Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

December 31, 2004

I got it

Filed under: General — Bunker @ 7:48 pm

Birdie and his lovely bride are here for the weekend. He leaves for an encore performance in Afghanistan in April. She is due to deliver our grandchild in May. Therefore, they are here scouting out apartments so I can spoil that child before Birdie gets home.

For Christmas they gave me a gift card for Barnes&Noble. Today I used it to buy:

I’m first. I got to the store and right in the front door, prominently displayed, was Bill Clinton’s book. No Blog in sight. I went to the counter and asked about it. The young lady finally determined the book had just arrived this morning, and went to the back room to get me a copy. As this is the only major bookstore in town, I’m assuming I have the first copy in Corpus Christi–unless, of course, someone already ordered it through the net.

I’ve already read two chapters. It is very good, and the explanations of how the blogosphere took on Lott, Raines, Kerry, and Rather are compiled well. The most interesting observation I have thus far is that the partisanship in the blogosphere showed up not when Lott was attacked, but when Raines and Kerry were.

Obvious conclusion left up to the reader.

December 30, 2004

Moral Authority?

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 6:48 pm

If this isn’t the most arrogant thing I’ve seen in some time from a UN official:

“It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”

The complaint? The US and several other real nations are grouping together to provide aid to tsunami victims without going through the UN first. You know, greasing the proper palms and all that.

New Year, New Government

Filed under: International — Bunker @ 11:39 am

Yasser Alaskary of the Iraqi Prospect Organisation is concerned that the US, at Colin Powell’s insistence, may place several Sunnis on the new National Assembly regardless of the voters’ selections. The reason?

  • They claim to represent at least 53% of Iraq and so anything less than a majority in parliament will still be regarded as under-representation.
  • The ordinary Sunni population will not feel any loyalty towards their ‘representatives’ as they will not have voted them in the very same cloud that hangs over the current interim government.
  • Those who will be appointed under an enforced percentage will continue to be considered traitors and collaborators by the Arabic media, the Baath Party, and the Salafis – the three pillars constituting the insurgency.

On the other side…

Making up 65% of the population, Shias feel they were given the short end of the stick in the Governing Council and current government percentages, but despite this, they have been patient in awaiting the elections and allowing democracy to dictate Iraq’s future.

To be sure, we can anticipate pronouncements by such luminaries as Jimmy Carter that the election is somehow invalid. Some group, probably Sunni, will claim they don’t have sufficient representation in the new National Assembly. But projections are for some 84% of eligible Iraqis to vote. When the number is smaller than that due to intimidation in Sunni strongholds, who is to blame?

The US, of course.

And that is what the jihadists want. Ralph Peters has a good article, Osama’s Nightmare, on what this election really means in the Big Picture.

The only thing of which we may be certain is that our deadliest enemies are doing all they can to stop Iraq’s elections. It’s the one goal on which the various terrorist factions and insurgent groups agree. If we needed any further proof that our struggle against terror is about human freedom and the dignity of the common man and woman, our enemies are laying it in front of us.

With democracy breaking out all over, now is not the time to go wobbly and cede to demands by those removed from power. We must show strength of character and make sure the average Iraqi understands we are there to give him voice, not subvert it in favor of whiners around the world.

Cannon Fodder No More

Filed under: Military,Society-Culture — Bunker @ 7:44 am

Nearly a year ago I wrote about the differences between people who are smart and those who are simply intelligent. I went back to read that post again this morning because of something that came to mind after hearing Lago mention he would have MajorDad on with him this morning by phone. Jim says he was impressed with a post on minimum wages which he considered to be definitive.

That made me think, which has been a chore recently. And it sent me back to that post to clear my mind a bit before deciding what to write.

I have heard many times in my life from many different directions that people in the military are somehow intellectually challenged. The words stupid and loser are sometimes salted throughout commentary. I want to challenge that. And I believe I am imminently qualified to do so.

Let’s simply consider a group of young men and women who graduated from college four years ago. If anyone bothered to collect a broad cross-section of those new graduates and compared their knowledge at that point and then compared them today, there would be a significant difference between two primary groups: those who went to work in the private sector or went on to get graduate degrees and those who chose to enter the military.

I see a lot of heads nodding in agreement right now. Some who are nodding believe those who went into business or education would blow the military folks away intellectually. Others are nodding because they understand the truth.

What is that truth? Those who enter the civilian workforce tend to expand their knowledge in their field of endeavor–and often become very good at it. For the first four or five years after graduation, their focus is on improving those skills, because that’s where personal progress is.

The group that enters the military does the same. They learn their particular craft to the best of their ability. But they also have other requirements of the profession, and those skills are developed just as strongly. This is called Professional Military Education. It encompasses everything from public speaking and writing to practical psychology and sociology. It also includes analytical history and management. And it is all taught in real-world application. The education a military officer gets from college is a very simple beginning for the much broader practical education in dealing with people from all backgrounds and cultures. Within that, their military specialty is but a small part. At USAFA there is a statue of an eagle and her offspring which the cadets all the “Knowledge is good” statue. The quote on it is “Man’s flight through life is sustained by the power of his knowledge.” Education and practical learning are emphasized throught the military. Every installation has an education office and access to all forms of learning.

I’ll be the first to admit that my skills as an engineer are less than those I graduated with. They focused on engineering after graduation. I couldn’t. It was important, but simply a part of what I was expected to know. But I was one of the best aircraft maintenance managers in the world, leading some of the best aircraft mechanics in the world. And a pretty good engineer on top of that.

Okay. Some will now say I’m talking simply about officers. What about the enlisted slime? Well, I were one. For eleven years. Later, I was in charge of over 300. Many of those had a year or two of college behind them and joined the military out of boredom with school. Most were enrolled in some kind of educational program, working on a degree or some technical skill they could use when they separated. I had several senior NCOs with college degrees, and one with multiple graduate degrees.

But that is simply their formal education. They also had professional military education programs which differed little from those for officers. At NCO Leadership School when I was an E-5 our management section of the course was derived from a graduate school management course.

But the technical aspect of military jobs is also pretty strenuous. A tanker must know how to operate, maintain, and effectively use his M1A2 tank. Everything. My helicopter maintenance course included not just nomenclature and tool use, but the aerodynamics of helicopter flight–how do all these parts work together to make it fly. And infantrymen are no longer simply cannon fodder. Some of the brightest young men you’ll ever meet carry an M16. They know people and societies, and can work with a team in ways civilians cannot even grasp.

I’m not saying those in the military are the smartest group on Earth…. Yes, I am. As a group. There are geniuses, and there are idiots in the military. I’ve managed to discharge some of those idiots and promote some of those geniuses.

The military is not a refuge for incompetents. It is not society’s trash heap. In general, it is populated by people with a far broader education than you will find anywhere else, and a worldview that is far more inclusive than that of our friends on the far left. And that broader practical learning experience makes them smart, and not simply intelligent. That opportunity is lacking in civilian life and must be actively sought. Not everyone has that ambition. In a military career, there is no choice. Learn, or leave.

Man’s flight through life is sustained by the power of his knowledge.

December 29, 2004


Filed under: Media — Bunker @ 5:12 pm

Unless you know of what you write, and have the skill to express that knowledge very well, it is best not to take on the guys at PowerLine, or their friends.

Nick Coleman should quit while he’s behind.


From Hugh:

Note to producers of cable shows that would like an audience: Book the Powerline guys and invite Coleman and Jim Boyd. Spread plastic. Tell the blogosphere. Watch the ratings rise.


Filed under: International — Bunker @ 2:25 pm

Aljazeera reports that Saddam Hussein has added an additional member to his defense team:

Ziad Khasawna said on Wednesday that Clark, who held the office of attorney-general under US president Lyndon Johnson, had “honoured and inspired” the legal team by agreeing to help defend Saddam.

Ramsey Clark will probably coordinate all the other anti-American efforts in what is sure to be a trial focusing on US gangsterism.

Comment Closures

Filed under: Society-Culture — Bunker @ 11:54 am

Dave Nalle visited a liberal blog and tried to enter into discussion in a comment thread. When he returned later to read another post, he found he had been banned from the site and could no longer comment.

I’ve also been posting to blogs for a long, long time, and I certainly don’t agree with a lot of things I see even on conservative blogs, but no one has ever banned me or deleted one of my comments anywhere except on a blog run by liberals. This set me to wondering just exactly what liberals are trying to do with their blogs.

One of Dave’s commenter took issue with him that:

I think your jeremiad is slightly too broad.

Why is that always the response when someone criticizes? Did Dave need to review every single liberal site to see if what he believed was true? When I say something about reporters, does that mean I am talking about every one who ever put pen to paper? Dave is trying to address something he has noticed, and asks himself why what he has seen is prevalent. The reaction is defensive. “Not everyone is like that! Conservative blogs like PowerLine don’t even have comments.”

Dave has some interesting thoughts on the subject, and the comment thread is pretty good once you get past some of the childishness that sometimes (How many times? Do I need to do an in-depth survey to determine the percentages?) interjects itself into any discourse.

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