Category Archives: Media vs. Military

Where “Tripwire Vet” Stories Come from, Part II

In Part I of this 2-part series, we showed you an article about how journalists at the profession’s allegedly most prestigious school — the Columbia School of Journalism — are taught to lie (although the article’s author, Michael Lewis, says “obfuscate” — and slant their work. Now let’s look at another source of slanted, agenda journalism: shadowy nonprofits.

In a frankly unbelievable and thinly reported heart-warmer about how two workers at a bankrupt California assisted-living home continued treating and caring for the residents, NPR exposed, in the credits, one such nonprofit:

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

via ‘If We Left, They Wouldn’t Have Nobody’ : NPR.

A sidebar has three more StoryCorps stories on offer: and quite remarkably, all are “pity the poor veteran” tales. They are:

If you squint a bit, you can see John Kerry (a lifelong C- student) smirking as he derides enlisted chumps (by whom he means, “those not born to wealth and connections, unlike me”) who “get stuck in Iraq.”

These stories are catnip to the Columbia grads at Narodniy Politicheskiy Radio. For example, the suicidal-thoughts story centers on a soldier’s discovery, ten years later, that he has had a traumatic brain injury.

Just after hearing from a buddy that he has a 100% disability for one, the young man remembered that he, too, was blow’d up.

Well, it could happen, but these things do seem to be a theme, and it turns out that StoryWorks actively solicits them, for its too-lazy-to-report-ourselves journalist partners at NPR, who can just sit and wait for someone else to create the stories they want.

StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Miraculously, every one of those stories seems to be something along the lines of “Damaged, scary vet needs help from social service agencies,” just the sort of thing that set’s NPRnik’s red little hearts aflutter.

See some themes emerging, or what?

While we don’t doubt that those stories are the way their single sources see things, and some of them legitimately make you go, “Awww….” (try the Iraqi interpreter story, and the Marine who’s not letting burns define his life), the themes StoryCorps’ faceless, manipulative world-changers are aiming for are not exactly hard to discern. Indeed, we found only two positive stories about the military, and one was from 60 years ago:

We’ve beat on StoryCorps here, and they deserve a good beatdown, but they’re not the only group with shadowy funding spinning the press against vets (a spin that meets no resistance, because the press is already merrily spinning in the same direction). The emergence of these sorts of predigested pablum producers has been a delight for editors — canned human interest stories matching their prejudices, comforting the comfortable and afflicting the outgroup, and for short money, without needing to dictate the story to their own reporters before dispatching them to fill in the quote holes. The publisher can write one check a month to StoryCorps and get his news-hole filler or clickbait articles, ones that will never challenge his readers.

This is why you never see a story about a veteran who founded a business, anchors a small community, or, Gaia forfend,  stayed in the military to mentor, train and lead the next generation. That’s not The Narrative®, silly.

Where “Tripwire Vet” Stories Come from, Part I

Apparently we’re not the only ones dismayed to encounter graduates of journalism schools; even the newspapers have caught on and aren’t hiring them. Writing in 1993 in The New Republic, a key pub for the sort of trust-fund lefties who seek to change the world through their inspired slant on writing, Michael Lewis recounted the low opinions working newsmen have of the grads of J-Schools in general and especially the Columbia School of Journalism (a graduate school), but the real key graf was this one, recounting how the school actually graduates fewer alumni into journalism jobs than it matriculates out of them:

Journalism schools, of course, balk at being balked at. Last fall Columbia’s placement director boasted to students that 45 percent of the class of 1992 had found jobs or internships in journalism. Perhaps, but to appreciate that figure fully you must know that 50 percent of the class came to the school from full-time jobs in journalism. Another 20 percent had internships. Assuming the numbers provided by Columbia students and faculty are accurate, the journalism school redirected 25 percent of the class of 1992 into other occupations.

Yes, it’s old, but you have to Read The Whole Thing™. Yes, it’s good. It’s brilliant. The segment beginning a few weeks ago (it’s bold in the original) exposes exactly how the CJS students have been taught to begin with:

My null hypothesis! My angle. My bias. My take. My … point … of … view!

Lewis, to his credit, is a little bit shocked.

“My null hypothesis,” I said, “is that the Columbia Journalism School is all bullshit.”

They paused. “That’s a good null hypothesis,” said one, finally.

And that would be as dynamic a closing for his article as it will be for this blog post, but it’s only the set-up for a grander closing, and one that explains why the wise man never talks to “credentialed journalists.” Do Read The Whole Thing™.

And Stay Tuned for Part II.

The Eisenhorror Continues

This mess is the "tapestry" for the Ike Memorial.

This mess is the “tapestry” for the Ike Memorial. And we thought that Chairman Maotin Luther King was bad.

We have covered, long ago, the saga of the abominable Eisenhower Memorial, which even earlier we called, deservedly, emetic. This disaster is the result of a runaway commission of Washington insiders, who chose society architect Frank Gehry sight unseen. Gehry produced an abominable hackery of chain-link-fence “tapestries” and a statue of a child in an empty field.

The Eisenhower family is unsatisfied with this insulting abortion of an art-school undergrad C-minus design, and Congress tried to pull the plug on the failed commisssion and the Gehry eyesore. Gehry, for his part, has taken his fee (paid up front) and rather than produce the construction plans he was paid for, spent the money on a sleazeball lobbyist, figuring that with enough of a lobbying presence he can always hit the taxpayers up for more money (he’s received, and blown, $15 million so far).

From Mona Charen’s syndicated column:

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission was established in 2002 with a budget of $64 million. It is staffed by nine full-time employees, some earning six-figure salaries, and presided over by a 93-year-old, ailing board chairman.

Without a design competition, the commission chose a design by Frank Gehry that critics, including the Eisenhower family, regard as insulting to Eisenhower’s memory. Featuring enormous metal “tapestries” eight stories tall that would depict the Kansas prairie, the block-long memorial park with its enormous metal curtains would dwarf the statuary in the center. The original design called for Ike to be portrayed as a barefoot boy. Thus is a key figure in the history of the 20th century reduced to insignificance. Historians sometimes do that to people — memorials are meant to do the reverse.

The boy Ike has since been replaced, after protests, with a proposed statue of Ike as a cadet. Not much better. West Point has produced many cadets but only one Eisenhower. Gehry now proposes to eliminate the tapestries, but keep the pillars. Commission member Bruce Cole, who believes a simple statue of the man would have been best (and most consistent with Ike’s wishes), says the pillars standing alone “look for all the world like industrial smokestacks.” Others say they evoke an unfinished highway overpass or the final scene of Planet of the Apes.

Since the memorial has been stalled, you may ask, what happened to the money? After 15 years, the commission has spent $41 million, including paying Gehry 95 percent of the price of construction drawings before the design was approved. According to the set Washington Examiner, Gehry used some of the $15 million he received to hire former Clinton counsel Gregory Craig to help secure approval of the design. That’s how it goes when you’re well-connected in Washington.

Republicans in Congress declined the commission’s request for $50 million more. They appropriated just $1 million last year, which still leaves the corrupt commission in business. Is this farce to be the only memorial to one of our greatest leaders?

via Memorial to Waste | National Review Online.

You gotta love Washington. It’s the only place where anybody would kill something off by giving it “just” $1 million a year.

Here’s a better idea:  give it $0 a year, and let Ike’s family hire a sculptor, and do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo fund raiser to pay him. We’d hit that. What’s the problem with doing it that way?

Ah, yes. No scope for grifters, grafters and grabbers of the Gregory Craig variety. If there is no waste, no carrion, there is nothing for him to feed on, and he would have to get a job in the productive economy — something he has never learned how to do.

As for Gehry, let him find people that want to live in leaky, rusty eyesores, or corporations that want to make their employees work in them, on his own. He’ll survive, or not, without a handout from the US Government.

Islamic Jihad Propaganda and other Pulitzer Bait

Islamic JihadJournalists wonder why America hates them, and why they poll lower than telemarketers, pedophiles, ebola or even Congress. If any journalists happen to read WeaponsMan, they’ll find out by the end of this post.

ITEM: The website that absorbed the failed news magazine Newsweek has a new lease on life — as a propaganda outlet for Islamic Jihad. IJ supporter and Beast writer Jesse Rosenfeld has been running repeated stories about a supposed Israeli atrocity in the village of Khuzaa, where six of his IJ comrades seeking martyrdom apparently found it.

In previous stories, Rosenfeld tried to sell the six decomposing men, at least one of whom was dressed in a camouflage uniform, as civilians. And if you read his latest story, he seems to have but a single source, a putative IJ fighter. Making Rosenfeld his bitch steno pool, Abu Muhammad dictates:

However, as the ground invasion neared, according to Abu Muhammad, an intense Israeli campaign that included bombing from F-16s and intense artillery fire killed many fighters. Civilians began fleeing as shelling intensified, but real panic came when Israel moved in its tanks, and the civilian exodus began in earnest.

During this phase of the fighting, the Palestinian resistance in the town hunkered down and waited as the Israeli shelling and aerial bombardment laid waste to one building after another in order to clear a path for tanks and jeeps. From the tunnels, the fighters could hear above them Israeli troops carving out the buffer zone that would eat up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory and leave much of that area reduced to rubble.

“After we had been in the tunnels about a week, with the Israelis firing mortars, they drove in with the tanks,” said Abu Muhammad, who apologized about his uncertain grasp on specific dates. He’d lost track of the days after so much time underground, he said, but he remembered, “There were around 60 tanks.”

Flag_of_the_Islamic_Jihad_Movement_in_Palestine.svg

Only when Israel had positioned its forces around Khuzaa did the armed Palestinian groups begin their counterattack, according to Abu Muhammad. “First we targeted the tanks and the jeeps with IEDs,” he said mechanically, as if recalling a combat briefing. In the second stage of their effort to bog down and then repel Israeli forces, the three guerrilla factions launched a multi-pronged hit-and-run campaign from all directions.

“Some of our people would come out of the ground, attack the soldiers and then disappear back into a tunnel,” said the combat veteran.  “Others surprised them from empty houses,” he said.

“The guerrillas found themselves in an all-out firefight at the entrance to the tunnel.”
In one of those brazen attacks, says Abu Muhammad, fighters used a shoulder-fired rocket to hit a house the Israeli army had taken over, killing two of the soldiers with sniper fire as they fled the building. He is unable to give an overall estimate of Israeli or Islamic Jihad casualties in Khuzaa, but says 130 fighters from his group were killed during the war. (Israeli intelligence puts that number at 182.)

When I visited Khuzaa on four occasions during and after the war, there were clear signs of an intense battle in the ruins of the town. Incoming and outgoing machine-gun fire covered homes and apartments near positions taken by Israeli soldiers. Israeli bullet casings littered the floors of the entrances to residences that were transformed into stucco barracks.

via Did Israel Execute Jihadists in Gaza? – The Daily Beast.

Abu Muhammad said there was another guy, and describes what the other guy saw, but IJ didn’t make that guy available to their loyal scribe, so the corroboration for Rosenfeld’s single source is the single source’s alleged hearsay from another source.

It’s all Propaganda

tonguebathThe rest of the Beast is similarly slanted Scheissdreck. We’ll just describe one more ITEM: There’s a story about Chuck Todd’s debut as host of Meet The Press – a slavering tongue bath of Todd’s reproductive tackle to the same extent that Todd’s fawning, servile “interview” of the President was a slavering tongue bath, in turn, of Todd’s President Boyfriend. It’s getting pretty meta in the Washington press corps.

The media wonders, sometimes, why their stock is so low with the public. Jesse Rosenfeld, the Jake Lingle of the Islamic Jihad, is one reason. The Chuck Todd tongue baths — incoming and outgoing — are two more reasons.

bettercallsaulAnd then – ITEM. There’s William Langewiesche, the Vanity Fair writer who in 2007 worked with a plaintiff’s attorney to craft a one-sided, partly fabricated and the remainder slanted, story in that mostly celeb-gossip magazine, to help advance the lawsuit.

“You and I are now firmly on the same side,” he told [the ambulance chaser] in one of his emails. “But actually we were about an hour after I met you.”

Footnote: I emailed Langewiesche, asking if this is the way he approaches all his stories and if there was some explanation of how his conduct constituted fair journalism that I was failing to understand. He didn’t reply.

Gee, that’s special. (Well, not really. That’s typical, that’s what they learn at J-School). Langewiesche has written a defense of his so-called ethics that is mostly heat, not light; it amounts to, “sure I was on the side of the ambulance chasers, because they were right, and the oil company was eeevil.” In his words:

As to my being on Donziger’s side: yes, and openly so, but only to this degree—after weeks of fieldwork, and an even longer time being stonewalled by Chevron, I concluded, quite explicitly in the piece, that the plaintiffs were essentially right…

So here we have a professional journalist, the Miami Herald’s Glenn Garvin, crucifying another pro, Langewiesche, for the sort of underhanded misreporting that’s characteristic of the entire profession. Journalists come to their desks with a Manichean worldview, and every story is a B-western with good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats. They make the decision early on, select the Narrative they’re going for, and from then on, the facts are cut to size, beaten to fit, and painted to match.

We have discharged our duty to our readers by linking, above, the takedown and the reponse. Personally, we’re amused by the outraged bleat that how dare a fellow ink-stained wretch treat a member of the Guild like the Guild treats the Muggles.

This is no less than Carnegie’s maxim about talent in generations, playing out on the public stage. Langewiesche’s father wrote a book on airmanship, published 70 years ago, that’s still cherished by new generations of pilots — at least, by those who aspire to mastery of the craft. The son inherited the skill with words, but that’s the extent of it.

Rather like a gun, verbal facility can be used for good or for ill. Q.E.D.

And then, again, ITEM: there’s the Guardian’s Damian Walter, who wanted his readers to loathe a book editor and publisher, one Toni Weisskopf, as much as he loathes her himself. Since she hasn’t done anything loathsome, he just made up a bunch of quotes and stuff. Novelist Larry Correia (author of the great HK: Because You Suck. And We Hate You meme) finally wrung an admission to the fabrication out of Walter, who is not very bright and perseverates like an autistic kid. (We just gave you the tl;dr version because we don’t have Larry’s patience for putting up with this scrote).

Perhaps Damian is striking for a job at Vanity Fair.

Bottom line: we can’t imagine why people don’t trust the media. Can you?

Khmer Rouge leaders finally face justice

One of Cambodia's many chilling memorials to KR days. From a travelogue by Lauren Irons.

One of Cambodia’s many chilling memorials to KR days. From a travelogue by Lauren Irons.

Decades after their 1970s mass murders, two Khmer Rouge leaders, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, finally were convicted for a small subset of their crimes during the Killing Fields massacres that halved the population of Cambodia in the 1970s.

The New York Times, whose editors and reporters don’t seem to remember now their paper’s support and admiration for the KR in 1973-78, has reported on the trials:

Witnesses have given harrowing testimony of being forced out of their homes and into the countryside by Khmer Rouge soldiers, denied medical care and seeing executions and other atrocities. The evacuation of Phnom Penh in April of 1975 left the capital a ghost town and portended the social fragmentation that would follow over the next three years, eight months and 20 days of Khmer Rouge rule. Families were separated, money was abolished, and the country’s population was forced into a giant, failed effort of collectivized labor.

“The heart of the Khmer Rouge crimes was the complete disregard of human costs of their revolution,” said David Chandler, a former American diplomat who served in Cambodia and is a leading historian on the Khmer Rouge atrocities. “Their vision was completely flawed and unhitched to reality.”

The trial began in 2011, more than three decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, a delay that was one of several factors that complicated the quest for justice.

“Justice on this scale cannot be done by any trial mechanism as far as I can see,” Mr. Chandler said.

The limited scope of the trial and verdict, which dealt only with the forced evacuations and one site where mass executions occurred, has frustrated many observers and victims, and even the staunchest supporters of the trial have been ambivalent about the process.

“We knew that the court would not resolve everything. But it was important to have the proceedings. We had to continue the search for truth,” said Youk Chhang, the founder of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an organization that has amassed a trove of documents and photographs from the Khmer Rouge era.

via 2 Senior Khmer Rouge Leaders Are Convicted in Cambodia, Decades After Rule – NYTimes.com.

It was standard New York Times (and academic) narrative in 1975 that the KR were not that bad, or, if they were that bad, that, “Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia” made them do it (this last was the position of the Times’s Sidney Shanberg). It all depended on whose ox was gored:

canon.PDF

[T]here were many times more stories and editorials by the New York Times and the Washington Post on the condition of human rights in South Korea and Chile than there were on Cambodia, Cuba, and North Korea, combined.

 

The Times, which supported Lenin, Stalin, Castro, and Cambodia’s Samphan, Chea, Ieng Sary and Pol Pot (the last two of whom cheated justice by dying in 2013 and 1998 respectively), has never, ever, faced the fact that “scientific international socialism,” like its kissing cousin “national socialism” always ends in mass murder. It is a fine thing to welcome the Times, after three decades plus, to the opposition to the Khmer Rouge, but it’s a pity it hasn’t shaken their underlying belief, nor their fundamental gullibility: they’ll fall for the next revolution, too.

The KR leaders were the Times’s kind of people: bright, highly verbal, university graduates with an internationalist outlook (most of them educated in 1950s and 60s Paris). Like the editors of the Manhattan broadsheet, they believed in central planning, big government, the subordination of the individual to the needs of the collective many.

Of course, the Times editors except themselves, and those like themselves, from such expropriation: “special ones like us” had needs, you know? And so did the Khmer Rouge.

Well, a Cambodian court has spoken, and the KR communists are officially guilty. In this day and age, a court doing the right thing, however belatedly and wherever found, is something worthy of remark. Who knows, an outbreak of journalistic integrity might follow.

Land of the Lost… Guns: Afghanistan

So, we saw this at Miguel’s, which led us to Fox News, which led us to the Washington Times, which still didn’t give up the primary source document. We wanted the primary source document because the numbers in the Times’s story didn’t add up.

The essential claims in these media versions of the story are:

  1. The Afghans have lost or sold off tens of thousands of the guns we gave them; and,
  2. The databases are poisoned with many duplicates; and,
  3. Most or many of the US-provided weapons were never entered in the database; therefore:
  4. Accountability for weapons in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANA/ANP) is nonexistent.

Here are the numbers as we pulled them from the report, and as the media spun ‘em:

The narrative is that the Afghan National Army has lost tens if not hundreds of thousands of small arms, and that as a result We Are Doomed. It took some doing (anyone who thinks Obamacare’s website was uniquely mishandled has spent no time among the web gardens of the .gov or .mil) but we did unearth the document.

Two Databases Stood Back-to-Back, Refusing to Say a Word…

The problem is at once more complex, more nuanced, and more interesting than that. And for gloom and doom fans, we’re probably still doomed. The bottom line is that the US’s incredibly complex and inefficient inventory systems, which famously do not talk to one another, also don’t mesh with the inventory system we provided to Afghanistan. Three completely different (and fundamentally incompatible) IT systems track US-provided small arms in OEF. Those systems include:

  • SCIP, the Security Cooperation Information Portal, used in the USA by logisticians supplying materiel to American allies worldwide.
  • OVERLORD, the Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database, developed in-country by the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), the latest of several names for the US training HQ in-country.
  • CoreIMS, the Core Inventory Management System, a US-spec COTS inventory database that has been foisted off on our valiant Afghan allies.

Here’s a graphic from that famous primary source document that the Times and Fox wouldn’t show you, preferring to predigest your informational meal. (Here’s a link to the document: SIGAR 14-84.pdf. We’ve saved a copy in case the link goes  tango uniform). This shows what the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction thinks the process is:

dod_weapons_inventory_process

 

So what we have turns out to be, not vast numbers of guns vanishing as they take each step along the pipeline, but three different and incompatible databases having data that are at odds with one another.

Which database is right? Who knows? Could be any of them. Or none of them! In fact, all three databases could have wide discrepancies, and yet none of them have totals close to what actually exists in inventory.

But it turns out, if you actually read the SIGAR report instead of act like a Media Luminary and Skim Until Shocked, the auditors did that, and as it turns out, some of the numbers are before they deep-dove the data, and some of the numbers don’t represent what they appear to represent. Yes, Afghan inventories are a mess, but they’re not the mess the news stories describe. A spot check of weapons in storage at the ANA Kandahar depot, for example, found the weapons in the crates the database said they’d be in, and traced every weapon back in inventories that matched the weapons on site. A similar exercise at the ANP 22 Bunkers Depot appeared to have similar results, but the inspectors didn’t have time to complete the inspection.  True, other depots and units had more fragmentary records, and the ANA Central Supply Depot’s records were far off from what was inventoried on site. But by Afghan standards, it wasn’t all that bad.

Remember that the idea of weapons inventories was something that Afghans have never done, except when compelled by Soviet or NATO allies. That they don’t do it as well as the US DOD, while using a stack of incompatible and user-hostile systems imposed from outside, shouldn’t shock anybody.

If you’re an old Afghan hand, one fundamental error in this whole process will have jumped out at you from the very beginning: trying to impose a sophisticated Western computer system (actually, multiple systems; a fourth incompatible database called ULTRA, Universal Listing of Transactions for Record Accounting, is under construction for the ANP) on a nation of Iron Age illiterates. Illiteracy was 94% to 97% when we first went into Afghanistan (the Taliban had closed all schools except madrassas). Illiterates make weak computer operators, something that American loggies never considered for a minute before deciding to spin up the Afghans in Microsoft World. Results predictable:

According to CSTC-A officials, efforts to develop the capabilities of ANSF personnel to manage the central depots have been hindered by the lack of basic education or skills among ANSF personnel and frequent turnover of Afghan staff.

Gee, there’s a shocker. We impose US-style personnel turbulence and military bureaucracy on an ally where most of the population is illiterate and borderline innumerate, and as Wilkins Micawber might say, “results, misery.”

The Duplicate Serials Problem: Not Such a Big Deal

Then, there’s the duplicate serial numbers problem , which comes to rise for two reasons:

  1. The procurers, developers and operators of the system did not understand that different weapon makes and models may indeed use the same serial numbers, and different manufacturers may use the same serial numbers for their versions of the same firearm, and so they erred in trying to use serial number by itself as a unique key;
  2. Lack of communication between databases

Even the authors of the report don’t seem to find that their discovery of some duplicate numbers is meaningless. Here’s their table from the report:

sigar_serial_number_dupes

¡Ay, Chihuahua! (Old Afghan phrase). Yes, it’s not just an Afghan thing to have two weapons with the same serial number. Heck, the USA did it:

M1 Rifle Serial 1,608,803: these two receivers were sold by CMP at auction recently.

M1 Rifle Serial 1,628,802: these twin receivers were sold by CMP at auction recently.

Someone who knows weapons can clear these three discrepancies in about two tenths of a second. Like this:

  • DX2383 needs to be reconciled by eyes-on physical inventory, because it’s possible that this represents two different guns, but because an AMD-65 is a variant of AK-47, it’s equally possible that this is one gun described two ways. Several manufacturers made AK variants using serial numbers of this pattern, so only physical inventory can establish whether we’re talking about one gun or two here.
  • 178203 is obviously two different weapons, and a properly constructed database would not confuse an M203 with an M249 of the same serial number.
  • A598 is the very same problem, Russian-designed-weapons style.

As anyone who’s ever accounted for any significant quantity of firearms can tell you, serial numbers are only likely to be unique on a single type (i.e. make/model/caliber) of weapon made for a single customer by a single manufacturer. Now, we’re not sure what other US arms have duped serial numbers like the M1 example above. (We know M16A1 rifles and XM177 “submachine guns” had absolutely unique numbers because manufacturers had independent sN blocks).

But this duplication is spun by SIGAR, in their ignorance of firearms, as a major problem, and it is spun in turn by the media as a Chicken Little sky-is-falling moment. It’s only a problem because the database designers and auditors are ignorant of the limits of serial numbering.

We certainly admit that the SIGAR report does identify some real challenges facing Afghan services on weapons-inventory issues, and it points up the poor visibility into those issues that US service elements, including CSTC-A, have into Afghan inventories. As far as the weaknesses of Afghan inventory controls are concerned, this is news to us in which way? We were pleasantly surprised to see that some Afghan National Police elements are tracking their assigned weapons using Microsoft Excel. This means they have some literate cops, who can even use computers — that’s miles ahead of 2002, let us tell you. But the SIGAR is shocked by this, and by the fact they’re not using some high-dollar, centralized, fiddly data management system instead of Excel.

Crawl, walk, run, people. Trying to drop Afghans into RDBMS management when they not only haven’t got the hang of Excel, but are largely utterly unlettered, is asking for trouble.

One is reminded of Lawrence’s maxim not to do things for the locals, but to let them do it themselves, however imperfectly.

Military Phonies in Politics

Ken Aden -- Special Forces phony, faker, fraud. The lesser of two weevils.

Ken Aden — Special Forces phony, faker, fraud, and 2012 Congressional candidate. The lesser of two weevils.

Today, a friend reminded us of Ken Aden, a 2012 congressional candidate in Arkansas who is a phony “Green Beret.” Aden actually managed to flunk out of SF school so spectacularly — three times, so at least he’s not a quitter — that the Command Sergeant Major of the school distinctly remembered him four years later. It was kind of sad, because Aden served creditably in the Army, he just didn’t succeed in SF, which is hardly a rare thing. What is a relatively rare thing is for a guy who did not succeed to go around claiming he did. Maybe that once was common, but nowadays everybody’s a couple of phone calls or emails away from authenticating just about anybody. Anyway, here’s the post on Aden if you want to pick at that scab. We don’t think he’s running for anything this year; he learned that lesson.

On the other hand, our post about him is so full of typos and grammatical screwups, we have to say, “No, really” about college degrees… sheesh. It was not our finest hour. Anyway, Aden threw in the sponge when his imposture was outed. He’s back in mind today because we have two guys, at least, running on their military records, when the military records haven’t exactly held up to scrutiny.

Ron Dickey, Congressional Candidate in Mississippi: SF Phony

Dickey has claimed to be a “Green Beret”. Here is an example of that claim. You may rest assured that there are many more such examples:

Ron Dickey SF phony

Dickey, whose full name is Flemron Earl Russell Dickey, has already won his contested primary for the Democrat nomination, and will be on the general election ballot 4 November 14. Is he really a Green Beret? Here are his real military assignments.

Ron Dickey real records

Dickey served honorably, completing Basic and Advanced Individual Training and assignments in Korea and at Fort Bragg. As you see, is only AIT was as a 94B, Food Service Specialist. In plain English, a cook. His SF claim hangs on this flimsy peg: he was assigned to HHC, 3rd Special Forces Group, and worked in the Group’s mess hall, where he prepared and served food for real Green Berets on a daily basis.

What the hell? Ron could claim he was a veteran, no problem. He could even say he was a support guy who worked for Special Forces, and we wouldn’t quibble. But normally, even cooks in an SFG’s HHC (or back in the day, support battalion or service company) are required to be jump-qualified, and Ron’s record shows no attendance at jump school, nor award of the parachutist badge. (Maybe it’s routine for some cooks at Bragg to be legs? All we know is that our cooks at 10th Group at Devens, and later in the Reserve and Guard SF units, were Airborne qualified).

Unfortunately, Ron’s false claims do not end there. He also claims to be a Desert Storm Veteran. He has made these claims broadly and in detail, and they are not supported by his records at all. Elements of 3rd Group did attend that party, but he did not.

Even before these false claims were exposed, Ron Dickey had an uphill fight against incumbent Alan Nunnelee, a Republican who retained his seat with 60% of the vote in 2012. The Cook Partisan Voting Index rates the district R+16 in 2014; many Mississippi Democrats are gerrymandered into another district (the 2nd).

FMI: Guardian of Valor on Ron Dickey. This Ain’t Hell on Ron Dickey.  Stolen Valor Offenders Exposed on Ron Dickey. (They have scores of screencaps of his claims; GoV has them well-organized).

Senator “Dishonest John” Walsh: Thesis Thief, and Ethics Violator

Face of a Thesis Thief

Face of a Thesis Thief: Dishonest John Walsh.

While Ron Dickey’s phonyhood has mostly been an under-the-radar phenomenon, John Walsh’s problems have exploded into the national media with a story in the New York Times. Walsh is an appointed Senator; after 30 years as a part-time officer in the Montana National Guard and full-time Guard “technician,” he ran for Lieutenant Governor after retiring. When the Governor, Bryan Schweitzer, had a chance to name a Senator, after the President named incumbent Max Baucus to an ambassadorship, he thought the best chance of keeping the seat in Democrat hands in conservative Montana was to name someone with an unquestionable military background.

Unfortunately for him and his party, he thought Dishonest John was that guy.

The current tornado of news is animated by the discovery that almost all the substance of Walsh’s 2007 War College thesis was plagiarized. From the initial story at the New York Times:

But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.

Mr. Walsh completed the paper, what the War College calls a “strategy research project,” to earn his degree in 2007, when he was 46. The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online.

Most strikingly, each of the six recommendations Mr. Walsh laid out at the conclusion of his 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” is taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic.

The Washington Post adds some specifics on Walsh’s thesis theft:

The first page borrows heavily from a 2003 Foreign Affairs piece written by Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a 2009 book by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer called “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.”

All six of the recommendations that Walsh lists at the end of his paper are taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie paper written by Carothers and three other scholars at the institute.

One section of the paper is nearly identical to about 600 words from a 1998 paper by Sean Lynn-Jones, a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.

Walsh is ducking responsibility for the plagiarism, claiming that it was PTSD from his service as a safe-as-houses battalion commander in Iraq that forced him to plagiarize many sources, essentially adding up to the whole damned paper.

The War College has started an enquiry, according to a follow-up in the Times:

“It’s clear there is indeed strong reason to believe this is plagiarism,” said the War College’s provost, Lance Betros, a retired brigadier general. “We are initiating academic review procedures.”

Dr. Betros said he made the decision after he and another member of the War College’s staff read Mr. Walsh’s 14-page paper and used an online plagiarism detection program to review the document.

The notification letter to Mr. Walsh indicates that an academic review board consisting of War College faculty members will meet no earlier than Aug. 15. Any student or graduate facing such questions is given 10 days after receiving notification to decide whether to appear in person or provide information before the board convenes.

Dr Betros told that Times that six War College graduates have had their degrees yanked for plagiarism since 1990 (and two more for other misconduct). It seems probable that as soon as two weeks from now, Walsh will be the ninth disgraced grad.

Montana’s other Senator, Jon Tester, who is not a veteran, defended Walsh, and indicated that military ideals of integrity were passé and immaterial. After all, Tester explained, “there’s no malice in this.” So, he cheated on a course, so what? Likewise, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee came out swinging for Walsh. “John Walsh is a decorated war hero, and it’s disgusting” that people would call him on something like plagiarism, spokesman Justin Barasky, who is not a veteran, exploded, before going nuclear on Walsh’s election opponent, blaming him for the “smear” of Walsh that came about when the New York Times, a well-known tool of small-state Republican politicians, exposed Walsh’s plagiarism. 

But the plagiarism isn’t the biggest problem in Walsh’s military history, although it speaks resoundingly of his integrity. Because his political career is nugatory — the 2012 Lt. Governorship was his first office — he has cast his campaign largely in light of his military service — a service in which he not only, as has now been exposed, cheated to get ahead, but couldn’t stay there once he did.

For example, Dishonest John represents himself as a brigadier general in campaign ads, but while he wore the star on state orders, he never received Federal recognition for the promotion because of allegations of corruption in office, allegations that were proven credible. (Had he been cleared, he would have been federally recognized as a two-star Major General; instead, he had to retire as a Colonel). An Army IG investigation substantiated that Walsh had violated the DOD Joint Ethics Regulation; pressured subordinates to join and donate to a political lobbying organization he sought a position with; misused “his official title, position, and official photograph;” “improperly used his government position for private gain;” and misused Federal resources including computer systems and personnel.

The IG investigation came about because of a complaint from one of the subordinates Walsh targeted for pressure.

There’s also a question of how Walsh’s branch morphed so many times, from Armor at commissioning, to Ordnance, suddenly to Infantry prior to his deployment to Iraq — but that’s rather typical for a “political” Guard officer who is in favor in the state capital, as Walsh has been with Governor Bryan Schweitzer.

UPDATE

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, a committed Democrat who could be expected to do what he could to protect Walsh, instead savaged Dishonest John’s “fact sheet” which included, among other things, a fabricated claim that he had “survived hundreds of IED explosions”:

Walsh survived hundreds of IED explosions while in a Humvee, he was targeted – by name – by Al Qaida in Iraq, and his unit endured hundreds of rocket attacks.

His unit might have, but he didn’t. In a separate story, the Post’s Aaron Blake, another typical Postie who wishes Democrats well, lit into the “fact sheet”‘s dishonest combat claims.

If surviving “hundreds of IED explosions” sounds unbelievable, that’s because it didn’t happen. Walsh’s campaign followed up with a correction (which they call a clarification), noting that he personally didn’t survive all those IED attacks.

“He survived an attack in October 2005, while his unit endured hundreds of both IED and rocket attacks throughout the deployment,” a Walsh spokeswoman said.

That’s a pretty glaring factual error, especially for a “fact sheet.”

Dishonest John has also tried to explain away his serial and pervasive plagiarism with a PTSD/TBI dodge, but if he’d been blow’d up enough to have a TBI, his records would show the Purple Heart medal, and they don’t; and, as Blake notes, he never mentioned PTSD until he was on the ropes for plagiarism.

Campaign spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua “scolded the press” and insisted that Walsh’s Xerox-strength wholesale copying was a single “unintentional mistake.” Kessler gives Walsh a well-deserved Four Pinnochios here.

quatro_pinnochios

 

In this case, the media has actually done the military’s work by unearthing and exposing an unethical officer. No doubt another investigation or three will take place, but any way you look at it, we all owe Kessler, Blake and especially the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin a cold one for shining a light on one of the hidden Courtney Massengales.

Dunning-Kruger Media Effect, and “RIP Ammo” hype

OK, there are rounds that can produce guaranteed death. They just don't fit in pistols.

OK, there are rounds that can produce guaranteed death. They just don’t fit in pistols.

Blue Nation Review is a newish website, dedicated to the proposition that the liberal message (including enthusiasm for gun bans, a frequent theme) has no way of reaching a misinformed public. And apart from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the Times, the Post, and all the journalistic farm teams populated by eager and callow youths aspiring to those major leagues, they have a point. It came to our attention because they’re spending enormously on ads with Taboola, and the ads kept appearing on major media websites.

But the essence of Dunning-Kruger, as stated in the brilliant paper “Unskilled and Unaware of It,” is a near-Rumsfeldian tautology: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” In the case of BNR, they don’t know a damned thing about firearms or ammunition. So, after listing a bunch of nonfatal accidents from the twitter feed of gun-ban activist David Waldman, and seeing some assclown’s promo video, they be terrorized (warning, site’s privacy-invasive wrt your location):

But if one Georgia company is successful, accidental shootings that injure people may become a thing of the past. That’s because if people start using their bullets, pretty much every person who gets shot will die.

G2 Research’s “Radically Invasive Projectile” (RIP, get it? — because shooting people to death is hilarious) is a copper bullet that explodes when it hits a target (i.e., a human being) sending pieces screaming through vital organs and clearing a path for the bullet’s core to travel deeper through a person.

via New Bullets Mean Certain Death – Blue Nation Review Blue Nation Review.

Except, they’re hyperventilating over hype. As we wrote six months ago, “The claims were so over-the-top, we dismissed the round as snake oil.  But we weren’t going to debunk the claims. Fortunately, someone else did.”

Our conclusions then bear repeating:

Look, there’s no magic ammunition: nothing you can chamber in a barrel is going to do to a bad guy what you’d like to do to him (unless your barrel is 155mm and tows behind an LMTV, which limits your concealment options). Ammo vendors have been making big claims about ammo forever, and in all that time, guys (good and bad) have been surviving hits of “killer” ammo — we personally met two guys who took 12.7 x 108mm rounds and survived, and a friend took a 5.56 point blank through his brain housing group, and he’s still with us. And in all that time, guys (good and bad) have been taking the “golden BB” from a .22 LR or an even-more-anemic .25ACP and they’re now singing in the Choir Invisible.

It was probably predictable that the marketing hot air generated by the RIP ammunition would wind up being used by those who would leave us, disarmed, at the mercy of their fellow liberals, the violent criminals. (We’re not saying the authors of BNR are criminals, we’re saying that they and the criminals share a position that’s soft on crime and hard on self-defense, and we give them the benefit of belief that their motivations and the criminals’ for arriving at the same position are different).

In all of the nonfatal cases the editors of BNR reference, we can assure them that RIP ammo would not be significantly more damaging than common self-defense JHP ammo or even the 19th-Century ball ammo required by military conventions. Indeed, the lower penetration of the RIP fragments and reduced mass (and therefore penetration) of the central penetrator make things easier on the ER docs and surgeons, although it will doubtless be a hassle chasing down all the little copper fragments.

More of our February wisdom:

You can only be sure a threat is negated if the guy is killed, in our opinion. (You can be pretty sure if his condition is, “not dead… yet.” And the only way to put the guy in that state for sure is with hits in the human’s X-ring, the central nervous system. You do your part, and even FMJ will punch the guy’s ticket for him.

And, while we may not agree with the authors of BNR or with the extreme Waldman on much of  anything else, we can find common ground in contempt for most of the people having negligent discharges. Honestly, folks, tighten up your shot group in that area, because you’re giving way too much glee to people who do not have your best interests in mind.

But then, we don’t think there’s a big intersection between the set of readers of this blog, and people committing some of those egregious ND’s. How do you reach people who already know it all? Because those are the guys having the accidents.

In the meantime, most of what the general media, old and new, writes about firearms and ammunition is purest tosh. Case in point.

Why Johnny Can’t Journalize

displomaMost journalists are no-good bums, so it’s hard to suppress one’s rejoicing at any misfortune that befalls them. They’re activists with bylines, with a narrow set of life experiences and a blinkered worldview that makes their ever-front-and-center opinions especially worthless. Unaware of that, in a textbook case of Dunning-Kruger Effect gone high-order, they are confident in their knowledge, expertise, and general superiority.

Thus our delight in their discomfiture. Pure Schadenfreude. 

One fundamental problem is that they go to journalism schools to “change the world,” and the J-schools teach them storytelling, not reporting. So the narrative is always primary with them, driving factual considerations to the 18th graf of the story, if not clean off the page.

Increasingly, though, they stink at the storytelling too, and newspapers that once prided themselves on observing the fundamental mechanics of good, clear, readable English are swollen with errors, typos, syntactic crimes and misdemeanors, and other trespasses. Everywhere are signs that the spellcheck crutch has replaced the ability to write among the hothouse flowers transplanted from the J-school nursery.

This diploma may illustrate why: it says it was conveyed by Northwestern U to a graduate of the “Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Itegrated Marketing Communications.” The Romenesko Report, a trade publication for the members of the state-controlled media in the USA, notes that the regular diplomas had the name right: only the honors grads got “Itegrated.”

Hell of a way to start your career as a barista, kid.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guy wires

Amanda Ezra selfie, while she still had a head. Dead of easy access to handguns and drunk driving, but mostly drunk driving.

Amanda Ezra selfie, while she still had a head. Dead of easy access to handguns and drunk driving, but mostly drunk driving.

For all the sturm und drang over the hazards of having a gun around your family, the evidence of daily life never ceases to prove the real hazard is having drunk, stupid, or reckless people around your family. And in this case Amanda Ezra lost her head (literally) to a guy wire, because Kyle Papa was drunk, stupid and reckless.

Investigators soon learned that Ezra, Early, Niles, Bowers and Papa had been at a party when they left in the minivan owned by Ezra.

Niles was in the front passenger seat with Ezra on his lap, while Papa was driving.

Police say the five left the party and headed down Chestnut when Papa realized he had turned the wrong way when he reached the cul-de-sac.

Papa drove quickly around the cul-de-sac, according to court documents, and over shot the curve, driving into the grass.

At the time, Ezra was leaning her head out the window to vomit, according to investigators. When Papa drove the vehicle in the grass, he drove between a utility pole and guide wire.

Ezra struck the guide wire, which caused her head to jerk back and also strike the side of the van.

via Man charged in death of Mishawaka woman after freak accident in Osceola | Local – Home.

Kyle T. Papa mugshot. Stupid is as Kyle does, apparently.

Kyle T. Papa mugshot. Stupid is as Kyle does, apparently.

“Stupid is as stupid does.” Nothing you can fix with legislation, however well-crafted or positively intended.

Of course, the ol’ Judgment Juice™ was a contributing factor in Kyle Papa’s decision to drive like a bozo, and Amanda Ezra’s decision to puke out a window, to the permanent detriment of her head-neck interface.

Giving another drunk the keys to your car is not “defensive driving.” It’s more like begging for doom. Stupid is… the thing that inevitably lights the fuze of its own undoing.