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Monday, June 21, 2010

Roanoke Times 1, Eric Cantor 0.

This is painful:

The Roanoke Times, June 13:
Fiscal responsibility goes out the window

The new GOP looks a lot like the old GOP. Just ask Cantor himself, who recently led the push to keep $485 million in the latest defense appropriation bill to pay for an alternate engine program for the next generation of advanced jet fighters.

Lockheed Martin, the defense giant that won the contract for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, decided to use an engine made by Pratt & Whitney. That decision was approved by the Pentagon.

But GE and Rolls Royce want to build an alternate engine for use in the jet, at a cost of at least $485 million.

Rolls Royce just opened a new headquarters in Virginia and is building a factory in Prince George County.

So Cantor abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility and pushed the appropriation for an engine neither the jet's builder nor the Pentagon believe is necessary. [link]
Congressman Cantor, in response, this morning:
Find cuts to pay for spending

[jf: After a whole mess of weasel words, obfuscations, and distractions that are, frankly, beneath him ...]

Recently, The Roanoke Times questioned whether my support for an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was necessary ("Fiscal responsibility goes out the window," June 13 editorial). After much research, I became convinced that there is a compelling national security and economic case to be made in favor of the alternate F-35.

Military procurement competition, particularly in the development of engines, has produced a wide range of savings and improvements in quality over the years -- and I have no doubt that the trend will continue in the future. Simply put, I believe that market competition will not only produce a better product for our military, but actually save money over time.

In fact, the Government Accountability Office reached the same conclusion. It estimated that F-35 engine competition may produce sufficient savings over the fighter's lifetime to offset the cost of developing an alternate engine. The GAO and the Armed Services Committee have also cited benefits such as enhanced operational readiness, superior engine performance, better engine reliability, improved responsiveness from contractors and the maintenance of a healthy industrial base.

Without the funding, we will be straitjacketed with only one engine for a plane that will comprise a whopping 90 percent of our fighters in 2035. This means that if the engine fails in the future, the vast majority of our fleet would be grounded until the problem was fixed or an alternative was found.

The question becomes whether the project is worth a $485 million investment. I believe it is ... [link]
Good argument. If one ignores the fact that the the United States military has no intention of using the 485 million dollar engine.

Cantor's argument, at its crux: "We will be straitjacketed with only one engine for a plane" that has use of only one engine.

I was hoping, when I began reading Mr. Cantor's explanation for his support of a powerful constituent, that he would cite a military study that bolstered his argument. In using the GAO, the accounting arm of the government,  he disappoints in the extreme. One look at the Defense budget will tell the curious that we are willing to spend whatever it takes to defend this country of ours.  Defense is not a matter of accounting.  It's life and death.  Our lives or our deaths.  And if the military - which admittedly is a political animal as well - has decided that a competitor makes a more utilitarian engine for its fighters, then the discussion ends there.

Rolls Royce will continue to develop its engine.  As it should.  On Rolls Royce's dime.  We don't need to be paying for its research and development.  Especially if Air Force experts have determined that the company offers an inferior product at present.

Mr. Cantor needs to rethink this.  Constituent services are one thing.  Misguided government largesse and wasting taxpayer dollars are another.  He's supposed to be one of us.  Consistently.

Voodoo Session To Be Held

Or, as the mainstream press prefers to tell it:
Hearing to focus on Va. uranium mining's impact
Associated Press

Chatham, Va. (AP) -- A state panel considering the consequences of uranium mining in Southside Virginia is traveling to Chatham to hear from residents.

The Virginia Coal and Energy Commission's Uranium Mining Subcommittee has scheduled a public meeting Tuesday evening to gather comments on the scope of a socio-economic study.

The study is one part of the state's examination of the impact of uranium mining on Pittsylvania County. The other aspect involves scientific and technical matters.

Virginia Uranium Inc. wants to mine a 119-million pound uranium ore deposit near Chatham. The state has had a moratorium on uranium mining and milling since 1982. [link]
Should be a hoot.  Expect a lot of hand-wringing, angst, tears, anger, distress, and a complete detachment from reality.

I'll bring the popcorn.

China Is Number One ... Soon

This should come as no surprise:
US manufacturing crown slips
By Peter Marsh, Financial Times

The US remained the world’s biggest manufacturing nation by output last year, but is poised to relinquish this slot in 2011 to China – thus ending a 110-year run as the number one country in factory production.

The figures are revealed in a league table being published on Monday by IHS Global Insight, a US-based economics consultancy.

Last year, the US created 19.9 per cent of world manufacturing output, compared with 18.6 per cent for China, with the US staying ahead despite a steep fall in factory production due to the global recession.

That the US is still top comes as a surprise, since in 2008 – before the slump of the past two years took hold – IHS predicted it would lose pole position in 2009.

However, a relatively resilient US performance kept China in second place, says IHS, which predicts that faster growth in China will deny the US the top spot next year.

The US became the world’s biggest manufacturer in the late 1890s, edging the then-incumbent – Britain – into the number two position. [link]
And, as with the rise of the world's powerhouse - the USA - a century ago, the explosion of Chinese manufacturing might has occurred with breathtaking speed.  Thousands upon thousands of jobs in this country have been snuffed out in the last two decades as job growth in China has exploded.  And the acceleration of growth there, and decline here, continues apace.

Where will it end?  We have the ability to alter the trend.

We just don't have the will.

Expect it to get really ugly.

Where Was The Washington Post?

Remember the coverage and analysis of George Allen's use of the non-word, macaca in his race for reelection in 2006?  Remember the Washington Post addressing the incident 100 times?  There are those wondering these days why news outlets like the Post aren't giving similar treatment to a Democrat's far-more egregious physical attack on a couple of innocent students last week:
Howard Kurtz: Why Didn't Media Cover Etheridge Attack Like Allen's Macaca?
By Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters

Howard Kurtz on Sunday said most mainstream media outlets "really blew it this week" in how they reported North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge's attack on students.

"Most treated it as intriguing footage or a good gossip item, but the guy went bonkers when approached by two young men with a video camera," Kurtz said near the end of CNN's "Reliable Sources."

After playing the video of the incident, Kurtz surprisingly asked, "Remember how the media went nuts over that tape of Republican Senator George Allen using the word 'Macaca?'"

He continued, "By minimizing this footage of a Democratic congressman, most news organizations have enabled their critics to charge once again that they have a double standard." [link]
A double standard?  The mainstream press?  Nahhh.

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As background, see "Congressman Assaults Student on Washington Sidewalk" here.