Afghanistan

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Although Peggy spent 20 years as an official in world curling, we opted out of Sochi. Aside from the expense, anti-gay bill and reports of horrible hotels, we had an unpleasant experience in Moscow two years ago when traveling for a curling event. Virtually no one spoke English. Signs were in Cyrillic script. An inveterate American traveler called Russia the most unfriendly tourist venue he had ever visited.

Three weeks after the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009 went into effect, the U.S. Postal Service is already making amendments to its methods of complying with the Act. PACT was designed to prevent the smuggling of tobacco products as well as preventing it to be sold to minors via the Internet. When PACT went into effect, mailing of tobacco products was limited to Express Mail service because Express Mail must be signed for, allowing the USPS to ensure that the person receiving the package was of legal age to buy cigarettes. Unfortunately, it had the unintended side

This is not about whether the Obamas were smart or dumb to go to Copenhagen, Denmark, and pitch Chicago as the 2016 Olympic site.

No question, they should have gone, joining King Juan Carlos of Spain, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

President Obama was damned by the Republicans for going and mocked by the Republicans for not closing the deal. But he would have been more severely damned and mocked—and blamed—had he not gone and the U.S. lost out.

What’s more, the president was gone for one day, and he is a fair multitasker. Last I heard, Air Force One has a telephone and video conferencing systems onboard, so he didn't have to relinquish the presidency to Joe Biden while he was aloft. In addition, he tended to foreign policy by having a 15-minute meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, chief U.S. honcho in the Afghanistan war.

The real embarrassment was Chicago being eliminated on the first ballot with a pathetic 18 votes out of 94.

What happened?

I got the clue the following Sunday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

One of the greatest speakers I ever heard was the peripatetic business guru Tom Peters. In one hour, he raced around the room throwing out myriad ideas, management techniques, secrets and rules. He persuaded me that Air Force Lt. Col. John Boyd changed war and was the greatest strategist in 1,000 years. The fighter pilot invented the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act—and then repeat the process). The OODA concept is just as applicable to business as it is to war.

After hearing Peters, I bought Robert Coram’s biography, “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War." Boyd’s shtick was developing lightweight fighters at the Pentagon; the lighter the fighter, the more maneuverable it is, which gives it the advantage in a dogfight.

When Boyd got clearance to send out RFPs on his new, lightweight F-16 fighter, various Pentagon higher-ups insisted the plans be revised to include a bunch of high-tech gizmos. These meant more weight, less performance, more money and a delay getting started. Boyd spent much of his time shooting down these ideas.

If the alterations had been added, the beautiful, efficient fighting machine Boyd envisioned would've been born a dinosaur.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein (1907-1988) once opined that the dinosaur became extinct because its body was so huge and its head so small that even though it ate all the time, it starved to death.

Unlike Boyd’s F-16, the F-22 [see IN THE NEWS at right] became so unwieldy and expensive that Congress was persuaded it was a dinosaur and said the hell with it.

Same thing with the new fleet of 28 presidential helicopters, which were loaded with so many do-dads and tchotchkes that the final cost was to be $400 million a copy—more money (adjusted for inflation) than the 747 that is Air Force One. Candidates Obama and McCain agreed that the iconic Marine One helicopter would work just fine, and the program was scrapped.

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid) can be just fine, thank you very much.

Last June 30, on my daily travels through the Internet, a story smacked me in the nose: “Commanding Role for Women in the Military,” was the headline of Rachel L. Swarns’ New York Times article. The lede:

WASHINGTON - For more than a decade, Lt. General Ann E. Dunwoody has delighted in leaping through the doors of military planes and plunging into the night with a parachute on her back.

A master parachutist and a former battalion commander, Gen. Dunwoody handled logistics for the 82nd Airborne Division in Saudi Arabia during the first gulf war. As a three-star general, she has flown to Afghanistan and Iraq to ensure the steady flow of ammunition, tanks and fuel to the troops.

But one of the biggest joys of her 33-year military career has been jumping out of airplanes and into roles previously unimaginable to generations of women in the Army. Last week, President Bush asked General Dunwoody to take over a new Army command as a four-star general. If confirmed by the Senate, she will become the first woman in the armed services to achieve that rank.

“A woman four-star general,” I thought. “WOW!”

I was a two-year draftee in 1958-1960. I thought the Army was great.

I think it’s even better now that it has its first woman four-star general.

When self-righteous people—in government and business—make self-righteous statements that have a total disregard for the truth, my teeth itch. These last two weeks have been a field day for folks who have what Hemingway called a “built-in, shockproof s**t detector.” An example is President Bush’s lecture and scold to the World Economic Forum on the Middle East at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, four days ago. He said: Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail. America is deeply concerned about the plight of political prisoners in this region, as well as democratic activists

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