19 December 2008

15 December 2008

TDS's Depressing News Riddle

11 November 2008

Veterans Day, Thanks!

Help Public School Military Kids by donating to a Teacher Request at DonorsChoose! Two of my favorites:

Tell Us A Story (Expires: Dec 01, 2008)
Preschoolers with autism learn to tell others their favorite stories through puppets. I teach a preschool class of students diagnosed with autism. Some of my students are able to talk and communicate and others are not. I teach on a military base where many of my students' parents are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Carpet Graphing - Reading Space (Expires: Mar 16, 2009)
Students enrolled in 6th, 7th and 8th grades Family and Consumer Science electives want to offer their time and learning by sewing and embroidering blankets to donate to Soldier Angels. Soldier Angels is a volunteer-led non-profit organization providing aid and comfort to military soldiers and their families.

Donate to Project Valour-IT (Army Team!)

Preliminary Totals
Army 31,927
Navy 21,475
Marines 10081
Air Force 9437
Coast Guard 1766
Unaffiliated 8400
TOTAL $83,086

Thanks, Google. It did not go unnoticed!

Google's 2008 Veterans Day Logo

Engineering Dropouts

I have a memory of my first day at my first undergraduate Electrical Engineering (EE) course. Mind you, this memory is over 20 years old and has been told enough times that I can no longer be sure it has not been embellished. But it goes something like this ...

I am sitting in the middle of the Atwater Kent 200-seat lecture hall between two of my friends from freshman-year. Our professor starts the class by asking us to look to our right, and then our left. One of us, he says, will not be in the EE program next semester.
He was probably right in the aggregate, but in my case, my friends and I stayed in the EE program and graduated. It was our sophmore year, and we already had watched a number of friends decide that either college in general, or math in specific, wasn't for them.

I don't think this was an unusual experience for EE students at the time. It was during what Thomas K. Grose recently described as the "old sink-or-swim days of engineering education."

I also don't remember that first EE course being anything but theory: attending lectures, reading the text, and solving (lots of!) problems for homework. Of course, over the past decades, things have changed significantly, right?

Perhaps, not. Listen to former National Academy of Engineering (NAE) President William A. Wulf discuss what's wrong with Engineering education:

Yesterday, Don Dodge asked on his blog, How is it acceptable that 50% of students drop out? It's not.

I have read a number of articles on the shortcomings of engineering education over the years. A quick Google search for a set of recent public examples turns up:
If I'm happy, can this be EE school? (2004)
Engineering schools that tie theory and practice together retain more students (2007)
Top 5 Reasons It Sucks to Be an Engineering Student (2008)
I do think that one of the reasons I stuck with EE was the project-oriented curriculum under WPI's "Plan" (Part I and Part II). I also remember that once I got through the first two semesters of basic circuits and into a more focused EE curriculum (sometimes called a track or thread), I felt a sense of belonging to a group of professionals with a distinguished history at the school.

Since graduating from WPI, I stayed interested in EE; studying wireless and network communications, network security, teaching EE at USMA and getting my FCC Amateur Radio license. I consider that a success of my undergrad experience. I sincerely hope other professors provide to their EE students what my WPI professors gave me.

Science and Engineering Indicators 2008: Higher Education in Science and Engineering
Top 10 Amazing Physics Videos

A Vision of Students Today
Don Herbert - Hero
Investing in Education: The ARRL Amateur Radio Education & Technology Program

08 November 2008

The Future of Journalism

The Future of Journalism @ The National Press Club via C-SPAN.

28 October 2008

Operation Calendar

Operation Calendar for wounded vets.

19 October 2008

The "Lippmann-Dewey Debate" and the Invention of Walter Lippmann as an Anti-Democrat 1986-1996

A thought-provoking essay (pdf) by Michael Schudson in the International Journal of Communication.

I've commented on Jay Rosen's blog in the past on this topic (here, here, here and here). I also posted previously about the Lippman-Dewey Blogosphere.

01 October 2008

DoD CIO Net-Centricity Video

My question is, why isn't this on YouTube?

28 September 2008

Gold Star Mother's Day, 2008

via Some Soldier's Mom

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

On this day, we honor our country's Gold Star Mothers and remember their sons' and daughters' noble service and great sacrifice. We offer them our deepest gratitude and our most profound respect, and we ask for God's blessings to be upon them and their families.
Gold Star Mother's Weekend

15 September 2008

Palin's Impact

Lynette Long explains her decision to vote for McCain/Palin.

12 September 2008

Bush Doctrine?

Fallows is wrong on two counts.

1) "The Bush Doctrine" is a pundit's term with a time line preceding the 2002 NSS and continuing up to today. It has not meant the same thing during that time.

2) Fallows interpretation of "The Bush Doctrine" proves he stopped paying attention years ago. Instead of demonstrating a lack of interest or attention on the part of Palin, it demonstrates that Fallows is the one out of touch.

Fallows is wearing his arrogance and ignorance on his sleeve (or at least on his blog).

The Bush doctrine, 5 March 2001
'Bush Doctrine' sets up rules of engagement, 8 October 2001
A New Era in U.S. Strategic Thinking, 11 September 2002
Assessing the Bush Doctrine, 20 February 2003
The Bush Doctrine, 20 January 2005
Bush Doctrine: Spread Liberty, 21 January 2005
Hamas Victory Stuns West, Calls Bush Doctrine Into Question, 26 January 2006

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Here's Bush doctrine as President Bush stated it a year ago in his second inaugural address.

BUSH: So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture.
National Security Strategy, March 2006
It is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

05 September 2008

Record Number Watch McCain

McCain Attracts Record TV Audience, Tops Obama, Palin
John McCain speech draws record TV ratings

  • Nielsen Media Research reported a record 38.9 million U.S. TV viewers -- more than one in 10 people -- watched McCain's acceptance speech
  • 38.3 million people watched Obama's acceptance speech the week before
  • Palin drew 37.2 million viewers.

31 August 2008

"Celebrate mistakes"

MythBuster Adam Savage: 3 Ways to Fix U.S. Science Education

Gustav on ARRL

via ARRL

The Hurricane Watch Net is using these frequencies during the Hurricane Gustav emergency:

  • 20 meters: 14.325 MHz USB
  • Main frequency during Hurricanes -- 40 meters: 7.268 MHz LSB
  • Water Way Net (secondary frequency) Maritime Mobiles Net -- 80 meters: 3.815 MHz
  • Caribbean Net (alternates: 3.950 North Florida / 3.940 South Florida)

Amateur Radio EchoLink/IRLP

  • EchoLink Conference "WX-TALK" Node 7203
  • IRLP Node 9219
  • West Gulf Emergency Health and Welfare Net: 7.290 LSB Day, 3.395 LSB Night

Please respect the Nets and do not transmit if you have nothing truly important to contribute. There is a 72 hour moratorium on inbound Health and Welfare (H&W) traffic.

As of 10:00 AM CDT August 30, the Louisiana, Mississippi, South Texas Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) relating to emergency nets has been evoked. The West Gulf emergency net (WGEN) was activated at 6:00 AM CDT on Sunday, August 31. Operating frequencies are:

  • Emergency/tactical:
    daytime 7285 kKz
    nighttime 3873 kHz

Net Manager for WGEN is Lanny Prichard, K5WLP, of Inverness, Mississippi. For H&W traffic, there will be a 72 hour moratorium on traffic inbound to the affected area. Outbound H&W traffic will be handled routinely. There will be NTS representation on the H&W net.

We ask that those frequencies, and nearby frequencies, be kept clear for emergency traffic.

27 August 2008

Timewave HamLinkBT-RC


Timewave's HamLinkBT-RC™ Wireless Rig Controller is available on their web page. And only $299.95!

R&L Electronics has it advertised online for only $209.95.

Good grief. That's a pretty penny for wireless rig control. Has anyone tried/tested it, yet?

of Demo at this year's Hamvention:

of Demo at last year's Hamvention:

Timewave HamlinkBT

25 August 2008

How NOT To Use Powerpoint

By Comedian Don McMillan

PowerPoint Ranger Tab

PowerPoint Patch

24 August 2008

Ham Radio 2.0

New Ustream channel!

Webcam chat at Ustream

Twittering Hams

Amateur radio is a social network of licensed operators ("Hams") on designated radio frequency bands. It should be no surprise, then, that these social animals can be found on other social networks promoting their hobby.

has become a popular online social network and I was curious if there are hams a-twittering and how to join the online conversation. This is what I've learned so far ...

First, here is a good video about twitter:

Second, I signed up for a Twitter account.

Now, I wanted find others to follow. I used the twitter API on the web rather than trying to do it mobile on my phone. I use online email and twitter makes it easy to check if anyone in your contacts is already on twitter. Just click the Find & Follow link.

Next, I searched twitter for arrl, amateur radio, and ham radio, to see who I wanted to follow. I also searched twitter using Tweet Scan for arrl, amateur radio, and ham radio to see who provided the latest and greatest updates. Three accounts jumped out at me: RadioMaxim, ka3drr, and KV4S. I clicked on the follow button for each of these accounts. [Update: also see Ham Radio and Social Media]

Here is where I realized how easy it is to get sucked into twitter. My "home" page fills up with status messages from the people I'm following, usually with interesting links included for news and more discussions. Also, each of the accounts I'm following are following other twitterers (HPM follows 26 people, ka3drr follows 55 people, Russell Thomas follows 22 people) and other twitterers are following them (RadioMaxim's 24 Followers, ka3drr's 54 Followers, KV4S's 39 Followers). See where this is going? Some accounts have tens of thousands of followers.

Oh, but it gets better! Essentially, I've only "plugged-in" to twitter at this point. I'm not participating. It's easy to post a generic public status update, but to reply to people and contextualize my updates, I need to visit the twitter help, learn the official commands and lingo, and use hashtags.

Best part? I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of the growing twitter community.

23 August 2008

VA is for Hams!

Virginia Code § 15.2-2293.1. Placement of amateur radio antennas.

Virginia Amateur Radio Emergency Services

Arlington Radio Public Service Club - W4AVA
5262 Bessley Place
Alexandria, Virginia 22304

National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies

Congress Launches the First National Research Program Focused on Technology and Learning

Learning scientists and educators have known for years that people learn faster if education can be personalized, and if students are motivated by seeing how their knowledge can help them solve problems they, and their future employers, actually care about. These new technologies can help deliver on this promise. Students in today’s schools were born into a digital world -- able to gather information, communicate and collaborate using the constantly expanding tools of the internet and the computers, wireless devices, game devices also attached to it.
New High-Tech Teaching Center, Pushed by Congress, Lacks Funds
[Dr. Susan] Millar's research indicates that university scholars have already developed a wealth of better teaching methods, including ones using technology, but academic institutions and schools have failed to adopt many of them because of institutional and cultural roadblocks (The Chronicle, August 3, 2007).

Can you see me now?

Army research on invisibility not science fiction

Dr. Richard Hammond, a theoretical physicist who works in Optical Physics and Imaging Science at the U.S. Army's Research Office, participated in a blogger's roundtable to discuss the developments in the field of negative index materials research and meta materials. Developing research in these areas is making light reflect in ways it never has before - with extraordinary effect.
My prediction: the world will be very different because of nanotech, in the same way that semiconductors have changed the world.

09 August 2008

America Between the Wars

An excellent book by Derek Chollet and James Goldgeier. Amazon and NYT reviews.

The Surge as Stabilty and Support

13 July 2008

Straight Talk on Social Security

UPDATE: Josh Marshall

The debate about Social Security is the same as it was in 2005 and in most respects the same as it was in 1965. You have one group who believe in the current system -- which is an intergenerational bargain, insuring a baseline level of retirement security as well as insurance against premature, disability and for dependent children. The other side -- McCain's side -- thinks this is just wrong, morally and economically. And in its place they want to create a system of individual private investment accounts -- similar to a lifetime 401k.

That's the essence of the debate.
In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.
Progress and Prospects Under the Social Security Act. May 25, 1937
To be concrete, if we adopt the pay-as-you-go system, we must make absolutely certain that at the same time we not only balance the budget but proceed to retire the government debt within the next generation through the imposition, let us hope, of progressive taxes, in order that we do not reach a period in the future when the burden of the interest charges on a large public debt and the burden of a large government subsidy to the Federal Old-Age Insurance plan cannot be sustained through current taxation.
A Statement on the Automatic Increase in the Tax Rate Under the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance System. November 27, 1944
In my testimony before this Committee last January, I made the following statement: "In the history of social insurance throughout the world the major difficulty of social insurance systems has been the lack of adequate financing of old-age retirement benefits. It is always easiest to delay levying the necessary insurance contributions, thus perpetuating and strengthening the belief that the insurance benefits are meager and the costs of the insurance system are low. Inevitably, when the time comes to increase the taxes, many reasons can always be advanced as to why the imposition of the additional taxes is unwise or impossible. In this country we are still in a position to avoid these mistakes by getting clearly established now that if our people want social insurance they must be willing to pay for it. The time to obtain the necessary contributions is when people are able to pay for the insurance and are willing to pay for it because they can be shown that they are getting their money's worth. If we should let a situation develop whereby it eventually becomes necessary to charge future beneficiaries rates in excess of the actuarial cost of the protection afforded them, we would be guilty of gross inequity and gross financial mismanagement, bound to imperil our social insurance system."
Framing the Social Security Debate: Values, Politics, and Economics. 1998
Competing reform proposals reflect contrasting views about the nature of the Social Security problem and how to solve it. This book examines issues about privatization, national savings and economic growth, the political risks and realities in reforms, lessons from private pension developments in the United States, and the efforts of other advanced industrial countries to adapt their old-age pensions to an aging population. It also poses philosophical arguments about collective versus individual responsibility and the implications of market risks and political risks for stable and secure retirement income policy.
The Real Deal: The History and Future of Social Security, p. 227. 1999
The original architects and builders of our Social Security system, such as Arthur Altmeyer, anticipated exactly the situation we face with pay-as-you-go financing. They thought it would prove to be unfair to future workers, and they did not want to see that eventuality materialize.
The Real Deal: The History and Future of Social Security, p. 202. 1999
We hope that this has convinced you that a pay-as-you-go Social Security system is not without risks. Americans are in this program for an entire lifetime and the risks are considerable. Think about it -- taxes were raised and benefits cut in 1977. Taxes were raised and future benefits cut in 1983. Now we see that the system has a large long-term deficit. Unless we consider changing its very structure, we will have no choice but to raise taxes and cut benefits once again. There aren't a lot of choices for fixing Social Security other than straightforward tax hikes and benefit cuts -- that is unless we set about designing a system that increases our nation's saving rate and ultimately increases the wealth of our children and grandchildren.
An Overview of the Social Security Program. 2001
From Social Security's earliest days, a contentious issue was whether the benefits that workers and their families received should be prefunded using the taxes that those workers paid, rather than the taxes paid by current workers. As the program was enacted in 1935, revenues dedicated to Social Security would have exceeded outlays by enough to build up very large surpluses. In effect, those excess revenues would have helped fund, in advance, the benefits that the same workers would receive later. Opponents of prefunding argued that such an arrangement would result either in pressure to increase spending or in federal government ownership of private assets. Later expansions to the program, along with postponement of increases in the payroll tax rate that were originally scheduled to occur during the 1940s, essentially moved Social Security to a pay-as-you-go basis.(23) That pay-as-you-go structure has worked, although with many changes in taxes and benefits along the way. But it has worked largely because the labor force has grown rapidly during much of the program's history. That situation is about to change, as the number of Social Security beneficiaries begins to increase much faster than the number of workers.

11 July 2008

War Powers Consultation Act

via SWJ

More coverage at the Miller Center.

26 May 2008

Eh, Who Listens to the "People"?

Survey: Americans Say They're Well-Informed, But Dissatisfied With Coverage of Iraq War

The study reveals a deep dissatisfaction with war coverage and provides information journalists can use to learn more about what the public wants.
Zogby Poll: 67% View Traditional Journalism as "Out of Touch"
Internet is the top source of news for nearly half of Americans; Survey finds two-thirds dissatisfied with the quality of journalism.
Pay these surveys no heed. Like Steve Lopez said over a decade ago, "People are idiots." You just keep doing what you've been doing, and you'll be fine. Promise. No, really.

Press Politics

25 May 2008


Remember Me

Soldier's ShrineFm 7-21-13 :: Appendix C :: Section III- Memorial Ceremony

Memorial ceremonies are patriotic tributes to deceased soldiers....

In most cases, the unit prepares a program that may include a biographical summary of the deceased soldier with mention of awards and decorations. The following elements are commonly part of a memorial ceremony:
  • Prelude (often suitable music).
  • Posting of the Colors.
  • National Anthem.
  • Invocation.
  • Memorial Tribute (e.g., remarks by unit commander or a friend of the deceased).
  • Scripture Reading.
  • Hymn or other special music.
  • Meditation (quiet moment for attendees to reflect).
  • Benediction.
  • Last Roll Call. This is a final tribute paid by soldiers to their fallen comrade. It has its origin in the accountability roll call conducted by the unit First Sergeant following combat. Although sometimes painful to listen through, the Last Roll is called with the conviction held by soldiers that all unit members will be accounted for, and none will ever be forgotten.
  • Firing of rifle volleys.
  • Taps.

Memorial Day in Iraq

Pentagon Memorial
Soldier's Shrine"The memorial should instill the ideas that patriotism is a moral duty, that freedom comes at a price, and that the victims of this attack have paid the ultimate price...We challenge you to create a memorial that translates this terrible tragedy into a place of solace, peace, and healing."

The Media Store
Tune: Sixteen Tons

Some people say a man is made out of mud
A soldier's made out of muscle and blood
Muscle and blood, skin and bones...
A mind that's sharp and a back that's strong

I served sixteen years, and what did I get?
My flag-draped casket all over the 'net
St. Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
They gave my soul to the Media store

Woke up one mornin' and the sun didn't shine
Boots, rifle, beret made into a shrine
My voice was absent when they called roll
the Chaplain said, "God bless his soul!"


They carried me slowly thru the drizzlin' rain
and laid me gently on the ramp of the plane
My Brothers in Arms honored my name
A "cost of war," it's a cryin' shame


Flag-draped caskets came home before
but you weren't there, before the war
You got your photos but there'll be no more
There's no honor in the Media store

A media protest clouds Marine's final journey
But what bothers me is the way the somber ceremony to honor a man who died for his country got manipulated by the media to create outrage.
Yeah, because those cemetery vultures can't get enough special care and feeding at another man's funeral.

18 May 2008

Taylor Mali

What Teachers Make?

Don't Go There ...

The dumbest thing the Democrats did in the 2004 election was bring up Vietnam. It doesn't matter and usually hurts those wielding it as an attack issue. Remember the result? (Bush won.) Can you say memogate and Swift Vets and POWs for the Truth?

Well, here it comes again!

UPDATE: Speaking of memogate, HuffPo put Rather's amended lawsuit on docstoc. It was filed two weeks after Rather's lawyers were given permission to subpoena Erik Rigler, the private investigator hired by CBS. However, there's nothing in the amended complaint that leads me to believe they have talked to Rigler.

UPDATE: CBS Will Get to Keep Documents of Interest in Dan Rather Suit Away from the Public; But Redstone Must Speak!

According to proceedings today, Mr. Rather has already been deposed; so, too, former F.B.I. agent and Navy aviator Erik T. Rigler. Former CBS News president Andrew Heyward, on the other hand, is tentatively scheduled to be deposed on July 29th and 30th. Ditto CBS president Leslie Moonves, who is penciled in for a deposition on Sept. 24th.

Others who will be deposed according to today's hearing:

  • Jeffrey Fager, 60 Minutes executive producer
  • Gil Schwartz, CBS executive vice president, communications
  • Sandy Genelius, spokesperson for CBS News
  • Linda Mason, CBS News senior vice president, standards and special projects
  • Patti Hassler, CBS News executive editor of 60 Minutes Global

13 May 2008

"Reporters' Conflict of Interest Act"

There's been some noise lately concerning a federal shield law for journalists, perhaps as a way to break free the FISA Amendments Act.

There is currently a House version and a Senate version of the federal shield law. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a good summary of the differences between the two.

I strongly oppose the current House version based on this phrase defining a covered person:

a person who regularly ... for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain
David Ardia summarized well what's wrong with this definition at the Citizen Media Law Project:
This change significantly narrows the bill's coverage and is plainly aimed to exclude non-traditional journalists. But it doesn't just exclude those whom some in Congress derisively call "bloggers." The new definition would likely exclude many freelance journalists who must rely on other work to supplement their incomes. Do we really want judges to be deciding whether a journalist is earning enough money to qualify for protection?

More to the point, is financial remuneration the criterion we want to be using when we draw the line between those who are entitled to engage in journalism under the protection of a federal shield law and those who must venture forth unprotected? It seems to me the answer is no. To limit the privilege only to journalists who receive "substantial financial gain" misses the point of how media and journalism are evolving. Most crucially, it misses the growing -- and essential -- role of citizen media creators. They are the closest analog since the nation's founding to the Tom Paine-style pamphleteers the First Amendment was designed, in part, to encourage.
Regardless of whether or not you think there should be a federal shield law, take note who in the news media is worried (or not) about the public's right to know that the bill the "pro-jos" are lobbying for would exclude the citizen journalist from it's protection. Any journalist that supports the House version and says a federal shield law is needed to protect the public and not the news media is a hypocrite.

06 May 2008


Operation Iraqi Freedom: Strategies, Approaches, Results, and Issues for Congress

In January 2003, Administration thinking coalesced around a broad post-war political process for Iraq, captured in what was universally known at the time as the “Mega-Brief.” The approach favored the State Department’s preference for a deliberate process, rather than an immediate “crowning” of a new Iraqi leadership. The process would include dismissing top Iraqi leaders but welcoming most lower-ranking officials to continue to serve; creating a senior-level Iraqi Consultative Council to serve in an advisory capacity; creating an Iraqi judicial council; holding a national census; conducting municipal elections; holding elections to a constitutional convention that would draft a constitution; carrying out a constitutional referendum; and then holding national elections. It was envisaged that the process would take years to complete.52

The “Mega-Brief” approach — adopted just as troops were conducting final rehearsals for the war — implied that many governance tasks would need to be performed by coalition (non-Iraqi) personnel, whether civilian or military, for some time to come.

52 Information from NSC staff, and Department of State and Office of the Secretary of Defense officials, 2003 and 2008. Some former Defense officials have argued that in March 2003, the President expressed support for a shorter formal occupation and an earlier naming of an official Iraqi body. Ambassador Bremer has argued that, even if that March shift took place, at the time of his own appointment to head CPA in early May, the President’s direction to him was not to hurry, but to “take the time necessary to create a stable political environment”. See Tom Ricks and Karen DeYoung, “Ex-Defense Official Assails Colleagues Over Run-Up to War,” Washington Post, March 9, 2008, which previews the book War and Decision, scheduled for release in April 2008, by former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith; and L. Paul Bremer III, “Facts for Feith: CPA History,” National Review Online, March 19, 2008.

By late 2002, in the absence of detailed policy guidance, military commanders at several levels had launched “Phase IV” planning efforts, to identify and begin to prepare for potential post-war requirements. In January 2003, based on a recommendation that came out of the “Internal Look” exercise conducted in Kuwait in December 2002, Brigadier General Steve Hawkins was named to lead a new “Task Force IV.” TFIV, an ad hoc organization, was tasked to conduct post-war planning, and to prepare to deploy to Baghdad as the nucleus of a post-war headquarters. TFIV was dispatched immediately to Kuwait, to work under the operational control of the Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) — the ground forces component of CENTCOM — and its commanding general, Lieutenant General David McKiernan.58 TFIV thus provided skilled labor, but no connectivity to the still ongoing Washington policy debates about the post-war division of responsibilities.

In March 2003, CFLCC launched a dedicated post-war planning effort of its own, led by Major General Albert Whitley (UK), who was part of the CFLCC leadership. His more comprehensive effort — known as Eclipse II — benefitted from close connectivity with its sister-effort, CFLCC’s combat operations planning, but lacked direct access to the broader Washington policy debates.

In addition to lacking policy guidance about post-war roles and responsibilities, these operational-level planning efforts lacked insight into key aspects of the current state of affairs in Iraq. For example, planning assumed that Iraqis, in particular law enforcement personnel, would be available and willing to resume some civic duties on the “day after.” Also, plans did not recognize the deeply degraded status of Iraqi infrastructure, such as electricity grids.
DoD and CENTCOM believed the Iraqi military and police, stripped of their top leaders, would bear primary responsibility for reestablishing order. Planners assumed that most of the security force units would remain intact and be available for duty soon after the end of conventional operations.61 As then-National Security Adviser Rice said, “The concept was that we would defeat the army, but the institutions would hold, everything from ministries to police forces.”62 Operation Plan ECLIPSE II, the stability plan developed by the Coalition Forces Land Component Commander (CFLCC), counted on the “utilization of existing Iraqi organizations and administration.”63 Given this, CENTCOM and ORHA did not receive definitive policy guidance on the role the U.S. military was to play in public security after Hussein was removed.64

21 April 2008

Speak for yourselves, boys!

Secretary Gates Remarks at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery Alabama

Q Sir, Lieutenant Colonel (Name inaudible) from Air Command and Staff College. Sir, we appreciate you taking the time today and coming to speak to us.

Yesterday, the New York Times had an article that talked about the number of retired senior officers who are commentators but who also serve on boards for companies that are profiting from the war. Sir, what do you think about all these senior officers who are now retired influencing public opinion about the Department of Defense and the war effort? And I don't know if you had a chance to read the article, but what do you think about that, if you will, conflict of interest that they are involved in?

SEC. GATES: Well, I will tell you that this is actually -- the increasing engagement of retired officers in the political process and in the media is something that has really taken off -- (inaudible) -- in 1993. There were only one or two -- a handful of examples of it before 1993. And now it's kind of a cottage industry. I suppose in a flip sort of way I could say, the good-news side is there are now so many it doesn't really matter. If there were still just a handful out there they might actually have some real influence.

But when you've got scores of these guys either signing up for different candidates or as media experts and so on -- the worry that I have in this whole thing, whether they are signing up with candidates or whether they are acting as experts for the media, is the important -- when they are referred to by their title, the public doesn't know whether they are active-duty or retired, often, because those distinctions tend to get blurred, and they don't know whether they're speaking for the institution or for themselves.

And so if I had one request to all of them, it would be in whatever role they're playing that they make clear that they're not speaking for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, or the Marines Corps, or the Department of Defense, but only speaking for themselves.

And I suppose that takes a little of the gloss over the -- off of their appeal, but I think that's the honest way to approach this.

My -- I did read the article, and frankly, I think it -- I couldn't quite tell how much of it was an implied political conflict of interest, an implied financial conflict of interest or what.

But -- so I would just limit myself to saying I think that the one service they owe everybody is making clear that they're speaking only for themselves.

Sticks, Stones and Glass Houses

20 April 2008

Sticks, Stones and Glass Houses

The paper that brought you Jayson Blair and Judith Miller has a front-page story (with multi-media) portraying retired military officers you see on cable news outlets as dupes, puppets and co-conspirators of the Pentagon. At least during the 2006 "Generals Revolt."

After reading the story, I was at a loss why it got 7,000+ words and front-page real estate. Essentially, it said the NYT sued the Pentagon for "8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records" and found that nobody did anything wrong! Which is pretty amazing, actually.

I went looking for insightful commentary and found Bateman writes (and I agree) that:

Seriously, somebody at the NYT headquarters needs to consider instituting a random drug testing program over there because the intellectual loops one has to tie oneself into to come to their thesis are worthy of Jayson Blair’s style of “reporting.”
OK, that's not really the insightful part. I do recommend reading his post because it is very good. He also links to Allard's 2006 Warheads: Cable News And the Fog of War.

Andy Cline writes that the NYT piece is really about the "massive craft failure in American journalism."
By putting the onus on the analysts, the oxymoronic institution of television news has simply declared: Journalism is not practiced here.
Uhhh, because the newspapers do a better job of vetting their "experts" and providing full disclosure?

You can also go back and read what the NYT told us in 2006:
The Defense Department has issued a memorandum to a group of former military commanders and civilian analysts that offers a direct challenge to the criticisms made by retired generals about Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The one-page memorandum was sent by e-mail on Friday to the group, which includes several retired generals who appear regularly on television, and came as the Bush administration stepped up its own defense of Mr. Rumsfeld. On the political front, Republican strategists voiced rising anxiety on Saturday that without a major change in the course of the Iraq war, Republican candidates would suffer dearly in the November elections.
Shocking, I know. In 2003, the NYT had this to say about the retired military talking-heads:
Some receive occasional briefings from the Pentagon, but like most reporters, they stay current by checking with their friends in the military and studying all the public information they can gather.

On the other hand, their evident sympathies with the current commanders, not to mention their respect for the military and immersion in its doctrines, sometimes seem to immunize them to the self-imposed skepticism of the news organizations that now employ them.

Rarely, unless pressed, do the generals bluntly criticize the conduct of the war, a detailed review of their recent remarks discloses. Instead, they tend gravely to point out the timeless risks of combat.
You can decide for yourself how much weight you give the opinions of former military "experts" on the TV and in the newspapers. You can also figure out which ones are pro-Administration or anti-Administration. Pro-war or anti-war. Pro-$ or ... uhh, they're all pro-$! Who's not pro-$?

Well, they didn't join the military to get rich, right?

Military Analysts
These documents were released to the New York Times regarding the Pentagon's Military Analyst program.
The NYT's Selective, Misleading Pentagon Story

Press Politics

Obama's secret weapon: the media

The response was itself a warning about a huge challenge for reporters in the 2008 cycle: preserving professional detachment in a race that will likely feature two nominees, Obama and John McCain, who so far have been beneficiaries of media cheerleading.
By four-to-one margins, Americans surveyed see The New York Times (41.9% to 11.8%) and National Public Radio (40.3% to 11.2%) as mostly or somewhat liberal over mostly or somewhat conservative.

By a three-to-one margin, Americans see news media journalists and broadcasters (45.4% to 15.7%) as mostly or somewhat liberal over mostly or somewhat conservative.

And, by a two-to-one margin, Americans see CNN (44.9% to 18.4%) and MSNBC (38.8% to 15.8%) as mostly or somewhat liberal over mostly or somewhat conservative.

Just Fox News was seen as mostly and somewhat conservative (48.7%) over mostly or somewhat liberal (22.3%).

The most trusted national TV news organizations, for accurate reporting, in declining order included: Fox News (27.0%), CNN (14.6%), and NBC News (10.90%). These were followed by ABC News (7.0%), local news (6.9%), CBS News (6.8%) MSNBC (4.0%), PBS News (3.0%), CNBC (0.6%) and CBN (0.5%).

In 2003, CNN led Fox News on “trust most for accurate reporting” 23.8% to 14.6%.

Survey: Americans Say They're Well-Informed, But Dissatisfied With Coverage of Iraq War

The study reveals a deep dissatisfaction with war coverage and provides information journalists can use to learn more about what the public wants.
Zogby Poll: 67% View Traditional Journalism as "Out of Touch"
Internet is the top source of news for nearly half of Americans; Survey finds two-thirds dissatisfied with the quality of journalism.
Voters Give Media Failing Grades in Objectivity for Election 2008
Voters have little doubt as to who is benefitting from the media coverage this year—Barack Obama. Fifty-four percent (54%) say Obama has gotten the best coverage so far. Twenty-two percent (22%) say McCain has received the most favorable coverage while 14% say that Hillary got the best treatment.
Journalistic bias? I'm shocked ... SHOCKED, I tell you.
An Anthology of Journalism's Decline
Why Newspapers Aren't Worth Buying

18 April 2008

How do you view the parties?

Which Class Does Each Party Favor?
Based on middle class respondents.

In general, do you think the Democratic Party favors the rich, favors the middle or favors the poor?
Middle Class: Democrats Favor

In general, do you think the Republican Party favors the rich, favors the middle class or favors the poor?
Middle Class: Republicans Favor

Notice how Democrats see the parties very differently than everyone else? What if you knew that the self-identified Democrats/Lean Democrat were less than half of the Middle Class survey population?
Middle Class Partisans
Knowing that, would you write:

* Most middle class adults agree with the old saw that the Republican Party favors the rich while the Democratic Party favors the middle class and the poor.

* Nearly six-in-ten (58%) middle class survey respondents say the Republican Party favors the rich, while nearly two-thirds say the Democratic Party favors the middle class (39%) or the poor (26%).

13 April 2008

"... they cling to guns or religion ..."

Cling? CLING!?! WTF!!!

Hmmm, religion and guns are addressed in the first two amendments in the Bill of Rights. They were slightly important to the American people 220 years ago. Why would anyone want to cling to those?

Why would Obama say that to rich San Franciscans at a fundraiser closed to the press? Doesn't he know everything winds up on the 'net? Didn't he know that Pennsylvanians, where Clinton has been consistently ahead of him in polls, would hear what he said about them?

Obama was responding to a question posed in San Francisco about what people campaigning door-to-door for him should expect in Pennsylvania (30 minutes into the audio, "some of us are going to Pennsylvania to campaign for you. What should we be telling the voters we encounter?"). Now, I know a little about the Keystone State, home to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. I grew up in the A-B-E area of Eastern Pennsylvania. I learned the vernacular. I still call Pennsylvania my home.

I would describe Pennsylvania to any out-of-state campaigners going door-to-door for a presidential candidate as politically important. I would agree with Mayhill Fowler that, "These qualities of hospitality, patriotism and endurance are exactly what Californians need to hear about Pennsylvanians." I would describe Pennsylvanians as proud of their religious diversity and avid hunters. I would tell them that the manufacturing sector has been shrinking in Pennsylvania, as it has everywhere else, but other sectors have been growing and according to Governor Rendell's Department of Community & Economic Development:

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a strong economy, superior market access, a first-class transportation system, is securely placed as a technology leader, a highly skilled and motivated work force, provides access to some of the best colleges and universities in the world and a very high quality of life. Considering all these factors, it's no wonder that companies like Gamesa, Westinghouse, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Olympus America and Augusta have decided to locate or expand in Pennsylvania. And why some of the nation’s most unique, smart and bright people choose to live here.
One thing I would not do is describe Pennsylvanians as clinging to anything. PA'ers don't take kindly to that sort of thing.

12 reasons 'bitter' is bad for Obama
The comments play directly into an already-established narrative about his candidacy. Clinton supporters have been arguing that Obama has limited appeal beyond upscale Democrats — the so-called latte liberals. You can’t win red states if people there don’t like you. "Elites need to understand that middle-class Americans view values and culture as more important than mere trickery," said Paul Begala, a Clinton backer. "Democrats have to respect their values and reflect their values, not condescend to them as if they were children who’ve been bamboozled."
Southern Democrat: Obama's 'got a bunch of explaining to do'
"I’m a southern boy myself," Saunders told CNN by phone. "I don’t have a gun because I’m bitter, it’s because I’ve always had one. I don’t pray to God because I’m bitter. I pray to God because it makes my life better."
Saunders said "rural America will be crucial in this election."

"The one thing that I preached during this whole deal is we can’t be stereotyping anybody," he said. "Well, Barack Obama just stereotyped my people out in rural America."

"Here’s a guy who says he shouldn’t be stereotyped, but yet he stereotyped us."
Who’s Bitter Now?
Small-town people of modest means and limited education are not fixated on cultural issues. Rather, it is affluent, college-educated people living in cities and suburbs who are most exercised by guns and religion. In contemporary American politics, social issues are the opiate of the elites.
Previous: OffTheBus Already on the Wrong Track
Their "fresh, arresting, original, informational reporting and commentary" (if there is any) can be a success solely within the liberal sphere. It can have an impact (a traditional measure of success) on the primaries of both parties with Yearrrrrgh!!! and macaca videos.

10 April 2008

If the Economy is so BAD ...

where is all this political money coming from?

The candidates for president have broken nearly all fundraising records, amassing approximately $800 million even before the two major parties choose their nominees for the November ballot.
Are "regular people," who have trouble making ends meet, increasing their credit card debt to make a $100 donation to Barack Obama?

Nationwide, the use of revolving credit — fueled largely by credit cards — kept increasing throughout 2007, according to a recent consumer credit report by the Federal Reserve. Use of revolving credit rose 11.3% in November. In comparison, revolving credit increased 6.1% in 2006 and 3.1% in 2005.

How do people who have amassed $2.5 TRILLION in consumer debt fund $800 million in political donations during a PRIMARY election season? Are they skimping on groceries? What's going on here?

Maybe, the economy isn't that bad? Maybe the donors aren't "regular people"?

01 April 2008

IO, IO, It's off to blog I go!

Jay Rosen pointed me to a blog post over at Noah Shachtman's Danger Room called Military Report: Secretly 'Recruit or Hire Bloggers'.

Oooooh, scary. Shachtman even links to a .zip file copy of the report at cryptome.org! [Because, uh, it's not publicly available at the JSOU publications site with a public distribution? Why, yes it is!]

If you don't know anything about blogs, blog metrics (i.e. sites like technorati) or have never heard of the web's power law (or long tail, which isn't mentioned in the report), then this might be an OK primer. The only eye-catching part of the first 18 pages of the report, for me anyway, was a graphic of Peretti/Bennett's micro-middle-mass media ecology ("infosphere" in the report).

If you do know that stuff, fast forward to page 19, Implications for Influence Operations. Influence Operations are a subset of Information Operations (IO) and are not unique to the military. For example, "culture jamming" is a form of influence operations. So is advertising. Military Information Operations have been around for a while and I'd argue the military was slow to notice the blogosphere. Starting on page 19 of the report, there's about 7 pages of reading pertaining to blogs and IO. Here's a paragraph from the report's conclusion:

One of the significant limitations of this paper, as an initial foray into military use of the blogosphere, is that much of the information available concerns American blogs, run by Americans, largely for an American audience. Military use of the blogosphere must necessarily focus on foreign blogs, bloggers and audiences. However, because some factors, such as the scale-free nature of the Internet and the psychological basis of influence are universals, we hope to lay a general basis for military use of the blogosphere that can be adapted to specific tactical circumstances by information operators.
I don't think Shachtman's post does a good job of representing the report or informing anyone about IO. For example, Shachtman quotes from the report, "clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers" and "Hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering." He even provides a long blockquote, with a very strange ellipsis! Below I've provided the preceding paragraph and the first paragraph of Shachtman's blockquote, in italics, with the ellipsis removed:
This discussion of communities leads us to another point of difficulty in using blogs for IO. Segmentary opposition and its gentler cousin, in-group/out-group dynamics, may prevent a foreign audience from taking an overtly U.S. government-run or sponsored blog seriously. Even American blogs show a high incidence of ethnic clustering,39 and the deep-seated fissures between major tribal groups, and often between subgroups, frequently define traditionally tribal societies like those in Afghanistan. Even if there is no widespread preconception about U.S. use of propaganda, it may be easy for foreign audiences to dismiss the U.S. perspective with “Yes, but you aren’t one of us, you don’t really understand us.”

In this regard, information strategists can consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other persons of prominence already within the target nation, group, or community to pass the U.S. message. In this way, the U.S. can overleap the entrenched inequalities and make use of preexisting intellectual and social capital. Sometimes numbers can be effective; hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering.40 On the other hand, such operations can have a blowback effect, as witnessed by the public reaction following revelations that the U.S. military had paid journalists to publish stories in the Iraqi press under their own names.41 People do not like to be deceived, and the price of being exposed is lost credibility and trust. [emphasis mine]
Does that make a difference? I kept the endnotes and linked them because I thought you might enjoy Daniel (of Fake Steve Jobs fame) Lyons' screed linked from endnote 40. I don't know why it didn't get linked by Shachtman in the blockquote. Strangely, Shachtman did link to a NYT story about the Iraqi press roughly corresponding to endnote 41 which, if I was Mark Mazzetti or Borzou Daragahi, I'd be a little upset.

Anyway, I read Danger Room occasionally and sometimes enjoy it. This one, not so much. If you are interested in blogs that cover IO well, I'd recommend SWJ or MountainRunner. You might also be interested in the University of Nebraska at Omaha blog: Information Warfare Online Resources.

Thanks for the pointer, Jay!

Propaganda: Can a Word Decide a War?
A culture of information empowerment down to the lowest levels needs to be inculcated among senior government officials, permitting for clear guidance provided to subordinates, risk mitigation procedures established, and, perhaps most importantly, acceptance that this will not be a zero-defect undertaking.

Winning hearts, minds, trust, and credibility, in the end, requires a local approach. Consider a major US metropolitan area. Neighborhoods take on their own personalities, driven by socio-economic factors and ethnic and racial identity, among other considerations. Value sets are different among the diversity of communities that make up the melting pot that is a large American city. It should not be difficult then to understand how it is nearly impossible to influence perceptions among audiences in a foreign country with a “one size fits all” set of messages and actions. Long-term US presence and engagement in foreign nations allows for a deeper understanding of cultural differences. These cultural underpinnings combined with the hard work of relationship building allow for effective tailoring of messages and the successful identification of key influencers. Engagement is the key whether it is by US soldiers in their area of operations, diplomats on Provincial Reconstruction Teams, US Agency for International Development workers, or nongovernmental organizations.32 Where no US presence exists, efforts must include recruiting key individuals for US exchange programs, people who will tell this nation’s story upon their return home.

27 March 2008

Saddam and Terrorism

The Iraqi Perspectives Project -- Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents

Ansar al-Islam (Iraq, Islamists/Kurdish Separatists )

The Enemy of My Enemy: The Odd Link Between Ansar al-Islam, Iraq and Iran

Jamaat al-Tawhid wa'l-Jihad
/ Unity and Jihad Group
Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad in Bilad al-Rafidayn
(Organization of Jihad's Base in the Country of the Two Rivers)

24 March 2008

Honoring Weingarten's Humor

o s, s brtu dytpmh [rtdpm/

p,h yjsy esd gimmu@ omg that was funny!

230 for pundustry. (0.10 seconds)

Rush Limbaugh is a Deweyan Democrat!

Out of Print

... The rise of what has come to be known as the conservative “counter-establishment” and, later, of media phenomena such as Rush Limbaugh, on talk radio, and Bill O’Reilly, on cable television, can be viewed in terms of a Deweyan community attempting to seize the reins of democratic authority and information from a Lippmann-like √©lite.

A liberal version of the Deweyan community took longer to form, in part because it took liberals longer to find fault with the media....
What Will Be the Fate of Newspapers?
The problem with journalism is that journalists too often create only one narrative per news event, thus they alienate those who do not see themselves in the story or, as is the case now, see themselves as empowered to construct their own narratives.
Previous: Lippman-Dewey Blogosphere
What matters isn't who "wins" or "loses" but the quality of deliberation among governors and between governors and the governed. This is where the political contest narrative breaks down. Where politics stops being about campaigns and focuses on governance. This is the dark matter in modern mass media, the lost art of journalism, press politics as it should be, and where republicans and Deweyan democrats among the governors and governed meet to deliberate unnoticed and in defiance of the "patterns of public thinking at a mass social level" (Deliberative Democracy Defended: A Response To Posner’s Political Realism, Robert B. Talisse, 2005)