25 September 2008

The race...

I am very fortunate.  I am able to subscribe to XM radio and benefit from a variety of programming (almost all of it free of commercials).  One of my newest favorites is XM 130.  This is the POTUS (President of the United States) channel.  And before the members of my Chomsky reading fan base chime in, it is NOT twenty-four seven playing of George Bush saying the word "nucular".  It is a great collection of partisan news programs, non-partisan interviews and commentary from great folks in the thick of the campaign process.  It's been on the air almost a year and covers candidate speeches unfiltered from start to finish.  This channel, like sources such as www.factcheck.org, reflect the continuing evolution of real information politics.  It was observed today that by the principal of a focus group company (www.mediacurves.com) that both candidate's negative ads are being viewed negatively by both sides.  What is clear from the voting population is that they want to hear some substantive ideas from either candidate.  This is something that neither side is delivering.  Between Sarah Palin being pinned down by Katie Couric on John McCain's legislative record, to Joe Biden claiming he was "forced down" in a helicopter in Afghanistan, the candidates aren't giving the voters any meat for their political stew.
I have set myself solidly down in the McCain camp.  There are many positive reasons and some negative ones.  On the positive front, I think he will manage the economy better.  He is an advocate for smaller government and revising our tax code to favor growth, innovation and investment.  He is far superior in the realm of national security and his personal military experience (and yes, his captivity) give him a unique human perspective on the cost of conflict.  Finally, he is decidedly out of the mainstream in his party with regard to social issues.  Although he claims to be "pro-life" and touts in a 2007 statement that he will appoint conservative judges to the SCOTUS, his past record and actions contradict that.  My sense is that once elected, he will simply walk away from these "distraction" issues and govern.
Senator Obama captures my attention for his ambition, skill and rhetoric.  I am very concerned about his pedigree (Bill Ayers and the Annenberg Challenge specifically).  I am deeply concerned about his position on guns.  I do not think his financial plan for the nation is viable.  As one of the "rich" taxpayers he is targeting, I think his approach to revenue generation is flatly socialist and at odds with the foundation of our nation's economic strength.  He is also opposed to missile defense, the single biggest tool in our diplomatic arsenal.  The mere suggestion that we would place units in Poland or Ukraine gained substantial attention from Russia.  The ability to defend Japan or any of the Persian Gulf states from North Korea or Japan is critical to maintaining stability in the region. 
I am not vitriolicly opposed to Obama, as many seem to be towards McCain.  And I don't think that Obama's race makes a whit of difference (although I think that Hillary's did to the DNC).  And so onward the race trundles.  McCain's "put your money where your mouth is" move to delay the debate synched nicely with his "country first" message.  

12 September 2008

The right thing to do...

This project has been fraught with controversy from day one.  Boeing behaved badly (leading to the bid process) and Congress was equally shortsighted.  Pushing such a critical project to the next administration is the proper thing to do.  Should Obama be elected, look for this program to go away.  If McCain is elected, expect some very hard questions of the Air Force and the vendors.  We need long range air refueling platforms.  I don't think they need to be as hardened as the specification requires, most operations keep the tankers well out of the combat zone, preferring to stack them up in high altitude under cover of CAPs.

Gates Cancels Air-Refueling Solicitation
Wed, 10 Sep 2008 10:38:00 -0500

American Forces Press Service

Bookmark and Share

Gates Cancels Air-Refueling Solicitation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has cancelled the competition for the $35 billion Air Force tanker contract.

Gates told the House Armed Services Committee today that he decided the contract cannot be awarded by January, and that rather than award a contract that will be contested, the better idea is to let the next administration make its decision.

"It has now become clear that the solicitation and award process cannot be accomplished by January," he said. "Thus, I believe that rather than hand the next administration an incomplete and possibly contested process, we should cleanly defer this procurement to the next team."

The Air Force had awarded the contract for what's known as the KC-X to the Northrop-Grumman/EADS/Airbus consortium, which prompted a protest from rival bidder Boeing. The General Accountability Office found irregularities in the awarding of the contract, and Gates determined to re-open the bidding process on July 9.

Gates told the representatives that the department has been trying for seven years to find the proper way to replace the current fleet of KC-135 tankers. Over that time, the process has become most complex and emotional, Gates said, partly because of Defense Department mistakes.

"It is my judgment that in the time remaining to us, we cannot complete a competition that will be viewed as fair and competitive in this highly-charged environment," the secretary said. "I believe the resulting cooling-off period will allow the next administration to view objectively the military requirements and craft a new acquisition strategy for the KC-X as it sees fit."

Gates said he's been assured that the current KC-135 fleet can be adequately maintained to satisfy Air Force missions for the near future, and sufficient funds will be recommended in the fiscal 2009 and follow-on budgets to maintain the KC-135 at high mission-capable rates.

Robert M. Gates

03 September 2008

Judge not lest...

Citizen Une provided me with a shocking view of Governor Palin's nomination to the republican VP ticket.  She stated that Governor Palin should not run for office due to the condition of her eldest child.  She considered it irresponsible and negligent - presumably from a strictly maternal perspective.  We dove into a slightly longer discussion about qualifications - which she seems to view as light.  I was surprised.  To me this seemed like a double standard.  Clearly, Governor Palin has been embarked on a busy political life for some time.  She has raised five children, including a special needs child, and managed her family (along with her husband - notoriously left out of any commentary) during a very busy life in a demanding climate. 
I do not agree with her religious view.  To classify myself as irreligious would be an understatement.  I dislike any teaching of creationism / intelligent design as anything but philosophy.  There is no controversy in my mind on this topic.  Furthermore, I believe that the courts have settled well the issue of abortion.  I am firmly on the pro-choice side of the argument.  Having set myself against Governor Palin, I find many of her free market and anti-corruption stances more appealing.  These are roles which I expect from a Vice President.  Ever since Al Gore opened the door to a more activist VP role, we have seen the importance of this position grow.  I believe her experience is at least on par with Senator Obama's and her outlook and lack of Washington taint is probably appealing to Senator McCain.
I note, with some despair, that the more zealous supporters of Senator Obama have attacked Governor Palin on every level (from being a political neophyte to simply being a woman).  What is equally disappointing is that these detractors can not see the irony and hypocrisy in their assaults on this person.  I don't know if I would have placed myself into the contention for the Vice Presidency given the family situation which Governor Palin finds herself.  However, I expect she considered it carefully and is relying upon the counsel and support of her husband and family.  Her daughter, months away from "adulthood" has exercised bad judgment.  Starting a family so early in life presents challenges which are well understood.  I am certain that Governor Palin and her husband are wrestling with all the emotions related to such a circumstance. 
However, her decision to continue on this path is hers to make.  Just as John Edwards decided to continue his campaign when his wife was diagnosed with cancer, a tough call, but theirs alone. 
In a previous post (March) I predicted the race would be a Romney - Clinton match up.  Whooo!  Wrongville.  I do recall discussing Governor Palin as a one of my preferred VP options, but can not find the comment on the blog.