Thursday, February 24, 2011

And the Winner Is: Suprise!!

It's Boeing! Yeah, I am caught surprised as well. I never figured those USAF Pin Heads would have done this and award to Boeing what will be at least $35 Billion dollars in aircraft. Boeing pitched a "Next Generation" Tanker built on the 767 airframe. They build something similar that is in operation with Japan and Italy. They need to ramp up quickly and get these airframes in the air.

Good on them, in these economic times it makes all kinds of good sense to keep this program at home even if a lot of it is built off shore and brought here for final assembly.

I expect there to be some legal gymnastics and I hope it is held to a minimum and that Boeing gets moving building these aircraft. The Boy's in Blue could sure use them as those KC-135's are very long in the tooth. They must cost a bundle to repair and maintain and most are older than the Wing Commanders much less the actual air crews.

Not sure what I am going to write about in the future, this was good fodder!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Profiles in Courage – Wisconsin Senate Fleebaggers

Fleebagging from Wisconsin

Meet: Tim Carpenter (D – Coward)

District: I represent WI – 3 and the 4th Bar Stool from the left in the Tilted Kilt Pub

Time in Service: This is my 3ard Term as a State Senator however I spent 18 years in the State Assembly and now 10 days of service in Exile.

Time to run to Illinois: 1 hour 25 minutes, no one knows US 41 like I do!

Escape Route: I shot down US41 from Milwaukee to just outside Zion and once across the state line I leisurely drove across to Rockford stopping in Harvard to hit the potty and press the flesh.

Personal Message: Happy to serve the 3ard District even if from a Bar Room stool in the Tilted Kilt.
Stay tuned for more Profiles in Courage, next episode - Fleebagging from Indiana!

/snark OFF

I was once elected to public office and served 7 years as an elected official of my community. Never, ever did I cut and run like the 14 Democrat cowards from Wisconsin or the many in Indiana. I faced hugely unpopular votes but stood before the crowded meeting room and expressed my thoughts and then voted. I did not run from the responsibility entrusted to me, I took the heat and moved my community forward. To compare anything that these guys do as being "Democratic" or as part of our "Democracy" is to slander all the good works performed by true leaders in governments all around the country.

These Girlie Men are Cowards. Ture Cowards.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

KC-X Tanker Wars - Award in Sight

The USAF may announce as soon as tomorrow 24 February, the winner of the long delayed and protested replacement for the KC-135. There has been a lot of activity in recent weeks. Each competing company has submitted updated cost proposals and rumor has it that EADS has the lowest raw number.

Supporters of the Boeing aircraft tried to get the USAF to throw out the model they are using to “equalize” the cost differences between the two radically different sized airframes being proposed. The Boeing supporters feel that the model (called IFARA or Integrated Fleet Air Refueling Assessment model) bends in favor of the larger airframe. This model was devised to level the playing ground but some folks think that not enough of a penalty is assessed to an airframe that would require a substantial additional cost to the Air Force in the form of building larger hangers and reinforcing runways, taxiways and ramp area for the larger and heavier aircraft.

Plus, EADS being a less-than-for-profit business affair can set the price of each airframe with no consideration of making a profit since the partner governments that own the parent company (Airbus) are primarily concerned with jobs the ultimate cost can be way less than an airframe much smaller than the A330 they proposed. This makes for a huge bias towards the EADS bid and this huge award going overseas.

And I know, EADS claims that they will open another production line here in the US but I think what they will do is simply set up a facility where they only fit-out a completed tube with the classified communications gear this aircraft will have to have installed. So, there will be jobs here in the US but they will not be nearly what are being claimed in the EADS propaganda.

So, stay tuned. A legal crap storm may break out as early as Friday!!

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cho-cho’s and Bull Crap

During the State of the Union PresBO spouted off about wanting more High Speed Rail lines built into the country. Not sure why, these are fundamentally wrong for the United States except for moving heavy freight, which happens right now on many sets of tracks. How many of those can one turn into a high speed passenger service? None.
This has come up again lately, the Vice-Dunce Biden rode his ole rail line back up to Philly yesterday to hold a presser on the federal government’s desire to pour $53 Billion dollars into more high speed rail lines. Who are they kidding, that kind of money won’t cover the cost overrun on a job of this scale.
Look I don’t care how these guys are selling it; profitable rail service does not work here in the US. Observe the map below: Yeah, that about tells the story. This country is way too big for affordable rail service. Just look at how much money we as taxpayers loose every year on AMTRACK ($5 Billion last year). They lose more than $20 bucks a passenger and on some routes it would be cheaper to run the train with no one on it at all since the conductor/ticket puncher would not be required. And this is not the Acella, word is that monetary loss is much higher on that service. The only reason AMTRACK stays open is the simple fact that it goes to Washington DC.

The sad fact is that the administration is clutching at straws for Job Creation. They aren’t cutting it. This whole idea is as flawed as the idea of renewable energy from the wind or solar. It would be better to burn wood at least you can grow that back and burn some more.
Much like the building of Wind Mills for electric production, most of the steel will come from off shore. Those large props that are used to capture the wind on those windmills come from Germany or Holland. They are not made here. Those large transmission gear assemblies that are used to steer the rotating props to the electric generator, yep made off shore. Even the generator for the most part comes from off shore.

The truth is we don’t have this technology here anymore. It is all imported.

Do you think it will be any different for building a Rail system? I don’t. The Steel Industry long ago fled this country and most of the steel used in rail lines today, even on AMTRAC come from Korea. The Passenger Cars, those fancy ones on the Acella line that hauls Bidens big ass around on come from Germany (Siemens AG). The only part of a massive Rail system that will be U.S. built may be just the locomotive. A GE locomotive would be getting my vote seeing as how they are in bed with the PresBO.
Not until the US congress straps on some Balls and passes a Buy America provision for any project that uses Taxpayer money there will be no Job creation. This should have been a stipulation of the many Stimulus projects. Instead, at the urging of the Administration the congress passed a Union worker provision. Proving once again it is who you sleep with that counts.

Sorry, Green Jobs, FAIL. Renewable energy, FAIL. Public Employee Unions, FAIL. Ownership of GM, FAIL. High Speed rail, FAIL.

This crew has no clue, all those Harvard, Yale and all the Ivy League schooling and they are still lost. Maybe, just maybe they should go out and get a real job to see what it is really like, own and operate a business to see just how jobs are created in this country. Not dreamed of on the black board in the cloistered halls of academia.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mother of a Commute : Ice Road Trucking in PA

Obligatory comments on the weather. We have had weekly (for the past 6 weeks) storms that have caused many problems around these parts. Especally for the daily morning commute. I have a 26 mile drive over farm country on a couple of two lane roads which is normally a peacefull drive if not lovely. However, when you add a whole lot of snow and now ice, well that peacefull and lovely get replaced by nerve racking, scary and downright dangerous. Still lovely though. Here are some pictures:

This is what I woke up to a little over a week ago, this was the 26th of January. This was maybe 14 to 16 inches of new snow. The great climate scientists of our day had predicted this to be a "rain" event. Here is what my Pond and back yard looked like over this last weekend. The blow hole there is made from a bubbler I have in the pond. My Koi are down there somewhere, they have survived 15 years of winters and we have had worse so I am not too concerned. Here is what I faced yesterday morning. This is what 1 Inch of ice looks like. That driveway slants down too by the way. It was completely covered in ice. I could not open the doors on the car as they were iced over. This is the tree in our Front yard, it is laden with ice. As the wind blew you could hear little snapping sounds of ice breaking. Later in the day it was all falling off and by 5:00pm the ice was completely off the tree.
Below is the Blue Heron "force field" deployed over the pond to defend the pond from the feathered devils that enjoy the Koi who cannot flee for their lives. The netting is solid with ice and heavy too. The pole on the left of this photo that holds up the left corner would eventually pull out of the ground and the nets would lay down on the top of the frozen pond. I'll have to dig the pole a new hole and pour in more cement to hold it down. Or I could pull in thoes nets and risk the open and free feeding of the Blue Herons, I am sure they would appriciate the free food.
Here is one of the roads I travel on to get to work. Of the 26 miles I travel about 24 of them are over roads that look like this. Its a pretty drive when the road is not covered in snow or ice.
This mornings drive was broken up with some debris, here a huge brand off that tree was blocking both lanes. I got out and draged this out of the way. It was heavy with both its raw size and with ice.
Oh the lovely site out the window in the area that is called Greshville Village. It is lovely.

White knuckle driving all the way, took a little over an hour. The power was out in the immediate area where my Work is and the power company had no idea when they couuld get around to restoring it. So I worked off my laptop for about 4 hours before they let us go home. It was actually getting cold in the building and with no estimate that power would return there was no point.
The dirve home was much less dramatic since we had a temprature change of some 7 to 10 degrees. By night fall the roads were all dry.

The long range forcast shows another storm coming our way for tomorrow night (that is long range around here). Just in time for the weekend. I'll be able to sleep in and not worry about the drive to work.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Congress Making Sausage : Buring Trash

Many years ago I served my little community here as a Township Supervisor. Supervisors are elected officials and tasked with “running” the day to day activity of each of the many political subdivisions known here as Townships. Most of the people in the state of PA live in one of three classes of Townships. There are also Cities (there are only 3 in the whole state by the way) and Boro’s or Broughs as well.

My county alone (Montgomery) has 62 such subdivisions of various sizes and shapes. Within each the Supervisors are charged with hiring and firing of the Municipal staff, organizing and monitoring the various departments such as the Road Crew, Police, Administrative staff and the Sewer Plant if you are lucky enough to have one of those.
It is a daunting task and very underappreciated by the residents who go about their lives not realizing that 5 members of their community decide on virtually everything that makes their little community different from the next one down the road. Issues like Zoning, Subdivision and Land Development, construction standards for their roads, sidewalks and street light placement to tasking of the Police to patrol one area over another. There are standing committees that help with some of this; we had a Sewer Board, a Planning Commission for land development issues, Parks and Open Space committee, a Recreation committee and an Environmental Advisory Board.

One of the interesting aspects is that the make-up of the Board is by lay citizens from within the community. Our Board was made up of 5 unique individuals. One was a truck driver/mechanic, another was a retired State Trooper, another was a Butcher and yet another owned and operated a junkyard. Consensus building was sometimes a struggle, getting an idea sold across the diverse backgrounds of all the Supervisors were a challenge. An example was one effort I championed was to buy and install for our office staff (there were 9 Administrative staffers) a modern office computer system complete with laser printers and an actual office network. We had the money and the need. The staff was using clunker IBM workstations on an arcnet. It took some work, comparing different computers to models of trucks to convince the truck driver or likening an Ethernet to the turnpike and other roads for the Trooper to understand. It was but only item in what were a universe of needs that we addressed.

Another interesting aspect was everything a person in that position gets exposed to. I never knew anything about how a Municipal Sewer system worked but today, I can tell you the difference between an Circular Anaerobic digestion system and an Oxidation ditch system. The same with how roads are built and maintained or how a tract of farm land is turned into a single family housing development. It was always a learning experience and then of course applying some decision making skills.

To gain some structured knowledge and to help spread the experience around the Association that represented Township Supervisors all across the state of PA held training courses and seminars that we could attend. Many of the seminars related the changing of environmental laws or federal laws that are passed and then flowed down onto the Townships for us to figure out how to implement (like curb cuts into sidewalks after the ADA was passed). Some of the seminars were designed to teach the newbie how a road is built and how to go out and buy those large trucks that push the snow around in the winter or how to conduct a negotiate a contract with your Police union or even how to hold an effective meeting.

They were all helpful and I attended as many as I could. One I remember well and recent news items have pushed that one lesson to the fore.

It was a seminar on making Law. Yes folks, we as Township Supervisors are tasked with making laws. It was a necessary evil I assure you and none were done lightly. From the training seminal was one important lesson, which was has stuck with me. It was a discussion on consistent application of the law. The concept that all valid laws have to apply to all persons falling under its jurisdiction in exactly the same way. There can be no equivocation, no shade of grey, no waiver or exemptions. Laws that sustain challenge contain no ambiguity and are applied the same way in each happenstance. Laws are struck down if they are judged “capricious or arbitrary”.
Let us examine this a bit more:

Legal Dictionary:
1: depending on individual discretion and not fixed by standards, rules or law; founded on or subject to personal whims, prejudices, etc; having only relative application or relevance; not absolute

1; governed or characterized by impulse or whim; lacking a rational basis; not supported by the weight of evidence or established rules of law

Why has this struck me at this time? Well it was this: Waivers for Favors: Big Labor’s Obamacare escape hatch

This is an article by Michelle Malkin on waivers granted by the department of HHS to companies and Unions requesting exemption from the Patient Protection and the Affordable Health Care Act (PPAHCA) commonly known as Obamacare. It’s a huge number; almost 1 million Union members are exempt from Obamacare (list here) despite their hard work lobbying to get it passed.

There are almost 800 companies (story here) with active waivers granting exemption to more than 2 million people.

HHS reports that 50 applicants have been denied and no one knows how one group or plan is approved for exemption and another is denied. Do they grant them based on who has contributed money to their favorite Democrat cause? Is approval contingent on how “friendly” you are to the Administration?

You see, this is the problem when you invite exemption from a law you worked so very hard to get passed. Once you start exempting people, especially without that exemption process being spelled out in the same law, you get questions about the Law itself. How much of a “whim” is the law? How capricious is the law? It is applied in an arbitrary fashion? How consistent is it against the population it is to govern?

By virtue of the fact that the exemption process is a secret and not public, that so many are being exempted out and especially their own supporters want out this bill should be junked. It is capricious or arbitrary and not enforceable on the rest of us. It should be repealed or struck down altogether.

Once during my 7-years as a Township Supervisor I had to vote on a law banning the open burning of trash in the backyards of homes here in the Swamp area. Sounds like an easy piece of legislation to draft and vote on, makes sense in this modern age all that health and clean air stuff. But you would not believe the blow back. So many people came in asking what the hell were we thinking, banning the burning of trash! The meeting room was filled the next regularly scheduled meeting night, standing room only in fact (more 70 people came out). This was a big deal, we normally only get 4 or 5 folks out when we raised taxes or jacked up the sewer fee. Hell, when we laid off a Police Officer we only got three people in there to complain. What the hell were we thinking, banning the burning of trash!

They all wanted exemptions. They all wanted to keep their burn barrels. They wanted no part in the mandatory curb side service mandated by state law (the State recycling law forced municipalities that reached a certain population density to go to the curb with their trash).

We said no. I said no. If the law applied to one of us, it was going to apply to us all. And so it was, and is today here in the Swamp.

That one law may have been why I was a one term Supervisor. You take a stand and you take your lumps. We can only hope this will be true of PresBO as well.

BT: Jimmy T sends.