May 2009 Archives

Memorial Day Service

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The Greater Starkville Development Partnership Memorial Day Service went very well today. It took a little while to get the sound ysem working (a problem when you only do it once a year) but then it went well.

The keynote speaker was Colonel Gary E. Huffman, Mississippi Army National Guard, Rear Detachment Commander, 155th Brigade Combat Team. He did a nice job and shared a sentiment I have often shared with others. Heroes are the ones who pick up a weapon and fight the enemy; heroes are not football players, movie stars, or politicians.

The rain held off for the most part until near the end when we were laying wreaths at the monument. I rushed thingsalongas much as I could to try and get everyone out as soon as possible. Of course,a few minutes later the rain stopped.

Many thanks to those on the Military Affaris Committee and the GSDP who made this possible.

One of the interesting things about my job is that I get to deal with many students, prospective students, and their parents. Over the years I have been asked and answered many questions, some really good, some really bad, and some questions repeatedly crop up. When I dig down I often find that the students and the parents really have no reason for asking the question other than they think they should ask it. They often ask fairly complicated questions and expect a simple one- or two-word answer. I have also detected shift in attitude and now some students, and their parents, think deciding on a college education is the equivalent of comparison shopping at Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

Over the next little while I think I will address some of these common questions here. Perhaps they will help others looking for a college to really think about what they are asking and to have a better understanding of the answers they are given.

Senator Tom Harkin (D(of course)-IA) wants to close Gitmo and move the terrorist to jail in the continental United States. He claims that the maximum security prisons in Iowa seem to hold criminals quite well and there should be no worry about the terrorists now at Gitmo escaping from prisons in Iowa. The good Senator fails to realize that there is a difference, a major difference, between a common criminal and a Gitmo terrorist. That difference being a worldwide network of fellow terrorist who might, just might, take it upon themselves to liberate said prisoners from said prisons.

In no way am I attempting to denigrate the abilities of the prison officials in Iowa or any other state, but there is a huge difference between keeping a murderer in prison and keeping a dedicated group of suicide bombers out. What is to keep other terrorist from heading to a town that hosts a prison and taking a few hostages and demanding the release of the terrorists held inside?

If housing these terrorist in prisons is what needs to be done then the strategically smart thing to do is to place them not in one prison inside the United States but rather to place them in multiple prisons inside the United States. This then eliminates he easy win of attacking one prison and securing the release of multiple prisoners. This then also would require the approval of the Senators of the many states to go along with it and that I think is very unlikely. So perhaps Gitmo may be the best solution after all.

But I admit, I do grow tired of politicians getting on the television and radio and describing what should be done with no action. If losing Gitmo is really what Senator Harkin wants then he need only introduce a bill in the Senate requiring that Gitmo be closed and all the prisoners be transferred to Iowa. Should he do that then it will be up to his successor to return the accused terrorist to some other place--for surely he would be defeated at the polls in the next election.

"Aide Quits Over New York Flyover", by. Christopher Conkey, Wall Street Journal, V. CCLIII, N. 108, Saturday/Sunday 09-10 May 2009, p. A-3.

The "panic" in New York by a low flying aircraft has caused White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera to resign. I understand his desire to take the heat for the administration but president Obama should not have accepted it. In the grand scheme of things this was a minor incident and Obama should have said enough is enough. Instead he has not sent a message that if you make a mistake it is your head he wants. Better to accept resignations than to face up to the press and tell them calm down.

It also makes me glad I don't live in New York. What happened to the heroic action we saw just a few years ago? New York needs them back.

Kindle DX

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Amazon announced the new Kindle DX today. Engadget did a great job blogging about it during the press conference on Wednesday, 06 May 2009.

I love new gadgets but I will most likely pass on the DX for now. I am still happy with my Kindle 2 and have no trouble reading books or newspapers on it.

U.S. Navy Readiness Flaws Exposed, by Philip Ewing, Defense News, 27 April 2009

Straight from the Top, by. Andrew Scutro, Navy Times, V. 58, N 33, 11 May 2009

There has been much in the news of late about the readiness of the U. S. Navy's fleet as well as the desire to have parts of INSURV inspection kept secret. I've never formally served on an INSURV team but I did tag along with them a few years back while doing an inspection as part of NAVSEA. What I saw truly impressed me.

Having INSURV find something deficient is not necessarily a bad thing. These Sailors are trained to find all kinds of things. I am confident they could find problems in a car as it rolls off the assembly line. In some cases they do find serious problems that need to be addressed. Many times they find things are simply not perfect. Given the ships they have inspected are operating I suspect their findings have been somewhat overblown.

However, as the CNO points out, we need to look at how maintenance dollars are being spent, or are not being spent. Maintenance is always a tough sell. New products--ships, cars, buildings, or houses--are always more attractive when they are new, not when they are maintained. Ask and development officer on any university campus how hard it is to sell maintenance to donors. They all want their names on a new building, not on new plumbing.

The issue of keeping parts of INSURV reports classified is a no brainer. Those arguing to keep them all public are simply misinformed or ignorant of the very real threat that exists. I can only assume they would argue for homeowners to make public their security inspection reports public indicating that the window alarm on the window on the back of the house next to the kitchen is not working.

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