Wednesday, March 12. 2008
TPM published the following item titled "Like cats to water":
Tiahrt was an actual employee of Boeing before he got elected to the House. No doubt he'll be back on the payroll, with a substantial raise, when we finally get rid of him. Meanwhile, he's been so far up Boeing's corporate ass even Bush has taken to calling him Tanker Todd. He's also been deep into Tom DeLay, who gave him an Appropriations Committee seat. In turn, Tiahrt kicked some of his Boeing money into DeLay's slush fund. I've never gotten the impression that Tiahrt's fingers are particularly sticky, but clearly he knows how money works in Washington. He's a hardcore ideologist, but he doesn't assume that God looks out for him. He's done a lot of practical and expedient things to keep getting re-elected in what isn't a sure Republican district. The one thing he takes more seriously than any principle is self-preservation.
PS: Salon's War Room also singled out Tiahrt's quote.
Michael D Shear and Matthew Mosk: McCain staff tied to Airbus lobbying. The Kansas political world, which is totally in Boeing's hip pocket, is livid over the Air Force awarding its $35 billion tanker boondoggle to Airbus (technically, Northrop Grumman) over Boeing. Caught in the crossfire is John McCain, one of whose few good deeds was working to derail Boeing's previous scandalous one-bid tanker contract in 2004. McCain still cites his role there as preventing $6 billion in fraud. Several Boeing execs wound up in jail as a result, and the whole thing got restarted, with Airbus lobbying hard to get in on the graft. Looks like they won the contract at least partly on merit, but it no doubt helped that they've made major strides in playing Boeing's political game. And while I believe McCain when he says that he never personally lobbied on the issue, it turns out that he's close enough to plenty of lobbyists that it isn't hard to connect dots.
The conspicuous presence of lobbyists in McCain's campaign has been noted elsewhere, but hasn't really sunken into the public mind, which has conveniently forgotten that McCain only started wearing his scruples on his sleeve after getting caught up in the savings and loan scandal as one of the notorious Keating 5. Given how much play this is getting in Kansas, where Boeing's congressional flunkies are all Republicans, you can imagine how it'll play in Washington, where Democrats predominate -- both support Boeing slavishly, but the exporting jobs issue plays to their base instincts, and they have no reason to cut McCain any slack.
Meanwhile, Wichita Eagle editorial cartoonist Richard Crowson has been groping with the question of why Boeing's having such a hard time competing with Airbus. An earlier cartoon suggested several reasons, like the old saw about government subsidies. (You think Boeing is unsubsidized? Aside from all the cost-plus, reuse-the-technology Defense deals, Kansas has financed Boeing with billions of dollars in state-backed bonds, and every city, state, and country Boeing builds or contracts in has had to pony up for the privilege.) But today Crowson settled on health care costs, and picked an appropriate way to represent them. The little dog in the lower left corner says: "Didn't I see you in Detroit?"
I'm not sure that really explains it in Boeing's case, but then I know some folks Boeing laid off for being diabetic, so I figure they're pretty much on top of their costs there, as they are elsewhere. (Boeing is self-insured, so they have a lot of incentive to grind those costs down.) Still, Crowson is right in general, and it's good to see the point made.
The Eagle also published a letter today from a Merlin C. Hussey, under the title "Boeing is not without blame." It's worth quoting in its entirety:
One thing I haven't seen pointed out at all here is that Airbus is working at an enormous disadvantage given how badly the dollar has fallen vs. the euro -- as I recall, the euro has gone from about $0.90 to $1.50 since Bush took office. That in itself makes European labor more than 60% more expensive that it already was, which it already was given that Europe has more effective unions. Boeing is in a constant state of whine about how they have to get their costs down to compete, but it never shows up in the prices of their products, least of all when the US government is buying. Rather, Boeing's entire "competitive advantage" has hitherto been their superior ability to grease political palms. They built this game, and now that they've lost a hand it's hard to see anyone else to blame -- not that they haven't been trying nonstop since the contract dropped, pulling out every stop, even the very real problem of exporting manufacturing jobs, which is something else they've pioneered.
Of course, at this point I hope they do manage to scuttle the Airbus deal. The last thing we need is more tankers able to project American power to the far corners of the earth, imbrogling us in more disastrous wars.