Political Lomcevak (Tumbling the Liberal Mindset)
Friday, April 18, 2003
I thought I would go with the airline stuff today.
First off, what the hell is the problem with the American Airlines Executives. I am a libertarian leaning conservative, but crap like this gets my goat. You don't go and ask your employees for large cuts in pay, while threatening imminent bankruptcy, and then sign off on a bonus, just after the employees had a vote. And also protecting your pension, while not protecting your employees' pension is disgraceful. I believe that most corporate officers are decent folk who actually feel for their employees, but this is ludicrious. And the argument (look in the comments section) that the impact of executive salary bonus is not the same as the employee salary diminishment does not wash with me. To act that way is in very poor form. It creates an us versus them relationship that is corrosive to the airline, and to further negotiation. AMR is far from out of the woods, and when they go hat in hand to their employees again, I doubt they are going to get shit. Of course, that doesn't matter since if the airline goes bankrupt, the executives get to stay on as debtors in possession and cram down any plan on their employees. Actually this action does not surprise me. I have a number of friends that work for AMR and they have always complained about their treatment at the hands of management. For instance, AMR will not hire from their regional subsidiaries into the main line. Why? No one knows, but it creates intensely bad feelings amongst the crews. Especially when they know they are getting badly paid.
However, that may change, since Delta is also bleeding red ink..
You have to understand one aspect of the airline industry before you can understand its problems. The industry is heavily unionized. I personally think that this hurts the industry, and it hurts the employees. Almost all the employees, or at least the well paid ones are unionized. This basically means the pilots, mechanics, and the flight attendants. To compound the problem, all these employees run on a seniority system. When you get hired, you get a number. This lets you bid on locations that you want to work, aircraft you want to fly, and routes you want to work. This has two very bad effects.
The first one, curiously, is one that is adverse to the employees. Because you cannot lateral over to another airline, since you would have to go to the back of the seniority line, you are tied to your airline. Everything about your job is tied to your seniority; your pay, your level of management, your location, and your hours of work. The longer the employees are there, the more they have invested in the airline. And the airline is basically stuck with the employees, since it cannot really fire them. I believe that a workforce that was able to transition would work far better. It is curious that the seniority system has created an environment where the airline can treat its employees like dirt, since where else are they going to go? And the employees can't really come down terribly hard on the airline, since if they kill it, where else are the going to go? See the ugly merry go round?
The second is that it creates a very inefficient workforce. You do not get your best and brightest rising to the top. You get the most senior. Not only that, the airlines can get people switching aircraft at very inopportune times. At any time that a pilot reaches a specific level, he can transition to a new position. It is very expensive to train people on new equipment, especially aircraft captains. It would be much better to pay them to stay in the equipment they initially trained in. However, with the seniority system you do not have that much control over it.
What makes me say all this? Before I went to school, I worked in the industry for a while. It had become time for me to either make my move for the major airlines, or move on and do something else. I sat down, and took a close look at the industry, and decided that it was a financial disaster. Thus far I have been correct in that belief.
So, if anyone has an idea on how to run a large airline, with many different route lengths, including international, (This boots out Southwest) let me know. We could make a fortune.
In other news, could someone explain to me why anyone listens to Chuck Schumer. He apparently wants to require all airliners to put anti-missile technology on EVERY aircraft in the fleet. The article also talks about the airports fortifying the areas about their airports. Both ideas are a waste of time, and a huge waste of money.
Firstly, take a missile like the Russian SA-18. The thing has a range of 5200 (15,600 feet) meters, and a ceiling of 3500 (10,500 feet) meters. The Stinger is about the same. This is a massive amount of terrain that you would have to cover in order to forestall a launch. And commercial aircraft can be below 10,000 feet for an extended period of time. Therefore, in a city like Los Angeles you would have to defend the whole of the Los Angeles Basin area, including the hills, against someone pulling one of these out of a truck, and firing it. The task is definitionally impossible.
Secondly, anti-missile defenses could cost 3 million a pop. There are approximately 4652 mainline aircraft in the US commercial fleet. This does not include the regional carriers, or other national carriers. In addition, the 3 million does not count maintenance cost, training costs, and other related costs. These costs include loss of revenue due to additional weight, and the extra fuel cost of flying the extra weight. In addition, we are not at all certain that the thing would work. Military doctrine requires a swift change in direction and hard manuevering when deploying these devices, something a commercial airliner cannot do at approach speeds. The article also makes note that airliners have two engines and therefore may survive a rocket hit. This is something I doubt. The engineers never designed redundancy in this fashion. Every airliner I have ever heard of absorbing exterior missile damage has fared very badly.
Therefore, we are going to have to face the fact that the airline industry in this country is absolutely vunerable to this type of attack. There is nothing we could do.
However, as you can see reality has no bearing on the mind of Chuck Schumer. He wants to fit one of these exorbitantly priced, unknown efficacy devices on to every aircraft in the fleet. Can you imagine the cabin announcement? "Ladies and gentleman, if the ECM sensor in our cockpit lights up, we will be forced to Split S, as trained, to avoid the problem (Please look to the seatback in front of you for an explanation of a Split S). Whilst doing that manuever, please feel free to reach for your airsickness bag, you will need it." I don't mean to make light of the problem, but it is fundamental to our society. On open free society will be vunerable. This is just one of the ways.
Thursday, April 17, 2003
LGF has one of the worst things I have ever seen. (This picture will make you angry beyond belief. It is also graphic)
(Cox and Forkum)
Blaster has gratuitous airplane pictures too
So the Russians go from a "liberal" reading of 1441, to strict constructionists on the sanctions on Iraq.
I personally love this line from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
"This decision cannot be automatic, it demands that conditions laid out in corresponding U.N. Security Council resolutions be fulfilled."
I am not sure you have been paying attention bud, but the "serious consequences" that the Iraqi's were threatened with for not complying with all the resolutions happened. Saddam has gone bye-bye. He is an ex-parrot. Lets try some logic. If I threaten you with serious consequences. If you do not comply with the stated conditions and bring the serious consequences about, doesn't that invalidate the conditions? But then again, this was never about the WMD's, was it? I am also slightly nervous, since it sounds like the Russians might possibly have had the opportunity to transfer Iraq's WMD, and know we can't find them. It sounds far-fetched, but why would they play this game otherwise. They must kow that if the WMD's are there to find, it is only a matter of time before we find them.
"For the Security Council to take this decision, we need to be certain whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or not."
And Igor, we are working on it. What we have made sure of is that any weapons are not a threat.
Also, the French are in on this also. For any nation that supports the UN to not understand that the French and Russians seem intent on completely destroying the UN, is rank idiocy. The Bush Administration is not going to stand for this. And in case you are in need of refresher, the French and Russians tried to end sanctions for years before this military action. Now remember that the media, and every liberal will argue that this is not true. You will go out of your mind pointing out the discontinuity between their position now, and their position then. You will be wasting your breath, don't bother.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Oh, last thing. All your base are belong to us. (Click on the movie)
If you have never had the chance to read Orsen Scott Card's political writings, go here, and prepare to enjoy.
I also found that I had been linked by The American Scene, one of the best blogs out on the web. Go and check it out.
Jared, over at PolitiBlog has had about enough of Billy Bentpecker to last a lifetime. I try to stay away from reading about our past President. It's bad for the blood pressure.
RealPolitik has an interesting angle on the Democrats problems. Looking at recent polling data suggests that the Dems are in for a hard time if GW keeps up the good work. What do you do if you are a Dem facing a President who has 55% approval amongst your constituency, and 78% approval amongst Independents.
Now if this were the aforementioned Billy Bentpecker, then he would hoard his approval, but not this President. Gw appears to be immediately employing his political capital in order to get his tax cuts.. Notice that the Newspaper can't resist a crack about public support.
"Bush also faces a skeptical public. Six in 10 Americans say this is not the time for more tax cuts, an Associated Press poll found."
It's funny how the media see an impediment, and Bush sees people he needs to convince.
Meanwhile my "goobernor," Gray Davis, sets records for lowest approval rating ever. Thats great, I can't wait to leave the state. To help me escape, please hit the tip jar.
Want to know how democracy is progressing in South Africa? Not too well. These two parties have been at each others throats long before the first Voortrekker showed up. If they start a power struggle, things could get ugly, very fast. Oh, and by the way, the African Union has no opinion on the Zimbabwe situation.
In news of interest to a hopeful aviation attorney, it seems that American may have staved off bankruptcy for now. This is fortunate, and I am surprised that we made it through the war without the loss of an airline. However, we are far from the other shore in this stormy sea and we may lose a mjor or two before we get to the other side.
Lastly, if you do not read Mark Steyn, then please go and sally forth to enjoy his stuff. However, I bet 99% of you do. I actually want to use on of his lines that I thought was brilliant, and something that should be spread far and wide. I think I will make it a regular feature.
If the media's version of SARS -- Snotty Anti-Rumsfeld Syndrome -- has any merit, it ought surely to be of universal application.
I love that. I am an unabashed Rumsfeld fan, and will look for symptoms, and post them whenever I find them. If you find an example, please send it too me. Not every one, just the blindlingly obvious symptoms.
For today's SARS watch
The NY Times
"We will kill them all one day, Rumsfeld and every one of them," she said, referring to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "Look at what they have done to my library."
I am sure they loved that quote.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Looking at some of the news of today
1) Peter Collins has an excellent piece in the Washington Times, about the ongoing debacle that is CNN. Some incredible quotes
"In each of these meetings, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan made their pitch: Saddam Hussein would have an hour's time on CNN's worldwide network; there would be no interruptions, no commercials. I was astonished. From both the tone and the content of these conversations, it seemed to me that CNN was virtually groveling for the interview.
How will you ever trust CNN again. I always thought they were biased, but this is ridiculous. Tony Blair wouldn't get this, and neither would any other world leader. I understand wanting to get the story out, but you have to be careful about selling your soul.
"The next day, I was CNN's reporter on a trip organized by the Ministry of Information to the northern city of Mosul. "Minders" from the ministry accompanied two busloads of news people to an open, plowed field outside Mosul. The purpose was to show us that American warplanes were bombing "innocent Iraqi farmers." Bits of American ordinance were scattered on the field. One large piece was marked "CBU." I recognized it as the canister for a Cluster Bomb Unit, a weapon effective against troops in the open, or against "thin-skinned" armor. I was puzzled. Why would U.S. aircraft launch CBUs against what appeared to be an open field? Was it really to kill "innocent Iraqi farmers?" The minders showed us no victims, no witnesses. I looked around. About 2000 yards distant on a ridgeline, two radar dishes were just visible against the sky. The ground was freshly plowed. Now, I understood. The radars were probably linked to Soviet-made SA-6 surface-to-air missiles mounted on tracks, armored vehicles, parked in the field at some distance from the dishes to keep them safe. After the bombing, the Iraqis had removed the missile launchers and had plowed the field to cover the tracks.
So the reporters would see stuff like this. However, when they reported it, people like the brave and brainless (I am sorry, but that drive into Tikrit violated many standards of intelligence that I subscribe too) Brent Sadler would reprimand them.
" On the way back to Baghdad, I explained to other reporters what I thought had happened, and wrote a report that was broadcast on CNN that night.
The next day, Brent Sadler, CNN's chief reporter at the time in Baghdad (he is now in northern Iraq), came up to me in a hallway of the al Rasheed Hotel. He had been pushing for the interview with Saddam and had urged Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan to come to Baghdad to help seal the deal. "Petah," he said to me in his English accent, "you know we're trying to get an interview with Saddam. That piece last night was not helpful."
I don't think that Mr. Jordan is aware of the damage that has been done. He seems to be blissfully unaware.
""Withholding information that would get innocent people killed was the right thing to do, not a journalistic sin," Jordan said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The TV Column.
"Some critics say if I had told my Iraq horror stories sooner, I would have saved thousands of lives," he wrote in his message to staffers. "How they come to that conclusion I don't know. Iraq's human rights record and the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime were well known before I wrote my op-ed piece. The only sure thing that would have happened if I told those stories sooner is the regime would have tracked down and killed the innocent people who told me those stories."
Okay, Mr. Jordan, lets run down this again. The problem I have, and the problem I am sure many others have is fairly simple. We understand that you wanted to defend your folks, and we can have some sympathy for that. The problem is your coverage seemed to suggest on numerous occassions, that the Administration was overblowing the case that Iraq was treating its citizens like animals. You pretended that this was not true. At first we thought you were dolts who were trying to cling to journalistic objectivity. This we can forgive. However, now we find that you knew and yet still you carried the coverage the way you did. You have no journalistic objectivity, you are media whores for dictaters. And in this country, Mr. Jordan, that is considered a problem.
Lastly, it appears that we are putting the screws to Syria. It is now time to see how much credibility we have gained in the region. SDB as some excellent thoughts. I hope that Assad, who is an amateur, and apparently not as bright as his father, will respond in the correct way.
David Warren always has a clear look at the situation
Monday, April 14, 2003
Sorry for the time off, but finals are coming, and so begins the 18 hour days (yech)
Quite a bit happening in the real world, unfortunately no time tonight. Here is a little stuff though.
SDB has a great article on the N. Korea situation. I think he is quite correct about the Chinese being worried about us doing the Rumsfeld two step through N. Korea.
A number of people correspond with me, something I enjoy. Some send me great pictures. Like this one.
Possibly it should now say Damascus.
Lastly, most of you know that I go to Law School. Some if you know it is driving me nuts. Why? Well, crap like this. Disability Pride Week. Yes, you heard me right.
Now if you are a right thinking person, the statement Disability Pride Week should take you aback. How is one proud to be disabled?
Look, I know there will be some people who will react with indignant rage at my amusement at this event. Please do not misunderstand me. I do not believe that disability is something amusing, but people are. Disabilities can be awful things. Should one be proud of being blind? I don't think so. It is one of those unfortunate things in life that happens to people, irregardless of their inherent positive or negative traits. It is something for the person to deal with. It is definitely not something for someone to be ashamed of.
I am all in favor of helping people out, but telling them to have pride in their disability seems to be a misplaced effort.