Monday, 18 February 2008

Week of 27 Sep 2007

Walking and Smoking Tall

First....let me say something about where I grew up. As some of you know.....I was disprivelaged (I'm making it a word today) enough to have grown up in Bama....just three miles from the Tennessee border.....in a dry county. You must understand.....three miles to the north....them Tennessee folks never had an issue with booze. You could sip as much as you wanted....primarily because of a lack of Baptists....my humble opinion. For years....its been this way. Folks still live in my country, and make it pure by keeping it dry. And folks sin terribly.....by driving across the state line to get booze....although we have local cops who make alot of extra cash by pulling over 80 cars per week....at night mostly....and guessing correctly that half of the guys are drunk or carrying booze back across the line. Usually a fellow has to offer up a bribe or such....maybe $100....to avoid trouble....or get into the fine business to be strictly legal. So....for years.....its been a Bama problem. Starting today, Tennessee Department of Revenue agents will begin stopping Tennessee motorists spotted buying large quantities of cigarettes in border states.....Alabama of course is one of them. And they will be charging them with a crime and, in some cases, seizing their cars.
There are some upset folks.....who we will refer to as critics.....who say the new “cigarette surveillance program” amounts to the use of “police state” tactics and wrongfully interferes with interstate commerce. Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr says his department is simply doing its job, enforcing a valid state law while protecting Tennessee retailers who properly pay state taxes.
Apparently, the Gestapo agents have already been watching out-of-state stores that sell cigarettes near the Tennessee border to “get a feel where problem areas are,” Farr said.
He didn't really want to hint......but apparently....he already has “problem areas” in mind....which will be generally along interstate highways with exits near the Tennessee border.
The idea is for the monitoring agent to spot a person buying cigarettes in volume at an out-of-state market, then departing in a vehicle with Tennessee license tags. Monitoring agents spotting such a suspect will call an arresting agent who will stop the car when it enters Tennessee.
“This shows once again that Reagan Farr and the Department of Revenue are more interested in turning Tennessee into a police state than doing their job of collecting taxes,” said Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.
Apparently.....Tennessee’s cigarette tax went from 20 cents per pack to 62 cents per pack effective July 1.....and the revenue folks have seen a huge decrease in purchases within the state. All eight states that border Tennessee have lower tax rates, meaning smokers can save up to 45 cents per pack — $4.50 for a 10-pack carton — by purchasing out of state.
The border states with the lowest cigarette taxes are Missouri with 17 cents and Mississippi at 18 cents. The highest is Arkansas with 59 cents. Bama is sitting there with 42 cents per pack.
The amusing thing....is that in my home town....I can just see a Bama cop sitting on one side waiting for a guy to drive across with booze in the car, and on the exact opposite side....is a Tennessee cop car....waiting to pull you over with cartons of smokes in your car. Its just inviting trouble.

Couric Against Dan

Shocking....Katie Couric has come out....basically saying that Dan "the Man" Rather did sloppy work on the Lt Bush story. Dan wasn't happy....and says that she will change her mind when "the facts come out"....which might be any day now.....well.....maybe any week now.....oh.....well....maybe any year now. Sooner or later.....Dan's facts will come out.....and all you false-believers will be eating your words. Sadly.....on this analysis of Dan.....Katie might actually be right...which is more of a shock than anything else.
"AFSO-21" It!
Here on Ramstein...we have a new Air Force term, which has been tossed around a bit over the past 10 months. Its called "AFSO-21".  Basically...if you can find a process or requirement...and revamp it to save man-hours, man-power, cost, etc....then you "AFSO-21" it. This isn't geared toward minor league stuff like tossing out one form, or allowing folks to toss out one process....this is major league stuff.  So how do you AFSO-21 something? Well...first....you never tell the customer or users until after you've gotten approval to do the massive change. Its very important to keep them in dark as much as possible until the bitter end. If they knew how you were going to disrupt normal operations and create a massive mess for folks to clean up later...they'd just stop you in your tracks.  Second...the minute you get permission from the general to proceed...you go at breakneck speed to cut billets to that organization as quickly as possible whilst you make the process changes. Make sure that you never give the unit a fighting chance to get on even ground in the beginning of this massive change.  Third....if you save one real billet (40 man-hours per week)...advertise it early as three billets actually cut...and be happy when then when they take two billets.  Fourth...avoid talking cost saving and simply talk in general about money saved. Even if it was $11 a month...thats enough for a medal.   Fifth...once this gets in full swing...start your change of station paperwork to move to another base as "X-day" occurs...so that you aren't around when they discover it doesn't work.  Sixth....once you have it signed by the general...immediately start the paperwork to get a medal. Don't give the leadership a chance to gauge the process change as a failure.  Seventh....if you can dump work that you currently do on someone else...and get your manpower cut...then thats really worth a big medal. Remember not to tell the other guy that he is absorbing 40-manhours per week of additional work with the present manpower he has.  Eighth.....everyone in the chain can claim credit for a AFSO-21 effort...so try to get several medals lined up in a row so that the general can sign all of them before he discovers its all a bogus gain.  Ninth....lean toward massive cuts and massive manpower changes...to get the bigger chunks of AFSO-21 credit. Remember...failure is only possible if the customer grasps what you are doing before you can leave the base in question.  Last but not least....AFSO-21 is simply the program of the day....in six to twelve months...enough generals will grasp how nothing was saved and that it was a wasted management tool used like a sledge hammer to bring down the Air Force.
James Hanson (NASA's Green Boy, in More Ways than One)
Sadly.....even after last weeks episode with Jimmy Hanson of NASA....we kinda thought Jimmy would hide out for a while and not be seen. He is the chief scientist of the organization.....although not the "CEO" of NASA. He has been pushing the green agenda and global warming for a number of years. Today.....we learned that ole Jimmy.....had taken a $720k check from George Soros. George has maintained this position in wealth.....with a trend toward the carbon credits stuff. The early guys who get into carbon credits....will just plain tear up the market once all the rest of us buy into the game. Jimmy....apparently desperate for cash.....said just about anything that was necessary to make George happy. Kinda sad in one way that Jimmy would put himself in such a position.....for cash. But you know....NASA boys don't make that much on the space business anymore. Hardly anyone comes up to offer bribes or insider info....so you could work a 30-year career with the boys and only retire with $2k per month for the rest of your life. For a chief scientist.....that just ain't enough....even if you toss in another $1,500 a month from social security at age 62.....it just won't add up. So Jimmy has taken the payoff. Personally.....I think Jimmy ought to just hand George back the money....and let everyone know that he wasn't saying all those lies for cash. Thats the fair thing to do. But I'm thinking.....Jimmy will simply stand there.....like a cornstalk in Iowa....and wait for some investigator to come along and accuse Jimmy of crimes. I'm not quiet sure what prison they send NASA scientists to. I'm pretty sure it won't be the one they sent Ted Bundy to....or Tony Noriega....or GITMO. In fact....they might have to make a prison over at NASA and just send the boys back to a dorm at night....with simple barracks style dinners and coveralls that say NASA on the front but in pink or light blue. I'm guessing Jimmy ought to spend at least six months there....maybe even a year or two. Course, GW.....as wise a man as he is.....almost like Solomon.....could just call Jimmy up.....and bring him, Pete Rose, and Micheal Vick into the White House....and tell the boys to duke it and fight it out....last guy standing.....gets a pardon. I'd cam the thing for GW, and we could sell it over the internet.
Voting: 2008 Style
Perhaps I am the oddball of the entire group...but up until the 1960s...you didn’t have to present any kind of ID to vote. My dad talked about this....having lived in Alabama and Ohio in the 1950s and noting only this subject of a drivers license being required by the local polling staff (their own rules before the state required it). I’m leaning the opposite way on this topic. Lets toss the entire gate open, and just plain let anyone and everyone vote. Those who want to register in different states and vote several times....go for it. Face it...folks are already doing this and we can’t seem to stop them. Everyone gets upset when you discuss a national ID card. Folks get upset if you discuss assigning folks to a particular voting station. Folks get upset if you suggest counting absentee ballots from GI’s as a mandatory requirement. Folks get upset if you suggest cutting back on absentee ballots except for GI’s. So lets just drop the fight, and get folks in to vote as much as they can...you can never have too much democracy. Once we Republicans accept this idea and embrace it...then we will all start registering in nearby counties and vote five or six times in one day. We will carpool and go from city to city, county to county and even state to state. Some guys might even try to set a record and vote in fifteen states in one day. Maybe after a while....the democrats might actually suggest some control because we Republicans embraced this a might bit too much.
The B-52 and Nuke Missiles Story
So today, we learn that not only is there an official inquiry underway by the Air Force....but that Secretary Gates has called General Welch (the last 4-star of SAC, retired...almost 10 years now)....into the game for a totally separate inquiry.  The belief is....that the Air Force is now squirming alot and can't grasp the reality of the situation and how this all occurred. So allow me to lay out the situation. The boys back at the muntions area changed policy a couple of years ago...storing real nukes missiles with the dummy missiles. No one can really explain this but some folks think that they ran short on manpower and just figured they could manage having both around in the same storage area.  Someone grabbed the wrong ones, and took them out to a aircraft which was pre-loaded and then flew a mission to Louisiana. The airman who met the aircraft sat there....looking and looking...and finally called over the radio to have his boss come out to inspect the plane. "Something was wrong"...was the statement. The boss took an hour to get out there apparently....then grasped the siutation and took charge.  The Air Force in its brilliance....stated that in the early stages of this mess...they didn't think the media would care....they even wrote that into the original report to the commander. Secretary Gates is smelling a major problem here.  Lets lay out where the Air Force has screwed up. Back in 1991...there was a fair manpower cut. If you had a squadron of 120 people...they cut eight billets. They took five of your admin guys, thus leaving only three admin guys in the whole squadron....simply because computers were now being used and the five were believed to be wasted manpower. Where you had a full-time safety guy....that billet was cut....and safety became a part-time duty for some guy. Same story for the supply guy.  After about twelve months...you started to notice that you had 8 guys permenantly deployed to Saudi Arabia....so the 112 folks really weren't at 112 all the time. Then around a year later....someone came down and took 12 specialists of one field and twelve specialists of another field in the unit...to combine....to have a watered-down specialist. The bad news was....of the 24 billets you had in these areas....they cut four.  Then another year passed and the command asked that you cut one officer and one NCO position....period. No explanation.  Then another year went by and you found that nine billets had to be cut because of a change in procedures and processes. You couldn't figure out what that was....but the management determined this. So you woke up and now counted around 97 billets.  A change in organizational authorizations occur....where you have 97 billets but they only fill 90 of them....so you have seven billets just sitting there permanently empty.  The next year....the seven billets which are permanently empty...disappear. Then a reorganization occurs....and your orderly room goes down to one support person. And some captains slot gets cut....so you are at 88 positions now.  Another year passes and you find a manpower specialist team there....discussing shortcuts. Six months later...you learn that they are cutting 9 billets. So you are down to 79 bodies now....where in 1991 you were at 120. You have at least seven guys permanently deployed and six guys are always inprocessing or outprocessing each month...with five guys always out on leave....so to be truthful...you only have 64 real workers....not the 120 you had in 1991.  What you learn to do over the years....is make short-cuts. You do less with less. You refuse to have indepth training programs because you can't manage that. You refuse to keep vast record files because you don't have time to manage that. You don't paint every two years or do any major fix-up projects unless the commander orders you to do it.  The number of guys volunteering to get out is now six to eight every summer. You have NCOs who come in and barely work two years in a job...expecting to be moved somewhere else to get a better work atmosphere or better evaluations. The commanders...never stay more than two years. The NCOs...working to get moved to a new job constantly.  The old experts that we had 30 years ago....gone....and they can't sit there and teach a 19-year old guy about how to fix things quickly. Backups of hard drives....forget that. Unit picnics or bar-b-q's? Well...they just take up manpower...which you can't afford to lose.  Deploying? Don't worry...you get the entire month prior to leaving to take care of personal affairs and another month upon return to recuperate from the 120-160 days gone. Wonder why folks would screw up and allow nukes to fly? Well....its real simple. You short-cut yourself, your shop, your squadron, your base, your mission, your pilots, and the US government. You do it...because you really can't do otherwise. But don't worry....you can only have more cuts coming....there will never be a build up to occur. So things can only head one direction.

You Have to Feel Sorry For the Guy

After my July trip, which got me stuck in New York City for one night.....I really feel sorry all of them folks who fly into New York City. Apparently....in the past six hours....President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has left Iran for New York City, where he is due to address the UN General Assembly. Some kinda of big deal for folks there. Things are likely to go wrong.....traffic will go into a massive stall.....food poisoning.....flight cancellations.....you name it. So I do feel sorry for this Mahmoud fella. My advice.....get your stuff done and get the heck out of New York as soon as possible.