Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chatham, MA becomes SHARK CITY for the tourists on Cape Cod

Summer on Cape Cod and the tourists are out in full force to see....SHARKS !! Great White Sharks no less.....

That's right, Chatham, MA on Cape Cod has become " Shark City " based on the past few summers of Great White Shark sightings. The Sharks are there for the seals, the tourists want to try to see the Sharks.....What the Tourists don't realize is that Sharks are way off shore and they are very solitary creatures.

But in the meantime, it means more business for the locals and that is not a bad thing except for those who hate traffic.....which raises the question, " If you hate traffic, why would you go to Cape Cod during the summer ??" - The Cape is all about traffic, especially in the summer....

Looks like they will need to heed the advice of Chief Martin Brody, " You're gonna need a bigger boat."

Shark Chase, Blood-Thirsty Tourists Jolt Town
By Laura Keeley - Jun 30, 2011

The great white sharks swimming off the waters of Chatham, Massachusetts, are boosting its economy by luring more tourists. Now the Cape Cod town is wondering whether being so popular will have a bite.

As the Fourth of July weekend kicks off the summer vacation season, Chatham is the best place on the cape to view the predators, according to Greg Skomal, shark expert at the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries. The several thousand gray seals dwelling in the area are shark prey, he said.

“The seal population has reached some critical level that the likelihood of seeing a white shark now has increased,” Skomal said.

Shops and restaurants profited last summer as busloads of visitors detoured to the town in pursuit of shark sightings, resulting in constant traffic jams, said Lisa Franz, executive director of the Chatham Chamber of Commerce. This year, with at least two film crews visiting, some residents are bracing for unwelcome attention.

“We wanted to be known as a nice, quiet, laid-back community,” said Mike Ambriscoe, fire chief of the town, 75 miles southeast of Boston. “We’ve been having this problem where sharks have been visiting us. It certainly does put you in the limelight.”

In the past two summers, state experts have tagged 13 great white sharks and confirmed the sighting of at least four others. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a shark warning last year on July 2. This year, fishermen in Martha’s Vineyard, 60 miles away, spotted a great white on May 6.

Shark Circus

News of the sightings brought about 5,000 day-trippers into town each month last summer, said Tim Roper, a selectman.

“Folks show up and ask, ‘What’s the best place to see the sharks?’ or ‘What time do they start eating the seals?’ as if it were a circus act,” Roper said.

Great whites can exceed 20 feet in length and weigh more than 2 tons, according to the Marine Division’s website. In comparison, a Honda Insight compact car is about 14.3 feet long and weighs about 2,700 pounds, according to Edmunds Inc., an automotive information company.

Skomal said people aren’t at risk of being attacked by sharks on Chatham’s beaches as long as they visit ones away from the seals that draw the predators.

“The first year this all happened, I was really nervous about it and would say to others, don’t talk about it, we don’t want shark merchandise,” Franz said. “The second year, I embraced it. The third year, come on down, we’ll have a shark statue for you.”

More Sightseers

The shark buzz and favorable weather boosted revenue by about 20 percent for Beachcomber Boat Tours, which ferries tourists to where the seals gather at Monomoy Island, said Paula St. Pierre, owner. Chatham’s population is 6,579 most of the year, swelling to about 25,000 in July and August, according to the town website.

Chatham didn’t have as many gray seals to attract sharks before the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972 made it illegal to kill them and the population began to rebound. Federal authorities are investigating the fatal shootings of six seals in the area this year, said Michael Booth, spokesman for the International Fund for Animal Wildlife. Skomal said fishermen tend not to like the seals, which they blame for eating all their catch and driving away other fish.

“People are more interested in sharks than ever,” St. Pierre said. “They have fantasies that they’re going to see something like a National Geographic show.”

Customer Expectations

No customer has witnessed a shark attack a seal in her 12 years of operating boat tours.

“I just don’t want anyone to have any fantasies when they go on the boat that they’re going to see a seal island attacked with a shark jumping out of the water,” she said. “Who wants to see that anyway? I don’t want to see that.”

Sharks have been identified with Cape Cod since 1975, when Steven Spielberg used Martha’s Vineyard as the setting for his movie of Peter Benchley’s novel “Jaws.” The book was set in New York’s Long Island.

Celine Cousteau, granddaughter of the late sea explorer Jacques Cousteau, plans to spend weeks in town with a crew gathering material for a documentary, “The White Sharks of Chatham,” said Michael LeFort, co-producer. A team from the Discovery Channel already came to film a documentary for its Shark Week programming, Franz said.

Scientists don’t have much historical information on the activities of great whites in the Atlantic, LeFort said.

“Everyone has an opinion on both sides,” he said about the town’s reaction to the sharks. “I can tell you that there’s more fear than celebration.”

Just for clarification.....The "reality" of who we are fighting here in the AF/PAK region

I want to clarify something to the pointy headed idjits in the press and those inside the Beltway in DC. This is a subject that the US Military is clear on but the rest of the talking heads within the halls of Government are still kinda clueless on.....Especially those who talk about the subject when their only goal is re-election, not doing what is needed.

YES, we are fighting Al Qeada but we are also fighting the TALIBAN, Haqqani, and a whole collection of unaligned narco-terrorists who are roaming around on either side of the AF/PAK border...These evil bastards don't care about what we do, they want to keep control and terrorize the populace in Afghanistan & Pakistan. They want to inflict as much damage as possible (For example, see the Intercontinental Hotel raid on Tuesday) and try to wear down the support of the homefront as in that fashion, they win. We go home, they take over all over again.

These are the same heartless and souless bastards who hung a 7 year old child in AFGHN as a spy last July. They will kill anyone, at any time to further there own vile cause.

I feel about the same way as USMC General James Mattis - " You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot." - Roger that sir.

Just for clarification, the enclosed illustration paints 1000 words. I'm sorry Mr. & Mrs. America. I know you are tired of us being here in Afghanistan but these souless bastards are the 21st century version of the Nazis. We must elminate them as they will not stop doing what they do. Their goal is to inflict their twisted version of "reality" upon the entire Western World.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SLICK MITT ROMNEY UPDATE - ROMNEY wants to spend up to $3 MIL of Utah's Tax $$$ to rig the primary system in his favor


Looks like the editorial board of the Salt Lake Tribune sees right through the "shallow as piss on a flat rock" move by ROMNEY to gin up the primary system by trying to move the UTAH Primary at an estimated cost of $2.5 million to $3 million to Utah Taxpayers.

Well, after all, that is the little people's money and why should we care about wasting that??? There's plenty of where that came from after all. We'll just make them pay more...

Is this REALLY what you want to see? Another stuffed shirt with delusions of grandeur, preaching cost cutting to you out of one side of his mouth, while WASTING tax dollars to try & rig the primary system in his own favor.

We have been living under a " DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO " President for the past 2 1/2 years, the last thing we need is another.

To the citizens of UTAH, Tell SLICK MITT to take a flying leap into the Salt Lake as otherwise, he'll be hosing you down for a few million tax dollars that I would suspect are sorely needed elsewhere.

Don’t move primary

Editorial / Salt Lake Tribune

If individual Utah residents want to write a check to support the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney, there is nothing to stop them.

But if Romney backers want the whole body of Utah taxpayers to cough up as much as $3 million to hold an early 2012 primary election, one that would serve no purpose other than to make Romney look good for about a third of the next 24-hour news cycle, that’s asking way too much.

Romney is said to be leaning on his many supporters in Utah political circles — prime among them Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, whose portfolio includes supervising the state’s elections — to move up the state’s presidential primary from late June to sometime in early spring.

The acceptable reason for such a move, which would require an act of the Legislature, would be to make Utah more of a player in the nominating process by drawing the attention of all of the candidates at a point when it still matters.

But the real reason for such a shift would be so Romney could maximize his standing as the favorite candidate of Utah Republican voters and embarrass one of his chief rivals, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Polls show that Romney now outpolls Huntsman among Utah Republicans by a margin of more than 2-1.

Bearding the lion in his own den, which is how Romney would spin a Utah primary victory over Huntsman, would clearly be of more value to Romney if it happened in early March, when the nomination will likely still be up for grabs, rather than June 26, when one, or both, of the candidates with Utah links may already have been eliminated.

Now the state’s presidential primary is set for the same day as the primaries for those seeking state office. It’s a lot cheaper that way. Estimates for having a separate election just for the presidential hopefuls run from $2.5 million to $3 million.

That is money that would be hard to find, and harder to justify, in such tight fiscal times.

It is also doubtful that it would really boost Utah’s profile that much. Other GOP hopefuls would be unlikely to spend much time or money here, knowing that they’d be all but lost in the Mitt vs. Jon tug o’ war.

It’s too late now. But anyone who really wanted to make Utah a destination for presidential candidates would have long ago gotten behind a plan from four years ago to unite with New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Colorado for a real Western States Primary. That would truly offer candidates a trove of delegates worth pursuing.

Of course, that was Jon Huntsman’s idea.
The Salt Lake Tribune.

QUOTES & NOTES from the 2012 campaign trail....Heaven Help us....

QUOTES AND NOTES from the 2012 Presidential Campaign Trail....

I wanted to share the enclosed as I thought it would be nice to see what people are saying out there on the campaign trail....and I'll interject some commentary after each quote - The opinions expressed here are mine and based solely on trying to interject some "common sense" into what these idjits are saying...

I know you have been seeing a lot of politicians around lately. Something tells me that you may see a few more before February is over. But Iowa, you and I, we go a long way back," Obama told workers at an Alcoa factory here.

Obama reminded the state that it helped make him President. "So we've got some history together, and together we're going to make some more history for years to come," he said.

YEAH, THANKS FOR NOTHING IOWA...." - Hopefully, Iowa will be on the list of places where the President will see that after 2 1/2 years, people are pretty tired of listening to his lies.

"We cannot afford four more years of millions of Americans who are out of work and are not making enough in wages to support a family ... We cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama," Michele Bachmann, a conservative member of the House of Representatives said in Iowa on Monday. - Yes, thank you Rep. Bachmann....please make sure you check on the facts around any future statements you make as you need another gaffed-up speech like we need 4 more years of President Doofus. We need less gaffes, not more.

"Oh, Iowa matters, every state in the union, of course, always matters," she said in an interview with Iowa Tea Party Chairman Ryan Rhodes. "Iowa matters because people are really tuned in here to what is necessary (and) … what is needed to do to grow a smaller, smarter government." Sarah Palin - That was "Palinese" for still playing hard to get.....get back to us when you have some idea what you are talking about as we have no real idea what you are speaking about either.

Gov. Chris Christie told CNN recently that he's "100% sure" that he doesn't want to run for president next year and even said "forget it" Sunday on NBC to the idea of being the vice presidential pick for the GOP nominee.- We understand why Gov. Christie wants to focus on NJ first and will look at national office later...we'll wait. He looks like he is worth waiting for.

"These things happen over and over. They fascinate the media. They have no long term historic meaning. Either there will be a message that resonates with 14 million unemployed. There will be a message that resonates when one out of every four houses is worth less than its mortgage. There will be a message that resonates when there are three wars and no strategic coherence in the administration, or there won't be. If there is, I'll be a contender in January." Newt Ginrich - Newt, Newt, and the Mrs. must have really been hitting the Ouzo out there in the Greek Isles as you still sound/act like you are so drunk you actually believe that you have a snowballs chance in HELL of getting elected anything, let alone President.

And finally, we have the "SLICK MITT ROMNEY UPDATE"....seems like "buying" the GOP nomination ain't enough for Slick Mitt, he wants to GIN UP the primaries in his favor, even if that costs the people extra money as, " Why not, isn't that what taxes are for ??"

What a piece of work.....Please MITT, just go away and take your desperate, pandering attitude with you.

Moving the UTAH primary to the second Tuesday in March from June could help Mr. Romney—who has strong ties to the state—by giving him a victory early in the Republican nominating process. But changing the date would mean holding the presidential primary separately from previously scheduled primaries for other offices, and the shift would require approval by the Legislature and the governor.

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who runs state elections, said an aide to Mr. Romney called him in April to pitch the idea of moving the primary, which Mr. Bell said he supported anyway. The aide told Mr. Bell an earlier primary would benefit everyone, including the people of Utah and Mr. Romney, a spokesman for Mr. Bell said. .....UTAH lawmakers will decide if the expense is warranted.

Yeah, it's only the people's money.....what does it matter if it is wasted so SLICK MITT can game the system. What a feckless, self centered POL.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spitfire diaries: The strange life in Dublin's POW camp

A colleague and I were discussing what we like to read the other day. I expounded that reading true history was the best as the real life adventures of people in our past surpass anything a writer could dream up....Here is a prima facie case of that....

" Gee Grandpa, what did you during WW2 ??"

" I was held at a POW Camp in IRELAND..."

" What ?? Ireland ?? Weren't they on our side??"

Not exactly.....This story is one for the books.....And also involves the recovery of a British Submarine Spitfire....awesome.

Spitfire diaries: The strange life in Dublin's POW camp
Dan Snow

An attempt to recover a Spitfire from a peat bog in Donegal will highlight the peculiar story of the men - both British and German - who spent much of World War II in relative comfort in neighbouring prisoner of war camps in Dublin, writes historian Dan Snow.

In Northern Ireland in 1941, a routine Sunday afternoon sortie by a pilot flying one of Britain's Spitfire fighters runs into difficulties.

Returning to base after flying "top-cover" for maritime convoys off the coast of Donegal, the Rolls Royce Merlin engine overheats and fails.

The pilot yells into his radio "I'm going over the side", slides back the bubble canopy, releases his seat straps and launches himself into the air.

The Spitfire is one of the most vaunted examples of British engineering's history. The greatest ever single-seat, piston-engined fighter, it had played a vital role during the Battle of Britain the year before.

Its design was so advanced that it became the only fighter aircraft in WWII that served on the front line from the first to the last day of the war. Bailing out was no easy task.

The air flow hit this particular pilot like a freight train and tore off his boots. Luckily he was able to deploy his parachute and landed in a peat bog. His aircraft smashed into the bog half a mile away.

It sounds like a typical wartime accident but it was anything but. It was the beginning of one of the strangest incidents of WWII.

Bud Wolfe was very keen to get back into action The pilot was 23-year-old Roland "Bud" Wolfe, an RAF officer from 133 "Eagle" Squadron, a unit entirely composed of Americans.

Bud himself was from Nebraska, one of a number of Americans who had volunteered to take up Britain's cause. Since the US was not yet at war with Germany when the men volunteered, the American government stripped Wolfe and others of their citizenship. These pilots were a mix of idealists and thrill seekers.

When Wolfe was found by the authorities he realised his, already unusual, situation was much more complicated than he had guessed. He had crashed over the border.

Since the South was neutral it had been decided that all servicemen of any belligerent nation that ended up on Irish soil through navigational error, shipwreck or other accident would be interned for the duration of the war.

Wolfe found himself heading not back to his airbase, RAF Eglinton, now Derry International Airport, in Northern Ireland just 13 miles away, but to Curragh Camp, County Kildare, 175 miles to the south.

Here, a huddle of corrugated iron huts housed 40 other RAF pilots and crewmen who had accidentally come down in neutral territory. They were effectively prisoners of war.

It was an odd existence. The guards had blank rounds in their rifles, visitors were permitted (one officer shipped his wife over), and the internees were allowed to come and go. Fishing excursions, fox hunting, golf and trips to the pub in the town of Naas helped pass the time.

But what was really odd was the proximity of the Germans.

It was not just the British and their allies who got lost above and around Ireland. German sailors from destroyed U-boats and Luftwaffe aircrew also found themselves interned. The juxtaposition of the two sides made for surreal drama.

Dublin stayed neutral in 1939 - it was only 18 years since it secured partial independence after centuries of British rule

Taoiseach Eamon de Valera even paid his respects to German representative in Dublin when news of Hitler's death emerged

But Irish people were not all so impartial - a 2009 Edinburgh University study found more than 3,600 soldiers from the South died on active service

And in the British army alone, 100,000 Irish people served in WWII - half from the South

Sport was a notable feature. In one football match the Germans beat the British 8-3. There were also boxing contests.

It appears that the rivalry on the pitch followed the teams into the pub afterwards as well. They would drink at different bars, and the British once complained vigorously when the Luftwaffe internees turned up to a dance they had organised.

Anything further from front-line service is hard to imagine.

It may seem to us like a welcome chance to sit out the war with honour intact, plenty of distractions and no danger, but for Wolfe it was an unacceptable interruption to his flying activities.

On 13 December 1941 he walked straight out of camp and after a meal in a hotel, which he did not pay for, he headed into nearby Dublin and caught the train the next day to Belfast. Within hours he was back at RAF Eglinton where he had taken off two weeks earlier in his defective Spitfire.

He could not have expected what was to happen next. The British government decided that, in this dark hour, it would be unwise to upset a neutral nation.

The decision was made to send Wolfe back to The Curragh and internment. Back in the camp, Wolfe made the best of it, joining the fox-hunting with relish.

He did try to escape again but this time he was caught. Finally in 1943, with the US in the war, and the tide slowly turning, The Curragh was closed and the internees returned. Wolfe joined the US Army Air Force and served once again on the front line.

So great was his love of flying that he also served in Korea and even Vietnam. He eventually died in 1994.

But Wolfe's epic story did not end with his death. Thanks to the highly unusual, soft nature of the terrain in the peat bog where his Spitfire crashed, a team of archaeologists is attempting to dig up his aircraft.

This week I will accompany them with a BBC television crew and record what we hope will be substantial pieces of wreckage emerging from the bog. The bog defeated the attempt in 1941 to gather up the wreckage, so there should be plenty of Spitfire down there, but it may well defeat us.

The Eagle Squadrons allowed Americans to fight before the US entered the war The digger has to sit on bog mats, big railway sleepers, to spread its 20-ton weight. But even they may not be enough to stop it sinking in. There is also a danger that the hole will simply fill with water or the sides cave in.

It is one of the most difficult excavations that an experienced team have ever faced. Whatever happens, I will be updating Twitter minute-by-minute as the excavation takes place.

Hopefully we will find the physical evidence that will shine a light on the events of that November night 70 years ago and also provide us with a connection to one of the most bizarre moments of the war

Monday, June 27, 2011

Taking Teachers off the " Sainthood " pedestal and holding them accountable for their work, just like any other professional.

Name the most powerful union in the state of Massachusetts ? The Teamsters ? NOPE....The Public Employees Unions ? Nope.... The Teachers ? YOU GOT IT.

In Massachusetts there is no more powerful Union than the Teachers. While I understand the value of education, the manner in which Teachers have been elevated to " Sainthood " and to be above review by taxpayers defies logic. We pay more per pupil for education in the State of Massachusetts and in return, we get "Meh" for results.

Governor Deval " Spend it all" Patrick and his pal the " Empty Suit ' in the White House want to throw more money at an issue that we have already inundated with cash to no real gain.

The main reason is that the Teachers Unions and the Administrators placed themselves above reproach. They have told us that being a teacher is a thankless task, they have to do soooo much with soooo little, all the while, in reality, we've been giving teachers, administrators and school systems more money than ever. Don't get me wrong, there are GOOD teachers but there are some really god-awful ones and there are more of the latter than the former.

Like any other system, without checks and balances, how can we tell what we are getting back from our educators?? Do Teachers work hard ? YES, they do. But so do many others, with just as much importance to society and without 2 weeks off at Christmas, a Winter break, a Spring break and 10 weeks off for the Summer. And let's not forget " Teacher conference days " that happen 10 times a year.

The problem is that we allowed the UNIONS to build up this idea of the " Teacher as Saint" and no one has been monitoring the work they do. When grades plummeted, we heard a litany of reason like bad parents, too much TV, etc. They used distraction to pull attention that for the last 20 years, we have not had the best educators assisting our children, and without regular reviews, they have been without proper guidance. Any worker who isn't reviewed by a boss on a regular basis will have lower performance. Teachers are no different.

At the same time, we've added a lot more " Administrators " to the public sector in school systems
and they don't contribute anything but more drag to a slow moving system. You need more classroom strength and less fat-arses sitting in offices waiting for retirement.

In the BOSTON GLOBE today was this tripe:

"As state education leaders prepare to vote tomorrow on a sweeping overhaul of the way administrators and teachers are evaluated, local school officials say one key area remains a concern: finding time for overburdened principals to actually do the evaluations."

Well any manager in any other workplace will tell you that they have very little time to spend on evaluating staff BUT that is part of being a cry about it just because you now HAVE to do it in school systems is pretty shallow. Get over yourself School Administators, as all of us in management have been dealing with this same issue for YEARS.

So in the end, we wasted taxpayers money, placed Teachers on a pedestal (whether they were good, bad or indifferent) and allowed the Greedy Union types to game the system. All to the detriment of our country and the education of future generations.

Well as much as the recession has brought misery to far too many, it has also fiscally forced the hands of our school systems to start evaluating those who teach our children. I hope they use a better evaluation than the system they created to teach children with as if the system to evaluate is as bad as the rest of the administrative schlock they have used, we'll get more " Meh " out of an already faulty system of educating our Children.

Teacher Grades: Pass or Be Fired
Published: June 27, 2011

WASHINGTON — Emily Strzelecki, a first-year science teacher here, was about as eager for a classroom visit by one of the city’s roving teacher evaluators as she would be to get a tooth drilled. “It really stressed me out because, oh my gosh, I could lose my job,” Ms. Strzelecki said.

Her fears were not unfounded: 165 Washington teachers were fired last year based on a pioneering evaluation system that places significant emphasis on classroom observations; next month, 200 to 600 of the city’s 4,200 educators are expected to get similar bad news, in the nation’s highest rate of dismissal for poor performance.

The evaluation system, known as Impact, is disliked by many unionized teachers but has become a model for many educators. Spurred by President Obama and his $5 billion Race to the Top grant competition, some 20 states, including New York, and thousands of school districts are overhauling the way they grade teachers, and many have sent people to study Impact.

Its admirers say the system, a centerpiece of the tempestuous three-year tenure of Washington’s former schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, has brought clear teaching standards to a district that lacked them and is setting a new standard by establishing dismissal as a consequence of ineffective teaching.

But some educators say it is better at sorting and firing teachers than at helping struggling ones; they note that the system does not consider socioeconomic factors in most cases and that last year 35 percent of the teachers in the city’s wealthiest area, Ward 3, were rated highly effective, compared with 5 percent in Ward 8, the poorest.

“Teachers have to be parents, priests, lawyers, clothes washers, babysitters and a bunch of other things” if they work with low-income children, said Nathan Saunders, president of the Washington Teachers Union. “Impact takes none of those roles into account, so it can penalize you just for teaching in a high-needs school.”

Jason Kamras, the architect of the system, said “it’s too early to answer” whether Impact makes it easier for teachers in well-off neighborhoods to do well, but pointed out that Washington’s compensation system offers bigger bonuses ($25,000 versus $12,500) and salary enhancements in high-poverty schools.

“We take very seriously the distribution of high-quality teachers across the system,” he said.

The evaluation system leans heavily on student test scores to judge about 500 math and reading teachers in grades four to eight. Ratings for the rest of the city’s 3,600 teachers are determined mostly by five classroom observations annually, three by their principal and two by so-called master educators, most recruited from outside Washington.

For classroom observations, nine criteria — “explain content clearly,” “maximize instructional time” and “check for student understanding,” for example — are used to rate the lesson as highly effective, effective, minimally effective or ineffective.

These five observations combine to form 75 percent of these teachers’ overall ratings; the rest is based on achievement data and the teachers’ commitment to their school communities. Ineffective teachers face dismissal. Minimally effective ones get a year to improve.

Impact costs the city $7 million a year, including pay for 41 master educators, who earn about $90,000 a year and conduct about 170 observations each. The program also asks more of principals. Carolyne Albert-Garvey, the principal of Maury Elementary School on Capitol Hill, has 22 teachers — she must conduct 66 observations, about one every three school days.

“I’ve really gotten to know my staff, and I’m giving teachers more specific feedback,” Ms. Albert-Garvey said. “It’s empowered me to have the difficult conversations, and that gives everyone the opportunity to improve.”

Several teachers, however, said they considered their ratings unfair.

A veteran teacher who said he did not want to criticize the school system openly, said that a month after he inherited a chaotic world history class from a long-term substitute, the visiting evaluator cut him no slack for taking on the assignment and penalized him because a student was texting during the lesson.

Another teacher who expects to lose her job next month because of low ratings said at a public hearing that evaluators picked apart her seventh-grade geography lessons, making criticisms she considered trivial. During the most recent observation, her evaluator subtracted points because she had failed to notice a girl eating during class, the teacher said.

“I’m 25 years in the system, and before, I always got outstanding ratings,” she said. “How can you go overnight from outstanding to minimally effective?”

A report issued by the Aspen Institute in March said one of Impact’s accomplishments was to align teacher performance with student performance, noting that previously 95 percent of Washington’s teachers were highly rated but fewer than half of its students were demonstrating proficiency on tests. Still, the report quoted teachers who complained of cold-eyed evaluators more interested in identifying losers than in developing winners.

“After my first conversation with my master educator, I felt it was going to be worthwhile — she offered me some good resources,” the report quoted one teacher. “My second master educator was kind of a robot, not generous in offering assistance, a much tougher grader.”

This month, Mary Gloster, who taught science in three states before she was recruited to Impact in 2009, was at Ballou High, one of the city’s lowest-performing schools, to share the results of some classroom visits.

She met with Mahmood Dorosti, a physics teacher who won a $5,000 award this spring. “Don’t even think about it — you’re highly effective,” she told him.

Next was Ms. Strzelecki, 23, who came to Ballou through Teach for America. The two sat at adjoining desks, with Ms. Strzelecki looking a bit like a doe in the headlights.

But Ms. Gloster, who had watched her teach a ninth-grade biology lesson the week before, offered compliments, along with suggestions about how Ms. Strzelecki might provide differentiated teaching for advanced and struggling students.

“You did a really good job, kiddo,” the evaluator ruled, grading her as effective, the equivalent of a B (the same rating she got on previous observations).

“What I liked about Mary was that I felt she was on my side,” Ms. Strzelecki said later. “Some teachers feel the master educators are out to get them.”

That is a common perception, said Mark Simon, an education analyst for the Economic Policy Institute, which receives teachers’ union financing. Ms. Rhee developed the system, he noted, during tough contract negotiations and did not consult with the teachers’ union in its design.

“That was a missed opportunity,” Mr. Simon said, “and it’s created a lot of resentment.”

The Search for the " Anti-Romney"...Is Rep. Michelle Bachmann the answer the GOP is looking for???

Type in " Anti Obama" into Google and you will get "About 209,000,000 results" - That number almost looks too small based on the people who have issues with the President. No big surprise that people have issues with POTUS

Go to Google and type in the words " Anti Romney " - you will get "About 11,500,000 results" - I wonder why that many hits register about ROMNEY?

Here's the main issues as I see it. He has been trying to get to the Presidency since he first was elected Governor of Massachusetts. He used Masschusetts as a "stepping stone" as he was an absentee Governor for the last two years of his term, spending the majority of that time away from Massachusetts trying to raise cash and national credentials which got him nowhere when he ran for the Presidency in 2008. People saw through his flip-flopping and pandering ways. He would say anything and seemed terribly DESPERATE....He still does as he has this, " C'Mon, it's my turn" attitude about running for the GOP nomination....ugh. The fact that he has more money than anyone else reeks of an attitude that he can buy his way into the Presidency.

Now, we are in 2012, and " Slick MITT " is back at it again. I fail to understand why he didn't get the message last time. The GOP cannot keep running on being the " Old Rich Guys Party". The younger voters were the ones who propelled Obama into office along with the independent voters who swing the key middle.

The GOP will need someone who can energize these key voting blocks, something new that allows them to get people's attention. Pawlenty, Hunstman, Rick Perry, etc. all reek of the same bland politician model that has been the hallmark of the GOP.

So we go back to the central issue, who will be out there for the GOP against Obama ?

The choices have not been stirring up much interest until recently. For reasons that defy political reason, Rep. Michelle Bachman has been gaining some serious traction.

She's the Tea Party's Belladonna and that has ensured that the press painted her as a lightweight until now when polling has shown here breaking out and going neck & neck with Slick Mitt in Iowa. She did well in the NH debate and was the other candidate who got a significant reaction from potential NH voters.

Is she to be taken serious??? She has been a gaffe prone as Romney but when you think about it, the GOP would shake up the electoral game by throwing a female candidate at our first minority President running for re-election.

Politics has a funny way of defying the "knowns" and heading off in unexpected directions. In the search for the Anti-Romney, it may be that Ms. Bachmann is the very thing the GOP needs. She's not Palin either as Ms. Palin has high negatives.

Would Ms. Bachmann make a good President ?? That will be the question that will drive the campaign to nomination or runner-up status for the nomination. All I Know is that right now, SLICK MITT seems like " more of the same" from the GOP. That is a recipe for disaster and a sure lock for re-election of the "Empty Suit" from Chicago....something no one needs.

Bachmann on 'Face the Nation': Two Signs She is Serious
By James Fallows Jun 26 2011 - The Atlantic

The two takeaways from this morning's show (via notes written 12+ hours ago -- have been in transit in the interim):

1) She looks so much better than she used to. Compare her appearance from a famous Hardball spot during the 2008 campaign with her presentation today. (The Hardball episode was famous because it was when she called Obama "very anti-American.")

Is this a retrograde sexist judgment? Overall presentation matters in politics, especially at the TV-based national level. It mattered that JFK looked better than Nixon in 1960, Reagan than Carter in 1980, Obama than McCain in 2008. It mattered that Dukakis looked the way he did in a tank in 1988. The change in Bachmann's presentation -- hair, makeup, styling in general -- tells me that she has thought about "raising her game," and in a much more sophisticated way than what we see in the evolution of Sarah Palin's appearance through that same period.

2) She showed that she is an absolute genius at the established political technique of "giving the answer you want to give, no matter what the question was." Schieffer reeled off a list of whopper-scale false claims she had made -- for instance, that Obama had approved "only one" offshore drilling permit, when in fact he'd approved hundreds. Her response, every time, was some variant on "the real question is why President Obama has misled us." Or, on policy: what specifically would she do to create jobs? "The real question is why President Obama has failed to create jobs." See for yourself from CBS's site.

I am not endorsing this as the ideal way to lead a public discourse, and you can't get away with it forever. (Schieffer closed the show with a manful for-the-record note that he had tried time and again to get answers to his questions about her falsehoods, and hadn't.) If you have only this one trick in your array of responses, eventually this will be what the press constantly harps on. But it is a part of a big-time politician's arsenal, and she showed that she knows how to use it.

When I say these are signs that she is serious, I don't mean that by my lights she suddenly has practical, plausible answers to the nation's problems. It means that her run could be more disciplined and professional than some other ill-starred long-shot campaigns we've seen recently.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

tyr·an·ny of the mi·nor·i·ty - A homeowner's association in Ohio tries to prevent a Vietnam Vet from displaying a US Flag outside his home

tyr·an·ny of the mi·nor·i·ty - A process in which a minority segment of a population has a certain degree of primacy in that entity's decision making.

This seems to be most prevalent in Homeowner Associations. These types of organizations attract those whose sole interest is to control the way other people live their lives. Imagine that you just paid $400K+ for the home of your dreams and now you have to check with Fred and the rest of the pinheads on some homeowners board before you can do almost about living in hell.

Well it appears we have some that going on in OHIO where a homeowners group wants to dictate to a retired Army Chaplain how he can fly the US Flag outside his home...The Chaplain isn't trying to fly a huge car-dealership sized flag, just a basic 3'x5' flag on a basic flagpole.

I believe the idiots on the homeowners board need a lesson in civics and a greater understanding of why the Flag matters a bit more to those who fought and bled to defend it.

Vietnam vet threatened with legal action for flying Stars and Stripes outside his home
By UK Daily Mail Reporter
23rd June 2011

A 77-year-old Army veteran is being threatened with legal action for flying the American flag in his front yard.

Fred Quigley, of Macedonia, Ohio, a retired Army chaplain and minister who served active duty during the Vietnam War, has been told his flag violates his homeowners association's rules on flagpoles.

As an alternative, the association offered to place the flag at the entrance of the development, but Mr Quigley refused.

Mr Quigley said: 'It's the principle. It's about patriotism, and the soldiers I've had to hold as they were dying.

'It's just important to me to be bold with the flag. 'If they can dictate to me that I cannot fly an American flag in America, then, to me, the country is lost.'

Mr Quigley's lawyer Gerald Patronite said the association has no right to stop his client.

Joseph Migliorini, representing the association, says free-standing flagpoles are not allowed. He cites a 2003 state statute that addresses the homeowner's rights in such a dispute.

'Essentially, no deed restriction or association can abridge this right to display the flag,' he told AOL Real Estate.

Mr Patronite said that the HOA's rules state that a flag can only be displayed if affixed to the home. But doing so would mean Mr Quigley would have to put up a much smaller flag.

Mr Quigley's daughter, Karen Wilson, said that she doesn't understand how anyone could deny her father the right to raise the flag.

She said: 'It's a standard 15ft pole, with 3ft by 5ft flag.'It's not outlandish, it's not over-the-top, and it fits in with the house.'

Joseph Migliorini, the representative for the homeowner's association and former mayor of Macedonia, which is between Cleveland and Akron, said he plans to take Quigley to court if the flagpole is not removed. Mr Migliorini said: 'We just want the rules and regulations followed.

'We're not gonna have rogue homeowners that are going to just do what they want to do and not get approval.'

This is not the first time that homeowners have clashed with a homeowners association over the right to display the flag.

In Idaho, the dispute ended in a public apology from an association that prohibited flags in 'common areas.'

In that case, the 'Freedom to Display the American Flag Act' of 2005 was cited to uphold the homeowner's right.

On Wednesday, members of the local American Legion post joined Mr Quigley in a flag-raising ceremony in protest at the association's policy.

Mr Quigley said that he's been given until Monday to remove the flag, or legal action will be taken by the association.

'As a minister and a chaplain, I have fought for people,' Quigley said. 'Now I fight for myself.'

Commandant Gen. James Amos prepares for the future of the USMC in the Pacific, " Marines, this is our home "

In relation to the present national fiscal/economic climate where the Navy finds themselves over manned, the Commandant of the US Marines, Gen. James Amos is not going to see his Marines get "flanked" going into the post Afghanistan era.

While this may take sometime before we reach a period when the USMC is not involved in Afghanistan, General Amos is already planning the future of the USMC and it is based around the Pacific.

The author states a good case for why this makes sense:

" In meetings with Marines, Gen. Amos said it was his intent, post-Afghanistan, to return the Corps to its mission as a crisis-response force in the Pacific. The commandant envisions keeping about 20,000 Marines stationed at Pacific Ocean bases, plus another 3,000 at an air station in Japan. About 5,000 Marines are based in Hawaii, tens of thousands more in California."

With the Pacific basin becoming of more interest to the growing economy of China and the other nations that are starting squabbling about who controls what, the USMC will be a much needed stabilizing presence. I can think of no better way to win tactically than to anticipate the moves of your adversaries than to approach it like a game of chess, where you must always be three moves ahead.

SEMPER FI General Amos. Damn the politicians, full speed ahead. I'll trust the General and his warriors in the USMC long before I trust any "former Community Organizer" and his minions to decide what is best when it comes to the defense of our nation and the role our US Marines should play in it.

Marines Aim to Avoid Postwar Identity Crisis
The service's top officer plots a post-Afghanistan focus in the Pacific region, where Marines experienced their most devastating losses and most heroic victories.
By NATHAN HODGE - Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Marine Corps, one of the most storied military forces, is searching for a mission after the war in Afghanistan ends.

Marines consider themselves a quick-reaction force, traveling light and giving their all whether waging war or responding to humanitarian disasters. But for the past decade, the Corps has been fighting long conflicts in the deserts of Iraq and valleys of Afghanistan, requiring it to behave more as a dug-in land army.

With President Barack Obama's announcement this past week that he would begin drawing down troops in Afghanistan, the Corps sees the need to find a new calling.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, the service's top officer, sees renewal in the region where Marines experienced their most devastating losses and most heroic victories: "We're going to reorient in the Pacific," he said during a recent swing through bases in Japan and South Korea.

The reorientation is in part because of the coming contraction of the defense budget, in part because of the shifting balance of power in the world, and in part because of a historical fear embedded in Marine culture.

Since World War II, the Marines have fretted about being remade into a second land army or, in times of economic contraction, cast aside as extraneous. Soon after enlisting, recruits are taught of great Corps victories—at Guadalcanal and Fallujah—its most devastating casualties—at Iwo Jima—and the story that President Truman tried to eliminate the Corps altogether.

Though no service commands more respect and fierce loyalty on Capitol Hill (it is impossible to think of Congress ever eliminating the Corps), current Marines note with trepidation that Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last year that they functioned too much like a "second land army" and were too removed from their expeditionary and maritime roots.

The Marines' 20,000 riflemen in Afghanistan won't be coming out soon. Military planners say they don't know which forces will exit first, but defense officials intend to keep combat forces there as long as they can.

Still, with the Pentagon bracing for budget cuts as two wars wind down and the nation wrestles with massive deficits, Gen. Amos aims to be prepared. In months to come, the service branches are likely to find themselves justifying their roles in the fight over a smaller pie, said Todd Harrison, a defense-budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. For the Corps, that means emphasizing what makes it distinct from other services—particularly the Army.

"For the past decade it [the Marine Corps] has been a second land army, so now you hear Gen. Amos talking about its role in the future, and as a crisis-response force," Mr. Harrison said.

In meetings with Marines, Gen. Amos said it was his intent, post-Afghanistan, to return the Corps to its mission as a crisis-response force in the Pacific. The commandant envisions keeping about 20,000 Marines stationed at Pacific Ocean bases, plus another 3,000 at an air station in Japan. About 5,000 Marines are based in Hawaii, tens of thousands more in California.

Shifting back to the Pacific would be in line with U.S. strategic objectives. Military planners note that the region is an economic center of gravity—80% of the world's shipping passes through the geographic area covered by the U.S. Pacific Command—and preserving power in the region is a national-defense priority. "We are a Pacific power and intend to remain a power in the Pacific," Mr. Gates said on a recent visit to Asia.

Returning to the Pacific would keep the Marines busy. Asia is a hub for training exercises with other nations, and Pacific-based Marines have been heavily involved in disaster relief. Over the past seven years, they have responded to more than a dozen regional emergencies, from the Indonesian tsunami in late 2004 and early 2005 to the Japan earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.

On the combat side, they are likely first responders to political crises, such as attacks on embassies, and Marines also rehearse for possible renewed conflict on the Korean peninsula.

Gen. Amos's Pacific focus also appears to be a pre-emptive strike in looming budget battles. The White House recently set a $400 billion target for security-spending cuts over the next decade or so, and the Defense Department is reviewing spending priorities top-to-bottom.

The Marines have already responded to budget pressures with plans to downsize to 186,800 personnel from 202,000 in the next few years. And in January, Mr. Gates canceled the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, which had been a top procurement priority.

According to Gen. Amos, the Marines have particular advantages when it comes to projecting U.S. power: "We step very lightly, and, if invited, we come with a lot of our own stuff," he said in an interview.

On a recent visit to Camp Hansen in Japan, on Okinawa, Gen. Amos stood on the bed of a seven-ton truck and told more than 1,000 Marines that they could expect to remain in the Pacific.

"Marines, this is our home," he said. "We fought, lived, and bled, and died, on just about every island in the Pacific. If there's one service that understands the islands, it's us. We've been here for over 60 years. And we have no intention of leaving the Pacific."

—Julian E. Barnes contributed to this article.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sorry Sailor, we gotta show you the hatch....Captain, you too sir.

This is a predictable outcome of the lousy economy....and now there will be more Veterans looking for work.

Will businesses step up and assist some of our nation's finest or will it be more likely that they will face what Vets face now?? A much higher unemployment rate than their non-veteran counterparts. A terrible turn of events for those who have protected our freedoms.

Navy has a Problem: Too Many Personnel
June 24, 2011
The Day, New London, Jennifer McDermott

So many Sailors are choosing to stay in the Navy rather than take their chances in a struggling economy that now the Navy will decide who gets to stay.

Sailors completing their first enlistment are staying in the Navy at a rate of 72 percent. There is no room for them to move through the ranks because not enough people are leaving.

This summer, the Navy will convene a retention board to review roughly 16,000 records and choose 3,000 sailors to leave the service earlier than they had planned. With more than 270,000 enlisted sailors serving today, that means 6 percent of the force will be evaluated and 1 percent separated.

Sailors with nuclear training will be spared because the Navy needs to retain their technical skills and because the number of these Sailors is generally in line with the number of submarine jobs the Navy has to fill.

Officers, however, may not be spared.

The Navy will convene a second board in August to choose about 240 commanders and captains for early retirement, possibly including some submarine warfare officers. The Navy cited high retention and low attrition as the reason for this review as well.

"The reason that we are letting people go is because they are not leaving the Navy on the projected rate that they normally do," Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said earlier this month at a military strategy forum. "People are in the Navy to fill specific jobs. So it's not as if I can keep people just because I want to."

Personnel costs have the highest inflation rate because of pay and benefits. The service has to live within its means, Roughead added.

The Navy is overmanned in 31 of its 84 ratings, or jobs for enlisted sailors. The retention board will consider selected third class petty officers through senior chief petty officers in the 31 specialties, who have more than seven but fewer than 15 years of service as of Oct. 1. One-third will be in aviation jobs.

None of the 31 specialties is submarine specific. Lt. Cmdr. Kyung Choi, spokesman for the commander of the Submarine Force, said the personnel requirements for the submarine force have not changed.

But some of the Sailors serving on shore at submarine bases, either assisting the chaplain or providing career counseling and maintaining personnel records, could be affected. Both kinds of specialists are assigned to the Naval Submarine Base in Groton.

This is the first time sailors with lower levels of experience have been reviewed by a retention board, although some more senior Sailors were previously considered by a board.

Some in Congress question the Navy's plan. The House Armed Services Committee said in its recent report on the defense authorization act that it was concerned by the Navy's request to reduce its ranks.

"The Navy has been challenged over the past several years as sailors deployed as individual augmentees to overseas contingency operations to execute non-traditional Navy missions, which has drained needed manpower from the fleet," the report said, adding that the committee would "closely monitor" the Navy's reduction of manpower and the impact on operations and requirements.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and a committee member, said the impact to southeastern Connecticut should be lessened by the fact that nuclear-trained Sailors are exempt.

He said there is "obviously an economic backdrop" to the retention issue since both recruitment and retention numbers went up after the financial collapse.

The board will first look for any indicators of poor performance, such as past punishments for disciplinary offenses, then base decisions on the Navy's quotas for each job, said Lt. Matthew Allen, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel.

Sailors in the crowded jobs were given the chance to apply for other Navy jobs that are short-staffed. Those who are told to leave the Navy this summer must do so by June 30, 2012. They will be eligible for benefits and pay for people who are involuntarily separated, such as employment assistance and help relocating for those stationed overseas.

2011 The Day, New London, Conn.

How to beat the BOSTON RED SOX


Friday, June 24, 2011

The British Military ensure that their K-9 Warriors are well kept in Afghanistan

In the photo above, British Army soldier Lcpl Marianne Hay from the Royal Army Veterinary Corp, crouches next to her explosives dog Leanna on Aug. 3, 2008 in Maywand District in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

The Brits are our best Allies, here in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Seems like they take pretty good care of their K-9 warriors also. They need to, as they are based out of Camp Bastion, deep in the heart of Helmand province. Presently, the temps there will approach 120-125 degrees in the shade on any given Summer day. That is dangerous conditions for our K-9 warriors. Glad to see they ensure that the 4-legged soldiers get good accomadations.

Good Show. All our best to our British Allies and their K-9 Warriors. Brilliant.

Life for a British military dog in Afghanistan

By Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
Rebecca Frankel -

As President Obama made his announcement this week about the troop drawdown this week, allied forces in Afghanistan are on the topic table again. European allies responded positively to the president's announcement. U.K. prime minister David Cameron, who announced his own plan for British troop withdrawals in May, was quick to applaud Obama, adding:

We will keep UK force levels in Afghanistan under constant review. I have already said there
will be no UK troops in combat roles in Afghanistan by 2015 and, where conditions on the ground allow, it is right that we bring troops home sooner."

Britain has approximately 10,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan -- the second highest number after the United States. Working alongside Cornish soldiers on the frontlines out of Camp Bastion -- Britain's largest military base in the country -- are a troop of 70 military dogs. So what's life like for a British military dog in Afghanistan? Actually, not too shabby.

The accomodations for these war dogs are extensive. Each dog has his or her own kennel quarters -- a small square building with both an indoor and outdoor component. The indoor quarters are air conditioned and each kennel has its own self-sustaining power source.

While on patrol, each handler is outfitted with a special canine first aid kit. For the detection and patrol dogs in Afghanistan, heat is always the handlers' and veterinary medics' biggest concern. There's also only one pool on base -- and it's just for the dogs.

But the canines aren't the only ones happy with these arrangements:

Private Daniel Gregory, from Bodmin, helps look after the dogs at Camp Bastion [says]: " It's the love of the dogs, working outside everyday. It's a good job, a really good job."

"We always suspected you would abandon us again. Now your President has said it..."

The stakes our "Community Organizer" are gambling in a bid to feather his re-election are not small.

The stability of the AF/PAK region effects much more than just this dusty corner of the world. There is no need to remind anyone with a bit of common sense that the Whacki-Pakis have Nukes and the Taliban/Al Qaeda would just LOVE to get their hands on a few. The stability of Afghanistan has helped keep Pakistan from teetering further into the abyss. What do you will think will happen when we are a smaller presence in this area ??

To the people of this region, time is a much different thing than to the west. We look at troops being here until 2014 and people back home *groan* about how long that is...Meanwhile, our enemies look at waiting 3 years until they can return to terrorizing the local populace here and they see that as hardly anytime to wait at all.

The " Empty Suit " has placed his own needs/wants/desires over what his military has recommended and our country, along with the rest of the western world will likely pay for his naive decision.

"The Haqqanis and their Arab friends will build their training camps on our graves when you leave us," stated the Village Elder. Funny, but I trust the wisdom of this Afghani more than that of the Village-Idiot-From-Chicago. The Village Elder has real "skin" in the game whereas when Obama mucks it up, he'll be safely ensconced stateside, giving another speech about how things didn't quite work out the way he thought they would. The Village Elder and his family, not so much.

Michael Waltz: Obama's Dangerous Message
Commentary -

"We always suspected you would abandon us again. Now your president has said it," the deeply lined leader of a key Mangal subtribe scolded me across a small wooden table set with a bowl of Afghan raisins and nuts. To his left, dozens of other Afghans nodded in agreement. We were sitting in the small office of a women's center on the outskirts of Khost city that was apparently funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and abandoned years ago.

I had been working closely with him for most of the year to garner his support along with his 500 arbakai, or tribal militia, during my most recent tour in Afghanistan. This meeting was supposed to be the final step toward winning over this historically pro-government subtribe.

He and his tribal council were now withdrawing their support completely. It was only week after U.S. President Barack Obama's 2009 speech at West Point, where he announced the surge of U.S. forces but undercut the policy with the simultaneous announcement that he would begin their withdrawal by July 2011.

"We appreciate all that you have done for us -- wells, roads, schools," the elder continued. "But until you are prepared to commit your children to stand side by side with our children, we cannot work with you."

"The Haqqanis and their Arab friends will build their training camps on our graves when you leave us," he concluded before walking away.

The president's speech on Wednesday, June 22, outlining his strategy to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces is evidence that American policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is more about U.S. domestic pressures than it is about making any sort of long-term commitment to stabilize the region so that terrorist sanctuaries can no longer be used to attack the West.

The debate within the administration and among Washington's pundits over numbers of troops and timelines misses the point. According to former colleagues still at senior levels of the military commands and at the Pentagon, the differences between the most extreme options offered to the president amounted to only a few thousand troops and several months on the timeline.

The larger strategic issue is the broader signal Obama has sent to U.S. allies and the region: America is leaving. This signal, which was received loud and clear by those Afghan elders in 2009 and reinforced Wednesday night, presents four fundamental problems.

First, the entire region has begun to maneuver for a post-American Afghanistan and mostly in ways that run counter to U.S. interests. What this administration doesn't fully realize is that the Afghans, their government, the Pakistanis, the Indians, the Iranians, and the rest of South and Central Asia aren't listening to the policy nuances of Wednesday's announcement. All they hear is U.S. withdrawal and abandonment. More disturbingly, all the Taliban and al Qaeda hear is that they have survived the worst of it and they only need to last a few more years until 2014. Three and a half years is nothing in that part of the world. Although Obama attempted to emphasize that significant U.S. forces will remain after the withdrawal of the surge, their very mission to win over the populace will be severely undercut by the message he sent Wednesday night. The entire region is now hedging against the United States rather than siding with it.

Second, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recently addressed very bluntly, the United States cannot let the withdrawal of a few thousand U.S. troops be the green light for the Europeans to run for the exits. Unfortunately, despite the attacks on Madrid, London, and Denmark, we know that will likely be the case. At least the planned drawdown of U.S. civilian capacity is something we can control. During my most recent visit to Kandahar, one senior U.S. military commander described USAID as a source of instability rather than stability due to its continued lack of a meaningful presence in the provinces and therefore its inability to fulfill its promises to Afghans.

Declining troop numbers will also affect the ability of U.S. government civilians -- most of whom operate under military protection as they provide aid and guidance on agriculture, governance, and the rule of law -- to go out in the field. From what my former colleagues have told me, the civilian agencies have their own withdrawal schedule, with plans to pull back their already meager presence from forward bases.

Third, every Afghan I've spoken to recently, from ministers to my former interpreters, is increasingly concerned about the prospect of civil war. My Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara friends believe the United States is cutting a deal with Pakistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the Taliban at their expense. A multitude of notable Tajik leaders -- the late Deputy Interior Minister Daoud Daoud, former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, former Minister for Reconstruction Ehsan Zia, former Interior Minister Hanif Atmar, and others -- are increasingly spending time in their home turf reconstituting old alliances and networks. The Northern Alliance is getting the band back together and that includes outreach to its old allies in Iran, Russia, and India -- all of whom are increasingly viewed as more reliable than the United States. The U.S. policy of withdrawal based on timelines rather than conditions -- not to mention excluding minorities from talks with the Taliban -- are only exacerbating the situation.

Finally, Obama's policy is based on the assumption that al Qaeda is defeated and cannot reconstitute itself in the seams of an increasingly unstable Pakistan, a diminished U.S. and coalition presence, ethnic tension, and Afghan army and police forces that are years away from independent operations. This is a very dangerous assumption. Al Qaeda can and will restore itself as the United States invariably loses its hard-fought gains with the Afghan people due to diminished resources and will. A counterterrorism strategy must be nested within a counterinsurgency strategy, as the populace won't risk their necks to work with the coalition unless they feel they will be protected. It takes a network to defeat a network.

Success in Afghanistan and the region is going to be tough and expensive. Most importantly, it will take time. Nearly every commander and civilian who has served there, including me, cites the progress that has been made in the last 10 years, but caveats his or her response with the need for more time. Although the costs are great, they will be far greater if the United States leaves too soon. The people of the region will never trust America again, and the cost of re-engagement if our assumptions are wrong will be nearly insurmountable.

Michael Waltz is a former South Asia advisor to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and a Special Forces officer (reserve component) with multiple tours in Afghanistan. He is now vice president of Metis Solutions, a strategic international consulting firm.

Lest we forget.....

This is what it all about.....Coming HOME when the job is done. Until then, we will have Men & Women in uniform standing the watch.

GROTON, Conn. - Senior Chief Sonar Technician Matthew Lindsey, assigned to the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Providence (SSN 719), is greeted by his wife and daughter on the pier at Naval Submarine Base New London during a homecoming celebration for USS Providence after a six-month deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Virginia K. Schaefer/Released)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

POTUS mucks it up in a speech regarding MOH Recipient Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti

Everyone makes mistakes...that's a given. The issue isn't making the mistake but the way you handle it and making sure you don't make mistakes about certain things - Things that are very very important.

When you are the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, you don't make errors about who you awarded the Medal of Honor to and whether he was awarded the medal posthumously. Unless you are a former Community Organizer who doesn't respect the military......

YOU are the PRESIDENT - YOU are speaking about a MEDAL OF HONOR recipient...You can't make a mistake in speaking about this, especially when you are speaking to his comrades in arms.

Really??? - I know he has issues when he speaks without a teleprompter but REALLY??

Please, I am begging you...don't re-elect this fool....we have already had enough of his level of incompetence. His lack of care for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice is appalling. He is hazarding our nation and our military.

Commander In Chief Misspeaks About Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
Dana Ritter
CBN News White House Producer

During his remarks to troops at Fort Drum today, the President was reminiscing about the times he has spent with the US Army's 10th Mountain Division, when he got something wrong.

" Throughout my service, first as a senator and then as a presidential candidate and then as a President, I’ve always run into you guys. And for some reason it’s always in some rough spots.

First time I saw 10th Mountain Division, you guys were in southern Iraq. When I went back to visit Afghanistan, you guys were the first ones there. I had the great honor of seeing some of you because a comrade of yours, Jared Monti, was the first person who I was able to award the Medal of Honor to who actually came back and wasn’t receiving it posthumously

The problem is, Jared Monti was killed in action in Afghanistan, on June 21, 2006. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, September 17, 2009. President Obama handed the framed medal to his parents, Paul and Janet Monti. He and the First Lady comforted them in the Oval Office following the ceremony.

I contacted the White House to see what happened. I'm told the President didn't have prepared remarks.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "“At Fort Drum, the President misspoke when discussing the first Medal of Honor he presented posthumously to Jared Monti, who was a member of the 10th Mountain Division. The President paid tribute to Monti in his remarks to troops in Afghanistan in March 2010. Last year, the President presented the Medal of Honor to Salvatore Giunta, who was the first living recipient of the Medal who served in Afghanistan.”

The gaffe comes one day after the President announced his plan to bring troops home from Afghanistan at a faster pace. He deliberately spoke at Fort Drum because of the 10th Mountain Division's multiple deployments to Afghanistan

NJ Lawmakers adjust to reality - a word that the Public Unions have no idea about.....

re·al·i·ty / rēˈalətē / Noun 1. The world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them: "he refuses to face reality".

is something the Public Unions in this country refuse to recognize. Three cheers for Gov. Chris Christie and the NJ Lawmakers for recognizing reality.... They passed a sweeping rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees.

" ...the state’s pension funds are among the most underfunded in the nation — estimated last year at $54 billion short of the amount needed to meet future obligations. Mr. Christie and others have warned that mounting pension and health care costs could eventually bankrupt the state and local governments."

That is REALITY...The Unions want to hold on to " Well I was promised this by some guy back when I started 30 years ago..." So were many others who worked just as hard and as diligently for the private companies...The difference is the private workers didn't have a rigged system to back them up like the public unions do.

Sorry Public Union workers, the game is O-V-E-R. You will still collect much more than 99% of the other citizens in benefits but that alone is not enough....they aren't happy to have a piece of the pie, they aren't going to be happy until they have the whole damn thing.

Looks like NJ has put a whole bunch of them on a diet.....about time.

New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Benefits Rollback for Work Force
Published: June 23, 2011 - NY TIMES

TRENTON — New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state’s powerful public employee unions.

The Assembly passed the bill 46 to 32, as Republicans and a few Democrats defied raucous protests by thousands of people whose chants, vowing electoral revenge, shook the State House. Leaders in the State Senate said their chamber, which had already passed a slightly different version of the bill, would approve the Assembly version on Monday, and Mr. Christie, a Republican, was expected to quickly sign the measure into law.

The legislation will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees’ pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions’ contract bargaining rights. It will save local and state governments $132 billion over the next 30 years, by the administration’s estimate, and give the troubled benefit systems a sounder financial footing, mostly by shifting costs onto workers.

While states around the country have moved to pare labor costs and limit the power of unions, the move is all the more striking here, in a Democratic-leaning state where Democrats control both houses of the Legislature and union membership is among the highest in the country. Most Democratic legislators opposed the benefits reductions, but their leaders voted in favor of the changes, exposing deep, longstanding rifts in the party that lawmakers say could weaken it in coming elections.

The fight over benefits reflected both Mr. Christie’s ability to exploit the divisions among Democrats, through his alliances with more conservative Democratic party bosses and legislators, and his success at using the public-sector unions as a foil in his drive to shrink government spending. It has also allowed a nationally known but highly polarizing governor to claim the mantle of bipartisan conciliation, telling audiences that New Jersey is setting an example that other states and the federal government should follow.

“These accomplishments have been the result of compromise with the other party, and have been done with Democratic votes and Republican votes,” he said at a town-hall-style meeting on Wednesday in Fair Lawn.

On Thursday, thousands of people wearing union T-shirts and buttons filled the Assembly visitors’ gallery, the State House corridors and, in a high-decibel protest, the sidewalks, lawns and streets around the building. A procession down State Street included a hearse draped with a banner saying “The Soul of the Democratic Party,” and organizers with bullhorns led the crowd in chants of “We’ll remember in November!” and “Kill the bill!”

Unions have been broadcasting advertisements attacking Democrats who support the bill — particularly Stephen M. Sweeney, the Senate president — and this week union leaders have spoken of the difference between “real Democrats and Christie Democrats,” pointedly including in the latter group Mr. Sweeney, who also is an official of the ironworkers’ union.

“This bill is not about savings; it is about breaking the backs of the hard-working men and women of this state,” Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., a Democrat from Middlesex County, said Thursday evening after the session began. “I challenge everyone in this chamber today: how many have even read the full 124 pages of union-busting activities?”

The legislation applies to all state employees and to a much larger number of county, town and school district workers, because most local governments participate in the state-run pension and health care systems. When it is fully phased in, after four years, the average government worker will pay several thousand dollars more into the benefit funds.

But union leaders say the bigger issue is what they call a stealth assault on collective bargaining. With just a week remaining in the contracts for the major state employee unions, the unions are now trying to negotiate new agreements with the state.

Most public employees in the state, other than teachers, police officers and firefighters, have had no guarantee of collective bargaining on any issue except for health benefits.

The legislation will supersede that right, allowing the state to impose health care terms unilaterally. For many workers, this means that if contract talks reach an impasse, the government will be able, at least in theory, to dictate all terms, like wages, time off and work rules.

“This bill cuts away the one issue, health care, that the unions could use to trade off against other things,” said Jeffrey H. Keefe, associate professor at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University.

Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the Communications Workers of America, said, “This bill is nothing less than Chris Christie’s frontal assault on organized labor.”

Union leaders said they were exploring the possibility that some provisions of the bill, like the suspension of cost-of-living increases for retirees, could be challenged in court.

Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, a Democrat from Camden, said, “These reforms are unquestionably bitter pills for us to swallow, but they are reasonable and they are necessary.” He added: “We now have towns across this state that are struggling to afford health benefits for their employees. This has resulted in cities laying off workers.”

In his campaign to rein in the unions and shrink government, Mr. Christie has often been helped by New Jersey’s unique political culture, where local political machines still dominate some areas, and many state legislators also hold local government jobs. That gives striking influence in Trenton to mayors, county executives and local party bosses who struggle with rising labor costs and have repeatedly sided with the governor’s push to cut benefits and wages.

Until recently, the public employee unions were among the most feared forces in state politics. They were a major source of votes, campaign cash and foot soldiers for Democrats, but officials in both parties were eager to please them. For years, governors and legislators from both parties sweetened their pension benefits but did not put any money into the system to pay for them.

As a result, the state’s pension funds are among the most underfunded in the nation — estimated last year at $54 billion short of the amount needed to meet future obligations. Mr. Christie and others have warned that mounting pension and health care costs could eventually bankrupt the state and local governments.

The pendulum has swung back over the last four years, first under Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, and then under Mr. Christie, as the state took steps like increasing what workers paid for benefits, raising retirement ages and limiting contract arbitration awards. But the bill now awaiting the Senate’s approval and Mr. Christie’s signature is easily the most far-reaching one yet

Tim Thomas wins Vezina Trophy as NHL's best goaltender

AWESOME...Brilliant....simply BRILLIANT....well done, sir.....we in BOSTON knew you were the best even when all others doubted you.....Congrats.

Tim Thomas wins Vezina Trophy as NHL's best goaltender
By Steve Silva, Staff June 22, 2011

Tim Thomas won his second Vezina Trophy competition for the NHL's best goaltender tonight at the league's annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

The Bruins netminder, who took home the award in 2009, beat out the Nashville Predator's Pekka Rinne and old friend Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks for the honor.

Thomas was named on 26 of 30 ballots in voting by the NHL's general managers and was the top selection on 17 for 104 points, according to, topping Rinne who had 84 while Luongo was a distant third with 33.

Thomas led the NHL with a .938 save percentage, best in the history of the National Hockey League, surpassing Dominik Hasek's .937 set in the 1998-89 season. He had a record of 35-11-9 in 57 games this season, with a league-low 2.00 goals-against-average to go along with nine shutouts, a career high. He won his first eight decisions of the season to set a Bruins record.

"First off I'd like to start out by congratulating Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne on fantastic seasons," Thomas said after he took the stage to accept his award. "I'd like to thank my teammates, who, without I ... you can't win the Vezina Trophy, goaltending is the most team-dependent position that there is in hockey.

"I'd like to thank my family and friends for their longtime, unwavering support through all of the ups and downs."

Thomas also spoke about coming back from hip surgery a little over a year ago, and the healing process that enabled him to be a top performer this year.

"A little bit over a year ago, I had hip surgery," Thomas said. "I didn't know if I'd be able to play at the level that I'd become accustomed to playing with ever again, and so I'd like to thank Dr. Bryan Kelly for doing the hip surgery and doing such a fantastic job."

Thomas then gave special thanks to Dennis Thompson and Jay Schroeder for a system they used to recover his hip from the surgery, which Thomas said increased his athletic performance immensely.

Thomas closed his remarks by thanking God.

The 37-year-old native of Flint, Michigan recorded a 1.98 GAA, winning 16 games in the postseason run that led to the Bruins first Stanley Cup title in 39 years. He was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the postseason.

John Hamm, who plays leading man Don Draper on AMC's slick series Mad Men, handed off the trophy to Thomas during the presentation at the Pearl Theater at the Palms hotel.

“I’m a big fan of goalies,” Hamm said on NHL Network prior to the award show. “I was a catcher in high school baseball so anybody who straps pads on and gets stuff thrown at them at 100 miles-per-hour deserves a trophy.”

“This is a political decision, not a military decision,” - OBAMA shows it is all about his desire to get re-elected, not what should be done

“This is a political decision, not a military decision....” - Damned Straight.

The cheers you heard last night were the Taliban getting exactly what they wanted from the President last night. They are more than happy to wait for things to go back to the way they were before the Surge pushed them to the brink....It will be a year before the 30000 extra leave but "Barry-From-Chicago" isn't worried about the economy or the terrorists, unless those issues can be used to bolster his re-election campaign....what a feckless POL.

Hopefully he'll be ousted and when we have to detail why we let the terrorists catch a break and allow them to return to their murderous ways, we'll owe the world an explaination on why we made decisions on the fate of this effort based solely on what POTUS hoped would help the empty-suit get relected....not based on what the military experts said we should do.

The people of Afghanistan have always feared we would only give this a half-hearted effort and then leave....It may be that their worst fears about the future of this place will be realized based on what the "Community Organizer" told the world last night.

To Obama, Afghan war no longer seems so smart
By: Glenn Thrush - Politico
June 22, 2011 11:16 PM EDT

If Afghanistan doesn’t fit President Barack Obama’s definition of a “dumb war” – his famous description of the conflict in Iraq — he’s no longer entirely confident it’s still a smart war worth blood, treasure or his own political capital.

In a primetime address Wednesday night announcing the withdrawal of 33,000 U.S.troops in the next year, Obama trumpeted the fulfillment of two goals first articulated nine years in the same Chicago speech in which he defined George W. Bush’s intervention in Iraq — killing Osama bin Laden and denying a safe haven to al Qaeda.

One additional achievement unmentioned in the 14-minute address: The role Obama’s Afghan surge played in bolstering his national security credentials at a time when Republicans portrayed him as just another weak Democratic president lacking the guts to wage war for a just cause.

But that just cause, in Obama’s view, is no longer reason enough for what had essentially become an open-ended U.S. commitment. So the president has opted for a faster-than-expected withdrawal timetable against the advice of senior military advisers, including Gen. David Petraeus.

“These long wars must come to a responsible end [and] we must learn from their lessons,” said Obama, articulating a more surgical approach to U.S. military intervention than he was able to describe during a speech on Libya earlier this year.

History will tell if the speech Wednesday night was a form of capitulation, a well-earned victory lap or combination of both.

Obama’s “dumb” vs. “smart” war meme, first outlined in his October, 2002 speech as an unknown state senator, didn’t seem to be far from his thoughts. Now as then, he made the argument for extricating the country from an unpopular war without losing political face — or bitterly-won gains against al Qaeda.

“We must chart a more centered course,” he said after announcing that 10,000 troops would be pulled out of Afghanistan by year’s end.

“We must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events but we must also be as pragmatic as we are passionate, as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened we must respond with force – but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas.”

Robert Kagan, a former adviser to his 2008 opponent John McCain, warned that a quick withdrawal threatens recent gains against the Taliban – and popular opinion could swing against the president if an emboldened enemy takes the speech as a cue to step up attacks.

“This is a political decision, not a military decision,” he told POLITICO. “Americans are tired of this war, that’s true. But they hate losing more, and if there’s the perception that we’re being run out of there, the public will turn on him fast.”

Stephen Hayes, a writer with the conservative Weekly Standard, summed up the view of many hawks when he told Fox News that Obama seemed to be “declaring” victory even though Afghanistan teeters on the verge of violent chaos.

“I think we’ve undercut a strategy that was working,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned. “Having all the surged forces leave by next summer is going to compromise next summer’s fighting season.”

Liberals, on the other hand, think the speed of the pull-out is too sluggish, with Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) expressing disappointment and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) telling MSNBC the 30,000 troops “ought to come home by the end of the year.”

Yet the politics of Afghanistan are scrambled and unpredictable, with many Republicans citing the fiscal strains of waging two full wars – and the House GOP threatening to pass legislation de-funding Obama’s controversial intervention in Libya.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) seemed skeptical but not overtly hostile to Obama’s speech. “Congress will hold the administration accountable for ensuring that the pace and scope of the drawdown does not undermine the progress we’ve made thus far,” he said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn’t reject the plan out of hand either, focusing on the need for the White House to adjust their timetable according to conditions on the ground.

“The drawdown of forces described by the president needs to be conducted in a manner that respects the professional judgment of our military commanders, preserves the security gains of the last year and allows for a slower pace of withdrawal if necessary,” McConnell said.

In the hours leading up to the address, Obama’s staff emphasized a triumph without triumphalism.

Yet it was hard to mistake Obama’s valedictory tone, despite his acknowledgement that the gains in Afghanistan could be fleeting and that “dark days” of fighting remained prior to a larger pull-out in 2014.

“Mission Accomplished” it wasn’t – the best Obama offered was “The tide of war is receding.” But he mentioned the killing of Bin Laden no fewer than six times while praising the surge and he began with an explanation of his decision to transfer military resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Obama aides emphasized that “Operation Enduring Freedom,” which has cost the lives of more than 1,600 Americans over the last decade, has finally achieved many of its objectives under his stewardship. With the terror threat migrating to Yemen and Pakistan, they declared that the smart war simply doesn’t look quite so smart anymore.

“On the threat side, we haven’t seen a terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan for the past seven or eight years,” a senior national security official told reporters.

“There has been clearly fighting and threats inside of Afghanistan,” the person said, adding that that there is “no indication at all that there is any effort within Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to carry out attacks outside of Afghan borders.”

Smart, dumb or otherwise, Afghanistan remains an easily forgettable, if not altogether forgotten war. And Obama’s speech didn’t seem to attract the attention of previous addresses he’s delivered.

Of the three broadcast networks, only one – CBS – led with the Obama speech on their evening news shows. ABC and NBC both featured the floods in North Dakota at the top of their broadcasts.

That reflected a larger focus, adopted by Obama himself, on tending to the country’s internal affairs, especially the economy, and pulling back from the international entanglements of the Bush years.

“We have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times,” Obama said. The president acknowledged the popular frustration with seeing schools and roads built abroad at American expense while an atmosphere of fiscal austerity reigns in the U.S.

“America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home,” Obama declared.

Under Obama’s plan, roughly 68,000 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan by late next year — about twice as many as were in the country when he took office. He vowed to continue to withdraw troops “at a steady pace,” though he offered no further details on the timetable.

“This is the beginning – but not the end – of our effort to wind down this war,” he said. “We will have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we have made, while we drawdown our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government.”