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Chip Drago
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The Political Round-Up

Avez-vous vendu la mèche?;
Bottoms up at B-Bob's;
Lobbyists in for a licking?

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'

What brought to mind that exchange from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (although the Vietnam and Watergate eras when statements were no longer "operative" and folks "misspoke" might be a more apt reference) was a recent Wall Street Journal feature on European Air Defence and Space's CEO Louis Gallois.

An extract from the lengthy story went thusly:

"As EADS becomes more global, defense is a crucial sector for the company. And with European defense budgets remaining mostly stagnant, that means the company must do more business in the U.S. Because of that, Mr. Gallois says, EADS and Airbus's plans for an assembly line in Mobile, Ala., don't (MBT emphasis) hinge on their getting the tanker contract.

"It's a strategic move for us to become American citizens," he says. "And we are bringing a lot of jobs to the United States." Here he pauses and then, grinning, adds, "Perhaps it is that which is worrying Boeing. We  are bringing too many jobs to the U.S.!"

Avez-vous vendu la mèche, Mr. Gallois?

On reading the Wall Street Journal, an inference could clearly be drawn that the French aerospace giant will build commercial freighter aircraft at Brookley in Mobile, come hell, high water or Nancy Pelosi.

But not so. And granting that the reporter used and attributed to Gallois the strongest language contradicting previous reports that the commercial production is linked to winning the $40 billion military tanker contract, perhaps there is room for misinterpretation.

In any event, EADS/Airbus says it would be a mistake to  conclude from the WSJ story that commercial aircraft production in Mobile is not linked to also building military tankers there.

Responding in an email through the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, EADS/Airbus' Allan McArtor explained, "In proper context ... Gallois meant we need to expand industrially to (the) dollar zone (to balance the effect on the company's bottom line of disparities in value between the dollar and the euro) ... and we don't need a tanker to convince us of that. However, Mobile FAL is still contingent on (the) tanker contract (and we will add freighters)."

So feel free to confuse "don't hinge" and "does hinge." But, please remember, when calling on a word to be ambidextrous, do as Carroll advises and always pay it extra.

Others close to the competition believe, however, that Gallois knew precisely what he was saying and the translation in business-speak goes: "Boeing, we are coming to the U.S. to compete with you regardless, so don't think your 'pull-out-the-stops' PR blitz and political strong-arming will have any long-term effect on our plans to compete for U.S. military business."

Boeing would not lie, of course, but the company's Department of Newspeak might disseminate factually accurate information in a manner that does not comport perfectly with the reality of the assertion's intended meaning.

In a world where purposely or inadvertently leaking the truth is a venial sin (Gallois), then certainly Boeing's public relations campaign to win the $40 billion tanker contract is shameless with more serious offenses where falsehoods are masqueraded as truth.

We offer here but one, though glaring, example:

Boeing's claim: The KC-767 can take-off from shorter runways, making it a more practical and versatile aircraft for the U.S. military than the KC-45. 

In fact, Boeing's tanker can take-off from runways that are 1,000 feet shorter than can the KC-45. But cue Paul Harvey for "the rest of the story:" the claim is true only if the Boeing tanker is empty. If the Boeing tanker is carrying a full load of fuel (which, after all, is its mission), Boeing's KC-767 requires a runway 1,000 feet longer than does a fully-loaded KC-45.

Somewhere, Humpty Dumpty is cracking up.

Bottoms up at B-Bob's!
The Mobile County Democratic Executive Committee will stage a martini tasting fund raiser Thursday, Aug. 7 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at B-Bob's on Conti Street in downtown Mobile. A $15 donation entitles an attendee to three martinis of his/her choice. There will also be a silent auction. All proceeds go to support local Democratic candidates.

Lobbyists in for a licking?
With the need for an industrial development special session apparently moot after the state's loss of a new Volkswagen plant to Tennessee, Gov. Bob Riley may instead call a special session isolated on revisiting the laws relating to natural gas royalties, plaintiff lawyer and ex-Lt. Gov. Jere Beasley speculates in a recent newsletter.

"Most legislators I have talked with tell me that a session
dealing with that issue will be a real test for the oil industry lobbyists," Beasley wrote. "Those lobbyists will definitely have their work cut out on this issue."

If it comes to pass, the battle royale should produce a win for either the lobbyists or Riley and the state's taxpayers, said Beasley.

"If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t put my money on the lobbyists this time," Beasley concluded.

Congressman slates town hall meets
U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL) will hold three town hall meetings in Mobile County Tuesday, Aug. 12 and Wednesday, Aug. 13. The times and locations for these meetings are as follows:

Tuesday, Aug. 12
9:30–10:30 a.m. – Grand Bay - Senior Center
1:30–2:30 p.m. – Creola - City Hall

Wednesday, Aug. 13
2–3 p.m. – Semmes - Semmes Community Center

For more information on these meetings, constituents should contact Bonner’s Mobile district office at 251-690-2811 or 1-800-288-8721.

Mobile collegian finishes internship with Shelby
Joshua Fuller, the son of Steve and Deborah Fuller of Mobile recently completed a one-month internship in the Washington office of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

While in Washington, Fuller helped staff research issues, conducted tours of the U.S. Capitol building and received Congressional Research Service Certification. Fuller also attended a hearing at the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development.

"Working as an intern for Senator Shelby has given me an
insider's perspective of the United States Senate and the effect it has on the state of Alabama," said Fuller.

Fuller attends the University of Alabama, where he is pursuing a degree in advertising.
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