a fill-up will cost $85! The Obama Administration needs to figure out how to get both parties to focus on how world affairs is effecting the price of oil. We need to rapidly develop strategies for eliminating dependence on foreign oil. Ethanol and off-shore drilling are band-aid fixes at best and distractions at worst.

Article Here

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Now hear this!

(Reuters) - North Korea has warned the South Korean military it will shoot at South Korea if the south continues its recent psychological campaign, the north's official media KCNA news agency said on Sunday.

South Korea's military has been dropping leaflets into North Korea about democracy protests in Egypt, a legislator said on Friday, and as part of the psychological campaign, the South Korean military also sent food, medicines and radios for residents in a bid to encourage North Koreans to think about change.

US Will Be the World's Third Largest Economy

Amidst the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East, it is easy to overlook a global trend that has been happening for some time. China is on track to become the world's largest economy. India will quickly assume the number two spot. This means for the first time, Asian countries and not European or North American will dictate the world economy. The shift will be unlike anything we have seen. Americans have smug about our economic power since post-WWII industry put the United States squarely at the top. The US manufacturing base is gone and nothing has replaced it. As a result, the United States has become a huge debtor nation. Our educational system is not producing minds with the ability to restart the economy. Our modern healthcare system, love it or hate it, enables an increasingly unfit, medicated dependent population to live longer adding to our debt. The North American Free Trade Agreement sent the remaining manufacturing jobs South and in return we crime. The

Willem Buiter at CitiGroup has constructed a "3G index" to measure economic progress; 3G stands for "Global Growth Generators" and is a weighted average of six growth drivers that the Citigroup economists consider important:

A measure of domestic saving/ investment
A measure of demographic prospects
A measure of health
A measure of education
A measure of the quality of institutions and policies
A measure of trade openness

Using that index the nations to watch over the coming years are Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Mongolia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The United States is notably by its absence. Even if his model is off, you cannot deny the rising influence of China and India. A question my students always miss is; what nation has the largest Muslim population? The answer is Indonesia. Given the United States perception amongst Muslim nations, and the rise of pan-Islamism, the future looks to be quite different.

Article Here

Friday, February 25, 2011

Libya protests: 5 shot dead in Tripoli after Gaddafi troops open fire

The United States, Britain and Italy are a day late and a dollar short with respect to Libya. The situation is way out of control and the use of military at this point almost guarantees additional Libyan deaths. The best move at this point is freezing Gaddafi's assets (which the Swiss have already done) and getting the Saudis to make good on the promise of offsetting the oil that was coming out of Libya. Protesters (can we call them freedom fighters or rebels yet?) have taken control of Benghazi and eastern Libya vowing to never allow a return of Gadaffi's rule. The colonel is now reduced to offering bribes to keep people loyal. The bribes likely won't work since his assets have been frozen. At this point in the situation, letting Gadaffi burn himself out and supporting the protesters seems a more viable solution to military interdiction.

Article Here

Obama End Libyan Slaughter (opinion)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Terror Suspect Arrested in Lubbock, TX

The story points to two misconceptions. First, a weapon of mass destruction is not necessarily a chemical, biological or radiological weapon. A good old fashioned bomb works just fine. "Improvised" conotates a primitive weapon when in a reality IEDs are very sophisticated. The second and major misconception is that Saudi Arabia likes us. They do not. The like our thirst for oil and our desire to protect that oil. We need to stop acting surprised when we hear stuff like this;

"FBI agents also found a notebook at Aldawsari’s residence that appeared to be a diary or journal. According to the affidavit, excerpts from the journal indicate that Aldawsari had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years. One entry describes how Aldawsari sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the United State and helped him financially, which he said “will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad.” The entry continues: “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”

Article Here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The news (and my blog) have been filled with information about protests throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The news has also been filled with growing protests in the United States over the potential loss of state employees to use collective bargaining.

Somehow in the midst of all of this, the deaths of Scott Underwood Adam, Jean Savage Adam, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggleby Somali pirates has gotten only minor coverage.

Piracy is a war-like act committed by private parties (not affiliated with any government) that engage in acts of robbery and/or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed in other major bodies of water or on a shore.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, once pirates were caught, justice was meted out in a summary fashion, and many ended their lives by "dancing the hempen jig", or hanging at the end of a rope.

Somalians are now the premier perpetrators of this ancient crime since at least 2005. A United Nations report and several news sources have suggested that piracy off the coast of Somalia is caused in part by illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters by foreign vessels that have, according to Somali fishermen, severely constrained the ability of locals to earn a living and forced many to turn to piracy instead.

Somali piracy has increased the cost of shipping and has allied such unlikely organizations as the French, Russian, Indian and US Navy to combat the threat. Most famously, on April 8, 2009 seized the Maersk Alabama piloted by Captain Richard Phillips. The pirates kidnapped the captain who was rescued by US Navy SEALs. The three pirates who had kidnapped Captain Phillips were shot by the SEALs.

While more navy ships have been patrolling the waters of the course of Somalia, shipping companies such as Maersk have refrained from arming their crews in fear that such actions will lead to escalation.

Now the Somali pirates have upped the ante according to a CBS report:

Their deaths appeared to underscore an increasingly brutal and aggressive shift by pirates in their treatment of hostages.

Killing hostages "has now become part of our rules," said a pirate who identified himself as Muse Abdi and referred to last week's sentencing of a pirate to 33 years in prison for the 2009 attack on the U.S. cargo vessel the Maersk Alabama.

"From now on, anyone who tries to rescue the hostages in our hands will only collect dead bodies," he said. "It will never ever happen that hostages are rescued and we are hauled to prison."

The pirates fired a rocket propelled grenade at the US Navy destroyer that was shadowing the American hostages. The Somalis have argued the US Navy fired first which lead to the death of the Americans. A member of a U.S. special operations force killed one of the pirates with a knife. A second pirate was also killed, and the bodies of two other pirates were discovered on board, bringing to 19 the total number of pirates involved. The U.S. military didn't say how those two died and it was not known if the pirates had fought among themselves.

While we watch Gaddafi massacre his own people it is easy to think that doesn't really effect us. While union workers in Wisconsin and Ohio protest over efforts to end collective bargaining, it is easy for forget 4 Americans were killed for no greater sin than having a passion for sailing. The world is becoming exceedingly dangerous and volatile.

CBS Article Here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Gaddafi has vowed to die rather than step down. He has gone out and hired mercenaries to put down the protestors. While the protestors have taken over Benghazi, Gaddafi still controls Tripoli as well as the military. If the military should stop following Gaddafi’s orders, he can still use the mercenaries to control Tripoli. Civil war is the likely outcome or Gaddafi’s assassination.

This seems a far cry from the bloodless coup d’état Gaddafi lead taking over power from King Idris. He added the title of prime minister in 1970, but gave up this title in 1972. Unlike some other military revolutionaries, Gaddafi did not promote himself to the rank of general upon seizing power, but rather accepted a ceremonial promotion from captain to colonel and has remained at this rank since then. While at odds with Western military ranking for a colonel to rule a country and serve as Commander-in-Chief of its military, in Gaddafi's own words Libya's society is "ruled by the people", so he needs no more grandiose title or supreme military rank.

Gaddafi followed a form of Arab nationalism he called “Islamic Socialism”. Basically there was still private ownership over smaller companies but the state controlled larger corporations. In 1977, Gaddafi proclaimed that Libya was changing its form of government from a republic to a "jamahiriya" – a neologism that means "mass-state" or "government by the masses". He has used death squads in the past to assassinate dissidents.

Secretary Clinton stated this is completely unacceptable with about as much passion as if she said the walls need to be repainted. I suspected the situation in North Africa and Middle East has worn her out. There is also the very real possibility that the Saud family, who rule Saudi Arabia, will be facing the same challenges in the not too distant future. If so, $4.00 a gallon for gas will seem like a steal.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Libya warplanes bombing Tripoli: resident

Apprently Gaddafi isn't going to allow a repeat of the results in Benghazi. Clearly the situation is worsening but I'm not sure I agree that it means Gaddafi is weakening (at least not yet). The million dollar question for the rest of the world, what will happen in Saudi Arabia?

Libya warplanes bombing Tripoli: resident

Protests, a study in contrasts

A study in contrasts; the protests in North Africa and the Middle East contrasted with the protests in Wisconsin and Ohio.

"Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi on Monday, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. Moammar Gadhafi's son vowed that his father and security forces would fight "until the last bullet."

The pan-Islamism protests cover the gamut from the oppression of Mubarak to the progressive monarch of Morocco. The constant is the protests are continuing to spread.

Contrasted with the protests against efforts to end collective bargaining for state employees:

"After six days of protests that packed the state capitol, Wisconsin's major teachers' union called on members to start returning to work Monday but keep fighting a proposed rollback of union protections for public employees."

The passion for change between the two regions is remarkably different. Some may argue that the protests in the Middle East are about disposing oppression which fuels a higher level of passion. Perhaps, but isn't defeating efforts of government to end collective bargaining similar in principle? To those that say "no" let's look at France back in November:

"AIR passengers in France are facing up to five days of disruption later this week, as two separate strikes affect flights.

Four trade unions have called on airline and airport workers to walk out on Thursday, November 4, to keep up the protest against pension reforms.

The strike will be immediately followed by a four-day walkout from November 5-8 by French airline pilots, cabin crew and airport staff."

I point out the contrasts between the two protests for I suspect things have a potential for turning ugly here in the US. There is much resentment on both sides of the political spectrum. The attempt to end collective bargaining is seen by many as an attempt at union-busting. Such attempts in the past have resulted in violence. The US seems to have more pacifistic in regards to violent strikes but with a stalled economy, no jobs, decreasing home ownership and no immediate prospect for recovery, the potential is there for the US to follow the pan-Islamist model of rage.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Moroccan protesters call for curbs on king’s powers

Pan-Islamism has now spread West to Morocco;

"Several hundred Moroccan demonstrators, some waving Tunisian and Egyptian flags, have staged a rare protest in the Moroccan capital of Rabat to demand restrictions on the king’s powers and an end to corruption. Analysts say Morocco, with a reformist monarch who is widely respected, and a growing economy, is one of the Arab countries least likely to succumb to the wave of protests sweeping the region."

Meanwhile in Libya, Gaddafi's sons are putting down protests in Benghazi (one son was trained by the Soviet military meaning his tactics will be brutal and to the point). Unlike other monarchs in the region, Gaddafi resolve has not diminished. Gaddafi has made many moves over the years to insure he remained in power (from knocking off the WMD rhetoric to handing over the Lockerbie bombing suspects). He also has made the business of running Libya a family affair.

Morocco and Libya are studies in opposites. Gaddafi has ruled through secrecy and using his sons in leading roles. Morocco has a progressive monarch and a growing economy. Nonetheless, both countries have to deal with the pervasive pan-Islamism that seeks to subjugate nationalism with Islamic law.


Saturday, February 19, 2011


The concept for pan-Islamism, unification of all Muslims under a single state, dates back to Muhammad and the early caliphates. In more recent times, pan-Islamism was a way to fight the European colonial powers. After World War II, Arab nationalism began to replace pan-Islamism.

The problem is not all countries, notably Iran, are Arabic (Iranians consider themselves Persians). Arab nationalism created secular political parties such as the Baath (the part of Saddam Hussein). The pan-Arab parties called for unity and the rebirth of the Arab world (something the Persians, Kurds and other non-Arab groups had trouble identifying with). If this were not enough to cause problems, the secular pan-Arab groups oppressed the Islamists. Sayyid Qutb, the leading theologian who helped found the Muslim brotherhood, was imprisoned, tortured and executed by the pan-Arabic movement.

Pan-Islamism began to resurface after the defeat of the Arab nationalists during the Six-Day War. Pan-Islamism became the dominant movement once Ayatollah Khoemeni took over in Iran and the Afghani Mujahadeen defeated the Soviets.

The protests that we are now seeing are actually the culmination of a movement that has existed for many centuries. Tunisia and Algeria were already had governments that were sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt had made several mistakes. First, Mubarak outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood which in effect outlawed pan-Islamism. Second, he saw himself as a pharoah and started to deny Egyptians access to their most sacred and holy temples. Third, he was seen as an ally of Israel and the United States. Taken together, all three of these factors made it almost inevitable that Mubarak would be ousted.

Now Bahrain has a similar problem in that it is home to the US Navy's 7th Fleet. The Associted Press reports, "Thousands of funeral mourners called for the downfall of Bahrain's ruling monarchy as burials began Friday after a deadly assault on pro-reform protesters that has brought army tanks into the streets of the most strategic Western ally in the Gulf.

The cries against Bahrain's king and his inner circle reflect an escalation of the demands from a political uprising that began by only asking for a weakening of the Sunni monarchy's hold on top government posts and addressing discrimination by the Shiite majority in the tiny island nation.

The mood, however, appears to have turned toward defiance of the entire ruling system after the brutal attack Thursday on a protest encampment in Bahrain's capital Manama, which left at least five dead, more than 230 injured and put the nation under emergency-style footing with military forces in key areas and checkpoints on main roadways."

Now Yemen is having an uprising. Yemen has been a hotbed of pan-Islamism for a number of years resulting in the USS Cole bombing and training of terrorists such as Abdulmuttalab (the underwear bomber). According to Fox News, "Yemeni riot police in the capital shot dead a protester and injured five others on Saturday when they opened fire on thousands marching in the 10th day of unrest rocking the country.

Protesters began marching early in the morning from the University of Sanaa to the Ministry of Justice while chanting, "the people want the fall of the regime," until they were met by riot police and supporters of the president."

Looking at the map, it is easy see why Jordan, Qatar, Libya, Morocco have all experience protests. In Oman, about 300 people demanded political reforms and better pay in a peaceful protest in Oman on Friday as unrest in other Middle East countries and North Africa turned increasingly violent.

The United States has few options to quell this movement. Our appearance of supporting "democracy" are actually helping to install religious ideologues who will run things based on Islamic law. No, I am not one of those haters who sees Islam as evil. What I do see is a huge movement taking over a large portion of the world and the US government doesn't seem to really understand what it is looking at.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

U.S. Military Interests at Stake in Bahraini Unrest

According to the CIA Factbook: In 1783, the al-Khalifa family captured Bahrain from the Persians. In order to secure these holdings, it entered into a series of treaties with the UK during the 19th century that made Bahrain a British protectorate. The archipelago attained its independence in 1971. Bahrain has turned to petroleum processing and refining and has transformed itself into an international banking center. King HAMAD bin Isa al-Khalifa, after coming to power in 1999, pushed economic and political reforms to improve relations with the Shia community. Shia political societies participated in 2010 parliamentary and municipal elections. Al Wifaq, the largest Shia political society, won the largest number of seats in the elected chamber of the legislature. However, Shia discontent has resurfaced in recent years with street demonstrations and occasional low-level violence.

Bahrain is also relatively progressive, allowing Western tourists to engage in such inappropriate behaviors as sunbathing (with members of the opposite sex) and the consumption of alcohol. These policies as well as strategic location made Bahrain an ideal location for the US Navy's 5th Fleet. The US Navy 5th Fleet is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and coast off East Africa as far south as Kenya.

The 5th Fleet operates at least one aircraft carrier in the Gulf at all times, along with an "amphibious ready group" of ships with Marines aboard. Their presence is central to a longstanding U.S. commitment to ensuring the free flow of oil through the Gulf, while keeping an eye on a hostile Iran and seeking to deter piracy in the region.

Now unrest that started in Tunisia and spread to Algeria and Egypt has spread to Bahrain, as a result the US military may directly face protesters.

It appears for now the Bahrain, along with backing from Saudi Arabia, maybe able to handle the protests. However, if the situation escalates the protesters may create more foreign policy challenges for the US in the region.

Article Here

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CBS’s Logan suffered ‘brutal’ attack in Egypt

A press pass does not make you immune to the situation around you. I am sorry this lady was attacked and sexually assaulted but she went there knowing that it was a revolution. The Egyptians saw the US as a Mubarak supporter making very dangerous for American news crews.

Ever since Dan Rather went to Afghanistan in the 80s and narrated the Mujhadeen fighting the Soviets, reporters seem to think their "duty" to report the event creates a separation from the event. It like when you take a picture, it is easy to forget you are still present in the reality of whatever you are photographing.

Embedding reporters during Iraqi Freedom further emboldened reporters that they could report from the front lines with the protection of US forces. Unfortunately there were no friendly forces to protect Ms. Logan and her crew (Anderson Cooper got smacked around earlier as did a Fox News crew). But getting the story caused Logan and her crew to remain.

"In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew," the statement continued. "She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers."

Though wretched and disturbing, at least Ms. Logan's story did not end like Daniel Pearl who was beheaded after his capture in Pakistan. The United States does not have a great reputation in many countries and the locals will take it out on Americans overseas, especially unarmed members of the media.

Article Here

US admiral: Carrier killer won't stop US Navy

According to the commander of the US 7th Fleet, the new Dong Feng 21D anti-ship missile is not the Achille's heel of US aircraft carriers or the US Navy.

The carrier strike group (formerly carrier battle group) consists of 1 aircraft carrier, 2 guided missile cruisers, 2 anit-aircraft warships, 1-2 destroyers or frigates. In addition to surface ships, there are approximately 60 aircraft on the aircraft carrier. Proponents believe the CSG offers unsurpassed firepower and power projection. Critics argue that CSGs are increasingly vulnerable to arsenal ships and cruise missiles, especially those with supersonic flight and the ability to perform radical trajectory changes to avoid anti-missile systems. The CSG is a high value target and if a successful weapon system can engage the group beyond the range of the aircraft, the CSG would be effectively neutralized.

The Dong Feng 21D is unique in that it is believed capable of hitting a powerfully defended moving target — like the USS George Washington — with pinpoint precision. That objective is so complex that the Soviets gave up on a similar project. The missile would penetrate defenses because its speed from launch would not allow enough time for carriers or other large ships to complete countermeasures.

The USS Cole was taken out by a shape charge of between 400-700lbs of high explosives. The escort ships are vulnerable to similar attacks or attacks by small torpedo boats. Remember, the attacks don't have to be successful. They just have to turn the fleet away.

The DF 21D increases the likelihood that the CSG will ineffective in the future. The CSG is a legacy of the Cold War where the US Navy assumed the dominant bluewater role against the Soviet Navy. The main weapon system is the carrier (even with the advent of surface to surface missiles). That flight deck makes a nice target. Disable to the carrier's ability to launch and recover aircraft and it becomes useless.

Ronald Reagan must have realized this at some level since he was a proponent of reactivating and maintaining battle ships. All of the Iowa class battle ships have been decommissioned. Even so, their 17 inch armor plate can withstand attacks from many modern weapons. Unfortunately, their wooden decks were not replaced and their 15 inch guns still used very dangerous blackpowder.

Modern Navy ships rely on stealth and active defensive systems rather than heavy armor plate. If a threat gets through their defenses, their armor may not be able to withstand the attacks. Carriers especially have many systems for launching and recovering aircraft that are vulnerable to attacks.

The DF 21D and resurgence of piracy should have Naval planners reconsidering their reliance on a Cold War legacy.

Article Here

Friday, February 11, 2011

'Egypt is Free' chants Tahrir after Mubarak quits

Mubarak was either going to step down or end up going the way of his predecessor (being assassinated). What I find odd is the number of Egyptians that think having the military taking over is "democratic". Where I come from, that is called martial law. As a retired military guy, let me spell the reasons why having the military running your government is NEVER a good thing. The military tends to have more and bigger guns than civilians. The military views civilians as inept, lazy and disorganized otherwise how else did we get in charge? Getting the military out of government is never easy. Being "generalissimo" beats being just a general, going back to having a civilian tell you what to do is never an easy thing. Finally, if the military run government misbehaves who is left to kick them out of office?

Article Here

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Lesson from Tunisia

While the world watches Egypt morph into a post-Mubarak regime, the country that started it all remains almost forgotten a month later. Tunisia is an interesting study for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Tunisia had economically developed well under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ranking 81st out of 169 according to the United Nations Development Program human development index measurement.

Unemployment is running 13-14% compared to the US 9.8% (Jan 2011) doesn’t seem that high. So what got everybody steamed at Ben Ali?

Tunisia produces more college graduates than jobs. The unemployment rate is much higher in Tunisia amongst college graduates, especially those under 25.

According to the blog “Teaching College English”, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 university graduates enter the job market every year. Fifty-seven percent of young Tunisians entering the labor market are college educated.

Unfortunately Ben Ali could not keep his promise to create 300,000 new jobs for all of the college graduates. Furthermore, Ben Ali did not make it possible for Tunisians to easily emigrate. It may have prevented brain drain but it left a highly educated population of disenfranchised young people without jobs.

NPR ran a piece this morning where a young Tunisian woman with a graduate degree was lamenting the only work she could find was at a call center. Several of her relatives, also with graduate degrees, have been without work for months.

The case in Tunisia makes me wonder what the future holds for the United States. We continue to puke out thousands and thousands of graduates from our colleges and universities every year. Yet do we have the capacity to employ these well-educated young people?

Unlike Tunisia, our graduates can emigrate to find work. Many college graduates find work in fields unrelated to their degrees, often doing work that doesn’t require an advanced degree.

I’ve pondered on this blog before about the need to revamp our secondary education system to where people are able to find work upon graduation, at something higher than minimum wage.

Let’s look at a typical four-degree. The average cost for a public four-year college is probably about $50,000. In comparison, a private four-year college may cost $80,000 to $120,000. Much of the courses they will take will have little to nothing to do with their job (quick, how many of you got jobs because you knew the difference between Descartes and Hobbes?).

Most of these graduates will go to work already in debt from student loans. They will require salaries that will allow them to start paying their debts off. At the same time they will have to try to pay for a place to live, a car, food, and a family if they have one. The costs associated with attracting these pricey entry-level workers are passed on to the customer or client.

In comparison, those with only a high school diploma may only be able to find a minimum wage job. Even though they have no debt, and hence require less financial incentives employers, they will face little to no chance for upward mobility. Minimum wage jobs will not allow people to pay for the cost of raising a family.

Most high school graduates who do not intend to go to college do well by going to a career center and earning some type of certification. It allows them to earn more than minimum wage and in the case of technical fields (such as machinist), they will eventually out earn their baccalaureate colleagues.

President Obama has been pushing job creation but none of his plans talk about how he intends to use the surplus of college graduates. Governor Kasich is also all about putting Ohioans to work but so far he has not addressed the gap between a college educated population and lack of jobs to employ them. Note: Ohio has the fifth highest total number of colleges and post-secondary schools in the United States with 336 (as of 2005).

Unless Ohio and the United States figures out a way to start using all of this college educated workers, we may face our own version of Tunisia.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Senators Say FBI & DOD Could Have Prevented Ft. Hood Shooting

Somewhere along the way in "Being All You Can Be" and "An Army of One", the US Army along with the other branches of the military got directed to be kinder and more inclusive. So what if little Johnny or little Janey couldn't pass their PT (Physical Training)? Rather than just kick them out, we need to give them special attention and remedial PT. So what if little Johnny or Janey is a fat-ass that gulps down Whoppers (BK has a restaurant on just about ever major military installation) like there is not tomorrow? We need to be them on the weight management program and teach them to make better choices.

Soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen cuss with legendary proficiency. You cuss when things don't go right, when things go right, or just because cussing is the only thing left that you can do sometimes. Ah but all of that cussing may be offensive to others so there are any number of sensitivity programs (no, I am not making this up) that military personnel are required to attend. Usually in the Air Force as soon as you arrive on at a new assignment you have to go through 4-8 hours of "Don't abuse alcohol, be sensitive about other people's feelings, don't do drugs, and if you feel uncomfortable about any of the above report it". You also get refresher training about harassment in the workplace, inappropriate relationships, and respect of others that don't look or pray like you do. I cannot begin to imagine what the post "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" training is going to be like.

I worded my descriptions in terms you would hear from the average service member. Yes, I know it is vital to have a cohesive fighting force and teaching service members to respect and get along with one another is just part of mission readiness.

But all of the sensitivity training starts to take on a life of its own. If you are a supervisor and you give someone of a different color or gender a lower rating, you will probably be challenged that you are either a racist or a sexist. The supervisor gets put on the spotlight and has to prove that the subordinate deserved the lower rating. (In my experience, rarely does the subordinate get subjected to the same level of scrutiny to prove they deserve a higher rating or promotion.)

Without intending to, the military equal opportunity and sensitivity programs emboldens the entitlement mentality of some of the younger personnel. They know they should be a first sergeant or a colonel after six months of service. If you don't agree, they it must because you are a racist, sexist or insensitive.

To insure those that truly are racist, sexist or insensitive don't run roughshod over their people, review boards and investigations are set into motions once a charge is made. If Johnny Snotrag is a dumb ass who happens to also be a minority, the supervisor will spend more time justifying one performance appraisal than doing their own job. Unfortunately this can lead to the phenomena known as "F-up, move up". Rather than spend inordinate amounts of time supporting why little Johnny Snotrag is a turd, the supervisor may allow the turd to transfer. Now the turd becomes somebody else's problem.

Some may take exception to what I've written and that's fine. My point was not to criticism our system but rather to give those unfamiliar with it an understanding of how the situation at Ft Hood may have occurred.

“The Fort Hood massacre resulted because of what I would call a tragedy of errors – just one after another - by organizations that normally perform effectively. But in this case – for a host of various reasons and frankly some things that are hard to explain – just totally failed to act in a way that as you look back at the evidence with the clarity of hindsight just shouts out, ‘Stop this guy before he kills somebody!’ And he was not stopped.”

A lot of people passed MAJ Nidal Hassan to the next assignment because they did want the headaches of dealing with his issues. Charging a service member with mental health problems can result in months of paperwork. Hindsight is always perfect but you have to ask, what did they see at the time? A potential mass-murder or just a head-case that wasn't worth the time to do due diligence.

Seung-Hui Cho made many students and faculty uncomfortable at Virginia Tech before he went on his rampage. Fears about HIPPA violations and a lack of clear guidance offered faculty and administrators no options to deal with Cho in advance. The same thing happened with Jared Loughner at his community college. A disturbing head-case but no options were available to deal with him in advance.

MAJ Hassan did not have as many protections as Cho and Loughner but military's system of checks and balances accomplished the same thing. By creating an environment that demands such high burden of proof, it caused his superiors to simply avoid dealing with him before he became a mass murderer.

Article Here

Friday, February 4, 2011


The body language of both the mayor and FOP president is one of defiance. They are of course defiant that the city manager has called off the search for a new police chief. Furthermore, they are also quite perturbed the proposal to merge Cincinnati Police Department with Hamilton County Sheriff's office.

Mayor Mallory said, "I'm not giving away any secrets or strategies, but I will say one thing: I've never felt so strongly about anything as a mayor. The city will continue to have a police department."

Of course the whole reason this proposal exists is because of the city's budget which almost lead to 100 firefighters and 134 police officers to be laid off. If you were to ask the average Cincinnati resident what Mayor Mallory feels strongest about, they would probably say the street car.

I can't really take anything FOP president has to say seriously because no police department means no more FOP job for her.

Hamilton County has many small neighborhoods that over the years formed their own fire and police departments. For example, St Bernard with just 6,000 residents (according to a 2000 census) has both a fire and police department even though they are surrounded by Cincinnati jurisdictions. Such practices has created 40 separate police and fire departments in Hamilton county.

Fire departments have been looking into regional departments but run afoul of politics. Politicians jump in front of the camera and swear no one can do the job as well as their department. Fair enough but apparently this hasn't stopped areas like Louisville from creating regional or metropolitan police and fire.

FOP president Harrell would argue that the Louisville consolidation was done and yet no savings were realized (she hired at least one consultant to come to Cincinnati and spreading the word of how bad an idea consolidation would be).

Okay but has either the mayor or the FOP come up with a way to fix the budget? The new casino is being built along with the Banks. More officers, not fewer, will be required. However budgets will continue to shrink especially with gas likely to rise to $4.00 per gallon by Memorial Day.

Cincinnati Police stands could lose 100 police officers in 2012 due to the DROP program. CPD has not run a police academy in several years and probably won't until 2013. The Hamilton County Sheriff's office has figured how to run one that just started a few weeks ago.

The arguments will continue to be based on politics and not reality. The reality is New York City, with over 8 million people, has just one Metropolitan police department. Why, beyond the political bluster, could a city and country merger not work?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

US response to Egypt draws criticism in Israel

An article by Amy Teibel on MyWay indicates Israel is beginning to break its silence on the matters in Egypt.

Critics - including senior Israeli officials who have shied from saying so publicly - say Obama is repeating the same mistakes of predecessors whose calls for human rights and democracy in the Middle East have often backfired by bringing anti-West regimes to power.

"I don't think the Americans understand yet the disaster they have pushed the Middle East into," said lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who until recently was a Cabinet minister and who is a longtime friend of Mubarak.

If you are of a certain age, you may remember the Tehran Embassy crisis in 1980. What you may not remember is that it was in response to the US backing the Shah of Iran. While pro US, the Shah maintained control of the Iranian people through his secret police, SAVAK. SAVAK could sensor the media in addition to the usual things secret police do, such as detain and torturing political dissidents.

The Tehran Embassy crisis led Ronald Reagan to support Saddam Hussein when he picked a fight with Iran. Saddam, many forget, used chemical weapons on the Iranians. There is some evidence to suggest the support the US gave Saddam against Iran led him to thinks invading Kuwait was okay. Of course this misunderstanding leads to Desert Storm and ultimately Iraqi Freedom. No wonder the Middle East gets confused whenever the US gets involved.

Foreign policy failures though aren't just limited to the Middle East. Something most college students don't understand is the not so proud history of US involvement in Central and South America. Here are a few that you may have forgotten;

- In 1921, Presdient Coolidge supports the overthrow of Guatemalan President Herrera. The Guatemalan president did not agree with the United Fruit company taking all of the lands away from the Guatamalan people to grow bananas.

- In 1946, U.S. Army School of the Americas opens in Panama as a hemisphere-wide military academy. Its linchpin is the doctrine of National Security, by which the chief threat to a nation is internal subversion; this will be the guiding principle behind dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Central America, and elsewhere.

- In 1961, the CIA backa a coup to overthrow elected Pres. J. M. Velasco Ibarra of Ecuador, who has been too friendly with Cuba.

- In 1962, the CIA engages in campaign in Brazil to keep João Goulart from achieving control of Congress.

- In 1963, the CIA backs a coup to overthrow elected social democrat Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic.

- In 1967, US Green Berets are sent to Bolivia to assasinate Che Guevera

- In 1968, Gen. José Alberto Medrano, who is on the payroll of the CIA, organizes the ORDEN paramilitary force, considered the precursor of El Salvador's death squads.

- In 1973, a U.S.-supported military coup kills Allende and brings Augusto Pinochet Ugarte to power. Pinochet imprisons well over a hundred thousand Chileans (torture and rape are the usual methods of interrogation), terminates civil liberties, abolishes unions, extends the work week to 48 hours, and reverses Allende's land reforms.

- In 1973, the military takes power in Uruguay, supported by U.S. The subsequent repression reportedly features the world's highest percentage of the population imprisoned for political reasons.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton need to pay attention to this little history lesson and know intervening in foreign policy has never been successful regardless of one's political party.

Article Here

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

That didn't take long

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- Jordan's King Abdullah II fired his government Tuesday in the wake of street protests and asked an ex-prime minister to form a new Cabinet, ordering him to launch immediate political reforms.

Apparently this was NOT bending to pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood but rather a preemptive move to prevent a repeat of the situation in Egypt.

As though 24 hour cable news doesn't provide enough images, the advent of social media is making it far easier for these movements to spread. Social media provides an unparalleled platform for coordinating and recruiting members for demonstrations. The Egyptian people have already outmaneuvered the Mubarak Administration by going old school for Internet access when the government shutdown the servers. The Egyptians used satellite phones, dial-up modems and radio packet switching to get their emails and Tweets out.

Like Mubarak, King Abdullah suspended the ability of opposition parties to challenge his authority. In the past, such measures worked since it was difficult to mount any large scale support. Furthermore those who dared challenge Mubarak or Abdullah faced stiff prison sentences in not so friendly jails. Social media has radically neutralized the ability of a single leader to deny dissenting groups a voice. The same social media that allows flash mobs to form dancing to "I Gotta Feeling" shows its versatility it getting like minded individuals at the same point in time and space to protest governments.

What is a political leader to do? President Obama's Administration pursued the Cyber Security Act of 2009 which would have allowed the President to declare martial law of the Internet. Of course legislation is rarely able to stop cover all of the different possibilities. If you shut down the servers, that still leaves dial-up modems and radio packet switches. Granted these are incredibly slow but it would still allow people to communicate with their digital devices. Shut these down and you still have short-wave, CB and HF radios. It would be very difficult to deny all radio frequencies without also denying military and first responders access to airwaves.

Which country is next? Yemen, Iraq and Albania are all possibilities. Azerbaijan, which produces 914,000 barrels of oil a day, is the largest country in the Caucus region of Eurasia. It is also Shiite. The combination of being Russia's largest oil field with a Muslim population makes for a potential battleground should the Muslim Brotherhood protests continue.

Article Here