Thursday, April 24, 2008

Called Back to Active Duty!!!! 
Well, for the next couple of weeks anyway.

Slim to no blogging until the 10th of May.

Thanks for checking in, and I'll see you after Annual Training, 08!!!! (Woohoo!!!!)


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Petraeus Picked 
The AP headline reads "Gen. Petraeus named as next commander of Mideast command."

Memo to AP's copy desk and intrepid staff of fact checkers: There's no such thing as "Mideast command." It's CENTCOM, or Central Command, which includes a hell of a lot more than the Mideast.

The reporter got it right.

Editors, how many veterans have you hired in your newsroom?

Splash, out


Labels: ,

Comment of the day 
Today's comment of the day comes from "brooksfoe," a regular commenter at Megan McArdle's blog:

Steenwyk, why do you use the word "warrior"? It is anachronistic and not a good fit with the tasks or responsibilities of most US military personnel. It also sounds somewhat childish.

You can find my response there.

Splash, out


Labels: ,

Libtard on the loose 
One of Megan McArdle's commenters writes:

I think a lot of folks who join the military (not to mention police officers and prison guards) have authoritarian or sadistic tendencies which in turn increase the probability of war crimes being committed, especially given the stress of being under fire, in a strange land, among hostile locals.
What would you expect from people who sign up for a job where you maim and kill people you don't even know, just because someone else told you to do it?
(sorry if I offend anyone; I know a few of you just signed up for the tuition support or needed the money and got more than you bargained for)

Aside from being a bigoted numbnut on a level that Senator Strom Thurmond could only dream of (the only difference being the target of his prejudice), this statement is also asinine on top of that: The supposed "authoritarian or sadistic tendencies" increase the probability of war crimes being committed over what? An Army comprising nonmilitary types? How stupid is this guy?

Second, as far as I'm concerned, this twit can take that half-assed, condescending apology at the end, and shove it up his ass.

This pink-pantied bigot probably never met a warrior in his pathetic, sheltered, life. If he did, he didn't know it.

But... but... but... they support the troops!

Splash, out


The libtard commenter confirms my suspicions! Scroll down for this hilarious confession:

It's also true that I don't know very many folks in the military, save for my late grandfather who was in the Navy back in World War II. He never talked about it much, but I know that it left its interminable mark on him (I always would come across guns and knives hidden around my grandparents house in the strangest places as a kid). My grandfather nonwithstanding, I don't think military folks and I really see eye to eye, so I keep my distance.

Yeah, you best do that, you pathetic little weasel.

Labels: ,

A couple hundred of the greatest baseball plays of all time.

Part of the fun is looking for the plays that didn't make the cut. Maybe it's me, but I didn't see Brooks Robinson in there.

Other great moments:

Ted Williams' home run in his last at bat.
Babe Ruth calls the shot
Any one of a thousand great Ricky Henderson steals
Jackie Robinson stealing home
Lou Gehrig's farewell speech at Yankee Stadium
Rick Monday's dramatic home run against the Expos in the 1980 National League playoffs (yes, I'm a die hard Dodger fan)

Many wonderful, wonderful plays, though. Enjoy the memories.

Splash, out



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today's Incompetent Media Laugh Line ... 
...comes via Dean Esmay, commenting on Kevin Drum's headscratcher:

The New York Times reports that Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army has mostly melted away in Basra. Nobody quite knows why

I'll leave the richly-deserved bitch-slapping to Esmay:

Nobody knows why?? Let me hazard a guess, Kevin: it may have something to do with the thousands of Iraqi Army troops flooding the city with tanks, helicopters and armored vehicles, not to mention the accompanying U.S. forward air controllers calling down death from above. Just an idea.

It gets better. Read the whole thing.

Via Ace.

Is total drooling stupidity a prerequisite for being a leftard? Or do they simply offer bonus points for moronitude?

Splash, out


UPDATE: Don't miss this: Drum, who just tried to argue that Sadr isn't backed by Iran, is disinclined to criticize Iran, a mortal enemy of humanity, liberty and reason, and who is a known state sponsor of hundreds of lethal terror attacks against civilians, on the off chance that such criticism might help Bush.

He flat out says so, the scumsucking weasel.

I guess that's the kind of intellectual honesty it takes to make it at the Washington Monthly, these days.

Labels: , ,

Pentagon Briefings of Retired Officer Talking Heads 
The usual reliable dolts are making much hay out of the fact that the retired military officers that are frequently used as sources and talking heads on news programs get the occasional briefing from the Pentagon.

Those who believe that this is somehow awful are simply confirming every suspicion of their own paranoid, simpering ignorance.

News flash: We have a professional military, led by professional and trained officers. Everyone who makes enough rank to be sought after by news programs has been through months or even years of specialized training in a variety of military schools - from the old Command and Staff course and Advanced Courses (now called the Captains Career Course) through the War College.

This is on top of decades of personal experience planning and leading operations from platoon to corps level, and on top of decades of personal study of military history, and decades of engaging discussion with other professionals equally committed to the profession of arms, each of whom are themselves committed to the study of the history of arms and the lessons learned therefrom.

The reason the Pentagon likes to brief up this small community of retired officers is that compared to the simpering ignorance of your typical journalist covering our military and our operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, is that they don't have to waste their time answering dumbass "gotcha" questions from showboating reporters who couldn't pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written under the heel, when it comes to understanding and contextualizing our operations in the war on terror. Instead, the Pentagon briefers are able to deal with these retired officers on a professional level, and deal in advanced topics, contextualization, and complexity.

Anyone who bothered to give two minutes thought to the topic would immediately recognize that when the Pentagon briefs these retired professionals - giving them the opportunity to ask the questions a professional would ask prior to going on television - the quality and reliability of their analysis goes UP, not down. The result is a public that is BETTER informed, not less informed, as a result of these briefings.

I am sympathetic to the argument that where a retired officer has an interest in a contractor with a vested interest in the War on Terror, that should be disclosed. However, the failure to inform the viewer of those possible conflicts are not the fault of the Pentagon nor those talking heads. They are ENTIRELY the responsibility of the news organization to uncover and disclose, and any competent reporter or producer using one of these talking heads as background would make it a point to inquire about what business interests the source might have in slanting their outlook one way or another.

But competence, apparently, is a lot to ask of the news media these days.

Apparently, though, twits like Greenwald would prefer that these sources go without access to the Pentagon, and that their information be based entirely on informal and unaccountable contacts in country (with conflicts of their own), and the incompetent coverage of the news media.

To hell with that.

Let the briefings continue, and let the reporters do their jobs!

Splash, out


Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dateline's 'gotcha' on annuity salesmen misses the mark 
A couple of people, aware of my longstanding interest in personal finance issues, tipped me off to this recent Dateline piece, purportedly exposing the deceptive sales practices of salesmen hawking a product called 'equity-indexed annuities.'

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with well-meaning idiots in the national media trying to cover personal finance, the special does more harm than good.

How can I tell? The comments - riddled with commenter after commenter who watched the show, which latched onto the surrender-charge issue and made no mention of the substantial risk management properties of annuities, and came to the conclusion "annuity salesman BAD."

That's just absurd.

The result, I fear, will be thousands of unsophisticated investors across the country who got a bad taste in their mouths for annuities based on the show - and who would be vastly better off using annuities in their retirement plans than relying on brokers and mutual fund salesmen, whose sum total of response to longevity risk - the risk that a retiree will outlive his or her means - with, get this, a "Monte Carlo simulation."

Feel lucky punk?

Well, do ya?

One of the major shifts in my thinking over the past five years has been my gradual conversion from a mutual fund, low-expense purist (learned while writing for a magazine called Mutual Funds in which we barely touched annuities and insurance issues for retirement) to the belief that the insurance salesmen had it right all along: Our average senior has no business trying to accept longevity risk, and should seek to transfer the risk of outliving his or her income to a solid insurance company in exchange for a premium, so long as that premium is reasonable.

This is particularly true as life expectancy continues to increase, and PARTICULARLY true now that traditional, defined benefit pensions have become somewhat of a rarity in the private sector.

My criticism with Dateline isn't that annuity sales practices don't deserve serious scrutiny. It's that the Dateline scrutiny was so unfocused, lazy and glancing that thousands will draw the wrong conclusions.

Chris Hansen, the reporter on Dateline, focuses on the vagueness with which these salesmen in the show deal with the surrender charge. But in several cases, the salesman does indeed mention the surrender period, and in one case, where the salesman shows the prospect the brochure (I assume with a graph or table explaining the surrender period) is even specific about the percentage - for which he is soundly castigated by the state AG for not spending enough time on it.

But the sales presentation was artificially cut short by Gibson walking in in the middle of it. That's nonsense. The required disclosures are typically made AFTER a fact-finding (don't know how much fact-finding was done in any of these cases before the product was presented), and AFTER a product recommendation, and frequently on a disclosure sheet, where the client signs off, initialing on several lines to acknowledge that items such as 'no bank guarantee', 'no government guarantee' fees and surrender charges have been disclosed.

I've never sold a financial product, other than equipment leases, but I did just that on every lease application. Every client applying for credit, for example, had to sign off that he acknowledged a personal guarantee and that the lease was noncancellable.

Therefore, I'm not at all convinced that these guys were unscrupulous. Actually, I am inclined to believe that the salesman who made the pitch to Aunt Alice was absolutely on the up-and-up. But Chris Hansen has a scoop to make - and he's more than willing to damage someone's career in order to make it.

In another case, the first salesman responded to an inquiry about the surrender period (the specific question was as a result of a medical problem) by bringing up a health or long term care policy.

Chris Hansen accused him of trying to sell "more insurance." Well, no shit, sherlock. Imagine an insurance salesman trying to sell insurance! Perish the thought! Except that in this case, a long term care policy may well have been warranted. If I were the elderly gentleman and I could get it, I'd be inclined to snap that up!

Well, if the client is worried about having to access the money during the surrender period as a result of a health problem or nursing home need, and the insurance salesman can prevent that by layering an LTC or health policy that would prevent that eventuality from happening, then that salesman is hardly guilty of doing anything wrong, in my opinion. If an EIA makes sense except for a surrender period, and the purchase of an LTC policy or health policy that can protect the policy holder during the surrender period that he would probably need ANYWAY will prevent that, then the insurance salesman is doing his job: Coming up with solutions that protect the client from risks he cannot afford to bear.

Sorry - I don't believe that salesman deserved the "catch a predator" treatment, based on what I saw.

Had he been able to finish the presentation, and still didn't disclose the surrender charges, then Dateline would have had a case. But Hanson was too interested in playing 'gotcha' than in accurately portraying the situation.

The only really unforgiveable douchebaggery I saw in the Dateline piece was the one on FDIC's F- minus credit rating (a bald-faced lie, though FDIC does have its limitations), and the custom-published magazine that puts the advisor's face on the cover of a fake magazine.

But here's a newsflash: Almost every advisor out there sends periodic newsletters to their clients. You think your insurance guy has the time or inclination to write his own newsletter? Unless he's an independent, chances are he doesn't. He's not even allowed to. The compliance goons prohibit it.

Instead, the home office contracts with a marketing or custom publishing company and they crank out the newsletters for every advisor in the country. They change the blackplate and stick the advisor's pic and phone number in the corner, and out they go, to an excel spreadsheet with the advisor's mailing list on it.

It's got to be this way. Think the compliance offices at Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Hilliard Lyons, Farmers Financial, or Travelers Insurance Group want to deal or have time to deal with all 10 thousand agents writing their OWN newsletters?

And those are just the newsletters I used to ghost write for advisors, personally.

I don't have a particular problem with that.

I do, however, have a problem with the magazine practice as portrayed in the Dateline special. That's just a flat-out misrepresentation on the part of the scumweasel advisor, and I wouldn't do business with someone like that.

Also noteworthy are the ghostwritten books out there. Many times a financial advisor will attend a seminar, pay a fee, and get a credential - doesn't matter which one - and as a perk he gets a book...a whole book! ... with his byline on it, and that he didn't write. He's trying to pass himself off as a published author.

I hate that shit, because I actually HAVE been published in Annuity Selling Guide, Senior Market Advisor, Bankrate, Mutual Funds, Registered Representative, and a number of other places, and I worked my ass off on those pieces!

Full disclosure: I am studying to get my own insurance license now. No, I never took a class from an insurance agency. Long time readers know I've been planning on hanging out a shingle for some time, and I'm laying the groundwork to do just that. The difference now is I'm leaning more towards the insurance side than the investment side.

Successful financial advisors of all stripes tend to make rather more than successful copywriters and reporters, anyway.

Splash, out


Labels: , ,

I have GOT to get me one of these!!!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yeah, light posting lately 
No reason... just been busy like crazy. Stay tuned!

The Witch Hunt over BitterGate 
Jay Rosen's been killing my comments, so I'm posting this comment here so he can't censor me.

I'm just surprised at how this is being played out among liberal (that is, media) circles.

Huffington Post and Fowler did everything exactly right (except maybe wait a little too long to publish.) Fowler's news judgement was dead on. Fowler broke the rules? What rules? The fact that anyone among Obama's sympathizers (not his campaign, which was smart enough not to wade into this thicket) thinks that a citizen is subject to "rules" about what they may or may not blog on simply demonstrates the left's unerring instinct for fascism. And so Fowler is subjected to the withering howling of the lefties of the left - a series of rhetorical attacks so vicious that Marc Cooper calls it a gang rape of the reporter who broke the story.

I think Jay and Fowler are spot on.

These issues of character and outlook are huge issues - and in a race between "Left and Lefter," those issues of temperament and outlook are fundamental differentiators between the two candidates.

And yes, pluk, they are at least as relevant as the decades old Bush-National Guard issue you and Mary Mapes have been hunting like a white whale for years.

It's not just the rabble-rousers soiling themselves, though. Journos In The Tank for Obama (JITTO, who's members I'll refer to as "jittoheads") have also taken a swan dive into the dung heap with this hysterical Open Letter to ABC.

Yes, journos are more than willing to eat their own young when any of them depart from Obamadorthoxy. So now who's practicing rollback, Jay?

Contrary to the opinions of the reliable idiots of the coastal media centers, reporting on Obama's ties to Ayers and his words concerning the supposedly embitterered rural voters that inhabit the downslope of BO's nose does not constitute 'tabloid journalism,' as the libtard signatories of the open letter claim. And Fowler and Huffpo were not practicing tabloid journalism in bringing those words to the public eye.

Both stories, but particularly Fowler's, speak directly to Obama's electability - which if I were a Democratic primary voter, I'd definitely want to explore, lest we make a mistake of electing another Kerry.

BO's words have a significant bearing on his prospects for winning Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Mexico, and Michigan in a general election. John McCain will not make Obama's rookie political mistakes.

Similarly (though tangentally), Hillary's bald-faced, shameless lying about the Tuzla sniper fire speaks directly to her credibility as commander in chief. I wrote when CBS broke the story that I considered her words to be a slap in the face to everyone who had REALLY dodged sniper fire and IEDs in the service of this country (not to mention the people of Bosnia), and I thought it was an absolutely legitimate story, and certainly a better use of time than blowing 10 minutes on the minute distinctions between one universal health care plan and the other (when both variations will have to be compromised to pass the Senate, anyway).

ABC got it right. Huffpo got it right. And even though Obama screwed up, the campaign got it right when they acknowledged that everything at the fundraiser was 'on the record.'

What's more, Jay got it right. Credit where due.

The shameful attacks on Fowler are inexcuseable, while the hysterics of the Nation/Mother Jones/In These Times/Alternet axis of aggrievement are comedic gold.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The First White Rapper? 
So a Blondie song, Rapture, came on XM radio here in the office today, and us creative dweebs were wondering among ourselves who the first white rapper was?

I suggested Woodie Guthrie, but this was way cooler.

The modulations and low brass parts rawk!

Labels: ,

No Greater Love 
Rest in Peace, Michael Monsoor.

By spring 2006, Monsoor was deployed to Ramadi in Iraq's dangerous, then-al-Qaida dominated Anbar Province, as an automatic weapons gunner and communications operator — a double assignment that often landed him more than 100 pounds of gear to carry in the hot desert.

In May, Monsoor ran through heavy enemy fire to pull a wounded SEAL to safety. He earned a Silver Star, the third-highest award for combat valor, for that action.

It was only four months later, on Sept. 29, 2006, that Monsoor and his two American teammates, plus members of the Iraqi Army, were on a rooftop in a Ramadi residential area known as a stronghold for the Sunni insurgency. They were providing early warning and sniper cover for a mission aimed at trying to clear the neighborhood.

After a long day of back-and-forth engagement and evidence that the enemy was closing them off, Monsoor and the two other SEALS moved to a confined outcropping of the roof for a better lookout position. An unseen insurgent lobbed a grenade, which hit Monsoor in the chest and landed on the floor in front of him. He yelled a warning, but quickly saw that his fellow SEALS, not positioned near the exit like he was, wouldn't be able to get clear in time. Monsoor fell onto the grenade just as it exploded, absorbing the blast with his body and dying from the injuries about 30 minutes later. Others suffered shrapnel wounds, but no one else was killed.

The Garden Grove, Calif., native, was only 25 years old.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

When I'm in my 80s 
I wanna be just like Sean Maguire!

A maverick, an innovator, and a true original.


Monday, April 07, 2008

One Perfect Day on Gordon Street 
Rest in Peace, Mr. Heston.

Best Angry Journalist Comment Ever! 
Angry Journalist #3616:

I’m angry because I got a job in Bangkok and I’m already married. And even if I wasn’t married, I spent too much time in Singapore and Indonesia being angry that I’ve surpassed my lifetime capacity to drown it all in beer and cheap women.

Dude. Teach me. Teach me to be like you.

Splash, out,


(P.S., Ace? Is that you?)

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 06, 2008

But watch:

The Huffington post uses the tragic suicide by gunshot of a young female interrogator in Iraq to score points against US soldiers - without a single, solitary shred of evidence - even of the most circumstantial kind - to tie her death to abuse of prisoners in Iraq.

There are no limits to their intellectual dishonesty.

The kicker: This isn't some random idealogue with a Huffington soapbox. The author is Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor and Publisher magazine, long a member of the Surrender-at-any-cost brigade. And he's written a book.

If this is the kind of evidence he needs to draw a conclusion in print, then thank God he's not editing a newspaper.

Splash, out


Labels: ,

Friday, April 04, 2008

Take This Hijab and Shove it: An American Anchor Quits Al Jazeera 
Dave Marash, an American who became an anchorman for Al Jazeera, explains why he left.

Labels: ,

The optimal time for sexual intercourse is 3 to 13 minutes. 
Ann Althouse suggests setting two egg timers.

I use a chess clock.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sex and the City 
Does the popular show affect consumer behavior among young women?

But really, how much influence do such shows actually have on young women? Ask Julia Allison, a 27-year-old relationship columnist and Sex and the City fan profiled last weekend by the New York Times. The article says that her devotion to the show was in part why she moved to New York City after college. She also keeps up with habits of Carrie Bradshaw, dancing at celebrity-rich clubs, throwing parties and collecting trendy shoes. The problem is that the lifestyle portrayed in the show is difficult to afford; for example, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side — where Carrie lived as a single professional on the show - - is $2,448 per month. (Indeed, Ms. Allison says even with a six-figure income, she lives in a tiny studio.)

Number one, what in the world does a 27 year old know about relationships, to add enough value to write a column.

Number two, while I hate to begrudge someone what they're making on the open market, in what universe is this young woman so much better at her job than an army of dogface reporters and editors and writers with decades more experience and insight into her beat to warrant a six-figure income?

My guess is she parlays a base salary into a few tens of thousands per year in freelance writing fees. Fair game. But what kind of person moves to New York (and becomes a relationship columnist!) to model herself after Carrie Bradshaw? Did she win some sort of drawing, or something?

I'm going to write a story on consumer debt among 20-somethings. And she's going to be my first call. I'd love to know what her credit card balance is. And show my 22 year old sister.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Upon reading the Times article profiling Allison, it's worse than I thought. Worse than I could have imagined.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

John Nagl on the way forward 
John Nagl writes up a nice op-ed in today's NY Times, on the way forward in Iraq.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Journalism Job Hunt 
Kiyoshi Martinez has great advice for college grads and 20-somethings.

Labels: ,

New York Times Hires Baathist Captain To Report News 
The good news is the New York Times finally got some military experience for its Iraq bureau.

The bad news is he's a former officer - a captain - in Saddam Hussein's bloodthirsty army.

You just can't make shit like that up if you tried.

I just dropped a note to the Times' public editor, and to another editor, Bill Borders. Specifically, I asked them how many former Saddam officers they have reporting the news for them in Iraq? I also specifically asked how many former US military they had reporting for them from Iraq.

I'll post their response when I see it.

If they ignore it, I'll post that, too.

Splash, out


Labels: ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!