Month: February 2019

Lockheed Martin Lobbyists Are Completely Losing Their Sh%$

The Air Force Chief of Staff is examining the first new F-15 buy in 19 years, and Lockheed-Martin and its Evil Minions are having a major freakout

I cannot imaging why Lockheed-Martin would be worried at the prospect of the US Air Force making a purchase of an aircraft that is cheaper to buy, cheaper to operate, flies farther, carries more, can have a back-seater who can handle things like SEAD and jamming, and has been continuously modernized over the years because of foreign sales.

A full month before the scheduled rollout of the Trump administration’s fiscal 2020 budget request, Boeing’s F-15X has provoked a fierce intellectual clash over the future of U.S. airpower strategy and priorities.

Advocates of the U.S. Air Force’s current plan to resume F-15 orders after a 19-year hiatus say it is an overdue response to an urgent requirement for quickly and affordably recapitalizing an aging air superiority fleet, while at the same time adding a comparatively flexible weapon system that can be adapted in the future to play a host of new roles, including perhaps electronic attack.

But critics see wasteful spending on the latest version of a fighter originally designed in the late-1960s, at the expense of buying faster and what they assert are more relevant Lockheed Martin F-35As. Some critics also invoke the prospect of the F-15X causing an acquisition “death spiral” for another advanced stealth aircraft, snaring the Air Force’s program of record to buy 1,763 F-35As in the same budgetary trap that sharply curtailed original plans to order 132 Northrop Grumman B-2A bombers and 750 Lockheed Martin F-22s.


The debate has placed Lockheed Martin in an awkward position. Although Lockheed executives generally support more spending on F-35 production, they also seem unwilling to contradict Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein, who has stated that F-15X funding won’t come at the expense of planned F-35 purchases. It is a point that CEO Marillyn Hewson emphasized on the fourth-quarter earnings call in late January.


The Air Force is interested in buying a single-seat F-15CX and twin-seat F-15EX, the source says. Except for a two-place canopy and second cockpit in the F-15EX, both Air Force models would be identical.

The configuration is defined by the Air Force’s demand to limit costs, especially for nonrecurring engineering. So the F-15X models are based exclusively on already fielded technology, including strengthened wings and large area displays funded by the Qatari Air Force, plus conformal fuel tanks, a digital fly-by-wire control system, APG-82 active, electronically scanned array radar and the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) introduced by the Royal Saudi Air Force. The U.S. Air Force also is integrating the APG-82 radar on F-15Cs and F-15Es.


For example, the combination of a strengthened wing and fly-by-wire flight controls expand the flight envelope, yielding a dogfight performance somewhere between the raw power offered by the F-15C and the nimble agility at high angles of attack of the F-22.


Other important details involve the weapons options. The Saudi air force has integrated the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) on the F-15SA, so that becomes a new option for the Air Force fleet. The combination of the AGM-88, EPAWSS and the F-15’s inherent ability to generate large amounts of electrical power create intriguing possibilities. The Air Force retired its last tactical escort jamming platform in 1997, but the Navy has continued to perform the mission of jamming air defense radars with the Boeing EA-18G. The idea of a radar-jamming and -suppressing “Wild Weasel” version of an F-15EX could create a long-term role for the two-seater, operating alongside strike packages of F-35As.

I don’t think that this will go anywhere, Lockheed-Martin has meticulously spread subcontractors around crucial Congressional districts, and even if it outperforms the F-35 in 90+% of conflict scenarios.

Still, this promises to be entertaining.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

Did you hear the one about the 12 year old who was arrested for not saying the pledge of allegance?

No, it’s not a lead in to a joke, though (of course) it’s from Florida.

The substitute teacher took umbrage, and decided to taunt the the student and then call in the school cop.

One of the people involved in all of this was acting like an adult, and he was 12 years old.

It’s Early in the Season for a Parent to Condemn a Presidential Candidate………

But Kamala Harris seems to be ahead of the curve this election season:

Professor Donald Harris Kamala Harris’ Jamaican father, has vigorously dissociated himself from statements made on the New York Breakfast Club radio show earlier this week attributing her support for smoking marijuana to her Jamaican heritage. Professor Harris has issued a statement to in which he declares:

“My dear departed grandmothers(whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), as well as my deceased parents , must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics. Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”

Even if you believe that Kamala Harris has experienced a fundamental change in her views on the proverbial “Road to Damascus”, and I don’t, one has to wonder just how effective she will be as a candidate when she seems intent on making her opponents’ opposition research as easy as possible.

What a clusterF%$#.

Brexit, Now With Tits

First, yes, this is British TV presenter Rachel Johnson disrobing in protest to Brexit, and yes, she is Boris Johnson’s sister.

Every time that I think that the political situation cannot get any weirder, someone in the UK seems compelled to say, “Hold my lager, mate.”


This looks like an ineffectual and desperate attempt at relevance, which makes sense, since she recently joined the Lib-Dem party.

Oh, You Delicate Flower

It appears that, since they are not being worshipped as Gods, Amazon has canceled its headquarters plans in New York City.

There wasn’t even a meaningful threat to the deal, it was just people saying bad things about them.

The best quote about his was from Senator Michael Gianaris, a high profile opponent of the deal:

“Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,” said Mr. Gianaris, whose district includes Long Island City. “The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions.

In related good news, the real estate speculators who bought property in anticipation of the project have lost their shirts: Inc.’s announcement that it is ditching plans for a corporate headquarters in New York City stunned real-estate speculators, developers and renters who had rushed into the Long Island City neighborhood to be near the new HQ2.

Only three months ago, the prospect that the giant retailer would locate a headquarters in New York City and create 25,000 new jobs set off a real-estate frenzy that the borough of Queens had never experienced.


Amazon’s reversal could also hurt developers who had bought development sites or filed plans for new buildings in the area in recent months and were hoping that an influx of 25,000 new Amazon jobs could boost rents and property values.


Big publicly traded real-estate firms with exposure to New York City also felt Amazon’s sting. Shares of SL Green Realty Corp. and Vornado Realty Trust , two property owners with large and concentrated New York City portfolios, fell 1.4% and 0.9% respectively on Thursday, declining more than the broader market.

This is me doing a happy dance.

Finally, let me add the following, “#10PeopleOnTwitter“.

The Term is Mensch

Bernie Sanders, who, when asked about Representative Omar’s tweets about AIPAC, offered her his unqualified support:

SCOOP: HEARD LAST NIGHT — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on a conference call hosted by Jim Zogby, Co-Chair of the DNC’s Ethnic Council, when asked about the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s tweets about AIPAC:“I talked to Ilhan last night to give her my personal support. We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

He really is a stand-up guy.

That Sound You Hear is Eric Arthur Blair* Spinning in His Grave

The head of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the agency charged with making sure that the US Government abides by its labor agreements, has decertified it’s own union:

The chairwoman of an agency tasked with resolving disputes between federal employee unions and management at federal agencies recently decided to cease recognition of the organization’s own labor group.

Federal Labor Relations Authority Chairwoman Colleen Duffy Kiko announced the decision in a letter to the Union of Authority Employees last December, the day after the union’s collective bargaining agreement had expired. She argued that because the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act exempted the FLRA from rules requiring agencies to recognize labor unions in the federal government, the agency has been breaking the law by working with the union.


The decision goes against a 1980 legal opinion from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel that stated that although there lacks any legislative record explaining the decision to exempt the FLRA from the statute, the legislative text likely is meant to prevent conflicts of interest, wherein FLRA employees could be investigating disputes between their union and the agency. The opinion cited the late Rep. Morris Udall, D-Ariz., one of the architects of the law.


Indeed, Union of Authority Employees acting President Fernando Colón said that for four decades, his labor organization has had a successful relationship with FLRA management, despite several restrictions unique in the federal sector. Unlike most bargaining units, the union cannot appeal arbitration decisions to an administrative body—the FLRA can simply choose whether or not to enforce a grievance award.


Colón said he fears the move will further erode public trust in the agency tasked with adjudicating labor-management disputes in the federal government. President Trump has neglected to appoint a general counsel to the agency, all but blocking new complaints from reaching the board. And in a lawsuit filed last week, the National Education Association, a union representing teachers and other education employees at Defense Department schools, accused the FLRA of systemic bias, noting that members frequently overturned decisions in favor of unions, but upheld every single decision that favored management.

This whole “Fox in the Hen House” bullsh%$ that the Trump administration is really getting old.

*George Orwell.

Teachers Just Won Another Strike

Something odd is going on in this country, and the successful action by the Denver Teachers’ Union is a part of what I hope is a change in our political culture:
Denver’s teachers may soon be returning to school.

More than 2,000 educators, who have been on strike since Monday, said they reached a tentative deal Thursday with the local school district.

Details are not yet available, but the deal includes an average 11.7 percent pay raise and annual cost of living increases, according to the school district and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, a labor union representing more than 5,000 educators in Denver public schools. It will also include raises for school support staff. Bus drivers and cafeteria workers may also get a raise, but that’s not part of the official agreement with the teachers union.

It also addresses the teachers’ biggest concern: the need to overhaul the merit-pay system, which relies heavily on annual bonuses that fluctuate from year to year. The new system will place more emphasis on education and training when considering promotions, while keeping some bonuses in place.

Where will they find the $23 million to pay for this? The district agreed to cut back on administrative costs, and will eliminate about 150 positions in the school’s central office. Five-figure bonuses for senior school administrators will also come to an end.

5 figure bonuses for senior school administrators?

Am I the only one who thinks that America’s managerial class behaves a lot more like pillaging Vikings than they do stewards of their domains?

Did You Know That Oregon Once Banned Black People, or That It Was the Most Klan Dominated State Ever?

If you knew this, then you are probably not surprised that the Portland police department has been collaborating closely with white nationalist terrorists:

Hundreds of texts between Portland police and right-wing organizer Joey Gibson reveal the extent to which law enforcement officers talked to and even coordinated with right-wing activists in order to police protests in 2017 and 2018.

The texts, obtained by WW through a public records request, show that Portland Police Lt. Jeff Niiya had a friendly rapport with Gibson, frequently discussing Gibson’s plans to demonstrate in Portland and even joking at times.

Gibson’s events, occurring regularly in the Pacific Northwest since President Donald Trump’s election, have alarmed and enraged Portlanders—even prompting the mayor to propose new rules restricting protests. That’s because the rallies have attracted white supremacists and other extremists, and are often thinly veiled pretexts for Gibson’s group, the Vancouver-Wash-based Patriot Prayer, to wage violent street fights with masked antifascists.

Niiya is the commanding officer for the Portland Police Bureau rapid response team that patrols protests. That makes him one of the primary officers collecting intelligence about protest groups in Portland.

Niiya and the Portland Police Bureau have good reason to collect intelligence from right-wing organizers. Yet some of Niiya’s texts raise questions about whether Portland Police help Patriot Prayer supporters to evade arrest during events.


Several texts involve Gibson’s longtime adjunct, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, who often brawls with antifascist protesters, has allegedly assaulted people who were not protesting, and has been arrested multiple times in Portland.

On Dec. 8, 2017, Niiya asks Gibson if Toese had “his court stuff taken care of,” referring to an active warrant for Toese’s arrest. Niiya goes on to say officers ignored the warrant at a past protest and tells Gibson that he doesn’t see a need to arrest Toese even if he has a warrant, unless Toese commits a new crime.

WW asked Gibson for comment on his relationship with Niiya and the texts. His response was brief: “Sweet,” he texted.


Portland Police have taken criticism from left-leaning activists for appearing to favor right-wing protesters in the past. Drafts of an Independent Police Review analysis of police actions at a June 4, 2017 protest noted that at least one officer viewed the right-wing protesters affiliated with Gibson’s Vancouver, Wash. group, Patriot Prayer, as “much more mainstream” than left-wing antifascist groups.

Niiya also attaboyed Gibson over his run for office.

I would note that this fort of tacit support for white supremacists is very much the rule, and not the exception, among law enforcement.

In related news:

Mayor Ted Wheeler says he directed Police Chief Danielle Outlaw [No, really, that is her name, no kidding] to conduct a “thorough investigation” of bureau communications with Patriot Prayer, a right-wing protest group that has frequently drawn white supremacists and other extremists to its rallies.

Here’s hoping that this Niiya loses his job.


Another Spider-Man Movie????

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Over at The Nation, the observe how DNC professional staff has systematically sabotaged attempts to understand and address poverty, and wonder, “Why Does the Democratic Party Refuse to Address Poverty?

This is because, as Yves Smith notes, the Democratic Party establishment sees itself as, “The party of credentialed professionals, who tend not to be poor.”

In the Annals of Unconvincing Denials………

An air cargo shipper and its client on Friday both denied knowledge of the small shipment of weapons that Venezuelan authorities said arrived in the city of Valencia earlier this week on a flight from Miami International Airport.

A Boeing 767 operated by 21 Air, which maintains an operating facility at MIA, delivered cargo earlier this week that included 19 assault rifles, telescopic sights, radio antenna and other materiel to the international airport in Valencia, according to a Bolivarian National Guard general, Endes Palencia.

The charge drew sharp denials both from the Greensboro, North Carolina-based air cargo company and a second company that arranged the shipment.

A lawyer for 21 Air, Alberto N. Moris, said Friday that the company was never formally notified by Venezuela of any arms seizure and had no knowledge of the cargo that was aboard its plane since it had been chartered by a second company.

“All of the cargo on board our aircraft was from the GPS-Air, who chartered the aircraft,” Moris said. The Transportation Security Administration “is going to investigate the party responsible for the cargo,” he added.


“Only a fool would try sending guns out of the airport,” said Cesar Meneses, who identified himself as a manager at the cargo shipper, which has done business with 21 Air and other companies. He said the arms shipment report was a fabrication by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to make himself appear as a victim.


Because there is no one in the US State security apparatus who has expressed interest in overthrowing the Maduro government. (Not)

The denials only added to the mystery of the alleged shipment — a mystery compounded by perhaps coincidental ties between the chairman and a key employee of 21 Air with a company that Amnesty International says once took part in a CIA program to whisk suspected terrorists to “black site” jails around the world, a procedure known as rendition.

The chairman and majority owner of 21 Air, Adolfo Moreno, has set up or registered at least 14 other companies in Florida over the past two decades. Among the people brought on to 21 Air when it formed in 2014 was Michael Steinke, its director of quality control.

Both men appear to have either coincidental or direct ties to Gemini Air Cargo, a company that Amnesty International described in a 2006 report as being among more than 30 air charter services believed to have taken part in a CIA program of rendition in which suspected terrorists were abducted abroad and taken to third-country secret “black sites” for interrogation.

There is nothing to worry about though, as the CIA has never attempted to overthrow foreign governments  ……… Right?

Rule 1 of Trumpland: Trump Will Always Choose the Dick Move

Rule 2 of Trumpland is: See Rule 1.

Trump has announced his intention to declare a state of emergency to fund his border wall:

President Trump will declare a national emergency as early as Friday to bypass Congress and build his long-promised wall along the nation’s southwestern border even as he agreed to sign a spending package that does not finance it, White House officials said Thursday.

The announcement came just minutes before voting began on the spending measure, which then cleared both houses, ending a two-month war of attrition that closed much of the federal government for 35 days and threatened a second shutdown on Friday. The Senate passed it 83 to 16, and the House followed later in the evening, 300 to 128.

But if he declares a national emergency to access billions of dollars for his wall, Mr. Trump could instigate a constitutional clash over who controls the federal purse and test the bounds of presidential authority in a time of divided government. Democrats and some Republicans instantly condemned the move, with some vowing to challenge it through legislation and lawsuits.

I expect this to find its way to court, but given that 5 of the 9 Supreme Court justices are big supporters of the “Unitary Executive Theory” when the President is a Republican, so I expect another corrupt 5-4 decision supporting Trump.

Don’t worry about checks and balances though, they will reverse themselves as soon as a Democrat is back in office.

She Could F%$# Up a 2 Car Funeral

I am referring, of course to Theresa May, who just lost ANOTHER crucial Brexit vote in Parliament.

Her level of incompetence is such that it invokes that old punch line, “You don’t come here for the hunting, do you?”  (Yes, I am suggesting that she might be failing on purpose. )

The vote was non-binding, but it wasn’t even close:

Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered another Commons defeat after MPs voted down her approach to Brexit talks.

MPs voted by 303 to 258 – a majority of 45 – against a motion endorsing the government’s negotiating strategy.

The defeat has no legal force and Downing Street said it would not change the PM’s approach to talks with the EU.


The voting figures showed it was not just hardline Brexiteers that failed to support the government – a number of Tory Remainers also declined to vote, as more than a fifth of the party in the Commons failed to back the government.

Five Conservative MPs – Brexiteers Peter Bone, Sir Christopher Chope, Philip Hollobone, and Anne Marie Morris, and the pro-Remain Sarah Wollaston – even voted with Labour against the motion.

It seems that every time that Donald Trump does some remarkably stupid sh%$, Theresa May thinks, “Here, hold my beer.”

Signs of the Apocalypse

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Pai would act on behalf of the American public.

His entire history has shown him to be the big telco’s bitch:

The Federal Communications Commission will consider “regulatory intervention” if major phone companies fail to adopt a new anti-robocall technology this year.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been pressuring phone companies to implement the “SHAKEN” and “STIR” robocall-blocking protocols, which perform Caller ID authentication. Most major providers have committed to doing so, but Pai issued a warning to laggards yesterday.

“I applaud those companies that have committed to deploy the SHAKEN/STIR framework in 2019,” Pai said in his statement yesterday. “This goal should be achievable for every major wireless provider, interconnected VoIP operator, and telephone company—and I expect those lagging behind to make every effort to catch up. If it appears major carriers won’t meet the deadline to get this done this year, the FCC will have to consider regulatory intervention.”


“STIR and SHAKEN use digital certificates, based on common public key cryptography techniques, to ensure the calling number of a telephone call is secure,” telecom software provider TransNexus explains. “In simple terms, each telephone service provider obtains their digital certificate from a certificate authority who is trusted by other telephone service providers. The certificate technology enables the called party to verify that the calling number is accurate and has not been spoofed.”

SHAKEN and STIR will work best when it’s adopted by all major phone providers.

For the life of me, I cannot think of a single corrupt reason for Pai to take this action, and I cannot imagine him taking actions to further the public good.

My question therefore is, “Cui bono?”

Like Comedy, the Secret of Aircraft Manufacture is Timing

The program was old enough not to be able to benefit in advances in composites and electrically powered subsystems that were central to the Boeing 787 and the A350, but it entered service late enough that the move from hub and spoke to point to point air travel made it difficult for the aircraft to fill its seats.

With the biggest customer for the aircraft, Emirates, cutting their order there was no path to the program ever reaching profitability, and so they pulled the plug.

It’s kind of a bummer.  The A-380 is a magnificent aircraft:

Airbus announced Feb. 14 that it is terminating the A380 program.

Emirates announced it will only take 14 more A380s instead of the 53 it had on firm order so far. The order is revised and now includes 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s, according to a new heads of agreement.

“As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders said. “The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results.”

“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft,” Enders said. “Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.”

I still want to take a flight in one someday.

New Poster Child for Backpfeifengesicht, a Face That Needs to Be Punched

I am referring, of course, to Howard Schultz, who is running for President.

The self-involved whining is annoying, but when he unironically took Stephen Colbert’s joke on race and tried to pass it off as his own bit of brilliance, he jumped C. Megalodon:

Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO and potential 2020 independent presidential candidate, is facing criticism for responding to a question on racial bias by saying that he does not “see colour”.

“As somebody who grew up in a very diverse background as a young boy in the projects I didn’t see colour as a young boy and I honestly don’t see colour now,” Schultz, who is from Brooklyn, said during a CNN town hall event in Houston on Tuesday evening.

He was speaking about the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last year which ignited a racial profiling storm and prompted Schultz to close stores nationwide for four hours of staff anti-racial bias training.

This is wrong on so many levels.

First, it this expression was a bit or irony created by Stephen Colbert to mock conservatives who were claiming that racism no longer existed.

Second, he grew up in Canarsie Bayview Houses, which while federally subsidized, was middle class and largely segregated when he grew up there.

What a tool.

It Would Be Nice to See this Validated in the Courts

In what is an extremely rare rebuke, the House of Representatives voted to invoke the War Powers Act to prevent further aid to the House of Saud’s brutal war in Yemen.

It’s good policy, and good politics:  The actions in Yemen are indefensible, and it shows  Trump’s pretense of opposition to foreign wars to be false.

While I do not expect this to go very far in the Senate, it does a good job of jamming Trump and the Republican Party up.

Well played.