Saturday, November 09, 2002

ZoNotes: Saturday's Brown Leaves

Fighter Talk
With the UN Security Council approving the Iraq disarmament ultimatum, it would help to understand that the upcoming precision warfare has taken a major step forward from the 1991 Gulf War and the 1999 Kosovo strikes.

One of the major tenets of Air Force and Naval aviation transformation strategies has been to have less aircraft be able to attack more targets. The existing maturations of legacy programs -- the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-15EStrike Eagle, and the manned strategic bomber platforms like the B-1B, B-52, and B-2 Stealth, have a better selection of armaments of which to strike Iraqi targets.

One of the lynchpin weapons will be Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). JDAM is a relatively simple concept -- attach satellite guidance kits onboard erstwhile "dumb bombs." The Air Force recently wrapped up testing of the 500-pound "lightweight" JDAM, but both naval and Air Force aviation assets have already made use of the 1,000- and 2,000-pound JDAM munitions.

Additionally, older aircraft that were not built with an organic precision-delivery capability can gain it with the use of special guidance pods. For example, Marine Corps Harrier jump-jets and Air National Guard F-16s can mount a Northrop Grumman-designed LITENING navigation and targeting pod, allowing these platforms to gain access to a variety of smart munitions.

The other side (note, the other side could be alot of potential opponents) cannot defeat Amercian/Coalition airpower using manned aircraft. Consequently, states like Iraq invested in a groundbased integrated air defense network, with their lynchpin weapons being Russian-designed surface to air missiles and low-altitude antiaircraft artillery.

The only "adversary" aircraft that could dare occupy the same airspace with American/Coalition aircraft are the Russian-designed MiG-29 and the previously discussed Flanker family of fighters produced by Russia's Sukhoi design bureau. However, the Flanker weapons/sensor/platform package is both expensive and fruitless.

So, it's no secret that American airpower is essentially unbeatable. However, the level of advances we are making couple both precision strike with survivability. This quotient will tilt in our direction even farther when the F/A-22 and Joint Strike Fighter become operational and replace older-model F-15s, and -16s.

"War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory."
Georges Clemenceau (1841 - 1929) ---
(Note, Clemenceau is French, and we all know about the French, so this quote ain't necessarily surprising...)

Thursday, November 07, 2002


After The Dream Team
Before the election, the Texas Dems thought they had marshaled together an unbeatbale trio for the Senate, Governor's, and Lt. Governor's race. With Laredo multimillionaire Tony Sanchez challenging Rick Perry for the statehouse, Ron Kirk taking on John Cornyn for Phil Gramm's Senate seat, and former Aggie John Sharp against David Dewhurst, the Dems figured to score a competitive victory in all three races.

The "Dream Team" -- one Mexican-American, one African-American, and one Anglo, was supposed to represent the state's prevalent diversity. However, this trio was handed an 0-for-3 night on Tuesday. The most shocking defeat was Sharp's to Dewhurst. Dewhurst had been considered something of a lightweight, but he did have a reservoir of financial resources to draw from, and that certainly contributed to his win. Sanchez's gaping 20-point loss to Perry exhibited a disconnect between the North Texas voter and Sanchez. Plus, Sanchez wasn't able to capitalize on his voting base in South Texas. Kirk had been polling closely to Cornyn, but the gap widened as the night wore on on Tuesday.

I think that a ticket like this would have been a little more competitive, say, in 2006. That said, the Democrats invested considerably in an electoral victory in Texas, and it didn't turn out. Whether or not it works depends largely on turnout. It is unlikely that the Democrats could find more attractive candidates than they did with the men they assembled for the 2002 race.

It is certainly possible that Sanchez, having comitted almost $70 million of his own fortune in the governor's race, could draw some lessons learned from the campaign trail and re-equip himself for a run at some other elective office. Money like his has its own redundancy, allowing for multiple shots at elective office. The national party would be smart to utilize Kirk as a talking head for the news shows and as an op-ed writer. He's good for the DNC braintrust. Sharp still has durability, and one could say that he too could have made a run at the statehouse, given his personal strengths.

"Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers." -- T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

ZoNotes: Getting on the Wagon.

Well, I sure hope that you guys didn't go to Vegas with my predictions. Before the evening, I thought that my rather conservative assessment, +2 to -2 in the House for the GOP, +1 to +2 in the Senate for the Dems, obviously missed the weekend tracking polls that called the ball in the direction of the elephants. It looks, somewhere in the +4 range for the House and the Dems lost control of the Senate when Georgia and Missouri flipped, and the GOP held in North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Colorado.

Plus, I was also wrong on the Texas Senator's race, where Cornyn scored a relatively easy victory over the best Democrat candidate that the Dems have fielded back home in recent years, Ron Kirk.

However, the indications are that fellow Laredoan and Hoya alumnus Henry Cuellar (F'78) scored 52.4 percent of the vote in Texas-23d to clinch the seat for the Dems, overcoming incumbent Rep. Henry Bonilla but with no winner actually declared. In my hometown Webb County, Cuellar was polling in the stratosphere, garnering approximately 85 percent of the votes. The vote-rich, turnout-capable counties that comprise the district also came in decisively for Cuellar, turning the seat that had trended GOP since 1992, when Bonilla won the seat. Bonilla's advantage, recently, had been the reliable turnout in San Antonio's Bexar County. However, with Webb and the other rural counties going in the "blue" column, Cuellar was able to score what looks like a solid win.

So, what happened? How did the GOP buck the historical trend and win some races?

Well, as alot of the commentators were blaring last night, the Dems had a problem cultivating a true loyal opposition. Plus, issues that should have garnered traction -- Enron, WorldCom, the slugging economy -- proved to be a wash, as the Dems and GOP split the difference rather evenly. I figure that the Dems needed a wider margin on the economy, especially if it wanted to increase its lead in the Senate.

The problem, if you happen to be a moderate New Democrat or even a conservative Blue Dog, is that the Dems might begin to push even further to the left, especially with the wreckage that was the Senate races. Depending on where you stand, that is either a good or bad thing. The current Democrat leadership is now in the bends, as it is likely the centrist Democratic Leadership Council could be on the outside looking in as the Dems prepare for the 2004 presidential race. The potential bumper crop of Democrat candidates for the presidential nomination will need to balance between the leftist ideologues that comprise the get-out-the-vote effort and the big-time donors that fuel long-term presidential aspirations. It is hard, at this juncture, to see whose Democratic Party could emerge from that philosophical debate.

"It is possible that blondes also prefer gentlemen." -- Maime van Duren. By the way, what do redheads, brunettes, and the bald prefer? Jerks? Morons?

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

ZoNotes: Ballots

Good luck to ZoUncle and Cuellar campaign operative Jorge Vergara as the voters take the snapcount!

Today the voters go out and decide who will represent them in the disparate statehouses, House and Senate seats. Speaking to Sean Mullaney (B'00) last night, I said that the national media, even with measures designed to ensure double and triple redundancy, will blow at least one major call tonight, thus creating a ripple effect similar to what happened when Florida was called for Gore/Bush/Gore/Bush/Gore/Bush two years ago during the presidential race. While no one could repeat that kind of electoral chaos in a midterm, the national media could still shoot itself in the foot. I say, likely, that if it does happen, it will be an east coast state election.

"Praise and criticism are both frauds." -- Anonymous

Monday, November 04, 2002

ZoNotes: Pressing the Flesh

Status Quo Ante
The House will likely stay in GOP hands either at +2 or -2 depending on turnout in individual districts and the voter sentiment come tomorrow morning. The Senate, I think, will show a +1 or +2 Democrat gain, with the most likely victories in Minnesota with Mondale and Shaheen in New Hampshire against Sununnu. All in all, I think that both parties in 2002 put in a lot of money just to keep running in place. It used to mean that big money helped secure an electoral win. Now, all big money does is ensure that you have a viable campaign.

In Maryland, LtGov Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will win the governor's race in spite of her awe-capitulating campaign because Maryland is a Democrat state. I say she beats challenger Ehrlich by 3 points, and that's a high number.

As for Texas, I think that Rick Perry will beat Tony Sanchez for governor, even though the latter will probably end up spending $65 million of his own personal fortune after the dust settles. A particulalry revealing nugget of information coming out in the last couple of weeks is that Perry's pedestrian approval ratings still allow for a 15-point polling lead over Sanchez. Ron Kirk, the candidate for Senate, actually has a better chance of winning than Sanchez does, given Kirk's pre-existing political experience. I think that whoever wins the seat will have done so within the margin of error. Since I'm taking the conventional wisdom with Sanchez, I say Kirk becomes the next U.S. senator from Texas, but of course, I could be wrong. Henry Cuellar, whose acrimonious relations with Sanchez have been documented before, could beat incumbent Henry Bonilla in Texas-23d if voter turnout rolls the Democrats' way. A rising tide, in effect, lifts all ships, whether or not the captains like each other.

Scratch the Gold
Notre Dame's undefeated season ends with a 14-7 loss to Jesuit football power Boston College. The Fighting Irish showed supreme arrogance and bad judgement by wearing the green jerseys on Saturday, and paid for it with a performance that stirred the echoes of the Bob Davie era. Still, given the sycophancy of sportswriters and the bowl cartel, The Irish are still in good shape for a BCS bid.

"Nobody has ever comitted suicide while reading a good book, but many have while trying to write one." -- Robert Byrne