Tag Archives: F-35

Bits and Pieces

Jig Saw PuzzleThe Nevada legislature continues to talk about taxation issues, and talk and talk and talk and talk. No bills yet from either side just more talk and talk and talk and talk.  Full story at LV Sun.

The Reno Gazette Journal has a map with the break down by party affiliation in Washoe County.   Democrats are just barely behind in total county numbers.

Whatever would we do without the Pahrump Valley Times continuing its soap opera series on the Nye County Commission and the Nye County Sheriff’s office?  Here and here.

Two men from Ely, NV have been charged as ex-felons in possession of firearms.  [Elko Daily Free Press]  One of the two arrested is an undocumented alien, now facing deportation.  Now, remind me why Senator Dean Heller was opposed to background checks at gun shows or for Internet sales to catch — FELONS, fugitives, undocumented aliens, the mentally ill, and minors to help prevent guns from getting into their hands?  This vote may not be helping Nevada’s junior Senator:

“Nevada Dean Heller has seen a more modest decline in his approval numbers, from 47/42 right before the election to 44/41 now. However with the independent voters who were critical to his narrow victory in November, his approval has dropped from 52/37 then to now 42/42.”  [PPP]

70% of Nevadans support expanding background checks to gun shows and Internet sales. [HP]

Meanwhile, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is advising us that we can’t amend our statutes to prevent those who are on terrorist watch lists from having free and easy access to firearms.  Hint: His “logic” is a repetition of The Criminals Won’t Obey the Law argument.  Of course, criminals don’t obey laws — that is why we call them Criminals.

The Republicans can’t seem to get their narrative straight on U.S. options available for dealing with the Syrian civil war.  There’s the full on Let’s Have Another Lovely War Crowd, and the No Boots on the Ground Crowd, augmented by the I’m So Confused I’m Changing Positions faster than popcorn in a microwave group.

There’s this bit of news (old by now) from the U.S. Senate:

“The Senate moved quickly Thursday evening to help ease the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to handle automatic spending cuts set forth in the sequester. Senators unanimously approved the “Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013″ — a patch to fix the deep cuts that have furloughed air traffic controllers and delayed flights across the country. The bill gives the FAA authority to spend up to $253 million of money already in the FAA’s budget — but not allocated to pay for other things — to keep employees on the job and make sure more flights a on time. It was passed by unanimous consent, which means no senator objected.”  [NBC]

For a group that usually moves with all the expediency and alacrity of molasses off a frozen spoon, THIS is amazing.  Now how about the 70,000 youngsters kicked off the Headstart rolls? The elderly cancer patients having reduced medical services?  The reduction in the food assistance programs?  The cut backs in long term unemployment benefits? —- Crickets.

But wait, there IS a topic on which two deficit chickenhawk allies ARE willing to spend more money — the Abrams Tank. The problem is that the Pentagon doesn’t want more Abrams tanks… more at Think Progress.  We ought to file this along side the dismal story of the F-35 production problems and spending issues. [Bloomberg]

What we haven’t been hearing much about are the problems related to the Other Disaster this month, the one at the West, Texas fertilizer plant.  The major media outlets gave it scant coverage.  OSHA records show the plant hadn’t been inspected since 1985. PHMSA did an inspection in 2011 and found the plant didn’t have an emergency plan. The EPA last looked at the plant in 2006 and levied a fine for the lack of a risk management plan.   Unfortunately, the list goes on. [TP]  Congressional Democrats are asking for work place safety hearings in the wake of the disaster. [Reuters] Neither the House Agriculture Committee nor the Education and Workforce Committee have posted scheduled hearings to date on the matter.   Deregulation, a popular theme amongst the GOP membership, has created a situation in which going to work can get a person killed.

Comments Off on Bits and Pieces

Filed under Defense spending, Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, nevada taxation

The Unflyable,The Unfloatable, and the Unnecessary

Before we get too involved in the latest bubbling brouhaha from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) about yet another deficit standoff, there are still some elements of the GOP scuttling of last summer’s debt deal which deserve more attention.  On May 10, 2012 Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) and Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) voted “aye” on H.R. 5652, [roll call 247] which in the simplest possible terms protected Defense Department spending from any cuts while doing violence to Department of Agriculture, Health Care, Medicaid, Financial Regulation implementation, and Social Services Block Grants including Meals on Wheels and other programs for the elderly and disabled.

This opens the opportunity to discuss what cuts to Pentagon spending might have been rationally considered?

The Unflyable F-22:  Last Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stepped in to announce new flight restrictions on this troubled aircraft, “…Panetta endorsed Air Force efforts to figure out why some F-22 pilots have experienced dizziness and other symptoms of an oxygen shortage while flying…” And, there’s more: “Panetta was briefed on the problem Friday, just days after a CBS “60 Minutes” report featured Capt. Josh Wilson and Maj. Jeremy Gordon, two F-22 pilots from Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton. Each said that during some flights, they and other pilots have experienced oxygen deprivation, disorientation and other problems. They cited safety concerns and the potential for long-term personal health problems.” [VAPlt]

“The stealth F-22 Raptor, at an estimated $420 million each, is America’s most expensive fighter jet. Despite going combat ready in late 2005, the plane has yet to take off for a single combat mission. The whole fleet, estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers up to $79 billion, was grounded for nearly five months last year as the Air Force investigated the mystery problem, but a solution was never found and the Air Force has cautiously allowed the planes to fly since.” [ABC]

The cost of the entire Social Services Block Grant Program is $1.7 billion annually.  [CBPP pdf] It would take 47 1/2 years for the Social Services Block Grant program to run up $79 billion in expenses.   But, apparently Representatives Amodei and Heck believe it’s a “better investment” to continue spending taxpayer dollars on an unflyable aircraft than Meals on Wheels?

An Unfloatable Boat:   What on earth could make us leery of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program?

“From the time the Navy accepted LCS-1 from Lockheed Martin on September 18, 2008, until the ship went into dry dock in the summer of 2011—not even 1,000 days later—there were 640 chargeable equipment failures on the ship.  On average then, something on the ship failed on two out of every three days. From the time the Navy accepted LCS-1 from Lockheed Martin on September 18, 2008, until the ship went into dry dock in the summer of 2011—not even 1,000 days later—there were 640 chargeable equipment failures on the ship. On average then, something on the ship failed on two out of every three days.”  [POGO]

But wait, it gets worse:

“These failures during deployment were not the last time LCS-1 would face significant operational challenges. Before and during the ship’s second set of rough water trials in February 2011, 17 cracks were found on the ship, according to the Navy’s Crack Monitoring Survey During Rough Water Trials Period #2 (enclosed).[13] For example, a crack over 18 inches long was found at the corner of the deckhouse near a bi-metallic strip that binds the ships aluminum deckhouse and steel hull together.”  [POGO]

What every ship needs — an 18 inch crack in the part that binds the deck and the hull together….  Think things couldn’t get worse?

“The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS-1) USS Freedom is plagued by extensive corrosion and manufacturing issues more recent and serious than anything the Pentagon or prime contractor Lockheed Martin has publicly acknowledged thus far.

This is based on a guided tour of the ship in dry dock, as well as sources intimately familiar with Freedom’s design, repairs and operations, U.S. Navy documents and defense analysts.

The vessel is rusting and blistered by corrosion in many areas, marred by crack repairs throughout the deckhouse and hampered by what appear to be flaws in vital piping systems.

Corrosion is particularly evident throughout the ship’s waterborne mission area, located at the Freedom’s stern, because of a large gap between the stern doors and the vessel’s deck floor, which allows water to pour in when the doors are closed. They are supposed to form a watertight seal (see photo.)” [Aviation Week]

Yes, the magazine has a picture.  And, how much as this LCS mess already cost U.S. taxpayers?  Answer:  $7.6 Billion. [Speier] How much did the Department of Agriculture spend on the SNAP (food stamp program) in 2011?  Answer: $75,669,320.  [SNAP annual report]  Now, divide $7.6 billion by $75.7 million — How long could we run the SNAP program?

The Dubious Double Engine:  The Bush Administration tried to kill it, the Pentagon doesn’t want it, the Senate voted it down, the House voted it down — but It’s Baacckkk!  That would be the duplicate engine for the F-35.

If we apply just a bit of imagination we can almost see this mechanical Banquo’s Ghost appear before Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who cries out: “What man dare, I dare: Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear, The arm’d rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger; Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves Shall never tremble: or be alive again, And dare me to the desert with thy sword; If trembling I inhabit then, protest me The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow! Unreal mockery, hence!” (MacBeth3:2)

However, no matter how many times the Pentagon, the Administration, or the Congress may shout out “Unreal mockery, hence!” members of the GOP in the House will resurrect it.

“Condemned as a $450 million-a-year boondoggle earmark from House leaders who represent General Electric jet engine workers, supporters on the GOP-controlled House Armed Services Committee yesterday included a provision in the fiscal 2012 Pentagon spending bill that would force the department to continue the dueling engine programs for the Joint Strike Fighter.

Section 215 of the markup from the tactical air and land forces committee, however, does not include any funding. Instead, it limits spending for improvements to the F-35 Lightning II propulsion system, now focused only on Pratt & Whitney engines, unless the secretary of defense continues with the General Electric engine project.”  [USNews May 4, 2012]

Yes, that is $450 million per year, for duplicate engines NO ONE wants.

It is all too easy to find waste and dubious transactions in the Pentagon Budget, but for all the $3,000 toilet seats and $500 hammers, there are some portions of the budget which might use more attention.

If the Pentagon could free itself from the expensive and evidently troubled programs such as those described above, could some funds be restored for military construction and family housing?  “The $4.9 billion sought for military construction and family housing is down from the $5.8 billion requested in fiscal 2011. Military construction carries that cut, as housing would see a $100 million increase over last year’s request.” [AT]

If the Defense Department didn’t have to fund duplicate engines at $450 million annually, then could we raise the pay for a new enlistee above $1,491 per month.  How many of us would put ourselves in harm’s way for $17,892 per year?  God Bless those kids, and most of them are our youngest and best, they’re barely starting out above the minimum wage, while willing to give us their maximum effort.

There are about 1,468,364 reasons to support Defense Department funding, those would be the young men and women serving this country, and they do need the best equipment we can provide. They need housing, medical services, and educational opportunities. They need better pay — what they don’t need are aircraft that can’t fly, boats that crack, and duplicate engines.   However, the Republican controlled  House of Representatives seems determined to sustain funding for DoD programs of highly dubious benefit at the expense of both our vulnerable military and civilian families.

Comments Off on The Unflyable,The Unfloatable, and the Unnecessary

Filed under Amodei, Defense spending, Heck