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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Obama’s Surge Purge and Gas Problem

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama’s campaign scrubbed his presidential Web site over the weekend to remove criticism of the U.S. troop “surge” in Iraq, the Daily News has learned.

The presumed Democratic nominee replaced his Iraq issue Web page, which had described the surge as a “problem” that had barely reduced violence.

The surge is not working,” Obama’s old plan stated, citing a lack of Iraqi political cooperation but crediting Sunni sheiks – not U.S. military muscle – for quelling violence in Anbar Province.

The News reported Sunday that insurgent attacks have fallen to the fewest since March 2004.

So when reality doesn’t meet your ideas, just erase them. That’s change! (Or a retroactive flip-flop with a full twist to the right – “I was against the surge before I was for it”)

In other Obama/Iraq news, his latest plan for quitting Iraq turns out to be impossible, as ABC news asked the logistics questions of the military Obama should have asked before proposing an impossible idea:

Whatever nuance Barack Obama is now adding to his Iraq withdrawal strategy, the core plan on his Web site is as plain as day: Obama would “immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.”

It is a plan that, no doubt, helped Obama get his party’s nomination, but one that may prove difficult if he is elected president.

Physically removing the combat brigades within that kind of time frame would be difficult, as well.

The military has been redeploying troops for years, and Maj. Gen. Charles Anderson, who would help with the withdrawal, told us as we toured Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, “We have the capacity to do a minimum of two-and-a-half brigade combat teams a month — can we expand that capacity? Sure. Can we accelerate? It depends. It depends on the amount of equipment that we bring back. And it’s going to depend on how fast we bring them out.”

It is the equipment that is the real problem.

In the kind of redeployment that Anderson is talking about, the troops head home, but much of their equipment stays behind. Two combat brigades means up to 1,200 humvees in addition to thousands of other pieces of equipment, like trucks, fuelers, tankers and helicopters.

And 90 percent of the equipment would have to be moved by ground through the Iraqi war zone, to the port in Kuwait, where it must all be cleaned and inspected and prepared for shipment. This is a place with frequent dust storms, limited port facilities and limited numbers of wash racks.

While Anderson and his troops have a positive attitude, several commanders who looked at the Obama plan told ABC News, on background, that there was “no way” it could work logistically.

So Obama’s plan works, if we have the world’s largest garage sale and leave most of the equipment behind. That’s a great idea.

More change, this time from reality to fantasy. Of course, shouldn’t Obama have asked the feasability of his plan before he proposed his idea? Apparently not. If ABC News got the answers quickly, how hard could it have been for Obama to get the same answer? But unworkable ideas are what you get from a politician with no real experience.

Finally, we’ll predict (if the polls continue to slide away) Obama will flip-flop on increased gas production soon — with something like “It’s what I’ve been saying all along, we’ve got to increase supply to lower prices”. As McCain and Obama are now tied nationally, the gas price issue will continue to create problems for Obama — especially as Obama’s policies (if enacted) make the problem worse. If the polls continue to move away from him, he’ll be forced to once again flip-flop for political expediency (“that’s not the drilling I remember”).

For background on the gas prices issue, see Solving the Gas Crisis, Part I and Solving the Gas Crisis, Part II

We’ll see if that comes true, but we won’t be surprised to read one morning Obama suddenly reversed his energy policy and now embraces increased production (as soon as someone explains supply and demand), since it appears it’s costing him in the polls, and there’s still lots of room under the bus to join his commitment to public financing, FISA, NAFTA, Jerusalem policy, Iraq Surge and more (come to think of it, to paraphrase Roy Scheider — “we’re going to need a bigger bus”).

PC Runs Wild in LA and Dallas

Los Angeles doesn’t like the common technical terms Master/Slave. Come on guys, April fools day was a while ago:

Subject: IDENTIFICATION OF EQUIPMENT SOLD TO LA COUNTY
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 14:21:16 -0800
From: “Los Angeles County”

The County of Los Angeles actively promotes and is committed to ensure a work environment that is free from any discriminatory influence be it actual or perceived. As such, it is the County’s expectation that our manufacturers, suppliers and contractors make a concentrated effort to ensure that any equipment, supplies or services that are provided to County departments do not possess or portray an image that may be construed as offensive or defamatory in nature.

One such recent example included the manufacturer’s labeling of equipment where the words “Master/Slave” appeared to identify the primary and secondary sources. Based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County, this is not an acceptable identification label.

Next target by the PC police: Black Holes, as reported by the Dallas News.

County commissioners were discussing problems with the central collections office that is used to process traffic ticket payments and handle other paperwork normally done by the JP Courts.

Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said it seemed that central collections “has become a black hole” because paperwork reportedly has become lost in the office.

Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is black, interrupted him with a loud “Excuse me!” He then corrected his colleague, saying the office has become a “white hole.”

That prompted Judge Thomas Jones, who is black, to demand an apology from Mayfield for his racially insensitive analogy.

Mayfield shot back that it was a figure of speech and a science term. A black hole, according to Webster’s, is perhaps “the invisible remains of a collapsed star, with an intense gravitational field from which neither light nor matter can escape.”

Libertarians for Obama!

It turns out (according to Rasmussen Reports), Libertarians are lining up for Obama:

Libertarian voters make up 4% of the nation’s likely voters and they favor Barack Obama over John McCain by a 53% to 38% margin.

This may come as a shock to some people (those mistakingly believing Libertarians are conservative), but to those understanding Libertarian philosophy (and Ron Paul), it makes perfect sense — there are three areas to conservatism (or liberalism, if you prefer):

  1. Foreign Policy
  2. Social Policy
  3. Fiscal Policy

Libertarians will generally be liberal on foreign policy (isolationist, anti-military, many are anti-Israel, etc), and liberal on social policy (legalize drugs and so on), while conservative fiscally (return to gold standard, etc).

If you listened to Ron Paul, he’s a textbook Libertarian — liberal on foreign policy and social policy, while fiscally conservative.

Thus, the only surprise in Rasmussen’s poll is Libertarians weight liberal social and foreign policy higher than conservative fiscal policy; Obama agrees with Libertarians on foreign policy and social policy (both quite liberal), while disagreeing with the conservative fiscal policy Libertarians support.

It’s what we’ve said all along, Libertarians align more with the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic party (and Obama), much more than the Reagan wing of the Republican party.

You can like Libertarian philosophy or not, but it’s definitely not conservative.

Congress Sinks to New Low (Rating, that is)

Rasmussen reports Congress has sunk to a new low — only 9% rating. San Fran Nan and the Democrats promised a new direction, and they’ve delivered, down to new lows.

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category …

Strange, all you hear about is the President’s low numbers (which are low):

For the full month of June, just 32% approved of the way the President performed his job. That’s down a single point from 33% in May and down six points from 38% in January.

Hmmm … why don’t you ever hear about it? All the MSM ever reports is the President’s low approval, while Congress is in single digits, and the lowest in tracking history!

Could there be some bias in the reporting?

Lane County Budget – Still Hiring while Sheriff is Cut

It’s time for another look at the Lane County, Oregon “budget crisis”. As County Commissioners continue to whine about lack of funds (and the need to raid your wallet), have a look at their continued hiring binge. Today, another few hundred thousand per year in non-safety hiring, while layoffs in the Sheriff department and other public safety areas continue.

So as they slash public safety and replace those jobs the public wants with these the public doesn’t want, ask yourself, are the County Commissioners of Lane County Oregon listening to what you want, or spending money in areas you don’t want?

Great job guys, cut the sheriff and jail operations to hire more managers.

Here’s what we’ve found since the “budget crisis” began. See for yourself at http://www.co.lane.or.us/jobs/ — the hiring continues, but Lane County Commissioners will have to slash public safety, release criminals, and cease prosecuting some crimes completely.

Are these your priorities over public safety? How much money could be saved by leaving some of these jobs unfilled?

July 3 2008

  • 208-079 Sr. Programmer & Systems Analyst (Working Title Project Manager) – $49,254 – $68,203 annually
  • 208-099 COUNTY COUNSEL – $104,471-$118,053/annually
  • 208-100 Environmental Health Specialist – $16.35 – $22.64/hour
  • 208-106 Food & Nutrition Services Supervisor – $39,000 – $58,510 annually

May 8 2008

  • 208-070 LAND MANAGEMENT MANAGER $67,309 – $100,963 annually
  • 208-062 EMPLOYMENT SPECIALIST 1 $32,365 – $44,824 / annually
  • 208-023 SR PROGRAMMER & SYSTEMS ANALYST $49,254 – $68,203 annually
  • 207-136 SENIOR SYSTEM NETWORK ANALYST $49,254-$68,203/annually

April 22 2008

  • 208-062 EMPLOYMENT SPECIALIST 1 Salary: $32,365 – $44,824
  • 208-067 FAMILY MEDIATOR Salary: $17.61 – $24.40 / hour
  • 208-058 INFORMATION SERVICES ANALYST Salary: $42,474 – $58,802/annually
  • 208-059 SENIOR PLANNER Salary: $44,616 – $61,797 annually
  • 208-064 ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Salary: $15.95 – $22.10/hourly
  • 208-053 ASSOCIATE SURVEYOR Salary: $42,266 – $58,594 annually

Mar 27 2008

  • 207-142 PSYCHIATRIST – .5 FTE (20 hours) $52,644.80-$73,008.00
  • 208-054 ENGINEERING ASSOCIATE (Working Title: Utility Coordinator ) $40,227 – 55,765
  • 907-021 Extra Help – On-Call Juvenile Cook $10.22/hour
  • 208-047 Kennel Attendant $10.22 – $14.16/hour
  • 208-048 PLANNER $37,544 – $52,042
  • 207-136 SENIOR SYSTEM NETWORK ANALYST $49,254-$68,203
  • 208-023 Sr. Programmer & Systems Analyst $49,254 – $68,203
  • 208-045 YOUTH SERVICES EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM SUPERVISOR (Official Title: PROGRAM SUPERVISOR) $53,144 – $79,726

Mar 13 2008

  • 207-121 MENTAL HEALTH MEDICAL OFFICER (Official Title: MANAGER) Salary: $122,117-$169,312/annually
  • 208-033 PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR (Official Title: DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR) Salary: $78,978 – $118,477 annually
  • 208-009 Sr. System Network Analyst (Working Title: PROJECT MANAGER) Salary: $49,254-$68,203/annually
  • 208-045 YOUTH SERVICES EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM SUPERVISOR (Official Title: PROGRAM SUPERVISOR) Salary: $53,144 – $79,726 annually

Feb 6 2008

  • 208-014 DESIGN ENGINEER OR DESIGN ENGINEERING SUPERVISOR $56,680 – $85,030 annually
  • 207-121 MENTAL HEALTH MEDICAL OFFICER (Official Title: MANAGER) $122,117-$169,312/annually
  • 208-007 Program Manager $62,005-$92,997/annually
  • 208-009 Sr. System Network Analyst (Working Title: PROJECT MANAGER) $49,254-$68,203/annually

July 11 2007

  • 207-025 LAND MANAGEMENT MANAGER $67,304 – $100,956
  • 207-068 MANAGER (Working Title:Project Management Office Manager) $64,353 – $96,530
  • 207-039 SENIOR PLANS EXAMINER $19.92 – $27.59/hour
  • 207-055 ADMINISTRATIVE ANALYST
  • 207-053 ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
  • 207-057 EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO THE DIRECTOR OF YOUTH SERVICES
  • 907-007 EXTRA HELP – Clerical
  • 207-029 NUISANCE ABATEMENT SPECIALIST

June 12 2007

  • 207-021 BUILDING PROGRAM MANAGER. Filled May 25, 2007.
  • 207-016 Performance Development & Diversity Coordinator. Filled May 30, 2007.
  • 207-025 LAND MANAGEMENT MANAGER. Currently conducting interviews.
  • 207-029 NUISANCE ABATEMENT SPECIALIST. Filled May 25, 2007.
  • 207-024 PROPERTY APPRAISER 3. Conducting interviews.

May 31, 2007

  • 207-044 CLINICAL SERVICES SUPERVISOR ($25-$33/hour)
  • 207-037 MHO CARE COORDINATION SPECIALIST ($19-$27/hour)
  • 207-040 PHYSICIAN ($90,000 – $125,000 /year)
  • 3 Network Programmers/analysts ($50,000 – $68,000 / year)
  • 206-146 ASSISTANT COUNTY COUNSEL (not just one, but two!)
  • And our personal favorite: 207-029 NUISANCE ABATEMENT SPECIALIST

Solving the Gas Crisis, Part II

Moving to the World that Works

In our last article on gas prices, we noted a four-point plan to bring down gas prices — a quick review in case you missed it:

  1. Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less. We can do it safely, so the time is now to start developing what resources we have (More from American Solutions).
  2. Formulate a real energy policy (no rhetoric allowed) — including biofuel, nuclear, coal, hydrogen, wind, and solar — all are on the table and workable in at least some situations. Additionally, government should remove silly bureaucratic rules which impede R&D.
  3. A Kennedy-esqe commitment to getting the job done. No excuses. Young people under 30 don’t remember that kind of national commitment, but if you recall Kennedy’s speech calling for a moon landing before 1970 you know how it rallied the cause, and produced results beyond what we thought technologically capable (in 1962 our space program was, well, nonexistent).
  4. Accept no excuses — demand action.This is a non-partisan issue. The left gets what they want (alternative energy, higher MPG standards, biofuel, etc), while the right gets increased drilling and production. Neither partisan side “wins” — the citizen does. Isn’t that what government is for?

For some, these could be new concepts. They are a break from the current and past, so we’ll show specific examples of how this works in practice; it’s not an untested idea — these methods have been used in the past, and quite successfully (by any definition) — all implementation stems from one simple idea:

Government should run by the business principle of handling transactions in a specific way — product “X”, qty “Y”, date “D” for payment “Q”, with penalty “Z” for late delivery, and incentive “M” for early delivery.

No mandates, subsidies, nationalization, rhetoric, vague goals, corporate welfare, economic control, handouts, or investment for no rewards — just straight business transactions with specific results for specific dollars. No results, no $$$. It’s (essentially) risk-free. It’s the exact same method the business world uses every day, and it’s quite successful as no business owner wants to pour money down a sinkhole for no return. Rewards for early success, penalties for late delivery, just apply those same business concepts to government to move from a world that fails to a world that works.

That’s quite a simple principle, yet causes profound change in a system that’s used to failure. Of course, some will complain, others will say it can’t be done; for naysayers consider the following examples where such a simple principle has worked — it’s not a vague abstract idea.

  1. The 1994 Northridge earthquake. In January 1994 an earthquake in Northridge, California measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale shattered the overpass bridges of Interstate 10 … the repair would take more than two years … but I-10 was restored to public use not in two years but two months.
    • The California Government Code gives the governor the ability to invoke “emergency powers” that can suspend, for the duration of an emergency, any regulations and statues that might impede or delay recovery.
    • Performance contracting sped performance … contractors would receive a bonus of $200,000 for each day before completion date. For each day past the date, contractors would incur penalty of $200,000. As every day the bridge was close cost California’s economy an estimated $600,000, Wilson’s plan was a cost-efficient incentive
  2. In April 2997, a gasoline tanker truck crashed on a ramp in Oakland … repairs were expected to take fifty days and cost $5.2 million.
    • Incentives produced speed. The California Department of Transportation set a deadline and promised bidders a $200,000 bonus for every day they could finish the repairs before it, not to exceed total of $5 million. … completed the project in 17 days — almost three times faster than the original estimate and more than $4 million under budget
    • Serious problems merited serious response … The contractor had workers and equipment on the scene 15 minutes before the actual signing of the contract. Shop drawings were approved in hours, not months …

Those examples come from Newt Gingrich’s book “Real Change”, page 181-182. Yet those aren’t the only areas.

  1. NASA and the 60’s space program. When the commitment is made, what was previously thought impossible becomes ordinary. Unfortunately, younger people don’t remember what Kennedy proposed was widely thought impossible. Yet the “impossible” goal was accomplished, on time.
  2. Y2K — In this case, it’s a good thing the engineers didn’t listen to the crowd who said do nothing; instead they went out and actually solved the problem. Those that understood the problem devised solutions, and solved the problem on time.

So we have multiple examples of success in reality, not the textbook — it’s not an abstract unproven theory. What do all these successful implementations have in common? Point 3 of the plan — a Kennedy-esq commitment to getting the job done. The appropriate pressure, applied to the right people, yields commitment to solutions and results. No excuses, but common sense and engineering gets the job done.

It’s a win-win for everyone. Of course, there will be those that complain; no matter, there are always people stuck in old group-think. Others quibble over details — so be it, they can continue to rearrange deck chairs while everyone else implements real solutions (it will keep ’em busy and out of the way). So let’s get the objections out of the way:

  • It’s corporate welfare! It’s handouts! — No, it’s not. Every business runs by the exact same principle (specific payments for specific results, penalties for being late, incentives for delivering early). If you want to call it corporate welfare, then every business transaction over the entire economy on the whole planet is corporate welfare (if you want to define it that way, fine, we’ll agree everything is corporate welfare — when IBM buys paperclips from Office Depot, it’s corporate welfare).
  • It’s government control of the economy! That’s absurd — it’s no more influence or control than any other business uses to get results — every business does the exact same thing (specific payments for specific results, penalties for being late, incentives for delivering early) — no overall government regulations are called for, or required. (again, if you want to define terms so that every business transaction falls under your definition, fine. The other 99.95% of us won’t.).
  • We can’t do it! Those forget it works, and has in multiple examples. It has worked in the past, it will work in the future.
  • People can’t change. This is the most reasonable objection, and one which needs actual work. There are always people vested in the status quo, or who fear doing something different, or actually like the system of failure which now exists. There’s not one solution to this problem, as it’s really a management issue, not an engineering one, and each group will be different. This is the hardest problem to solve, as inertia is a powerful force.
  • Others will find other reasons to do nothing but preserve the current system of failure — those on the extremes always object to anything not agreeing with their dogma. And on and on and on, ad nauseum.

The idea is simple — use the same principle used daily by companies everywhere and apply it to the government — with the proven results vastly superior to the mode of failure we’re all used to. Nothing more is needed, nothing less will do. No nationalizing of industries, no subsides for failed solutions, no takeover of the economy.

If you’re interested, you might want to check out American Solutions. They have common-sense proposals with broad support of both Democrats and Republicans — supported by up to 90% of the American people. Have a look at their Platform of the American People for more information (it’s Newt’s idea that “real change requires real change”, with his book laying out in detail what fails and what works, and how government can move from a model of failure to one that works).

Also should consider the following book recommendations (Newt’s book is one, the other is a Democratic liberal):

  • Real Change. Newt’s book details the principles, answering objections, and giving examples of both the world that works, and the world that fails.
  • Tammy Bruce’s The New American Revolution (Tammy describes herself as “an openly gay, pro-choice, gun owning, pro-death penalty, voted-for-President Bush authentic feminist. A lifelong Democrat, in the 1990s she worked to help elect Senators Feinstein and Boxer, and aided the Clinton for President campaign … “

Both books should be on your reading list.

We can quibble over implementation details ad nauseum forever, or get the job done; we take the moderate approach between the extremes of “wait-for-later” and “nationalize-everything”.

The question is simple:

We all see the iceberg ahead (the end of oil, spiraling energy prices, global conflict over dwindling resources, calls for nationalized everything, and so on), shall we take action and change course, or spend time rearranging the deck chairs and wait for that pesky iceberg thing to resolve itself?

Real change requires real change.