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>The Dangers of Group Decisions

>“energy” to http://www.platts.com/

By Don White
Group Decisions Are Losers:
Groups usually make poor decisions. Recently, I read a story of the millionaires who are the group that advises Barak Obama. He’s starting to turn to them again. He usually flies almost alone, with only his family or staff, from one campaign destination to another, listening to music, reading, and writing his next speech.

But this last time he had a plane-load of old friends whom he considers his inner advisory group and he roved up and down the isles soaking in their spirit. Almost without exception, they are Chicagoans or Illinois people of high standing and influence in the country,old friends and supporters.

Admirable, right? But when you examine Barak Obama you find that he lacks the experience to make good decisions himself. As president, if he has to rely on others, which he will, he’s going to make a poor president. He has never served in the military and will make a poor commander in chief and a poor president, based on the fact that he has never done anything or run anything, never sponsored significant legislation either as a state representative or a Senator for two years.

I’m not spouting gloom for America and Obama just to be negative. This is not strictly my opinion either,this is the record. If you want further backup on that, I suggest you read Ronald Kessler’s excellent article about Obama’s public and private record recorded in NewsMax entitled “Obama’s Inexperience Tough To Ignore.”

President Kennedy had this same deficit. He was young and inexperienced, so he brought into the White House this huge think tank advisory group. All of us were unduly impressed by the names of Kennedy’s advisors. They included Theodore C. Sorensen, speech writer; Dean Rusk, Secretary of State; C. Douglas Dillon; Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara; Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; Postmaster General J. Edward Day; John A. Gronouski; Stewart L. Udall, Interior; Orville L. Freeman, Agriculture; Luther H. Hodges, Commerce; Arthur J. Goldberg, Labor; W. Willard Wirtz, and Abraham Ribicoff, Health, Education and Welfare; Anthony J. Celebrezze; and Adlai Stevenson, UN.

That was a high-powered think tank, each in every way as smart as they get. Obama, no doubt, will have a just as highly educated think tank; and so will McCain. But what kinds of decisions do they come up with when they act as a group, making decisions?

Usually, not so good. The Bay of Pigs could be used as an example. Committee decisions are usually poor. And early in an inexperienced president’s tenure, that’s the kinds of decision-making that takes place because he must lean on others heavily.

Stephen Leeb, in his book The Coming Economic Collapse, quotes social psychologist Irving Janis who wrote a book, Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes.
Janis recounts how many of Kennedy’s advisers had misgivings about supporting the invasion of Cuba that turned out so badly. They realized that errors were likely being made, but the pressure to maintain group solidarity prevented those concerns from being raised and properly addressed. Leeb said that some group members, Robert Kennedy for one, actually tried to keep information from the president that might have alerted him of the danger.

“Janis concludes that the closed-mindedness, overconfidence, and pressure within the group to conform can lead to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment, which he calls groupthink.

A recent parallel to the Bay of Pigs incident was the U.S. government’s belief in the early 2000s that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Leeb said that claim was “laid to rest by America’s chief weapons inspector, David kay, in 2004.”

The Economist, in a special report on the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the intelligence failure, notes: “It diagonosed a severe case of ‘groupthink’: that is, that the spies were failing to test the general assumption that Iraq had a growing WMD program. To have done so would have been considered heresy, which may be why Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, accuses America of positing ‘faith-based intelligence.’ “

In the next installment we shall discuss “Overcoming Psychological Barriers” that each of us have. We shall determine why civilizations go into decline and fail and what separates those, such as the Japanese and British, which face extinction but which find ways to solve their energy or other crises. We will talk more about the crisis of energy facing the U.S. today and why Democrats, in particular, seem reluctant to buy onto the idea that this crisis poses an immediate threat to America; why it has the capability of ending our nation as we know it in a short period of time, and why they believe, just as in the technology bubble of the late 1990s, this crisis will just go away; and why they would rather buy onto the idea that if global warming is not properly addressed, over a much longer period the world’s population could become extinct.

For my money, if you give me just one to five years and fail to drill for new energy and compare that to the hundred or so years that you have with the global warming threat, I take saving our nation first, then worrying about fixing global warming later with new technology, perhaps.
Part Two will follow in a few days.

>What Became of The Heroes of The Hanoi Hilton?

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Here’s a brief history of the 47 men in captivity in the Hanoi Hilton when John McCain was there. James Stockdale (left) went on to become an Admiral, along with four others mentioned below.

5 Made Admiral rank (Stockdale O-9, Lawrence O-9, Shumaker O-8, Denton O-8, Fuller O-8).

1 Made General rank (Risner O-7)

40 Others stayed in the military and attained the following ranks: (USMC 1 Col–Dunn; Navy 1 Cdr–Coker; AF 1 LCol–Daughtrey; AF 19 Colonels–Craner, Crow, Crumpler, Day, Dramesi, Finlay, Guarino, Gutterson, Hughes, Kasler, Johnson, Kirk, Lamar, Larson, Ligon, McKnight, Pollard, Stockman, & Webb; Navy 18 Captains–Brady, Coskey, Crayton, Daniels, Doremus, Fellowes, Franke, Gillespie, James, Jenkins, McCain, Moore, Mulligan, Rivers, Rutledge, Schoeffel, Stratton, & Tanner.

1 Became U.S. Congressmen ( Johnson , Texas ; McCain , Arizona ).

2 Became U.S. Senators ( Denton , Alabama ; McCain , Arizona ).

1 Was a Vice Presidential candidate (Stockdale).

1 Was a Presidential candidate (McCain).

2 Received the Medal of Honor (Stockdale, Day). Day resumed his career as a lawyer.

3 Received the Navy Cross ( Denton , Coker, Fuller). (3 of the 4 POWs to receive this award were from this room. Red McDaniel was the 4th POW to receive the award).

4 Made escapes. All were recaptured, all were tortured. (Dramesi, Coker, McKnight, Day).

2 Were jet aces from the Korea War (Risner: 9 kills in F-86; Kasler: 6 kills in F-86).

1 First pilot to fly over Russia in U-2 spy aircraft (Stockman).

1 Was shot down 4-15-1944 in Germany . POW until April 1945. 26th mission in P-47 (Ligon)

1 Shot down 3 German planes during WW II. Flying British aircraft (Guarino). Flew 156 missions in Sicily, India , China and Indo-China.

1 Flew 62 missions in Korea War. Got credit for 1 kill, 1 damaged, 1 probable kill against Mig 15s (Johnson).

7 Received the Air Force Cross (Kasler–3 awards; Risner–2 awards; Dramesi: 2 awards, Day, Kirk, Guarino and McKnight each received one award).

4 Were Navy Test Pilots (Stockdale, Lawrence, Gillespie, & Franke).

1 Flew with the Thunderbirds (Johnson).

11 Were USNA graduates (Brady ’51, Denton ’47, Fellowes ’56, Fuller ’51, Gillespie ’51, Lawrence ’51,
McCain ’58, Rivers ’52, Schoeffel ’54, Shumaker ’56, & Stockdale ’47).

2 Were Landing Signal Officers (LSOs); (Stockdale, Tanner).

1 Escaped the B-52 community and got into combat flying the F-105G (Larson).

1 Has a daughter who is an astronaut, gone into space three times (789 hours). She is presently in training as a crewmember of the International Space Station. ( Lawrence ).

1 Was a Navy Air Wing Commander (CAG): (Stockdale, (COMAIRGRU 16).

1 commanded a Navy Carrier, USS America. Later became Battle Group Commander ñCARGRU 4 Commander (Fuller).

10 Were Squadron Commanders (Coskey (VA-85), Day (TBD), Denton (VA-75), Franke, Fuller (VA-76), Gillespie, Jenkins VA-163), Lawrence (VF-143), Ligon (11th TRS) and Larson (469th TFS) when shot down), Schoeffel (VA-83).

5 Were Squadron Executive Officers (Daniels, Moore, Mulligan, Rutledge, & Brady). They were shot down before they could make Squadron Commander.

10 Authored books:

a. Day: Return With Honor.

b. Denton : When Hell Was In Session.

c. Dramesi: Code of Honor.

d. Guarino: A POW’s Story: 2801 Days in Hanoi .

e. Johnson: Captive Warriors: A Vietnam POW’s Story.

f. McCain: Faith of My Fathers.

g. Mulligan: The Hanoi Commitment.

h. Risner: The Passing of the Night.

i. Rutledge: In the Presence of Mine Enemies.

j. Stockdale: Courage Under Fire; In Love and War; A Vietnam Experience; Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot.

4 Became Presidents/Commandants/Superintendents of institutions of higher learning: (Stockdale:President of the Citidel and President of the Naval War College ; Lawrence: Superintendent of the USNA; Shumaker: Superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School ; and (TBD); Denton : Commandant of Armed Forces Staff College).

2 Built their own airplanes: (Jenkins: Long EZ; Shumaker: Glassair). Pollard is currently flying sail planes.

1 Was the first active duty Naval Aviator to fly Mach II (Lawrence).

1 Was first Naval Aviator to land on an aircraft carrier in 0/0 fog with a newly developed Aircraft Carrier Landing System (Gillespie). Yes, it was an emergency low fuel state!

2 Naval Aviators were in the final selection groups (before shootdown) for the Mercury Astronaut Program (Lawrence, Shumaker).

Many of the members of Room 7 either served during wars prior to Vietnam , or who saw combat in theatres other than Vietnam

WW II:

Vern Ligon: USA Air Corps, 25 missions, P-47 pilot, POW in Stalag Luft 1, 1944-45, escaped once, recaptured.

Larry Guarino: USA Air Corps, 156 missions in Sicily , India , China and Indo-China. Spitfires.

Hervey Stockman: USA Air Corps. 68 missions, P-51.

Jim Kasler: USA Air Corps, 7 missions as tail gunner, B-29.

Harry Jenkins and Gordon Larson were Navy V5 cadets and Fred Crow was an Army Air Corps aviation cadet when WW II ended.

Bud Day: Corporal, USMC, 30 months in south and central Pacific, April 1942-Nov 1945.

By Fuller and Carl Crumpler: Enlisted in US Navy summer of 1945. Saw boot camp by the end of WW II.

Fred Crow and Al Brady: were Navy dependents at Pearl Harbor , December 7, 1941.

Korea :

Robby Risner: USAF, 108 missions, F-86. Mig Ace with 9 kills.

Jim Kasler: USAF, 100 missions, F-86, Mig Ace with 6 kills.

Howie Rutledge: USN, 200 missions, F9F-2 as a Flying Midshipman.

Harry Jenkins: Served aboard USS Fred T. Berry (DD-141) off coast of Korea . Flying Midshipman.

Tom Kirk: Flew missions in Korea (we need more information from Tom).

Larry Guarino: USAF, Air Defense Alert missions.

Jim Lamar: USAF, 100 missions in F-80 and P-51.

Wendy Rivers: Served on a destroyer off the coast of Korea .

Laird Gutterson: USAF, flew 60 missions, P-51.

Verlyne Daniels: Flew AD-4 missions, March-August 1953.

Sam Johnson: USAF, flew 62 missions, F-86, 1 kill, 1 probable, 1 damaged against Mig 15s.

Bud Day: USAF, air defense missions, F-84s.

Bill Lawrence: (F2H-3) and By Fuller (F9F-5) arrived off the coast of Korea in October 1953. They were flying off the USS Oriskany. Too late the war was over!

Fred Crow: Had various commands stateside during the Korean War.

Carl Crumpler: Flew F-86s at George AFB. War was over too soon for him to participate.

Magnificent men, whether in acockpit, in a cell, or at a desk.Provided to show that, regardless of thecircumstances, some are never defeated, only temporarily delayed.

“All of this and some SOB says, “getting shot down and captured does not qualify someone to be president” – but supposedly another with 143 days in congress does qualify? What a country – but how long will we stand at this rate?”

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>It’s About Time We Busted Those Kidnappers Who Have Been Forcing Our Kids Into Prostitution And Slave Labor. They Should All Get The Death Penalty…

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FBI Director Robert Mueller speaks during a news conference at the FBI headquarters in Washington, Wednesday, June 25, 2008. Hundreds of people have been arrested and 21 children rescued in what the FBI is calling a five-day roundup of networks of pimps who force children into prostitution. Maybe some of my readers can tell me what penalties are available for them. In a 5-4
decision our liberal five jurists voted we can’t kill a rapist, even a child rapist. That’s why we need another Republican president. We need to break the strangle hold the liberals have on these kinds of decisions. Get out and talk up the presidential candidacy of John McCain. If Obama becomes president he would have all the offenders over to the White House for tea and crumpets, forget the victims.
(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

>Gas Prices–We Get What We Deserve

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The Gas Prices We Deserve

Washington–Writer George F. Will of the Washington Post is right: rising gas and oil prices are a function of either inaction or faulty thinking of the Democrats.

He noted that New York Democrat Chuck Schumer rose in the Senate and tried to explain: “I rise to discuss rising energy prices.” Will said “the president was heading to Saudi Arabia to seek an increase in its oil production, and Schumer’s gorge was rising.”

Saudi Arabia, he said, “holds the key to reducing gasoline prices at home in the short term.” Therefore arms sales to that kingdom should be blocked unless it “increases its oil production by one million barrels per day,” which would cause the price of gasoline to fall “50 cents a gallon almost immediately.”

The ever astute Will asked: Can a senator, with so many things on his mind, know so precisely how the price of gasoline would respond to that increase in the oil supply? “Schumer does know,” he said, “that if you increase the supply of something, the price of it probably will fall. That is why he and 96 other senators recently voted to increase the supply of oil on the market by stopping the flow of oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which protects against major physical interruptions. Seventy-one of the 97 senators who voted to stop filling the reserve also oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
If in 1995 President Bill Clinton had not vetoed legislation to permit drilling there, one million barrels is what might today be flowing from ANWR. Figure it out–one million barrels produce 27 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel. Seventy-two of today’s senators — including Schumer, of course, and 38 other Democrats, including Barack Obama, and 33 Republicans, including John McCain — have voted to keep ANWR’s estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil off the market. Do they know something the rest of the world doesn’t know?

No, they don’t. They are just being stupid. Will believes that Schumer, according to Schumer, is complicit in taking $10 away from every American who buys 20 gallons of gasoline. “Democracy,” said H.L. Mencken, “is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Will says, “The common people of New York want Schumer to be their senator, so they should pipe down about gasoline prices, which are a predictable consequence of their political choice.”
Click below to read the rest of this fine article by Georg Will:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/04/AR2008060403052.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter

>McCain "Wiser" Choice Than Obama

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Older Brains Are Better

Don White

John McCain will be a better president than Barak Obama, if for no other reason than he is older, wiser, and more experienced.

But scientists now tell us there is another reason why older people like the 72-year-old McCain will be more effective and astute in the Oval Office than the much younger Democratic candidate. Yes, Mac has been around the block more times. He knows a lot more about foreign relations. He knows infinitely more about defending our country. He also is smarter in the U.S. Senate, he’s simply been there much longer.

Scientists now believe that brainpower doesn’t decline with age. What is
sometimes confused as a poor memory because someone can’t remember
names anymore might really be a positive, not a negative. Uhraah! For McCain.

At least this is the conclusion of scientists reported by Sara Reistad-Long in a New York Times article on May 20, 2008.

When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong.

Research suggests the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.

The studies are analyzed in a new edition of a neurology book, Progress in Brain Research.

Ms. Reistad-Long said some brains do deteriorate with age—such as Alzheimer’s disease, for example, which strikes 13 percent of Americans 65 and older. But for most aging adults, the author says, much of what occurs is a gradually widening focus of attention that makes it more difficult to latch onto just one fact, like a name or a telephone number. Although that can be frustrating, it is often useful.

“It may be that distractibility is not, in fact, a bad thing,” said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard whose work was cited in the book. “It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind.”
For example, in studies where subjects are asked to read passages that are interrupted with unexpected words or phrases, adults 60 and older work much more slowly than college students. Although the students plow through the texts at a consistent speed regardless of what the out-of-place words mean, older people slow down even more when the words are related to the topic at hand. That indicates that they are not just stumbling over the extra information, but are taking it in and processing it.

The Times reported that when both groups were later asked questions for which the out-of-place words might be answers, the older adults responded much better than the students. In a national sense, Obama is the student and McCain the teacher or older adult.

“For the young people, it’s as if the distraction never happened,” said an author of the review, Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist at the Rotman Research Institute. “But for older adults, because they’ve retained all this extra data, they’re now suddenly the better problem solvers. They can transfer the information they’ve soaked up from one situation to another.”

The article said that such tendencies can yield big advantages in the real world, where it is not always clear what information is important, or will become important. A seemingly irrelevant point or suggestion in a memo can take on new meaning if the original plan changes. Or extra details that stole your attention, like others’ yawning and fidgeting, may help you assess the speaker’s real impact.

Obama has demonstrated time after time his lack of being able to grasp important things. Oh, he can remember names, except when he embarrasses himself by calling a reporter “Sweety” instead of using her name. But in a larger sense, he doesn’t seem to grasp the importance of major topics such showing America by what he portrays and does that he is fiercely patriotic or an America-first guy. You know, this is a guy who has to prove that he’s not a Muslim-hating American with a wife who “for the first time in my life” feels patriotic. He has a terrific Muslim name—Barak Hussein Obama, so why all the fuss about who he is? It’s because he is sending signals that he isn’t who he says he is.

He refuses to wear an American flag pin on his lapel. He has been photographed not fully participating in the Pledge of Allegiance as witnessed by one photo that caught him looking away with his arms at his side while others were saluting or had their hands on their hearts. What was he doing, memorizing his speech at that very moment?

“A broad attention span may enable older adults to ultimately know more about a situation and the indirect message of what’s going on than their younger peers,” Dr. Hasher said. “We believe that this characteristic may play a significant role in why we think of older people as wiser.”

In a 2003 study at Harvard, Dr. Carson and other researchers tested students’ ability to tune out irrelevant information when exposed to a barrage of stimuli. The more creative the students were thought to be, judging by a questionnaire on past achievements, the more trouble they had ignoring the unwanted data. A reduced ability to filter and set priorities, the scientists concluded, could contribute to original thinking.

This phenomenon, Dr. Carson said, is often linked to a decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.

Could that be Barak’s problem?

Studies have found that people who suffered an injury or disease that lowered activity in that region became more interested in creative pursuits.

There is a word for what results when the mind is able to assimilate data and put it in its proper place and it’s called “wisdom.”