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Senator Chuck Hagel

This is your Captain speaking…

Who the hell is Chuck Hagel and why do the people of Nebraska think he should be in the Senate of the United States? When I looked up his website he identified himself as a Republican. Since when are Republicans cowards on the war in Iraq?

Hagel is a Viet Nam veteran. Why does he think we ended up on the wrong side of the victory/defeat coin over there? Does he think it was the military, or was it the lack of support of the military. Was it the constant clips of American dead on our TV sets and the constant wailing of the peace movement, telling us that we couldn’t draft them, or the fact that we were winning on the battlefield despite being handcuffed by an incompetent SecDef. There is no way we can win any war without the support of Americans; real Americans who realize that this is a great country that must be defended, not impugned irrationally.

The left that caused us to lose in Nam were anti-American. They hated their country, and wanted it to lose. (If this surprises you, read David Horowitz’s book, Left Illusions.) At least most of the anti-war anti-Americans during Viet Nam were Communists. They had an idea they thought was better: the equal sharing of extreme poverty except for the party elite. (See Cuba, economy of) These people that Hagel has just embraced do not have anything like that. The only excuse these liberals have is anti-military and anti-Bush. They do not even have an ideology to support their unthinking opposition to this war, except for rabid anti-Americanism. They do know that the only way to defeat the American Military is to undercut them at home.

And now Senator Chuck Hagel, R-Neb, has made statements comparing Iraq to Viet Nam. Someone ought to give him a clue.

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Strike!

This is your Captain speaking…

Airline strikes are always a huge gamble, for everyone involved including the passengers of the struck airline.

For a union, if they strike and no one notices, they waste their most powerful weapon. A strike has to shut down the company’s ability to make money. Usually a strike by the maintenance union is a sure shutdown eventually, as the jets do not maintain themselves. It takes more than a day or two for there to be an effect on the operations. Modern airplanes are very reliable,and a maintenance worker really is vital when something breaks. Routine and preventative maintenance can be delayed for a few days, and then it starts to pile up faster than supervisors can do the work.

For a company, the biggest gamble is that nothing happens while the maintenance guys are on strike. If there is an accident while they are operating without their regular maintenance crews, the legal profession will ask for such huge punitive damages that they will overwhelm the insurance the company carries and can put them out of business. Likewise, if the inspections and repair requirements pile up too fast, they will not be able to complete their schedule, and eventually the customers will drift away.

In general, I think strikes are a tactic that no longer works. Both sides have too much to lose. I know that the labor confrontation United had in 2000 weakened the company severely. Both sides decided it was more important to win than to compromise. With the pilots not flying overtime and flying to rule when we did fly there was no way to complete a schedule amidst the worst summer weather we had had in years. Passengers started flying other airlines and did not come back when we finally got a contract. A weakened company with an abbreviated customer base was not able to keep out of bankruptcy in the aftermath of 9-11. (There were other problems, but this post is about labor relationships.)

The worst thing about any airline strike is the safety aspect to it all. If mechanics were not needed to keep the jets flying safely, the airline companies would not hire them. During the first few days of a mechanics strike, the jets are safe and the schedule works. As time goes by, the replacement workers and supervisors will not be able to keep up with the work. The company will push the limits of safety until the pilots rebel and the FAA starts to see problems. The schedule will start to suffer. Most passengers will continue to fly on the struck airline, not realizing that they are starting to risk their lives.

As a young pilot, especially in combat, I took risks I should not have. Most of them were fun, and I was always the person in control, and everything went well. The risks were still stupid to take. Right now, Northwest is a safe airline to fly on. The risk factors start to rise as the strike goes on. Remember, risk on an airline is and will always be tiny. But why increase it? Replacement workers are always people who did not have this good a job when they come on board. Most of them are competent. Are they as good as the guys they replace? If they were, why didn’t they have that job in the first place? Questions to think about. After all, we have just had a couple of accidents where maintenance issues, if not the primary cause of the accidents, sure made then possible. Something Northwest does not want you to think about as you make travel plans. Caveat emptor.

Reflections on Salt Lake City:

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