Friday, May 27, 2016

The Stuff of Nightmares

Sources for Johnson and Trump photos, all others are public domain.
There has been a bit of talk around the virtual water cooler at work concerning this year's Presidential race. I know some folks who are nominally Democrats (hey, it is Rhode Island after all) who don't much care for Shrillary and are uncomfortable with Comrade Bernie. Up North in the ancestral homeland I have any number of friends, family members, high school classmates, etc. who are simply ga-ga about Comrade Bernie. Whenever I mention something unfavorable about Comrade Bernie on Facebook, I get at least one "Feel the Bern" comment in response. Yes, you know who you are, there's more than one of you, I know.

Now I am a native Vermonter. Born and bred in the Green Mountain state and (used to be) proud of it*. Not so much anymore. I just don't understand the attraction of that aging socialist loon. No, I don't like him, not at all. He's another failure who somehow thinks that socialism (or communism if you will) could work "if only the right sort of people were in charge." Of course, I understand that he thinks that Castro and Chavez are the cat's meow. I guess it's because of the economic powerhouses and bastions of human rights Venezuela and Cuba have become.

(What, they're not? Sorry, my bad...)

Now that Libertarian fellow up there (one Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico) I had never heard of until this past week. I caught a blurb of an article indicating that he thinks we don't need aircraft carriers anymore. My first thought was "What a complete idiot." My second thought followed much along those lines only with more profanity. Then I did actually think about the efficacy of the modern Nimitz-class (and soon to be commissioned Ford-class, yes, I hate that name) in these modern times. Ooh, China, big bad ship killing missiles, etc., therefore we don't need carriers, the Chinese will just sink them. (I hear that from time to time, it irks me.)

My fourth thought (after careful cogitation vis-à-vis the carrier issue) followed much along the lines of my first and second, though with perhaps a bit more profanity than was absolutely necessary. Or polite.

What exactly is a Libertarian? Well, the source of all knowledge says: The Libertarian Party is a libertarian political party in the United States that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, and laissez-faire economics and abolition of the welfare state. No, I am most assuredly not a libertarian. I'm more of a monarchist. As long as I get to be the monarch. Otherwise color me as a generic conservative. Though I probably would support Robin Lee as emperor. He has interesting ideas and a bizarre sense of humor. Something I would require in a sovereign.)

So who would vote for this Johnson fellow? Those who are not Democrats but cannot abide "The Donald." Who is the presumptive Republican nominee. So in reality, by not voting for "The Donald," they are sort of voting for Shrillary. Who is the presumptive Democratic nominee. One might argue that those who won't vote (as a protest against "The Donald") are also voting for Shrillary.

Politics is confusing. It upsets my stomach and makes my head hurt. We hates it...

I have been reading about the various polls, predictions, prognostications, entrail-reading, and tea leaf scanning concerning the Presidential races. And found the following to be of some interest -


So if it's "The Donald" versus Shrillary, can you say "Madame President"? She also beats Cruz (who certain colleagues of mine refer to as "The Devil." Seriously, why don't people like the Tedster?)

Now Kasich would beat Shrillary in this poll. Not that close either. I am puzzled that I know next to nothing about Kasich. Other than one of my colleagues assuring me that "he would make a good President." As the chap voted for Obummer, twice, I can't say I am altogether confident in his judgement as to who would make a good President. (In his defense, he now regrets voting for The One, the second time anyway.)

Of course, Comrade Bernie beats "The Donald," Cruz, and Kasich. (No, not all at once, that would be silly. Not to mention probably illegal. Each party gets one candidate. So I'm told.)

So why are the Dems so high on Shrillary? Is it because it's "her turn"? Is she the heir to the Obama "legacy"? (Whatever the Hell that is.)

Why are the establishment Republicans so down on the Trumpster? I mean I understand it at some levels. The man is a bit of an ass, a demagogue, and I don't really trust his judgement. He's no statesman. Admittedly I have a deep distrust of businessmen. Oh, maybe that's why the Republican Establishment doesn't care for him. In truth, he ain't one of them. Maybe that's a good thing? (I have no love for the Republican Establishment. Bunch of know-it-all and RINOs.)

So Sarge, who would you prefer to see as the Republican candidate? Glad you asked. This guy:
Louisiana Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal

I had the opportunity to listen to a long interview with him on the radio whilst traveling to the ancestral homeland to visit Madame Mère. I was impressed with him, truly I was. (Even though I found his support of Common Core somewhat baffling. Meh, we all have our faults. Won't be me casting the first stone!) Yes, you're right, I shan't be holding my breath awaiting a Jindal run in 2016.

So those are the players. One colleague finds the prospect of a Trump Presidency terrifying. His candidacy and his behavior smacks of something from 1930s Germany. His fiancée's Dad survived the Holocaust. She refuses to watch the news anymore. As an amateur historian who has studied that period in depth, she has every reason to be nervous, at the very least.

Same colleague figures that Shrillary would be a horrid President, in fact, he figures she'll be impeached and then imprisoned within her first year in office. If she gets that far. Some of us think that she'll be indicted sometime this summer.

But then who will run for the Democrats? The Democratic Establishment has no love for Comrade Bernie, who, as I mentioned above, isn't really a Democrat.

So perhaps a four (maybe five) way race. Johnson, "The Donald," Shrillary, and maybe Cruz or Kasich running as independents. Hell, the Comrade might go that route himself. (A six way race for President? What are we, Europe? No, not yet. But close.)

What's my nightmare? Joe "Junior Mints" Biden steps up to the plate at the last minute and offers himself to save the Democratic Party.

The voters, totally confused by the sight of Shrillary in an orange jumpsuit (issued by the state), "The Donald's" weird looking orange hair, Comrade Bernie's increasingly ludicrous promises of "free stuff" (for which someone has to pay, even the Sandernistas will figure that out eventually) and everyone wondering why Cruz and Kasich are still campaigning, will throw their reluctant support behind the Vice President. Even though they wouldn't want him anywhere near their daughters.

The outcome (in my nightmare) looks like this:

Hail President Biden!

Oh, and the Special Advisor to the President. Of course.

Yeah, the stuff of nightmares.

Though Biden isn't looking all that bad, considering the others.

I think he'll come out of the woodwork and soon. Should be interesting.

Of course, if Shrillary doesn't go to jail, then she wins and we will know that the fix was in from Day One. If she gets elected, I might actually miss The One.

Nah, that won't ever happen...

* Rather like I used to be proud of the Air Force. Sigh...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stopping to Smell the Roses

Heading home after a long day...
So after eight straight serious (dare I say ranting) posts. I suddenly felt the need to chop the throttles and slow down. You almost got another rant today after I heard Shrillary shrieking at her feckless followers on the radio. I mean for crying out loud that voice of her's just grates on my nerves. Like fingernails on a freaking chalkboard. (Do the chilluns even know what a chalkboard is? Well, I reckon they could Google it...)

At any rate I switched the radio to the O.F.F. mode and nearly started cussing a blue streak. Then this popped into my head...

Ah yes, the dulcet tones of the Wicked Witch of the West. Well, at least compared to the voice of that screeching harpy running for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

At that point hilarity in the cockpit of the vehicle ensued. Odd considering how traffic was moving at maybe 5 MPH (that's 8.04672 km/h for you metric types, pretty damn slow no matter how you measure it). I'm sure the surrounding drivers thought me a right loon.

So, the political rant I had been mulling over today flew right out the window.

Yup, just like those flying monkeys. (Was that a Trump rally towards the end of that clip? Couldn't really tell in all the excitement.)

Anyhoo, it was a beautiful day here in Little Rhody. So I decided to take the night off. Toss a couple of photos your way, a couple of Tube O' You clips, make good. And we're on our way.

See you tomorrow. I'm gonna go outside and pine for the fjords. Or something...

When the sun shines on the bay...
Red, white, and blue center line. Why I must be on the parade route. What parade? Why the oldest Fourth of July parade in the country. (The world really...)

Do, do, do, lookin' out my backdoor...
(Okay, technically it's the view from my driveway, I claim artistic license.)
The birds they were a singing, the bees they were a buzzing.

Yup, way too nice a day to spoil with a rant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Don't You Know There's A War On?

Marine barracks, Beirut International Airport. 1983. (Source)
In response to a Juvat comment yesterday, I offered this -
In wartime we get fighting generals, in peacetime we get shoe clerks. I don't know what you call the times we're in now. Feels like wartime, civvies think it's peacetime.
Forgive me for thinking that we're at war. I mean the United States is right now, at this very minute, involved in combat operations with an armed and determined enemy. To me, that's war. But not so according to any number of definitions of war I found on the Web of World-Wideness, to wit...

From Duhaime's Law Dictionary:
War Definition:
    The use of violence and force between two or more states to resolve a matter of dispute.
"War has been defined almost always as the employment of force between governments or entities essentially like governments, at least de facto....

"The cases establish that war is a course of hostility engaged in by entities that have at least significant attributes of sovereignty. Under international law war is waged by states or state-like entities.... (W)ar (is) a contention between two or more States through their armed forces. War is that state in which a nation prosecutes its right by force.

"English and American cases dealing with the insurance meaning of war have defined it in accordance with the ancient international law definition: war refers to and includes only hostilities carried on by entities that constitute governments at least de facto in character."
-- These were the words adopted by Justice Hays of the United States Court of Appeals in the 1974 case, Pan American World Air v. Aetna.  (Source)
From Black's Law Dictionary Online:
What is WAR?

A state of forcible contention; an armed contest between nations; a state of hostility between two or more nations or states. Gro. de Jur. B. lib. 1, c. 1. Every connection by force between two nations, in external matters, under the authority of their respective governments, is a public war. If war is declared in form, It is called "solemn," and is of the perfect kind; because the whole nation is at war with an- other whole nation. When the hostilities are limited as respects places, persons, and things, the war is properly termed "imperfect war." Bas v. Tingy, 4 Dall. 37, 40 1 L. Ed. 731. (Source)
What does Merriam-Webster have to say on the topic?
    1     a (1) :  a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2) :  a period of such armed conflict (3) :  state of war
          b :  the art or science of warfare
          c (1) obsolete :  weapons and equipment for war (2) archaic :  soldiers armed and equipped for war

    2    a :  a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism
          b :  a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end <a class war> <a war against disease>
          c :  variance, odds (Source)
What I derive from all that is that the legal definition of war tends to lean towards a state of hostilities between two (or more) states. Seems that Justice Hays stretched that definition to include entities which act as or are de facto states. Think the Taliban, think al Qaeda, think ISIS or any other of a number of organized "thuggeries". Hell, you could probably make an argument for MS-13 and the like being de facto governments or states. I'm quite certain that their rule is the law in the areas they control or hold sway over. (Which is pretty much the same, the latter being rather outside the law. At least that's how I see it.)

I believe that we are war with "certain elements" in the world who have the goal of destroying "Civilization As We Know It." They want to replace our culture and our institutions with a culture which is both medieval and inimical to individual freedom.

We are not alone in this fight, there are other nations fighting beside us who see the threat and, more importantly, understand the threat. Perhaps, in some cases, better than the American public understands the threat. All that being said, look around, does it look like or feel like we're at war?

Why no Sarge, no it doesn't.

Unless of course you are on active duty. Or know (and care about) someone who is on active duty. Then the threat of deployment, possible combat, possible injury or death is very real. Yup, sure feels like a war when you're on the ground at the "Two way shooting range" (as Alemaster so eloquently put it). Or when you're watching your kid (or someone else's kid for that matter) head out to far away places where the skies ain't so friendly and the locals might try and kill you, given the chance.

While I don't think we should all be wearing sack cloth and using our ration books to buy necessaries (think WWII, when many things were rationed to support the war effort), you'd think we could try and remember. While this isn't that kind of war, yet, it could go that far. The Russians aren't throwing their weight around in the Baltic for the fun which is in it. (Or bullying Ukraine.) Nor are the Red Chinese building islands on reefs to support fisheries. Nope, those are both aggressive and (semi-)hostile societies. If we're perceived as weak...

Yup, too late on that one!

Don't get me started on what's happening in the Middle East. Do you think for a minute that if (when?) enough of them show up as refugees (already happening in Europe) that they won't start demanding sharia courts (think the UK, already happening there) and taking to the streets in violent protests should they be denied?

Think "fifth column," it's already in place overseas. Don't think it can't happen here. If people don't care, it can and will happen.

Not at war?

Think again...

We've been at war for a very long time. Only the G.I.s seem to remember...

Hostages taken at U.S. Embassy in Tehran - 1979, perpetrated by Iranian revolutionaries.

Bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, 1983 - perpetrated by Hezbollah
  • 62 dead (17 of whom were American)
  • 120 wounded 
Bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, 1983 - perpetrated by Iran?
  • 5 dead
  • 86 wounded
Attack on the Marine Barracks, Beirut, Lebanon, 1983 - perpetrated by Hezbollah
  • 305 dead (220 U.S. Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers; 58 French paratroopers; six civilians)
  • 75 wounded
Kidnapping and murder of CIA Station Chief William Buckley, Beirut, Lebanon, 1984 - perpetrated by Hezbollah?

United States embassy annex bombing, Beirut, Lebanon, 1984 - perpetrated by Hezbollah
  • 23 Dead (2 American dead, one soldier. one sailor)
USS Stark, Persian Gulf, 1987 - A single Iraqi fighter aircraft, firing one Exocet
  • 37 dead
  • 21 wounded
The First World Trade Center Bombing 1993 - perpetrated by al Qaeda
  • 6 Dead
  • 1042 non-fatal injured
USS Cole 2000 - perpetrated by al Qaeda
  • 17 dead
  • 39 wounded
The 9/11 attacks - perpetrated by al Qaeda
  • 2977 dead
  • 6000+ non-fatal injured
(FWIW- none of those numbers above include the assholes who perpetrated the attacks.)

Not to mention the many aircraft hijackings. One cruise ship. The Berlin disco bombing. Not at war?

Guess again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lead, Follow, or Get the Hell Out of the Way*

Follow Me! - Iron Mike, Fort Benning Georgia
Photo by John D. Helms (Source)
While casting about for a topic for today's post, a couple of things in Juvat's latest offering kept coming to mind. Mostly this -
The wing commander went on to wear a couple of stars.  Vegas and Ricks retired as O-6s. Ras made Major at the first opportunity, 3 years below the zone, and retired as a Major.
You see, that wing commander Juvat mentioned had about the same level of flying experience as one of his junior officers. One would expect that a man of that rank (colonel) and that length of time in service would have more flying time than a JO**. It was obvious to me that that particular officer had probably spent a lot of time in staff jobs, not flying jobs. It would be my guess that that fellow was a shoe clerk wearing pilot wings. Not a fighter pilot.

Now the fact that Ed Rasimus, a superb stick with over 250 combat missions up north as a Thud and Phantom pilot retired as a major still sticks in my craw. The man was a proven combat pilot and leader. Did he go on to wear stars?

No, he did not.

Robin Olds, another proven combat pilot who did eventually get a star should have gone on to lead the entire damn Air Force. Did he?

No, he did not.

Now the title of today's post is something I have always adhered to. One of my biggest failings is my inability to know when to "get the Hell out of the way." I can lead, I can follow, but sometimes I will butt heads with folks who have been "appointed and anointed" to lead an effort. Sometimes the result ain't so good. I tell you, it's tough to follow someone who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel." But sometimes you just have to drive on and embrace the suck.

I am mellowing though, in my old age. Sometimes it's just easier to get out of the way and let the "appointed and anointed" ones screw the pooch so badly that things go completely sideways. Sigh, FUBAR situations are only fun from a distance.

With that being said, here are some of my favorite quotes concerning leadership. (Which I got from here. There are many more. Some better than others. YMMV.) The first one should be tattooed on the forehead of every business school graduate.

"You manage things; you lead people." - Grace Murray Hopper

Need I mention that that lady was an officer in the Naval Service and is a legend in my current career field? An extremely smart person!

Alrighty then, here's the list...
  • "Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." - George S. Patton Jr.
  • "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."- Abraham Lincoln
  • "The supreme quality of leadership is integrity." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • "Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned." - Harold Geneen
  • "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • "Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand." - Colin Powell
  • "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." - John F. Kennedy
  • "No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it." - Andrew Carnegie
  • "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill
  • "A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • "Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm." - Publilius Syrus
  • "Wise leaders generally have wise counselors because it takes a wise person themselves to distinguish them." - Diogenes of Sinope
  • "I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through- then follow through." - Edward Rickenbacker
  • "A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent." - Douglas MacArthur
  • "The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." - Ronald Reagan
  • "Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you." - Margaret Thatcher
  • "A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them."- M. D. Arnold
Good words those, now if only more of our current "leaders" would adhere to some of those things. I think we'd be much better off.

Yeah, I know. Probably not going to happen.

But I can dream.

Can't I?

* The title is an old saying, attributed to General George S. Patton, Jr. - “We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.”

** JO = Junior Officer, O-1 through O-3.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Why mass-suckage?

Dang!  Has Sarge been on a roll lately or what?  As of 1300 Sunday, 180 comments on 6 posts?  Not bad for our little corner of the blogosphere.  But, as I sit here warming up in the bullpen, I'm a little nervous as I prepare to make my pitch.  

Oh well, in for a penny, in for a trillion dollars (a small homage to his post on Taxes, in case you didn't get it).

A comment by Dave ("...Saw the beginnings of mass-suckage in the late sixties.") got me to thinking about Sarge's post, the two GOFOs pictured therein and WTF has been going on in the Air Force.  I've been wondering about that for quite some time and the Service's apparent death spiral is, in fact, one of the reasons I decided to retire.  Dave's comment got me to ponder when I first noted that spiral, since the comment indicated it had begun long before I had joined. 

I think the first suck-based reality check occurred when I was a Senior in College.  I started College in '73 and it's now '77. The ROTC detachment had about 250 cadets.  About half were on contract, meaning they had "taken the queen's shilling" and had committed to the Air Force.  The rest were undecided underclassmen.  Of that hundred or so upperclassmen, about half were holding pilot slots, which really only meant they had taken the flying class I physical and met those requirements and had a desire to fly. So, roughly, 25 per class.  

It's early in the spring semester.  Graduation requirements are all but met.  We've put in our dream sheets, not that they carried any weight whatsoever for the pilot candidates.  Like we'd turn down Vance because we didn't get Williams?  Yeah, right...

In any case, we're notified of a mandatory meeting of all the Senior cadets.  I show up at the appointed time and the Professor of Aerospace Studies (PAS), the O-6 in charge of the detachment, walks in with the rest of the staff.  He doesn't look happy.  He begins with "As you all know, the military in general is beginning a drawdown in forces.  That drawdown will affect you....."  My "Oh S4!t" meter pegs.

He speaks for a few minutes as the staff is passing out envelopes.  He then directs us to open the envelopes and read the enclosed letter.

It begins "The Air Force is reducing the number of pilot slots to comply with a mandated reduction in force size...."  I stop reading at that point and fold it up.  I'm pretty well devastated and sit there thinking "Now what?"  I notice similar expressions on the faces of nearly all the guys in the room.  "Good Lord, how many got axed?"  One guy, who's blind as a bat and going to Missiles, let's out a whoop!  "I guess he's staying."  Which was ok, he was a nice guy, with a very pregnant wife, so I'm relieved for him. 

The PAS dismisses us and as I get up to walk out, he stops me and offers congratulations.  I'm dumbfounded.  Congratulations because I lost my slot?  The only thing I've wanted to do all my life?  I just look at him.  He asks to see my letter.  I hand it to him.  He reads it, lets out a sigh and hands it back to me.  He says "Read the last line...Only!"  I read it.  "Congratulations on having retained your pilot slot."  That was the only difference between my letter and the one that went out to all the other pilot candidates except one other.  Two of us retained our slot out of 25.  

Some personnel wienie figured it was easier to write one letter and add an additional line to the few that made it rather than write two separate letters.  Thanks buddy!  I thought about that letter later on when I was on a staff tour and heard the line "Bottom line up front."  Wish that had been the policy at Air University.

I'm commissioned and have finished UPT.  I'm now at Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT), learning the basics of maneuvering and employing a fighter while actually flying an aircraft I'm already checked out in, the AT-38.  

Unlike UPT, where the majority of IPs are Lieutenants or junior Captains on their first flying assignment (First Assignment Instructor Pilots or FAIPs), the IPs here are all experienced fighter pilots with at least two tours under their belts and many of them have combat time.  Most are senior Captains with a few junior Majors thrown in.

If arrayed into some kind of matrix based on skills, I'd describe it as a standard bell curve albeit centered further to the right on the competency axis than most flying squadrons.  

I learned quite a bit about flying, fighters and the Air Force from them.  One of the things I did note, however was that quite a few of them had their papers in.  They were leaving the Air Force,  this was in the last few years of the second worst President ever's term and there were plenty of reasons for people to leave.  And the airlines were hiring.

The one thing that sticks in my mind though was which type people were leaving.  It wasn't the people at the far right of the Bell Curve.  They knew they were good and were going to go far in the AF.  Strangely, it wasn't the people at the far left of the curve either.  It was the people in the middle, and they were leaving in droves.  I'm pretty sure that of the Captains that were eligible to separate in my squadron, to count the ones remaining wouldn't require even one hand.  

That gave me a little niggle of worry, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why I was concerned.

It was the same thing at RTU and when I got to Kunsan, and joined the Juvats.  Most of the mid-grade Captains had their papers in and were getting out and flying with the airlines.  I served that tour and returned to the US just in time to see Reagan inaugurated and the Reagan buildup begun.  Flying hours were abundant, new jets were developed, all was well in the world, but the damage was done.

My opinion is, to revisit the Bell Curve theory, the great ones stayed because they knew they would run things, the good ones, the ones one or two standard deviations either side of the center of the bell, left because they knew they could make it on the outside and didn't see any reason to stay and live with the way things were going.  And the ones to the left, stayed because they knew that if they stayed, they'd make it because there was no one else left.  The AF had to promote them.

And they were right.

At some point in my education, I came across a thought that went something like this.  Grade A people hire Grade A people because they know they can handle them.  Grade B people hire Grade A or Grade B people because they know they need the quality product and can live with the difficulties.  Grade C people hire Grade D people because they need to feel important.

I think there's some validity in that.  It certainly seems true as I look at people around me today in the Public Education field.  But back to the Air Force.

The great ones (Grade A) hired Grade A people, and the AF prospered for it.  But the Reagan Buildup is underway and the AF ran out of Grade A People, so Grade B people filled in, and tried to hire Grade A or B people but there weren't any available.  Grade C were hired which resulted in their promotion.  They then hired the Grade D people and promoted them.  That cycle has continued ever since.  

After my second operational flying assignment, I was assigned to Holloman as a LIFT IP.  TAC at the time had what I thought was a wonderful program.  Our flight suits were modified with a small patch on the right sleeve, just above the cuff.  A small piece of cloth was sewn on that had a silver star on it for each 500 hours of Pilot in Command time a pilot had.  So if he had 1 star, he had between 500 and 999 hours of time in a fighter.  Two meant 1000-1499 and so on.  If a pilot had even one hour of combat time as pilot in command he was authorized to wear a gold star.  Two gold stars meant he had 500-999 hours of Combat time.  I showed up with 1 maybe 2 silver stars. I was comfortable with them.  They were where I should be in my career at the time.  Ed Rasimus was my IP during IP upgrade.  He had 9 total stars  (4500 hours) with 3 of them being gold (between 1000-1500 hours of combat time).  He wasn't the only one with similar credentials.  Bill Ricks (one of the other Lt's in "There is a Way") was the ADO and had a similar sleeve full.  As did Vegas.

In short, with a quick glance at a pilot's arm, you got an instant assessment of his credibility.  

The Air Force quickly figured this out and "Experience Stars delenda est".  Before that happened though, we had a new wing commander assigned.  Vegas had hired me as the Wing Scheduler, which meant I had to brief the wing commander every Wednesday on the following week's flying schedule.  The DO (Vegas), ADO (Ricks), Maintenance Director, the four flying squadron commanders as well as the academic squadron commander and a few other flunkies would all be in attendance.  It was usually a blood bath.  But it was almost always a predictable blood bath.  You see, the wing commander had two white stars, same as I.  Two of the 5 squadron commanders were in the same general category both with number of stars and color thereof.  The other pilots in the room had rather more stars in total and all had multicolored stars.  The brickbats thrown by the first group all had to do with spelling errors on charts or how they could be better worded to make their points.  Or they really raised a howl if I featured a statistic that made them look anything less than absolutely excellent.  The brickbats thrown by the second group were all about actual problems with the schedule and ways to fix them.  This went on for about 6 weeks and I was getting tired of it.  I went to my Squadron Commander and asked him for advice.

"Boss, how do I avoid getting beaten up at the scheduling meeting every @#$@@!! week?"

He said, "Send the slides to the commanders the morning of the meeting, so they can get their excuses in order.  And, don't worry about any comments except from the DO, ADO and Maintenance Director.  And me, of course."

I thought that was very telling.  

And that was after only a couple of cycles.  The wing commander went on to where a couple of stars.  Vegas and Ricks retired as O-6s.  Ras made Major at the first opportunity, 3 years below the zone, and retired as a Major. 

 I came back to the states after 3 years in PACAF and went to a fighter bar.  Nary a person wearing experience stars to be seen.  

The people who were/are in the left hand corner of the competence bell curve are now running the circus.  After 20-30 years of this self selection, any competent people have all but been driven out before they're selected for O-5 command and almost certainly before any further command because competency is not attainable for the incompetent. The competent must be eliminated. A new found method of eliminating the competent leaders is the IG system, where any perceived slight by a commander of a person in their command is an IG complaint, veracity is not required.  This complaint becomes the kiss of death for that commander's career and quite possibly their personal life. Problem solved, competent officer removed from competition and another turn of the Air Force's death spiral is completed.

There used to be a saying in the Air Force. "There's only two kinds of people in the Air Force, Fighter Pilots and Shoe Clerks.  Being a Fighter Pilot is not an AFSC, it's an attitude.  A shoe clerk is someone who has forgotten that the mission of the Air Force is to fly and fight."  That statement, being rather un-PC, has no doubt been abolished.  The Shoe Clerks have won.

BTW-I believe my Wife, the former Personnel Officer, was solidly in the Fighter Pilot category, as is Sarge.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One For You, Nineteen For Me

The Tax Collector
Nikolay Vasil'yevich Orlov
Now let me state right up front, I don't mind paying my fair share. Roads cost money, airports cost money. As I use those, I don't mind paying for them.

I was in the military for 24 years, the taxpayers of this fine nation paid me, fed me, trained me, clothed me, and housed me. All three kids either served or are still serving. That's part of our tax dollars at work.

Yes, our tax dollars, I did have to pay taxes while on active duty, kind of an odd situation that...

"Sarge, here's your pay."

"Why thankee Uncle Sam."

"Now give me some of it back."

"Um, sure, okay..."

I've had that explained to me, I've explained it to my troops. It all comes out in the wash.

So I'm told.

But there is a lot of abuse, fraud, and downright thievery in the tax system. Seems pretty stupid to write the tax code such that one needs a lawyer and an accountant to figure it all out. Thank the good Lord that the people who wrote the tax code didn't write the Constitution.

Though apparently the government thinks you need a lawyer to understand the Constitution. Well, maybe the Congress critters do but...

Hey, wait a minute. Aren't they mostly lawyers themselves? (At least now we know where the bottom third of law school graduates find jobs.)

Anyhoo, found the following out on the Tube O' You. Thought it humorous in a sick sort of way. So I share it here.

It's what I do.

I share.

Absolutely brilliant, neh?

And a cover of the original, just in case you're a young'un for whom all this was before your time. It's a cover because the copyright demons have swept the Interwebz free of the original by The Beatles. You should go out and purchase a copy of their Revolver album. Arguably The Beatles' best album, if not the best album of anybody's ever. Revolutioned music it did. IMHO. (And this is a pretty fine cover of that tune.)

Yup, taxes. A necessary evil.

Nonetheless, evil.


Saturday, May 21, 2016


The Gordon Riots - John Seymour Lucas (Source)
From time to time throughout history, the people decide that they have had quite enough of their rulers, their policies, laws, and bureaucracies. Sometimes a change in a law will cause unrest, even rioting, amongst those who don't like what has changed. In many cases the police will be called out and a show of force will suffice to cause the angry crowds to disperse.

Sometimes that is not enough, sometimes violence will be employed against the crowd. At times in the past blood has been shed. Often, that will cause the crowds to flee. Sometimes they won't take to the streets again, they have been sufficiently cowed to trouble the government no more. Sometimes though, they simply withdraw, treat their wounded, bury their dead, and start planning. Organizing. Plotting.

That was the way for centuries throughout the world. That was the way of the world when kings and emperors sat upon thrones and ruled by "divine right." So they claimed.

In the United States the yoke of monarchy was thrown off in the period from 1775 to 1783 which we in this country generally refer to as The Revolutionary Wars. In some ways it was a clean break. The British Army went home, we stayed and began building a country. Needless to say, not everyone was happy with the outcome. Many Americans left the United States, returning to Great Britain, the Mother Country from which their ancestors had departed. Many of those people felt no more at home there than they did in the new United States. They weren't really welcomed in either place. Many fled to Canada.

But the revolution was over. The enemy was gone. Many revolutions did not have such outcomes.

Nearly bankrupted by the support provided to the United States, the French government was on shaky ground. New taxes were raised, but the people weren't having it. The French Revolution ensued. Many of the nobility fled France, many could not and died. The kings of Europe didn't care for all this talk of Liberty, Brotherhood, and Equality. They invaded.

The French rallied and managed to defeat the armies of the kings and emperors. But the monarchs vowed to return and fight until the revolution was crushed. Which led to the rise of Napoléon and a series of bloody wars lasting for years. The effects of those wars echoed into the 20th Century. Whereby an exhausted France, having lost thousands of young men in the wars of the Revolution and the Emperor barely managed to stand against the Germans in 1914.

They were unable to stand at all in 1940.

The Russian Revolution was brutal and eventually led to the virtual enslavement of half of Europe. Literally millions died directly due to that revolution and millions more died at the hands of the brutes who seized power in Russia.

Mao's revolution in China also killed millions. It caused the enslavement of millions more. Don't think so? Talk to a Tibetan, or a Mongolian.

Revolutions are nasty things. When I wrote of the Second American Revolution the other day, I mentioned the cost in lives, over 900,000 Americans died. Out of a population of approximately 32 million. Think of it, over two percent of the population died in a period of four years. The bitterness and anger still lingers to this day.

This election year frightens me like no other. The nation seems torn, at least the media wants us to believe that is the case. Many will listen to that divisive poison. I'm not one of them. No matter who the candidates are this November, think carefully of the direction you want this nation to go in. Very carefully.

Voting is the answer, making your voice heard to your representatives is the answer. Revolution is not.

Trust me, you don't want this...
Barricade rue Soufflot - 
Horace Vernet (Source)