So Michael Byers had a piece in the Globe and Mail that seemed to confirm reports that the Pentagon had leaked a missive that the Canadian government was going to go ahead with the purchase of a mere four F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. There still has been no competition to replace the F-18 aircraft we currently deploy, and considerable fuss arose when the plan to buy a whole fleet of them came to light a few years back as it became clear the the Defense people weren’t being particularly candid about the cost of the program and about the notion that the aircraft itself is not particularly adapted to the ideal mission for Canada. On top of that, the whole program has run decades behind schedule and has run over its original budget by orders of magnitude. The problem with buying four of these beauties is that the JSF then is likely declared the winner of the competition that never happened and the standard for further procurement.
I recall distinctly the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when I learned that the Chrétien government had signed a contract to acquire four British submarines back in the late ’90s.
There is much I love about Britain and the British, but their engineering and construction of mechanical devices has left a trail of broken hearts among all those who’ve experienced the joy of owning an MG, or a Triumph, or a Handley Page Halifax, and the Canadian experience with these vessels would seem to bear that out. The original price quoted by Chrétien & Co. was on the order of $750 m, but by the time any of them was declared fit for service, our own poor little exchequer had disbursed several times that, and we had lost lives when one of the things caught fire in Mid-Atlantic on the way to Canada. Our little dabbling with the JSF looks like a similar story, aside from the price tag running over $100 bn., and it seems hard to locate any discussion of this in the House, a phenomenon that would have demonstrated a modicum of consideration following all the previous upheaval over back room dealings and the desire of AirShow McKay to have his Mission Accomplished moment. Nope, a leak, sort of like our submarines.
Sadly, we have a government that won’t take no for an answer and that will trip around the back door or under the toilet seat togged what it want, even through chicanery and pure skulduggery.
Lots of ink spilled about respect for the fallen who gave up their lives for our freedoms. Peter Mansbridge is solemnly pontificating in the next room, falling in line with Mr. Harper’s bid to gain votes by sanitizing the slaughter of millions for the sake of the Empire, a benefit for industrialists and (ig-)nobility. People not attending the ceremonies will include those trading on various stock markets around the globe because, after all, it was really all about money anyway, wasn’t it? (Aside from Royal pissing contests.) Markets are up, and here’s the eventual payoff for our august leader…
Mrs. Thatcher quipped that “There is no alternative” to her brand of unfettered capitalism. This explains much of the malaise in several electoral jurisdictions where people are leaving the mainstream parties in droves: they simply stand for nothing in particular, if not for more of the same. This doesn’t necessarily show up in the campaign rhetoric, but officials are to be judged not on what they promise, but on what they deliver. In the case of the recent U.S. midterm elections, it seems plausible that the victory of the Republicans has little to do with the merits of the people or the ideas, but a lot to do with the unfulfilled promises of the 2008 election. In effect, the voters were sold a bill of goods and got more of the same, though with a very well-spoken figurehead. In effect, there wasn’t really a true alternative. I see that Bernie Sanders is challenging his hordes to be ready to take on the entrenched structures of capital and no one of prominence has the credibility that Sanders has built over the years. It would be interesting to get inside peoples’ heads to see what they thought of Sanders as a potential president, and we all know that his chances of getting elected are somewhat south of the Vegas minimum, but Bernie represents an alternative that has been there all along, that of rule of the people, by the people and for the people. This has become increasingly difficult to conceive of, let alone implement, as the creeping influence of big money has captured the security establishment, both houses of the legislative branch and a good part of the court system. It has been the hidden alternative, never discussed in polite society and certainly not a figure in the press and entertainment venues that constitute the daily fare of most of us, it has not been a coherent alternative, and it would seem that neither party in the GOP/Dem dichotomy (not so much), as well as the Labour/Tory pairing in the UK and the UMP/Socialist duo in France, presents a framework for that voice.
A further thought about the possible outbreak of something like democracy. This morning’s radio had a feature on an imaginary food truck and the promotion thereof by the buying of glowing reviews and FB likes and Twitter followers. The suppliers of the lies do it for the money. Does this remind anyone else of our political process, except that, instead of a phony grilled cheese sandwich truck, we are paying for bogus legislation and legislators.