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Thursday, December 13, 2012

F-35 deal scrapped as Conservative government begins new search for fighter jet

The federal Conservative government has formally pushed “reset” on its search for a new fighter jet after revealing that the Lockheed Martin F-35s they had picked would cost more than $600 million apiece to own and operate over their lifespan.

Battered by opposition criticism, sticker shock and with the sharp critique of the auditor general ringing in their ears, Conservative cabinet ministers confirmed Wednesday that they were starting fresh in their search for a jet to replace aging CF-18 Hornets.

fighter jet

“We have hit the reset button and are taking the time to do a complete assessment of all available aircraft,” Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose told reporters.

The F-35 Lightning II — the choice more than two years ago — is in the running but its purchase is far from certain, especially given the rising costs for the stealth fighter.

While the government has vowed to spend no more than $9 billion to buy the jets, a cost analysis reveals that Ottawa has set aside just $602 million in reserve funds to cover unexpected price hikes. That’s far short of the recommended contingency fund of $2.5 billion, the analysis by the accounting firm KPMG says.

Any increases in cost would force Ottawa to cut its jet order to stay within budget, leaving the Department of National Defence (DND) short of fighters.

“DND has advised that their risk mitigation strategy ... is to reduce the number of aircraft acquired,” the analysis states. “This could reduce the initial fleet to as low as 55 aircraft, which is below DND’s current stated requirements.”

On Wednesday, officials released an audit report showing that the “cradle-to-grave” costs of owning and operating a fleet of 65 F-35s would total $44.8 billion, a stunning price tag and far higher than any cost released so far.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay sought to put the eye-popping number in context, noting that it includes the cost of salaries and fuel, which in the past have not been lumped in with the price tag of new military gear.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Obama sees warnings in North Carolina, Wisconsin, bright spot in New Mexico in race to 270

An analysis of the state-by-state race to 270 electoral votes, the total needed to win the presidency, and where Democratic President Barack Obama and probable Republican nominee Mitt Romney stand now. The numbers reflect electoral votes:

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.


Michigan (16) — Despite lingering economic pain in the auto capital, Michigan has large minority and union voting blocs that favor Obama. Romney, a native son whose father was governor, won the GOP primary but his opposition to the 2008 auto bailout will hurt him.

Minnesota (10) — Low unemployment and a long streak of Democrats carrying Minnesota give Obama confidence. But Minnesota was competitive in 2000 and 2004, and includes a length of the Mississippi River Valley, among the Midwest’s most pivotal swing regions.

Obama sees warnings

New Mexico (5) — Gave narrow victories to Democrat Al Gore in 2000 and Republican George W. Bush in 2004, and an influx of Hispanic and younger voters now moves this state toward Obama’s column. No advertising yet from Obama, Romney or any super political action committees.

Pennsylvania (20) — Pennsylvania has tipped Democrat in the final month in recent presidential races. Romney has continued campaigning in the state, but a nearly 1 million Democratic edge in voter registration makes the state a reach for the GOP.

Wisconsin (10)
— Embattled Gov. Scott Walker’s improving chances of winning a June 5 recall election helps Romney better compete in Wisconsin, where Ronald Reagan was the last Republican presidential candidate to win. Romney aides say Wisconsin leaps ahead of Michigan in priorities if Walker prevails.


Colorado (9)
— Long a reliable GOP state, but Colorado’s conservative profile is changing. Young professionals and Hispanic voters were central to Obama’s victory in 2008, but the sluggish economy has hurt his standing. Female voters in Denver’s suburbs could play a big role.

Florida (29) — Florida is the prime target for both campaigns. Obama won in 2008, but the housing crisis, high unemployment and gas prices are dogging him. Romney won the primary in January and has picked up the endorsement of GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. Obama’s organization has a large advantage.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reagan the Liberal, Obama the Conservative??

All of the attempts to claim Reagan as some kind of crypto-liberal, as I noted in National Review last week, are unpersuasive when they aren't mischievous. But it put me in a frame of mind to turn the tables. Right after the 2008 election, I gave a speech in Portland, Oregon, where, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I argued that Obama was a stealth conservative candidate. I offer it for your amusement:
I'm wondering how long it is going to take the left to figure out that Obama is a stealth conservative candidate. He's not even in office yet, and already he has notched four major conservative victories. First, he has rid us of the Clintons.
Second, his coattails took Proposition 8, California's initiative to ban gay marriage initiative, over the finish line. Exit poll data show that it passed with very heavy support from African-American and Latino voters, who turned out in large numbers to vote for Obama. Without Obama on the ballot, Prop. 8 might have lost.
Third, he has shredded the public finance system for presidential elections. It's not coming back.
Fourth, his election happily diminishes race as a factor in American politics, which is long overdue.
A few more conservative victories like this and our friends over at and the DailyKos are going to start scratching their heads and may even begin to suspect our plot.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Egypt protests: government to meet key opposition figures

The standoff between Egyptian anti-government protesters and their 82-year-old president has continued into its 12th day, with Cairo's central square still under occupation and Hosni Mubarak maintaining his refusal to stand down.
In an effort to break the deadlock, a group of prominent opposition figures said they would meet newly appointed vice-president Omar Suleiman later today to discuss the possibility of him assuming power for a transitional period.
The opening of any negotiations now between the government and opposition forces is being fiercely opposed by a wide swath of the pro-change movement, including the Muslim Brotherhood, former UN nuclear weapons chief Mohamed ElBaradei and many of the pro-change demonstrators on the ground, all of whom believe that talks should only begin after Mubarak resigns.
After a relatively peaceful night in Tahrir Square following a huge "day of departure" rally yesterday that once again brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets of downtown Cairo, opponents of the regime are beginning to cast around for new tactics in their struggle to unseat a president who is proving stubbornly resistant to all attempts at toppling him.

Friday, February 4, 2011

American Conservative Union

The parent organization of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is about to lose its longtime leader as it's embroiled in a bitter feud over the conference's inclusion of the gay conservative group GOProud. Two Keene allies confirmed a story first reported in World Net Daily that ACU chairman David Keene would not serve another term as head of the conservative political organization. According to them, Keene is expected take over as president of the National Rifle Association after leaving ACU.
Keene has been on the board of the NRA for years, and had been looking to this next step for at least a year. And the departure of Keene will change the picture for ACU's CPACs. A common problem that some conservatives have with CPAC is the involvement of Keene, whom they criticize, quietly, for trading off the ACU's credentials. A 2009 scandal over Keene offering to side with FedEx in a dispute with UPS -- many conservatives, it should be said, sided with UPS -- was emblematic of this. (Sarah Palin cited this as one reason she didn't attend the 2010 CPAC.) But Keene really had been looking at the NRA job for a while; it is pure luck that social conservatives have taken a stand against CPAC's libertarian bent this year, and can reap publicity when he leaves.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hotel tax hike overcomes alliance of conservative, liberal delegates

The old dictum that politics makes for strange bedfellows was rarely clearer than in the vote among Howard County's state delegates approving the Ulman administration's bill boosting local hotel room taxes from 5 percent to 7 percent.

Allied in opposition were the delegation's most liberal member, Democratic Del. Elizabeth Bobo, and Republicans Dels. Gail H. Bates and Warren E. Miller, the two most conservative. Their reasons for opposing the measure were different, but led them to the same position. Though the local bill affects just Howard County, to become law the measure must be approved by the General Assembly.

In the final vote, Bobo said she opposed any restrictions on the use of the new revenue because of heavy demands on nonprofit and county social agencies that need more money to help people in crisis.

"I have no problem raising the hotel tax," she said, but she does object to using the money for tourism in a time of economic crisis. "Human services are unable to keep up," Bobo added.