Air Force Refueling Tanker

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader saw a piece on the Reuters news wire that surprised him a little bit. Here is the piece: Congress in turmoil over Air Force tanker decision Here are some excerpts:

A U.S. Air Force decision awarding a $35 billion aircraft contract to a team including the European parent of Airbus landed like a bomb in Congress on Friday, drawing howls of protest from lawmakers aligned with the loser, America’s Boeing Co.

The Congressional delegation from the Seattle area said they were “outraged.” Kansas Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt vowed to seek a review of the decision “at the highest levels of the Pentagon and Congress” in hopes of reversing it.

Boeing has big facilities in both Seattle and Wichita, which stood to gain from the long-term project to build up to 179 aerial refueling tankers. Although Boeing was favored to win the contract, the Air Force awarded it to a partnership between Northrop Grumman and Europe’s EADS.

Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats, along with six other lawmakers from the state said in a joint statement: “We are outraged that this decision taps European Airbus and its foreign workers to provide a tanker to our American military.

“We will be asking tough questions about the decision to outsource this contract. We look forward to hearing the Air Force’s justification.”

Once again your Maximum Leader isn’t sure what to make of his government. Is your Maximum Leader offended that a consortium containing Airbus has won the contract to provide the tanker? At some base (and he does mean base) level his sense of Nationalism is offended. He’d like to see Boeing win every major airplane contract out there. But is an Airbus consortium winning this contract a bad thing? Probably not.

What is unusual is that if one is really concerned about our defence industries “going overseas” then shouldn’t you be concerned about microchip and semi-conductor manufacture “going overseas?” Shouldn’t one be concerned about the origin of all the components that go into defence industries? This decision is just one reasonably minor cog in the greater wheel of globalization.

Now, your Maximum Leader is a staunch free-trader. But he also is concerned about American industry. Unfortunately, the time for us (that is the United States) to be worrying about where the major components of our military equipment (or computing equipment, or vital goods for our technology infrastructure) come from was - as best he can tell - about 30 years ago. That ship has sailed. The US economy is integrated into the world economy. A factory in China could shut down and our supply of iPods (to use a mundane example) would be affected. A major power outage in India could affect US hospitals being able to treat patients. (It’s true. Some hospitals have outsourced the “reading” of machine outputs - like MRI or CAT scans - to doctors in India.)

This is the world we live in today. On the whole, it is a good world to be a part of. But it is not without risks. But to complain that US national security is endangered by the award of a contract to a company that happens to have a European component is ridiculous.

If our government wants to create a domestic military-industrial complex (humm… that is a catchy term…) that artificially keeps certain industries active (if not truly viable without government assistance) in the US; your Maximum Leader supposes that our government could choose to do that. But it would be refreshing - if not nigh impossible - for a politician try to understand the economic reality of the world and explain it to their constituencies.

Then again… Economic jingoism does make one feel better…

Carry on.

Happy Day Skippy

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wants to wish his good friend Skippy a very happy 38th. Many happy returns. Lucky for Skippy, your Maximum Leader will not be sending any damp underwear. (NB to Skippy: If you think there is anything your Maximum Leader can get you (legally) for your birthday - please let him know.)

You know, there are times when your Maximum Leader wonders if he and Skippy aren’t sometimes psychically connected. You see, your Maximum Leader and Skippy were thinking the same thing this morning while watching “Meet the Press.” Only your Maximum Leader was too lazy to write an outstanding blog post about his thoughts (which pretty much mirror Skippy’s - except for all that stuff about being Canadian).

All this stuff about renegotiating NAFTA or withdrawing from NAFTA is crazy talk…

But then again… Both Clinton and Obama are good at dishing out the crazy talk.

Carry on.

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