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Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 834 834

So adding an A-13 modernized Warthog, and F-36 new Lightweight Interceptor would be very useful.

Not at a $Trillion a program. It crowds our spending for stuff that actually works. I think the first-wave stuff should be top-of-the-line stuff that we dump R&D into to keep it 20+ years ahead of everybody else and I think the first-wave stuff should be capable of making it safe for everything else to fly pretty much unchallenged. After that, give me cheap stuff that works. We can have multiple types of aircraft in each role, but they need to be cheap to design, cheap to build, and cheap to fly.

The F-16D's unit cost is $27.4 Million. A fleet of 1000 of those costs you $2.74 Billion (which over 5 years is pocket change).
The F-35's unit cost (averaged between the three models, which range from $148 Million to $337 Million) is $245 Million each (no R&D costs included, just building one). A fleet of 1000 then costs $245 Billion. Over 5 years, that will consume 9% of the entire DOD budget. For one plane. One shitty plane that can't dogfight and whose cockpit is too tight to allow pilots to look behind them.

The F-35 doesn't even have a well-defined role. The F-22 rules the skies; bar none. The B-2 owns all ground targets regardless of ground defenses. What's left that we need a plane that costs up to $337 Million before we put gas, weapons, or a trained pilot in it?

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 834 834

In an ideal world they'd probably be building a new version of the A-10. Something has to have advanced in the field of aircraft design since my Mom's 21st birthday. The F-16, AC-130, were also all designed well before Mom hit the big-21.

What's the age got to do with anything? We have working airframes; working designs that are proven to be exceptional at their respective jobs. We could spend a whole bunch of time, money, and lives (test pilots mostly, and some regular ones too during initial roll-out) on new designs, but we'll get maybe slightly better (or possibly slightly worse) performance out of them and in the end we'll net out behind.

Fire up the plants and start rolling new A-10s and F-16s off the assembly line (alone with F-22s). Streamline the manufacturing so they're produced as inexpensively as possible. If we find how to do their jobs better in 20 years, we'll have wasted only some minor resources in manufacturing, so the risk is minimal. They're a fantastic investment. Own the skies with the F-22, the ground defenses with the B-2, and everything else with cheap, effective aircraft.

I know our government doesn't like that because it isn't porked up all to shit, but it's the right way to move forward militarily.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 834 834

So for $1 Trillion, we can maybe step up part of the now-more-limited capability (loss of A-10 capability, smaller number of aircraft requiring longer maintenance intervals between sorties) air campaign? Maybe? And we're doing this because our elected officials have constructed a system of perverse incentives that discourages efficiency and competence and encourages ludicrous waste?

(None of this being news to me, just confirming we're on the same page; in which case we're talking about two different things. I'm speaking of what ought to happen in a sane, sensible world and you're speaking of what will actually happen because unrestricted representative democracy has yielded idiocy, incompetence, and impotence at the top.)

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 2) 834 834

a) None of those are stealth.

The F-22 is (in fact it has better stealth than the JSF) and so is the B-2 (also has better stealth than the JSF, but you called it out in your other reply so we'll let that one slide).

The others don't need stealth to fulfill their respective roles.

b) None of those can fulfill the roles of any of the others.

Correct. The F-22 is extremely stealthy and will clear our whatever aircraft the enemy puts in the skies. It also has limited ground strike capability, but that's a real waste. The B-2 (also extremely stealthy, possibly more than the F-22) is then clear to come in and start really pounding ground defenses. You take out all the stationary radar, SAM sites, AAA, C&C, etc with that while the F-22 provides protection. You don't risk lucky shots against your B-2s by sending them after less heavily defended targets; you just use them to clear a path for your remaining forces so they don't face anti-air defenses.

Once all appreciable anti-air has been destroyed and the enemy can't put a plane in the sky without F-22s dropping it, you're free to send in your non-stealth aircraft. F-16s bomb the Hell out of stationary targets and can provide some target-of-opportunity strike capability. A-10s take out mobile infantry, supply convoys, etc. AC-130s and A-10s provide your close-in air support for whatever ground missions you need to complete your objectives. Each has its own distinct role to play; one thing it's great at doing. Used together, you get the best of all worlds.

c) They're all old designs that don't look good on a budget request.

Depends on what you mean by "doesn't look good on a budget request". As a taxpayer, they sure as Hell look good to me. They're much cheaper than JSFs and each is much more capable at the specific job it's intended to do. Those "old designs" have all the bugs worked out of them and are reliable as can be. And when one does break down, it costs peanuts to repair or replace it. If the folks in charge of the budget don't think that looks good, we need to fire them immediately.

d) Particularly a $1 Trillion request.

We could buy so many of those things for $1 Trillion that we wouldn't have pilots to fly them all. So we'd buy a few less than that and train enough pilots to fly them. The result would be a force so large that we could run dozens of simultaneous sorties 24/7/365 and overwhelm anyone anywhere with omnipresent force.

So we'll have a very expensive plane that does nothing particularly well, but we'll have a lot of them, and against almost any opponent we're likely to face it will be literally invincible because getting through stealth (even the Gen 1 Stealth of the F-117) is a lot harder then it looks in a Navy white paper.

Actually, getting through stealth isn't that bad when using low-frequency ground based radar. Getting through it in the air is a challenge. That's why the advanced stealth of the F-22 and the B-2 are a much better fit for early combat: they'll have vastly better survivability than the JSF. For later in the campaign - when the enemy no longer has effective anti-air defenses - there's no reason to fly significant amounts of costly aircraft sorties. At that point, you want to fly legions of cheap, effective aircraft in and pin down the enemy so they can't so much as glance out from under the rocks they're hiding under without JDAMs raining down on them from all directions.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 834 834

Sorry, what debacle with the F-22? Near as anyone can tell, it's the best air superiority fighter ever built and will be for the next 15 - 20+ years. Do they cost a lot? Yes. But don't compare the cost of opposing military aircraft to the cost of the F-22. Compare the cost of opposing military aircraft to the cost of the AIM-120 AMRAAM fitted to the F-22 because the first indication the opposing pilots are going to have that F-22s are in the area is a missile warning.

The Iranians experienced this already when they decided to send up planes to harass some US drone aircraft. The US sent an F-22 up and after the F-22 pilot got bored waiting for the Iranians to notice he was there, he radioed them to get out of his airspace.

"He flew under their aircraft to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said ‘you really ought to go home.'" http://www.military.com/daily-...

"I can't see the [expletive deleted] thing," said RAAF Squadron Leader Stephen Chappell, exchange F-15 pilot in the 65th Aggressor Squadron. "It won't let me put a weapons system on it, even when I can see it visually through the canopy. [Flying against the F-22] annoys the hell out of me." http://www.acc.af.mil/news/sto...

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 834 834

The F-22 isn't supposed to be dogfighting. The F-22 is supposed to blow the enemy out of the sky from BVR long before the enemy knows F-22s are in the air. That's why it was always so stupid to compare the fly-away cost of a new F-22 to the fly-away cost of other nations' aircraft. The real comparison is the fly-away cost of other nations' aircraft against the cost of the AIM-120 AMRAAM fitted to the F-22 that's going to blow their aircraft away.

If you have F-22s dogfighting with anyone, something has gone horribly wrong.

And the JSF is a flying pile of horse shit. We'd have been much better off building new F-16s, A-10s, and AC-130s. Let the F-22s own the skies, let the B-2s take out the nastiest air defenses, and then let all the cheap stuff fly in and mop up whatever's left on the ground. I don't know what the Hell problem the JSF is supposed to solve. If the problem were just that the US military has way too much money laying around, we'd simply build more F-22s, B-2s, and carriers. Obviously that's not the problem, so what the Hell is the JSF?

Comment: Re:The founding documents present a path... (Score 1) 161 161

I am also unarmed.

Whose fault is that? Pick up something used and cheap. Start interacting with local firearms communities and someone will probably give you something if you're that bad off and then take you to the range to show you how to use it. "I am unarmed" is the battle cry of those who've long laughed at the Second Amendment. If that's you, fine; stop laughing and get involved in some communities.

Comment: Re: what is interesting is not that it won (Score 1) 591 591

I think your parenthetical expression is a bit more than just word-fluff entered by a founding father in a flurry of poetic inspiration. It clearly describes the intent of the amendment. People need to be armed to defend the state.

Actually, it says "being necessary to the security of a free state. You see, the guys who wrote this had just risen up against their government and created another in its place. "A free state" doesn't mean "The United States of America"; it refers to a fundamental concept. That concept is one of a place free of tyranny. The men who wrote the Second Amendment would have gladly overthrown the government established by the US Constitution had it become sufficiently oppressive and tyrannical. They would have done so in order to ensure the security of a free state and they would have done so with their own guns.

The US didn't have a big standing army at the time, and it was clear that to keep free, they would need to be able to call up their citizens if they were attacked, and those citizens better be armed. Given that the US currently has a larger army than the rest of the world combined, I don't think that calling up their citizens is very relevant at this point.

We're covered for foreign enemies. We aren't covered from domestic ones. Tell me, what good would your argument have done if terrorists had attacked again before the 2004 elections and President Bush had called off those elections and simply declared martial law coast-to-coast, then stated that he would remain as commander-in-chief until the threat of terrorism was over? Assuming the army stood with him, what's your plan B for year-10 of the George W. Bush presidency? For year 20? For year 30? Oh right, you don't have one. Just "let's all hope that doesn't happen (because I'd be screwed!)".

Same with the electoral college. In the good old days, the state would have a vote in November, and would select the person(s) that would get up on a horse and ride to Washington DC to represent the state in electing the president. There was simply no other way. The electoral college became obsolete with the telegraph, but it's still around.

No it isn't. Abolish the Electoral College and watch as "flyover country" becomes exactly that. The top 20 cities would get 95% of every candidate's attention and promises. Anyone living outside a metro area may as well not bother showing up on election day.

The stated reasons for the second amendment are no longer relevant, yet the amendment stays. Maybe the amendment should be updated to: "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, for no reason whatsoever, shall not be infringed".

The amendment remains relevant because it - like most of the US Constitution - is less a practical guide and more a statement of principles. Principles like the government not dictating what religion we should follow or what opinions can be expressed. The Second Amendment is a statement of the principle that when all else fails, no matter what, responsibility for establishing and maintaining freedom ultimately falls on the people, and that as such, they must always have access to the tools necessary to fulfill that responsibility.

It doesn't matter whether the tyrant comes from halfway across the globe or from just down the street; the people - all of us - have the responsibility to ensure that no tyrant lords over us. The people having the convincing capability to beat any challenge to their freedom ensures no such challenge is made. Despite all the dire predictions of fringe leftists in this country, there was never a chance President Bush would crown himself king; if for no other reason than even he would have to know it would end very poorly for him. Tyrants don't come to our country because of the US military. Tyrants don't come from our country because of the Second Amendment. The idea that we don't need the Second Amendment because we have the military is as foolish as the idea that we don't need the First Amendment because we have the Internet. Modern inventions don't negate principles; they reinforce the need for them.

Comment: Re: what is interesting is not that it won (Score 1) 591 591

What bothers me about current rulings is that the mention of a militia obviously means a potential military force, and therefore the right of the people to keep and bear military weapons shall not be infringed.

More specifically, the weapons protected must be of a capability reasonably expected to be useful in fighting and winning against a foreign or domestic aggressor with state sponsorship. In other words, weapons equal to those possessed by any government around the world - including our own - which can be used effectively to win a war. Hence, full-auto machine guns, artillery, Apache gunships, and F-16s are fully in scope for the Second Amendment. What's more, there's an interesting argument to be made about even the classified stuff being available to the American people for study, purchase, building, etc.

Comment: Re:I think it is the fear of being sacked (Score 1) 381 381

A lot of these "failing schools" are located in poor neighborhoods and the poor performance can be directly traced back to kids worried about issues like whether they'll have a home to go back to, whether mom/dad will keep their job, whether they'll have dinner tonight, etc. When kids are worried about basic life issues like this, their grades suffer

The lack of parental involvement is also often pointed to in these situations, and I don't disagree that all of those things influence - but do not control - the outcomes. However, none of this explains why some charter schools can operate successfully in some of the worst areas with some of the poorest students around. I think what you're describing are just additional obstacles for kids in bad areas, but I also think great teachers in great schools can overcome those obstacles just as they would any other.

As far as attracting students goes, right now we tend to place students in schools based on neighborhoods. It sounds like you're advocating more of a private school philosophy of "you apply to school X and hope you get in." The problem with this is that schools in poor neighborhoods aren't going to attract anybody. So they will get the people that the other schools don't want - the kids with the most issues and problems. Meanwhile, the wealthier neighborhood schools will be able to pick and choose who they accept which means they'll get the higher performing students. So the rich schools do better and the poor schools do worse.

I think you're misunderstanding something fundamental about what I'm advocating. In the system I'm describing, the schools who aren't taking very many kids don't have much funding. Now they may still do well, but since the money is attached to the student, they aren't going to get rich by selecting a small handful of lucky/talented kids. I'm also not claiming that every single kid is going to suddenly turn into a college grad because there's a choice in schooling. Rather, I'm saying a lot more kids will get a lot more chances precisely because we aren't pushing all the poor kids into the school in the poor neighborhood where property taxes amount to almost nothing. When $x follow every kid, from whatever neighborhood, from whatever family, to whatever school, the location of the school no longer matters as to the quality of its education. If all the inner city kids end up going to one school, that school will have a river of cash flowing through it and should (all things being equal and all people being competent) be able to bring in the best teachers and provide the best atmosphere for learning.

With simple numbers, let's assume $5,000 follows each child. The exclusive high school that only lets in 50 kids a year? They're going to end up with a grand total of $1 Million to run an entire high school. Now if they can make that all work, good for them (but I doubt it). That school getting "the people that the other schools don't want"? Let's say they've got a total student population of 10,000 kids. They've got a $50 Million budget. If they spend 2/3 of that on teachers, they can spend around $130,000 for each teacher. If they only spend half of it on teachers, well then they can spend $100,000 on each.

What kinds of people do you think you'll get when you start throwing that kind of money around? This should work really well in any school that decides to invest in teachers and students rather than the unions and the administrators. For those still doing business the old way? Well, they won't be in business much longer, so that's fine.

Comment: Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 939 939

This is precisely the main problem: there's a blank check being given to the demand side of the housing market. I'll disagree on one point however, and that's that the banks are indeed culpable to some extent (though only due to increasing pressure from HUD). This goes back to the amendments added to the Community Reinvestment Act in the early 90s which removed the protections against banks being pressed into making bad loans by the Feds. Once those protections were lifted and public policy shifted to pushing toward every man, woman, and child owning their own home regardless of their ability to pay for it, the banks had to come up with a way to move those loans off their books. Once somebody came up with the brilliant idea to bundle the loans into something they could dump into the investment markets (CDOs), the banks essentially became loan factories pushing out home loans every bit as quickly as the government wanted them to.

Without having to keep those loans on the books, the banks no longer had an interest in ensuring the loans made any sense. Hence, an effectively blank check handed out to anyone who asked (and a lot of people who didn't) regardless of qualifications or the reasonableness of the house prices. That's when basic economics took hold and we watched the housing market explode with a demand-driven boom fueled by unbridled credit and piloted by the Federal government,

In my opinion, the immediate answer should be to stop subsidizing the demand side of the market. And if we want to help correct the imbalance and really start driving sustainable home ownership increases, we should be - as a matter of public policy - working to increase the supply. Swell supply while no longer inflating demand and watch prices drop. Speculators and investors drop out of the market. First-time home buyers have an opportunity to get in at a reasonable rate. No more home equity piggy bank spending. It's just a win all around. Otherwise, the next generation is largely going to be left to renting their entire lives because nobody who doesn't already have their hands on a ridiculously price-inflated house is going to be able to afford so much as a down payment.

Comment: Subsidize the supply side (Score 5, Interesting) 939 939

The problem is that we spent so long subsidizing the demand side that the supply for housing is hopelessly outpaced. The prices have skyrocketed over the past 15 years to the point where first-time buyers are largely priced out of the market. Want to drive home ownership in a sustainable way? Drive it at the supply side. That means subsidizing the whole supply chain, from land to materials to labor. Drive a massive swell of building to bring supply well above demand and watch as homeownership rates rise quickly but sustainably even as market speculators (who really just drive up prices further) get crushed under the weight of falling home prices.

Handing everyone a blank check to buy whatever they like (regardless of whether they can afford it) is the same thing we've done in the education market. The results are the same: prices soar and anyone who isn't willing to mortgage their immortal soul has little chance of getting what they're after (but on the bright side, we've made the immortal soul mortgaging a quick and simple process!) Having a higher supply than demand ensures prices drop to the point where someone other than the top 10% of the country can actually afford to live here. Steady or slightly falling prices encourages people who actually want to own a home (rather than simply investing in real estate for the sake of cashing in on a boom) to take that next step to do so. We need house prices to drop by 50 - 75% in most major markets. It'll create a much healthier, robust framework in the long run, regardless of how much hand-wringing takes place in the short to mid term.

Comment: Re:I think it is the fear of being sacked (Score 1) 381 381

don't be surprised if - in 5 years - we have no more public schools and only have business-run, for-profit charter schools.

Don't tease me.

Seriously though, it doesn't need to be aimed at just pervy teachers. It needs to be aimed at all teachers who shouldn't be in a classroom either because they're incompetent, apathetic, or downright dangerous to students. I understand that the politics involved is not at all pure in any state or school district, but the sooner we can get around to real accountability for bad and mediocre teachers, the better. And honestly, I think for-profit schools are a part of that solution.

I'm a big proponent of the way a lot of Europeans do early education (and you cannot imagine how much it pains me to say that) wherein the funding for schools is attached to each student and their parents are free to send them wherever they choose. Want lots of funding? Attract lots of students. How? Just as any business would attract customers: provide the best product available. No more free rides and extra bonus cash for failing schools; rather, failing schools fail and get replaced by better ones. Creating those better schools invariably must require shifting a good chunk of the funding away from administrators, bureaucrats, and unions and into the pockets of teachers. After all, how will you attract the best and the brightest except by providing them a highly competitive salary and great working conditions?

And who loses out in all of that? Bad teachers. Teachers who are just terrible at their jobs (either because they don't know any better or just plain don't care) will be tossed aside. Unions will also lose quite a lot of power, but not at the expense of good teachers (somewhat at the expense of mediocre teachers). Suddenly schools will be able to reward excellence, punish incompetence, and push toward student success. The worst thing we've ever done to our education system is remove all incentive to teach students well. Many motivated individuals need no such incentive, but their minority voices die on the vine as the administrative bureaucracy grows into a strangling weed gripping funding and control so tightly and completely that little light finds its way through.

The politics of how we get there don't need to be pure; they just need to get us to a point where bad schools fail (and actually go away) and good schools succeed. Once that's in place, the rest of the problems start to unravel.

Comment: Re:I think it is the fear of being sacked (Score 0) 381 381

Teachers' unions have been under brutal attack for over 30 years now and there are today very few teachers with "strong" union protection left.

Well no, most teachers in public schools still have absurdly strong union protection. Take New York City, for example, where teachers who were negligent, physically abusive, even sexually harassing students were placed in what came to be known as "rubber rooms" for months or years on end where they were paid their full salaries to literally do nothing. They couldn't be disciplined, let alone fired, because the contracts negotiated by the unions called for an impossibly long process to take any action against any teacher. The unions' response? "There are no bad teachers." Yeah...

Some - although not a large percentage - of K-12 school districts have a concept called 'tenure' which is often confused with elite university tenure but in the K-12 world generally means "can't be fired without the firing party following HR procedures and going through an appeal process". Which doesn't mean much in the end either.

May be true in Wisconsin, but in most of the country, that process has been extended and amended to the point where it's all but impossible to get rid of someone who isn't a convicted felon sent to prison. In NYC, you can confess to sexually harassing young girls and then spend the next decade collecting $85,000 a year (with automatic timed raises) all while sitting around doing literally nothing. And it isn't just NYC (though they've gotten the most press coverage). Places like California, New Jersey, and others have similar issues. The pendulum swung too far in the unions' direction and it's started swinging back the other way. And not a moment too soon!

Comment: Re:I think it is the fear of being sacked (Score -1, Troll) 381 381

In New York (City), you had teachers sitting in office rooms ("rubber rooms") for years on end because the paperwork and process to actually fire a teacher was so long and arduous that they couldn't bother even trying to rid themselves of physically abusive, sexually harassing, threatening, or otherwise unsafe-to-have-around-kids teachers. They had teachers perving out on young girls in their classrooms that they couldn't fire because the union wouldn't allow it. This is to say nothing of teachers who just did a terrible job. The unions' response? "There are no bad teachers."

You want to know why teacher protections have been under attack? Because the pendulum swung so far in one direction that we're protecting the jobs of perverts and the incompetent. So yeah, it's coming back the other way.

There's a whole WORLD in a mud puddle! -- Doug Clifford