John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

Month: November, 2015

A Billion Here, A Billion There…

“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, Illinois


The USS Zumwalt, DDG 1000, is the lead vessel of a new class of US Navy guided missile destroyers designed to be, “Multi-mission stealth ships with a focus on land attack.”


If you think that sounds like new-speak, let me put it another way; Zumwalt, named for Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. and her two sister-ships, DDG 1001, the USS Michael Monsoon, named for a Navy Seal awarded the Medal of Honor and, DDG 1002, the USS Lyndon B. Johnson will cost the American taxpayers at least $22 billion.


First proposed in 1994, the lead ship will not become operational until 2018 at the earliest. Meanwhile, the cost of building this class of vessels has become so out-of-control that the number of ships was cut from 32 first to 24, then to seven and finally to just these three. Not only that, but during the course of development, the Navy admitted to Congress in 2010 that these 14,000 tonners weren’t going to be up to their design tasks and asked for eight additional Arleigh Burke destroyers, the class the Zumwalts were expected to replace. They even offered to suspend the two already under construction at Bath iron Works in Maine and cancel the third as a trade-off.


But the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Senator Susan Collins from Maine would have none of that so the navy got their eight Arleigh Burkes while funding continued for three Zumwalts.


So what are we getting for our tax dollars at work? Three 600 foot long ships at a building cost of $4.3 billion (it was $3.96 billion three years ago) each powered by Rolls-Royce gas turbines driving Curtis-Wright electric generators providing ten times the power available on current destroyers. This is important as almost all the weapon systems are electrically powered including some not yet ready for prime time like the rail gun.


This idea of building weapons before all of the systems are operational is an insanity that the military has adopted. The same problems infect F-35 fighter program and the CVN-79, Gerald Ford aircraft carrier class. Back in 2009, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) “…found that four out of 12 of the critical technologies in the Zumwalts’ design were fully mature. Six were ‘approaching maturity’ but five would not be fully mature until after installation. Now that’s one hell of a way to build a ship!


Their physical appearance is nothing to write home about either. The Boston Globe’s Christopher Rowland recently described them: “With sharp angels and sleek surfaces that evoke Hollywood science fiction, the Zumwalts… are the weirdest-looking warships…”

“…Picture an Aztec pyramid welded atop a machete blade.” The bow is inverted giving a similar appearance to battleships and cruisers that fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898. This is all done in the name of stealth to limit the ships’ radar signature. On paper, it is no bigger than a fishing boat. In return the ships stability in hurricane-force weather is being questioned.


But wait, wait…with only three units, the mission remains unclear and the suggestion has been advanced that they be utilized “…as state-of-the-art platforms for experimental weapons such as lasers and electromagnetic rail guns.” I kid you not!


James R. Holmes, a professor of strategy at the Naval War College noted, “I wouldn’t describe fleet experimentation as the ‘best’ use for the Zumwalts, but more as a way to make lemonade out of lemons.”


To which I would reply, “Professor, you can’t shine shit!”







Oh Happy Day!

This past Election Day, I received an odd letter in a curious envelope having the appearance of containing junk mail. Preparing to discard it unopened, I hesitated as two distinctions caught my attention. First, it was addressed to an E. Delach and second, the printed postage symbol noted: “Postage paid GB: ROYAL MAIL: £1.00.”


Opened it I did, to find a letter addressed to E. Delach at my address from a certain Mr. A. P. This was curious as E. Delach hasn’t lived here for over 20 years, and changed her surname after marriage in 1997. Still, I pressed on. A.P. described himself as: Head Auditor, Barclays Capital Finance. His purpose was to present E. Delach with the news that a certain Mr. J.B. Delach had opened an account at his firm in 2002, but sadly passed in 2008. Poor, J.B. left no will and evidence of a family could not be established.


A.P. explained: “(Without an heir or will)… I decided to contact you to stand as next of kin since you share the same last name with him.”


A.P. did infer a possible personal profit motive in his proposed partnership explaining that if E. Delach either, “…set(s) up a new account or provide(s) an existing account that will serve the purpose of receiving this fund..,” he will compensate E. Delach with “…40% of the funds after the transaction.”


Forty percent of zero is still zero but A.P. boldly stated that the gross amount of the sum in question is GB£ 12,500,000. To reinforce his point he also spelled it out as Twelve Million Five Hundred Thousands British Pounds. Oh Happy Day!


A.P. explained: “This information I have on this account is confidential as no other person has access to it.”


He warned to urgently proceed with his plan otherwise the window of opportunity will vanish and this money will be converted to company funds for the benefit of the shareholders only. Greedy bastards!


Where is Bernie Sanders or the Weavers when I need them?


Oh the banks are made of marble,

with a guard at every door.

And the vaults are full of silver,

That the farmer never saw.


A.P. provided his private direct phone number, fax and email address. As I pondered, “What to do, what to do,” I continued to sort the mail. I set aside an appeal from The Bowery Mission seeking a Thanksgiving Day’s donation. In the stack were the latest issues of National Review and New York magazines and a gaggle of catalogues. Hold on; as I sorted the catalogues, I discovered trapped between two an identical envelope to the one addressed to E. Delach, but this one was addressed to John J. Delach.
Truly, a serendipitous moment especially as I discovered the contents was identical to E. Delach’s letter. Of course, cynics caution that the receipt of identical solicitations negates A.P.’s statement that the contents were confidential to E. Delach only. I prefer a more pragmatic road that both E. Delach and John J. Delach are each entitled to 40% maximizing our share to 80%. Oh Happy Day!


To be sure, caution will be my calling-card. I plan to wait to see if other household members, past and present also receive like solicitations. Mary Ann, (wife) Michael (son) as starting points but also, Woofie, Harry, Fred, Bubba, Maggie, Buster and Max. Since all of these canine companions except Max are deceased, they will fit very nicely with collecting J.B. Delach’s monetary legacy and wrecking ole A.P. once we exceed 100% of the share.


As for Max, I am certain if he receives his own letter and is included in my reverse scam that he will sell out for treats regardless of the amount I collect.


Oh Happy Day!      



Ist Volkswagen Kaput


The executives and chief engineers at Volkswagen (VW) face a self-imposed crisis of  that may permanently cripple the world’s second largest auto maker if not destroy it. If that happens, it will catapult VW into a new category of ruined businesses completely surpassing other monumental failures like Arthur Andersen, Lehman Brothers and Enron. Herr doctor Martin Winterkorn, who was CEO from the time that the dastardly deed began in 2009 until he was forced to resign on September 23, 2015 would become the butt of semi-apolitically correct jokes joining the Fuhrer with ridicule like this:


Did you know the German people actually hated Hitler for all of the stupid things he did? Like losing the war!


I will try to recap what this crisis is all about for those of you who have been too busy playing fantasy football, tuning in to the latest Kim, Kourtney or Khloe Kardashian dilemma, exploit or scandal or crying in your beer after the Mets lost a brutal World Series in five games.


Jack Ewing reporting for The New York Times wrote:


After he became chief executive in 2007, Mr. Winterkorn declared his determination to make Volkswagen the world’s largest carmaker overtaking Toyota. He was known for his intense attention to the technical fine points of the vehicles the company produced.


“A lot of things were subordinated to the desire to be faster, higher, larger,” (the successor CEO, Matthias Muller) said in a conference call with analysts and reporters…”


Mr. Winterkorn’s management style, coupled with a relentless drive for growth, is cited by some critics…as a contributing factor to the scandal by impeding open communication and perhaps causing subordinates to cheat rather than admit failure.


And cheat they did on an unprecedented scale. One of VW’s goals was to develop clean, green diesels that …were environmentally responsible while delivering excellent fuel economy.


This turned out to be a fool’s errand; such a diesel being as mythical as “clean coal.” Instead of addressing the problem head-on, certain company executives and engineers chose to develop software that would cheat on control tests by lowering oxide emissions to acceptable levels making full use of pollution controls. Once the engines passed, the software shut down providing excellent fuel economy but producing as much as 40 times the allowable limits for nitrogen oxide.


The possibility of fraud was discovered by the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) which road tests vehicles instead of using European static laboratory tests. In May 2014, diesels in a 2012 Jetta and a 2013 Passat repeatedly emitted high levels of nitrogen oxide. Finally, in August of 2015, the E.P.A. stated that it would not certify VW’s 2015 diesels until the discrepancies were explained. On August 18th a VW executive finally came clean.


The German Government is forcing VW to recall 8.5 million vehicles in Europe and 500,000 in the United States. VW is estimating the cost at €6.7 billion not including fines, penalties and legal fees. The fine imposed by the Federal Government will likely be greater than that imposed on BP for the spill in the Gulf of Mexico as this event was deliberate and not accidental.


Further and even more devastating than the monetary cost, the Justice Department’s investigation could conceivably lead to criminal charges against both individuals and against VW as a corporate entity if culpability reaches that high. If that transpires, people will likely go to prison and VW as now constituted, would cease to exist.


Be assured that intense anxiety has descended upon company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany that will not be lifted any time soon. Is Gotterdammerung at hand in Wolfs- burg?