October 2, 2017

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (100217)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.



  1. A very long article on the recent trip and status of negotiation attempts.

    This blogs focus is economics, so picking through all the top-level diplomacy noise, here are some excerpts:

    “On the campaign trail last year, Mr. Trump expressed a willingness to negotiate with Mr. Kim over a hamburger. …”
    That would’ve been a good start: dialogue over beef, instead of this ongoing chicken game.

    “Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the United States had no choice but to seek a diplomatic agreement….
    he said on “Meet the Press” on NBC before the president’s tweets. “I think Tillerson understands that every intelligence agency we have says there’s no amount of economic pressure you can put on North Korea to get them to stop this program because they view this as their survival.”
    It’s standard Maslov’s hierarchy of needs. No amount of economic pressure matters if worried about basic survival.

    “Mr. Tillerson’s comments in Beijing on Saturday night did not appear spontaneous. After hours in the Great Hall of the People, where he met separately with China’s foreign minister, state councilor and then President Xi Jinping, he sat down with a group of American reporters in the living room of the home of the American ambassador, Terry Branstad.”
    Odd word choice, as this would be the living quarters of the American ambassador, or the embassy quarters. (Of course, I’m just be nitpicking here of the reporters word choice. To me, Terry Branstad will always be Mr. Governor. He would know the best sources for beef for those hamburgers.)

    Where’s the beef? (Yes, now we’ve jumped to Ohio, and Wendy’s, not the big M, Mcdonalds, or flame-broiled Burger King)

    Where’s the beef? Currently in feedlots, but will see if dialogue over hamburger between wheat buns might change things.

    November, we’ll see how the dialogue plays out.

    On the campaign trail last year, Mr. Trump expressed a willingness to negotiate with Mr. Kim over a hamburger. He plans to visit China, South Korea and Japan in November, among other destinations, to keep up regional pressure on Pyongyang.

    Despite the president’s message, Mr. Tillerson’s spokeswoman said diplomacy remained possible. “#DPRK will not obtain a nuclear capability,” Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, wrote on Twitter after Mr. Trump’s tweet, using initials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    Scaring times. Hoping for a good outcome.


    Comment by Cornfed — October 2, 2017 @ 1:32 pm

  2. A turning point: Air Force Academy shows leadership with powerful words on diversity, dignity and respect

    First, let’s get the bad news out of the way, so we can understand the context of strong speech by Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria.

    Bad news #1: Officials are “investigating a racial slur written on the message boards of five cadet candidates attending the Academy’s Preparatory School”. Not just one, but apparently five doors. “A photo shared on Facebook shows a dry erase board with the words, “go home n-word” written on a dorm for cadet candidates at the Prep School.”[Image link, in Ref2, https://cbsdenver.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/air-force-academy.jpg?w=420&h=236 ]

    Bad news #2: This is unfortunately not an isolated problem, but perhaps hopefully a turning point. From Ref1, the article about Silveria’s speech, Reporter Jonah Bromwich gives this background, at the bottom of his article: “The Air Force Academy has struggled to address different forms of discrimination in the past. In 2014, a Pentagon report found that sexual assault and harassment were widespread at the three military academies and that, of the 70 reported incidents in the 2012-2013 school year, almost two-thirds took place at the Air Force Academy. There were 32 reports of sexual assault at the school in the 2015-2016 school year, the Pentagon said, down from 49 the previous year.”
    That is a horrendous stat. Consider too, that at least some of assaults would have been on a male Academy cadet. The sexual assault problem in the military has many male victims.

    Deep breath, and now for the Optimism and Hope news:
    – This occurred at the Prep School, not the actual military Academy. Those who failed to get accepted or a Congressional nomination to the actual Academy, some try the Prep School route for their next application. When LtGen Silveria says “get out”, the Prep School perpetrators do NOT have active-duty commitments if they fail at the school, so it will be administratively easier to keep them out of the AF Officer Corps.

    The super strong reaction is heartening. Please take the time to listen to his speech. A few excerpts (my typing, to words and phrases I noticed, instead of from the news article):

    “What we should have is a Civil Discourse and talk about these issues. That’s a Better Idea.”

    “We come from all walks of life…”

    “The power of US as a diverse group… we come from all backgrounds, all upbringings, …the Power of that diversity comes together. That’s a better Idea.”

    (From 5:10, when he prompts the cadet corps to video is closing words:)
    Dignity and Respect

    Thank you to all out there working for culture change! Thank you, LtGen Silveria and staff, for the reporters covering this speech, and the dialogue it inspires.

    Recommended watching, in the first link:


    1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/us/air-force-academy-racial-slurs.html?mcubz=0
    Air Force General Addresses Racial Slurs on Campus: ‘You Should Be Outraged’

    2. http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/09/28/n-word-air-force-academy-racial-slur/
    ‘You Should Be Outraged’: AFA Superintendent After N-Word Written On Message Board
    September 28, 2017 7:21 PM
    at “CBSDenver”

    3. https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/01/25/its_not_your_parents_air_force_academy_110694.html
    It’s Not Your Parent’s Air Force Academy
    By Brian E. Wish
    January 24, 2017
    “USAFA is run by graduates; LtGen Johnson graduated in 1981 and spent a tour as an instructor from 1989-1992. The Commandant of Cadets, the commander of the USAFA Preparatory School, and the Athletic Director are all graduates. Like most graduates of the era, they likely wondered if there was a better way to grow leaders. Now they are in a position to act.

    Innovation is what the Air Force is about. Tradition cannot get in the way of the mission. As one alumni noted during the question and answer session, discipline among the freshmen, or at least the crisp outward trappings of discipline, has declined. Perhaps this is a worthwhile trade to nurture internal discipline and to practice methods of leadership other than instilling fear. Such changes may go a long way towards Lt Gen Johnson’s goal of producing Second Lieutenants capable of being leaders” …Instead of internalizing fear and become part of cover-ups and image-making, now potentially internalizing and then behaving true core values (Integity, Service before Self, Excellence in all we do).


    Comment by Cornfed — October 2, 2017 @ 2:20 pm

  3. A few minutes ago, I posted links to LtGen Silveria’s speech to the AF Academy cadets. Some images lingered, and the strong words. Hence this attempt at thoughtful additional dialogue.

    It is really hard to have buttons hit, and not react instinctively and thus emotionally. The NFL let this happen, reacting emotionally to Trump’s tweet with anti-Trump reaction on foreign soil, letting their emotions obfuscate the error in their message. And unfortunately, after the initial reaction of support, a reaction of ‘finally someones with Stars in speaking out strongly’, i respectfully modulate that support with this concern.

    The image that stuck, and appears only briefly in the video, and not until near-the-end of the video, is the Cadets. They weren’t absorbing a leaders words, they were stand Stiff and In-Fear of his anger. Of course, standing at Attention has some degree of stiffness, but if he wanted them to SEE and HEAR, would that not work better from a position of Parade Rest, where the heads can turn and cadets could have nodded in understanding and agreement?

    I added that 3rd link instinctively, and only belatedly realized it is completely contradictory to LtGen Silveria’s approach.

    “This is not your parents AF Academy” was a link from months ago that I reread on occasion, posted in my personal workarea. This is no longer the military of Full Metal Jacket, and of Officer and A Gentlemen, and other draft-era yell-Yell-YELL training. Yes, yelling (creating stress) will be part of training; but hazing yelling and angry-yelling and emotion-driven fear are not our Core Values. Fear creates Yes-Man (in the gender-neutral use of the phrase), who did EVENTUALLY pull out their cell phones, but not because the LtGen inspired them to do so. Rather, they pulled them out in the I’ve-Given-You-A-Direct-Order reaction, only after first having to be coaxed out of Numbness (the type children experience in Domestic Violence situations, being around Parents yelling at each other).

    His words are directly contradictory, as they are divisive. On the one hand, he says ‘overcome bad language with better ideas’ and complemented a recent event of dialogue; but then reaches into the anger bucket with a binary idea: “Get Out”.

    We don’t know what inspired the unfortunate and incorrect racial slurs at the Prep School. We don’t know what it was a reaction too. Its a wrong message, and is justly condemned; yet forcing culture change includes counter-reactions.

    I find it odd that AF Leaders can so easily get angry at Prep School cadets, yet not at their peers. When the CSAF promoted ‘mustache March’, his words to describe they why of it were extremely poor leadership. Us younger troops protested in our own way, and that 2015 event ended.

    Now, if/when they identify who posted the slurs, all context will be lost and learning about ‘triggers’ and finding common understanding and creating true diversity will be lost. The only thing people will be thinking it “how to we kick them out” of the Prep School, IAW LtGen Silveria’s undue influence.

    I don’t know his history, and will assume he is truly heart-felt angry at the event and wants diversity. Just as I reacted to the sexual assault paragraph at the end of the news article, and want that stopped.

    Yet, leaders should be aware of this when they react So Strongly only to the weakest among them an not-so to their own peers: Leader anger because you’re afraid of your career and reputation does not inspire.

    I will believe you when you speak Strength and Anger towards your peers and seniors. Truly risk your career to speak out to those in power of your next promotion board.

    The cadets stored in fear. Was this really leadership on race? or just face-saving grandstanding? The cadets will let us know, somehow.

    Comment by Cornfed — October 2, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

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