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Mueller Testimony/Investigating Airline Crashes

Ralph talks with John Nichols, national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine, about Robert Mueller’s testimony, the imperial presidency and Ilhan Omar, and many other aspects of the current political landscape. Then we welcome aviation crash expert, Dr. Alan Diehl, who gives us his take on the situation with Boeing and the problematic 737 MAX 8.

John Nichols is the national-affairs correspondent for the Nation magazine and host of Next Left, The Nation’s podcast. He is the author of  Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America,” from Nation Books, and co-author, with Robert W. McChesney, of People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy.

“The fact of the matter is that an impeachment inquiry is never usually demanded by everybody. You get there at the point where people know enough to say ‘Hold it, something bad here has occurred.’ Imagine if in 1973 folks had said, ‘You know look, we just can’t look into what Richard Nixon’s done with regards to Watergate and all these other things, because he just got re-elected by an overwhelming majority’… Believe me, today you might hear that. If that was the standard, Nixon would have been protected simply by the fact that he won an election.” John Nichols, National Affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine.

Dr. Alan Diehl has held important positions with aircraft manufacturers and the National Transportation Safety Board, the FAA and the US Air Force. Dr. Diehl was also celebrated for exposing mistakes by government officials that led to deadly accidents. He holds degrees in Psychology, Management and Engineering as well as an Airline Transport Pilot license. His first book, Silent Knights: Blowing the Whistle on Military Accidents and Their Cover-Upswas widely acclaimed and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His latest is Air Safety Investigators: Using Science to Save Lives One Crash At a Time.

“The (Boeing) marketeers overruled the (Boeing) engineers.” Dr. Alan Diehl, aviation crash expert.

11 Comments

  1. Mark Hughes says:

    Regarding Trump having ‘no recollection’ or having ‘no knowledge’, this isn’t new. Remember the Iran/Contra hearings starring Oliver “I Don’t Recall” North. I remember those as a teenager. His lack of recalling simple facts, “Ollie’s Army”, etc. While back then I was naive politically and such I do remember thinking that North was being coy. And the term “Imperial Presidency” that Nichols used, that’s a perfect term to describe the POTUS whoever may be in that office.

    During the Wrap-Up, there was a listener question from a chiropractor named Paul Leevy (apologies for spelling) who wants to turn his practice over to his employees, thereby making it a worker cooperative, and wanted to know who he could speak to in order to make that happen. My recommendation is to reach out to economics professor Richard D. Wolff, who founded the nonprofit Democracy at Work, based in NYC I think. Prof. Wolff is a brilliant individual and views worker co-ops as a solution for our traditional capitalist model in our society, a solution that covers many ills at once (exploitation, wealth gap, environmental damage, etc). Wolff has been a strong advocate for worker co-ops for a long time now and advises business owners who, as he has mentioned several times, want to retire and hand businesses over to his employees. This is his speciality. Prof. Wolff can be reached at http://www.democracyatwork.info. Best of luck to Dr. Leevy and his employees, I wish them all the best.

  2. Donald Klepack says:

    The Mueller testimony was mostly on Obstruction of Justice. Someone said to Obstruct Justice you most have Corrupt Intent. Is that true? If it is can Donald Trump Obstruct Justice if he knows he is innocent of Russian interference, so can he Obstruct Justice, especially related to him and his office.

  3. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Another journalist for The Nation, Aaron Mate, recently won an Izzy Award for his years of fearless debunking of the Russiagate conspiracy theory. You were so close to having the perfect guest to talk about the Mueller hearing. 🙁

    P.S. Fun fact: in previous economic systems such as slavery and feudalism, both private individuals and states owned slaves and engaged in serf-lord fealty contracts. Now… do people ever build this childish false dichotomy where they pretend that those systems are “not feudalism” or “not slavery” when the state does these things? Yet somehow, under this lingering miasma of decades of Red Scare propaganda, we keep trying to pretend that the only possible alternative to private capitalism is state capitalism.

    If you want to learn about turning your business over to your employees to form a non-capitalist worker cooperative, you should really check out Richard Wolff’s organization Democracy at Work. Wolff, by the way, is a Marxian economist who would make a wonderful guest for this show. He can clear up Ralph’s confusion over “socialism” once and for all.

    • Val Escher says:

      Agree completely, Afdal & Mark, with the suggestion that Ralph engage with Prof Richard Wolff to discuss Marxian economics, and worker co-ops specifically. Each time Socialism comes up in the program discussions, I imagine I can hear Wolff taking issue with some of Ralph’s ideas about what socialism entails, and I am surprised that someone as widely read and informed on public policy as Ralph is seems to be so far behind on such an important topic.

      • Mark Hughes says:

        In America for several decades now, the equation is socialism = state-owned. Maybe, maybe not. Per Prof. Wolff himself, the very definition of socialism is something that’s been debated even among socialists themselves. The only thing socialists appear to have in common is their utter disgust of capitalism.

        IMO, Marxism is a more precise definition if his three Capital Volumes (four if you count TOSV as Marx himself did) are any indication. In this, what we incorrectly all socialism (state-owned) is what Marx himself called “State Capital”, which is found in Volume 2, chapter 3. Marx’ quote specifically states “…or the state capital, so far as governments employ productive wage-labour in mines, railways, etc., perform the function of industrial capitalists), …” Marx is very clear that State Capital is no alternative, much less an opposite, to private capital, and Prof. Wolff (and David Harvey for that matter) will state exactly the same.

        Another thing that screws America’s head up re socialism is Hitler’s Nazi party was “socialist” but in name only (“National Socialist German Workers’ Party”). Hitler’s so-called socialist party went so far as to award American supercapitalist Henry Ford, a raging anti-Semite, not to mention work with other top American corporations. Some socialism there.

        But no, America as usual will double-down on its incorrect views on things. If America was so much as half as open-minded as Europe, it wouldn’t have taken 60 years for the evil term ‘socialism’ to be uttered in more widespread, a more intellectual and open discourse.

    • Skro35 says:

      Afdal, you should check out our interviews with Gar Alperovitz on worker owned co-ops, too.

      Also, Ralph is not confused about socialism. He knows what the classical definition is. He is attempting to turn the rhetorical tables on the corporatists by using their own definition of socialism on them. In essence, “If this is what you call ‘socialism’ (government hand-outs), then why don’t you acknowledge how the corporate class takes advantage of that, too.” It’s more effective than getting into an erudite argument about complex ideologies.

  4. Dale West says:

    Are bilateral aircraft certification agreements (foreign regulators) with the FAA reinforcing more regulatory capture? Is this another backdoor for corporatizing the FAA? For example, Europe has the BASA (Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement) agreement & VIR (Validation Improvement Roadmap) programs to historically trust the FAA certification process without much recent proof and to fast track aircraft FAA certifications into the EU. No real “trust but verify” process for the interest of public safety. What do aviation safety experts think about these foreign bilateral agreements?

  5. Val Escher says:

    Has anyone been able to get the website theyrule.net, mentioned by Thom Hartmann in the previous program, to work? I’ve tried on Firefox but I get stuck on a window that shows a message saying “loading.”

  6. Edwin Wright says:

    Given the level of safety required by civil aviation and the magnitude and seriousness of the aerodynamic deficiency in question, Mr. Nader is absolutely correct in maintaining that the problem with the 737 MAX is hardware (i.e., its aerodynamic configuration). In this case, the first tenet of hazard control, that of designing out the hazard, necessarily applies. The 737 MAX should therefore remain grounded indefinitely pending a major aerodynamic reconfiguration.

    The acceptance of a revised MCAS would represent a highly compromised precedent for the civil aviation industry, not only from the perspective of basic safety engineering principles but also in terms of the airworthiness regulations, the interpretation of which in this case appears to have been flawed.

    To whit, on the basis of what was disclosed by an experienced pilot (Capt. Petter Hörnfeldt)* on the YouTube channel Mentour Pilot (www.mentourpilot.com) in his March 15th video titled, “Boeing 737 Stall Escape manoeuvre, why MAX needs MCAS!!” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlinocVHpzk), I am concerned that the very existence of MCAS represents a breach of the airworthiness regulations, specifically 14 CFR Part 25 Subpart B Flight §25.203 Stall Characteristics. (*Petter Hörnfeldt, Founder of Mentour 360 SL and Base Type Rating Examiner (Girona), Senior linetraining-captain, Boeing 737-800)

    In his video, Capt. Hörnfeldt clearly points out that MCAS is needed in a stall to move the nose down in order to get out of the stall. In other words, whatever role MCAS may play prior to a stall, it is essential for stall recovery once a stall has occurred.

    14 CFR Part 25 Subpart B Flight §25.203 Stall characteristics states:

    “(a) It must be possible to produce and to correct roll and yaw by unreversed use of the aileron and rudder controls, up to the time the airplane is stalled. No abnormal nose-up pitching may occur. The longitudinal control force must be positive up to and throughout the stall. In addition, it must be possible to promptly prevent stalling and to recover from a stall by normal use of the controls.”

    While MCAS was introduced to preclude the “no abnormal nose-up pitching” requirement of §25.203, thereby ultimately enabling stall recovery, it represents a breach of the requirement “… to recover from a stall by NORMAL use of controls.” (my emphasis)
    Subpart B Flight (§§ 25.21 – 25.255) implies (in a number of sections) inherently stable airplane aerodynamics and other features by precluding the necessity for “excessive control forces” or “exceptional piloting skill, alertness or strength” to otherwise compensate for design inadequacies. The concept applies not only to the pilot but to the autopilot (and hence, implicitly to excessive or exceptional automation in general). A prime example in keeping with that philosophy is §25.161 Trim that states:

    “(a) General. Each airplane must meet the trim requirements of this section after being trimmed, and without further pressure upon, or movement of, either the primary controls or their corresponding trim controls by the pilot or the automatic pilot.”

    Obviously, §25.161 does not differentiate between the pilot or the automatic pilot. Its focus is on trim control exclusively. The objective of §25.161 is to ensure that the airplane is aerodynamically capable of meeting the trim requirements without additional trim control after being trimmed.
    In the case of §25.203, the objective (in a stall) is to enable stall recovery without implementing abnormal or extraordinary use of the controls. Again, the focus is on NORMAL use of the controls. Clearly, it makes no difference whether abnormal or extraordinary use of the controls involves either the pilot or an automatic system or a combination thereof. In the case of the Boeing 737 MAX, the abnormal use of controls involves ancillary automation (i.e., MCAS) applied to the horizontal stabilizer to compensate for inadequate aerodynamic performance under stall conditions. I would argue that the Boeing 737 MAX is therefore NOT COMPLIANT with §25.203 (despite its prior FAA approval) and in this context, it is difficult to understand why the FAA allowed Boeing to attempt to ameliorate less than adequate aerodynamics by implementing ancillary automation (i.e., MCAS) despite the airworthiness regulations, the philosophy of which is based on inherently stable (and therefore safe) aerodynamics. Furthermore, I am surprised that (to the best of my knowledge) the MAX´s airworthiness certification had never been challenged by other regulatory authorities before the recent tragedies.

    It is time for regulatory authorities worldwide to step up to the plate and stop being a rubber stamp for the FAA. If the FAA does not have sufficient resources to certify an aircraft without assistance from the manufacturer, then it needs to obtain that assistance from regulatory authorities in other countries.

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