In his televised speech following 9/11 President Bush spoke of "a quiet, unyielding anger". I feel that anger rising up in me. Throughout the day I have followed the updates on the terror attacks unleashed on the citizens of Mumbai.
In a city of such vastness with many potential targets, a small thread of commonality draws me back to a date: February 23, 1998. A man put his signature on the world on this date. Issuing a fatwa for Muslims to kill Americans and their allies wherever they found them, the Mumbai attack which targeted a crowded railway station also targeted upscale hotels which catered to an international clientele. Americans and British guests were sought out as more desirable than others. A rather smallish and non-descript building which housed a Jewish center also received the brunt of cruelty. A rabbi and his wife are also among the dead. And the citizens of Mumbai? Surely it is a city roiled with grief.
My anger retains legal bounds by remembering the prayer given by Chaplain R.W. Faulk, USN, prior to the surrender ceremony of the Japanese aboard the Missouri, the flagship of Admiral Halsey, Commander of the Third Fleet. That date was Sept. 2, 1945.
Chaplain Faulk said, "Victory is not without cost and peace is not without price." It is a simple statement. But his words echo today in my heart. The cost and the price paid by our American soldiers serving as both magnet and shield, allows you to tuck your children safely in bed tonight and sleep in peace. Cost and price, for your life.
But then the unyielding anger returns. The signature has not been erased. Let me discuss my thoughts with you further on Monday. For the moment, I continue to sort through my thoughts. I want to write with clarity. It comes to me in the night.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
In his televised speech following 9/11 President Bush spoke of "a quiet, unyielding anger". I feel that anger rising up in me. Throughout the day I have followed the updates on the terror attacks unleashed on the citizens of Mumbai.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving! I worked eighteen hours yesterday. So this nurse is grateful for strength and health. smile
The stamina is not quite what it used to be, but the thought of turkey and all the trimmings has my attention!
What comes to mind when I think of the blessings of the day? I am thankful for trees. Yes, trees! Our neighborhood has many mature trees. They stand as majestic sentinels on our street.
Words are not enough to express my gratitude for being born on American soil and better yet, to live in Texas! A few of the readers have contributed their thoughts also and as you read take a moment to reflect on the beauty of life and the gifts of God. This day is set aside as one for grateful remembrance. So love deeply, live passionately, and eat all of the carbs and fats you can handle today! This is Thanksgiving!! smile
Thankful for God’s love, family from 1937 till present.
Richard Don Simms
I am thankful for the capacity to hope, for hope is what keeps me going.
I am thankful for dreams that never die.
That I as a mere human can fellowship with God.
I am thankful for God’s mercy (withholding from me what I deserve) and grace (giving me what I do not deserve.
I am glad to still be alive in the land of the free and home of the brave, where we can enjoy the many freedoms we all should be thankful for. Be grateful you are eating turkey or ham. Camel and goat do not last as long
Chief Jeffrey Snell
*And as a final note, I am grateful for the wonderful sense of community which is provided by the blog readership!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
There is a quiet understanding afoot in many circles. It is an area I have sought to understand and have written on the topic (within private circles) in the past. Get ready for the gut kick. Here it comes!
Democracy is a hybrid of poor transplant benefit into the soil of war-torn regions which have no prior point of reference with our system of governance. It polarizes the extremes and energizes the muddled masses. Beyond that, it has never been a primary task of war to secure the concept of democracy in a region of conflict. The task of war is to confront threat and in the process achieve tactical military goals. In post-war environment security is re-established and peaceful conditions brought to a sufficient level allowing the return of government to indigenous national rule both capable of governance and self-determination. Initial assistance with treaties and bilateral agreements are established and diplomatic channels renewed. When we have accomplished such things, the mission is completed and our troops come home. Japan and Germany stand as primary examples of two nations who arose from the ashes of defeat to again practice autonomy with a return to global reach and community.
My reasoning has nothing to do with an anti-patriotic stance or any distaste for my government. It is based on a simple belief: Dismantling of long established cultural anchors increases operational risk for our soldiers. So it is personally satisfying to see the United States Army unveil a new doctrine. It is the doctrine of stability operations. The American military export of the future must be stability, not democracy. For government cannot function in healthy manner without stability and security. So stability must be the top shelf product of the future. Any move toward a desirable democratic form of government can only come as the regional and national landscape becomes malleable to such ideas.
As a nation, America retains scant history in comparison with some civilizations. It is indeed a wonderful history which has served us well. I am the first to wave our flag for any occasion. But the warmth of our national embrace and identity is not shared by much of the world.
Today, the world’s poorest live within what are now designated with terms such as “vulnerable” and “fragile” states. They have the most to lose with the increasing use of insurgency models to achieve political gain, outside of traditional national governance. The oral traditions and tribal codes of many nations which may seem primitive to us are under attack. These benchmarks of the distinct civilization in which nations are immersed have preserved both kith and kin throughout the centuries.
Outside stressors to these vulnerable regions and cultures have come because of transportation and information technology. The movement of non-uniformed combatants against peaceful neighbors is going to increase during this century. Insurgencies can move in quick manner trans-nationally and create flashpoints of mayhem and unrest. Disappearing back into the general population these men live to die another day. And in the meantime, they seek political anarchy. So the most basic of communal traditions, whether respect for the elder, or the law of the tribal council ruling supreme in village affairs, serve as stability anchors within regions plagued with insurgency. These traditions, are guardian of the status quo.
The immense power of the internet and concurrent communication technology retains potential to bring political unrest in this century. Sadly, the pawns in this game will be the poorest of the poor. Those who have spent their centuries in the sameness that comes from the ebb-and-flow of daily village life, whether in the Middle East or within the African continent, are now being introduced to political stressors unheard of in their past.
So stability operations must be a strong consideration for this 21st century. The United States Army has placed their ideological product on the shelf. It will remain to be seen how these ideas move in operational manner. I wish them the highest level of success.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The custom of draping a national flag over a casket was started in the Napoleonic Wars (1796-1815). The American Flag will be draped over the casket called a “Pall”, with the blue field over the left shoulder at the head of the casket. No floral displays will cover the flag. The flag maybe folded and placed at the head of the casket if the family requests a floral arrangement be on the casket. If religious ceremonies dictate blessing of the casket, the flag will be raised away from the blessing to allow the task to be completed. If there is an open casket ceremony, the flag will be draped in a three to four tier fashion with the stripes being slightly folded in this tier fashion and the blue field being left intact and in full spread view just below the opening of the casket lid. If windy conditions prevail, a rubber-band strap will be used to secure the flag before folding the flag. A rain cover is used during wet weather conditions. The flag will be folded at the end of the military honors and when Taps has completed. A senior ranking military official will present the flag to the next of kin or a designated representative for the family. This can be the Chaplain, Officer, or Non Commissioned Officer in Charge.
The playing of Taps and the firing of the 3- volleys by the firing party can be disturbing, but the utmost care in positioning these elements of the funeral detail must occur. Firing party members must be at least 75 yards away to lessen the noise impact on attendees in the funeral party. Firing Party commands will be crisp and firing members must pay strict attention to all commands as not to fire the volleys too early or too late. All volleys should sound as if only one rifle were being fired. The bugler will be positioned from 35 to 50 yards away to allow a clear and audible sound while Taps is being played. Due to the lower number of actual buglers today, a recorded version of Taps may be substituted for the rendering of Taps. Flag/ Casket Bearers will fold the flag in a triangular fashion; starting by folding the flag in half length wise with a 1-inch short margin from all corners meeting, and then secondly with a quarter fold so that the flag has all corners together. This should give a width of 10-12 inches of the now partially folded flag. Start with the left part of the flag at the foot stripes end; folding the left corner in a triangle towards the right side edge forming a 90-degree angle. Fold the next triangle fold from that original right corner along the right side of the open end of the flag edge in the same manner. Repeat this procedure until you have covered all the red and white stripes with the blue field. At the end, make sure any excess is folded and tucked inside the pocket of the blue field. Ensure there are 3-4 stars on the long edge of the triangle, and see that no red is showing. Red on a flag is a sign of disrespect.
Once all has been folded, persons who are to receive the flag for presentation to the next of kin will honor the flag by saluting first, and those who relinquish the flag will return the salute honor once the presenter has obtained full possession of the flag. Upon the dropping of the last salute in this exchange process, the presenter will move to the next of kin who will receive the flag, and position the flag with the long side towards that person. Kneeling, the presenter will say: “On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of Defense, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to this Country and a proud Navy (or Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard)." Shake hands with them if they want to shake your hand, and if the family expressed a religious preference or belief, add: "God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America."
Once the ceremony is completed, march off solemnly and salute as you leave the gravesite as a token of respect for everyone and for the flag. You may stay around if the family or funeral directors request you to do so. You are there representing the military and your service. Honor all requests as best you can. Not all ceremonies will be the same, so be flexible, and adjust to the situation. Training and experience will teach you that. Our job as military members is to show honor to the veteran, give the respect to family, and help the family and friends get over their grieving period with dignity and pride. Military service brings so much to make everyone proud, and there is no greater reward than that of serving others when they need you most during times of grief or sacrifice. Service is more rewarding than any amount of money they will pay you. How do I know this you ask? I learned how to treat people and serve those who needed our services over the last 27 years. I have had to perform in many capacities as a military member of: the US Navy Ceremonial Guard and the Army “Old Guard”; assisted in facilitating many funeral honors regulations and drill manuals; as a Casualty Assistance Officer for the USS Cole and when the plane hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001; as funeral representative in Arlington and in local cemeteries. I still continue to serve by completing over 8,879 military funerals in public and private cemeteries like: Arlington National Cemetery, Quantico Cemetery, in over other 20 National Cemeteries around America, 4 foreign cemeteries, and 67 Wreath Layings at the Tomb of Unknowns. I have participated in many funerals,including for: General Omar Bradley, Joe Louis, Arthur Godfrey, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, Congressman Joseph Moakley, Congressman Floyd Spence, and the Vietnam Unknown Internment at the Tomb of Unknowns in Arlington (1984).
Chief Jeffrey Snell, USN
Monday, November 24, 2008
Bilingual Education is an American tragedy. And although tragic, it is a sacred cow in more ways than one. As an entrenched entitlement program administered at high levels by a cadre of pseudo-intellectuals who see no need to change the status quo, thing will not change without outside political stress. And why should these socialistic cultural engineers bother? Awash with tax money, grand operational ideas which don’t work and lack of initiative, parents must begin to form rank to seek quality education for their children. Seeking to dismantle what has been a disastrous educational experiment will require both zeal and patient endurance. There must be passion coupled with prudence. This goal will begin with community initiatives and most likely require a court challenge which moves to the SCOTUS to see rectification and educational recompense in the classroom environment.
In the past I moved within the anti-abortion movement. One of the distinct problems (one which still plagues the activists) is the personality-driven infighting which has degraded political gain. I left the ranks of that particular movement years ago because of inefficient forward momentum.
Over the years a few rules have formulated in my own mind and have served me well. Consider these principles as you engage political activism to change the way bilingual education is offered in public schools.
*Strident opposition at the starting gate can actually work to maintain the system which you are seeking to attack. Too vocal an initial thrust which is perceived as threat will produce a circle-the-wagons mentality. The very word “change” translates to stress for many people. The work to change our bilingual education system must begin in the shadows and then slowly move into the public arena of policy. Learn to first cast a shadow prior to shining a glaring spotlight on the problem.
*Seek out those with whom you have favor. These are the people you will court and with whom you will cultivate relationship.
*Walk away from those who disrespect you and extend no professional courtesy. You waste valuable time and political energy with these folks.
*Engage reciprocity. Be clear as to your goals, the reason for your goals and offer reciprocity. What does the person seek in return for their intervention on your behalf?
*Never accept “no” from the person who does not have the authority to say “yes”. This principle is very important. Start at the bottom of the chain of command and work your way up. I have found that the person with the least authority is the most likely to say no, and yet they are the very person who probably lacks the authority to say “yes”. Move up the chain until you find the person with true authority. Ignore the piss ants.
*Engage strength in process. Learn how the system works and then use the tools available within the organization.
*Recognize the importance of exponential gain from key coalitions.
Most of all, remember that the battle is not one which pits children against children, parent against parent as you seek to change your local independent school district. The goal is to establish a new order of business. American children born to English speaking parents deserve to spend the complete twelve years of their public education in classrooms where English is spoken, strengthened and used as the most basic of tools to teach all other subjects. Your taxes are paying for their education. Your taxes should benefit your child. Mixed levels of English mastery because of bilingual education assure that your child will be taught at a mediocre level. We have embraced a culture of "fairness" at the expense of a culture of excellence in our public schools. Demand that your English speaking student be placed in a classroom(s) where only English is spoken and ideas strengthened with high levels of English usage in both instruction and book selection and assignments. Roll up your sleeves. Get to work.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
What foreign language acquisition do you wish for your child? May I suggest Arabic, Chinese, German or possibly Urdu? Being fluent in Spanish and able to acceptably read French are the mainstays of my foreign language acquisition.
A distinct personal deficit was noted this week when I received a response in Arabic to a query sent to Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah. (Lebanon) Arabic has a beautiful script, but it might as well have been an ink blot on my screen as the response was in Arabic not English. The internet is a marvelous invention, isn't it? I just pulled out my list of acquaintances and received a gracious response and translation from a Muslim scholar. But I have made a mental note: Learn Arabic.
Unfortunately, English is the new "foreign language" in America. We are becoming a nation of functional illiterates because of bilingual education. Research the statistics. They are alarming. But the subtle signs are everywhere. Purchase anything packaged and requiring a bit of cooking or baking from the supermarket and you will see pictures of bowls, eggs, oil, water, timers set with minutes and oven thermostats with temperatures. This tells you that women are baking cakes not knowing how to read simple instructions such as: Put the mix in the bowl. Add two eggs. Stir in 1/4 cup of oil. Add 2 cups of water. The word with the most letters had only five. Does this scare anyone but me?
This week as I checked out at a local grocery store I noted a screen which changed every few seconds displaying various products. When I asked the cashier why the screen was flashing food items she said it was so people using the Lone Star Card to buy groceries would know what items were allowed with the card. Are the lives of these folks going to improve when they have reading skills of a third-grader?
I will tell you up front. I am strongly opposed to bilingual education in the manner it is now administered. A grave socialist intellectual error allowed this policy of bilingual education to deconstruct our public schools and create institutional disaster zones. (*I use the word socialist and intellectual as an oxymoron.) The dumbing down of American children will continue unless concerned parents begin to actively engage their school districts. Our presidential candidates swept this issue under the rug during the election. Of course the Obama Darlings will be in private school. Policy police, politicians and presidents never feel our pain. Oh yes folks! Let's sing "Hope and Change" at the top of our voices as America continues to fall behind and loses a competitive edge because of the stupidity we have allowed.
I am responsible for my deficit in Arabic language acquisition. But there is sufficient command of the English language. But then again, I was home-schooled. For many of our children functional illiteracy has been and will continue to be the legacy of bilingual education. Let's discuss this in the Monday blog. "Swofford Unleashed", of course!Valenzuela v. O'Connell
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Ayman al-Zawahiri is a clever kind of guy, albeit knocking from the inside of a time capsule which won't let him out. We are all products of genetic pool, environment and position on the historical timeline. Al-Zawahiri shows the distinct myopia of Al-Qaedah top tier leadership when insulting our next Commander in Chief. Stating we elected a “house negro” shows a man who does not understand the nature of a progressive society. He understands even less, how integrated our military forces and how small the racial divide at this point.
The top political organs such as Jamaat-e-Islami, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Hamas and Hezbollah suffer a distinct deficit within their own analytical ranks. Thinking which encapsulates and stalls on a timeline as opposed to a willingness to launch from the pad into the outer limits of thought will continue to plague these organizations. Reading some of their top writers reveals an easy-to-read theoretical model as stratified as the stony fields of thought in which they dwell. It is akin to opening a time capsule found securely nestled in the cement foundation of an old building. After the initial excitement of the find there is little which offers an “Aha moment” after the contents are revealed. Men such as Al-Zawahiri are classic mind benders and little else.
But back to No. 2, as he is called by Western media.... In his latest rant, Ayman the Beloved shows the usual lack of perception when viewing American culture. He seeks to bring a divisive message. But this is not the America of the Civil War, the rights movement of the fifties or desegregation thrust of the sixties. We are the offspring of these struggles and a bit of struggling remains. Little does Al-Zawahiri acknowledge how united we stand in America. Through seasons of cultural progress, upheaval, adversity, hardship and even terror attacks, Americans have always managed to locate the common ground. We remain Americans first. Ethnicity, color and creed are secondary identifying markers. Those who are wise among our national ranks know that a Balkanization process which degrades national identity will harm our nation. So it matters little if men who hate us insult our next president by declaring him a "house negro".
The dust is still settling from our latest election. I still receive anti-Obama emails; the remains of the political day. It is freedom of expression and I embrace it as completely healthy. When we talk ideas are exchanged and solutions sought. But there will be no threat issued, much less entertained from men who have taken a gift of intellect and diluted it with hate; no lasting impact felt on the psyche of Americans from the insulting tone of a man who feels no warmth for the whole of humanity. While his crowd may consider themselves like teeth on the comb, we are the hair on the head, buddy. Closer than you, more cohesive and certainly more at peace.
We will celebrate the strength of our union again with the festivities surrounding the inauguration of a new President of the United States of America. This is my America. It is your America too.
Hate in full view
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
He stood in front of me at the grocery store. Shoulders stooped in manner seen in those graced with length of life I quietly watched as hands wrinkled with age reached for a wallet. His military ball cap had already been noted. When his items were scanned and the price tallied I interrupted his slow move to swipe his card. Catching his gaze, I thanked him for his service to our nation. Turning to the cashier I said, “Leave the total up there and add it to my own. Last week we celebrated Veteran’s Day. This man protected our nation.”
Somewhat caught off guard, the Veteran told me, “no one had ever done that for him before”. I waited patiently for his story. He had bailed out of an aircraft over Germany in World War II, walked through Germany and eventually made it to Switzerland.
Chief Snell is educating us regarding military funeral honors. Last week I paid my respect to the family of a retired Navy officer who died suddenly. She served in Vietnam and received a funeral with military honors. At the funeral home, the flag draped across her coffin brought the tears and silent respect of many fellow officers.
The warriors from World War II are now quickly moving into rank for their last march to join their comrades in the soil of the earth. There are weeks when Chief Snell pulls duty for more than one funeral. We are rapidly losing our war historians from WW II. Korean Conflict veterans are also marching toward the end of their own historical timeline. But within the story of each veteran there is an oral tradition which provides the kaleidoscope of war.
My husband and I attended a dinner for a local VFW chapter. The old chaplain was wobbly on his cane after the dinner. But when he told us of the battle for Iwo Jima he straightened up a bit, his voice gained a bit of vigor and suddenly he was eighteen years old again, enveloped in the terror and action which were viewed with his own eyes, a battle paid for with his own sweat.
If you see a Veteran with a military ball cap take a moment and ask where they served and let them recount a bit of history for you. And may I suggest you consider purchasing this reflective piece, “Old Glory”. I was privileged to review the script and also to view this film before the final production cut. James McEachin served in the Korean Conflict and I am privileged to know his story. He is a strong advocate for our veteran community.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
As of January 1, 2000, Section 578 of Public Law 106-65 of the National Defense Authorization Act mandates that the U.S. military must provide the rendering of U.S. military funeral honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family. This law was created to enforce the policies of the Veterans Administration in 1973, when the VA took over the national cemetery administration from the US Army. President Abraham Lincoln established the national cemetery system in 1862 through legislation during the Civil War. “Care for him that borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphans.” –Abraham Lincoln.
The American Civil War was one of the first conflicts to use the method of ground burial in a mass configuration. There are over 100 national cemeteries and over 80 state and territorial veteran cemeteries. Arlington National Cemetery (Gen. Robert E. Lee’s old home site), was selected as a fitting tribute to fallen Union Soldiers who had fallen in battle. Gettysburg is another classic historical cemetery that holds both Union and Confederate heroes. France, Luxemburg, and many other foreign cemeteries hold many heroes who fought for freedom and paid the ultimate price to rid the world of evil. Gen. George Patton preferred to be buried with his troops in Hamm, Luxembourg. Presidents, Congressmen, Senators, military leaders, and Heads of State lie in Arlington. Normally, to be allowed a burial site in Arlington a veteran must have received a Purple Heart Medal or above as a military honor. That is not always the case. The law has changed on some instances. Not everyone who is interned in Arlington has these military decorations. Those that are authorized by law to be honored by being interned with military funeral honors are:
Current and Former U.S. Presidents
Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
Eligible dependents of military veterans who are eligible for burial in veteran cemeteries.
Typically, funeral honors are bestowed on only those veterans who served under honorable conditions or were upgraded to honorable under general conditions. Governmental dignitaries who never served in the military can receive funeral honors because of their rank or position in government. No person who received a dishonorable discharge will be given military funeral honors. A request by family members of a deceased veteran must be made prior to any funeral honors being rendered. Honors will be rendered via the veteran’s military service department or by an appropriate veteran’s organization such as the VFW or American Legion. Eligible veterans with a DD-214 document will receive a casket, a flag, and a grave marker from the Veterans Administration. An Honor Guard consisting of two or more military members will perform the funeral detail as requested by the family. Arlington Cemetery is the only national cemetery in the United States that performs “Full Honor” funeral ceremonies with marching platoons and marching band.
Military Funeral Honors are conducted in many ways, but always hold the same dignity and respect of honor for the person being honored. The actual military funeral ceremony has stayed the same over the years. Starting with the American Revolution, which was taken from British and French funeral ceremonies, US military funerals range from “Simple or Standard Honors” to “Full Honors” ceremonies. Most military ceremonies take place at a church or funeral chapel, or at the gravesite. Simple honors can consist of two members who fold the flag and play “Taps”, or a 15 person funeral team which consists of six Casket Bearers who fold the flag, a seven person Firing Party with a Firing Party Head to fire a 3- Volley Gun Salute, and a bugler to play Taps. A Chaplain or Religious Leader will also accompany the funeral detail. On Full Honors ceremonies, there can be a 32 person marching band and escort marching platoons that will accompany the funeral procession leading to the gravesite. There are two types of Escort marching platoons: a one 32-person platoon or two 67- person marching platoons. A Full Honors funeral detail can also have a cannon being fired off in the distance in addition with the Firing Party honors, depending on the rank of the individual being honored. In certain full honors parades, a casket or urn can be transported to the gravesite by a horse drawn wagon called a “Caisson”, which was an old wagon cart used by artillery as an ammunition hauler. In a few occasions, former Presidents and O-6 ranking officers can also have a riderless horse following the Caisson, with a pair of boots placed backwards in the stirrups as a symbol of honor for the fallen leader. A President or former President is authorized a personal flag to follow the Caisson as the funeral procession marches to the gravesite.
Chief Jeffrey Snell, USN
Monday, November 17, 2008
I admit it! I did not graduate from UT Arlington with a four year degree. I am not a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy. I have never written one word for the Irving Morning News. The Marine Corps Gazette is devoid of articles or book reviews with my name.
On the right side of this page you are allowed a small glimpse of the woman, Tammy Swofford. If it is found that everything you know about me is a complete fabrication, the blog readership needs to quickly drop to zero. The readership includes nurses, military, readers of the Dallas Morning News and the occasional look from Quantico. For each qualification there is a proof. UT Arlington retains my transcript, I have a nicely embossed diploma and the State Board of Nurse Examiners in Texas can verify I have received a BSN. My PEBD (pay entry base date) can be tracked through the Navy. Print archives at Dallas Morning News and the Marine Corps Gazette confirm the remainder.
So what must be done when inflated credentials surface in the executive suite? Should tracks be covered or truth discovered? It seems the poignant voice of honesty better serves the needs of the organization than a faint echo of "Oops!" when these scenarios unfold. Gimme a break! If you received a degree you know it. If you didn't receive an academic degree, you know it. We don't play "Guess" at this level.
Take for instance the sad tale of Mr. Workman, the Chief Technical Officer for Trimble Navigation, which manufactures GPS systems. He claims a Masters degree in electrical engineering from M.I.T. A degree in anthropology or music would not be appropriate for such position. So if you want to invest in Trimble, there is a level of confidence. The truth is unveiled and Mr. Workman now resembles “Joe the Plumber”. M.I.T. confirms he did attend the university for two semesters. But yeah, no degree! Naturally, Mr. Workman gives the usual stand up comedy routine: He “thought” he had received the degree. That is about as logical as a woman waking up at age thirty and “thinking” she gave birth to a baby ten years ago, but DARN IT, she cannot locate the child. Hell! For those of us who have labored and gone through the legal birthing process to get a degree, the ink footprint of that kid is stuffed somewhere in a file in the house. We worked too hard for it and most of us can remember the exact date we walked across a stage to a sound of thunderous applause. Nary an ink footprint exists for Mr. Workman.
The slogan, “Have a Coke and a smile” is probably the order of the day for Coca-cola executives when considering the squirming being done by Keith Keiser. Ole' Keith is president and chief operating officer of PepsiAmericas, Inc., one of the biggest Pepsi bottlers in the nation. He does not have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University, as claimed. I would be smiling too, if I had pulled the wool over the Pepsi crowd in such easy manner. Yes, Keith! Go ahead and have a Coke with a smile! You deserve it!
Should strong job performance mitigate escorting liars to the corporate curb? By deliberate falsification of their qualifications they defrauded and professionally robbed other qualified candidates actively competing for the job. It is like winning the Boston Marathon without having engaged the endurance for the race. Personally, if I had been second-in-line for some of these jobs which were given to unqualified candidates, the word “lawsuit” would to mind. Why were they not properly vetted?
But just as this story started with my own rank, it must also end by speaking of the need for rank without falsification. Under the UCMJ (the Uniform Code of Military Justice) there is penalty for impersonating an officer, or for that matter misrepresenting ones self as having a higher rank than that which is rightfully earned. There is one very strong reason to seek punitive measures against such practice. The chain of command authority structure allows the one with higher rank to address the concerns or deficits within the lower ranks within the chain of command. A Navy Lieutenant Commander will never dress down a Commander either in public or behind closed doors. That task, belongs to another Commander, Captain or (yikes) an Admiral. How many professional employees with degrees now reflect on the disciplinary measures invoked against them by lesser men, while seated in a position of authority and not properly vetted in their qualifications? What kind of a taste is left in the mouth of a man with a Masters degree when he realizes that the man with the kahunas behind the desk is not only unequal as professional peer, but a liar to boot?
Eyes must remain dry when liars among the ranks are identified. Employees found to have received positional authority by submitting falsified degrees, credentials or certifications must be released without ceremony. It is about corporate integrity. It is about corporate morale. It is also about public trust.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The weather is turning a bit cold and crisp along the plains of Texas. This is my favorite time of year. But first, to gather all around the coffee pot....
Tom Gordon and Blackfoot have hurdles and personal responsibilities which may sideline them from the blog for a season. I have been in contact with both and as we all know, when prioritizing time and tasks on the horizon, writing-for-free on a blog can be the first tether of responsibility slashed. Dr. Cunningham is also in a busy phase with his career, but he hopes to write again within the next two weeks. Chief Snell will continue to be on the page for three more weeks. Bob Miller and I will cover the remainder.
Let's move back to domestic issues next week. Read the link to give background for Monday. Is corporate morale effected when "the boss" is found to have lied about his credentials? If the lie is established the first time and with the first employment opportunity for a job requiring a degree, is it easier to convince others of the lie for subsequent jobs? Do you have the backbone to fire an employee who has lied on an application? Is a university degree merely about a knowlege base or does it also show a strength of character to follow through with a long term goal? Does truth matter?
Wall Street Journal Article
Friday, November 14, 2008
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.
Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.
-Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks, Sleepless in Seattle)
Bad is bad. You don’t need me to define it for you. It just “is” (sorry, Bill). But there is an uncanny ability to know when something is wrong. The problem lies with one’s opportunity and ability to act on it.
Half way through 1984’s Ghostbusters, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and associates warn geeky EPA enforcer Walter Peck (William Etherton) NOT to shut down the ghost-storing containment grid. He does so anyway, and the result is an immediate and destructive release of paranormal manifestations and questionable special effects. This scene has haunted me since November 4.
At the close of “The Fire Next Time”, a 1993 sci-fi miniseries depicting a 2017 man-made ecological nightmare, the main characters have successfully traversed hell on earth (America) and escaped to peaceful and quiet Nova Scotia where the climate is still bearable. As several relieved characters exit the final scene one stops to look skyward. He stares for a long time (as we ultimately gain his view) toward the threatening sun, clearly wondering just how much longer “we” have.
I can’t seem to shake it. The “dawn of a new age of American leadership”, save for respecting the understandable pleasure of some, has me shell-shocked. It’s that feeling I had sitting for two agonizing hours watching “Leaving Las Vegas”. It’s the despair in the long face of Jason Robards in “The Day After”. It’s Roddy McDowell realizing he’s captive in a zoo on Mars.
I read today that our president of 8 years warned of “too much” government involvement in the markets. As my mind filtered that irony with his many questionable government expansions and the recent bailout actions I cannot help but add them to the quotes of global socialists and “Third Wayers” basking in our coming decline. You see it’s not personalities, race, party identification or our petty bickering about election horse races that is troubling.
It’s as if a great innocence has been lost. America will change in 2009. “The world” is excited about it. The difference between this and past liberal/conservative election swings lies in that today Agent Smith jams his hand into our chest. The waiting arms of the world welcome us into their fold. In a November 7 article Mikhail Gorbachev advises Barack Obama to institute “Perestroika” (reform) in the United States. You don’t suppose he’s thinking “Fair Tax” do you?
[They hear the sound of an on-coming train.]
Agent Smith : Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That..is the sound of
inevitability...that is the sound of...your death.
Also in the article, jailed Russian oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky said "The paradigm of global development is about to change. The era inaugurated by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher 30 years ago is over. ...The 'golden billion' of the world's richest people will have to abandon hopes of increasing their wealth”. (Why are they interviewing felons?) For decades the United States has stood alone atop of the world as a unique and envied beacon of freedom. That “shining city on a hill” now prepares to vacate its ramparts and open its gates, rolling in a large wooden horse.
There’s an ominous finality to this looming sadness. As the decades have passed, the grand experiment that is America has felt the erosion of its unique traits and foundations. Yes, there has been a change. The signals are ominous from the both the incoming administration and the strategic foes of capitalism and freedom. When the dust settles and the fawning is over, what will this nation look like and will any nation still value sovereignty?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The list of shadow dancers to consider prior to our exit from Iraq is not discussed in global manner. The format will be the frame around the picture in my mind; just initial musings when considering things too difficult for comprehension. So let’s move to the shadows and examine the dancers.
THE SHI’A RELIGIOUS STRUCTURE:
*Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani: This man is considered the finger of God among the majority of the Shi’a in the region. Najaf is the center of the universe for the faithful of Iraq. Whether the whisper of a word from a personal aide, or private audience with the man himself (they are rarely allowed these days), this elderly patriarch still has political muscle. He has tendrils of support in Europe and the loyalty of the seminarians in Najaf.
*Sayyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim: As the leader of SCIRI, his influence must be courted. In parliamentary political corridors the public face of policy must also receive the nod of approval from this man. His brother, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim, was assassinated in a car bombing in Najaf.
*Muqtada al-Sadr: A self-titled Ayatollah who has never legitimately earned the rank, he retains favor among the dwellers of the slums in Baghdad. His strength is one of proxy, aided by political assistance from Iran. His masters will continue to kick him around like the goat’s head as long as he remains useful to them.
THE SUNNI RELIGIOUS STRUCTURE:
*Much in this arena will depend on the adaptive ability of the Sunni to exert influence as a minority demographic. They will put their best players on the chessboard and will engage back room political prowess. Politically adept in their own right they will clash against the majority. Expect to see tribal justice strengthened as we disappear from the scene. The same will be true amongst the Shi’a. The tribes and their clans take care of matters of morality and justice in manner which they have for centuries.
*There is an Arab expression, “El-Kurad Jurad”. Odd man out, they move in rank, when threatened. The Kurds showed their ability to stir it up with their nationalistic skirmishes across the Turkish border. Will they be emboldened on our departure? Or will they draw back a bit and politically encapsulate themselves more efficiently?
THE HASHEMITE KINGDOM:
*This nation has served as a political buffer zone for many years. But they have absorbed a portion of the Iraqi diaspora and are economically burdened from our entry into Iraq. They will continue to play a major role of advocacy in the region.
THE HOUSE OF SAUD:
*What further requires discussion? We remain the mistress chained to the bed as petro dollars are converted to Riyals for riot. Saudi funded schools across Africa and Pakistan have one purpose. Read my lips: Cheap indoctrination of the poor into an anti-West posture. America must become energy independent. Meantime, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia surely quakes against the rising Shi’a revival. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t, as the old saying goes.
*With a Shi’a majority they seek increased goodwill with their Shi’a brethren in Iraq. The trick for Iraq will be for those entrusted with the power on our departure to commit to a distinct sovereignty which does not bow to the dominant will of Iran.
SYRIA and LEBANON:
*Depending on the flip of the coin, these nations remain guns for hire or independent mavericks.
*Syria is capable of stirring up a hell of a stink among their own population, when recalling the Hama massacre of years gone by. They show the will to act if sufficiently politically threatened from within. The national resolve is under the surface and available to the government. The mild slap on the hand which closed an American school in Damascus last week showed public political restraint.
*Lebanon has proved their mettle and the strength of Hezbollah can no longer be discounted as a fledgling and flanking political movement in Lebanon. It is the overlay on the recognized political map.
The exit from Iraq will require political finesse. It remains to be seen if Iraq will descend into a bloodbath on our departure. In my personal dialogue crossing to the other side of the street, civil war was the predicted outcome for our entry into Iraq. We shall see. Again, ask me at the ten year mark. We are not there yet.
This Grand Ayatollah with waning physical strength retains jurisprudential authority.
This leader seeks a more politically malleable Iraq on our departure.
This powerful man, leads the Shi'a Muslim of Lebanon, while monitoring what the Shi'a cousins are doing in Iraq.
This Grand Ayatollah butted heads with Saddam Hussein and lost. His son was assassinated in Najaf on April 10, 2003. This family commands attention abroad.
Our focus on this man, the son of a Grand Ayatollah, has been intense. While he seeks to be a source of guidance and imitation, the necessary "proofs" may not be in place for his acceptance as an Ayatollah based on the traditions of Wilayat-al-Faqih.
*The actual blog will post later tonight. Attending a military officer dinner/function.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Sociometric considerations of the Mesopotamian Basin: Did we engage the process on any meaningful level prior to entering Iraq? Not likely. But then again, we are Americans. Our own national history is abbreviated compared with much of the world. We are culturally engineered for an instant society whether using a drive-thru banking line or demanding pizza delivery in thirty minutes or less.
Militarily, contingencies exist for all scenarios from the mother of all terrors which would be a nuclear attack practically down to Farmer Brown stealing Grandma Jones’ rifle stash from the shed. Well, possibly not to that level.... but you get the point. Break-out plans can unfold in seconds and not hours, in a state of emergency. The lessons learned from 9/11 certainly brought us to the top of our game.
We entered Iraq and the military plan was executed rapidly and with efficiency. Tactical brilliance with near flawless execution was our portion for two weeks. But dull-witted, the overly confident analyst' community assumption this venture would be similar to Gulf I with ease of mission completion. They blew their chance for "greatness". The physical topography was adequately considered by the military. But the sociocultural terrain of mind was the missing piece from the chessboard and the analysts are to blame.
Entering Iraq did not change the people. It merely dissected the political landscape. The Iraqi people are predominantly Muslims. Their system of life is Islam and not Western democracy. We deposed a dictator, put in place a new Constitution and changed the power structure. We dabbled with Chalabi and Alawi and quicker than you can say “toppled statue” a new field of interested players also appeared on the geopolitical chessboard. We disbanded the Baath party structure, Sunni minority handed the political reins over to a Shi’a majority, and in quick succession agents in search of a proxy state crossed over from Iran to Iraq. The Chinese and Russians also warmed their hands to the opening possibilities of a post-dictatorial Iraq. Shi’a Muslims from Iran trudged to Karbala to purchase real estate near a revered holy shrine and the real estate market was good. Sunni tribal sheikh looked on whilst consulting with their faithful. Saddam Hussein hid in his hole and other rats vacated their tunnels.
Our troops became both magnet and shield. Their presence drew many al-Qaedah fighters to the region and in the world of big game hunting our military has bagged more than a few of the biggest players. One thing cannot be denied. We have not suffered a significant attack on our soil since 9/11. I respect our Commander in Chief for that one reason, if none other. Thank God for a man with backbone. Immense respect, for our troops and their sacrifices. Minimal regard, for the opaque line of thinking from the camp of the analysts.
We now work on many levels to rectify our deficits in cultural intelligence. But the legacy remains: Sociometric signals from the region were not well-understood and the law of unintended consequences came into play. Our lack of depth of understanding in how the human tectonic plates would begin to move when we entered Iraq still plague us today. A muslim, is a muslim, is a muslim! So went the reasoning of the day. But the subtle differences between Sunni and Shi’a, perceptible on the surface, are difficult enough to understand. And geographically, Iraq presents a special case because of the history of modern dominance of a Sunni minority over Shi’a majority in this region. In democratic manner, we handed the power back to the majority.
I predict that when we leave Iraq a bit of additional bloodshed will be the portion of the Sunni. Just as surely as the Shi’a stepped over the dead bodies of their own under the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s regime, they will require the Sunni to perform the same sad dance to greater extent when we leave. Revenge is never an issue of expediency in the Middle East and transgressions against tribe, clan or family are never forgotten. The task may fall to the tenth generation of the slain, but all in its own good time. The blood of a hundred camels, and then some....
Toss in the shadow dancers awaiting opportunity in a post-American presence and our newly elected president and counsel will have a difficult task. It will remain to be seen if a popular campaign promise becomes a reality by summer of 2010. Tomorrow, let’s examine the sociometric badges of the shadow dancers. We will begin with the Ayatollah chain of command and work our way to the borders and beyond.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The United States of America is a proud and dignified nation that allows many freedoms that many on this planet only dream of having. Those freedoms are numerous, but one in particular is the freedom to serve others and to keep those people who need our help safe. Service to others who cannot defend themselves from oppression and tyranny is why we go into harms way. Defending this nation and other nations is something millions of men and women have done in and out of uniform for over 200 years. The freedom or right to choose to fight for something larger than their selves is not just a duty one has to the world, but it is an honor. That reason above all is why a total volunteer military is better than one that is drafted. To stand up for a belief or a cause without honor is a fruitless and meaningless endeavor. Without honor, the protection of human life would be in vain. The valor of that duty would be worthless, even to our noblest deeds. The ultimate honor a person can give is that of his or her own life in defense of another life. Our duty as citizens of this great land, who have sworn an allegiance to protect our fellow man, is to honor those who paid the ultimate price of honor with their life. The responsibility is ours to never let anyone pass on to the other shore without proper funeral honors that they deserve. "No man has greater love than would give his life for his friend." (Jesus of Nazareth)
The customs or traditions of funeral ceremonies was created to provide adequate disposal of the remains of a deceased person and to allow the friends and families a bereavement period for the loss of the loved one. The last rites for different religions provide a closure to help the survivors reorganize their lives adjusting to the absence of their loved one. Trepidation was a common element in most funeral practices, as to where the living thought the dead would not have peace in the afterlife. Most customs were a taboo-like ritual that created a mystery and fear that the dead would return if they were not properly cared for. Some thought the body would contaminate the earth, as it would decompose, so ground burial was not observed in many parts of the world. Many bodies were cremated not only to prevent a resurrection or wandering of the earth as a lost soul, but to raise the spirit of the departed to the heavens. Many beliefs of those days would suggest that the fires of that spirit would rekindle the warrior’s spirit in those warriors left to do battle another day.
The tradition of honoring our fallen comrades dates back to approximately 3000 B.C., when man would honor those fallen in conflict defending their homes. The funeral methods were usually performed in a crude ceremony by funeral pyres (log-structured fires). Burial in the ground was not a common practice due to the rock formations in most areas or the voyage being out at sea. The Viking and Saxon (ceremonies) were known to cremate the bodies of their dead by the same method of fire, but usually as the remains were floated out to sea on a vessel or craft of various structures. The Greeks and Romans would practice both methods on land or sea, depending on the position of the individual and place of honor given to the fallen champion. A symbolic stone or place marker was usually placed where the ceremony was held. The practice of a repository of the ashes in urns dates back to 27 B.C. where columbarium-like buildings were erected as a place for mourners to visit. In some ceremonies, the ashes would be scattered to the winds out at sea or over special memorial sites per the wishes of the deceased or family. Today, cremations make up 25% of all deaths in the United States, where in some countries it is closer to 75%. Religious beliefs and cultural traditions mandate cremation in some countries; where as in some countries the cremation process is not allowed to occur.
The ritual of burial at sea dates back as far back as men has been building ships to carry them to sea. The term “burial” is only a description reference when at sea. Due to the lack of proper storage facilities onboard the vessel and the possibility of disease, most bodies were sown into a sack or wrapped in linen cloth or sail material and ceremoniously buried at sea via letting the body slide from the deck under a banner or flag into the waters below, and deposited in Davy Jones locker. Cremating the body was done only if a separate vessel was constructed and the body then placed onto the craft for a proper funeral pyre. Burial at sea has become a popular means of funeral rites, especially after World War II, and is a permanent interment - with no re-interment being available once the remains have entered the seas. Many famous people have been buried this way: Robert Mitchum, John F Kennedy Jr., Rock Hudson, Janis Joplin, Steve McQueen, and Ingrid Bergman just to name a few.
The observance of burial into the earth in a grave or in a mausoleum is the most common way departed souls are laid to rest. This method of burial means gives a final resting place for loved ones to visit and to honor in memoriam the celebration of those who lived a good and faithful life. Graves are a frequent tribute to at least 65% of all deaths in America. There are also mausoleums that allow for above ground burial when conditions do not allow for in ground internment, such as swamp areas of New Orleans or rock formations in mountain regions. Pyramid (architecture) , ceremonial structures used as tombs or temples that were built by the people of certain ancient civilizations, notably the ancient Egyptians , the Aztecs , and the Maya , and certain other ancient peoples of the northern Andean region of South America. Cemeteries are a part of the national heritage as parks and national monuments are in many lands. Every war in world history show respecting the dead was a common ritual after each battle, and there are graves all over this world that reflect this fact. Many on the battlefields across the planet have been buried right on that field or near that fallen location. The large numbers of those killed in battle, and the lack of funeral direction or transportation facilitated this need to bury the dead as quickly as possible.
Chief Jeffrey Snell, USN
*Part II of IV will be next Tuesday.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Interested in where we will be heading next week? Let me start the week in California with passage of Proposition 8. Remember, I maintain a free speech zone.
Tuesday, Navy Chief Snell will offer his first of four blogs, run from week to week. He will educate us regarding military funerals.
Reading this link, reminded me again, our new Commander in Chief will have to fulfill his promise to bring the troops home in sixteen months. Why did reading something on Middle East Geological Establishment then make a mental leap to bringing the troops home? Hell if I ever know how my brain works. But simple enough, the question remains. Did we give as close attention to the Mesopotamian Basin as does the oil industry, when considering our entry into Iraq? The petroleum industry certainly has the thing nailed down for fossil fuels. So..... in light of our (promised) departure from Iraq, let me discuss with you the end-game, considering sociometric signals coming from the Mesopotamian Basin of Iraq and adjoining regions.
That brings me to blogs later in the week. Check out this link. Would you be intimidated wearing a sociometric badge? I will bring a brief analysis of the sociometric badges we must consider prior to departure from the operational arena overseas.
Here is the deal. I write with quite a bit of caution in the public domain when covering the Middle East. Residing within chain of command I both respect and understand the beauty of the chain. Regarding Iraq I always tell others, "Ask me in ten years. The verdict is not in yet." That being said, the military allows a vibrant process of debriefing after missions are completed. These are healthy endeavors which improve capabilities. I have been honored to be involved in two such closed-door sessions in the past. (CAX medical support FH Dallas, 29 Palms and WATC 02, Advance Party). So let's debrief a bit next week.
Get ready to enter the free speech zone, increase your knowlege on military funerals, stamp your passport for the Mesopotamian Basin and.... Bob Miller will stand down the week with his excellent Friday blog.
Blackfoot is migrating with the herds. Tom Gordon is hiding. Dr. Jeff is most likely buying weapons, along with other Texans. smile See you next week!
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:01 AM
Friday, November 07, 2008
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.~Abraham Lincoln
Any excuse will serve a tyrant.~Aesop
From the McCain and Republican meltdowns to Brokaw and Rose discovering their “creepy and cultish” 30 pieces of silver, “Bob the Blogger” had a hell of a time these first days of the “nonviolent revolution” of 2008.
Today, however, aggression is being signaled through transitional activities of the new administration. It somehow took me back to 1984 and pre-spandex Patrick Swayze. “Red Dawn” told the story of a rag-tag band of teenagers hiding out in the mountains of Colorado after communists invaded and split the United States in two.
Colonel Ernesto Bella: [in the now-occupied Calumet, Colorado] It would seem necessary to win the support of the people. As our opponents used to say in Vietnam: "Win their hearts and minds."
General Bratchenko: And they lost, Ernesto...
Morale is crucial right now. Keep the men in the secured areas. You'll see how
they forget about these "Wolverines."
Aside from it’s entertainment value (it was a great flick), Red Dawn painted a shocking and eye-opening picture of what it might be like to lose our nation and our freedom. It fairly illustrated the ugliness of war and its toll on even the heart of the occupier. The story centered around a group of students who were fortunate enough to escape the invasion. The unlikely heroes took it upon themselves to fight back. Save for the differences of time and physicality, the analogy makes a fair point. Our nation has been split, though not by military force and not intentionally by geography. We are the “haves” and the “have-nots”. We are the “working families” and the “selfish”. Propaganda has ushered in the age of ideologues, and Judas has credentials.
“Beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” – Syme (1984, Orwell)
Should one access standard memory and recall capacities denied your average media personality, George W. Bush reportedly took office in 2000 and urinated on the Constitution. The left miraculously became ultra-libertarian and “rule of law”-minded. Democrats who were against the rule of law before they were for it (study 1992-1999) are finding their way back to “the common good” these days, so ends/means justifications are cool again. "W" won't win any Cato Institute awards, but next to the new crew he's an anarchist.
“If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.”- O’Brien (1984, Orwell)
Probably the most menacing and obvious affronts to freedom being readied for launch is a return to “The Fairness Doctrine”, which mandates regulated political “balance” in [some] broadcasting. President-elect Obama has named Henry Rivera to once again head the FCC. It is instructive to note this man's historical hatred for free speech. This [and much more] telegraphs Obama's true contempt for the Constitution. The president-elect has made clear his belief that the Constitution “was” a great document “with a blindspot” which of course provides license to change (there’s that word) or circumvent it.
Here’s some food for thought:
Most people spend well in excess of $100 on a TV, internet and phone service package. More and more of what comes through this idiot box offends rather than entertains. The sixth-largest provider has approximately 3 million subscribers and its customers average $115 per month. Imagine subscribership down by even a modest percentage. Consider then a $94 billion industry needing those subscribers for advertising revenue.
On the day “The Fairness Doctrine” is even introduced, my subscription goes away. They have nothing but contempt for me and my family anyway. I'll consider it a righteous wind of reduced spending. I don’t care the slightest bit whether or not it hurts like some boycott, but then again, consider the BIG bonus if others just happened to agree.
Sleep tight, Wolverines. 2010 is not so far away. Lets hope elections are still "cool" then.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
It is amazing to discover asymmetrical warfare tactics when reading for pleasure, as opposed to research, which is my usual daily fare. If books are comparable to jewels, "Tales from the Arab Tribes" (as related to C. G. Campbell), is like finding a diamond buried in a pile of cubic zirconia. The book "One Thousand and One Nights" pales in comparison to the brilliance of these tales, recounted by Charles Grimshaw Campbell in a book printed in 1949 in Great Britain. He collected stories of the great Shi'a tribes of Southern Iraq as he traveled in the region, circa 1942. Within tribal structures, oral traditions warm the hearts as nicely as the fire around which the tribesmen warm their hands at night.
In his preface, the author states the following:
"I am also conscious that these stories when told with a wealth of gesture and expession of face and voice were things of vivid beauty like rare butterflies, and in reducing them to paper it is as if they have been killed and pinned in a collector's cabinet."
Mr. Campbell does a fine job, and one of my favorite stories thus far is "The Story of the Prince of Kermanshah and of his Misfortunes". *And those who tell this story may say that the story was related by Hussein the Saddler, and he heard it from his mother, and she was a Persian.
Enjoy the glimpse into a portion of this clever tale which involves asymmetrical warfare:
And it came about that the King of the Afghans went out to fight the infidel, and Rustam (the Prince of Kermanshah) and Qais (his former page) accompanied his troops. And the Hindus came and they were mounted on elephants and accompanied by tigers and they attacked the army of the faithful. And of the Afghans thousands were slain, and it appeared that defeat was inevitable, for the elephants trampled the Afghans underfoot and the tigers frightened their horses and tore them with their claws.
But such was the wisdom of Rustam in the art of war that he had caused to be caught before leaving Kandahar a thousand hives of bees and these were sealed in earthen pots and carried on the backs of camels. And these pots Rustam now ordered to be placed upon the ground, and he formed a line of pots and behind them he withdrew his troops, and they retired at great speed, and when the Hindus saw them run they followed. And it came about that the elephants knocked over and broke the pots and the bees came out full of anger and vigour. And the bees stung the elephants even beneath their tails, and they stung the tigers and the Hindus. And the elephants and tigers became mad and fought one with the other, and the Hindus were blinded by the bees and they fled in every direction. And the army of the faithful gathered together and when the bees had stung all their stings, they chased the Hindus and where they found them there they slew them.
And the King of the Afghans was pleased with the strategem of Rustam, and he ordered him to be rewarded with a robe of honour, and a chest of gold and the command of an army.
*I hope the readers have enjoyed this trip along a less-traveled path into the world of the great Shi'a tribes.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Dr. Jeff Cunningham:
I recall, when attending a beauty pageant for the Hopkins County Dairy Festival Queen in 1973 that Denise Dickerson won. I loved Denise and she was truly a nice person. But Carol Adams was someone I was pulling for because of family ties that were pretty strong. I remember the host saying “It is a shame that all of these ladies can’t be winners because they are all wonderful human beings who deserve your respect. Whoever wins will represent our county quite well.” You know, that was the truth. Denise was amazing as the festival queen and to this day she is still quite the beauty. Now I find myself in the opposite position. I realize that we have 4 decent people who are running for President/Vice President and that all have worked very hard for the job of leading the nation. It is just a darned shame they can’t all lose. I hate to think of what the next four, make that eight, years has in store for us. Can it get worse than it is now? Youuuu betcha! More polarization induced by talk show hosts, more hatred induced by a cry of racism every time the president is criticized, more micromanagement of your life by government, more of the same old same old that we have come to expect. I am not voting for either of these tickets because neither has done anything to earn it. But President Obama had better be ready to deliver on his promises to the middle class. Unfortunately, there has to be a winner and even though I do not like either choice he will be my president. I will respect the office and try to hold in the highest esteem the person who is our leader. But I don’t have to like it. You will excuse me, please, while I go empty this bucket of sour grapes.
I am pulling for Senator John McCain. There is one reason why I cannot vote for the other guy. Placing Senator Barack Obama in the drivers seat will surely send us careening off the cliff to disaster. He doesn't have the maturity to drive the course of our nation.
He does not appear to show regard for our troops. He seems detached from the sacrifices we make. He is a "girly man" with a malleable backbone that scares me. He is a Cub Scout among men. And who are the powerful men, detached from the ideal of a sovereign yet free America who wish for this man to be chief among men? I can't vote for Senator Obama. His grasp of foreign policy is negligible. He seeks the government of Jonah and the whale, swallowing up Americans piece by little piece, until the State dictates the will of the people. I will cast my vote for Senator John McCain today, 4 November 2008. Don't come crying to me in two years. My eyes will remain dry.
That being said, my Navy core values are Honor, Courage and Commitment. Should Senator Barack Obama become my new Commander in Chief I will give him the respect afforded the position and office. My traditions, demand nothing less.
My better half and I made a date of it (last week) and took advantage of the early voting period.
What significantly disturbs me is that our country, only one quarter of a century after twice- electing a man who would topple the totalitarian “evil empire”, seriously considers placing one...an openly socialist and “revolutionary” statist...in control of our executive branch of government. Barack Obama’s mission is not complex, but it is evil and counter to everything this nation stands for. One goal is clearly to force a reparations agenda where previous legislative and judicial considerations proved insufficient (“previously disaffected persons”?). It runs deeper than "class warfare" and is more punitive than advertised. Useful idiot Joe Biden says it’s our patriotic duty to pay confiscatory taxes so that welfare/transfer payments can be made directly from one “class” to another. Folks this is the rhetoric and threat of third world dictators and despots, not mainstream American political discourse.
Obama/Biden vow to “change the world”. I wonder how that could be, considering the first move is economic homogenization with other socialist nations? What's left to change then? How sad that through fraud and manipulation this planet’s last beacon of freedom’s light goes dim… and that our torch fades into the perpetual dystopian dusk .
Monday, November 03, 2008
Thank God, the Virgin Mary, all the Saints and Jesus Christ! This season in political hell is coming to a close! Really.
The media has performed like they are delivering the news to citizens with an average I.Q. of 96. The nouveau media, you and I, are also to blame. Spam, photoshopped lies and desktop counterfeiters have clogged email from day to day with senseless crap. It may be a boon to Snopes to have millions of hits a day, but I am tired of the farce.
Pop culture has reduced our presidential candidates to comic book status and they have aided and abetted the process by appearing on Saturday Night Live to make fools of themselves. What are they thinking? They aspire to the pinnacle of power and don't mind the mocking throngs? What happened to dignity? I cannot image Teddy, Ike or Ronnie stooping so low.
A few years ago Senator Clinton tried to dupe us into thinking that it takes a village to raise a child. The media has given unparalleled exposure to another Democratic Senator who now wants to take the whole village and teach us how to make Stone Soup. He tosses the stone of hope into the pot and the rest of us are expected to empty our pockets into the government coffers. Not quite sure how Senator Barack Obama intends to pay for all of that hope he wants to dispense, but my guess is that the soup will be tastier with a greater tax burden on the middle class.
The media has continuously served up their own tasteless globs: Sarah's new clothes, overblown exposure of Senator McCain's skin cancer removal, the dollar-a-week allowance for Malia and Sasha Obama, and other inedible news tripe.
Meanwhile, our nation is saddled with unbelievable debt. Our public schools are in a complete state of collapse because of the burden of educating non-English speaking children of illegal immigrants. Tent cities are popping up overnight as quickly as mushrooms in the forest, secondary to the house-built-on-sand lending model of the banks and mortgage firms. Elder care and medical care for our burgeoning vet population will be undercut by every single "anchor baby" born in our county hospitals over the next decade. There is a need for energy independence but it appears none have the kahunas to do what is necessary to bring America to that point. Our southern border remains extremely porous and drug cartels from Mexico are working hard to maintain their routes into the U.S. The cartel foot soldiers are busy trashing and destroying our national parks.
So it has been a season in political hell. Media has romanced us and seduced us into an almost dreamlike state. Sarah's shoes and dresses, chuckles from SNL, "near death" experiences with skin cancer and endearing thoughts of children of the wealthy using their dollar to buy a burger off the 99 cent menu, has kept the peasants sufficiently entertained.
But what kind of America, will await our children?
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Next week we will slide into the final phase of the election cycle. On Monday I will enter the ring one last time with my thoughts on the interface of political process and media. Tuesday the editors will provide a group effort to promote both civic duty and freedom of expression. I am not sure how many of the readers have engaged early voting practices, but I will cast my vote on Tuesday. It is nice to join the crowd on that day and somewhat feel closer to my own neighborhood community. Undoubtedly we will continue to cover political climate as our newly elected president choooses his Cabinet and the transition between administrations is accomplished. Remember Clinton staffers taking the letter "W" off computer keyboards on their departure? I guess it was approved at the highest levels since President Clinton really just needed the letters M-A-R-C R-I-C-H available to issue the most important of the 140 presidential pardons on his final day in office. sigh
How many are glad that the glory days of Cindy Sheehan are over? For those of us who understand military tradition and the tremendous respect afforded our deceased members, the woman had the power of a lowly gnat. The media sausage machine created her and gave her the power of a ninja wasp.
But for any who were possibly swayed by her grandstanding outside the Crawford homestead, beginning on November 11th we will place an instructional commentary on the page which will run for a month, every Tuesday. It is an outstanding contribution, written by a Navy Chief who is a Military Funeral Honors LCPO. EOC Jeffrey William Snell is a remarkable man. When I requested a bit of background for this blog I received three pages of military accomplishments and honors. He has served in Lebanon and South Korea. Remember Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993? He was there. Have you been to Bosnia, Kabul, Balad or the Horn of Africa? He was there.
The man in civilian clothing behind you at the grocery store buying a gallon of milk might just be Chief Snell or any other number of military folks who two weeks ago were checking their boots for scorpions or filling their canteens at a water buffalo. Quiet strength. That is what Chief Snell will bring to the page. It will be a distinct honor for the team. We hope you also honor him with comments, as the story unfolds.