Archive for January, 2006

From credibility to credulity

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

A locally produced show, Voice to America, syndicated with international reach, has sadly moved from credible to credulous towards Islamists and critical towards defenders of freedom.

1/15/06 Show:

HOUR #1: BOTCHED BOMBING: A CIA bomb intented for al-Queda’s Ayman al Zawahiri kills 18 innocent Pakistanis. Bad intelligence or a missed target? How long will Pakistanis protest? What will Pak government do? What will al-Queda’s reaction be? Tony talks to Rashed Rachman in Pakistan.

Rather than correcting this false report with the truth, acknowledged by Pakistan, that the strike killed several senior al-Queda leaders, including the chief bombmaker and head of al-Queda’s WMD program, the host has shifted to “you can’t trust the U.S. government or Pakistan if they don’t produce bodies.” Meanwhile he reports Iranian assertions without challenge.

Saturday Serendipidy

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

Stopped by the Wild Flower Cafe for dinner. Happened on a copy of the Arizona Republic business section for Saturday and found something worthwhile, a piece from another small newspaper, not the major wires or OldYorkTimes, about IBM’s executives taking the risk of encouraging employees to blog to both internal and external audiences. The Journal News online version includes a good list of links, unlike the AZ rag.

IBM is approaching blogs from three directions:

• The company is hosting blogs on topics important to its business, such as video games and health care.

• IBM is encouraging employees to create blogs for internal consumption on the company intranet.

• Employees who do blog on the Internet have IBM’s blessing, providing they follow some practical guidelines.

The rules include identifying yourself as an IBMer if you talk business, not revealing company secrets and stating clearly that your opinions are your own.

Thematic approach

Creating a theme blog is smart because customers are more likely to enjoy reading about a topic important to them than an overt sales pitch, said marketing strategist Steve Rubel, a senior vice president at CooperKatz & Co. in New York and author of the Micro Persuasion blog.

“The secret to a good corporate blog is that it has to be high-interest, and if your subject matter isn’t, you have to figure out a way to connect with subjects that are,” he said.

Bicycle maker Cannondale has adopted an approach with blogs that talk about triathlons and finding the best mountain bike trails.

Check out the original article.

Key constraint in solving Iran threat: human resources

Friday, January 20th, 2006

From Winds of Change

We will invade Iran to protect the American people from nuclear attack. That is worth the risk posed by Iranian nuclear weapons to American soldiers, and the burden of deploying 200,000 troops there for several years. Our reserves knew when they enlisted that they’d be called up for the duration of a major war. Invasion of Iran to protect America from nuclear attack, and preserve our freedom, counts as a major war.

This would, however, make absolute hash of the Bush administration’s quite fictitious future budget estimates, which are the reason why it refused to significantly expand our ground forces after 9/11 though such was obviously necessary. Those phony budget estimates are arguably the biggest obstacle to our invasion of Iran this year. Iran’s mullahs might even have counted on this in timing their breakout to public nuclear weapons possession.

Basic problem: the reserve forces / families/ employers have been told, repeatedly, that their involuntary obligation under this particular mobilization authority is 730 days. Total.

The fundamental problem we face is that we have a potentially decades-long war which has NOT been sold as a major war. It looks much more like the Savage Wars of Peace that a very small full-time force fought to secure the continent and then to secure our economic future abroad. But history is a spiral, not a circle, and the past is not quite the present. Now we need equipment that drives costs up in aquisition, in maintenance, and in training costs, all of which cause us to reduce manpower costs with a part-time/limited benefits force backing up the small full-time paid force. And the reserve forces were first told that they would be MOBILIZED for a year. After optimistic estimates in Iraq failed, the first year reserve forces were extended, their orders amended to reflect the need for “365 (days) Boots On Ground” PLUS mobization training/equipping PLUS demobilization/earned leave time.

Almost any conceivable military operation with a real chance of success (destroy nuc production capability and weaken the regime so that the religious leadership becomes only a moral leadership and the parlementary democratic institutions become the real political leadership of Iran) would require declaring Iran a seperate mobilization (which doesn’t make sense in terms of the long standing rhetoric about the GWoT) or making the case to the American people and especially to the reserve forces/ families/ employers/ communities that this very focussed sacrifice is essential to our national security. Not going to be easy and the case-making should have started long ago.

Given any contemplation of military action in Iran, I would suggest that immediately:
The President and Vice President and Secretary of Defense start barnstorming the homecoming ceremonies of demobilizing Guard and Reserve units across the nation. Thank them, listen and act on their concerns.
The President start demanding sharply increased benefits to the Guard and Reserve to reflect their sharply increased likelyhood of deployment and their (assuming a breach of the 730 day barrier) decreased reliability/ viability in their civilian careers. The President should also move to provide bigger carrots and sticks to employers.

It would help if the President’s family in this (IF we tackle Iran) increasingly major war acted like the two Roosevelts’ families. President Bush will have to call for greater sacrifice and total commitment by the American people, as FDR did, and his daughters could help him make the case by following in the tradition of TR’s and FDR’s children. How about enlisting with OCS contracts and pushing for helicopter pilot training? Keep the family aviation tradition.

Congressman Shadegg

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

Congressman John Shadegg has entered the Republican House Majority Leader race. Why?

“For the past several days, I have spoken with members all across our Conference,” Shadegg said. “Based on those conversations, I believe that a majority of Republicans in the House understand the need for real, thorough reform. We must renew our commitment to the principles that won us a majority in the first place: fiscal discipline, smaller government, lower taxes, a strong national defense, returning power to the states, and greater personal freedom.”

He is part of the class of 1994. He announced he was giving up his current leadership position, Policy Chairman, as a matter of principle.

“I personally believe it is not appropriate to try to retain one position in our elected leadership while running for another. Therefore, I am resigning my position as Policy Chairman. My campaign is based on reform, and reform should begin with an open process.”

Contrast this with Congressmen Roy Blunt. Congressman John Boener’s press release on Shadegg’s entry is an indirect attack on Blunt.

John is an important member of our Conference and a respected voice for reform. His entry into the Majority Leader race is further proof the Conference isn’t happy with the status quo. Our Conference will only benefit from a truly open and competitive contest based on ideas, principles, and abilities, and I welcome him into the race. Between the two of us, we’re going to make this race about reforming how the House does business and providing a real alternative to the status quo. [emphasis added]

Ouch!

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

The opening graphs of an NYT book review:

“Memories of My Melancholy Whores” is ballyhooed by its publishers as the first work of fiction by Gabriel García Márquez in 10 years.

It turns out not to have been worth the wait.