In the Arena

Shot Down

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In a rare moment of Congressional courage and sanity, the Senate has refused to fund the continuation of the F-22 fighter jet program. The Pentagon didn’t want the planes, whose best use would have been dogfights against the mighty Al-Qaeda air force. The President threatened a veto. But there were plenty of jobs at stake, especially in Georgia, Texas and California. Indeed, the F-22s were included in the House version of the budget–and could reappear after the final bill emerges from conference, although that is apparently unlikely. 

The F-22 was obsolete, a cold war relic. Its replacement, the F-35, probably isn’t all that necessary either–the future of the Air Force is likely to be in unmanned aircraft, increasingly complex and sophisticated versions of the drones now wreaking havoc in the Pakistan frontier areas. But then, this issue isn’t really about defense needs. It’s about jobs–especially jobs in sun belt states that voted Republican the past 30 years (California is the exception). Wouldn’t it be nice if those jobs could be replaced by others in alternative energy? There’s a lot of sun in the sun belt. But there’s also a lot of misdirected wind power in the Congress.