Quotable and Notable

The monopoly that Russia has in taking Astronauts to the Space Station — one they have both used to extort money, and get bragging rights — is about to end.

Elon Musk, he of PayPal and Tesla, has unveiled Dragon V2, a reusable space taxi to carry as many as seven Astronauts at a time, and land on land or water. It can then be refueled and reused as many as 10 times before servicing.

No one should doubt that Space X is the real deal, and it faces strong competition from other private companies not to mention that it has not been tested either with or without actual people on-board.

Nevertheless, it is the beginning of a plug in the dike that was breached by the US when our government prematurely either stopped the use of our Space Shuttle or else the government did not ramp up private initiatives quickly enough. Whichever, the hoe existed too long to the detriment of America in space.
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I am not saying that Fox dominates cable, but the top 14 shows are all FOX!

Yes, O’Reilly is still Number one, but his demographics are troublesome. His audience is primarily over 55, and that demographic is is the distribution phase of life not the consumption phase that buys things that advertisers like.

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In Baltimore, a new program called Bikemore placed about half a hundred bikes in stands to encourage people to exercise around a reservoir.

Something approaching 50 youth broke in and stole them. The guy who ran the program called the theft, “Shocking.”

I call the man who ran the program, “Naive.”

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The Shenseki removal or resignation reminds me that management is not a simple process.

I had the opportunity to command men in the Navy, and although managers I saw were good, and bad, the work got done by relatively happy or relatively unhappy individuals.

I then had the “opportunity” to manage a bifurcated group, about evenly divided between Sailors and Civil Servants who were protected by Civilian Service union rules — and that was a nightmare…a fully constrained management atmosphere.

Still a third management style was my management of two volunteer organizations. This is management by pleading.

Consequently, I have started two 501c(3) organizations, and promptly resigned on the spot! My management style simply does not mesh well with volunteer organizations — nor did it mesh well with Civil Service organizations.

I know nothing about Shinseki’s management style, but what I do know is that rank does not define management styles, and neither does war wounds.

Hemphill’s First Law of Management is, “Anyone can manage any project that has an unlimited budget.” That apparently is not true if a manager is constrained by a union like Civil Service or a teachers union. The VA budget has increased faster than its patient load, so funding alone is not the problem.

It may have just been a mis-match between a military management style and the organization below him.

Military men simply cannot comprehend that pure, criminal activity could occur in their organization.

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Wow! I never would have expected big liberal and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to go into the Belly of the Beast and let liberal academia have it right between the eyes!

Just read and try to digest this: “ Think about the irony: In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left wing ideas. Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species. And that is probably nowhere more true than it is here in the Ivy League. In the 2012 presidential race, according to Federal Election Commission data, 96% of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama. 96%. There was more disagreement among the old Soviet politburo than there is among Ivy League donors. And that statistic should give us some pause. I say it as someone who endorsed President Obama for reelection. Let me tell you something, neither party has a monopoly of truth or God on its side. When 96% of Ivy League donors prefer one candidate to another, you really have to wonder whether students are being exposed to the diversity of views that a great university should offer. Diversity of gender, ethnicity, and orientation is important, but a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous.
[…]
Great universities should not become predictably partisan. And a Liberal Arts education must not be an education in the art of liberalism. The role of universities is not to promote an ideology. It is to provide scholars and students with a neutral forum for researching and debating our issues without tipping the scale in one direction or repressing unpopular views.”

http://online.wsj.com/articles/notable-1401477611

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Incompetence is the Norm in Unions

The Shinseki resignation solves nothing of the VA problem, because he was not the problem.

It was good that he resigned, and it would be better if he had been fired. That he was not fired just demonstrates that Obama can’t make timely decisions.

But we knew that.

Shinseki had demonstrated that being a wounded veteran, and a flawed analyst of the Bush policy in Iraq is not a management resume. The VA problem is so wide and so deep that only criminal indictments of those discovered to have “cooked the books” can demonstrate to the veteran community that the seriousness of the situation is recognized.

Unfortunately, what we are about to discover is that incipience is not a offence for which you can be fired under Civil Service union rules. That may be the real take-away for this fiasco — union rules for civil service are as protective as are union rules for California teachers.

Incompetence becomes the norm.

Quick Hits

The presidents speech at West Point has been panned by experts, so I won’t bother to expand on the list, but let me just mention one — Politico — that oft-quoted political website:

“1. Obama ’s no-doctrine doctrine
Looking for a clear, concise Obama doctrine? Keep looking.”
http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/barack-obama-west-point-commencement-foreign-policy-speech-takeaways-107178.html#ixzz3346AxdSc

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I loved the report from Arizona when Sheriff Joe Arpaio visited with the Vets in his prison over Memorial Weekend, to make certain that they got better medical care in his prison than they would get at the local VA facility in Phoenix.

That would not be hard, and now 42 VA facilities are under investigation. The IG Report on Phoenix alone is sufficient cause for indictments.

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The PBS News Hour last night revealed that Google lacks diversity, big time! The good news is that Google did the study.

Among tech jobs, Asians represent 34% while Latinos represent 2% and Blacks, 1%.

I admit that to be unsurprising, because as a professor I saw in my computer science classes my classes represented numbers very similar to those that Google hires.

Google can’t hire except from a pool of graduates, and you can’t make people take career paths they are not attracted to. Most students enter college at 19 years of age, and it is no exaggeration that most 19 year- olds are hardly serious people.

If you are not serious, subjects like engineering, computer science, math, chemistry, biology all appear to take too much time away from Keg Parties.

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Uber, the private point to point transportation that rivals taxis for a much lower price, seems to either be in the mode for a takeover from Google, or perhaps it is to be the first commercial entity to purchase the promised Google Driverless car.

After all, the cost of the driver is the highest cost in point-to-point transportation. Now, I am not certain that driverless cars are an automatic sale to the normal California drivers. This is a car culture, and I know of just one automatic sale — a 93 year old friend who still drives but may not go for her next license renewal but is scared to death of losing her independence.

A Natural Clash of Cultures

On Memorial Day, I decided to muse on the disconnect between civilian life and military.

My wife, a small town girl from Marshfield, Massachusetts who knew no one in the military, who married me — a Southern boy, steeped in the culture of military service to the country who was bred from birth to go into the military.

I was at Annapolis, who had spent six years in military school and served two years in the military as an enlisted man. At 19, I had seen combat in Korea, served on a WWII Destroyer Escort, and taken a LST as Helmsman to Europe. I had seen the world, and earned a chest full of ribbons — but as a Plebe In Annapolis, less than a snake.

As a Plebe, I was not permitted to even talk to a girl, and doing so was a SERIOUS offense, punishable by 25 Demerits, and five hours of early-morning marching, or five trips of the Obstacle Course.

Nevertheless, we dated all of Plebe Year, cloistered in the living room of a local house, but unable to go to a movie or a meal — and at Christmas, and Spring Break, invited to her home in Massachusetts.

No one in the small town joined the military — unlike many, many men like myself from the South — and so there was a culture shock in the home both of geography and civilian/military, not to mention generational.

Her parents were magnanimous, hospitable, generous people. They knew nothing of the military — and I knew little else. Our common language was about their shy, beautiful daughter, a Junior in an all-girl’s college who had seldom dated even among the local boys, because she had been taken out of the failing local school to go to a prep school for girls.

That was necessary, because no girls from her high school class went to college, except her.

Annapolis was as foreign a landscape to both my date, and to her parents — as was a young, aggressive, disciplined young man courting her.

When we married upon my graduation, the thought of their only daughter wedded to an Ensign, leaving the East Coast for San Diego and shipboard duty — during which I would be absent many nights from home while in port, and six months at a time while deployed into the Pacific was beyond their comprehension.

This was not the life of local “sailors” who find the local waters for lobster and returned each night to family — the only “sailors” they knew.

During the next 20 years they accepted me, but never understood the culture in which I swam. They never understood how their daughter survived raising three children, while her husband no only deployed into the deep as a submariner — with whom in those days before Internet, there was zero communication for MONTHS.

This was a life when her husband left for “the Boat” in the morning, and she expected him home while he was not deployed, only to have the Squadron Commander call and say, “Mrs. Hemphill, your husbands submarine has been sent on a highly sensitive mission. I can’t tell you where his Boat is, or when it will return. Tell NO ONE! I will call you again on the day of his arrival.”

Even in port, I was required to remain on-board the submarine once every three nights — a qualified Officer and a third of the crew were on board and capable of taking the Boat to sea in case of an attack.

How a small town girl, and her family survived this foreign culture is amazing. Let me just say that Jean and have been married 56 years and an unkind word has not passed between us. I suspect that came from a trip she made to her home town with a young child when I first deployed.

She must have complained, when her laconic Father put down his newspaper and said:

“You knew what he was when you married him.”

No, she didn’t!

Europe’s “Tea Party” Wins BIG!

Just so I’ll not step on the lead, let me give it to you — Europe just turned, sharply to the right!

Elections over Europe CRUSHED the left — in France, the Socialist Political party finished THIRD! The French people appear tired of policies that drive the wealthy to buy homes in Britain.

The British/French wars have just moved from canons on sailing ships to business — but the honor of the nations is always at stake, nevertheless.

In Britain as well, the right won going away, and in Britain the rallying cry was to diminish the power of the unelected bureaucrats at the European Union (EU) in Brussels. To a lesser degree this was the message throughout Europe, and it should be noted that the Euro has been falling as well. (Britain, and a few other nations belong to the EU do not use the a Euro as their currency.)

Angela Merkel won in Germany, and she is still the spine of Europe.

Not living in Europe, I can’t say for certain all of the undercurrents of discontent but the dissolution of borders and passport/visas has permitted hundreds of thousands of Muslims from North Africahroughout Europe, once they illegally get to Greece or Italy.

The problems are greater than that, of course — Greece, Spain,Ireland and Portugal have been bailed out multiple times, and like most on welfare they are unappreciative. Germany, at the same time is tired of being the European ATM machine. France’ s 75% tax on the rich has damaged their industry’s ability to hire good managers, and their wealthy are fleeing.

I have long contended that the EU is herding cats, and while you can do it successfully for a short time, in the long run it is just too much.

I am surprised it has lasted so long. Quick reforms from Brussels might save the EU, but the True Believers will resist, making a breakup more likely — led by Britain!

In Britain, the Euroskeptic Independence Party won big — the first time that ANY political party has defeated either the Conservative or the Labour Party, and in this case the Independence Party beat BOTH! The Independence Party now will try to elect a majority to Parliament, to get the promised breakup of the EU by withdrawing Britain.

The only reform the remaining nations could take to continue stumbling along is the re-establish borders, to stop the movement of illegal aliens.

Competition Works!

The VA is a Socialist Wet Dream — wholly, fully and completely Single Payer with every Doctor or Nurse an employee of the Federal Government! President Obama said the he wanted Obamacare to be Single Payer but it just could not be done immediately.

Military retirees like myself get to go out on the market and get our medical care — and to change systems the moment we don’t think we are getting the care we want, and the government picks up the bill — we earned it. Those with service disabilities deserve no less.

We have a system where children in failing schools get to leave their schools for better ones — can we do less for those with war injuries?

Set them free! Disinfect the VA, end the rules that make VA employment a sinecure, and then give injured Vets a choice to go to the VA where there is a comradeship of fellow Vets, or to go into the market.

Competition works!

An Incentive That Will Work! Absolutely!

We will always have the poor — because in any society the bottom 15% is considered poor.

Of course there is a qualitative difference between the poor in America and the poor in Chad, or Nigeria! The average “poor” in America own a car, multiple TV, a computer, internet access, and live in more square feet than the middle-class in Europe!

I have previously recounted my experience years ago, when I headed a super-secret research and development computer operation for the Navy. It was so secret that even the cleaning staff had Top Secret clearance, and one night I was working late when the cleaning staff came in. I recognized the young Black man and we spoke often…just small talk.

One day I decided to take a good lunch, instead of out of a brown paper bag — but to treat myself, so I went downtown to the most expensive hotel in town — in the San Diego of that day it was the Westgate Plaza. My waiter was the same guy that cleaned my office! I asked him, “You work two jobs?”

“No, Sir,” he laughed, “I work three jobs!”

So the next time he was in my office I asked him what was the solution to welfare?

“We need an incentive!” He Replied.

“What incentive?” I asked.

“I have a family living next to me.” He replied. “Three generations on welfare. Cut off their welfare, and when they get hungry, they will find a job! That’s “incentive!”‘

It is, indeed!