Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Easy Day at TT

It's easy at ThunderTales when all I have to do is respond to a comment. Flying Barrister asks about F-35:
The F-35 program was in the news again last week, and is coming under fire. I expect it will become discussed with greater frequency as plans to reduce military forces and spending continue to unfold.

I don't recall seeing you comment on that plane. What are the forces giving up in terms of useful payload by making them all jumpers? Would it make since to simplify it and make some of them non-VTOL? The Brits and/or others have expressed concern that they are single engine aircraft and lack the twin safety feature they like for over water patrols. 

Air superiority is an essential component in US strategy. We and others are banking on the F35 with no updated F15's, 16's, or 18's underway to fill any gap created by delays and potential cancellations in the F-35 program. Is it smart to bank exclusively on expensive stealth craft?
Let's start by noting that F-35 is concurrent development of 3 versions. Only the B model is a VSTOL, i.e. "jumper". The A and C model are conventional take-off and landing. The difference is that the C has a larger wing and therefore more endurance and payload.

The essential fact is that most of the planned production is already A and C model with the B-version, aimed at USMC support being a very small number. If you were to handicap the programs to bet on which will survive, the odds are longest against the very complex B model remaining in the mix.

Regarding single engine vs two engine, I'm one of the folks that have tried combat both ways. I never had an engine failure in 23 years of fast jet flying, so reliability doesn't rank very high in my worry list for normal ops. In combat flying, where engine loss is the result of enemy action, I never saw an instance in which a two-engine jet took a hit that cost an engine and survived on the remaining engine. The usual scenario is that destruction of one engine would lead to destruction of the second as various components came apart.

Updates to the teen-jets have been continual since adoption. A Block 50 Viper C-model may be a single-engine F-16, but it is considerably different than an A-model or even a Block 25 C-model. Upgrading those systems further would be a stop-gap and waste of funds in the long term, particularly after the research and development investment already sunk costs in F-22 and F-35.

The Raptor is the undeniable air superiority asset and should fill the high/low mix role which the Eagle did so well. The -35 is the Viper replacement with vastly upgraded systems and still retains a respectable self-defense capability against enemy air. Remember at all times that we operate as integrated weapons systems, not as single aircraft. Total situational awareness is provided by the integrated package.

Stealth is a major capability. Reduction of signature to allow first detection of enemy assets is a force multiplier. It is not an exclusive, but it is a necessity.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Too Much Information

With the economy in questionable condition, it is always good to see a report of a successful company. Sales figures that are better than expected are good news, aren't they?

Well, yes and no. Here's what I mean:

Fifty Gees on Thongs And Push-ups?


I'm getting images of the residence quarters of the White House that are a bit disturbing. I don't have a problem with the expenditure. She's got her money and "da Man" has his book royalties so they can be a bit extravagant. But what all could one get for that kind of cash?

Is some assembly required? Are batteries included? Is this "pret a porter" or bespoke?

And why didn't she "buy American"? Doesn't Victoria's Secret do high end...no pun intended.


Well, the question is when should you take your lumps and hope no one notices or is it better to "Harumph" loudly and object strenuously? The alleged shopping spree described above may or may not have happened, but did the story improve politically or is the additional spin boring deeper?

Dainties Boutique Clientele Confidential, But Wardrobe Worth Comment

Actually, I like the First Lady to be dressed elegantly. That image is so much better in my imagination than the exotic activities conjured up by the first article.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We've Got Our Own Race Card to Play

Hoist On Someone's Petard

There was a remarkable outpouring of anti-Newt rhetoric over the last couple of days. The scare initiated by his victory over the presumptive next-in-line candidate of the establishment got a lot of voices to speak up. We knew Ann Coulter was a Romneyite. I was a bit surprised that R. Emmett Tyrrell came out with something this harsh:

Newt Is GOP's Bill Clinton

Seriously? With friends like Tyrrell in the GOP stalwart media, why would we ever worry about Rachel Maddow?

Then we had Elliot Abrams, a former Reagan staffer take serious issue with the Gingrich--Reagan nexus. Sure, it is common for a conservative aspirant to cloak himself in the mantle of the great one, but it is rare to have that linkage so severely challenged.

Newt Exaggerates. Reagan Never Liked Him.

Apparently the coordinated attacks were supposed to be so overwhelming that nobody expected fact checking. Certainly there wouldn't be much challenge from the mainstream media. Does Wolf Blitzer even know how to Google?

That's why this "not so fast" dismantling in the American Spectator should be read carefully:

Abrams Apparently Panders For Romney Appointment Later

This coming Tuesday is going to be interesting. I suspect that Romney will win, but the margin won't be as large as he would like. The interesting, if insignificant outcome will be whether Santorum stays ahead of Ron Paul.

What counts now is contributions. Who can keep the campaign going at the accelerating pace required to travel and make an impact for Super Tuesday. That takes money. Romney has got it. Gingrich is capable of getting it. Santorum needs an infusion to remain viable. And the Ron Paul campaign runs on Ramen noodles and loyalists Tweets.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Resurrect the 11th Commandment

Politics ain't bean-bag. It can be brutal, bloody, vicious and damaging. But that should be between the competing parties with their ideological differences. Increasingly the demands of a society which has abandoned the "sweet science" of pugilism for unlimited cage fighting require that policy discussion be abandoned in favor of total destruction of your opponent. You don't win the election by clearly describing superior policy choices. You win by shattering your opponents marriage, destroying his finances, demeaning his business and educational experience, and ruining his reputation. Truth becomes irrelevant and innuendo will be long remembered.

Four months ago it was a virtual certainty that Obama would be a one-term president. There was no conceivable way for a once-fooled electorate to embrace someone with such a parade of policy failures and blatant power grabs. Now, we would have to doubt that there will be a Republican candidate capable of standing before a crowd of voters in a general election campaign without being tarred and feathered.

Here is a remarkable commentary from an unlikely source. Or maybe not so unlikely at all, since she is one who has very clearly experienced the blood-lust of the new America:

Cannibals In the Tribe Eat the Young, the Old, and the Future

The most revered and respected Republican of the last fifty years had one very clear concept that helped a moribund GOP leap into political power and begin a resurgence to relevance. Ronaldus Magnus gave us the Eleventh Commandment; thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.

It would be very good advice for the next year at least.

Saturday Morning Rocker

Friday, January 27, 2012

Maybe the Rest of the Story?

Unless you've been sleeping the last two days, you are probably aware of the "meeting" on the tarmac between Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the President as he made a campaign stop in what he hopes to be a pivotal state in his re-election.

The trigger of the conversation apparently was the portrayal of a meeting between the governor and the Messiah in her book which didn't go well, unless of course you are into monarch and subject sort of protocols. One dare not challenge the Bamster.

So, the story goes, he hit the pavement and got immediately in Gov. Brewer's face as she attempted to fulfill a politically required courtesy of welcoming the President to her state. She didn't take it for very long and the photo of the finger in the face has become iconic.

Here is a summary which may offer details of the encounter, the most important of which is the mysterious letter which she handed the President before he turned and departed in a presidential snit:

Working Together to Build a Better America

The facade of courtesy is what marks diplomacy, breeding, and civilization. The pomposity which takes affront at any challenge to one's position speaks volumes regarding maturity and self-image.

Does that news item tell the rest of the story? We can't really know. But it seems to fill a few more blanks into the scenario.

Leading the World

Leadership! That's what it is about. Seizing the moment. Grabbing the opportunity to abandon fossil fuels; you know that stuff that you put in your car and it reliably gets you to work every day. It's about wind and solar. We don't need no stinking dead dinosaurs! We've got vast landscapes to deface with huge bloody windmills that work some of the time, cost horrendous amounts to erect, use components often from off-shore and consume vast amounts of fossil fuel energy to build, transport, build and maintain. We've got almost half of every day filled with sunshine to fire up those solar cell arrays that cover the land that could otherwise be used for crops or livestock or homes or schools, unless of course it is cloudy.

But we can look beyond all that. We can stimulate the future. We can dedicate vast sums of money and send Joey "Da Mouth" Biden, aka Veep of da Youse, to bask in the reflected glory of the lucky entrepreneur who got a government check to fund his retirement home in the Bahamas without having to go through those intervening years of building a productive company. A campaign slogan might be "Funding Failures For the Future"! It's got a nice alliterative quality to it.

Battery Builder Goes Bust Being Out-Built by Beijing

Don't feel badly about this. It's less than a quarter of what Solyndra wasted. It's about leadership and the future and the freedom from dependency on middle-eastern oil. It's almost like we had a bordering neighbor with a lot of oil to send us if we only built a pipeline. Maybe we could pump the oil from Canada to American refineries that we could build with a pipeline supported by electric car batteries which weren't doing very well in cars. We'll simply recharge them from electricity produced by the windmills occasionally.

That's leadership!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"No Fair, He's Cheating!"

Remember when you were growing up and the most effective argument you could raise on the playground was that something wasn't "fair"? Remember when Tommy got that really neat new bicycle for his birthday and you thought back that the previous month you got a pair of pajamas and a six-pack of tube-socks? You cried and went running to your mommy and claimed it wasn't fair that Tommy got that bicycle.

Maybe your mommy said, "we love you and that's all we can afford." Or maybe she pointed out that Tommy's daddy had a very good job and worked very hard and Tommy didn't have two sisters and a brother to share with, so his daddy could buy him that special bicycle.

What didn't happen was that your mother went down the street to Tommy's house and told his parents that fairness would rule and Tommy would give his bicycle to you for three days a week so that it could be fair. At least I hope that didn't happen.

This week we've been learning about America's new fixation on fairness. It appears that there is a new emphasis on fairness and that stress is going to increase considerably in the coming months.

If someone is successful, it won't be fair to the rest of us. I could easily point at the President and say he is the focus of the fairness trend and it would be difficult to deny that he depends upon it more than most. But we could easily look at the GOP presidential contenders and see the fairness issue. And certainly the media is positively festooned with fairness.

Taxes are a big issue apparently. We need more fairness in our tax structure. It simply isn't fair that, for example, Mitt Romney only paid a trifle over $3 million dollars last year in income tax. That isn't fair somehow because according to our tax laws, which he didn't write, his capital gains rate was just under 15% while Warren Buffett's secretary (who I'm sure is compensated nicely by uber-billionaire Buffett) pays income tax on her salary at about a 28-34% rate. She didn't write the law either, but I haven't heard her screaming about the fairness. She is merely an example of the unfairness.

When someone plays a game and wins, they have earned the glory. There were rules written for the game beforehand. If the victory comes and the winner played by the rules, that was fair. If the rules were violated then that was unfair. But simply because there was a winner and a loser does not imply unfairness.

The fickle finger of fairness points at those with the highest income. The President did it last night and will do it increasingly in the coming months because it plays well with the people who don't really think much about these things. Those with high income need to contribute a "fair share" to the support of this nation's government.

Does no one notice that roughly 50% of the people in the nation currently pay nothing into the federal treasury? Is nothing a "fair share" of the burden of government for them? Does fairness have anything to do with anything here?

Can we notice something largely over-looked in the fairness of Mr. Romney's 15% capital gains tax? What created the capital gains? It was investment of money which he had already earned. Hence it was income which had already been taxed as income at the "unfair" rate of Mr. Buffett's secretary. Since it was a munificent income, we can assume he paid at the top income tax rate already. Now he piles another 15% on top of the first 35% or so which he has paid. Is it "fair" yet?

Maybe we can simply tolerate unfairness in compelling the successful to contribute an unfair "fair share". Does that effect us? Surprisingly, it does. You make a nice wage. Maybe you earned a bonus last year. You paid all of the taxes that the law requires. Now the money is yours, right? That's fair!

Better not put it in savings, or stocks, or bonds, or funds. Because then you will get interest or dividends and they will tax it again...just to be fair you see.

And, don't you dare die and try to leave it to your kids because they will come for half of it again. Because that is fair to give most of what you've earned to those who contribute nothing and are demanding more fairness from you.

Monday, January 23, 2012

When To Stay Home

Note to Napolitano

Here's a short addendum to the training manual for your TSA gate goons:
They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
It comes from the United States Constitution, Art I, Sec 6. Should you be unfamiliar with the document, Madame Secretary, let me simply point out that Article I deals with the legislature, and the pronoun at the start of the sentence quoted, describes Senators and Representatives, aka Congress-critters.

Sen. Rand Paul Detained by TSA, Misses Flight

If you are passing through "Grope-n-Grab", required to sit in a chair, miss your flight, then by any logical definition of the term you are being detained. For a TSA spokesperson to say that wasn't a detention is disingenuous at best.

The Constitution was thinking of political activists stopping an elected official from discharging their duties for purposes of obstructing governmental action. I don't think they ever thought that the executive branch might interfere with the legislative branch in such an egregious manner.

I'm also reluctant to jump to the conclusion that there is a linkage to the fact that the junior senator is the son of an opposition party Presidential candidate.

No, my default conclusion is that this is just one more example of total incompetence by a bureaucracy staffed with affirmative action goons delighted with their authority to intimidate, embarrass, harass and interfere with the rest of us. From the top down the TSA is a misguided solution to a problem that hasn't adequately been defined yet.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cracks in the Ivory Tower

Rackets don't always deal with illicit substances, gambling, loan-sharking or sex. Some are visible, accepted, legal and equally outrageous. Textbooks are a racket. College textbooks are Mafia-grade racketeering.

A typical college textbook is over a hundred dollars. Some are well over that number. The American government book we use in my community college lists for $185. The Texas state government book is a bargain, listed at $115.

Take a look at most of the books in the average student backpack and you will notice that they are 10th, 12th, or 15th edition. That's not a coincidence or an accident. It's an intentional plot. If you don't update your books, then students simply sell them to the next class and your market shrinks. Simply edit in a new paragraph from the most recent year or the last election and call it a new edition. Now the current student has got a $150 paperweight that can't be resold.

The argument is that the cost is so high because of the instructional supplementals that faculty get. There will be a handbook of lesson plans, there might be a CD of PowerPoint presentations usually cobbled together by a graduate student with no editing skills, and there inevitably will be a test question bank also built by a teaching assistant with no training in creation of evaluation tools.

Bottom line is that the student takes a big hit in the wallet and the shoulders that must bear the heavy backpack.

Last semester I stumbled upon a start-up company that was offering e-books for all levels of education from K-12 through university and grad school. The free app came in PC and Mac flavors as well as Android and iOS. Most major textbook publishers were on board with their catalogs and instructors who were willing to evaluate the system got a coupon for $200 worth of free textbooks. Cost of books was roughly half of what a dead-tree textbook sold for.

Kno.com Offers a New Paradigm for Textbooks

The books are accessible through all of our devices. They are full color and fully illustrated. They are searchable, indexed, and bookmarkable. You can highlight and clip relevant info to fit your study style. Organize by your classes and semesters then simply carry your iPad around and throw the bulky backpack in the trunk.

The real event took place last week. Apple-fanatics are always rumoring the new iPhone or latest iteration of the iPad or release of an operating system update. That didn't happen, but what did happen was almost as earthshaking. Apple attacked textbooks like a Marine amphibious landing storming the beach with a full blown air assault softening the marketplace in advance.

First they announced a new addition to iBooks, the iTunes connected e-book reader which will specialize in textbooks. If you've got the current operating system on you iPad, Pod, Phone, you'll simply find an iTextbooks section when you plug into iTunes. Current library is limited, but with the leverage of Apple you can be certain that the choices will expand rapidly. It only took about a month after iNewstand showed up in iOS 5 before you could get literally hundreds of magazines and newspapers.

Pricing, if it sticks to the current offering levels is going to be bargain basement. Most of the high school texts available are in the $15 range and some large-format, heavily-illustrated offerings like premium cookbooks still come in under $50.

Joined at the hip with iTextbooks is what potentially is a free global university. It's called iTunes U, and offers schools and faculty the chance to offer multi-media online courses through the iPad. I looked at it yesterday and found a list of categories of courses. Science, math, social studies, literature, humanities, etc. are all available. Political science is under the social studies area and there were already more than a hundred courses ranging from American government to international relations, law of armed conflict, and more. Schools offering the courses span the gamut from community colleges to state universities to powerhouses like Harvard and Oxford.

The key to free enterprise entrepreneurship is finding a need and meeting it with innovation. Steve Jobs was legendary in his ability to do that with out-of-the-box thinking. This textbook and learning system initiative is definitely on the same track.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Elephants! There are Elephants!

The number of elephants in the room is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. Be careful where you step there. Haven't had a chance to keep up with the mucking out of the place lately.

I'm talking about how we select our presidential nominees, obviously. The elephants weren't simply milling around yesterday. They were trumpeting loudly and it was almost impossible to concentrate on ignoring them any longer.

The primary process we have adopted is a disaster. It is totally dysfunctional and largely unrepresentative. It disenfranchises the majority of the nation and leaves a minuscule and insignificant portion of the states making the choice of who carries the party banner. It is subject to manipulation and there is no way it can offer a two party system the best possible candidates to lead a nation forward in the 21st century.

We are tradition-bound to let Iowa have a "first-in-the-nation" caucus. A caucus is a quaint and archaic community meeting in which largely emotional and often directly employed representative of candidates attempt to sway their neighbors into a public declaration of support. Participation, even in a high-focus caucus such as Iowa, is disproportionately small. But impact on the reputation, momentum and subsequent primaries is disproportionately large. Be careful of those tusks there, he's just trying to nuzzle you.

Move then to New Hampshire. The entire state could be dropped into a dozen metro areas in the nation and still have room to put Rhode Island in with it. The population is less than over a hundred cities in America. It is as un-diverse as anyplace in the country except for possibly a Montgomery Alabama Klan meeting. These people egotistically demand a face-to-face meeting with all of the candidates to judge them. When you've got such a small footprint and such a large impact, a focused effort and a lot of money can make you King.

By the time you get to South Carolina, just over 4 million people out of a nation of 320 million have culled the field. This year we had eight contenders at the start. Here we are three weeks into actual citizens expressing a desire for a nominee and four of them are gone: Cain, Bachmann, Huntsman and Perry.

South Carolina is a bit larger. Their population equals the other two states, but you've still only got a total of less than 3% of the nation involved. Finally we find some non-whites, non-Christian, and actually metropolitan area dwellers involved. But, the identification is still the "buckle on the Bible Belt" so you haven't quite achieved representative parity.

Before midnight on Saturday we'll see a two-person field and in short order there is a good chance that Florida will have slammed the door on the process and the remaining 46 states will be conducting largely irrelevant ceremonial rites with regard to presidential nominees. The associated fall-out of that irrelevance is that the down-ballot nominees will be chosen by a much smaller party elite and the cycle of party in-breeding will continue to spiral downward. Watch out for that trunk. She thinks you might have an apple in your pocket or maybe some peanuts. Don't get between her and her calf.

Hey, don't go over in that corner. That big fellow is sort of a rogue. He's the hardest one to ignore. He really makes a mess and is terribly aggressive. He likes to pick up the dung left by the others and throw it at you. Yeah, he's really outrageous.

That's the one we call Main Stream Media. That's ABC News digging up the ex-wife and interviewing her. How tough is that? Do you know anyone's ex-wife? We all know ex-wives. Do you know an ex-wife who says nice things about her former mate? Do you know any, who if given the opportunity years later to derail their ex-spouse on the public stage, wouldn't do it? How about if there were some money thrown in for the interview? And what if we sweeten the deal by making out the new, younger, better-looking wife as some sort of amoral, ambitious tart?

Right behind MSM, the big rogue is his brother. We call him King. He's the CNN toad who starts a presidential debate with some sleaze then has a stunned look when he walks into a professionally delivered haymaker, loses the audience and isn't smart enough to change the subject.

Yeah, watch out for the elephants in the room. It's getting to be a bloody zoo in here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Who Department?

How does Hillary get involved in this decision?

State Department Governs Environmental Impact of Parallel Pipeline?

Can no one rein in the circus of convolutions going on in the capitol?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Harsh! But Right!

Bill Kristol expresses the unthinkable. He says something that makes sense and needs to be considered here:

Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

Watching the Fox debate last night I was once again left dumbfounded by the statements of Ron Paul. The man seems to live in a totally different world; one populated by rational North Korean leadership and moral mullahs of the Middle East. We would isolate ourselves behind the vast oceans, beat our swords into plowshares, sell the plowshares to Mexican pot-growers and eliminate all government services because they simply aren't covered in the enumerated powers of the Constitution.

The question that Kristol asks is whether a party harboring a loon is more appealing to the electorate than one which could not bear to risk the loss of people who would vote for such a loon to become president. Clearly Kristol's answer is that the GOP simply looks foolish by their continued tolerance for Paul. Would he run as a third-party candidate? Would he be able to muster the money of a Ross Perot? Would his foreign policy which is arguably to the left of Obama's actually draw conservative moderates away from a rational Republican nominee?

Kristol's answer is that we would be better off without this continued charade of Ron Paul viability for the party. I think maybe he is right.

Iowahawk Has a Challenger

If you don't bother with my Regular Stops list, that's probably normal. Blogs come and go based on my whims and whether or not they stay active and relevant. I don't waste space when a blog goes dormant. And hopefully I don't waste your time either.

Last week I added a new listing. "Stroud is All Over The Place" which is reminiscent of the once-great "Fred on Everything" but with a bit less political slant. Based in Europe, but with a heavy background of years living in Asia, and a full career in the USAF you are liable to find comments on wines (at the affordable end of the spectrum), food (at the enjoyable end of the menu), cooking (at the tasty portion of the table), and the occasional tidbit of exceptional writing. This one isn't Brigid-style tear-evoking picturesque prose poetry, but strictly tongue in cheek Iowahawk stuff.

It's worth two minutes to read. Warning, swallow your coffee before starting or place apron over keyboard:

Fetid Wind in Scotland

This is going to only get better.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Does Reality Have Relevance?

Does it make a difference any more what the facts are? Can we simply say whatever we feel like and regardless of the truth, if it hits an emotional hot button do we fall swooning at the feet of the Bamster? Catch this clinker:

Valerie Jarrett Gives Sermon: Jesus is Her Boss and Satan is the GOP

Should we give her a pass for failure to notice that two out of the three years of her administration were blessed with a heavy Democrat majority in both chambers of the legislature? OK, let's ignore that for a moment.

How about this then:
"Teachers, and firefighters, and policemen, whose jobs are now in jeopardy because Congress--well let me be specific--because the Republicans in Congress," Jarrett told the crowd. According to the CBS affiliate in Atlanta, at this point, "Before she could finish her sentence, people in the congregation were laughing, and applauding."
Teachers, firefighters and policemen work for which department of the federal government? Oh, they don't work for the feds? So the Congress doesn't have a bloody thing to do with their jobs?

That's right, kiddies! Teachers get paid by your local school district funded by your local ad valorem property taxes. In most states there is a significant chunk paid by the state through their tax structure, mostly sales taxes and license fees. The federal government tosses in an average of 8-10% of total school funding and that is mostly through payment for school lunches!

Firefighters and police work for cities. They are metropolitan government employees. They aren't hired, fired or funded by the feds.

Will no one stand up and challenge this sort of drivel?

Scraping Bottom

I'll be the first to admit that Fighter Pilots are not a community of saints. We wouldn't even qualify as reasonably dissipated alcoholic monks. We can get raunchy and maybe even under the  right conditions set records for profanity. But there is a time and a place for such things.

Prime time television isn't that place. At least it shouldn't be.

But we seem to demand it in our entertainment. If we can't descend into middle school scatological commentary about bodily functions, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, then we simply aren't entertained.

Golden Globes Cover Rotting Fruit

The total loss of American sophistication, culture and dignity seem to be proceeding at an accelerating pace.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bad Zoot, Bad

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Can you still have any adrenaline left after yesterday's playoff games?

The final minutes of the Saints-49ers was unbelievable. If we are to believe that there was a divine interest in the game that might merit intervention the shock was that it didn't link to Tim Tebow. That game was an entirely different story.

Tebow did his best but the rest of the Denver Broncos apparently took the weekend off. Tom Brady returned from his four year hiatus into mediocrity to flash the precision and skill which had begun to look as though it had burned out. If the Pats bring that next week, we're going to have a memorable Super Bowl.

Barring an upset this afternoon, I'm thinking Pack v Pats on the big day and I couldn't begin to make a prediction on who might take the hardware home from Indianapolis.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This Pretty Well Sums It Up

For Hillary and Leon and the Bamster and all of the rest of the bleeding heart main-stream media:

Unless You Walk In Their Shoes STFU!

Dead is dead. You don't get more dead by someone acting upon your body. Stupid is stupid, but that's all it is.

Saturday Morning Rocker

Still my favorite. Hard pressed to find a better rocker, writer and creative artist.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Is the Warrior Ethic Still Viable

The author of this piece is Dr. John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy. He writes about what is occurring in the Naval Aviation community and he does it with great insight.

Recently there have been numerous items circulating with similar themes. It isn't unique to the Navy. The Air Force has a parallel if not identical issue.

At first I simply wrote it off as just another circulation of military griping. We did it in the immediate post-Vietnam era as the adjustment to peacetime operations required a bit of throttling back. We saw it during the mid-'80s with the now famous "Dear Boss" letter. It came around again ten years ago with an update of the "Dear Boss" to current issues, but still the same problem. Now it is top-level Boss writing about the problem in the hope that maybe a cultural epiphany could still save the spirit.

Where Warriors and Why Military Politicos?

Is this just griping?

I don't think so. In the last two months I got to visit a couple of places. In one I saw young students, eager and aggressive, competitive and professional seeking to continue with the heritage of military aviation. They were not only US, but NATO allies. Students and instructors alike were a slice of free-world military aviation. They had the spirit. The mentioned old jets, but they had what they needed and they knew how to get the most out of it.

Then I saw a USAF operational training base. The facilities were amazing compared to the period when I thought we had it pretty good. But within 36 hours I could tell the jets were tired, the crews were over-tasked, the leadership was frustrated and at all levels they looked to a dismal future. They saw cut-backs in modernization and protracted high op-tempo. They saw pending assignments to drone ops. They saw a promotion system that rewarded yes-men and punished warriors. They saw arbitrary rulings and stifling of e'sprit without any justification.  They were a grim force, simply hanging on.

Fighter pilots are different. Some say better, some say worse. Some say arrogant others call it confident. Some say immature, others say aggressive. All say that they prevail even when it seems impossible. Will they? It seems impossible again.

Figures Lie/Liars Figure

I often took the stat on those poor Americans languishing without healthcare coverage and used it in class to demonstrate the need to question everything. That concept is core to understanding politics in America. Just because someone gives you a number and it seems to indicate an outrage which must be corrected does not necessarily mean that is the fact.

The folks without healthcare coverage were variously estimated at between 30 and 40 million Americans. There are a number of ways to parse that statistic to bring it down to a figure which represents the truly indigent, but let's just take the median, 35 million. Do you realize that then means 280 million Americans are covered by various healthcare plans?

Or the terrible statistic that Texas ranks in the lowest five states in per-capita funding for public education (K-12). Actually, that number applies to state subsidy of K-12 and the state really ranks  near the top 10 for total tax support per-capita since the state only pays about 38% of school budgets, the feds about 9% and the majority comes from local district property tax. But the real question is, do dollars spent equate with quality of education provided? And maybe equally important, does a dollar spent in Texas buy as much as a dollar spent in Chicago or New York or Washington DC? Whether the statistic is true or not, the relevance to the issue is negligible.

Numbers don't lie, but sometimes numbers don't respond to the question which was asked.

That is why this item is so interesting:

Racism, Redlining, and Redistribution

Sometimes apparently, the numbers tell a story that really doesn't have much of a plot.

Keep that in mind next time a statistic gets you all outraged and ready to take to the streets and storm the Bastille.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dark Day in Dublin

When you move to Texas, shortly after you learn about the Alamo, Goliad and San Jacinto you progress to the Texas Rangers, Bonnie and Clyde, Ma & Pa Ferguson and by the second week you get to the intense study of Dr. Pepper.

If you go into a bar or restaurant and they don't have Dr. Pepper, simply turn around and walk back out. You have stumbled into a joint that also dishes out that salsa from "New Yawk City!"

Dr. Pepper was invented in Texas. Like all good things it eventually came to the attention of the subordinate states and inevitably a multi-mega-conglomerate bought up the name, the recipe and the distribution rights. That meant profit over quality and franchise limitations to insure that quality might not interfere should some upstart challenge the system.

That upstart is the place where Dr. Pepper started. It is the bottler in Dublin TX, a typical small town west of Ft. Worth along US 377. They held a franchise and it specified that they could distribute in a six county area. They were purists and they continued to make Dr. P the old-fashioned way with pure cane sugar rather than corn syrup. Not surprisingly you can taste the difference.

Fans of Dublin Dr. Pepper sought the real thing. The Dublin bottler obliged and filled orders from outside their authorized county limits. The corporate gods looked down from on high and declared that goodness was not part of the contract and must stop!

As with the Borg, resistance was futile. This morning we have this sad announcement:

Dublin Dr. Pepper Passes Away

Flags will be at half-staff throughout the state. Store shelves will be cleaned out. Legacy bottles will be bequeathed to grand-children who may open them for special occasions in years to come.

It's a sad day in Texas.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It Isn't Fair

Before you follow the link, let me acknowledge that the criticism isn't fair. Much of it is media hype. Much of it is bad timing. Some of it is erroneous reporting. But let's also note that a lot of it is simply an aloof disregard for the impression an act will create:

Five "Let Them Eat Cake" Moments

A President has incredible responsibility. He deserves time off with his family. He must have security and communications support. Any movement of the chief executive is going to incur costs.

But there are also impressions which will be created. When the economy is booming, the world is stable, America is riding the crest of a wave, then it is hardly noticeable when the President spends a week at his ranch chopping wood, riding his horse or having dinner with some friends and supporters.

When the economy is in shambles, when people are out of work, when threats to world peace and the existence of allies are immediate, then a bit of judgment might be appropriate.

Should a First Family be dressing up in fantasy costumes with a hundred Hollywood high rollers as the jobless rate plumbs new depths?

Should the First Lady be commandeering entire floors of five star luxury hotels on the Spanish coast simply because she can?

Is it reasonable for a chief executive of a democratic republic to take a Boeing 747 to Chicago or New York for a dinner date?

Was it really too tough for Michelle and the girls to wait four hours before departing for Martha's Vineyard?

It isn't fair to pick on them, but it is fair to look for a bit of awareness of what their behavior looks like to the rest of the nation. This sort of behavior did not fare well for Marie Antoinette nor the Romanovs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not For Fetching Groceries

I'm not sure what to put on the CD player. I got rid of all my CDs. Doesn't it have a iPod or MP3 harness? I think I'll shop elsewhere.

Biertijd.com // Media » Bugatti Veyron Super Sport Amazing 431km/h

Do remember to pop this up to full-screen view.

Fascinating History

Have you wondered why we don't see as many politicians running on a gun-control platform? Maybe the polling has revealed that there is a trend.

Animated Chart of Concealed Carry 1986-2011

If that doesn't tell you what Americans from sea to shining sea think about their Second Amendment you aren't paying attention.

Decisive Outcome

The "Who Cares Bowl" was played last night to determine the national championship of college football and the answer was clear and decisive. Of the two teams playing, it was "none of the above."

The team that came in ranked #1 in the nation displayed no ability to run the ball, no ability to pass the ball and little or no defense. They had no stars, no dynamics and little more than a high school level competence with regard to avoiding simple penalties.

Their opponent, showed that despite mediocre defense they still could not get the ball inside field goal range for most of the game and even then they could not always execute that basic play from normal range with consistency. Their defense offered little in the way of sacks or picks.

It was a game without stars. There was no premier quarterback. I didn't see an exciting running back or an amazing receiver. No linebackers distinguished themselves, no safeties made incredible plays and the kicking game was ho-hum.

The previous game was equally ho-hum when these teams met except the other team came out on top when time mercifully expired. Now we've got a 1-1 record at the end of the season. So who is the real national champion? Neither of these two sad organizations is a definitive champion. The BCS has clearly failed to perform its primary function. Is there a National Champion for the 2011 season? There might be, but it sure isn't either of these. Would a match-up with Oklahoma State or Stanford or Wisconsin or even Baylor have been more entertaining. I can't possibly doubt it. This was of the level of laying on your back and looking at the ceiling to watch flies fornicate.

Monday, January 09, 2012


"...and so the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper."

Actually that was written about the 2011 NCAA college football season. It all wraps up tonight with the long awaited "Vinyl Siding, Aluminum Stormdoor, Fried Chicken and Double-Wides of America Who Cares Bowl" matching up LSU and Alabama in a rematch of a boredom inducing 9-6 soccer goal contest.

The noise you hear in the background is the sarcastic laughter emanating from the SEC/BCS luxury suite where the tall dogs are chuckling over how they've denied America any semblance of a national championship competition.

They will point at the totally objective, non-prejudicial, computer generated, no humans involved point totals that somehow evaluate such factors as game attendance, pop-corn sold, parking tickets validated, strength of schedule, temperature at kick-off and successful plea-bargains by defensive secondaries to calculate who is one and two in the nation.

Is it remotely possible that the only place in the nation with meaningful football is the SEC? Is it believable that we all wait with bated breath to see if Alabama can beat LSU if given a second try? Is it feasible that America eagerly seeks touchdown droughts for entertainment? Does anybody care if Honey Badger had his hair done since Heisman day?

Can I really believe that the Big 12 doesn't have someone worthy of playing the vaunted LSU? It seemed that Oklahoma State looked pretty good all year and they didn't play a push-over schedule. Stanford showed some talent. Wouldn't there have been more interest in an LSU match up against Wisconsin or Oregon? Am I to believe that inquiring minds don't want to know about regional comparison when it comes to national championship?

We need one more rule in that BCS balderdash. NO rematches of already played games and NO pairings from the same conference in a national championship. NONE! Ever!

"Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn!"

Friday, January 06, 2012

The Next Book

I'm regularly asked what I've got in the works for another book. I've given bit of a fling at fiction and find I can't pile the fantastic on fast enough to make it believable. I used to think I was pretty good at spinning whole cloth out of nuance and shadowy misperceptions until a few months ago my wife told me I'd never gotten away with a thing. Sort of bursts my J. K. Rowling/Stephen King dreams there.

So I guess I'm stuck with memoirs and I'm not sure I've dredged the bottom of the bowl of aeronautical escapades yet. I went rummaging around the old  memorabilia from pilot training days and dredged up this from flight school:

Yep, old Flasheart knew how to inspire a class.

Talking Ain't Fighting

It is a pretty basic sweet spot for the American left; defense spending steals money from the neediest Americans. In a society which no longer is familiar with military service it is an easy sell. Once America had the "Greatest Generation" which sacrificed mightily to win a global scale war. Everyone had a father, brother, son or uncle who served. It was an exception when someone hadn't served in the military and people freely questioned why not.

That was when we had four decades of Cold War in which few doubted that there was a very large enemy which was only held at bay by America's strength, technology, manpower and training.

We can certainly debate the validity of American involvement in Korea, Southeast Asia, Panama, Grenada, Kosovo, Iraq, and deployed throughout Europe. But we can also notice that nuclear war was in fact deterred, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact collapsed, China became a capitalist economy and world communism is virtually extinct. The few last strongholds of communist government are economic backwaters and societal jokes.

Along the way we can also note that no American ground troops have been subjected to attack from enemy air. No American ships have been sunk by enemy naval forces. And loses in ground combat have numbered in handfuls rather than thousands. Any loss is deplorable but if inevitability of losses in active defense is acknowledged than fewer is clearly better.

Now the Messiah is feeling a dissatisfied electorate breathing down his neck. He needs to strengthen his base and appeal to the "go along to get along" semi-pacifist moderates. What better way than to stand before us surrounded by his bedecked sycophantic Chiefs of the Joint Staffs and tell us he is going to slash defense spending, bestrew roses and laurels among the downtrodden masses and simultaneously keep the wolf from our door?

We'll Cut A Third, Defend with Air/Sea, and Not Buy Ships or Planes


He is going to cut a third of the manpower of the entire military and not lose capability? He somehow links this savings to withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, which except for the immediate pre-war build-ups of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom never used that many personnel. He doesn't notice that deployments from garrison mean when the deployment is over you bring the troops back to base to train and re-equip for the next contingency. You don't simply dismantle your force.

He says we will be a better defense but won't embrace a "two-war" strategy which has served us, at least nominally, for the last 70 years. Is it even reasonable to equate Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 until today with a "two-war" situation? Is Iran a potential large-scale conflict? If we were dragged into confrontation with Iran would Korea take a number and wait to test us? And let's not even notice China.

He describes an air/sea battle doctrine which eschews ground forces in favor of power projection by sea and employment by air while at the same time cutting a carrier battle group and essentially emasculating the F-35 procurement. He anticipates doing this and also saving money by cutting pay, retirement and promised benefits.

No one questions him.

They simply nod and snap their fingers. They've been told that snapping their fingers keeps the elephants away. The look around and see no elephants. They believe.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Breaking Cover

They avoid the spotlight. They are true heroes and they do remarkable things. Their courage and skill are the stuff of legend and they don't get public recognition.

Occasionally, however, one comes along who has compiled a record of historic accomplishment as a warrior and then it is appropriate that he be honored. He may not be able to return to operations after such publicity. But he may accomplish more good in terms of motivating another generation to follow his warrior path.

Deadliest Sniper Stands Tall

That level of skill and courage is seldom seen. We can consider our nation fortunate to have produced such figures to defend us. Here's a bit of live interview action and a story told haltingly about a comeuppance that seems pretty well deserved.

Stumbling On a Cobra

Books are intellectual property. They are copyrighted and protected by the law (at least nominally) so that writers can be compensated at least a bit for their efforts in producing them.

I've been fortunate with my books. They've been professionally published by two major publishers. There are contracts in place and you would be amazed at what options are enumerated in the documents. I've had books done in MP3 format, CD, mass-market and trade paperback and even translated into foreign languages, like Finnish!

So, I was neither surprised nor bothered by having a Facebook friend forward me this picture:

Yep, that would be my name on the "Phantom Pilot in Vietnam". The French edition apparently will be released by Altipresse on March of this year. It's already listed for pre-publication sales at several web sites including a handful of European language Amazon portals. Price is pretty respectable. Roughly 24 Euros or 33 Canadian dollars.

I checked with my publisher, St. Martin's Press. They were unaware, but that's not unusual since the contract is held by my agent in New York City, Trident Media Communications. But, my agent had no knowledge either.

I checked to make sure this wasn't a typo. One web page had the author as "Tuomas Rasimus" who turns out to be a Finnish PhD specializing in Greek Stoic Philosophy. Doesn't sound like a Phantom pilot to me. Most of the links I found had "Ed Rasimus" as the writer. I verified with a French-speaking associate that the book is indeed, Palace Cobra.

We contacted Altipresse and they said, "ooops, we made a mistake", but they want to make an offer for publication rights. I suspect that the mistake was thinking that they wouldn't get caught. With a March 1 release date and apparently the translation work already done, their hand is deep in the cookie jar and I'm hoping their offer reflects the gravity of their misstep.

So, for those of you seeking to own a French version of Palace Cobra, you may be able to find one on Amazon.DE or Amazon.FR later this Spring. And you can say you know "the rest of the story."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

When Seconds Count

Get the picture here. This young woman is just eighteen years old. She's got a newborn baby. Her husband has just died of cancer a day or two after Christmas. It is New Year's Eve and two men are trying to break down her door. What does she do?

Call 9-1-1 And Ask...

She does what you are supposed to do. She calls the police. She tells the emergency dispatcher the dire situation. She is on the phone with them for twenty-one minutes!!!!!

But, this is in Oklahoma and this young lady has a 12 gauge shotgun and these two goblins have just arrived at a gun fight armed with a knife.

The real question is why does it take twenty-one minutes to get a police response?

UPDATE: The prosecutors have labeled it a justified killing. Furthermore, they have the second goblin in custody, who befittingly fled the scene when the anticipated victim shot back. Like Texas, the law in Oklahoma specifies that if a killing is a result of your participation of another felony such as a burglary or home invasion, you can be charged with murder! Scum-bag is going to court.

What Happened Yesterday?

I was ready to see Ron Paul prove the ignorance of America's youth yesterday with a victory in the Iowa caucuses. It was a relief to see that they didn't stampede the sensible folks and his final numbers were well below the estimates. He will hang on for a day or two but there is no other place in the process that will give him the leverage for his followers that he enjoyed in Iowa. That candle has been burned.

Bachmann announced cancellation of her trip to S. Carolina already and has a presser scheduled for a few hours from now. Ba-Bye!

We can't expect any magic from Huntsman. He just doesn't light any fires anywhere.

The near dead-heat finish of Santorum-Romney shows how strong the "Anti-Mitt" feeling is. Romney broke from the gate a year ago at roughly 25% and still closed Iowa at 25% which isn't building big mo'. Santorum apparently connected with voters in Iowa as sufficiently conservative on social issues and more than qualified on political understanding. What he needs now is a grand dollar infusion to get his organizations on the fast track for the next half-dozen contests.

The Ron Paul/Mitt Romney smear attacks drove a large oaken stake into the heart of the Gingrich campaign. Newt's nuanced efforts to stay positive while still pointing out short-comings of his opponents left him battered and bleeding on the political roadside. In the final days he looked exhausted and his message had deteriorated into a repetition of cliched sound-bites that sounded more like playground whining than political genius.

Perry has the money to continue, but at this point I have to hope he has the political wisdom to know when he should leave the field. He has not shown well and is only damaging his brand for future political support.

The Iowa tail has taken an aggressive wag of the national presidential campaign dog. The cliche of "three tickets out of Iowa" seems to have held up and in fact it might prove to be only two tickets for the long ride of January.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Is Anybody Surprised

If this were not so outrageous it would be laughable:

ATF Rulings Capricious, Contradictory, Confusing

Honestly, could we expect any less from our federal government?

The Caucus

Surprisingly, even with the overwhelming news coverage of the last six months, few Americans really know much about how a presidential candidate is chosen. They've got some rough ideas and may even have familiarity with some of the terms but when it comes down to details they are blissfully unaware...and that may be exactly the way the political parties like to keep it.

The US is a two-party system. That isn't mandated anywhere. You won't find it in the Constitution. In fact you won't even find political parties mentioned in the fundamental document. If we look at other republics around the world we find most are multi-party systems and upon examination we can find enabling formats that support such ideological diversity. France is multi-party because they have a system of two-stage elections which allow for lesser parties to aggregate voters in the second phase and gain some voice in the parliamentary legislature. Germany is a multi-party system because they allow for both district seats and at-large candidates to serve in the Bundestag. Coalitions of similar parties are required to form governments and there is considerable ideological mobility in response to political demands of the electorate.

In the US we have single-member winner-take-all elections. There is no silver medal for second place. Win by one vote and you get the whole prize. Be a member of one of the two major parties or be voiceless in the legislature, be ignored by the media and be spurned by the voters/contributors. Our two parties choose candidates by processes defined in each state and often differing between the two parties in the same state.

When it comes to the Presidential candidate of the party, the choice is made by delegates voting at the party convention. Delegates are gained by each state through primary election or caucus. Iowa, as we all should know by now, is having a caucus tonight.

Fourteen states have some form of caucus for either or both of the parties. As we watch events unfold we may form an opinion of whether or not a caucus is an attractive method of choosing delegates for the state to send to the national convention. In Iowa it looks pretty intelligent. But is it?

A caucus is simply a meeting of people with some affinity connection. We've got the Congressional Black Caucus--African-Americans in Congress. We've caucuses of Republicans and Democrats in each chamber of the legislature. And we've got party caucuses in states.

In Iowa we've watched "retail" politics. Baby-kissing and pressing the flesh prevail. Candidates show up at coffee shops and American Legion halls. They meet folks from down the block in the living room of a neighborhood leader. It's face-to-face, get to ask your question and watch for the sincerity factor. It should result in a smarter decision-maker at choice time.

Tonight they will gather by precinct across Iowa. Supporters of the candidates will present brief speeches explaining why their candidate is superior. Those in favor of candidates will gather in like-minded groups and a period of time will be allowed for "courting" by other candidates. Then a final division will take place, the heads will be counted and the result will be recorded. No secret ballots.

But think about your friends and family. Do you really have any understanding about what a President can really do? Do you know about the priorities of foreign policy? Can you really explain a means of "fairly" assessing taxes to run the government? Do you know what the Constitution enumerates as a power of government and how far that reaches? Naahhhh, not really.

Can Ron Paul cut a trillion dollars from the budget in one year? What would Michelle Bachmann do to eliminate earmarks that wouldn't give incredible power to bureaucrats? How would Romney deal with Obamacare that wouldn't resemble the Massachusetts program he built? Would Gingrich be able to corral Iran and get them cooperating? Does anybody challenge the actual possibility of the promises? And how does negative mud-slinging impact the decision process?

From my perspective, I don't like caucuses. Iowa probably does it better than most and I'll acknowledge that the Iowa caucus attendee is probably better informed. For most of the other thirteen caucus states, the system is largely biased for entrenched party power-brokers. It gives an inordinate voice to a few.

Is there a bottom line on delegate selection processes? Is there something that has greater impact than caucus or primary method?

I think there is one factor which has greater impact. That is whether the process is "open" or "closed".

A caucus or primary is for the purpose of choosing the nominees of a party. That would imply that the party itself should be in control of the process. Letting outsiders choose your representatives simply doesn't make sense.

A "closed" primary or caucus process in which one must be registered as a member of the party prior to participating makes sense. An "open" system in which members of the other party can become Republican or Democrat instantly for the event is subject to disruption and outside influence.

Keep that in mind as we start to go through the next couple of months. When you view a caucus or primary notice whether the system in use is open or closed. See who is choosing the nominees for a party.

Oh, and inform yourself on the candidates and the issues and play the game yourself.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Tar & Feathers

The seasonal bleeding is now officially over. It wasn't pretty last night. What was once America's Team is now firmly in place as Jerry's Jokes. The line for the game was Giants by three and that is usually the standard line for equal teams with one gaining home-field advantage. It never looked that close for a minute. By the half with the score 21-0, the outcome was assured.

The pre-game demonstrated once again the fallacy of having Sports Chick on the sideline looking cute and making pithy comments about her recent conversations with coaches and players. She waxes eloquently on the medical condition of Romo's injured hand. They offer comparative close-up photos of swollen paw and then analyze the pre-game warm-ups where all snaps were taken from shotgun formation. "Romo won't be able to take a single snap from under center..." she confirms.

First play of game, Romo is under center. Romo is handing off with right hand. Romo is under center again. Romo is throwing routine interceptions and taking regular sacks with full mobility of right hand. So much for Dr. Sports Chick.

Defensive genius Rob Ryan wears baseball cap, possibly in an attempt to cover his 1885 Buffalo Bill hairdo which has not seen Pantene conditioner or even Tide detergent since Reagan was President. Manning picks the secondary apart, avoids blitzes, shatters zones and simply scores at will.

The question now is what does Jerry Jones do to fill his multi-billion dollar monument to excess next year?

Some suggestions:

  • Send Rob Ryan to Wade Phillip's house in Houston in a four-hundred pound crate with no return address
  • Offer Romo on the free agent market to Buffalo
  • Propose a $200 million buy-out of Indianapolis first-round pick and use it to get RB Griffin III. 
  • Hire Peyton Manning as quarterback coach
  • Post guards at the door to the Jones suite at the stadium so Jerry can't interfere with coaches
  • Make defensive players carry a 55 gallon drum around with them all summer until they learn how to wrap up and tackle
  • Teach offensive line to count to three so they don't false start
It ain't gonna happen, but it should.