Thursday, April 11, 2019

Even Lindbergh couldn't save the F-35 fighter

Growing up a huge War Birds fan, my favorite was the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the twin boom, twin engine fighter. The versatile Lightning also served as a bomber and reconnaissance plane. Over 10,000 plied the skies over Germany and the South Pacific. The Luftwaffe called the deadly plane the 'Fork Tail Devil'. To the Japanese they were 'two planes, one pilot'. In early '44, civilian Charles Lindbergh was sent to the South Pacific to consult with Lightning pilots on improving their sadly lacking combat endurance. To them, Lindbergh was an over the hill aviation antique nearly twice their age who had nothing to offer. But he conned his way into illegally flying combat missions. The kids were amazed he could stay aloft ten hours to their six. He showed them how to adjust the engine and fuel mixture to achieve a 67% flying time increase. They embraced his techniques and made him part of their patrols. He flew 35 missions and shot down one enemy plane, though it was wisely erased from their combat record.

Fast forward 75 years and Uncle Sam is having trouble with another fighter, the F-35. This plane which first flew in 2006, and still faces daunting operational problems 13 years later. It's eight million lines of software code create endless bugs impacting operational efficiency. The ejection seats don't work and the plane is 2,000 lbs overweight. The Pentagon's chief weapons inspector has identified 90 separate problems reducing its usefulness. Touted as a global plane, Japan was seen as a model customer, ramping up it F35-A squadron April 1. Ten days later one of their F-35's disappeared in the Pacific on a training mission. The cost for this boondoggle that will likely never achieve even a semblance of success? $1.5 trillion.

If the Lone Eagle could come back for one day to assess the F-35, he'd just shake his head and say, "Dump it, boys, nothing can save this plane wreck". Oh yes, The F-35 is built by Lockheed. And it's name: "Lightning II"; a sad coda to the legacy of the Fork Tail Devil.

Assange arrest desperate attempt to stifle free speech

Freedom of the press took a hit yesterday with the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London. Ecuador gave Assange the boot from their London embassy after nearly seven years holed up to avoid arrest for jumping bail in Sweden to avoid questioning on sexual assault and rape charges long since dropped..British officials have spent tons of dough waiting outside the embassy to grab Assange; an inevitability once a new Ecuadorian government came under increasing US pressure to make this Journalist Enemy No. 1 available for British arrest and extradition to the former beacon of free speech. The Brits said all that expense was worth it to uphold the rule of law. Former US Attorney General said that arresting Assange was a Justice Department priority. Jumping bail, even after charges are dropped, is a crime. What's worse? Getting rid of journalists who expose criminal US wars. Assange might not be an angel. But the real devils in this matter are the war criminals prosecuting senseless wars killing untold thousands in the Middle East and Africa.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

In perpetual war America, don't forget Somalia

While most Americans are vaguely aware of our ghastly abetting of Saudi Arabia's criminal destruction of Yemen, few know America is waging murderous war in Somalia, Yemen's small neighbor across the Gulf of Aden. Somalia's fifteen million desperate souls are ducking thousands of US bombs dropped to obliterate bad guys in America's latest enemy de jour: al-Shabab. Likely not one in a million has heard of al-Shabab, much less lies awake at night fearing their imminent approach to the Homeland. This latest US enemy, which sounds more like a meal at a Middle Eastern restaurant, has incurred triple the number of airstrikes in 2017, and after a slight uptick in 2018, is on track to triple again this year. Nearly a thousand Somalis are dead and amazingly, according to US officials, not a single civilian among them. But investigators from Amnesty International now charge that at least 14 civilians were killed in just 5 of a hundred US attacks there in the past 2 years. Will any US official be called to answer for war crimes in Somalia? Based on artful US dodging of war crime charges in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Niger, Yemen and Syria, the chances

4 dead Americans in Afghanistan largely ignored by media

Anybody besides me know that 3 US soldiers and 1 US contractor were blown up in Afghanistan yesterday? Today's Trib buried the tragedy for 4 families in a 'ho-hum' article on page 7. We also learned that the US soldier death toll in Afghanistan is 7 this year, on pace to double last year's total of 13.
Meanwhile, Trump keeps making noises about leaving Afghanistan but always caves to the war party that needs perpetual war there feed the ravenous appetite of the Military-industrial Complex.
And those 4 dead Americans yesterday? They are expendable.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

As a youth I pondered actions which had unintended negative consequences. I determined I did them because 'it seemed like a good idea at the time'. That has been a mantra for the past half century; re-thinking contemplated actions which might blow up in my face. It has largely served me well.

Alas, that life lesson has yet to be learned by 36 year old actor-singer Jussie Smollett. Last January 22, Smollett, apparently disgruntled his salary north of $20,000 per episode on the Fox series Empire was insufficient, concocted a fake anti gay, anti black hate crime against the gay, black Smollett. By garbing his hired assailants in MAGA hats, Smollett scored a twofer; raising his profile by lowering that of his bete-noir Trump who needs no help bottoming out. It took a slew of detectives working overtime nearly a month to demolish Smollett's ludicrous gambit. Instead of garnering a raise, Smollett's role in Empire was deleted, and worse, garnered an indictment for filing a false police report. Though he got a pass from States Attorney Kim Fox who dropped the charges without a guilty plea, the fallout on Smollett's celebrity career is far from over. Much worse is the fallout on the delicate racial divide that infuses much public policy in Chicagoland. It has degraded the goodwill necessary between police and the States Attorney to provide both public safety and perceived legitimacy in the legal system. Smollett's reckless actions appear to have infected those of the major players in this drama including States Attorney Foxx, The Fraternal Order of Police, Congressman Bobby Rush and others who have embarked on dubious conduct or inflammatory statements. Meanwhile, meaningful, mutual cooperation to reduce unrelenting real crime becomes sidetracked.

Wouldn't it be helpful if Smollett would actually consider doing the right thing for once in this 3 month old saga: admit his wrongdoing, apologize profusely, and pay the $130,000 in police overtime chasing a fantasy crime that the city is demanding. Then all the players could go back to work repairing public trust and making Chicago's streets safer for all of us. That not just seems like a good idea at the is one.