Monday, November 08, 2010

Monday Afternoon Links

Content goes here.

- Scott Taylor nicely explains the Cons' insistence on buying F-35s rather than look at less expensive and more effective alternatives for Canada's actual defence needs:
Amid the chest poking and bellowing over aircraft capability, cost effectiveness and sole-source bids, one lone voice of reason has sung a totally different tune. Always one to march to his own drummer, the Rideau Institute’s Steven Staples posed the question: why does the replacement for our manned CF-18 fighters have to be a piloted aircraft?

Perhaps the Pentagon subscribes to Staples’ newsletter as it has announced that the U.S. air force plans to have more than one-third of their aircraft be of the un-manned variety by 2020.

Not known for such progressive thinking, Hawn, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defence, will shout repeatedly to anyone who will listen that Canada needs a piloted fighter — and he should know because he is a former fighter pilot.

No doubt, prior to World War I, many a former cavalryman bellowed to all and sundry that horses will always have a place on the modern battlefield.
- And Paul Wells has another cost-saving proposal based on the Cons' latest excuse to trumpet the F-35s:
Emirates Airlines Flight 201 was a combination of problems. One problem had already been solved: NORAD needed the pilot of Flight 201 to be co-operative—but he already was. Another problem couldn’t be solved at all: who was going to get that explosive out of the cargo hold, if there was any there?

For neither problem is an F-35 “the right equipment.” In fact it’s entirely useless. Or nearly: it does make some people feel better. And by “some people,” I mean “Dimitri Soudas.” Do taxpayers need to spend $16 billion to make Dimitri Soudas feel better? Perhaps. He’s a nice guy. But perhaps he can be made to feel better for cheaper.

I nominate Omar Khadr.
I propose that Omar Khadr be put in charge of security for all flights operating in Canadian airspace. This would be simple enough. Put a desk with a telephone in his cell. At intervals, inform him that there is an airliner somewhere carrying suspicious cargo. On these occasions, Khadr’s keepers would glower at him and say, “If anything happens to that flight, you’re in BIG trouble, Buster!”

The phone on the desk in the cell need not even be connected to anything. Omar Khadr couldn’t sort through airborne cargo or coerce an already willing pilot any more than a fifth-generation stealth multi-role fighter could. But he would be more than $15.9 billion cheaper. That’s enough for another GST cut. Everyone wins.
- Meanwhile, the Cons are continuing their campaign as proxies for the Republicans who aren't directly represented on the international stage, this time by attacking both the desirability and likelihood of nuclear stockpile reductions.

- Finally, I'd think the debate is far from settled as to whether the U.S. Democrats could have in fact improved their political position by doing more. But William Saletan (via Aaron Wherry) is at least right about this much if there actually was a tradeoff to be made between passing health care reform and 2010 election results:
But if health care did cost the party its majority, so what? The bill was more important than the election. I realize that sounds crazy. We’ve become so obsessed with who wins or loses in politics that we’ve forgotten what the winning and losing are about. Partisans fixate on punishing their enemies in the next campaign. Reporters, in the name of objectivity, refuse to judge anything but the Election Day score card. Politicians rationalize their self-preservation by imagining themselves as dynasty builders. They think this is the big picture.

They’re wrong. The big picture isn’t about winning or keeping power. It’s about using it.

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