Archive for April, 2008

The Food Standard

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

As Americans have carried the lion’s share of the war against the global terrorists, we seem to have come under assault from all directions:

  1. A former US senator and vice-president leads a world-wide publicity stunt to destroy our economy backed by millionaire Hollywood singers, dancers, and pretenders. He is given an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize along with an an opulent lifestyle for his prevaricating power-point presentation.
  2. Our trade policies have fueled an ever threatening Asian giant with tens of billions of dollars, which they are using to transform themselves into a military superpower.
  3. Our once solid dollar is losing value against almost every other currency in the world.
  4. A nuclear North Korea seems intent on exporting that technology to nations that back global terrorists.
  5. Iran is openly defiant about not only developing their nuclear capabilities, but also about continuing to promise to “wipe Israel off the map” as soon as they can.
  6. And even our allies in OPEC cooperate with the malevolent voices that call for greater efforts to pump up crude oil prices, even though they have risen over 94% in the last year, nearly 380% in the last five.

OPEC does not completely control the price of oil. They influence part of the supply, but academics will tell you that the total supply and demand for oil drive the price.

Other countries also produce oil, thus affecting the supply. The environmentalist movement in the United States, and the members of Congress that agree with it, have prevented drilling for the known American reserves, which would have helped to keep down prices by increasing supply. Meanwhile, the oil-thirsty, rapidly growing economy of China and other nations help to prop up prices by increasing demand.

At least the Chinese are doing what they can to increase oil supplies. Among other things, they are drilling between Cuba and Florida. A place where our government’s environmental policies prohibits US companies from drilling.

The US has been pursuing other ways to affect supplies. From investing in the development of various emerging technologies to converting corn into biofuels.

All this has generated some unintended consequences for everyone.

Food supplies have dwindled, which has pushed the price up. The record harsh winters of the last couple of years, despite Hollywood’s global warming, along with the biofuel movement have reduced the world’s food supply. Additionally, the parasitic price of oil has driven up the costs to produce food and to deliver it to where it needs to go. Food prices are soaring, and the world can’t do without food.

Unlike the oil-crop of OPEC nations, food-crops require more than simply harvesting it and sending it to processing. Farmers work their magic the world over, but especially in America.

American farmers have some advantages. They are blessed with great crop lands and an abundant supply of fresh water, something lacking in most countries–especially OPEC nations. If food-exporting nations wanted to extract a payback for the inflated oil prices it wouldn’t take long to recoup the looting of past years. Even without an organized effort, that may happen anyway.

If oil exporters continue their artificial pumping up of oil prices, it will be met with market-driven price increases in food products. When their cost of food imports exceed their return on oil exports, it will be too late for them to make smart corrections in oil production to save themselves.

When their economies finally collapse, so will the price-bubble of oil. It will take a couple of growing seasons after that for food prices to drop accordingly, but they will just have to be patient and tighten their belts, while the food-producing nations of the world save them again. First from a life of goat herding, then from their home-grown global terrorists, and then finally from starvation.

Our problem with China’s growing militarism may also be solved with rising food prices. Over the last several years the Chinese standard of living has increased, but it still lags behind what we enjoy in America. The average American spends 10% or less of their income on food, but in China it is different–it is nearly 50%.

America produces much more food than it consumes. If our supplies dwindled, we’ll take it out of our exports, but we’ll still have food. And if food-prices double, Americans will just spend less on Hollywood movies and maybe eat at home more often. But we still eat and many of us will still be fat. But if food-prices double for the Chinese . . .

The Chinese government will be forced to curtail their massive offensive weapons build-up and then to subsidize food for their people. Those billions of dollars they’ve collected in trade imbalances with America and the rest of the world will be their solution to impending starvation and unrest. When that happens, the Chinese will be the first to wish the US dollar was worth more.

The Chinese people are smart and hard-working. They are aware of the world around them–they have more internet users than we have in America. They will not sheepishly permit themselves to starve as the people of North Korea have. They know a starving people do not a great nation make. And they want to be great.

While this may not be exactly “beating swords into plowshares” as prophesied in Isaiah 2:2-4, it might be an interesting start to a better state of peace.

In the long run it all boils down to the food standard.

It just makes sense.

We’re Going to Lose a City

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

That’s what Newt Gingrich told the National Press Club he was afraid was going to happen before America would react to the growing menace to our way of life. Part of our reaction would include a ruthlessness imposed on ourselves. What we would do to our enemies was left to the imagination.

More recently, Hillary Clinton discussed what she would do as President concerning nuclear attacks from terrorist nations against our allies. She strongly suggested we would obliterate Iran if they nuked Israel. That means to destroy utterly. To cause to become invisible. Strong words from a Senator who declared in February that any action against Iran would have to be first approved by Congress.

That provides an interesting chain of command for those familiar with what it takes to employ nuclear weapons. I’ve been out of it for a while, but I don’t think Congress carries the football. But it is an election year, and sometimes the arguments get interesting.

For instance, my last article explained how Barack Obama’s intentions to rid the United States of nuclear and technologically advanced weapons was near suicide as a nation. After viewing his mini-speech on YouTube, the lesser evil of the two international socialists became very obvious. Even with Hillary as the most desirable democratic party nominee hopeful, her doctrine is flawed in at least two areas.

First, the American President should chose words of threat carefully. If you say you’re going to obliterate a country for attacking an ally, and you don’t when they do, you’ve made yourself into a liar. A weak liar. An afraid, weak liar. The President needs to keep a bit of a veil over how much of a price an antagonist will pay.

Better words are something like, “We view any nuclear attack on our allies the same as a nuclear attack on ourselves. It is completely unacceptable, and we would deal with that in a most harsh manner.”

It gives America the latitude to be flexible in our immediate and long-range responses, without making the terrorists think they have a chance of getting away with it.

Secondly, the massive retaliation doctrine was tailored for Soviet expansionist ambitions. The Soviets sought to dominate a world of puppet governments, hand-picked by them. If in the process of waging war with the United States the USSR became militarily the equal of the post-war Germany, they wouldn’t get to pick anything. A world of third, fourth, and fifth place nations would have run the show.

Sure, the outcome of a Soviet attack would have been terrible for the US, but it would have ended even the slightest dream of Soviet world domination. The implosion of Soviet Socialism changed the world. While some individuals in Russia might dream of being Earth King, it is not a national policy. And that makes all the difference.

In order to deter an antagonist like the USSR or the folks in charge of Iran, you have to understand what is most precious to them. Deterrence must go to the core values of decision makers for it to work best. To attempt to apply a Cold War deterrence strategy to a Global War on Terrorism antagonist presupposes that their core values are the same as Stalin’s. Nobody really believes that, do they?

The arrogant zeal associated with plotting and executing the 9/11 attacks clearly demonstrates that something else is at play here. The bold, defiant, near-public pursuit of nuclear weapons by Iran suggests they are either not afraid or they don’t believe America will kill 70 million people, no matter what they do.

They have a low opinion of America. They call us names, and we shrug. They call their children to become sucide-martyrs, and we express astonishment. They declare war on us, and we bicker with ourselves. They seek the most destructive weapons on Earth, and we say, “You’d better not.”

Declaring that we’re going to kill all of them after they destroy one of our cities is not enough. Unless we quickly learn how to use the value system of the terrorist’s centers of gravity to our advantage, they will obtain nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons in the control of terrorist nations will shortly turn into detonations on our allies and ourselves. We have to do something now, before we lose a city.

It just makes sense.

Obama on Defense

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Most people agree that Barack Obama, the first-term Senator from Illinois and front runner for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee, is a handsome man with a voice tailor-made for public speaking. Even with all that going for him, the 137 words he used during a 52 second Youtube video suggest great peril awaits America if he should ever have the power to implement his ideas.

Here’s what he said:

“I am the only major candidate who has opposed this war from the beginning, and as President I will end it.

Second, I will cut tens of billions of dollars of wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems, and I will institute an independent, defense priorities board to ensure that the quadrennial defense review is not used to justify unnecessary spending.

Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal I will not develop new nuclear weapons I will seek a global ban on the production of fissile material and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert, and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal.”

A lot of Americans have grown weary of the war of attrition in the Iraqi theater of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). That’s actually part of attrition-war strategy–wear down your opponent physically and mentally. If that was all there was to it, we probably could just cut and run, unfortunately for Americans the other part of our enemies strategy is to kill us all. Surrender certainly “ends it,” but considering our enemies long-term vision, wouldn’t it be better to win it?

Along with ending the war, Obama seeks to end America’s technological edge over the same enemies that seek to kill us. Yes, it is easier and cheaper to build offensive missiles than it is to build a system to defend against them. But if we abandon our efforts to perfect, procure, and put into action missile defense systems, we actually encourage those who wish to kill us to build old-technology, offensive missiles.

Lacking a cutting-edge defensive system, we would have to depend on the Cold War concept of assuring our enemies we would use our offensive capabilities should they attack us. However, Barack Obama said he plans to remove that from America’s arsenal of options also. His logic is fundamentally flawed.

First of all, America and the Russians no longer control who develops nuclear weapons. North Korea dances to their own drummer, and Iran’s public defiance of UN and American pressures clearly demonstrates that our deterrence strategy, at least in that area, has failed. We have to face the reality that nations, controlled by people who want to kill us, will soon have multiple nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Ignoring the problem doesn’t defend America.

Secondly, the stultifying declaration that America’s ICBMs are on “hair-trigger alert” summons forth cartoonish images of uniformed simpletons hovering over a big red button. It naively disregards the multi-layered nuclear safeguards in effect, and aligns itself more with myriad low-budget movies from the 1960s and 70s than with any reality.

America’s nuclear arsenal has historically served as a deterrence against our enemies’ use of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, against us or our friends. In addition, it serves as a hedge against the sudden emergence of any other overwhelming threat. America has historically used nuclear weapons to keep the peace. Destroying our nuclear arsenal, especially in the light of the GWOT, could destroy the peace.

Finally, a nation with a over 300 million people can find other ways to defend itself without spending a lot of treasure. The solution would be to spend lots of lives. Using only 10% of our population, we could field an Army of 30 million soldiers armed with rifles and bayonets that could stop any invading army. Unless of course, they nuked us.

America needs to continue to use our two-fold blessings of leading-edge technology and an unprecedented wealth to field defensive forces using that technology. We are winning the GWOT, and we should not surrender ourselves or our allies to the terrorists. Surrendering to an enemy with a long-term vision of killing you is not going to “end“ anything.

It just makes sense.

tax day 2008

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Good evening one and all,

I wish to say hello, &  state that I enjoy reading your Blogs as you write them.  I apologize for not writing very often, but I have been extremely busy trying to open up an office, handle clients, and finish by two masters programs.

I do have a question for all of you, as one of the target groups that I am trying to help is veterans with issues with the VA.  This is a new area of law with very few practitioners handling this issue.  Specifically, I am looking to help veterans at the board of veteran appeals and court of appeals for veterans claims.  I currently have one client at the Court of Appeals for veterans claims, who is a Korean War veteran.

Now to my question, what magazines or newspapers or other means would you look to find an attorney to help you with a veteran issue?  I am having a website designed, but with everything under this vocational rehabilitation program I am waiting on the VA.

I finished my second thesis in March, and it is being graded at this time.  Graduation occurs on May 9 at 2 p.m. at the University of Houston.  The following week I am trying to be at my new office, and attend some continuing legal education dealing with intellectual property.  This is a last opportunity I get to attend at a student rate.  The differences $70 versus $655.

I hope each and every one of you has a very wonderful April, and I will look forward to reading your adventures.  Have a wonderful week, Bob

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Not much going on in the South, especially since the Tarheels decided not to show up for the semi-finals of the Final Four.  OK, they did make a brief appearance in the first part of the second half, but the rest was so disappointing.  I’m done with the doctors and therapists, not sure if therapy did all that much, and since there was not progress, the doctor released me from care.  He said over the next year will determine how much more progress the fingers, wrist, elbow, and shoulder will make, but he did expect some. 
TBD

I am getting some work done in the yard, but it really aggravates me when a tool slips out of my left hand because I have no grip.  Everyone knows what a patient person I am.  Trust me, I’m worse on myself than I ever was anyone else.

Had my first real doctor’s visit 2 weeks ago, nice to have a doc sit down and take time to completely review you entire medical history.  The unfortunate part was my cholesterol was WAY too high.  Everything still works good, but I’m doing the Atkins diet again with exercise–it worked before, it better work again.  Not really wanting to go on Lipitor the rest of my life.  I just got lazy at the end and continued into retirement, so I know what I need to do.

For all you Minot-eer’s, how about the 72nd coming back?!?!  THAT was a good squadron, especially under the leadership of Ed Dixon.  I imagine the entire state of North Dakota is celebrating, and the realtors have just got to be licking their chops.  Maybe Trav can give us an update, if he reads this.

Chuck, if you thought I ever gave you d0-do about owning a Ford, you should have heard me ROFLOL when I read that you bought a Land Rover.  James Auclair, if any one remembers him from Griffiss or the 49th, had one, and I do believe that it literally was in the shop more than his garage, until he got rid of it.  Good luck, my friend.

James, bully for you on the marathons and your graciousness during your father’s passing.

Reed, I disagree about being richer on active duty, but then my circumstances are different now.  And were you just getting an annual check, or another upgrade?  Glad to hear a good pilot is still flying.

Cheers for now.

11ish April – Ponch

Monday, April 14th, 2008

All,

Sorry of not posting the last couple of months. The only time I get to read BoB is a work, and the Air Force in it’s wisdom had blocked all Blog pages from our view.

Its been two whole years since I retired and moved to sunny Californica. Northrop has been a fine place to work with allot of interesting folks to work with. Most have worked with this company for many many years. I had forgotten that outside the military people stay in one place and work at one job as long as they can. Some of these folks have near forty years at the same place doing the same
job. Job security is nice but variety does add to life.

Not allot is going on is our personnel lives that’s much to report. I’m still flying out at Edwards. I got to land on the lake bed last Friday just for grins. Was pretty cool. They look allot smaller from the air, once on he ground they are immense.

The lines that make up the runway edges are foot wide. I was on a check ride so I didn’t get to fool around much. Would have liked to do a couple of touch and go’s and such but an out of time.

It’s tax time again and of course the tax man was cruel and unusual. I’m still not settled in on the number of withholdings and such to get the right amount held from my paycheck. Seems like the more I make the more money they take. We are making more money then I have ever made before (including pilot bonus) yet I feel like our standard of living is below what we enjoyed in the military. I hope all those folks who get my tax money are enjoying it.

We have made a few trips to my dad’s place on the coast. The recent rains have made everything green and pretty so the drive is pleasant. We will have to back off the trips though as the price of gas is horrible. We are paying 3.70 a gallon and it is still going up. I don’t know what folks are going to do to keep living.

The price of food has shot up along with everything else. The paper this week end said the number of folks losing their houses in this area is over 1000 a month. There are five abandoned homes on our street alone. Part of me feels sorry for the people going though this but part of me feels like they are getting what they deserve for being greedy. A lot of they folks bought thinking they would flip the house for big cash. Many bought in on the whole “get rich quick” off of real estate idea that was nothing more then a pyramid scam. Unfortunately many innocent types got ripped in the process. Now there is a growing problem with abandoned houses that will fill up with undesirable types.

Do you think that the church lecture on “greed” has some merit to the subject?

Later

Ponch

11 April on the 13th…

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Things are going well on the home front…met with the Chuck for lunch one day, we had a great time…cannot wait for his books to mature & get pickup by a publisher!  I’m looking forward to reading them.

Went to Boeing Wichita for a crew fam training on the next version of software update to the Buff’s avionics.  With it comes a whole new mission planning system.  For those who remember AFMSS on those clunky & difficult machines, this is by far better!  And for those who remember mission planning with a chart & pencil or felt-tip pens, things have come a long way – to bad “they” are leaving out the basics of being a navigator.

O’ by the way Reed, your old nemesis is now the squadron commander of the 11th – Jeff Vandenbush! Yep the patch-wear himself and Jar-Jar is back in the 11th again too!

James – sounds like the ceremony was nice, I’m glad things went well.  By the way how’s your research coming on the 3d ID & MG Hunter?

Elwood – how’s you injuries coming?

While I was on my trip, I stumbled across a book on Jimmy Stewart, Bomber Pilot.  It was written by a guy who served with the actor during WWII.  The book deals mainly with his time in the service and how he rose from the ranks to become a BG.  I was first skeptical about the writings, but it turned out pretty good and very informative about the actor’s military career.  I got the feeling the way we saw him on screen was pretty much the way he was in real life.  There was this story when he was a squadron commander that he would visit this one crews hut to get warm…they had managed to obtain a rather large pot-belly stove and had a never ending supply of coal.  Well it enters one evening, goes over to this one bunk, pulls back the covers to expose the keg of beer, walks over to another bunk and grabs that enlisted man’s canteen cup and helps himself.  He sits down next to the store to warm his feet and comments on how they seamed to be to only ones that keeps their hut warm.  Finishes the beer and has a second helping.  He returns the cup and on the way out says someone like; “you know someone stole a keg of beer from the Officer’s Mess the other day, you guys won’t know anything about it would you? Of course not” then walks out the door. 

Anyway, it’s amazing to look at that generation of actors and their commitment to serving our country in times of war versus the ones today willing to discredit or complain against our country.

Finished my Fw-190 model…here’s a few pics.

_mg_0011.JPG  _mg_0014.jpg  _mg_0013.JPG

Well that’s it for this month…I have a Me-109 model calling, actually it’s a Bf-109.  The aircraft markings will be from one that participated in the Battle of Britain.  This is the last one in my German series for now – painting supplies for coming to an end (color wise).  I’m thinking about going back to my bombers in 1/72 scale.  I’m even looking into making all the B-52 variants – XB/YB through H.  We”ll see if I can find the information or parts to make them.

Cheers,

Andy

Jimmy Carter: The Founding Father?

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Former President Jimmy Carter is planning to meet with the leader of Hamas next week during his nine-day tour of the middle east.  The State Department has advised him against such a meeting. Why would the State Department think Jimmy Carter, the founding father of the global terrorist movement that sparked our Global War on Terrorism, would listen to them?

According to the US State Department, Hamas is funded by Iran. Hamas can’t do what it does without funding. Iran wouldn’t fund Hamas if it wasn’t for Jimmy Carter’s policies during his long four-years as our leader.

Most Americans have either forgotten or never knew that Iran used to be one of our most dependable allies. Shah Mohammand Reza Pahlavi was praised by US Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. They trusted him with just about any technology and weapons we had, short of nuclear weapons. In spite of the sweeping reforms in the economic and social arena of Iran, there were still dark forces working against him.

With Soviet-sponsored Socialists, known as “Communists” scratching at the door of freedom while fledgling Islamic Fascism lurked in the shadows, our very own Jimmy Carter decided to wage a political war against the Shah’s human rights record.

The Shah was guilty of using military tribunals to jail about 3000 Communists, Islamic Fascists, and terrorists. Some of those prisoners were reported to have been tortured. Jimmy Carter referred to them as political prisoners and insisted the Shah release them and use civil courts to try them. The subsequent “civil” trials turned into soap-boxes for the prophets of evil to turn the masses against what Carter had called, “an island of stability in a trouble region.”

To make matters worse, Carter insisted that the Shah allow his people to have freedom of assembly, which resulted in propagating the seed of terrorism. The liberal-media broadcasted the anti-Shah rallies to the globe, and brought Ayatollah Khomeini, living in obscure exile, to celebrity status with the Iranian people. The PLO supplied weapons and terrorism experts to Khomeini’s legions to bloody the streets with their free-assemblies. The Shah initially used an iron fist of excessive military force to disperse the violent masses. Eventually the military switched allegiance, and the Shah fled to the United States, dying of cancer, while another cancer consumed the people of the one-time great ally of the United States. The once stable island was sunk.

What happened to the Shah’s prisoners? Khomeini freed the few he wanted, but the rest were murdered along with tens of thousands of westernized Iranians.

Freedom was set-back decades, while death and suffering flourished. Anything considered to be a freedom by Westerners was removed from the Iranian people. Minor infractions of the new Fascist regime was answered with arrests, tortures, or executions. The Soviets took advantage of the chaos and invaded Afghanistan. Carter responded with a boycott of the 1980 Olympics, which only punished American athletes.

Jimmy Carter said Khomeini was a “holy man” and he used ineffectual words through showy teeth to no avail. Most Americans have heard of the 444 days that the Americans from the US embassy were illegally held hostage by the Iranian government. The same day of President Reagan’s inauguration, the Iranians agreed to release the hostages. President Reagan allowed Jimmy Carter to make the announcement to the American public, possibly to help Jimmy Carter with his stained legacy.

By the way, Carter also failed miserably with the Cold War. Millions across Africa and even Central America were rolled into the Communists’ murderous leftist system. Thus, by the time Carter was leaving office, the West was losing the Cold War, Islamic Fascism controlled sovereign nations, and the US economy was failing in the face of double digit inflation. Thank you, Jimmy, and goodbye.

Since the Islamic Fascists don’t have nuclear weapons, or a first class military to fight us with, they chose terrorist attacks as the weapon of choice to kill us. Some say enough has been said about 9/11, but I wonder if we could ever say enough about that. Out of politeness, the US usually says very little about Jimmy Carter failures, but he keeps talking.

Despite the lessons about evil that Jimmy Carter should have learned from his failed presidency, he continues to excrete some outlandish opinions.

For instance, in 2004 during an interview on MSNBC, Jimmy Carter tried to explain that all wars are bad. He said the Revolutionary War was an unnecessary war. Imagine that!

The establishment of the United States was the single most pivotal event towards human liberty since the resurrection of Christ, yet Jimmy Carter believes that a nation founded on the principles of our Declaration of Independence and then our Constitution was unnecessary. Unnecessary!

And now he is going to consort with Hamas in Syria. Why not? It is right in line with everything Jimmy Carter has done in international affairs. This meeting will probably give Hamas more prestige, and just quicken them in their efforts to do more violence.

While Jimmy Carter is the closest thing to a Founding Father of global terrorism, he did win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. But don’t let that sway any negative opinions you have of the man, since it only gives him more in common with Yasser Arafat, Gorbachev, and Algore–prize winners all.

Jimmy Carter uses talk as the solution to all international problems. Talk is cheap, but the result of talk, where action needs to be taken, can be the most costly of all possible actions. In some cases, talk is nothing–it is really inaction.

When the decision-makers in the United States fail to take action, when they could have, to protect American lives from terrorists, they turn the government of the United States into a terrorist organization.

Jimmy Carter’s inaction as President was a dishonor to those that came before him and a danger to those who came after him.

He had his say in his day, but that day is done. Nations fell, and hundreds of thousands have died, and maybe millions more will because of what came out of his mouth. America voted his incompetent ideas out of office back in 1980. He does not speak for America today.

It just makes sense.

11 Apr 08 – James

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Hi everyone,

Sorry about your vehicle, Chuck. I used to not believe in extended warranties, but I think that these days, they might be a good idea. It certainly worked out in your case!

My dad’s funeral in Arlington National Cemetery on 20 Feb was simply awesome. I am so glad we decided to bury him there. It was a little bit of effort for everyone to drive up there, but what a source of comfort for the family it was. The soldiers of the Old Guard are so good at what they do.

I’m now clearing out my dad’s huge backyard workshop of 40 years of accumulated stuff. One of the guys that used to work for him when he was a general contractor agreed to empty the place out and fix up my mother’s house for cost. So far he has carted 6 heaping pickup truck loads of stuff to the dump and taken many of the tools and supplies. For example my father had 1000 pounds of nails in there. I’m hoping that in 6 months the workshop can be emptied, the house roof fixed and the fence replaced. At that point the house should be able to be sold and my 81 year old mother can move into something easier to take care of than a 40 year old, 4 bedroom house.

I’ve run in a couple of 10Ks in downtown Savannah recently, but the guys in my age group, 50-54 don’t seem to be slowing down. One of these days, if I get into a race with a small enough field, I hope to win!

Savannah Sand Gnats have their home opener this weekend, so I’m attending. I’m visiting my daughter in Houston in the first part of May, so I look forward to that.

Anyway, I hope to hear from everyone soon.

James

11 April – The Chuck

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Well, here’s another month. Seems like longer . . . or is that shorter, what ev.

I talked with Brother Vern Moore this week. He apologized for being so busy that he never posts here. I told him I understood, and the rest of you do too, being as most of us don’t post either.

I guess it’s just a phase we’re going through. I hope its not the phase my Land Rover is going through.

A couple of months ago it overheated–darn thermostat. My extended warranty covered the $$$. After the work was done, the water level kept getting low, but there was no fluid to be seen on the ground The dealer said it was just an air bubble and to add some water, it would clear up.

A while later it developed a strange click when it was cold. We took it to the dealer. Once again, my extended warranty covered the $$$$ as they had to replace the intake manifold because of some “irreparable” part inside of it. The click was still there when Cindy picked up the machine, but she was told it was normal for the Rover to have that. The click got worse over the next couple of weeks, from going away shortly after starting to pretty much clicking all the time.

I changed the “click” word for the “slap” word in describing the sound and they took it in the shop. Later that day they showed me the engine in the maintenance bay. Under the valve covers was a covering of metal filings all over the cams. In addition, the oil was thin. They wanted to know if we had it serviced anywhere other than with them. I was glad that I had been too lazy to take it anywhere or to do it myself and I was happy that Cindy had been following the maintenance schedule to the letter and always at the dealer.

The next day, they disassembled the motor and discovered sludge in the oil pan. I told them that I had not put it there. They suspect the motor had been mistreated by the previous owner, however, my extended warranty started fresh when I paid $3000 for it shortly after I purchased it. They say the sludge fouled the oil pump … must have been really bad.

They have to bring in an insurance adjuster before they can take further action, which probably won’t be until Monday. Meanwhile they’re paying for Cindy to drive a 2008 Highlander.

According to the dealer service folks, they only need to replace the 24 tappets (lifters) and the oil pump to fix the engine. I would have thought the metal filings would have degraded the cylinder walls and rings … but they say they pulled off the head and inspected it.

My extended warranty is scheduled to end in November, I plan to take several long drives before October ends. I might buy another warranty, if there is one that goes beyond 5 years from manufacture … but without one my confidence is low about keeping it.

We had a dear friend hospitalized with tumors. Some were removed from the spine, but others are in harder to reach places … kinda makes the Land Rover problem seem piddly.

Well, I’ve got to unplug from here a write an article for my commentary site. It’s been boiling in me since I heard JC was going to meet with Hamas. You’ll enjoy it.

The Chuck out …

Oh yeah–write when you get a chance.

The Resolute BUFF

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

The BUFF still carries the water.

In 2002, the B-52 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the XB-52 first flight. The models flying today are much newer. The H-models were built in 1960 and 1961, making them 47 to 48 years young. Imagine that.

Combat aircraft lasting longer than a general’s career. Projected to remain in service for another 30 to 40 years, those airplanes will last longer than the average life span of a typical American. Time will tell whether that is an accounting trick or a new standard in combat aviation. The B-52 is without equal–the undisputed heavy-weight champion.

Ironically designed as an “interim bomber,” it proved superior to airframes designed to replace it. From the Mach 3+ B-70 to the current collection of bombers with names that sound more like bingo squares, the B-52 has remained the resolute American bomber. However, time and politics has taken a toll on its numbers. Of the 744 bombers built, only 94 remain in service–and that took an act of congress.

Following the demise of SAC, the fighter-minded Air Combat Command took administrative control of the aircraft. In 1993, they took action to reduce the aircraft down to as few as 43 airframes and to cut the crews down to a number to match. The Air Force used personnel tools like a Reduction in Force (RIF) and the selective early retirement board (SERB) to deplete the ranks of the “excess” B-52 crew members.

One bomber pilot, who was serving as an instructor at the Air Command and Staff College, was actually told that his career was over because the BUFF’s utility was obsolete. Looking at the thousands of combat hours flown in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), it is easy to see that his non-rated boss was wrong about the BUFF. Unfortunately, perspectives are easier to correct than terminated careers are to resurrect.

March 24, 1993 was another dark day when many soon-to-be-missed B-52 Lt Colonels were told to pack their bags. Eventually, a respected bomber general testified before congress, and the Air Force was over-ruled with its plans to gut the bomber force.

Memory of that general has mostly faded away in the 15 years since his career was flat-lined by his noble actions, but the B-52’s flexibility and versatility has continued to serve the nation well. Those who were fated to fly the B-52 have developed a band-of-brothers mentality as they’ve become part of the legend of the mighty BUFF.

Even after its long history, today the B-52 has the highest mission capable rate when compared to the bingo bombers: B-1 and B-2. In contrast the utility of the B-1 remained in question until the JDAM became operational. That GPS-guided weapon, which was initially developed on the B-52, provided the B-1 with a real-world capability to replace it’s public-relations rhetoric of being called the “primary bomber” of the Air Force. The B-2 is in it’s sixth week of what is being called a “temporary pause,” the politically correct term for the grounding of a billion dollar plus aircraft. The pause followed the baffling loss of a B-2 in Guam where the aircraft became uncontrollable immediately after take-off.

Air Force officials assure us that the diminutive B-2 fleet could resume flying should national necessity dictate. Until that necessity presents itself, I agree that it is prudent to isolate the problem that caused the early rotation and subsequent stall of the high-tech heavy bomber.

Technology is a wonderful thing when it works.

We can enjoy the luxury of a temporary-pause option because we bask in the glow of a decision made by Congress to keep a sufficient number of the smoky, noisy, cabled-driven, hydraulic pump actuated, big, not-so-ugly, flying fellows that strike fear into the hearts of our enemies, pride in the hearts of those that fly them, and envy in the libido of those who can’t.

However you stack the numbers, the BUFF is the greatest heavy-weight champion of heavy-bombers that has ever flown. I agree that other airplanes are prettier than the B-52, and in a Hollywood society, that is an important attribute. But when the world gets ugly, we need combat aircraft that can fly, fight, and win.

It just makes sense.