Too Many Intelligence Failures

I suspect Bibi already knows this, but if he is expecting strong leadership from a community organizer he is pushing on a string.

We missed the nukes developed by South Africa, North Korea,,  Pakistan, the developing plants destroyed by the Israelis in Syria and Iraq…so the only confidence I currently have is in Israeli intelligence.

But we are in it because Iran will strike back to both Israeli and US Facilities, and they will try to close the Straights of Hormuz. Iran knows that they are no match for our power, and they are counting on the fear of a much wider war – perhaps being the catalyst for a World War, or even just a much wider Arab war to dissuade the United States..

It may well be an Israeli strike, but we are in deep, and then what the Israeli Air Force cannot destroy, we will simply because we will be forced to by Israeli action.

We can count on Hezbollah and Syria coming to Iran’s side, but Syria has its hands full with internal strife. Gaza will certainly erupt, and Egypt may even rattle swords, but other than a show of force on the border they will likely pass.

The question is timing, and since only Israel has really good intelligence on the “Time to the Bomb” it is Israel who will move. I suspect that both Iran and Israel are looking at whether this will happen pre or post US election, and while it could easily impact the results of that election, which way, no one knows.

Israel knows because of the deeply imbedded computer virus series, exactly what the timetable should be. I do not know how much we are co-conspirators on those projects, and how much of the return information stream we are privy to, but it is obvious that Israel is a LOT more interested in the subject than is our president.

Our president has not even had recent intelligence briefings in person, but stung by public knowledge of that he has started to get them again. We do not know what he knew about the attack in Benghazi, but we destroyed our in-country intelligence during the Carter administration in the mistaken belief that satellite and electronic intercept would give us fair warning of actionable intelligence.

That has been a failure too many times to count.

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All “News” is Slanted

All news is slanted to the audience it intends to attract, and much of it is the “Editors Choice.” Several decades ago in my then weekly commutes to Glendale as CEO of an LA TV station,, I was constantly bombarded by news from two major radio stations, one LA and one San Diego, about an upcoming demonstration about gun control. This demonstration was also flogged on San Diego TV stations for a week before the event.

Local San Diego TV, also sent video crews to LA, and on demonstration day I watched the TV shows, one of which made the error of taking a very brief long shot of the ceremonial “burying of guns.”

The demonstration, thanks to the long shot and freeze motion TV, turned out to be an even dozen people

If I throw a garage sale scheduled for 7 am, more than 12 people will be there by 6:30 am, but it will not get blanket news coverage.

All news, whether covered, or studiously ignored, represents a decision of the editor.

I have sat in upon the selection of writers at a newspaper, and while the editor does not know of the leanings of a writer, they can know the background — there may well be tell-tale signs if the writer contributed to National Review or Mother Jones.

People attracted to the media are of a certain internal culture, and many (most?) are people who “wish to save the world,” or at least have a positive impact. (Positive, from THEIR viewpoint.) They are in the main of the social worker culture (as opposed to the policeman culture), and the late David Pearl’s widow actually wrote that in a magazine piece after David’s beheading that he wanted to save the world.

That “news” differs greatly from being an on-scene eye to record and report on happenings, the old “who, what, when here, and why.”.

It is not a conspiracy, any more than that religious ministers belong to the same social worker union, and ducks fly in formation. What is important is that we as consumers of “information” recognize that bias exists, it is natural, and it is observable.

Except for a few cases, editors and writers write from the point of their bias, and readers who know the editors or writer’s bias, can critically compensate.

The recently resigning Ombudsman for the NY Times put in his final column last month that the newspaper had a point of view, and expressed it in the news as well as the editorial pages.

Duh! I read the NT Times and watch Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews. They cover subjects the conservative news ignores, and similarly the conservative side like Bill O’Reilly and Hannity studiously ignore subjects painful for the conservative side and feature items harmful to the liberal side.

I have found that what the liberal press says about the conservative movement is basically  true with some exaggeration, and what the conservative movement says about liberals is similarly true, with a little exaggeration.

They just elect to talk about, and ignore different things.

My Editor sent me a memo yesterday, saying the new Publisher wanted a description of the leanings of the columnists, presumably to try to keep some semblance of balance among the various columnists. He described my columns as, “Independent, with a libertarian slant.” Since he has read my columns for years, I suppose he is correct although I think of my columns as “Libertarian with an independent slant” — which you my think is a distinction without a difference, but in the news business nuance is everything.

Readers are perfectly positioned to make up their own minds.

A Less Industrious Nation

I continue to wonder about human nature, because I can observe people world-wide in ways that were never possible in the past before international TV, and the Internet..

We can observe the difference in Europe between the cultures of Greece and Spain, long under socialist rule and now under independent rule but not conservative – and both driven into the depths of fiscal insanity by the welfare state.

We can see our own European brethren, the British, so far in debt that it makes even Spain and Greece seem moderate, and the Conservative government is running behind in all polls because of their moderate austerity. Britain would be a basket case had it entered both the European Union and the Euro, but it cut its losses by not accepting the Euro, so Britain can manipulate its currency separately – although there is an obvious limit to that!

And we see Germany, which has some of the welfare state mentality, but coupled with high productivity, and a workforce still trying for excellence – much like the United States, Japan and China.

It is the work ethic, or lack of it that differentiates most economies. There is a point at which work ethic tips from productive to non-productive, and so we see Britain, of whom it was once said that if three men met at a street corner they would build a car. Today, their great British marques are foreign owned. Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars are now owned by BMW, and Jaguar and Land Rover are owned by TaTa of India!

(Oh, how the British have fallen!)

Many years ago I had the opportunity to introduce to a small libertarian group I belonged to, the Senior VP of a Fortune 500 company who had showed his brilliance by hiring me as an independent contractor to successfully take a company away from a very famous man whose name you would recognize. His speech was about how he sited his Fortune 500 companies overseas – he managed some 16,000 foreign employees – and he said that certain cultures were simply incapable of ‘getting up, and showing up.” He said that the first criteria he examined was the tendency of a workforce to be on time.

He had an interesting background before becoming a Senior VP of a Fortune 500 company. He had been a professor of Law at a university in Washington state, had won two Fulbright scholarships to study law in Japanese at the University of Tokyo, became a Japanese lawyer – no small feat for a European ancestry Caucasian-American, and he had written law books in Japanese!

When the Fortune 500 company wanted someone who could bridge the US-Japanese trade cultures, they found the right man!

His comments on work ethic, or work culture, is something that is observable. The Spanish have never been hard workers, nor the Greeks, and the British once were and are no more, while the Germans have always been industrious, as have been the Americans, the Japanese and the Chinese.

An industrious nation can afford x amount of social welfare, but at some point the siren call of “something for nothing” can tip that nation from industrious to lazy. Obviously, there are always industrious people, and lazy ones in every society but every society has a demonstrable work culture as well. The rabid nature of some nations seems to signal its economic downfall.

One of my friends runs a shop employing more than 20 people in North County, and in his hiring practice he never hires anyone who, when asked if they have any questions about company policy, mentions time off, vacation time, sick time, etc.

That is a wise policy.

I mention this only because each generation in the US appears to be less and less industrious. I fear we are nearing a tipping point.

The most recent SAT scores showed the lowest reading scores in 40 years, and that is just one indicator. The number of people on food stamps is another, and still another is the HUGE increase of people on Social Security disability.

The safety net is becoming a hammock.

 

 

Speechifyer In Chief

I heard the president’s UN speech. If speeches would solve problems we would be in great shape — perhaps we could create a position in the Romney administration for Speechifying.

It is a little disconcerting to look at the situation in Libya, particularly in Benghazi.

It is obvious and we had an intelligence failure in Benghazi with our consulate there, our Ambassador and three others  were killed. This is the worst kind of loss of life, because it includes not just personal loss but national embarrassment, and it’s a terrible tragedy for the State Department and for the personnel in the State Department, who now know that no one has their back.

Did it come as some great surprise that in and in a country that is absolutely lawless, in a country that has no real government yet established, that a militia has power to attack the US consulate and killing the Ambassador? It certainly does not come as a surprise to me. The United States has FAST Marine teams, specifically designed to protect US interests in nations where the host government is weak either in Intelligence or firepower. In the case of Libya, the Militia that killed our Ambassador had an open headquarters right in plain sight! Our State Department treated a Libyan consulate as if it was in Brussels! The FAST Marines are even more heavily armed than regular Marine fighting forces, and they are fierce.  (The FAST Marines, for example, have a grenade launcher capable of launching 300, 40MM grenades a MINUTE!)

It is obvious that we had an intelligence failure, and we had a failure in taking care of our consulate. We did not supply a sufficient amount of protection for the ambassador. It is good we had a few former Seals  there (who were there for other reasons than to protect our Ambassador), and who gave their lives to protect the Ambassador, but it is apparent that two were not enough.

The administration was obviously trying to blame ( at least initially), the film by some hothead in Hollywood, but they had to back off of that because from the very beginning FOXNews, among others, had the information from Libya that this was a preplanned attack.

Now the administration admits that it was a preplanned. Their “cover story” delivered with such sincerity by our UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, couldn’t withstand the scrutiny of an alternative press not so beholden as the more uncritical Main Stream Media.

It is also obvious that nothing can be done by the Libyan government, which simply does not have the firepower necessary to attack the militias that did this, but the US does have sufficient firepower and they should bring it to bear quickly as possible to wipe that militia off the map.

The administration continues to try to make this a law, order and justice situation, when it is actually a war situation. The administration has sent a team of FBI to Libya. The FBI is very good at determining what happened and even who did it, but we know what happened and who did it and now the object is to find and kill them, not bring them to justice in some court.

My Apologies…But…

This past week my wife fell and broke her arm, and as a consequence of that fall I have seen entirely too much of the emergency room of the new billion-dollar Palomar hospital.

The lesson I have learned from two visits this past week is that if you have an emergency, call 911, do not walk into the emergency room with someone and expect to get any kind of care, with any rapidity.

When the paramedics took my wife it was a really interesting, fast operation and everything ran like clockwork.

When two days later, on a Friday night, I decided to take my wife in because she was in severe hip pain I thought I would not bother the paramedics this time. In the first trip my wife’s fall could have easily been a problem with a head injury, so I thought it necessary to use the paramedics.

It was 10:30 at night and my wife was not going to die from whatever problem with hip pain, but it was possible that she had cracked a hip in the initial fall.

So I drove my wife to the hospital and the emergency room. Big mistake.

The emergency room was absolutely filled with people, Because of the possibility of a broken hip they did do a an x-ray very quickly and then we went back out to sit

I came into the hospital at about 11 PM, and they finished the x-ray by midnight. And then we sat until 3 AM, when someone called my wife’s name and we went Into a private room. When I asked the lady when we could expect to see a doctor, she said “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that. I’m just taking the registration information.”

My wife had been saying for about an hour and a half that it was really time to go home, and she was still in pain but whatever the problem watch it didn’t look like we get anything done. There were many people who had been there a lot longer than we.

We went up to the front desk and asked to have the nurse there for a release. She said no she was really sorry, that they were just very busy that night indeed they were but there were people of been there longer than the four hours we were there, who were laying under blankets shivering with whatever. They were not getting any care either, so I wheeled my wife out to the curb, drove up a car, and we went home.

Many years ago the Washington Redskins, a fine American football team owned by attorney William Bennett, fired the best coach in the league – one George Allen.

When asked why he had fired Allen, Bennett replied: I gave him an unlimited budget, and he exceeded it!”

Similarly, I have unlimited patience, and the hospital exceeded it.

So the lesson is, if you have an emergency sufficient needy to go to the emergency room of Palomar hospital, call 911 and have the paramedics take you to the emergency room because people brought in by the paramedics get very fast service.

The new hospital is beautiful. The Doctors and Nurses are excellent. The facility is state of the art and looks like it cost a billion dollars, which it did.

But it can be overrun at any given time. The Emergency Room is still the place where many people go for free primary care, and Escondido has a large low income population.

I Am Not An Apple FanBoy

Today is the release date for IOS6, and regardless of my disdain for the IPhone 5 (which incidentally is the sixth iPhone), I actually look forward to the IOS6.

It apparently has some big advancements, including some things that Android already has like “turn by turn” directions, but some really neat things like Passport that contains your coupons and cards and alerts you with an alarm when you enter each store with which you have coupons, with, those coupons on top. It decrements your Starbucks card, as an example, and tracks your Staples Rewards Card.

(I love that last one, since both my Staples and my COSTCO card are black. You would think that each draw would be a 50/50 proposition, or so I was taught in graduate level Statistics. Graduate statistics are theoretically right, but dead wrong!)

Also, SIRI is supposed to be a lot better, we are told, and works with many apps as well as just with answering questions, and it (she) will now be capable of answering many more questions. She can give updated sports scores now, as one example. I will be happy if she just stops saying, “I’m sorry. I cannot process that right now.”

I know that SIRI has been a slight disappointment to many of us, but then all of us are jaded. We expect human response from a chip, and we are just not quite there.

HAL she is not. She is not going to win Alan Turing’s, Turing Test.

But, heck, she will work on my (old)(ancient) IPhone 4s, and starting tomorrow on my iPad, and I won’t have to buy a new anything to accomplish this. (And then buy the new cases, connectors, and USB cables…)

One wag on a blog wrote that if every Apple employee took a dump in a pretty white box, Apple could call it iPoop, charge $500 a box, and a million people would line up for it.

A million minus one.

I am not an Apple FanBoy, even though I once owned an Apple Computer Store. I have owned Apple and WinTel machines, and I pick and choose. I love my iPhone and iPad, and my whomping fast i7, 16 GB, WinTel desktop. Each for its own purpose — like cars, where I have owned more than 20 but of just about every manufacturer, and the most from one manufacturer was three from Lexus.

Apple is an elegant manufacturer, and the things just work. That is their best feature. They are not customizable in 137 ways like a WinTel, but they work, simply, quickly and well, while making the owner feel good about their purchase.

One drawback, as is evidenced with the new connector — the corporation has zero qualms about making a perfectly good product obsolete. The current connector about to be made obsolete on Friday is 10 years old, and yes it is obsolete but WinTel would find a way to make it backward compatible — not Apple. They don’t care that a buyer of a new $200 iPhone may have to pay $150 to upgrade his cables and connectors.

Apple FanBoys just smile and write checks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Saw It On The TV

The controversy over the Romney statement about 47% of the people being part of the entitlement society is absolutely correct.

There are almost as many people riding in the cart as there are people pulling the cart these days, and the people who are riding in the cart are complaining because the seats are too hard and not large enough.

(Here is the kicker: Back in 1960 the LOWEST Income Tax was 20% and that was from $1 to $2,000 ($15,000 in today’s dollars.) Back in 1960 I had just graduated from that tax bracket where I was paying that rate but I was not eating dog food!  How is it that the lowest paid can no longer afford to pay their own way and in fact receive the badly mis-named “Earned Income Tax Credit?)

In one on-line poll I saw the question was “Do you agree with Romney on the 47%?”

That is not the question because whether you agree with him or not, that is the number. The facts don’t change just because 33% disagree with Romney on the facts.

Meanwhile a 1998 audiotape has also service surface in which then Barack Obama said “I actually believed in redistribution”.

Not that we didn’t know that he believed in redistribution, but he is saying for many months now that he doesn’t believe in redistribution, and here is a tape where he says he does.

I find that a lot more damning, but I doubt the “in the tank” media will see it that way.