Saturday, July 31, 2004

A Hog Pilot Speaks Out! 
Got this in today from a veteran A-10 Warthog pilot. Here's his response, verbatim, with my comments.

Tell me again how Hogs would:

a) Operate off helicopter fields (unimproved or inadequate for the fuel and
munitions weights required in combat...about 49,000 pounds for an A-10).
And, no, Harriers cannot operate with full combat loads either when doing
VSTOL ops. Ever notice how the Marines are buying F/A-18s?

b) Have planned depot maintenance performed at these same fields

c) Be employed across Brigade, Division and Corps boundaries (one of the
principal advantages of fixed-wing platforms, i.e., speed, range, payload
and response times)

d) Avoid the disastrous operational control policies finally and fully
repudiated (at least until they forgot) at Kasserine? (Hint: Parceling out
fixed-wing air to individual ground commanders does not work, at least not
according to Eisenhower)

e) Be transferred to the Army when that service already has an extremely
capable CAS asset (that would be Apaches) that simply hasn't been employed
effectively by Army airmen because they haven't been allowed to do so.
Their current long range strike doctrine has me licking my chops as an OPFOR
guy - radar cross section that size of a small state, paper-thin armor, a
"dash" speed that is about 10-20 knots below what I use to rotate for
takeoff...and I fly a slow jet...as a defender, I'd kill you before you got
within 10 miles of my high-value assets and, assuming you survived the
shoot-down, I'd pick you up for political exploitation because your
short-range weapons put you right next to darn near any of my maneuver units
(it's hard to glide out of harm's way, ala Scott O'Grady, when your
employment altitude is ~100 feet AGL. And don't tell me the Warfighter
exercises vindicate the tactic...the simulation algorithms are about as
accurate as a NYT poll.

Now, all that ranting aside, you are absolutely spot on about the Marine
Corps having broke the CAS/Combined Arms code. They are not perfect, but
they are a damn site better, on the whole, than the Army/Air Force team
'cause they have to be. Neither of the other two have figured that out yet
(the necessity for cooperation). I think they'll have to when the new "units
of employment" activate with less organic fires than they've had in the

On the day when Air Force guys start awarding "ace" status to air-to-mud
pilots for ground kills (read: ground attack/CAS is as important as the air
superiority mission) and the Army starts seeing the Air Force as a separate
service as legitimate as the Navy (read: these guys should be trusted as the
experts on air combat, just as the Navy is for maritime campaigns), the code
will be broken. It's a cultural issue more than anything else.

Great blog by the way...I learn a lot, enjoy your writing talents and
intellectual honesty but invite you to do a little more target study on your
sister services. I also want to thank you and your troops for acquitting
yourselves magnificently in Iraq...absolutely superb.

BTW, full disclosure: have 26 years on active duty, 2000+ hours in A/OA-10s,
served as a Corps ALO and have participated in Army/Air Force exercises and
operations in the CONUS, Alaska, Korea, Norway, Germany, Italy, Albania,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, and The Netherlands.

Friday, July 30, 2004

A View Into the Abyss 
"don't be shocked when you find out that the man they captured is not really zarqawi but a jew recruited by mossad agents."

So says a commenter on this apparently premature report of the capture of Zarqawi on the Syrian border.

All the comments are worth a look--it's a good window into the sheer venom and idiocy infecting the rest of the world.

Sy Hersh has also argued that Zarqawi doesn't exist--he's actually a composite. Of course, Sy doesn't include the bit about him being a Mossad agent, though.

But you can see how the poison seeps in through the walls.


Thursday, July 29, 2004

Email of the Day...and some suggested reforms. 
I'm a former Marine who has a lot of friends over there right now, and I read your posts fairly often to get another aspect on the war going on over there. To answer the father of that Marine who was griping about what you posted, that you posted on July 23; we are all Americans, what difference does it make what branch we serve in?

Marines and Army have different methods of operation that serve better in different areas of warfare. Army methods work better in some areas, Marine methods work better in others. But instead of arguing about who has better methods, they should get together and USE WHAT WORKS between the two of them.

Hell, I for one am extremely proud to be a Marine, and I wouldn't give it up for anything. I would also put my Marine unit against anything the USMC or US Army has to offer, along with anyone else. But when we went out on deployment, we learned from other branches how to do some things more efficiently. It was a team effort, and inter-service rivalry stayed at the rear back in the States. Regardless of which service a person works for, too much pride can and does get in the way of accomplishing the mission.

Here's to the health and continued success of our troops in Iraq and wherever else they are deployed!

Amen to that, brother.

For what it's worth, here are some ways I believe the Army will benefit by emulating the Marine Corps:

1.) Instilling a warrior ethic not just in combat arms, but in the support MOS's as well.

2.) An emphasis on outstanding marksmanship and weapons training from the first stages of training. The Marines train marksmanship on 500m known distance ranges as a matter of course. They spend much more time on weapons training, and cross training. And allocate the ammunition neccessary to support it. The Army too often treats weapons qualification as a 'check the block' exercize. Sure, Soldiers are too often inadequately cross trained on all weapons within their platoon. This takes training time and it take ammunition to do it to standard.

EVERYONE in an infantry battalion should know how to operate a .50 Cal machine gun, including immediate action drills. Not just 'selected personnel.'

But the Army does not support that level of training.

3.) The Army should drop the term "Platoon Sergeant" and adopt the term "Gunnery Sergeant" in its place, with the possible exception of mechanized units. The term "master gunner" is invaluable. As are these exceptional soldiers.

4.) Infantry units in the Army should adopt the Marine standard of a 3-mile run rather than a two mile run.

5.) The Marines do a much better job integrating close air support with maneuver units than does the Army/Air Force AirLand Battle Doctrine. The Army should develop some limited fixed wing CAS capability, either using A-10s, or Harriers which can take off from helicopter landing fields. And they should integrate the hell out of the asset.

6.) The Marines do a much better job regulating and restricting awards and decorations.

7.) The Army should return to the practice of recognizing exceptional junior enlisted soldiers with corporal ranks--the first rung on the NCO ladder.

8.) The Army should slowly reorganize back to the Regimental system, and lose these silly brigades. The revolution, the civil war, WWI, WWII, and Korea were all fought under the regimental system. Brigades just have boring histories.

The Marines never broke up their regiments, and that's a huge part of the Marine esprit de corps. Every unit has a living, breathing, palpable heritage.

That does bring up the question 'what do you do with the support battalions?'

I say, you let soldiers 'self-affiliate' with a regiment, and with the supporting Division.

Dem's my two cents.

Splash, out


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Marines Strike Back!!!! 
The father of a deployed Marine writes:

Some of your bullshit is a bit grating. The situation for Mattis changed completely halfway thru the Fallujah siege from orders at State. Believe me, you are making the USMC out as being a bit more naive than they are in reality. Mattis knows what he is doing. I won't get into the relative competence issues between Marines and Army as I don't want you to blow a carotid.

Hey, I'm just happy we now have evidence that some Marines are reading some press besides their own!!!

As for the relative competence issues between Marines and Army, well--let's see how the battle for Ar Ramadi and the Al Anbar province develops from here.

I don't really feel the need to defend my soldiers' competence vis-a-vis the Marines or anyone else. Their record in Ramadi speaks for itself. I'd put them up next to any troops--Army or Marine--in country.

The Sunnis don't respect force, they worship it. Corraled in one place, terrorists will gradually receive various types of pressure, and it will start to get more and more intense. The Sheiks will call it off once they realize that extermination of a lot of citizens is at hand--just as happened in Fallujah where they got a hall pass then they realized they were fucked. I know--my kid was right in the middle. I have some other intel that says that the haji are getting very desparate. The $$ is drying up, the Syrians are soon gonna be in a world of hurt when the sanctions go into effect, and Iran is scared shitless that the Jews are gonna go after them. Trust me, the LAT and PI are both writing 3rd hand garbage--much of which is designed to be leaked as dysinfo. Take it to the bank.

Hey, I don't take anything to the bank. I'm from Missouri. Show me.

The LA Times and Philly reports weren't 3rd hand--they were on the ground. Their knowledge is, of course, imperfect. But they don't smell like garbage to me.

Oh, and the Marines want to leak--leak what, as disinfo, exactly? That they've stopped patrolling? If they haven't stopped patrolling, everyone in Ramadi knows it. It's not like everyone in Ramadi gets the LA Times delivered to their doorsteps. The Guardian, maybe. But the LA Times can barely deliver in LA!

Splash, out


The Nation's Newspaper Editors on Bias: A Fisking 
Editor and Publisher Magazine weighs in on the Media Bias Wars. With predictable results.

As reputable polls continue to suggest that most journalists are moderate or liberal, with relatively few conservatives

“Suggest?” “Suggest???” Hell, they’re screaming it from the mountain tops. There hasn’t been a clearer communiqué since the plague of the locusts.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center, which appeared to uphold the notion of an ideological tilt in newsrooms -- both print and broadcast -- only added fuel to the fire. It suggested that self-described moderates dominate the newsroom, but liberals outnumber conservatives by a ratio of about 5-to-1 at larger print outlets and about 3-to-1 at local papers.

Well, the Pew survey didn’t “appear” to uphold anything. Its findings were conclusive, and replicates survey upon survey of similar scope and purpose which found the exact same thing.

The problem is, there’s no evidence it added fuel to the fire. If you add fuel to a fire, it generates illumination. But there’s no evidence the media profession sees any more clearly than it did before.

Journalism veterans interviewed by E&P disagree about why an ideological schism exists. Some say fewer conservatives enter journalism because the profession offers modest financial rewards and promotes aggressive questioning of the establishment.

Translation: conservatives are money hungry, and conservatives don’t question the establishment. Have you ever heard such snooty, condescending tripe?

But these same idiots who will tell you that conservatives aren’t prone to questioning the establishment will also go on to tell you at length how conservatives—including the conservative-owned media-- were brutal and merciless in exposing Bill Clinton.

But others contend that conservatives feel unwelcome in today's newsrooms because they contradict the "group think," to quote one editor.

Here we have an editor at once tacitly admitting that a “group think” does exist in newsrooms, and that conservatives—you know, as in half the country—contradict it. Watch the authors then deny it.

But if left-leaning journalists outnumber those on the right in newsrooms, what does that really mean for the end product? Can a reporter or editor be truly objective? Should they even try? What is a liberal or conservative, anyway? Do the historical definitions come even close to describing the mishmash of views many people hold?

E&P sought to probe some of these issues with a fresh eye, and with our particular audience in mind.

You know. Our particular audience. Newsroom types and publishers. That is, liberals.

Although views, of course, vary, what was most surprising in talking to editors was that, after all the controversy, so few acknowledged that a political imbalance exists at their paper or, if it does, that it was anything they were particularly concerned about or acting vigorously to correct.

Statistically, according to the Pew survey, the chances of these editors being avowed liberals is overwhelming Of course they’re not going to acknowledge that a political imbalance exists at their paper. Asking a liberal journalist whether a liberal imbalance exists at their paper, to steal a delightful analogy, is like asking a fish about water.

The majority of editors said they did not care about the ideological makeup of their staffs

It shows.

and they seemed to sincerely believe that professionalism -- their own, and their reporters' -- regularly overcomes any personal beliefs.

It’s not a matter of professional ethics. It’s a matter of intellectual framework. A Flatlander can have all the professional ethics in the world; but he will still not be able to comprehend the meaning of a three dimensional object.

We have reporters covering religion who don’t understand religion or religious Americans. We have reporters covering the military who can’t tell a soldier from a Marine from a Navy Corpsman. And we have editors and fact-checkers regularly embarrassing themselves by allowing their mistakes to slip through. A wealth of professional ethics cannot compensate for a deficit of knowledge.

In many cases, professional ethics may simply be confused with the newsroom “group think.”

and they seemed to sincerely believe that professionalism -- their own, and their reporters' -- regularly overcomes any personal beliefs.


None of the editors said they had ever asked potential reporters about their political leanings, or plan to in the future, and few believe an "ideological affirmative action program" is needed to bring more conservatives into newsrooms.

Amazing. After decades of great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over pursuing aggressive affirmative action programs in the newsroom—after years of liberals arguing that including Latins in the newsroom improves coverage of Latin American communities, that including African Americans helps with the coverage of African American communities, that including gays and lesbians improves coverage of gay and lesbian communities, that including women improves coverage and makes coverage more relevant for half of your audience in all cities (all points I agree with, and are no longer in serious debate among journalists), these knuckleheads are now going to turn around and argue that coverage of conservative communities, churches, and the military will not be materially improved by the recruiting of reporters from these communities, as well?


Evidence from polling was slow to surface until a 1981 survey of 240 journalists at national news outlets by S. Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman found that 81% of that "media elite" sample said they voted for Democratic candidates for president in every election between 1964 and 1976.

Ok. So findings have been consistant for over two decades. FOX News is kicking everybody’s ass. And journalists are still pretending the jury’s out?

Folks, the jury’s come in and long since rendered its verdict. The only reason journalists think the jury’s still out is because they aren’t even in the same district as the rest of us.

In January 1998, a survey commissioned by E&P of 167 editors around the country found much less of an imbalance, with 57% saying they voted for Clinton in 1996, versus 49% of the public. Only 14% said that journalists "often" let their opinions influence their coverage, with 57% conceding this "sometimes" happened.

So here we see a solid majority of editors flatly contradicting the idea that professional ethics is sufficient to ensure neutral reporting.

And what of the public view of all this? In September 2003, a Gallup Poll found that 60% of self-described conservatives think the news media is too liberal, as did 40% of moderates and even 18% of liberals. A growing number of liberals, about 30%, feel the media slants to the right, a view promoted by Eric Alterman in his book, What Liberal Media?

Ok. So more than two decades of studies from different sources and different methodologies show the same overwhelming imbalance, but Editor and Publisher’s going to give Alterman props over the ‘media slants to the right?’ argument?

Almost no serious American thinker really believes this. Alterman himself does’t really believes it. He concedes the liberal dominance of the newsroom on almost all the basic social issues and all the basic, shared assumptions of ‘groupthink.’

Does that mean that most media outlets are biased, and increasingly so, or just that more people today, left and right, are looking for news coverage that validates, rather than tests, their world view -- and when it doesn't, they charge "bias"?

A false controversy, wholly manufactured by the authors and those who want to obfuscate the issue. People can look for validating news all they want; it has absolutely zero bearing on the underlying bias within the newsroom. The Pew polls and other findings make no reference to the makeup of viewership or readership. Neither of these is a factor in measuring liberal newsroom dominance or its effect on coverage.

The evidence of the overwhelming dominance of liberals in the newsrooms stands on its own merits.

A more unusual theory comes from Professor David Baron of Stanford University, who in a February 2004 research paper theorized that profit-hungry news corporations tolerate leftward bias because it helps them attract liberal journalists who tend to accept working for a lower wage. Thus liberal bias "is shown to be consistent with profit maximization."

Now that’s an interesting argument.

Indeed, observes executive editor Smith of the Democrat-Gazette, "There are probably more social reformers in journalism than accountants. We tend to attract a certain kind of person."

Let’s see…it was conservatives who pushed for welfare reform. It’s conservatives pushing for tort reform, education reforms, social security reforms, and tax reforms. It’s conservatives pushing to reform abortion law and it’s conservatives pushing for the radical reform of the politics of the middle east region. But conservatives aren’t reformers. What balderdash!

Cal Thomas, known to take a conservative viewpoint now and then, backs the "unwelcome" argument, but adds that the profession "doesn't pay all that well unless you get to a certain level," discouraging many conservatives. Larry King, executive editor of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, agrees that conservatives "have more of a background that is perhaps more attuned to the financial aspects of the world."

Change the subject of King’s declaration to from “conservatives” to “Jews” and you get a sense of the speciousness and arrogance of his argument.

Gee. And I thought conservatives—particularly religious ones, were “poor, uneducated, and easy to command.”

William "Skip" Hidlay, executive editor of the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, N.J., also dismisses much of the ideological chatter, citing strong journalistic skills as the key for reporters.

Technical journalism skills are not the antidote to media bias. They can mask it somewhat, but you’re only treating the symptoms. Technical journo skills cannot help a Manhattan journalist who thinks Texans are from another planet understands, say, Evangelicals, if nobody else in the newsroom understands Evangelicals, either.

Dennis Ryerson, editor of The Indianapolis Star, says it's different, however, when it comes to hiring political activists, explaining why his paper had turned away an applicant for an editorial page position "who had recent involvement in an anti-abortion group."

Ah, the bias beast rears its ugly head. Why should pro-life politics interfere with a position at an editorial page? Well, look at the language Ryerson uses: he tips his hand by using the term “anti-abortion” rather than “pro-life.”

At least he didn’t use the term “anti-choice,” which is always a laugh riot.

Meanwhile, Katie Couric gets to march for abortion rights without a problem.

Jim Witt, executive editor of the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, warns against sacrificing the best possible newsroom talent available to achieve political diversity. Says Witt, "You can't put together a newspaper like a football team."

Why not??? We’ve been putting them together like jars of Jelly Bellies for years!

Then again, a good football team has balance.

Oh, Nevermind!

Such attitudes may be surprising at a time when newspapers are desperately seeking more diversity in the hiring of women, blacks and other minorities, a mission that strongly surfaces at annual journalism conferences hosted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) and the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME). Media critic McGowan portrays it this way: "You put so many diversity czars in charge, and their priority is to recruit journalists of color." If the urgency of getting other minorities into newsrooms is so great, why isn't it equally important to have an ideological balance?

Woohoo! Somebody gets it!

"I don't think it is the same thing," replies Ryerson. "I can see why we look at the number of women, the number of blacks or other minorities. I don't think it is fair to assess the political leanings of a newsroom."

Like asking a fish about water…

Like some others, he may believe that the last thing the industry needs is more reporters with an ideological chip on their shoulder.

No, we don’t need reporters with ideological chips on their shoulders (though half of them do have one, but won’t or can’t admit it.). What we do need, however, are newsrooms which, in the aggregate, bring a variety of viewpoints and commonly held cultural assumptions to the editorial process. We need every newsroom to have a critical mass of conservative or red-state reporters who, when confronted with a galley page that says Christian conservatives are ‘poor, uneducated, and easy to command’ have the presence of mind to go to the boss and say “this is a stupid, stupid stereotype and we shouldn’t run it.”

Right now, we don’t have that.

Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, notes that one of the big surprises of his recent poll was that journalists are much more secular than the public at large. "Religion is difficult for reporters to cover," he adds, " because they don't come from that world. That's the real values gap."

That was a surprise?

Indeed, one of Pew's sharpest findings this year was that while 58% of the general public holds that one must believe in God to be a truly "moral" person, only 6% of national journalists feel that way, and 18% among the local press.

Remember, these are the same nattering nabobs who clucked like rabid hens when George Bush showed his alleged lack of sophistication and learnedness when he mentioned Jesus Christ as his favorite political philosopher.

Jesus Christ won him West Virginia.

I don’t think you have to be a Christian to cover Christianity, or Jewish to cover the Jewish community. Or military to cover the military. But you ought to have SOMEONE on the staff who’s intimately familiar with those traditions—who is steeped in them—to point out where the false stereotypes are, to point out where the reporter has misgrasped fundamental issues, and to sharpen the reporting of the man on the beat.

Oppel recalls a situation during his time as editor of The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer when the paper was covering the PTL scandal (a story which resulted in a Pulitzer Prize). An evangelical graphic artist on staff helped give perspective on the religious community, including leads to sources.

See what I mean?

Ah, there’s lots more. Check out the whole thing.

Splash, out


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Win, Place, or Show. Or Not. Democrats Ignoring Al Qaeda 
So the Associated Press is reporting what Democratic conventioneers believe ought to be the top presidential priorities ought to be for 2005.

And defeating global terrorism doesn't even make the top three.

In fact, it doesn't even top health care.

BOSTON - It's the economy, John Kerry (news - web sites). That's what delegates to the Democratic National Convention say their presumed presidential nominee or — they shudder to think — President Bush (news - web sites) should concentrate on first in 2005, an Associated Press survey of Democratic delegates found.

Health care was the No. 2 issue, followed by the war in Iraq (news - web sites), according to the survey of some three-quarters of the 4,300-plus delegates.

Iran will soon have nukes and the Democrats can't think past Iraq.

No, they don't get to claim their third-place consideration for Iraq suffices for serious attention to global terrorism. They've spent the last two years arguing that the war in Iraq is counterproductive and drains resources away from the war against terrorism.

They cannot now claim that Iraq gives them counterterrorism points.

I thought that if the Democrats were more willing to cut and run from Iraq, at least they were serious about confronting Al Qaeda and global jihadism.

Apparently, I was wrong.

Haven't they figured out that defeating Al Qaeda is an economic necessity as well as a military one?

Splash, out


Monday, July 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11's Effect on the Troops--and A Suggested Antidote 
Read it here.

The few troops of mine whom I've talked to don't seem to have been affected that way. Maybe because I've corrupted them already, or maybe because they were in an infantry battalion that was very much mixed in with the fight and had something to do the whole time.

The ones who are less busy have more time to think and fret.

I think in this case, the problem isn't so much the Moore Film as it is weak leadership at the small unit level, which ought to be staying in front of this stuff and addressing it.

Where's the chaplain?

For those who might be interested in one drooling idiot's approach, here's how I dealt with it:

I had a change of command ceremony a couple of weeks ago, as the incoming commander of HHC, 1-124th Infantry, and had a soapbox opportunity as part of the ceremony.

I thanked my predecessor for bringing everyone home alive. I told everyone that my priority of work was going to be on the unglamorous details which they all knew the importance of. And then I thanked them for their service. I also said that while it's not my place as a military officer to formally endorse a political position--I'm the CO to Democrats and Republicans alike--I closed with these words: "25 million people are now free. 25 million people now have hope. Because of what you did. And that's not something any of you will ever need to apologize for."

Splash, out


Some Damning Numbers 
Captain Ed distills Howard Kurtz' numbers on the number of stories run on Wilson when he was calling Bush a liar, compared to the number of stories run after Wilson's credibility imploded.

Outlet.........Wilson Before....Wilson After
Washington Post........96...............2
New York Times.........70...............3
Los Angeles Times......48...............2

Once again, Eric Alterman is AWOL.

Splash, out


Ramadi in the Spotlight 
The Los Angeles Times has a vivid portrayal of life in Ar Ramadi here.

I'm convinced that more than any other city, Ramadi is the town to watch.

You can get some good background on the early days of the Ramadi occupation here.

(The bit about Combat Outpost--my company CP for most of the time there and the place the Philadelphia Enquirer referred to as "the most dangerous post in Iraq", was actually written by one of my soldiers as a special to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Newsletter. The gang at Global Security plagiarized it verbatim without attribution or compensation to the author. Just saying I noticed, guys!)

As for the article itself, my sense is that the Marines are laying it on a bit thick.

"When you walk on the streets, they can hide in every nook and cranny and you can never find them until they start shooting," said Marine Cpl. Glenn Hamby, 26, who heads Squad 3 of Golf Company.

For cryin' out loud, when are the newspapers going to get veterans on staff who know what a freaking platoon is????

This is what the war has come down to in Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, where providing tenuous security harks back to America's 19th century Indian Wars — a time when the cavalry set up outposts and forts in decidedly hostile territory. Ramadi is Indian Country — "the wild, wild West," as the region is called.

That it is, that it is. And Ramadi holds a hundred thousand compelling stories for any reporter with the balls to leave Baghdad.

Consider the Civil War. Lee and Grant and Gettysburg get all the romance and all the press. But real Civil War historians--the ones who understand logistics, understand the importance of Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Savannah.

Ar Ramadi is the Vicksburg of Iraq. It always has been. Fallujah was always a sideshow. Win in Ar Ramadi, and give Al Anbar authorities the chance to work on more than their own point-blank defense, and sieze the initiative as Iraqis, and Fallujah will become isolated and, while not friendly, at least manageable. If the government can succeed in Ramadi, they'll gain a good deal of street cred throughout the West. Commerce will flow to Ramadi, and Fallujah sheikhs will pressure the jihadis to take it easy--there's money to be made.

Ramadi is the key to Fallujah.

In some ways, though, Fallujah is the key to Ramadi. There's no U.S. targets in Fallujah, so any Moe Jew Hadeen who wants to get his licks in at US troops has to go to Ramadi or Baghdad. I'd choose Ramadi--the drive along Highway 10 has the nicer scenery.

Lots of operations in Ramadi are probably drawing support from newly unemployed Fallujan wackos. There was always a lot of activity in Habbaniyah, too--which is a sleepy little town between Ramadi and Fallujah people don't hear much about.

But Ramadi is crucial. Ramadi sits squarely astride Highway 10 and the Freeway, where they pass just a few hundred meters apart, across several key bridges. If Ramadi falls, then the insurgents will be able to extract taxes or tribute from all commercial traffic coming to or from Jordan or Syria.

The open terrain between Fallujah and the freeway makes it easy to protect freeway traffic near Fallujah from all but sporadic and small-scale actions. But Ramadi is right up against the Freeway on ground which affords a lot more cover and concealment to the insurgent.

There's no walking away from Ramadi. Ramadi must hold.

Before the Marines' arrival, the commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., declared that Al Anbar was "on a glide path toward success" and pronounced the insurgency here in "disarray" — far from the situation faced here today by the Marines who took over from Swannack's soldiers.

I think the insurgency in Ramadi at that time was in disarray. Attacks and injuries were way down from their peaks between August and November. We were making inroads with the sheiks and had working relations with a lot of key tribal elders.

I think we're seeing the results of an insurgent base in Fallujah being allowed to fester unmolested, combined with the drying up of American reconstruction dollars, or at least a more ham-handed approach to dispensing them.

The Marines' initial strategy of high-profile patrols was far more aggressive than the Army's limited-engagement efforts.

Malarkey. I ran supplies back and forth across that town every day, along any road I damn well wanted. I loaded the trucks and went downtown at rush hour, with 7 guys with me and with 50. We had soldiers at the government center, on and off, the entire time we were there. And the reason I could do that was because the line companies patrolled aggressively. There was nothing low profile about the 1-124th Infantry in Ramadi.


The violent backlash demonstrates that the Marines screwed up somewhere--though not neccessarily in Ramadi.

It was the Marines who got chased off their patrol plans and who stopped executing raids, and who gave the initiative to the insurgents. Not the Army.

The fierce house-to-house combat of April taught the Marines a hard lesson: The kind of "hearts and minds" campaign that many had envisioned while preparing at Camp Pendleton was not going to fly in the core of the Sunni Triangle

Yeah, all their talk of 'human wave' assaults and moving Marines in to live in squad apartments within the community was pretty much treated as a laugh line when we heard about their plans back in December or so. But some things you gotta learn the hard way.

The thin-skinned Humvees that made up much of the Marine fleet this spring have been largely replaced by the tank-like "up-armored" version

Good to hear. It sure beats "well, hang your Viet Nam era flak jackets over the cavas doors."

Still, little here is completely safe, no matter how much armor is used. Venturing outside a base in Ramadi is a gut-clenching experience

Ah, see...it's all in your attitude. My little ritual was this: everytime we'd pull out the gate, I'd start singing:

Oh, The wheels on the Hummer go round and round,
round and round, round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
early in the morning.

It's stupid. But certainly don't claim to be not stupid. We all have our ways of coping.

The insurgents are believed to have used captured U.S. materiel against the Marines, including a lone Humvee seen wandering about like a phantom ship

Just for the record, I think that's a real cool image.

I don't believe it, though. Humvees never travel alone in Iraq. Ever. So it would be real easy to spot one, and track it from the air.

I think it has more to do with units stealing each others' vehicles. The vehicles then get reported missing or stolen. And then everyone's imagination runs wild.

Now two Humvees would be a lot more problematic.

"They pretty much hate us here," said one Marine commander as his Humvee maneuvered through the dangerous side streets of Ramadi's explosive south side, where fighting was intense in April. Slim youths approached with smiles on a recent morning — and then let loose with a barrage of stones.

Blessed be the slingshot.

Depending on their ages, a couple of bags of candy can distract them long enough for the convoy to get by, though.

To be honest, though, having logged thousands of convoy miles, I didn't have a rock thrown at me after about July or August of 2003. Ramadi was plenty dangerous, but the danger was not from the grass roots, mass population. Something's really changed. What was the change?

Arriving at the Islamic Law Center, where the Marines of Squad 3 were pulling a 12-hour shift the other day, is an unequivocal war zone exercise: Several Humvees block all traffic along Highway 10 and form a safety cordon with machine guns at the ready, while other Marines dismount and train their weapons on buildings, passersby and vehicles. Relieving troops sprint the final 10 yards or so to the metal front door, which is quickly opened and shut.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace.
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

"Gee, ya think they might be setting a pattern?"

Says Alice.

Splash, out


Ode to Absurdity 
It was neccessary to destroy this post in order to save it.

I've long held that a healthy appreciation of the ironic and the absurd is an essential component of keeping one's sanity in the military, because there are absurdities in military units occuring on a daily basis that would make Dilbert's head spin.

Here are some very much on target observations of military life.

"Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure
to make any progress."

"None of us is as dumb as all of us." Excerpted from a brief (EUCOM)

"Things are looking up for us here. In fact, Papua-New Guinea is
thinking of offering two platoons: one of Infantry (headhunters) and one
of engineers (hut builders). They want to eat any Iraqis they kill.
We've got no issues with that, but State is being anal about it." LTC
(JS) on OIF coalition-building

"It's not a lot of work unless you have to do it." LTC (EUCOM)

"I'm gonna have to leave work early today and probably stay home
tomorrow. I'm fighting off a cold and I want to beat it before I start
my leave in two days." MAJ (EUCOM)

"Creating smoking holes gives our lives meaning and enhances our
manliness." LTC (EUCOM) at a CT conference

"Interagency is a process, not a noun." Anonymous (EUCOM)

"Eventually, we have to 'make nice' with the French, although, since I'm
new in my job, I have every expectation that I'll be contradicted." DOS
(Department of State) rep at a Counter Terrorism Conference

"Everyone should have an equal chance, but not everyone is equal."

"I am so far down the food chain that I've got plankton bites on my

"You can get drunk enough to do most anything, but you have to realize
going in that there are some things that, once you sober up and realize
what you have done, will lead you to either grab a 12-gauge or stay
drunk for the rest of your life."

"Once you accept that a dog is a dog, you can't get upset when it
barks." Lt Col (USSOCOM), excerpts

"That guy just won't take 'yes' for an answer." MAJ (EUCOM)

"Let's just call Lessons Learned what they really are: institutionalized
scab picking."

"I can describe what it feels like being a Staff Officer in two
words: distilled pain." CDR (NAVEUR)

"When all else fails, simply revel in the absurdity of it all." LCDR

"Never attribute to malice that which can be ascribed to sheer
stupidity." LTC (CENTCOM)

I finally figured out that when a Turkish officer tells you, "It's no
problem," he means, for him." Maj (EUCOM, European Command, which is in
charge of American operations in Europe)

"Never in the history of the US Armed Forces have so many done so much
for so few..." MAJ (Task Force Warrior) on the "success" of the Free
Iraqi Forces (FIF) Training Program, where 1100 Army troops trained 77
Iraqi exiles at the cost of, well, way too much...

"Our days are spent trying to get some poor, unsuspecting third world
country to pony up to spending a year in a sweltering desert, full of
pissed off Arabs who would rather shave the back of their legs with a
cheese grater than submit to foreign occupation by a country for whom
they have nothing but contempt." LTC (JS) on the joys of coalition

"OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) will continue to drive this
cart into the ground long after the wheels have been sold on E-bay." MAJ
(JS) on the progress of FIF (Free Iraqi Forces)

"Please don't laugh. This is my job." Maj (EUCOM) from Protocol,
explaining in great detail the approved procedures for dropping off VIPs

"I guess the next thing they'll ask for is 300 US citizens with
Hungarian last names to send to Iraq..." MAJ (JS) on the
often-frustrating process of building the Iraqi coalition for Phase IV

"If we wait until the last minute to do it, it'll only take a minute."

"The only reason that anything ever gets done is because there are
pockets of competence in every command. The key is to find them...and
then exploit the hell out of 'em." CDR (CENTCOM, Central Command, which
is in charge operations in Iraq and Afghanistan))

"Working with Hungary is like watching a bad comedy set on auto
repeat..." LCDR (EUCOM)

"Between us girls, would it help to clarify the issue if you knew that
Hungary is land-locked?" CDR to MAJ (EUCOM) on why a deployment from
Hungary is likely to proceed by air vice sea

"We are condemned men who are chained and will row in place until we
rot." LtCol (CENTCOM) on life at his Command "Right now we're pretty
much the ham in a bad ham sandwich..." GO/FO (EUCOM)
"So, what do you wanna do?"...
"I dunno, what do YOU wanna do?"...
"I dunno, what do YOU wanna do?," etc. COL (DIA) describing the way
OUSD(S) (Undersecretary of Defense for Strategy) develops and implements
their strategies

"Let's face it: Africa sucks..." DOS representative (Bureau of
African Affairs) at a conference on Africa

"It is nothing for US soldiers to be in the desert for a year without a
woman. It is different for us, though, because we are Latin..." LTC
(LATAM country) on one of the differences between Latin American
soldiers and their US counterparts

"I'll be right back. I have to go pound my nuts flat..." Lt Col
(EUCOM) after being assigned a difficult tasker

"I guess this is the wrong power cord for the computer, huh?" LtCol
(EUCOM) after the smoke cleared from plugging his 110V computer into a
220V outlet

"OK, this is too stupid for words." LTC (JS)

"When you get right up to the line that you're not supposed to cross,
the only person in front of you will be me!" CDR (CENTCOM) on his view
of the value of being politically correct in today's military

"There's nothing wrong with crossing that line a little bit, it's
jumping over it buck naked that will probably get you in trouble..." Lt
Col (EUCOM) responding to the above

"I may be slow, but I do poor work..." MAJ (USAREUR)

"Great! What we really need are some more 0-5s (Lieutenant Colonel)
around here..." MAJ (EUCOM) on the release of the list of 0-5

"Don't ever be the first...don't ever be the last...and don't ever
volunteer to do anything...." CDR (EUCOM) relating an ancient Navy

"Hey, somebody should really do that..." CDR (CENTCOM) on the
tasking process

on the following report from a newspaper:
"(The Iraqi military was crippled by)...a
multitude of erratic orders and strategic miscalculations, while its
fighting units barely communicated with one another and were
paralyzed from a lack of direction...these woes were compounded by
incompetence, poor preparation, craven leadership and (the) wholesale
desertions of thousands of soldiers..."
"Are you sure they aren't writing about us? Hell, at least we
should jump on that wholesale desertion thing..." Maj (CENTCOM)

"Cynicism is the smoke that rises from the ashes of burned out dreams."
Maj (CENTCOM) on the daily thrashings delivered to AOs (Action Officers)
at his Command

"WE are the reason that Rumsfeld hates us..." LTC (EUCOM) doing some
standard, Army self-flagellation

"South of the Alps and East of the Adriatic, paranoia is considered
mental equilibrium..."

"The chance of success in these talks is the same as the number of "R's"
in "fat chance..."" GS-15 (SHAPE)

"His knowledge on that topic is only power point deep..." MAJ (JS)

"We have no position on that issue. In fact, your position IS our
position. Could you tell us what our position is?" CDR (TRANSCOM,
Transportation Command) at a policy SVTC (Secure Video Teleconference)

"Ya know, in this Command, if the world were supposed to end tomorrow,
it would still happen behind schedule." CWO4 (Chief Warrant Officer)
(ret) (EUCOM)

"Even if Al-Qaeda nuked this place, the Chief of Staff would approve a
4-star visitor the very next day!" GS-12 (US government employee,
grade 12) (EUCOM)

"Never pet a burning dog." LTC (Tennessee National Guard)

"It's basically announcing to the world that I've completely given up."
LT (USN F-14 squadron) on his initial feelings behind the wheel of his
brand new minivan

"A staff action is like getting an out of state check, countersigned by
a fraud on a phony ID: some of the time it clears, but most of the time,
you're screwed." Lt Col (USAF)

"I need intelligence, not information." Maj (EUCOM)

"Ah, the joys of Paris: a unique chance to swill warm wine and be
mesmerized by the dank ambrosia of unkempt armpits..." LCDR (NAVEUR)

"'Status quo,' as you know, is Latin for 'the mess we're in...'"
Attributed to former President Ronald Reagan

"We are now past the good idea cutoff point..." MAJ (JS) on the fact
that somebody always tries to "fine tune" a COA with more "good ideas"

"Who are you talking to? ...Hang up the phone!" Lt Col mentoring MAJ
(EUCOM) on how to stay in his own lane...

"The hardest thing about having a third child is switching from 1-on-1
to a zone defense." MAJ (EUCOM)

"Nobody ever said you had to be smart to make 0-6 (Colonel)." Col

"I haven't complied with a darn thing and nothing bad has happened to me

"Whatever happened to good old-fashioned military leadership? Just task
the first two people you see."

"The first question I ask myself when tasked to do something that's not
obviously and overwhelmingly in my own best interest is, 'Exactly what
happens if I don't do it?'"

"Accuracy and attention to detail take a certain amount of time."

"No need to tip our hand as to how responsive we can be." CDR (EUCOM) in
a passdown to his replacement

"I seem to be rapidly approaching the apex of my mediocre career." MAJ

"I think that my next set of orders will take me to Iraq. My career's
going so badly that I'm considered a 'dead-ender.'" LtCol (EUCOM)

I can make no warrantee regarding their provenance, but they sound authentic to me. This kind of humor is pervasive throughout the ranks. Indeed, soldiers' humor is probably the number one reason I've enjoyed my service so far, and regardless of how many times I've tried to quit, it's why I keep coming back for more.

Splash, out


Sunday, July 25, 2004

Oh, THAAAAAT Liberal Media! 
Here's the New York Times' public editor, finally admitting the Truth That Dare Not Speak It's Name.
Is the New York Times a liberal newspaper? Of course it is...


Your central thesis is becoming less tenable by the day.

I'll get to the politics-and-policy issues this fall (I want to watch the campaign coverage before I conclude anything), but for now my concern is the flammable stuff that ignites the right. These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed.

That would include some prominent journalists.

But if you're examining the paper's coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn't wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you're traveling in a strange and forbidding world.

Sharp guy, that Okrent. I'm glad someone at the Times is finally noticing. All those emails are making a dent.

The culture pages often feature forms of art, dance or theater that may pass for normal (or at least tolerable) in New York but might be pretty shocking in other places.

I don't have a problem with that. Frank Rich is obnoxious, of course, but I think the Times' art pages SHOULD cover what is avant garde. After all, even Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" caused a riot when it was first performed.

They were a pretty pathetic pack of jackals when Giuliani moved to cut public funding on art that was patently offensive. (When push comes to shove, most journalists have no idea what the First Amendment means.)

And a creationist will find no comfort in Science Times.

Well, there's that cultural illiteracy again.

All creationists are not created equal. There are "new earthers" and "old earthers." I wouldn't expect a new earther to find comfort in the Times, primarily because new earth theology is fundamentally unsupportable on scientific grounds.

But if old-earth creationists are routinely dissed, then the Times does, indeed, have a problem, since journalists aren't really qualified to put a slide rule across the Kierkegaardian leap of faith.

And if the senior staff of the New York Times doesn't grasp the distinction between new earth and old earth creationism, then they don't really even understand what they're talking about.

America, outside a few dozen square miles around Manhattan and Hollywood, is still a nation of churches, just as Alexis de Toqueville said.

You don't have to BE a Christian to effectively cover social issues in America. But you sure as Hell have to understand Christianity--and the arguments and issues within it.

If senior journalists in Manhattan can't wrap their brains around the doctrine of submission and don't have a clue about new earth vs. old-earth creationism, then they're just not up to the job.

Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. doesn't think this walk through The Times is a tour of liberalism. He prefers to call the paper's viewpoint "urban."


Tell that to the Dallas Morning News. Or the Nashville Tennesseean.

New Yawk ain't the only town out there that's been urbing for some time. It's just the only one that so disrespects rurals.

But it's one thing to make the paper's pages a congenial home for editorial polemicists, conceptual artists, the fashion-forward or other like-minded souls (European papers, aligned with specific political parties, have been doing it for centuries), and quite another to tell only the side of the story your co-religionists wish to hear. I don't think it's intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn't have to be intentional.

Awesome. The New York Times' reader representative is all but accusing the Times of negligence.


It takes some balls to do this from within the building.

But, hey...the Times wanted to become a

Welcome to the big leagues.

Every one of these articles was perfectly legitimate. Cumulatively, though, they would make a very effective ad campaign for the gay marriage cause. You wouldn't even need the articles: run the headlines over the invariably sunny pictures of invariably happy people that ran with most of these pieces, and you'd have the makings of a life insurance commercial.

Too bad we don't have an editor's response.

Taking the New York out of The New York Times would be a really bad idea. But a determination by the editors to be mindful of the weight of its hometown's presence would not.

Amen, brother.

Same goes for all of the New York media. To include FOX.

So what's wierd about this piece?

How in the world can anyone write a piece like this, and not once mention the Times' coverage of Iraq/The War Against Terror??


Splash, out,


Clarke Lied! Iraq, Al Qaeda, and Operational Relationships 
Qando's got the goods.

Clarke is still flogging the "Iraq had no operational relationship with Al Qaeda" horse. But that argument is absurd, given Clarke's own track record.

According to the 9/11 commission report, Clarke himself...

...Argued that a large Iraqi presence at the VX nerve gas manufacturing facility in Khartoum was "probably a direct result of the Iraq-Al Qaeda agreement." (Page 128)

...Warned that if the US provoked Bin Ladin into moving to Iraq, then the Al Qaeda network "would be at Saddam's service," and it would be "virtually impossible" to find him.' (p. 134)

So how is it that a chemical weapons development sharing agreement with Al Qaeda (a cassus belli in and of itself) doesn't qualify as an "operational relationship?"

Because they weren't planning and plotting the same attacks?

Why would they need to?

Why would Saddam Hussein want to give up that kind of plausible denial, when he could--in exchange for an agreement from Al Qaeda to stop targeting his regime (The agreement is on page 61 of the report, although it's not at all clear what Saddam promised them in return),simply agree to leak WMD technology for Al Qaeda to use against his enemies in the House of Saud and in the West.

What a deal!

If you're waiting for Al Qaeda and Hussein to actually be complicit in specific terrorist acts, then you're setting up a hopeless standard. In fact, you're pretty damn naive. You probably think that Jefferson Davis personally led Pickett's Charge. You also probably think that Joseph Goebbels personally belt-fed a machine gun at Babi Yar. Folks, executives don't wield power like that.

Well, maybe Allawi does.


Since Clarke says that 1.) Saddam wanted Bin Ladin in Baghdad, and 2.) if Bin Ladin arrived in Baghdad, taking asylum, then Bin Ladin's network would be at Saddam's service, then Saddam is in fact offering real estate to Bin Ladin. He's offering more than logistical support--he's offering to shield Bin Ladin through force of arms.

How, in God's name, is that not an "operational relationship?"

More: According to the 9/11 report, Bin Ladin personally helped Ansar Al Islam consolidate and reorganize after being defeated by the Kurds. There are indications that Saddam and Ansar al Islam cooperated in operations against the Kurds. Iraq, at least, "tolerated" Ansar Al Islam's presence. (page 61)

How, in God's name, is that not an "operational relationship?"

Watch for this idea, "operational relationship" to be defined downward out of all usefulness.

Splash, out


Bush's "AWOL" Flap Officially Stupid 
I, Jason Van Steenwyk, am issuing an edict:

Anybody who is still screaming about George Bush being AWOL from the Alabama and Texas Air National Guards is officially a dumbass:

Bush moved to Alabama in May 1972, and his payroll sheet for July through September of that year shows no payment for those months, indicating no military service. But this lack of payment was apparent in pay records covering all of 1972 that the White House released in February along with a batch of Bush's other military files.

Ok, so we're only talking about one quarter, now, plus July?

Christ on a crotch-rocket, people, that's nothing!

Guard officers take sabbaticals all the time for professional reasons--they're usually work-related. Absences of more than a year generally get put into the IRR. I'm constantly excusing people from drill for one or two months to attend a police or fire academy.

And there's an interstate transfer here, to boot?


I've done two interstate transfers. They've both been nightmares because Guard state headquarters are often corrupt and prone to cheating on the books by keeping soldiers on the books long after they've left the state, thereby disrupting and delaying interstate transfers. Both of my interstate transfers resulted in breaks of service of more than a year each.

So where's the beef, guys?


Splash, out


And The "Award" for Most Egregious Misuse of Ironic Quotes Goes To... 
...Claude Salhani, of "United" "Press" "International," for his idiotic abuse of the overused "literary" "device" in his "news" "analysis" "article:"

Analysis: Iraq's 'Changing' War

WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- The "war" in Iraq is suddenly taking a very different turn, and regrettably, not one for the better. After first targeting the military, then changing tactics by kidnapping hostages and holding them in exchange for the withdrawal of Coalition troops -- and one may add with some success -- the "insurgents" are now going after the soft underbelly of Iraq, its fragile economy.

Well, I don't know what this joker's trying to get across. There is nothing about the war for Iraq that isn't just that: a war.

And for him to put the word in scare quotes, thereby implicitly stating that the war is somehow not really a war, bespeaks on his part a fundamental ignorance of warfare's history and practice.

The war doesn't look like WWI or WWII. Well, it doesn't look like a shallow, "History Channel" historian's misguided preconceptions of WWII. This desert conflict isn't a jousting match between two fundamentally honorable practicioners of maneuver warfare, like Rommel and Montgomery.

This is two dogs in a pit.

Like many areas of WWII.

This "editor" apparently doesn't have a clue about the long history of assymetrical wars. But all wars are assymetrical at some level. Indeed, the vast majority of wars throughout history have been extremely assymetrical. Like this one.

Wars come in all sizes, and in many shades of intensity. This war is a low-to-mid-intensity urban counterinsurgency. It's not the first. There's nothing new under the sun. The Romans fought an urban counterinsurgency against the Maccabees. Napoleon was fighting one in Spain. The Nazis fought two separate counterinsurgencies in Warsaw--against the Ghetto uprising in 1943, and again against the Poles in 1944. The British have been fighting one in Belfast for decades. The Americans in Hue.

There was nothing about any of these events that was not warfare. All of them, either intermittently or during the whole encounter, were desperate, brutish, nasty affairs, prosecuted on both sides with extreme prejudice.

By putting the word 'war' in scare quotes, Salhani tells us he doesn't fully grasp the nature of this war. This war is personal and vicious and is being fought to the knife, and the knife to the hilt.

Considering the nature of our enemy here, this is exactly how it should be.

Don't put 'war' in ironic quotes. Capitalize it. Enlarge the font. Put it in boldface. WAR.

Because no one ever rallied a people to victory with an uncertain trumpet.

Splash, out


The Idiot Wing of the Republican Party 
Here are some morons who are actually trying to ban Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Stupid New York Times Tricks #93 (Revisited) 
The New York Times has changed the headline on the below-mentioned story, originally headlined "Flight 93 Crashed Without Struggle."

Since that headline was such a laughable falsehood, the Times has duly changed it to "Panel: No Cockpit Struggle on Flight 93."

Much better.

Did the New York Times acknowledge the error in its errata section?


It's still up on Yahoo, though.

Splash, out


Saturday, July 24, 2004

How Can Such a Smart Magazine Be So Dumb? 
The New Yorker prohibits its political reporters from contributing to political campaigns.

That doesn't mean much, though. Because Hendrik Hertzberg writes about politics every week. He contributed 900 bucks to Kerry's campaign.

Well, a spokesman for the New Yorker is now saying that there's no problem; Hertzberg's an opinion writer, and not a reporter.Mmmmk.

How about film critic and porn fan David Demby?

He contributed 1,250 dollars (he's got some extra cash thanks to his exquisitely written book, American Sucker).

Oh. He doesn't write about politics.

Excuse me...how can anybody who reviews Fahrenheit 9/11 (his review was positive) be said to not write about politics?

Just how dumb does the New Yorker think its readership is?

Splash, out


Say What You Will About Linda Ronstadt... 
...But any artist who hires the great David Lindley is ok in my book.

The Incredible Shrinking Berger 
How does the New York Times describe Sandy Berger's relationship with the Kerry Campaign?

Let me count the ways.

1. So were two of Mr. Kerry's top foreign policy advisors: former Defense Secretary William Perry and former national security advisor Samuel R. Berger.

--Times reporter David Sanger, June 15, 2004

2. From the Democratic side, Samuel R. Berger, the national security adviser under President Clinton and now a key adviser to John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, told the committee that "more troops and more money is not a strategy."

--Times reporter David Sanger, April 21st, 2004

3. The disclosure of the investigation forced Mr. Berger to step down as an informal, unpaid adviser to Senator John Kerry's campaign

--Times reporter David Sanger, July 22nd, 2004

I can just imagine some Kerry press rep on the phone with Sanger, telling him just how to spin this.

Of course, I don't have to imagine Sanger spinning it. Because it's there in black and white.

Sure, 'key advisors' don't have to be formally on staff, receiving a paycheck. James Baker's not receiving a salary these days, either, from the Bush Administration.

Yet if it were James Baker who got caught stealing classified documents which then somehow 'disappeared' of their own accord, I can't imagine the New York Times--or anyone else--playing up the fact that he wasn't on the payroll at the time.

James Baker is a "key adviser," period.

Sanger and the Times rolled over like a puppydog for the Kerry campaign on this one.

Just look at the headline!!!!

A top Kerry prospect for a cabinet level post, and a former National Security Advisor to the Clinton Administration gets caught committing a felony against the American people, and the Times plays up the idea that the Kerry campaign is miffed at the White House.

This is news?

Maybe Sanger's 'informally' on the Kerry staff, too. He writes like a mole.

Splash, out


Friday, July 23, 2004

Berger Nixed Attacks on Bin Ladin 
The New York Sun is reporting that the 9/11 Commission found that former Kerry Advisor and classified-doc kleptomaniac Sandy Berger vetoed numerous staff recommendations to attack Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda between 1998 and 2001.

Well, look now to what the 9/11 report has to say about the man to whom President Clinton, under attack by an independent counsel,delegated so much in respect of national security, Samuel “Sandy” Berger. The report cites a 1998 meeting between Mr. Berger and the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, at which Mr. Tenet presented a plan to capture Osama bin Laden.

“In his meeting with Tenet, Berger focused most, however, on the question of what was to be done with Bin Ladin if he were actually captured. He worried that the hard evidence against Bin Ladin was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted,” the report says, citing a May 1, 1998, Central Intelligence Agency memo summarizing the weekly meeting between Messrs. Berger and Tenet.

In June of 1999, another plan for action against Mr. bin Laden was on the table. The potential target was a Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms. The commission report released yesterday cites Mr. Berger’s “handwritten notes on the meeting paper” referring to “the presence of 7 to 11 families in the Tarnak Farms facility, which could mean 60-65 casualties.”According to the Berger notes, “if he responds, we’re blamed.”

On December 4, 1999, the National Security Council’s counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, sent Mr. Berger a memo suggesting a strike in the last week of 1999 against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Reports the commission: “In the margin next to Clarke’s suggestion to attack Al Qaeda facilities in the week before January 1, 2000, Berger wrote, ‘no.’ ”

In August of 2000, Mr. Berger was presented with another possible plan for attacking Mr. bin Laden.This time, the plan would be based on aerial surveillance from a “Predator” drone. Reports the commission: “In the memo’s margin,Berger wrote that before considering action, ‘I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.’ ”

In other words, according to the commission report, Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times — Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action. Had he been a little less reluctant to act, a little more open to taking pre-emptive action, maybe the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks would be alive today.

Well, maybe. Maybe not. Maybe there would have been some other plot. All is fair game, but the last line is a bit of a cheap shot.

Nevertheless, this is someone Kerry looked to for advice on how to deal with terrorism. Here's a sneak preview of Kerry's policy. And he STILL would be a senior Kerry advisor if the investigation hadn't leaked out. And very likely a senior member of Kerry's cabinet.

Kerry got rid of him because he was inconvenient. Not because he was weak.

Further: Berger was an advisor, not an executive. When in doubt, advisors ought to move the decision up to the President.

Why didn't Berger put the decision in front of the commander in chief?

Berger's done more than misplace documents. Berger forgot his own place, too.

I can't believe this guy stayed in such a key post for so long.

Splash, out


Pre 9/11 Media Coverage Didn't Take Terrorist Threat Seriously, Either 
Editor and Publisher:

The commission also, at one point, appears to castigate the media in general. It says that terrorism, specifically Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, was not an important issue in the 2000 presidential campaign, and the media "called little attention to it" at the time.

At another point, on page 359, it describes how Jordan arrested 16 terrorists planning bombings in that country, including two U.S. citizens, but the news "only made page 13 of The New York Times."

In another brief shot at that paper, the report observes: "It is hard now to recapture the conventional wisdom before 9/11. For example, a New York Times article in April 1999 sought to debunk claims that Bin Laden was a terrorist leader, with the headline 'U.S. Hard Put to Find Proof Bin Laden Directed Attacks.'"

The New York Times never did get it, did they?

Latest Military Perk: Breast Enlargement Surgery 
Yes, but will it enhance retention among males?

Stupid New York Times Tricks #93 
Lede from an AP story:

Passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 fought back against the hijackers but never actually made it into the cockpit, the Sept. 11 commission concluded.

And so what do the diaper-soiling simians at the New York Times write for a headline?

Flight 93 Crashed Without Struggle.


Splash, out


The Summer Soldier Nations 
It was to avoid the American "lepers" that the Security Council voted seven weeks ago to create a special international force to protect the U.N. mission in Iraq. So far, however, not a single country has offered to join.

From the New York Post.

What's worse--according to the article, three Security Council members, France, Germany, and Russia, aren't even willing to contribute money to such a force.

But they still rule out requesting security assistance from the coalition.

This is the ethical bankruptcy of the UN--and the Bureaucratocracies of Europe, presented in stark relief.

They'd rather let the UN mission employees die, like DeMello did, than take useful action.

Hat tip: Glenn

Mainline Christian Views are Now Extreme. 
A Bush nominee to a Federal Judgeship is coming under fire from Democrats and some congressional women for an article he wrote with his wife in American Catholic Review, arguing that women should submit to the authority of husbands.\
How do the headline writers at FOX News present it? "Controversial Nominee Known For Extreme Views"

News flash to hedonist Manhattan headline writers:

This sentiment, or variations on it, are not "extreme" among Christians. It's very much accepted in many mainline Protestant and Catholic congregations alike. In many congregations, it's not even a matter of significant controversy, although there are lots of discussions over exactly what that means.

But the basic idea was embraced by such moderate writers as C.S. Lewis, and is pretty much accepted by significant memberships, if not majorities, in all but the more liberal congregations.

As Christians go, this guy's not extreme at all. He's very much within the fat part of the bell curve.

And it has nothing to do with equality under the law.

The argument is rooted in this line from Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians:

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the Husband is head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, of which He is the savior. Now, as the Church submits to Christ, so also should wives submit to their husbands in everything"

The writer's problem: He's too culturally illiterate even to understand the context of the story. FOX lazily quotes the soundbites from the nominee's critics like Diane Feinstein, et. al., and they get their points across without a problem.

The nominee protests that his remarks were taken out of context. But the reporter, inexplicably, neglects to provide any context whatsoever, and so fails to give the reader the tools to make an assessment for himself.

Well, most Christians have traveled this road before, and will immediately notice that this FOX reporter is an idiot who has no idea what it is he's writing about.

The fact is that this passage from Ephesians has an incredibly rich body of commentary about it. And anyone passingly familiar with the issue would also know that this passage is just one part of a long passage admonishing husbands with the awesome responsibility of loving his wife, even as Christ loved the church, and laid down his very life for it.

Think about what that means to a believing Christian.

The burden expected of the husband is huge.

And the importance and worth of the wife is elevated immensely because of it.

This is really the more important passage of the equation, by an order of magnitude.

And FOX News misses it completely.

It's not a matter of conscious bias. It's not that FOX News was out to slam a Bush appointee.

It's that the FOX News staffers in Manhattan are not culturaly literate enough to wrap their brains around this issue. Not only is it not extremist; it's a bigger thought than any of them imagine.

Splash, out


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Two Chief Warrants Charged in Death of a Prisoner 
Here's the link.

One of them is someone I knew; Chief Welshofer. I must have turned over hundreds of detainees to him, the 3rd ACR, and the 94th MP company at Al Asad. He also led intelligence teams that supported my battalion in several promising raids, or large scale operations where we needed linguist support and professional interrogators on site.

I had the opportunity to watch Chief Welshofer work as an interrogator on several occasions.

I never saw anything illegal. I never saw anything even questionable.

So I'm surprised and distressed that he is suspected of criminal wrongdoing.

That just does not sound like the 3rd ACR crew I knew. The LT in charge of the detention center and the senior warrant--not Chief Welshofer, but another guy, and I were all of like mind in wanting these guys to be humanely treated, within the law, and we talked many times about how best to do that.

I don't know if this happened at Al Asad or elsewhere.

I remember one high value detainee I had turned over on one of my convoys. I always asked them through an interpreter if they were on any medications--I used to work in hospitals, once upon a time, doing psychiatric admissions-- and he said yes, he needed heart medication.

A couple of days later I heard he had died. Of a heart attack.

I have no idea if he was that guy or not. I remember him being a Ba'ath Party Official, but I don't remember him being a general, specifically.

I wish I had kept better notes.

But if this was someone I turned over, and he told me he was on heart medication, it's written on the front sheet of the Coalition Detainee Processing Form, with my signature at the bottom, and on page 2.

Splash, out


First Command Strikes Back!  
Well, that didn't take long.

First Command doesn't take criticism lying down. In fact, I predicted a swift and ferocious counterrattack, although they stopped short of calling Diane Henriques "biased" against 50% front-end loads as I thought they may have, and as they did with Steve Goldberg, a writer at Kiplinger's, who was also critical of contractual plans, in September of 2003.

You can read the Kiplinger's article here, accompanied by a lively discussion from what looks to be a cut and paste from the Morningstar Vanguard Diehards discusion board.(scroll down a bit)

Here's the first graf of First Command's response to that article.

... an irresponsible and misleading story that unfairly attacks the many benefits of systematic investing for professional military families and could seriously impact financial opportunities for these deserving Americans. We view this as the essence of irresponsible journalism and a prime example of why the media is not trusted.

Well, the military doesn't trust the media, sure enough. But that ain't why.

First Command has learned a few tricks since then, and today's response, written by former First Command representative Patrick Swan is far more subtle.

First, a word about the author.

The National Review identifies Swan simply as a reservist mobilized in Baghdad.

But that's only half the story. Swan isn't just a reservist in Baghdad; he also works for the Chief Information Officer, and as such is an official spokesperson for the Army--an organization who's highest ranking officer, General Pete Schoomaker, is a former advisory board member.

Sure, it's not clear that he's writing this in his official capacity as an army spokesman and official media contact. But since he is sitting in that billet, Swan is wading into more ethical conflicts than I care to enumerate--and dragging the Army along with him.

It's probably not deliberate. But as a PAO, Swan should be aware of these potential conflicts.

At any rate, I'm just not sure that Army Public Relations officers should also be doing PR campaigns on behalf of corporations that do business with the US Army and its soldiers.

And now for the point-by-point:

To many Americans, today's military is the smartest, most innovative, most savvy, and most adaptive force in our nation's history. But, if you read a recent New York Times exposé, you'll discover that, despite their competence on the battlefield, our servicemen are actually financial simpletons, and hence are easy prey for unsavory firms ready to exploit military clients.

I don't think there's any doubt whatsoever that many in the military are financial simpletons, for the simple reason that many in the population at large are financial simpletons.

After all, the skills required to set the headspace and timing on an M2 .50 Cal Browning Machine Gun, and then go downrange and kill the enemy with it, are markedly different than the skills it takes to calculate the expected inflation-adjusted future value of a series of payments into an interest-earning account.

The logical fallacy here is a false appeal to authority. Just because we have a high quality army made up of high quality soldiers doesn't mean they're mini CFPs as soon as they get off the bus at Boot Camp. Great soldiers do silly things with their money. Ask Lighthorse Harry Lee. Or just drive down any strip outside a military base and count the number of payday loan shops and 'we tote-the-note' auto dealers.

You'll find that these strips look a lot like those in financially underserved inner cities with financially unsophisticated, largely unbanked, and not incidentally, largely minority communities.

Read the first part (of two) of Diana Henriques's article, and you'll walk away with the sense that military folks are duped by senior or retired military leaders into purchasing investments and life insurance that are not in their best interests.

Yes, and that's exactly the sense you should walk away with. Because the fact that it happens is not in doubt. I've spoken about the issue with some of my own NCOs today. All of them who were on active duty have stories of pitchmen disguised as quasi-official benefit counselors. It happens all the time.

Let's not try to create doubt about the central facts of the matter here, where no doubt exists.

The article is unfair

No it's not. As we shall see.

It would have been nice if, before she accepted these competitors' claims at face value, she had at least presented them with this quiz. Here are several military acronyms related to pay and travel: SBP, BAH, BAS, TDY, PCS. What do they stand for, and what do they do for military people? I'm confident these firms would be hard-pressed to figure out even half of them. [For the record, they are Survivor Benefit Program, Basic Allowance for Housing, Basic Allowance for Subsistence, Temporary Duty, and Permanent Change of Station.] If you don't understand Military Acronyms 101, you are hardly in the position to strike a superior pose on whether someone else's financial producers are suitable or not for servicemen and their families.

Of questionable relevance, as only SBP really creates mondo financial planning issues unique to military clients. Everybody who moves as part of his job, military or not, undergoes PCS issues. But military PCS's generally don't involve tax-deductible job search expenses, except at retirement.

The others--BAH, BAS, and TDY, are simply very basic cash flow statement items easily grasped by any competent financial planner. TDY money is generally treated as a windfall--albeit a small one. (Most guys blow a chunk of TDY money on steakhouses and strip clubs, anyway.)

What is clear is that First Command knows and understands them all.

So do I. Heh heh heh.

One specific subject of Henriques's extended derision is First Command's support for front-end-load contractual investment plans. They are designed for career military families with long-term goals and the discipline to pursue them over a 15- to 20-year career.

So is any dollar-cost averaging strategy. But I wouldn't brag about 15-20 year results.

First Command's most often cited flagship fund, Fidelity Destiny, ranks in the bottom 20% of the large growth category over both the trailing 5-year and 10-year time periods.

Fidelity Destiny--a large cap fund--also trails the S&P 500 by an astounding 5% per year over the last ten years.

It's underperformance is consistent over almost any trailing time period you'd care to name.

And this is BEFORE adjusting for the front-end load!

What's more, it delivered these pathetic results with only slightly less volatility as the S&P 500, and the fact that 97% of its returns are explainable by movements of the S&P (high correlation) tells me that it provides next to no diversification benefit against it.

Fidelity Destiny is a dog with fleas. If a 401(k) fiduciary trustee steered employees into this mutt, he'd be facing Department of Labor inquiries and ERISA charges for failing to conduct due diligence.

Five years ago, investors would have been better off investing in a five year CD at 6 1/2% interest rates than in investing in Fidelity Destiny. A First Command rep who put his clients in that fund offered no value added for that transaction for his commission.


Fidelity Destiny II is better: it only trails the S&P 500 by TWICE its expense ratio (it's got a somewhat more value-based approach than Fidelity Destiny I, and so does better in weak markets. But why choose this one over a no load S&P 500 fund going forward? I can't think of a reason at all.)

They are not designed to bring high-flying, short-term results.

They're apparently not designed to bring long term results either.

On the contrary, they are designed to keep short-term, "market-timing" speculators out of the funds — precisely because of the high front-end load. This approach benefits long-term investors by providing a stable fund largely immune to daily market fluctuations.

Oh, horse hockey. There's a much simpler and time-tested way to discourage market timers from disrupting the funds: Simply slap a 2% redemption fee on any shares redeemed within 3 months to 2 years of their purchase date.

But really--is your average E8 with just a few tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands in his account really going to be a market-timing threat? Are enough of them going to redeem at the same time to cause a problem?

Spare me.

It's not the mom and pop investor who creates cash drag and transaction costs sufficient to noticably sting other shareholders. It's the multibillion dollar hedge funds pushing millions and billions at a time.

A 2% redemption fee--payable to the fund itself, and NOT First Command, would cover cash drag and transaction costs easily, without penalizing everyone else.

Problem traders could easily be kicked out of the fund.

But wait: there's even less!

Since the 50% load is a one-time fee, and fund shareholders are then allowed to trade without paying the load, the 50% load would do nothing--NOTHING to discourage market timing in the fund, anyway!!!!

So Swan's argument is a sham.

If you believe Henriques, however, you'll consider these funds bad because they are "obscure" or because they don't employ the follow-the-heard approach.

No. I consider both of these funds bad because they're lousy.

Henriques then quotes some dissatisfied clients who demonstrate that they are short-term (if not also short-sighted) investors.

We've already established that long-sighted investors in the Destiny funds have no business remaining in the funds. Why stay in a large cap fund that trails the S&P over time? Especially a highly correlated one?

There's not going to be a such thing as a dissatisfied long term client with First Command. Those with the sense to be dissatisfied will also have the sense to direct their investment dollars elsewhere.

Certainly, some First Command clients are unhappy with the performance of their mutual funds over the past several years. Considering we've just come out of the worst bear market in some 70 years, who hasn't been unhappy with his mutual fund's performance?

That's the wrong question to ask. The right question to ask is how have your funds been performing, on a LOAD-ADJUSTED basis, compared to other mutual funds with similar investment goals and styles?

If other large cap funds have lost 5% and my fund lost 10% over the same period, I'm very unhappy. If other large cap funds lose 10% and mine only lost 5% over ten years, I'd be happy taking my manager out to a steak dinner.

Henriques should have compared First Command's mutual funds with the no-load funds whose managers she uses to disparage First Command. Nothing doing.

Lucky for First Command.

Henriques quotes Jack Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group.

I'll put Vanguard's lineup up against Fidelity's Destiny Series, or AIM's, or Oppenheimer's or Pioneer's, or Franklin Templeton's lineup any day of the week, fund for fund, style box for style box, over any 10 year period or longer. Especially on a LOAD-ADJUSTED basis!

What's more, I'll RAISE you a comparison of Vanguard's disciplinary record with First Command fund families, since two of them have run into serious regulatory trouble with the SEC or state regulators pursuing
market timing
allegations and other trading abuses.*

In addition, she could have explained how this long-term investing approach, called "dollar-cost averaging," allows First Command clients to buy more shares of their mutual funds when the market is depressed, thereby purchasing when shares are "on sale" so they can bring in greater returns when they sell decades later.

Oh. My. God.

Is this guy trying to imply that dollar cost averaging is somehow unique to contractual funds?

Just how much Kool-Aid are they serving at these First Command seminars?

Buy low and sell high?) Instead, these somehow "obscure" funds — from nationally recognized investment firms such as Pioneer, Fidelity, and AIM — are portrayed as "ill-suited" for military people.

50% front-end loads are ill-suited for anybody investing more than 1,000 dollars in his first year. More on that later.

Any such affinity company knows that its word is its bond, and if it fails to live up to its word, it is out of business.

As Porgy and Bess might say: "It Ain't Necessarily So." At least, not in the financial services industry.Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch made hundreds of billions of dollars on the strength of bogus research--their analysts have been caught red-handed lying their pants off to investors, and they got a 1.4 billion dollar slap on the wrist--peanuts on Wall Street-- and are still going strong.

Prudential ripped off billions of dollars, and has literally paid billions in fines and disgorgement, thanks to unethical sales practices. Their limited partnership comeuppance in the early 90s--as Prudential-Bache--was the largest scandal in modern market history. They've been hauled before the SEC and NASD and the courts multiple times. But they're still raking in the bucks.

That plan is a mix of investments (to achieve long-term financial goals), savings (for short-term needs of less than five years), and permanent life insurance to cover any permanent financial needs (e.g., providing a permanent "check a month" for widows or widowers, for instance; or death taxes).

A "permanent check a month?" Don't you mean an annuity?

Ok, fine. But that's hardly unique to First Command, either. So let's take a look at the fees? What are the underlying expenses? What are the surrender charges? How long are they in place?

Vanguard offers annuities, too. I'd love to take Swan up on his challenge to compare First Command with Bogle's funds. Vanguard offers annuities, too. (First Command refused to send me any prospectuses when I was first looking at them last January).

If you want an apples to apples comparison with other advisor sold annuities, fine. How about Capital Group/American Funds?

I triple dog dare you.

Lay 'em out, fee by fee, and return by return in variable annuity subaccounts. Let's play ball.

On the subject of life-insurance products offered to military clients, First Command carefully selects the companies with which it deals. In may surprise some that there are companies that sell life-insurance policies containing a "war clause" that invalidates the policy if the insured goes to war. First Command will not sell life insurance with such clauses to its military clients.

That part is commendable. It's hard to imagine a good fee-only planner who would overlook the war exclusion when recommending a life insurance policy to a client. But that is a useful service for First Command to provide. I'll give them that one.

The insurance companies First Command has chosen do. In fact, from a personal perspective, if my "option" were due this month, I could take it, and the insurance company could neither turn me down nor charge me a heavy rate-up premium — even though I'm serving today in a combat zone.

Oooh. First Command's policies are guaranteed renewable.

I'll alert the media.

I've described the operations of this firm in some detail because it is important people know that there are reputable companies out there whose sole mission in business is to help military people.

IraqNow readers, meet USAA. USAA, meet IraqNow readers.

USAA offers solid mutual funds and good insurance coverage in a variety of lines, with much lower fees and commissions than First Command.

What's more, unlike First Command, USAA offers index fund alternatives to high-cost actively managed funds, and does so on a no-load basis. And their counselors understand the military, too.

When a newspaper like the New York Times smears an honorable company, such as First Command, for providing products that are "ill-suited to military people," we should call them on it.

No. I'm calling on First Command for providing a program that is ill-suited to military people.

Here's why.

Consider a case study:

SFC Garon and his wife Lily are 35 years old, with two five year old children, whom they would like to send to a private school. They're just now getting startd with serious financial planning, and schedule a few appointments with a First Command Advisor.

Let's say the First Command Advisor recommends starting Roth IRAs for both SFC Garon and his wife, and recommends--wisely--that they max out their contributions the first year, and every year thereafter. He also recommends they start Coverdell Education accounts for their children, since Coverdell plans allow tax free dispursals on qualified private school expenses.

So in the first year, they make payments of $2000 each on two coverdell accounts for their children, and two Roth IRAs of $3,000 for the sergeant and his wife.

The accounts will then have a combined basis of $10,000, generating a commission of $5,000 for the First Command representative.

And he hasn't even sold an insurance policy yet.

And we're not even considering the long-term opportunity cost of investing in underperforming funds, nor are we considering the opportunity cost of losing years of earnings on the 5,000 dollars used to pay the commission.

Now consider the alternative:

Rather than contact First Command, the couple instead contacts the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and finds a good fee-only Certified Financial Planning practicioner in the area.

The CFP would likely make many of the same recommendations: Max out your Roth IRAs for yourself and your wife. Contribute to your children's Coverdells.

The CFP is also more likely to recommend prudent debt payoff strategies; the FC rep will have no incentive to do so, and indeed, Enriques found one instance where a FC representative failed to do so.

The CFP is more likely to explain the benefits of the Thrift Savings Program--a great tax deferred savings vehicle which does not generate a dime in commissions.

The CFP is likely to hold more coursework and credentials than the FC rep.

The CFP is committed to abiding by a rigorous code of ethics--and if a fee-only planner, is committed to acting as a fiduciary. Meaning the client's needs must come first. If he fails to do so, the client has recourse to seek a revocation of the professional designation from the CFP board.

The CFP will be able to choose from a wider menu of funds and fund companies, and from insurance companies, and get the client into better funds. Without sales loads.

The CFP is more likely to recommend a sufficient emergency fund, since the fund generates no commissions for the FC rep.

The CFP will be able to develop a full-fledged financial plan for the clients, over a series of appointments.

Total cost: Probably between $500 and $1000.

Better plan. Better funds. $1,000 vs. $5,000.

Which is more suitable to the military family?

You make the call.

Splash, out


*AIM Funds was forced to settle on fraud charges after it got caught with its hands in the cookie jar, and then lying about it to investors.

Franklin Templeton has been hit with fraud charges by Massachussets investigators.

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