Monday, 20 April 2009

My $2.50 or The Obama Pledge

What amounts to some cheap version of the movie “Dave”....it appears the magic number that the cabinet secretaries are going to be asked to cut...amounts to $100 million.

There apparently is going to be some magic number in each secretaries mind before the meeting starts....and he has his cards already facing up and smiling. To reach a silly $100 million? The defense secretary will simply trim a day of flying one day....calling it a training day....and toss around $10 million into the pot.

The dude from the parks service....will announce a cut of some type, but then up the entry fee or rental fee somewhere else. The guy from IRS will smile as he cuts the monitor lifecycle plan for his division from one hundred percent to fifty percent.
Reaching $100 million was nothing, and its mostly for show and nice press discussions. Now, if you really wanted to make an impression....start talking $8 billion and see how scared the guys really get.

Or we could go one better....from the stimulus package of January....if we could step back to this point and trim $500 million off it....wouldn’t look just as good? Remember....we haven’t even spent $1 billion of the money so far....of the $750 billion.

Naturally, everyone is happy about this scene. It makes the government look great...saving $100 lousy million. In the old days (prior to January 2009), we would have been impressed, but now....this is a joke when we pop off a $750 billion bill without a single idiot reading the magic words.

Then the final note of analysis....this $100 million, if carved would equal 1/$35,000th. So if you came up to me, and asked to make the “Obama pledge”...I’d just smile...skip two cups of coffee over the next month and make the 1/$35,000 challenge. Heck, at this rate, you could ask the President to unhinge his 500-man crew from the next “Obama for Europe” rally and just do a teleconference appearance, then save the $100 million. But then, maybe I’m asking for too much?

How to Screw Up the Miss America Contest

So here's the scenario....you are a hot-looking babe....from California, even.....and you are in the competition for Miss America.

There in the midst of the stupid dumbass questions....some knucklehead....who happens to be gay.....asks you about gay marriage.

All you have to say is "America is the home of the free and the brave", and then shut up. It would be enough....the nitwit would sit there and try to understand how this fits, and you'd walk away with the hot babe contest trophy.

So, this is how things should have run yesterday, but they didn't.

Here was Carrie Prejean, who was asked by judge Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip blogger, whether she believed in gay marriage.

Her response? "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

It was the crapper....the four-star crapper. Carrie was a loser from that point on.

So I sat and thought about this. Typically...dimwit blondes are supposed to go to beauty contests. Gay guys could care less about this whole thing.....as do most lesbians. So we've actually turned some beauty contest into a giant "who loves gays" contest? Is that the game? My feeling is to let the contest stay a contest about hot babes with hooters, nice hair, stupid chit-chat, red bikinis, and future chances to be some guy's trophy wife in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

What should we expect for future Miss America competitions? I'm guessing ugly women who can answer the politically correct questions right.

The Right Vessel for the Right Job


The pirate issue continues to be in the top ten topics of the media. So far, people have admitted there isn’t any absolute answer to the issue. In the past week….one suggestion has come out with I’d tend to agree with and ought to be reviewed….convoys.

At some point during WW II….armed convoys started to protect Allied shipping lanes from German subs.

The issue in this case….there are around 20,000 transits per year in the Horn of Africa area. To be kinda honest…this is way beyond the current capability located in the region. Then you add in the cost….and you have to start questioning the wisdom.

I sat and paused over this problem. The real issue is the bulk force that most analysts want to convince themselves of in this capacity. The honest truth is that PT vessels from WW II…bulked up and twice the old size…would likely better a better choice….with a crew of twenty…would turn into more than a threat for the pirates.

So imagine a starting point at three separate triangle points….at the Red Sea entry point and then toward the far south and far east. The two far points would be at a pretty far distance out. You’d basically draw a mile circle and have vessels meet in this circle and then be escorted at the forward part and rear part by two XXL-PT vessels (one forward and one rear). Every twelve hours, you bring in another team of XXL-PT vessels. After two weeks of courier service, you bring the two vessels in and give the crew seven days off and bring in another team.

The bottom line is that after six months of this…the pirates will begin to make mistakes as they get to be more daring. They will eventually put themselves into serious situations with no reasonable outcome.

The Dimwits in Charge

This weekend....an interesting story popped up. CIA interrogators apparently waterboarded Abu Zubaydah (a 4-star Al Qaeda prisoner) 83 times (this was a 2005 Justice Dept memo). They even admitted they did another prisoner up to 183 times.

As you look over the entire story...you start to learn that Abu spoke a fair amount before the torture episodes started and gave them a good start on intelligence. Then...after the torture episodes start up....he really started to shut up and cooperate less and less.

The thing which I’ve blogged on numerous times over this issue....is that the Nazis in WW II came to a point where they realized that this whole concept of torture really didn’t give the information they wanted....so they lessened their belief in the idea.

These guys? Well, after three or four times....I’d probably shut up myself and just accept fate as it is. I’m guessing Abu did the same thing.

The neat thing about this release in information...is that future enemies will view all of this as totally acceptable and won’t hesitate to perform the same actions on any American GI...noting it was legal under the US government rules, so it must be ok.

The real problem I see here....if you were the guy in charge and after you’d done the waterboarding five to ten times on a guy...and the results got to be less and less...you couldn’t recognize that or grasp that it had less and less effect. Then you didn’t have any problem with using the tactic on the twenty-fifth occasion or the fiftieth occasion or the sixtieth occasion. It would have obvious to most folks after ten times...that the tactic had little effect.

I disagree strongly in releasing this information....it doesn’t help make us any safer or better. But on the other hand....you begin to see the stupidity of some government officials and question their management ability.

Licensed to Write?

There was a really nifty idea put out there in the last day or two....from a formerly influential Los Angeles Times writer....Rosa Brooks....who now happens to be an adviser of sorts at the Pentagon.

She has come out and advocated "direct government support for public media" and creating licenses to govern news operations. Her comments were kinda curious: "Years of foolish policies have left us with a choice: We can bail out journalism, using tax dollars and granting licenses in ways that encourage robust and independent reporting and commentary, or we can watch, wringing our hands, as more and more top journalists are laid off."

Naturally, she wrote this in her final column for the Los Angeles Times....which is one of those papers with serious financial issues.

This has stirred up some folks....saying that some newspaper folks will say this ends all independence.

So how would you license these guys? A test? A special class? What if the guy passes but later shows no talent or really screws up.....are you going to unlicense the guy?

Newspapers used to make a profit....but if you check out the reader comments over the past twelve years...most folks will comment on the news slant of their local paper, the lack of local news, and the willingness to jump onto political bandwagons every four years.

Are small-town papers dying out? Not necessarily....but the big name guys are....which leads you ask about how many 4-star reporters were kept on the staff for $80k per year and how much did they pay in terms of benefits (leased car, insurance, 401k matching, etc). Small-town papers stayed small....and probably kept a couple of $40k reporters around, with no real benefits except insurance and vacation time.

Its curious to me....that in the end...as the highly-paid Rosa Brooks left the LA Times....and emptied out her $100k salary pocket....the newspaper probably didn’t refill the slot. And if they did...its a reporter making $50k at the most.