Archive for the 'Time wasters' Category

Jan 04 2016

The power of how one uses language.

Over at Balloon Juice, Annie Laurie has found this interesting video that analyzes the way Donald Trump uses language and how he organizes his thoughts. Bottom line: Because Trump is a salesman more than a politician, he is focused on closing the deal and creating a sense of urgency to buy his product. This differs from a typical politician in that Trump is less worried about having his words come back to bite him in the ass. It's worth the time to view:


As Annie points out, this was also examined in detail by the New York times:

The New York Times analyzed every public utterance by Mr. Trump over the past week from rallies, speeches, interviews and news conferences to explore the leading candidate’s hold on the Republican electorate for the past five months. The transcriptions yielded 95,000 words and several powerful patterns, demonstrating how Mr. Trump has built one of the most surprising political movements in decades and, historians say, echoing the appeals of some demagogues of the past century.

Mr. Trump’s breezy stage presence makes him all the more effective because he is not as off-putting as those raging men of the past, these experts say.

The most striking hallmark was Mr. Trump’s constant repetition of divisive phrases, harsh words and violent imagery that American presidents rarely use, based on a quantitative comparison of his remarks and the news conferences of recent presidents, Democratic and Republican. He has a particular habit of saying “you” and “we” as he inveighs against a dangerous “them” or unnamed other — usually outsiders like illegal immigrants (“they’re pouring in”), Syrian migrants (“young, strong men”) and Mexicans, but also leaders of both political parties…

I'm not sure is what is worse, that Trump is a big a huckster as he is, or that Americans are stupid enough not to be able to see through these techniques. I am leaning towards option 2. After all hucksters have been around since Eve first fucked over Adam. But Americans are supposed to be smarter than this.

It's going to be a hell of a year.

One response so far

Aug 27 2014

One of my pet peeves……..

Published by under Time wasters

I am sorry it’s been a long time between posts. I was on travel to the US, partly for business and partly to see my son. The business days tended to be long and involved and when I got back to the room-between drinks, dinner, binging on Netflix and doing my courses-something had to go by the wayside. So that is not a good excuse-but it’s the truth.

Now I’m back in Germany-but only for a short while till I begin a trip I have been planning for some six months, a voyage back to the promised land of Japan. It’s been 4+ years since I have set foot in Japan, 2.5 years since I set foot anywhere in Northern or Southeast Asia. To say I am more than a little excited about it is an understatement.

So as I prepare to drop off the grid for a while ( about 2 weeks to be accurate) I wanted to do a quick post on one of my biggest pet peeves: e-mail. Or rather, people who complain they don’t have enough time to get through their e-mail. I had the misfortune of hearing two Lieutenant Colonels whine and complain about how they spend so much time dealing with e-mail, they don’t have enough time to get anything else done. Since one of those same LTC’s seems always to find 1.5 hours for a mind numbing staff meeting each week-and another 1.5 hours each day for a workout, ( and the other one is always dealing with child care issues-welcome to the modern world) I know for a fact that this is utter bullshit.

 E-mail is the curse of our generation and those that are yet to come. Yet, I think some of the complainers really don’t know how bad things were in the “good old days” of OCR printers and messages, message diary entries, and messages that had to go all the way to the CO for signature. You have amazing tools at your disposal to deal with e-mail these days-it disgusts me when you don’t know how to use them.

 It especially makes me angry when I hear a flag officer complain about his e-mail load. What that tells me, is that you don’t know how to delegate responsibility to subordinates-and more importantly, you don’t know how to :1) read for content and context and 2) scan and sort necessary e-mails from trash. As an O-7 in a modern military, you should be able to do better.

I get between 75-100 e-mails in an average workday on two different networks. I am almost always able to work my way through the pile in relatively short order in the morning and before I go home at night. I do long for the days of yesteryear, when I could use POP mail to drop into my e-mail accounts at night while drinking beer, but thanks to events of the last few years that is impossible to do. The key is understanding a few fundamental rules about e-mail, and for that matter, about work in general. So I provide these rules and suggestions for your consideration.

Rule #1: Not everything is worth doing to perfection. Some things are worth doing only good enough and others are not worth doing at all. The trick is to know which is which.

For e-mail the corollary would be-not every e-mail needs to be answered. And those that do, do not always have to be answered by you in writing. Phone calls are quicker.

 For my two LTC friends above, they have the double curse of being grammar and word Nazis-added to the idea that they subscribe to the notion that we have what I call, “Twitter flags”, e.g., Admirals only have a little time so you can only give them the bulletized version. I think that is total crap.

Rule #2: Outlook is a powerful tool, IF, you will learn how to use it.

Here is an example. I have a coworker who says he hates the “preview pane”. With all due respect, he’s an idiot. The sorting rules and preview pane of Outlook are your friends not your enemies. Especially the preview pane. I use it religiously and have my outlook set up with calendar on the right of the preview pane. I make it a point to scan through all my new e-mail using the preview pane first-then I go back and read in detail the ones I judge to be important. I scan paragraphs quickly-not necessarily to read for total comprehension, but to scan for warning flags of things that are dangerous and need to be responded to.

And here is an adjunct rule-if you have a secretary, or a chief of staff or exec, they better be trustworthy enough to read your official mail and you should have no qualms about sharing your inbox with them. Three sets of  eyes can spot warning flags better than one. ( Caution if you do this, have some checks and balances and fire the person that does not safeguard the contents.) Lots of times they can alert you to something you missed, or in many cases they can take actions on your behalf.

Rule #3: Action and CC lines mean different things. If you are not an action addressee on a e-mail, give thanks, take note of an e-mail and move on. Come back to the e-mail if you need to later.

Rule #4: Start at the top of the pile and work your way down. That will help you resist the urge to respond immediately, which is usually never a good thing. You will also generally find out that a problem has worked itself out without you having to intervene at all save for reading about it.

Rule # 5. For writing replies-see rule #1. If it is really important, and you have the luxury to have subordinates “ghost” the reply, let them do it. Its good training for them.  But if you do this-be a man and ask them for the desired text only. Don’t be one of these flag officer pussies who insist on having the whole e-mail including addressees laid out for them. That wastes time. There  is a word for flag officers who make subordinates create an outlook shell and then put addresses and text in that shell: morons.

If it’s just a minor matter that needs acknowledgement-then respond quickly, and move on.

Rule #6. Learn to use Outlook rule sets-and learn how to archive. Generally if an e-mail is over a month old, you don’t need it and you can archive it. This makes your e-mail inbox smaller.

Rule #7. Go see rule # 1. If you are a leader, e-mail should be a small portion of your day. If you are spending too much time on e-mail, you are in over your head.

Trust me-these rules work. I am a big believer in managing by walking around, and I refuse to get chained to my desk all day. I also believe in things like Blackberries, and letting people work from home, or at least have access to e-mail at home to the max extent possible. I know some people hate these ideas-but I am the kind of person who works best in spurts. Having the BB with me, allows me to pace myself and do more productive things. I am not a slave to my Blackberry. It is a slave to me.

Thus endeth the rant for today. 

4 responses so far

Jun 03 2014

Sideshow Bowe

It is with sad and undisguised disgust that I watch the collective conservative freak out of the release of SGT Bowe Berghdahl, the only prisoner of war held by the Taliban. In the early morning of June 30, 2009, Berghdal went missing from his unit's small outpost in Mest, a restive area in Paktia province. Within several hours, radio chatter from the Taliban indicated that they'd captured the soldier.

He spent the next five years in captivity, growing gaunt in the numerous propaganda videos that the Taliban trickled out to the press. On numerous occasions, they publicly threatened him with execution. Many Afghans and some Westerners in similar positions had been tortured, decapitated, or shot to death.

This passed weekend he was released by his captors in exchange for 5 prisoners being held in the concentration camp prison in Guantanamo Bay. And then the hounds of hell came rushing loose from the caves of the Glibertarian Kingdom.

And who was leading the way? Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods and The Town Hall Harlot herself.  She is pretty much setting a record for hysterical posts screaming about the man, which is a lot considering that this little specimen of female self loathing is always hysterical about something. But in this case-she has her well oiled plagiarism machine working till all hours of the night.

Over on Facebook or any of the normal blogs its no better either. The ranting is especially virulent. It runs along a consistent set of themes:

1) Obama negotiated with terrorists.Which is an interesting whine considering it simply makes him well, President, and is doing the same thing that Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush did.

2) Second, he released some bad guys.  People say he should not have done that. However, as the Christian Science Monitor points out-they were going to have to be released soon anyway:

But dealing with people you find odious – your enemies – is how most wars end. And with the US set for full withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of 2016, the prospect of a crushing defeat for the Taliban is pretty much nil. Getting POWs back, whatever the circumstances of their capture, a crucial goal.

Did Obama just swap five dangerous "terrorists" for Bergdahl, as Sen. Cruz alleges? It depends on your definition of "terrorism."

Four of the five men released into Qatar's custody, where they are supposed to remain for at least a year before being allowed to return home, were indeed senior members of the Taliban movement. The Taliban have been seeking the release of the five in exchange for Bergdahl since 2011, and there had been fitful progress in that regard, with Qatar acting as a mediator, since at least 2013.

Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sought in recent years to find a reconciliation deal with the Taliban, and the release of the "Guantanamo Five" has been a part of those efforts.


Boo fucking who. The guy is home and that is the main thing.

3) And of course now we come to the real turd in the punchbowl-the guy is alleged to be a deserter. Soonergrunt over at Balloon Juice addresses this in a quite logical fashion:

I don’t know if SGT Bergdahl voluntarily walked off his camp and surrendered to the enemy or not. Just because a few fellow Soldiers in his unit say that doesn’t make it so. The most powerful communication system in an Infantry company is what we used to call “S-5–rumor control.” I’ve never been in a unit that wasn’t essentially a knitting circle with automatic weapons. Young Soldiers, for whom boredom is an almost constant companion (punctuated by moments of sheer terror) can give the most catty junior high school girls’ clique a run for their money. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong, but I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it without some corroboration. So I’ll hold off judgment on that. It’s also been brought up that he supposedly sent some emails to one or more people expressing doubts about US military actions. So did I. So have a lot of guys who then went out and did the very best they could do for their buddies and their country. It’s irrelevant anyway.

We’re getting out of Afghanistan, and the treaties to which this nation has repeatedly pledged itself require that we release Prisoners of War and repatriate them home. Taliban are distinct from Al Qaeda in this respect because Taliban could be considered the government forces of Afghanistan (whether legitimate, loved, respected, or not) while AQ isn’t anything but a bunch of thugs under international law. So this idea that we gave up valuable prisoners for one guy and that makes it a bad deal is bullshit on its face. We were going to release them. We were REQUIRED to release them under international law that we largely wrote. Whatever intelligence value they had was long since wrung out of them, in some cases literally. One of them had laid down his arms and pledged to work with the new government of Afghanistan prior to the Pakistani government taking him prisoner more as a propaganda tool and removing a potential political problem than anything else, I am given to understand. So we got something we wanted for doing something now that we would have done in a few months for nothing anyway. That’s not exactly brilliant poker, but it was pretty well played.

We don’t leave our people behind. That’s an Army value. The people ranting about this whole thing either don’t understand or don’t care about that simple concept. Whatever SGT Bergdahl may have done or not done, we don’t leave our people behind. If it hasn’t already, the Army will shortly start a 15-6 investigation, so called in reference to the Army Regulation that describes such things. You’ve probably heard the term “Board of Inquiry.” They are essentially the same thing. When the Army has concluded what the circumstances of SGT Bergdahl’s capture and captivity were, then they’ll make some decisions, but I’ll just note for the record that US POWs have rarely been punished for their actions or inactions while in enemy hands. Many, many of the POWs in Viet Nam, including John McCain signed documents created by their captors confessing to war crimes and indicting their fellow POWs and the US. Former CW4 Michael Durant, taken prisoner by a Somali warlord after being shot down in the battle of Mogadishu (Blackhawk Down) made problematic statements to a TV camera that were subsequently shown around the world. None of these men were ever subjected to disciplinary action upon repatriation to my knowledge.

So I’m glad that SGT Bergdahl will be reunited with his family, at long last.

David Graham over at the Atlantic points out much the same thing-pointing out too, that Obama made clear that he was not going to be bound by a stupid Congressional obstacle if it conflicted with his powers as Commander in Chief.  So much for the "he broke the law argument".

Obviously there is going to be an investigation. The Army will make a decision one way or another. And it will have to weight all the factors including what he suffered in captivity.  And somehow it will have to prove its case in court, if it has one. Personally,  I think all this public outrage is doing the defense attorney's job for him-it will make it impossible to prosecute, even if the Army did want to.

Clearly, however, the collective stupidity shown by all the usual suspects makes me wonder about how screwed up the land of my birth is becoming. Everyone needs to chill the f*ck out and remember this little tidbit of advice:



Nuff Said.

40 responses so far

Apr 30 2014

Vindication!!!!! In other words, today, I was proven right after all. The feeling is marvelous!

Yesterday and today were really good days for me-even though I had just gotten back from a long drive back from Berlin. ( Pictures and narrative to follow).

As you get more seasoned in a profession ( read older), there comes a time when you know you are right about something. Its not a case of having a difference of opinion-and they took another guy's opinion over yours. Not at all. Its that frustrating feeling of knowing you are right, being able to prove you are right, and having to endure the sheer frustration of not being able to convince the people you need to-because of one's position, (or lack of position), lies told by the other side, or just a simple unwillingness to believe-because empire building is too much of a priority to do the right thing.

Usually, you just have to come to terms with it and move on-and bide your time to hopefully wait out the change agent. However, sometimes events come together in such a way, that you get to see your arguments proven right beyond a shadow of a doubt.

And you get to utter those most satisfying of words: " I told you this was a screwed up thing to do. I warned you it would not work and would cause problems-but you refused to listen to me. And now , as I predicted, you have failed."

Because contrary to popular belief-I know how to run organizations, and I know how to lead people. I also know how to do things the right way and can recognize when important administrative things are being blown off or simply ignored. You do you your best, you bide your time, look for an escape route-or pray for divine intervention.

And yesterday, in a completely unforeseen turn of events-the miracle happened.

The big bosses met and decided that we were right, the "efficient merger" was neither a success or very efficient. In fact one big boss finally stated publicly what we already knew privately-the train had gone off the tracks several months ago. We needed to stop before someone got really hurt. Today the big boss said it to the assembled group-making it more than official.

So tomorrow-the stupid merger will be officially "un-merged". The shotgun marriage from hell has been annulled. Seeing as how it was never consummated, and /or, never based on first principles-it was not a hard thing to justify.

"Yes it appears as if you were right, all along."

Yes I was. This is not my first time to the rodeo,  cowboy.



Tomorrow will probably be a return to the routine mendacity of work, but last night, as I sipped my Scotch on the porch, I felt a very contented glow.

These moments don't come often in life-and of course- I truly expect payback to be a bitch. But as Scarlett said, that is for another day.

Today its all about those wonderful words: "I told you so!"

Because I did.

Thanks be to God.




11 responses so far

Dec 31 2013

New Years Eve

Published by under Time wasters

Well that's a trip that can be wiped off the books. We arrived in Lisbon nicely, got our car and arrived at our hotel: The Palace Hotel in Estoril. Where I have always wanted to stay, given that it is in "The Winds of War" by Herman Wouk. Its the place where Bryon and Natalie spent their wedding night, Leslie Slote got to watch the only woman he ever really loved-get married to someone else. And the chain of events began that catapulted Natalie into the hands of the Nazi's.

As and aside, it was also the inspiration for a few of Ian Flemings Bond adventures-evidently there was a lot of Cold War Intrigue at the Hotel.


And I have lots more to tell. But unfortunately, the night we arrived-I felt fine when I went to bed. At 3:AM I woke up violently sick, barely making it to the bathroom in time. This continued for the next 6 hours off an on-and by 9AM rolled around I was considering going up to the roof and throwing myself off it and not caring whether I missed the pool or not. I spent the ensuing day in bed and a part of the next one. Only started feeling better on Monday on the way home.

Today I have been on the couch, nursing my strength-which is a lousy way to spend New Years,

So I will have a more thoughtful missive later when I can stand it.

As an aside-the hotel is REALLY nice. I just saw too much of my bed and not enough of Lisbon.

2 responses so far

Dec 22 2013

Feeling some deja vu

Yesterday the S.O. had to work. So of course, I got tasked with filling a shopping list from hell. Which was really OK, I needed to restock on beer for the Holiday anyway-and I am still not to the point that I have tried every beer in the getranke markt. So into the car I jumped.

The morning had started as many German mornings in winter do-with thick fog. But once it burned off, the day was glorious. As I spun the VW out onto the B-464 road with its great diesel acceleration, I marveled at the view before me. The ever so typical rolling farmland here, and the ever so GERMAN view of the buildings.

In many ways, Stuttgart is just like shopping mall. Same issues-shopping malls are the same pretty much, but the architecture of the houses here is drastically different. And thus, it just looks and feels different to my American senses. There is of course the fact that the signs are in a different language, which after two years I can read well. ( I also have become reasonably proficient again in the German language, as I proved to myself when I made our restaurant reservations all in German yesterday. Its the small victories that count).

As the car unwound, I savored the real beauty of the day. The sun was out, it was not too cold, and the traffic was unusually light. The music playing on the I-Pod was Rod Stewart. :Maggie May.



For some reason that song always makes me nostalgic-makes me think back to the world of my time in High School when the song was relatively new. The bulk of my life was ahead then-and what a glorious life I imagined it would be! I knew I wanted to go into the Navy. I knew pretty much by then I would attend a military college. I was going to fly! Those were things that mattered. I was going to be a pilot!

Now as it turned out, more than a few detours ensued subsequent to those days-and perhaps that is why the song strikes a chord with me. The line "I wish I had never seen your face" applies to the ex wife and others. The tone of missed opportunity in the song is interesting to me. I can always listen to it with a combination of melancholy and resigned acceptance.

And as came up to the exit to head to the Westerhof ( the recycling center, a weekly chore the S.O. and I fight over who will do), I reveled in the fact that despite the best efforts of the evil man, to subjugate me to his program, and his stupid vision for my life-I had prevailed. "I'm still here you greasy bastard!"

And that, guaranteed it was going to be a good day. Living on my terms is indeed the best revenge.

Happy Sunday!

One response so far

Aug 27 2013

Buzzword Bingo

I came across this article the other day about the slide into jargon that the military and so many Amercian businesses have gotten into. I think Mr. Marr has a point. In the article below-he mentions the worst offenders. Several drinking games come to mind seeing this list.

By Bernard Marr



I reckon every office or workplace has one of those people that are just

full of jargon-ridden management drivel. Does this kind of 'management

speak' remind you of someone at your work place: "Before going forward we

have to touch base and reach out to our key stakeholders so that we can

drill down into the key issues that are not yet on our radar and catch the

low-hanging fruits…"


Are you surrounded by people who annoyingly can't get enough of the

management gobbledygook and who utter one jargon buzzword after another? Are

your meetings buzzing with so much management lingo that you find it hard to

get to the real meaning of what is being said? The problem I have with these

phrases is that they sound so pretentious and often are counter-productive

because they irritate people so much and deflect from the real meaning.


Below are my top 30 most irritating and overused phrases we hear at work. I

am sure you have others that you can add to this list. Let's make it the

most comprehensive list of unnecessary management drivel ever – Please add

your ones using the comment field!


For me, these are my top 30 most irritating jargon phrases and words used at


 1.Going forward


 3.End of play

 4.Touch base

 5.It's on my radar

 6.No brainer

 7.Best of breed

 8.Low hanging fruit

 9.Reach out

 10.Dive deeper

 11.Think outside the box

 12.Positive momentum



 15.Run the numbers

 16.Touch points

 17.Keep your eye on the ball

 18.Back to the drawing board

 19.Get the ball rolling

 20.Bang for your buck

 21.Close the deal


 23.Shift paradigm

 24.Move the needle


 26.Move the goal post

 27.Value added


 29.Across the piece

 30.All hands on deck


What do you think? Do you agree? Are these the most irritating phrases?

Please let me know which ones you would add to this list!




Bernard Marr is a best-selling business author and enterprise performance

expert. Make sure you click 'Follow' if you would like to hear more from

Bernard Marr in the future and feel free to also connect via Twitter,

Facebook and The Advanced Performance Institute


4 responses so far

Dec 14 2012

So how was my day at work?

Published by under Time wasters

Oh you know, the usual delights. What was the number of that truck driving school again? There are some days I really envy truck drivers.

When I was back in the US in DC-I met a lot of people who have jobs just like mine. They have the extra down side of having to live in DC. I at least have decent train service and better beer.

So I've got that going for me.

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Oct 16 2011

Meanwhile, up on the sixth floor……

Published by under Time wasters

The program managers have their weekly conference with the Director of the 223rd worst place to work in the Federal government:

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Jul 25 2011

I’m sure those black T-shirts will fix it.

Published by under Time wasters

This is unbelievable.

In a slap at the fading and officially out-of-favor tradition of racy, sarcastic and irreverent aviation call signs, a just-retired Navy fighter squadron commanding officer was censured by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Wednesday for failing to halt and subsequently condoning the hazing of a junior officer at a 2009 call sign review board where assembled officers voted to call the officer “Romo’s Bitch,” the Navy announced late Friday.

The “shoeification” of Naval Aviation continues.

5 responses so far

Mar 06 2011

An un-enterprising mindset….

This post is not so lovingly dedicated to Phib’s commenter Anathema, who was the central figure in the comment fest over at his place. The veracity with which he defends the flawed decision making of our gutless Naval Leadership-compels me to write this post. Please forward to him if you wish. He needs to read it.

On Friday, I spent some time reading the just released JAGMAN investigation into the so called “Enterprise XO movie night videos”  incident.
Never in 30+ years in and around the Naval Service have I seen so many people get screwed over something so insignificant and so trivial. You really should read the whole thing, all 74 pages. You can cut the hypocrisy with a knife. I commented on this a few weeks ago-but the tenure of the debate since then, and the over reaction by the chain of command demands further comment.

A few words up front.  I know many of the participants in these events-so it colors my view to some extent. Getting moral lectures on what should and should not be present in Naval Aviation grates me-especially when I know that many of those giving such lectures engaged in plenty of similar activities. So appeals to my better nature tend to fall on deaf ears.

In case you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here is the cliff notes version:

The XO made videos to put in front of Saturday night movie night. Contrary to what many are saying now-this always was, and has been a tradition aboard many aircraft carriers. ( They had them on Coral Sea and TR for a couple of examples of ships I served on). What is new-is the idea of someone trying to put spontaneity and some humor into these videos. Most CVN XO’s are clones of each other. They wouldn’t do it-because they lack the humor and/ or the ability to pull it off. Ambition tends to beat that out of them at an early age-and add to it the prerequisites to be even considered for  Nuke XO and its clear that “free spirits” are definitely not a part of that gene pool. (and certainly won’t be in the future).

So when someone tried to put a little life into them-here is what happened:

 Most of the crew probably liked them-a few well-placed female officers probably didn’t, and whined. In the middle of the cruise it was noted-but there were probably more important things to worry about like making the flight schedule and making sortie count. Now 4 years after the fact-with a new “special minority to be appeased” its time to show the greater world we “get it”. So hypocrites who should have more willingness to take care of their own,  are more than willing to throw their shipmates to the wolves. Been there done that in the aftermath of Tailhook, where- there as now-good men got screwed to appease a noisy few.

The investigation backs this premise up. The PDF will not allow you to copy and quote individual sections but I would draw your attention to a couple of items.

1) The investigation was specifically not tasked to investigate who made these videos public, thus denying the opportunity to keep this inside the Navy lifelines. Kind of sad really since I be willing to bet more than a couple of beers it was someone trying to settle a grudge.

2) The investigation casts a huge net as to what is “offensive”. (Paragraph 5). Suffice it to say, what they consider to be offensive-was quite normal during my time. And is still done today-although I’m sure it is being done more quietly now.

3) The phrase “popular with the crew” is used ten times at least. The phrase ” no one complained about the videos” is also used a lot. So are the words, “so and so was not derelict in the performance of his duty”-but they were quickly disregarded in the conclusions. Oh yea-the words, “Enterprise morale was high” show up a lot too.

4). Page 24 is key. A female CDR who had a “close personal and professional relationships with a member of the CSG-12 staff”  whined about the videos. Now mind you the CAPT had already discussed when and where content crossed his personal comfort line and the CSG-12 commander accepted explanations of counseling at face value.

5) And oh yes, the Enterprise was on deployment, with an old ship and still won the Battle E.

There are some very particular issues here as I see it.

Issue #1: The hoary old issue of “command presence” is at the heart of this.  This question has been around since the 1970′s that I can recall if not a lot longer. For the uninitiated-basically command presence is the idea that you have to be a certain type of personality to be effective in command. Those who believe strongly in the idea tend to have little use for mitigating factors such as great piloting, ship-handling, or great skills at tactical execution. ( Also known as the now defunct holy grail of the Navy: being able to “fight the aircraft, ship or submarine”).  These folks were described in an August 1984 issue of US Naval Institute proceedings. Namely,  people with great “command presence”:

When faced with quick decisions, they will opt for the status quo. He (or she) is inherently short on imagination, preferring careful analysis to brilliant insights. He is overly cautious…but will try to look the part of a traditional Naval Officer….and is usually very demanding “about looking good around the ship“. BTW -most “command presence” kind of folks are “thunderstruck” at liberty in Olangapo or Pattaya-their favorite ports are Monaco or Cannes. “Although he may not do well in combat-he will gladly die trying“.

In a nutshell any arguments about what CAPT Honors did or did not do are centered on this. NOT ONCE, have I heard his ship-handling, piloting skills, or ability to track details discussed as a mitigating factor. Nor it would seem is anyone asking if he could understand the concerns of the deck plate Sailor. They come back to command presence. There is no room in today’s Navy for characters-especially when “shoes” are making the judgment.

Issue #2-Nothing, even it it never violates the UCMJ, is ever in the past. Which is odd-since even the UCMJ itself has a statute of limitations. CAPT Honors-for whatever concerns were voiced about his failure as an VJ-evidently received good enough FITREPS to allow him to go on to his Deep Draft and then to subsequent CVN Command. If you are currently serving on active duty today, you should be very concerned about this, because it now means that anyone, and I do mean anyone, with an axe to grind can go back and resurrect a past decision and get it to be used against you.

Ask yourself this question? Why did this require letters of censure? A quick, ” I think you should retire” and a quiet P-4 ordering that XO movie night videos shall not be produced anymore couldn’t suffice? Of course not-not with DADT repealed and a new need to show people who cannot and will not serve,  that the Navy somehow “gets it”. And why didn’t subsequent performance and accomplishment serve to mitigate any desire to punish these individuals? Because it got out in the press and embarrassed the Navy.

3) Issue #3. It is wrong to punish enlisted people for following lawful orders and telling them what they should or should not be offended at.  Several of the critical paragraphs take Enterprise crew members to task for not voicing offense to things that they did not find offensive to begin with is just plain wrong.  I’ll grant that officers bear responsibility and will take the heat when they decided wrong-this wholesale action to formally single out enlisted personnel, whose only crime was doing their job, is just wrong. Furthermore, by making statements that they have some sort of an obligation to whine-ensures you will have whining of the worst sort. ( Law of unintended consequences).

Issue 4-This kind of overkill, on what is essentially an isolated issue, when real negligence on behalf of our personnel and procurement leadership is overlooked, sends a signal too. Who has been fired over LCS? LPD-17? JSF?Someone did get fired over JSF-but the program is still hosed.  Who is going to go back and formally censure those leaders who created the train wreck that is Naval Aviation procurement?  The XO Movie Night videos got a woman offended-the latter will actually kill people. Page 55 and the “lecture given” rings hollow from guys who acquiesced to similar things in their own time -and participated in really dumb perosnnel and hardware decisions with no one holding them accountable for them.  So spare me the moral outrage.

Now as I said at the begining-I’m not surprised at the way it all turned out-but I am more than a little angry and at the same time sad. 

 As far as I am concerned it is the natural result of the trend that many of us warned would happen when squadrons and ships were made mixed gender-namely, that unlike what the women said they wanted, “to just be treated like the men”, the real agenda was to change and destroy the culture of the Naval Aviation and ruin everything that made it fun. And it would appear they have succeeded.

There are people who say I am defending unprofessional conduct. I firmly reject that contention-now and in the future. But don’t kid yourself this is deeper task, nothing less than legislating conformity to a humorless and quite frankly, “watch your back” type of day to day environment that is not good for anyone.  The a work hard,  play hard environment of Naval Aviation is dead. And it’ s not coming back. Enjoy life as Black Shoes who fly airplanes. I’m glad I won’t have to join you.

Last Friday was the first day that I could truly say I no longer missed the Navy and I am glad I am retired. I am glad I served when I did and not in the one the “Throw ‘em under the bus” crowd wants to create.

6 responses so far

Nov 16 2010

Coming to a children’s books store near you…..

Published by under Time wasters,Travel

And Rodney Dangerfield thought he did not get any respect!

2 responses so far

Oct 31 2010

And what will we have to show for it?

4 Billion Dollars. That’s the amount of money spent on the midterm elections this year.

Its a staggering sum-especially when you consider that the supposed central theme of this election year is anger about money being wasted.

4 billion dollars. Thing what that money could have done put to a good use. It could be making a good dent on research for AIDS, cancer, and other scourges of our existence. For that kind of money we could fund new schools in a lot of places. We could build a high speed train system between Atlanta and Washington DC. We could do a lot of things.

Instead-as a whole- the country wasted it on this:

I am no political theorist. But here is a concept that seems obvious to me. If you populate government with ignorant people, or with people who avowedly disrespect government, or with people whose background and experience and public integrity in no way merit political office, sooner or later you will have worse governance. The same is true if you elect leaders following political campaigns that overflow with hysteria. Four billion dollars spent to scare voters. Four billion spent to preserve the lobbyists’ hold on Washington. Garbage in, garbage out. “Everything is amplified,” Jon Stewart said Saturday at his “Restore Sanity” rally, “so nothing gets heard.”

Unbelievable. And what is truly appalling is that people are putting up with it. In the case of the Tea Party-they are actively encouraging collective ignorance. AS Bloomberg noted recently-in this election cycle, barely 3-out 10 Americans know the true facts about the economy and what’s happened to it since 2008. (I’ll have more on this later).

4 billion dollars. Wasted. The Tea Bag nation must be so proud of themselves.

This is no way to run a railroad (or a country).

Indeed, the 2010 crop of campaign insanity, unleashed by Citizens United, explains precisely why the “Restore Sanity” rally with Stewart and Stephen Colbert has resonated so well. A great many people, and especially a great number of younger people, want adults in Washington who will act with foresight and selflessness. And this includes the media estalishment. The ralliers are skeptical of a politics-centric media they see in self-sustaining partnership with the engines of the political campaigns. These people want smart candidates. They want even smarter elected officials. And they don’t want to feel like they are being played by Establishment journalists. They don’t see the wisdom they know democracy needs in and around Washigton; instead, they see high comedy, a tragi-comedy really, unfolding on their watch.

Democracy demands wisdom. But this year, all democracy seems to have offered is Christine O’Donnell, with her proud ignorance, and Alvin Greene, with his own baffling riff, and dozens of other candidates unworthy of our respect, let alone our votes. It has given us a candidate, California’s Meg Whitman, who wants so desperately to be elected that she was willing to spend nearly $200 million of her own money to do so, a fact which ought to legally disqualify her from politics again. And it has given us Sarah Palin, the avatar of the naton’s latest know-nothing movement, looming in the wings. Friends, this is no way to run a democracy, much less a wise one.

6 responses so far

Jul 17 2010

Well, so much for that idea……

I really thought I was going to get some posting done this week. Lots to write about with the Tour De France, Steinbrenner dying, and other events going on.

But alas it was not to be. Maybe tomorrow. I’m locking my blackberry in my safe and not touching it all day. Say hello to my voice mail.

Hopefull when this week is over-and the team size drops again, I will have more of a reasonable life again. One can dream can’t he?

“PowerPoint makes us stupid.”

It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control. Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”

In General McMaster’s view, PowerPoint’s worst offense is not a chart like the spaghetti graphic [of our Afghan strategy], which was first uncovered by NBC’s Richard Engel, but rigid lists of bullet points (in, say, a presentation on a conflict’s causes) that take no account of interconnected political, economic and ethnic forces. “If you divorce war from all of that, it becomes a targeting exercise,” General McMaster said.  Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Not least, it ties up junior officers — referred to as PowerPoint Rangers — in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington.

Even more dangerous, the article implies, is that it leads to bad decision-making, with serious consequences:

Commanders say that the slides impart less information than a five-page paper can hold, and that they relieve the briefer of the need to polish writing to convey an analytic, persuasive point. Imagine lawyers presenting arguments before the Supreme Court in slides instead of legal briefs.

3 responses so far

Jan 18 2010

Mission Accomplished?

Published by under Time wasters

Japan is ending its refueling mission in the Indian Ocean:

The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean ended Friday, upon the expiration of the relevant law. The mission was in support of U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in and around Afghanistan that began in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

Instead, the Hatoyama administration has opted to increase direct aid to Afghanistan. It has pledged up to $5 billion in civilian aid over five years, a substantial contribution toward improving the welfare of the Afghan people.

Not suprising really. Although given the fact that the United States has  underinvested in its fleet replenishment ships and the JMSDF ships filled a real void-it is a sign of “support fatigue” among one of the best allies of the United States. Plus-in the last couple of years or so-as the Afghans have screwed the pooch again and again, there have been real questions as to what value the mission was bringing to Japan. Especially when you consider the actions of the big bully next door in China.

Given Japan’s constitution and the current public sentiment, its hard to see how Japan will do anything non-monetary. Send ground forces to Afghanistan? Not a chance.

Send the JASDF to fly cargo missions? If memory serves they have been doing that in other theaters.  JASDF  aircaft could help make a difference-but there is this pesky problem of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

One of the issues the “war without end” crowd continue to ignore is the fact that the longer this goes on-the less inclined others are to help, especially without seeing a real tangible return for their own people. Welcome to yet another result of the “wrong path chosen”.

It will however, lose a bargaining chip for Japan with respect to the Security Treaty and Okinawa-unless by stopping the mission now-they think they can offer it back later. That is something I highly doubt.

William Krystol must be so proud.

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