Your morning jolt: In F-22 fight, Gates calls for an end to ‘defense business as usual’

While you ate dinner last night, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave a passionate response to congressional attempts to boost spending for the Marietta-built F-22 Raptor.

As he delivered his argument, according to the New York Times, the one major holdover from the Bush Administration felt the need to burnish his conservative credentials:

Saying he “didn’t molt from a hawk into a dove on Jan. 20, 2009,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sharply criticized Congress on Thursday for trying to push more F-22 fighter jets into the Pentagon budget than he and President Obama say the country needs.

“If we can’t get this right, what on earth can we get right?” Mr. Gates said in an acerbic, sometimes withering speech to the Economic Club of Chicago. “It is time to draw the line on doing defense business as usual.” From his point of view, that means overbuying weapons for wars the nation is unlikely to fight….

A Senate vote on the amendment is expected in days. Mr. Gates told reporters on Thursday that it looked “pretty close.”

….In the half-trillion-dollar Pentagon budget for 2010 that Mr. Gates proposed in April, billions are to be shifted from traditional weapons systems to new technology to fight insurgencies like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the F-22, designed for cold-war aerial combat, has become the poster plane for each side. Mr. Gates argued to the economic club that it was a “niche, silver-bullet solution” for only a few potential situations, specifically “the defeat of a highly advanced enemy fighter fleet,” and that the cheaper F-35, which is to start production in 2012, is a more versatile fighter. The F-22’s supporters say it not only provides jobs but also ensures American dominance of the skies.

This from the Washington Post, which also followed Gates to Chicago:

The defense secretary warned that any effort to add planes to the budget would rob dollars from more pressing weapons programs that are needed for the conflict in Afghanistan or for battles with future adversaries unlikely to challenge the United States in a major conventional war.

He singled out the threat posed by extremist groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which “currently has more rockets and high-end munitions — many quite sophisticated and accurate — than all but a handful of countries.”

The normally staid Gates became especially animated Thursday describing his frustration with lawmakers’ efforts to keep building F-22s. “The more they buy of stuff we don’t need, the less we have available for the stuff we do need,” he told reporters, his voice rising. “It is just as simple as that. It ain’t a complicated problem.”

It’s worth a look at Gates’ entire speech, which can be found here.

Saxby Chambliss, the ranking member of Senate Agriculture Committee, has lifted the hold he placed on the nomination of Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein, Obama’s choice to head the a key position within the Office of Management and Budget.

As reported here early, Chambliss placed his hold on Sunstein based on articles written by the law professor in which he advocated the right of animals to bring suit against their owners. Sunstein also drew some opposition as a result of lectures in which he suggested a ban on hunting.

Chambliss’ decision was widely trumpeted in Drovers, a cattle newsletter, and Pork Magazine, which included audio of an interview with Georgia’s senior senator.

“I don’t want any left-wing nut in a position like that,” Chambliss said — though he admitted the OMB position Sunstein sought had little to do with agriculture or firearms.

Chambliss introduced Sunstein to several agbusiness groups. “Most of those folks have become satisfied that he didn’t really mean what he said,” Chambliss recounted, and that — if he did — the law professor did not intend to pursue his aims.

Also, Chambliss admitted, he could only hold Sunstein’s nomination “for so long” before he would be overruled by the 60 Democrat majority.

The board that governs the Georgia Music Hall of Fame has determined that the Macon facility’s financial straits are so dire that without $225,000 from a yet-to-be-determined source, the board may have to close the Hall by the end of the year.

As of June 30, the Music Hall of Fame began staff furloughs, and began closing its doors on Sundays and Mondays.

Shutting down the place that celebrates the likes of Ray Charles, R.E.M., Otis Redding, the B-52’s, Usher, James Brown, Trisha Yearwood, Little Richard, Alan Jackson, Johnny Mercer, the Allman Brothers Band won’t do much to help Macon position itself as the birthplace of Southern rock’n’roll.

While you ponder that, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:

  • Zell Miller: Obama needs to sit in ‘Gorilla Glue’ and stay put.
  • Group asks Gwinnett commissioners to defer budget cuts.
  • Two-year colleges excited over possible stimulus funding boost.
  • 215 pilots take Delta buyout offers.
  • Soldier’s suit against Obama presidency dismissed.
  • Some opinion:

  • Your Luckovich fix.
  • Jim Wooten says Atlanta school chief, Democrats are in denial.
  • Jay Bookman on the resurrection of a con man in a choir-boy face.
  • Bob Barr says the nanny state has struck his hometown of Marietta.
  • From elsewhere in Georgia:

  • Southern Political Report: Comeback stats a caution for Barnes.
  • ABC: Atlanta Gas to push back rate case to as late as June 2010.
  • And beyond:

  • WP: S.C. senator is considered a pivotal character in Sotomayor hearings.
  • NYT: Democrats drop key part of bill to assist unions.
  • Politico: Conservative group offers to sell endorsement for $2M.
  • For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

    8 comments Add your comment

    Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

    July 17th, 2009
    9:32 am

    I like the F22, more money for us lobbyist. You go Saxby we love you.

    Bo Chambliss LOBBYIST

    July 17th, 2009
    9:51 am

    Saxby is just making nice with Obama so he won’t veto the F22. Lost of lobbying money ridding on the F22– You know Saxby’s moto –Lobbyist first–

    Illiterate Statists!

    July 17th, 2009
    11:18 am

    Big Bucks/Bo Chambliss:

    1. Purchase a dictionary.
    2. Take an elementary English class.
    3. Silence is golden.

    Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

    July 17th, 2009
    11:34 am

    Chambliss is a DISGRACE to the tradition of Georgia senatorial excellence exemplified by Dick Russell and Sam Nunn!

    Akhmed Picklesimer

    July 17th, 2009
    1:02 pm

    Perhaps some of those mega-millionaire enshrinees can help the hall through this crisis.

    Bill

    July 17th, 2009
    1:24 pm

    Almost always ignored in the media commentary on the F-22 fight is the fact that the Japanese, Australians, and Israelis all want to purchase this jet – because they know it is the best fighter ever and all are willing to pay more to produce an exportable version. If Gates succeeds in killing the production line, this option is dead. Export is currently banned by Congressional action, but this can be reversed. Billions of dollars of export business while improving the ability of our friends to provide for their defense – sounds easy to me.

    And why is Gates the only cabinet secretary in the entire administration lobbying for a reduction in his budget in an era of unchecked government spending? Makes one wonder.

    Ga Values

    July 17th, 2009
    2:11 pm

    Bill 1:24 pm

    This has been covered here before..1 The Japanese have to ammend their constitution to cover the inreased cost ratio. 2. The Australians can’t afford them. 3. Isreal doesn’t pay anything for things they get from us so there is no cost reduction only an increase because we would have to pay for the increased operating cost,

    The Bush administration wanted to kill the F22 but kicked the can down the road. Sec. Gates is a honest, knowledgable secretary and anyone who knows anything respects and admires him. He is simply trying to do what is best for our country. Too bad our Senators are not doing the same thing.

    Cliff

    July 17th, 2009
    4:06 pm

    I had to chuckle out loud when I read that Senator Chambliss, a principal in ramming the unneccessary F-22’s through Congress, was featured in “Pork Magazine”.