CT People: WTF Is Wrong With You?

From Ali at Think Progress:

In a Friday interview with the Stamford Advocate, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) — one of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) foreign policy advisers — said he would attend the Republican National Convention this summer:

Friday, Lieberman said he will attend the Republican National Convention this summer, “if Senator McCain thinks it will be helpful to be there in some capacity.” […]

“I am not going to attend the Democratic Convention for obvious reasons,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman, whose Democratic superdelegate status was stripped earlier this year, also added that he’d likely support Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) against his Democratic challenger. “I am going to wait and see, but let me just say Chris Shays is a great congressman,” Lieberman said.

America’s Financial Doom

I harp on the doom that the Bush policies have wrought on us a good bit. I am no financial analyst, much less expert, so you can take anything I say as pure observation. But, does it take a money man to figure out that what we have been doing is devastating to our economy… an economy that was built off of our manufacturing base (specifically general industry and the automakers). These financial “geniuses” wanted us to shift our paradigm and become an “information age” and “financial sector” based economy and duped most everyone that it will work.

However, greed kills and it has killed our economy, along with countless citizens here and abroad.

There is one place where they thought some of this will be made up (military sector) and for them, boy are things “booming”:

Let’s take a hard look at defense spending

Few things in life are as predictable as cost overruns on giant new military projects. Except for maybe another big increase in the Pentagon budget.

Both happened recently, and there was little outcry in Washington or along the campaign trail. That’s troubling, given that domestic programs are being squeezed, deficits are growing and lawmakers are clashing over President Bush’s tax cuts.

But nobody tries to talk down defense spending in a time of war, even if the soaring spending isn’t due to the war.

Instead of shrugging off the relentless march of the military industrial complex, how about a clear-eyed assessment of the real threats to the country and some hard calls about what we can afford?

A good place to start would be with the Lightning II joint strike fighter, the most expensive aircraft program ever and the pride of Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. About 4,000 local Lockheed employees work on the Lightning II, a next-generation fighter that will replace the F-16 for the United States and many allies.

Last week, a government report projected that the price on the Lightning II, also known as the F-35, will grow by $38 billion and that development could take up to 27 months longer than expected. Since development began, in late 2001, the JSF’s price has grown 45 percent, to $337 billion, even while the number of aircraft to be produced has fallen.

The Government Accountability Office said the cost of developing, building and maintaining 2,443 aircraft — the number currently projected for the U.S. armed services — will top $950 billion.

That number, like the Pentagon budget request for next year, $515 billion, is hard to put into perspective.

Richard Betts, a foreign-policy expert, author and professor at Columbia University, offers a practical way to think about the subject.

“To ask whether the United States can afford higher levels of military spending is stupid,” Betts wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine. “It can, and if necessary, it would. The problem is that there are other important things that the United States wants and can afford, too, and a dollar spent on one thing cannot be spent on another.”

He points to the State Department, whose role in foreign aid and peacekeeping missions is growing more vital today, and says it’s been “comparatively starved.” Its $42 billion budget is a small fraction of Pentagon spending.

“These numbers appear badly unbalanced,” Betts wrote, especially when many of today’s threats stem from political and economic instability and anti-American sentiment.

From 2001 to 2008, spending on defense and related programs grew at an average annual rate of 8 percent after adjusting for inflation and population, according to a recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.

That compares with average annual growth of 2 percent for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the research group says. And domestic discretionary spending rose just 0.3 percent annually during the period.

Discretionary programs include education, highways, transportation, biomedical research, law enforcement and public health services.

People might assume that the rapid growth in defense spending stems from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and from fighting terrorism. But that’s only part of it. Those initiatives are funded in supplemental bills and outside the Pentagon; strip them out, and, the center says, defense outlays have still grown 4.8 percent annually in real terms.

Many big weapons systems, including Lockheed’s F-22 aircraft, aren’t factors in the current conflicts, but military leaders are always pushing for more. The Air Force, for instance, has been arguing publicly for more F-22s even as the defense secretary says enough are in the pipeline.

It doesn’t make sense to hit the brakes on the F-35, because the U.S. needs to maintain air supremacy in anticipation of threats that aren’t evident now — and aren’t known to the public. But that goal shouldn’t preclude us from reconsidering the number of aircraft needed, especially after the impact of 9-11.

Last year, a study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington said that current conflicts raise “fundamental questions about the need” for the F-35. It noted the emphasis on ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it said that more long-range aircraft will be needed to address potential threats from China and Russia, often cited as the rationale for big defense programs.

“There is reason to worry,” the report said, that F-35 costs will crowd out competing programs.

The report went to some lengths to say it’s not proposing specific changes on the F-35. Rather, it wants to promote a dialogue about ways to reduce costs and still add the plane’s important new capabilities.

The report evaluated the benefits of the Air Force’s halving its order and the Navy’s canceling the special model it needs, which is most expensive. It says fewer F-35s are needed, in part because today’s guided missiles allow multiple attacks from a single sortie.

Co-author Steven Kosiak said few members of Congress or the military embraced the idea of exploring F-35 options. One reason is that all eyes are on Iraq and its supplemental funding of $189 billion.

When presidential candidates talk about saving money on defense, Iraq is the biggest target and the most important political issue.

“We’re in a hot war, and there’s not a lot of precedent for cutting defense,” Kosiak said. “When the country is at war, even a discussion of future systems won’t get that far.”

We deserve better, because there may be a much better way to do this — to balance present and future military needs and national defense and domestic programs.

Maybe next year.

mschnurman@star-telegram.com
MITCHELL SCHNURMAN’S COLUMN APPEARS SUNDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS. 817-390-7821

Republicans: If they were dogfood, they would be taken off the shelf

The Republican Party is so very tainted. Notice how those that are retiring can loosen their collar and speak truth, but those who are not ready to retire (or see the writing on the wall that they are about to lose their seat… BIG) are still defending the indefensible.

There are those of us that have seen this deterioration right before our eyes and for the life of me, I cannot understand why their very own self-protection doesn’t kick in and they begin to point out what the Bush Doctrine has done to their party.

 To put it plainly (and as the politicalscribe expressed to me), the THUG Party will be a non-entity, really, until, at least, 2016. The fact that they have been too stupid to realize what was being done to them and to head it off proves that it is party affiliation that is president over patriotism and love for country. Dems are little better, but they have not allowed themselves to be totally taken over (there are still people like Kucinich, Wexler, etc, thank goodness). They need to purge the likes of Pelosi and Reid and all the other capitulating Dems, but that is another story.

So listen for the bitching to begin from those that some semblance of realization to their party’s plight. Too bad, dickheads.

The House Republican brand is so bad right now that if it were a dog food, they’d take it off the shelf,” said retiring Rep. Thomas M. Davis III(Va.), who chaired the NRCC for four years earlier this decade.

The Washington Post (h/t Steve Benen at C&L) has an article up where it breaks down this slow realization that the THUGS are arriving at:

Republicans See Storm Clouds Gathering
Week of Bad News Highlights Difficult Challenges for GOP in Fall Elections

While all eyes were on the presidential campaign and the demise of New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D) last week, Republicans on Capitol Hill were suffering a run of bad news that could hold dire implications for the campaign season.

It started with the loss last weekend of the seat held for two decades by former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). It got worse when Republicans lost potentially strong challengers to Democratic senators in South Dakota and New Jersey, and failed to field anyone to oppose the reelection bid of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).The latest blow came with the revelation that the former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) had allegedly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars — and possibly as much as $1 million — from the organization’s depleted coffers to his own bank accounts.

If Republicans needed any more evidence of how difficult this fall may be, the past week had it all, analysts said. The Illinoisrace demonstrated new levels of disaffection, the party’s efforts to go on offense elsewhere were thwarted by recruiting failures, and the NRCC scandal will divert campaign resources and could frighten off badly needed contributors, they said.

Then the “money quote”:

It’s no mystery,” said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). “You have a very unhappy electorate, which is no surprise, with oil at $108 a barrel, stocks down a few thousand points, a war in Iraq with no end in sight and a president who is still very, very unpopular. He’s just killed the Republican brand.”

What is obvious to me and most “real” political analysts is that it is so far gone that they can’t do anything to save themselves. This is the height of stupidity, but the best thing that could happen to America at this point in time. Now, if we can stop the Dems from becoming what they replaced…

Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan analyst of congressional politics, said: “The math is against them. The environment is against them. The money is against them. This is one of those cycles that if you’re a Republican strategist, you just want to go into the bomb shelter.”

To some a traitor, to reTHUGlicans, a Hero

Hat tip to Jack Large, the poet laureate of the Redstate Revolt who saw this at the Huffington Post and without any B’Man rants:

Obama’s Minister Committed “Treason” But When My Father Said the Same Thing He Was a Republican Hero

When Senator Obama’s preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father — Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer — denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.

Every Sunday thousands of right wing white preachers (following in my father’s footsteps) rail against America’s sins from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the “murder of the unborn,” has become “Sodom” by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my dad often did, that we are, “under the judgment of God.” They call America evil and warn of immanent destruction. By comparison Obama’s minister’s shouted “controversial” comments were mild. All he said was that God should damn America for our racism and violence and that no one had ever used the N-word about Hillary Clinton.

Dad and I were amongst the founders of the Religious right. In the 1970s and 1980s, while Dad and I crisscrossed America denouncing our nation’s sins instead of getting in trouble we became darlings of the Republican Party. (This was while I was my father’s sidekick before I dropped out of the evangelical movement altogether.) We were rewarded for our “stand” by people such as Congressman Jack Kemp, the Fords, Reagan and the Bush family. The top Republican leadership depended on preachers and agitators like us to energize their rank and file. No one called us un-American.

Consider a few passages from my father’s immensely influential America-bashing book A Christian Manifesto. It sailed under the radar of the major media who, back when it was published in 1980, were not paying particular attention to best-selling religious books. Nevertheless it sold more than a million copies.

Here’s Dad writing in his chapter on civil disobedience:

If there is a legitimate reason for the use of force [against the US government]… then at a certain point force is justifiable.

And this:

In the United States the materialistic, humanistic world view is being taught exclusively in most state schools… There is an obvious parallel between this and the situation in Russia [the USSR]. And we really must not be blind to the fact that indeed in the public schools in the United States all religious influence is as forcibly forbidden as in the Soviet Union….

Then this:

There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate… A true Christian in Hitler’s Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion… It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God’s law it abrogates it’s authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation…

Was any conservative political leader associated with Dad running for cover? Far from it. Dad was a frequent guest of the Kemps, had lunch with the Fords, stayed in the White House as their guest, he met with Reagan, helped Dr. C. Everett Koop become Surgeon General. (I went on the 700 Club several times to generate support for Koop).

Dad became a hero to the evangelical community and a leading political instigator. When Dad died in 1984 everyone from Reagan to Kemp to Billy Graham lamented his passing publicly as the loss of a great American. Not one Republican leader was ever asked to denounce my dad or distanced himself from Dad’s statements.

Take Dad’s words and put them in the mouth of Obama’s preacher (or in the mouth of any black American preacher) and people would be accusing that preacher of treason. Yet when we of the white Religious Right denounced America white conservative Americans and top political leaders, called our words “godly” and “prophetic” and a “call to repentance.”

We Republican agitators of the mid 1970s to the late 1980s were genuinely anti-American in the same spirit that later Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (both followers of my father) were anti-American when they said God had removed his blessing from America on 9/11, because America accepted gays. Falwell and Robertson recanted but we never did.

My dad’s books denouncing America and comparing the USA to Hitler are still best sellers in the “respectable” evangelical community and he’s still hailed as a prophet by many Republican leaders. When Mike Huckabee was recently asked by Katie Couric to name one book he’d take with him to a desert island, besides the Bible, he named Dad’s Whatever Happened to the Human Race? a book where Dad also compared America to Hitler’s Germany.

The hypocrisy of the right denouncing Obama, because of his minister’s words, is staggering. They are the same people who argue for the right to “bear arms” as “insurance” to limit government power. They are the same people that (in the early 1980s roared and cheered when I called down damnation on America as “fallen away from God” at their national meetings where I was keynote speaker, including the annual meeting of the ultraconservative Southern Baptist convention, and the religious broadcasters that I addressed.

Today we have a marriage of convenience between the right wing fundamentalists who hate Obama, and the “progressive” Clintons who are playing the race card through their own smear machine. As Jane Smiley writes in the Huffington Post “[The Clinton's] are, indeed, now part of the ‘vast right wing conspiracy.’ (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-smiley/im-already-against-the-n_b_90628.html )

Both the far right Republicans and the stop-at-nothing Clintons are using the “scandal” of Obama’s preacher to undermine the first black American candidate with a serious shot at the presidency. Funny thing is, the racist Clinton/Far Right smear machine proves that Obama’s minister had a valid point. There is plenty to yell about these days.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of “CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back