Month: April 2008

Update on Indian MMRCA Competition

Proposals for the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition were sent in recently. See my earlier post here)

A good rundown on the competitors is at the link, though I count the IAF’s familiarity with Russian equipment as a plus, not a minus.

The competitors are the MiG-35 (a Mig-29 derivative), Gripen, Rafale, Typhoon, F-16 and F-18E.

I think that the US fighters may be ruled out because of the effects of possible sanctions in the future, the US is much more aggressive in these actions than the French or British.

The Rafal and Typhoon are too pricey.

This leaves the MiG-35 and Gripen, with the former being cheaper to buy but more expensive to operate. The upgraded Gripen closes some of the gap in payload and range, but both are far superior to the MiG-21s that they would replace.

Then again, we know how good my predictions are.

Tanker Update

It’s been a while, so we need to feed that tanker dispute Jones.

First, we have a press release from Northrop Grumman saying the obvious, that “Compared to the KC-767, the KC-45 can deliver more fuel at equal ranges (decreasing the number of aircraft required to meet mission requirements) or the same fuel load from greater distances (increasing potential Air Force basing options),” which is at this point in the “well duh” category, but a few lines down, they say, “Furthermore, the Air Force added that the KC-45’s greater refueling capability “Enables it to execute (the mission) with 22 fewer aircraft than Boeing’s … an efficiency of significant value to the government.”

22 Aircraft ain’t chicken feed.

By way of a very small cloud on the KC-45 Horizon, the Australian A330 MRTT is getting some new parts and modifications, some of which probably involve the boom.

The bottom line on the boom, however, is that while it was invented by Boeing, it was also designed from a clean sheet by McDonnell Douglas for the KC-10, and it’s been around for 50 years. It is not rocket science.*

*Full Disclosure, in 1999-2000 and 1996-1998, I worked as a mechanical engineer for what is now Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, and I have some claim to actually being a rocket scientist.

Not Related!!!! Not Related!!!! Not Related!!!!

OK, I’m looking for an old comment of mine on haloscan, which I could not find, but I found this:

Susan and Michael Mukasey Marriage Profile

With their family beside them, Michael and Susan Mukasey stepped into the media spotlight when it was announced that he had been nominated as attorney general. Here’s information about their long-lasting marriage.
Michael B. Mukasey: July 28, 1941 in New York City (the Bronx).

Susan Bernstock:

Wedding Date:
Michael and Susan were married in New York City on July 14, 1974. According to a wedding announcement in the New York Times, Rabbi Judah Nadich performed the ceremony at Susan’s parents’ home.
Michael and Susan have two children and two grandchildren.

  • Marc Saroff Mukasey: Married to Nancy Eve Rothenberg on 3/19/1994 at the Pratt Mansions in New York. Both Marc and Nancy are lawyers.

  • Jessica Mukasey: Married to Corey Barkoff. They have two sons.
Michael: Attorney General, attorney, federal judge, and federal prosecutor.

Susan: Former teacher and headmistress of Ramaz Lower School.

Previous Marriages:
Susan was previously married to Mr. Saroff. The marriage ended in divorce.

My great grandfather came to this country named Saurymper (spelling varies), and he changed his name to Saroff for reasons that I don’t know.

He had one son, my grandfather, and my dad had 3 sons, and none of them were ever married to, Mukasey’s wife.

In fact, until my dad went East, we were exclusively a west coast clan.

Amy Sullivan is an Idiot: Politics and Religion Edition

Amy Sullivan is a columnist who for years has suggested that the only problem that Democrats have is that they are just not welcoming enough to the religious. She is an idiot, and Barack Obama has bought into this view, and is probably its most articulate advocate:

The single biggest gap in party affiliation among white Americans is … between those who attend church regularly and those who don’t. Democrats, meanwhile, are scrambling to ‘get religion,’ even as a core segment of our constituency remains stubbornly secular.”
— Barack Obama, “The Audacity of Hope”

So now, Ms. Sullivan, who must have been ecstatic about the fact that the leading Democratic candidate is espousing her position, is now bent out of shape that it’s all blowing up in his face because of L’Affaire Wright.

In Salon, Walter Shapiro has her number when he says, “This is a week when the Illinois senator probably wishes that he could say, ‘I’m from the stubbornly secular wing of the Democratic Party.'”

More generally, there is no stubbornly secular wing of the Democratic Party. Seriously.

How many atheists are in Congress? None. There is one admitted Agnostic, Pete Stark.

And she gets owned again in yet another episode of What Digby Said, “Apparently, she never considered the possible downsides of hewing so closely to religion that people think it’s definitional. She and he friends didn’t seem to realize that all the blather about secular Democrats was never about religion, but about social conservatism. You get no points for going to the ‘wrong kind’ of church. You’d think they would have figured that out a long time ago.”

The success that the Republican party has had with Religion comes from two things:

  • Because church is still the most segregated place in America, it gives cover for hatred and bigotry.
  • Because the press is accused of being anti-religion, they will bend over backwards to make any unreasoning spew coming from behind a clerical collar seem reasonable, as is shown by their studied indifference to pastors Hagee and Parsley.
    • Except, of course, if they are black, as we can see with Rev. Wright. Or as was the case of a black Preccher protesting police brutality, who was called a “cleric” by the New York Times.

So Amy is wondering what went wrong. Her answer, which shows how unwilling to adjust her theory to accomodate reality is that, “… while Wright is a theologian, a teacher and a pastor, he is ultimately a performer”.

So her answer is not that the wearing religion on one’s sleeve might be problematic, but rather that Reverend Wright is not really religious, which ignores the tradition of activism in the black church and in progressive congregations in general.

What’s more, I think that her article reflects a profound discomfort on the part of Ms. Sullivan with regard to Black America too. Why else would she make a point of noting, “A cheering crowd of supporters that included a whistling Cornel West”, and that, “[the] resulting confusion and fear contributes to a racial divide.”

It sounds to me like this is a genteel way of calling Wright an “Uppity N*****”, particularly when she references Martin Luther King, and suggests that when he spoke out against the war in Viet Nam, Dr. King diminished himself.

Why else would she write:

The poster boy of the reimagined black church is Martin Luther King, Jr. “King said America suffered from a ‘congenital disease’ and that disease is racism,” notes Eddie Glaude, Princeton professor of religion. He says that King’s speech against the Vietnam War, delivered at Riverside Church in April 1967, was not a feel-good speech. “It was a passionate cry to speak to these enormous problems that were linked to America’s imperialism and militarism, and what he saw as the evils of capitalism.” By that point int his career, King had been banned from Lyndon Johnson’s White House. The New York Times condemned his speech, running an editorial calling it “Dr. King’s Error.” And Barry Goldwater said King “bordered a little bit on treason.”

But that King, the one who sounded a little bit like Jeremiah Wright, is not the one we remember every January. It’s because the prophetic black church tradition has been filtered into an unthreatening form suitable for public consumption, so that it has been rendered, in Wright’s word, “invisible.” And it is because of that invisibility that Wright’s sermons seemed so shocking and out of the mainstream. In reality, the two strands fit together — the unbearable optimism of “I Have a Dream” and the righteous anger of “I cannot be silent.”

Unless, I read this wrong, she is saying that King was uppity at times, and that we as a society should ignore that he was a man who was profoundly outraged by what he saw around him in the whole world, not just what happened to the African American community.

I see Reverend Write as being solidly placed in the tradition of American Black theological rhetorical tradition, though my frame of reference is narrow, as I’m neither Evangelical, Christian, so I’ve been to perhaps 3 Churches outside of life events (funerals and weddings) in my life.

Pumpkinhead is Very Petty

And it appears that he has gotten Arianna Huffington blackballed from any interviews on her book tour on any NBC property.

She said not nice things about him in her book, Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe.

Note: I do not have one of those Amazon reference accounts. The link is a freebie, because Arianna is always entertaining, and Russert is a complete whore.

Nouriel Roubini on the GDP Numbers

As promised, some more commentary, Courtesy of Nouriel Roubini, on why the Q1 GDP numbers are a contraction:

  • The obvious one is that when inflation exceeds growth, fewer goods and services are bought or delivered, which is what has happened in the past 2 quarters.
  • Increasing inventories of unsold resulted in a +0.8% to the GDP numbers, which is not economic growth, though it can lead to increased growth.
    • My analysis of this tidbit is that this is actually increased hoarding of things people believe are inflating rapidly.
  • Residential spending was recorded to have dropped an astonishing 26.7%, and that this number does not include cancellations on new homes, so it’s even bigger.
  • Durable and non durable goods sales contracted.

Go read the whole thing.

Iraq as Performance Art

Well, it looks like Maliki is promising to disarm all militia forces, using the Iraqi and US armies if possible, in order to put an end to criminality and ethnic cleansing.

Maliki is a leader of a militia force that has been leinked to criminality and ethnic cleansing, and his closest ally, the ISCI, formerly SCIRI, is known to have performed the bulk of the ethnic cleansing.

Is it just me, or does this begin to sound like the role playing game “Paranoia”?

In any case, in response to Maliki’s challenge, someone murdered the nephew of Iraqi interior ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf’s, and hung his hang body from electric pole.

All things considered I never want to see the Iraqi version of the Ashton Kutcher’s MTV program Punk’d.

It appears however, that the residents of Sadr City would not be fans of an Iraqi Kutcher, as the death toll in April is near 1000.

Economics Update

The big news, as it is on any day when the fed meets, is the decision, which was to cut the federal funds rate by 25 basis points. Of note that that they are no signaling no more cuts.

Of course, with the rate at 2%, it’s not like they can really cut much further.

Then we got the GDP numbers for the first quarter of 2008. The number is that U.S.GDP increased at an 0.6% annual pace, though this will likely drop when a final reading is released.

I will provide more detail, but the spin that this is not a contraction is false” initial reading, will fall. Also, we’ve already had 0.6% so far this year, we will likely see 3-4% inflation even with the bogus government data, it would be closer to 10% with honest data, and 0.6%-3%=-2.4% that’s a recession.

I, with the aid of the good doctor Roubini, will provide more detail in a later post.

Oil prices have dropped, which should come as no surprise. The spikes of the past few days were as the result of short term news, though the trend still seems to be up.

In real estate, we have
ortgage application volume falling 11.25% last week, and we have an analysis from Barclays Capital that upwards of half of Alt-A and subprime mortgages will be under water by year’s end, and they are predicting a fair amount of “jingle mail” as a result.

They Want to Execute Him Because it Would Be Embarrassing for Him to Die of Natural Causes in Prison

That is really the crux of this trial, and his lawyers have been refused adequate security.

He is on trial for the execution of food merchants for price gouging in 1992, when he was foreign minister.

He turned himself into the American military in 2003, and has since been held without trial, so they want him tried before he dies in custody.

One of the lessons of all this is just how much the US government is willingly subverting the principals of Nuremberg in order to achieve politically expedient results.

Whither Us Defense Contractors?

Dov S. Zakheim and Ronald T. Kadish, senior executives at Booz Allen Hamilton, the government and defense consulting firm, have written a blistering editorial criticizing the defense consolidation of the 1990s, and the role of the government, in particular the Clinton administration, in encouraging this.

While I agree with their assessment of the facts, that there was an extraordinary level of consolidation in the 1990s, and that no savings have yet materialized, and that defense procurement is an over budget and behind schedule mess, I disagree with their basic thesis, that somehow deconsolidating the defense industry will help.

These moves highlight an unfortunate reality: The United States is approaching an “arsenal system” for developing and producing its weapons — that is, one in which the government manufactures its own weaponry. It’s an antiquated model with modest benefits, but the way things are going even those will probably be lost.

I have worked off and on in defense since 1992, and I have not seen any significant change.

With the US government spending more than the rest of the world on defense, it means that we are merely seeing the consequences of an effective monopsony (single buyer market, the reverse of a monopoly).

We already have a market without meaningful competition, and when you have for profit institutions without competition, you do not save money.

What’s more the self-dealing, how many retired generals work for defense contractors after, and other corruption and pork barrel aspects to not bode well for the future.

I’m not sure how to fix this, but the use of private defense contractors is not working, so perhaps an arsenal model will work.

I will note that the one part of the Soviet economy that produced reasonable quality products efficiently was their defense industry, which was precisely the arsenal model that they disparage.

More A400M Delays

It looks like the first flight of the EADS A400M airlifter will will be delayed again (paid subscription required).

Once again, it is all problems with the engine, with the C-130 testbed not ready yet to fly, and the #1 aircraft will not be flying with final the high pressure compressor, which is in redesign:

The CEO admits that a number of issues could push the flight date out further. The most critical involves the software on the full-authority digital engine control which he said is three times as complex as that on the Airbus 380. Feedback from engine ground tests and static tests, which started in March, will also be critical. ­Suarez says the engine will total 1,200 hours on the bench by the end of May.

I would assume that the FADEC also includes blade pitch.

Of course, if they had bought the AN-70, it would be already for flying for less money, and if they had gone with the US engine proposal they might be flying already.

The #1 airframe is basically complete except for the engines.

The Rule of Men, Not the Rule of Law

We now see some letters from Bush and His Evil Minions to Congress saying that they could torture who they wanted whenever they wanted, because they were motivated by a noble cause, because their intent was to prevent terrorism, “rather than for the purpose of humiliation or abuse.”

I don’t think that a single nation among the torturers has ever adopted it as a technique because it gave them the jollies*, they have done for precisely the reasons that you give. They wanted information, and to prevent acts that they deemed lawless.

We need to send these folks to the Hague for a fair trial in 2009.

*Dick Cheney excepted, of course. It gives him a stiffie.
Apologies for that mental image.

IDF Ramps Up Ground Forces Training

This increase in focus in training ground forces, which accompanies an increase in the status of ground forces is not surprising.

The conclusion of the Winograd report*, which reviewed the 2006 Lebanon campaign was quite clear:

The military has abandoned the doctrine that stressed precision stand-off firepower over maneuver warfare, arguably the biggest mistake Israel made in the conflict.

It should be noted that the doctrine that they are abandoning is the central doctrine of the US military, particularly the USAF, and it is why you are seeing changes as a result of the experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, when one looks at the failures of the US military, at their core have been a consistent over-reliance on air power, whether USAF fast jets or slower helicopters.

*Warning, the format is some sort of mutant flash called NTXbook.

McCain Knows Nothing of Foreign Policy

And Fareed Zakaria is too much of a coward to say so

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil—but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power.

Let’s be clear on this one of the reasons that Russia is increasingly hostile to the West is that we have repeatedly lied to them.

We promised no Western expansion of NATO. We lied.

And then there was that whole privatization thing, which was sold as a way to prosperity for the whole society, as opposed to a campaign of rape and pillage that would have made Genghis Khan proud.

Now he’s talking about breaking another promise.

McCain is an idiot who has spent his life poking people in the eye, and unsuited to be president.

Russia and Ukraine Plan to Restart An-124 Production.

I think that it is cool.

For most of the forces out there, what they need is strategic airlift capability, not tactical, and honestly, the An-124 pretty much owns the field, and will for the foreseeable future, as the only potential competitor in terms of size, the A-380 is far more restricted in terms of airports, if just because with its low wing, it will Hoover debris off an austere strip.

As the article notes, Anotov has some real problems, noting the fact that the An-70, which is a great tactical airlifter*, is languishing, and wondering if Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation might be looking at a corporate takeover.

*Once you replace the avionics with western equivalents, and allow one of the large western turbine manufacturers to license produce with higher quality materials to improve reliability.

Crossing the Olbermann Event Horizon

I enjoy watching Olbermann, though I differ with him on one matter, I do not think that Hillary Clinton is the devil incarnate, but NPR’s reporter Ken Rudin, who compared Hillary Clinton to Ales Forrest, the deranged character played by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction:

But after comparing Senator Clinton to the insane, murderous, kidnapping, stalking, knife-wielding, suicidal, bunny-boiling character of Alex Forrest, who has to be drowned and shot to be finally stopped in Fatal Attraction, even the harshest critic of Senator Clinton is probably beginning to think, you know, that might be a little harsh. Maybe an apology is in order.

I’m just sayin’ if you’ve lost Keith Olbermann because you are hating too much on Hillary Clinton, you have crossed some sort of metaphysical event horizon, you aren’t going to get out, and all you can look forward to is for tidal forces to rend you into subatomic particles.

I’m just sayin’.

Watch it below.