Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS WEAK ON TERRORISM....Max Boot is unhappy. The Quadrennial Defense Review and the 2007 budget have lots of nice words, he says, but money talks a lot louder about the Bush administration's real defense priorities:

For example, the Pentagon is continuing to fund three ruinously expensive short-range fighters the F/A-22 Raptor, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter even though we already have total dominance in the air. The entire budget for language and cultural training $181 million comes to less than the cost of one F-35.

Also being funded is the Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine....Even more ill-suited for irregular warfare are two other ships whose development will eat up untold billions: the CVN-21 and the DD(X), a next-generation aircraft carrier and destroyer, respectively.

....Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld still seems to think that Iraq and Afghanistan are the exceptions, not the norm that in the future we won't need so many ground troops. The U.S. has already paid a high price for the misguided decisions not to send enough troops to secure Iraq or to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora. Now, it appears, we are fated to make the same mistake on future battlefields, simply because we won't have enough troops available.

It's heartwarming to see a conservative columnist offer such a clear criticism of the Bush administration on national security grounds. It would be lovely to see a liberal columnist do the same, wouldn't it?

Kevin Drum 12:02 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (68)

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Comments

Boot has so little credibility with me, that I just skipped his column this morning, assuming it would be more "war" chest beating.

Imagine my surprise at this post.

Rats. Ship. Sinking.

Posted by: craigie on February 8, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, the administration needs all of those big-ticket items for the next time they declare "Mission Accomplished."

Posted by: MBK on February 8, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Try Larry Korb.

Posted by: adios on February 8, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Max is really just complaining about the Military-Industrial complex, and how unrelated it is to actual "defense." How passe.

I bet I could start a company and get a bazillion dollars in funding for "anti-boxcutter" technology - as long as I called it something really butch. "The QXZ 35/12 Cutter-Killer," say.

Posted by: craigie on February 8, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

My God, is anyone surprised.

"Boots on the ground" don't do squat for big time defense contractors.

Look at the millions squandered in just the Cunningham scandal. Better believe the CEO's of all those corporations are big-time Republican donors.

Posted by: Richard on February 8, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

It would be lovely to see a liberal columnist do the same, wouldn't it?

How easily you forget the rules of political haymaking, Kevin. When it comes to criticising the defense establishment, even for very legitimate reasons, IOKIYAR.

Posted by: Irony Man on February 8, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Anti-terrorists contractors don't have as much money to donate to the GOP.

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on February 8, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Have they ever put the money were the mouth is?
A GOOD QUESTION WOULD BE WHO OWNS THE STOCK IN THE COMPANYS THAT WILL PROVIDE THESE PLAINES AND
SUBS. WHAT PARTY DO THOSE SHAREHOLDERS DONATE TO?
The republican party does not care about your
safety. They care about there deep pockets and
how fast they fill them. All these well planned speaches are just a smoke screen. Keep them scared and in the dark. Real programs that work,
real concern for america is something they will
aviod because those kind of things might weakin
the same gravy train they rode to the top.

If you ain't for us your against us?
What have you done for me lately.

Posted by: Honey P on February 8, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ignore pdb, let Osama go at Tora Bora ("I'm not too concerned with him"), let Afghanistan fall back into a failed state, create a killing ground in Iraq, emasculate our military so we can't credibly threaten a nuclear Iran, don't secure our ports or checical plants, etc....

George isn't weak on terrorists -- he's great for them! Fundamentalists love one another.

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on February 8, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are free to question the administration as long as they don't actually do anything to hinder it in its efforts to establish a police state. See Specter, Arlen for details.

Posted by: brewmn on February 8, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, because no liberal columnists or media outlets have said anything negative about Bush and his "War on Terror, or Democrats, whoever's easier to defeat" since 9/11. (/sarcasm)

I don't think it takes the QDR to prove that Bush and Rumsfeld are either exceptionally bad at planning, or are not planning what they say they are. Or both. I'm not optimistic.

Posted by: Chris on February 8, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

If the Defense contractors and the jobs they create will be harmed by cancelling a couple of weapons systems, why not put them to work rebuilding the Gulf coast? Yeah, they're not tooled up for it, but they have the manpower, and the jobs would still be jobs, so the doomsday mantra of "we need the military contracting for jobs in every state" wouldn't apply.

There will be disruption when the military-industrial complex starts meeting reality. No shit! There will be lots more disruption when global warming raises the sea level and blows the weather constants all to hell, too, so why not start making the change NOW?

If we don't face reality and start making changes now, we will never be ready!

Ed

Posted by: Ed Drone on February 8, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

any lib who said as much would be labelled "soft On Defense" (likely by Boot himself). in this case, Boot will just be shrugged-off as "short-sighted" by all the Big Gun Imperialists running the show these days.

Posted by: cleek on February 8, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum,

Will you please explain how it can possibly be accurate to call Max Boot a "conservative"?

Posted by: Chris Brown on February 8, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Try Larry Korb.

Fred Kaplan isn't doing such a bad job, either.

Posted by: penalcolony on February 8, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

This is one of the most bizarre posts from Kevin Drum, since last summer when he was posting 5 or more times a day on Rove/Plame.

Here, Kevin Drum notes Max Boot is critical of the Pentagon's budget.

Drum's conclusion? "The Bush Administration is weak on terrorism."

Please. There is no shortage of critics on the Pentagon's budget. It has been like this for generations, folks. So it is a wild leap to conclude that is evidence Bush is weak on terror!

If this is the best the Dems can come up with, the 2006 elections will be another disaster for the Dems.

Posted by: GOPGregory on February 8, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't heard a word about our missle defense boondoggle. How many billions is that getting?

It would be interesting to see how Iran and Syria and spending their military budgets. Are they building up large units that can be blasted by our Air Force or are they working on small unit tactics and dispersal?

Posted by: tomeck on February 8, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

The question about what our possible enemies choose to spend their (limited) defense funds on, plus the reminder about "Star Wars", made me think of Robin Williams' line that cocaine is god's way of telling you you have too much money. I'd say missile defense is like that for the defense budget.

Posted by: Chris on February 8, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Reminds me a bit of LeCarre's, "The Russia House."

This has been going on for a long time and is ultimately, I think, a problem with the electorate. If an elected representative "brings home the bacon" he or she tends to get reelected. It matters little if the "bacon" is really useful or not.

A case in point, Ron Dellums, no conservative by any stretch of the imagination, found himself in the position of arguing against military base closures in the SF Bay area. These bases, like many others, were redundant and expensive and Dellums fought, ultimately unsucessfully to keep them open. Not because it was a good idea macro-politically, but rather because it affected his district.

I am not picking on Dellums (whom I voted for repeatedly), I am simply pointing out that principles have been known to take a lower priority when it comes to bringing tax money back home. If you take a look at weapons systems and where they are built you would see that nearly every state is represented (what a coincidence that Boeing moved its headquarters to Hastert's district).

If you want to change this, it is going to involve educating people on a much more nuanced level. If you want a better military, you need to change procurements. Incidentally, with few exceptions, the military will fight this every step of the way. An example would be the Air Force which is currently developing two different fighter/attack aircraft: F-22A Raptor, F-35 JSF. The F-22A is far more expensive and is exclusive to the Air Force while the F-35 is much less expensive and is being developed with the Navy and the Marine Corps. Guess which one the Air Force wants?

I suspect that the prophecy of one fighter aircraft for the armed services which will be flown by the Air Force Monday through Wednesday, the Navy Thursday through Saturday and the Marine Corps on alternate Sundays will one day become reality unless the electorate figures out that arms manufacturers can use as much of the Federal Budget as we are willing to give them.

So any time you hear someone talk about supporting the troops, tell them that the first thing that needs to happen is a massive defense budget cut. Then, after you've found them again, start to explain to them why.

www.pogo.org is a good place to start. This shit is not new. James Fallows wrote an excellent book called, "National Defense," which is also worth reading although the examples are somewhat dated.

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson

P.S. No, I'm not talking out of my ass and I'm not kidding. We are collectively responsible for the deaths of US soldiers because we let our military buy pointless weapon systems. Think about how many armored vests and how much better training and better pay could be provided if the US stopped building one superfluous weapons system.

Posted by: Alan Tomlinson on February 8, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

"It would be lovely to see a liberal columnist do the same, wouldn't it?"

Yeah, had the liberal columnists thought of attacking Bush, maybe the Dems would have won in 2002 and 2004. Instead of having Roberts and Alitos on the SCOTUS, we'd have Cindy Sheehan and Tookie Williams instead.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 8, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Wait a sec--Boot's admitting that Dear Leader blew it at Tora Bora? How long's he been committing that heresy and where are the Swift Boaters on this? His reputation must be trashed instantly. Mustn't it?

Posted by: DrBB on February 8, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I can't wait for the Dems to go into the next election cycle, trying to make the argument that Bush is weak on terror.

The thought of Pelosi/Reid/Kennedy/Dean saying Bush is weak on terror is literally funny!

Posted by: GOPGregory on February 8, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

gopgregory, better sharpen up your reading skills! that's max boot who is laying out the dots: all that kevin did was connect them to the headline.

craigie, i'm not the first to note that it's not impossible that your true movement types are getting ready to cut bush loose and start worrying about who to nominate in 2008. indeed, i would guess that your true movement types want the dems to win congress in 2006 (or at least one house), so that as the chickens come home to roost over the next several years, dems can be equally blamed, making the 2008 campaign just the kind of "outsider" approach the righties specialize in....

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

gopgregory, that makes two of us. meanwhile, perhaps you can explain what it is that george bush has done to reduce the terrorist threat. inquiring minds want to know....

as even max boot knows, an administration serious about the jihadist terrorist threat wouldn't have failed at Tora Bora.

Bush failed at Tora Bora.

ergo....

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK


If a liberal columnist were to critizise the Pentagon, it would be a serious case of "dog bites man".

Unfortunately for us Democrats, nobody takes us seriously on these points any more. Sort of like the boy who cried wolf.
We've bitched and moaned for five years now without ever offering a better vision than "we hate Bush", so its not surprising that our columnists and our party organs (e.g. NYT) are losing influence every day.

What we need is sensible leaders willing to have a Sister Souljah moment. Hillary had her chance, but she blew it with the whole plantation thing.
Lieberman tried and was in effect kicked out of the party. Dean, Reid & Pelosi do not qualify as sensible leaders since they are not sensible.
Kerry is damaged goods and he defines "Sore Loserman" more than Gore and Lieberman ever did.

We're screwed. At least for the next couple of election cycles.

Posted by: Tom Tomato on February 8, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, as usual you need to spout the Washington Monthly contrarian line. Every time a Democrat criticizes a weapons program a Republican says "Those Democrats...never seen a weapon system they can support." The fact that this response is so predictable and frequent demonstrates that Democrats do regularly criticize weapons programs and also that they regularly get slammed for it.

Posted by: cafl on February 8, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"We're screwed. At least for the next couple of election cycles."

Sheehan/Obama '08!

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 8, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, now that's a message I can get happy about. Bush soft on terrorism! To bad the dems didn't say it and won't say it because they have their heads up their pre911 asses.

Max Boot is taking a page from the Clinton play book. Take your opponant's strongest issue, critisize his inept apporach, and promise to do it better. Only Max's purpose is to warn his party of a possible vulnerability.

And there is plenty to be critical of in the GOP fight against terrorsim:
Iraq
NK
Iran
OBL
NSA
Plame

Are these the problems of a Preznit tough on terrorsim? No, they are the problems of an incompetent approach to terrorism. And we have not talked about ports of "newclear" power plants.

But, we dems don't think NS and fighting terrorism is important.

Posted by: the fake Fake Al on February 8, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK


Freedom Fighter,
I sure would love to see a Sheehan/Obama ticket in 2008, but I think Obama lost some of his luster when he got schooled by McCain a couple of days ago.
The media loves McCain so much that if he took Obama to task, the media will think that Obama deserved it.
No, I think we stand a better chance with Sheehan/Dean, or more likely Dean/Sheehan. There will be no doubt as to what we stand for.
Sure, we may lose 65-35, but at least we'll stand for something, which is better than losing 52-48 with a bunch of wimps.

Posted by: Tom Tomato on February 8, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

The usual scenario.

STEP 1. A Republican talkinghead says that Dems are weak on security.

STEP 2. A Democratic pundit says oh my God, Republicans are saying that we are weak on security. We will lose the election if we are not strong on security.

STEP 3. Another Democratic pundit says, oh my God we are weak on security. We will lose the election if we are not strong on security.

STEP 4. A Democratic leader says, we cannot talk about security, as it's a Republican stength and we are weak on the issue.

STEP 5. Voters agree with the Dems, and elect Republicans.

Replace security by something else, say respect for two headed beings from planet athnium who created us all.

Go to step 1.

Rinse and repeat.

Posted by: lib on February 8, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

So does he admit this is corporate welfare?

Posted by: k on February 8, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Wow, now that's a message I can get happy about. Bush soft on terrorism! To bad the dems didn't say it and won't say it because they have their heads up their pre911 asses."

People like you are saying this all the time. Problem for you is, most people correctly dismiss them as rantings from unhinged moonbats.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 8, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals are suffering from "battered wife" syndrome now. They're afraid to speak out because they smacked in the face every time they try to offer an opinion contrary to the Republican grand plan, especially regarding the military and national security.

Posted by: Taobhan on February 8, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK
It's heartwarming to see a conservative columnist offer such a clear criticism of the Bush administration on national security grounds. It would be lovely to see a liberal columnist do the same, wouldn't it?

You know, if all the liberal pundits who spent their time -- on blogs, in their columns, on TV -- complaining about what they wanted to see liberal pundits doing would, instead, do the things they complain they wish liberals would do, well, then they'd have what they want, and they'd have nothing to complain about.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 8, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

*Sigh* Why does Max Boot hate America?

Posted by: Stefan on February 8, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

He's *completely* wrong about the cost of the F-35. Even the F-22 isn't that expensive. Not that it matters a lot to the argument, but still, it stuck out.

Posted by: Craig on February 8, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

what cmdicely on February 8, 2006 at 1:10 PM said.

Posted by: lib on February 8, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's heartwarming to see a conservative columnist offer such a clear criticism of the Bush administration on national security grounds. It would be lovely to see a liberal columnist do the same, wouldn't it? - Kevin Drum

Hey, wild thought here: what about a nonpartisan expert criticizing or defending the administration military budget?

Unless, of course, there is no such thing as a nonpartisan expert in the US. Is that the case?

Posted by: Brazil Connection on February 8, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

To paraphrase Yeats:

The Democrats lack all conviction, while the Republicans
Are full of passionate intensity.

Posted by: DNS on February 8, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

freedom fighter: the most recent polling data i can put my hands on (abc/wapo, 1/23-26), shows this:

approve/disapprove of bush handling of terrorist threat: 52/45

which party do you trust to do a better job "handling" the us campaign against terrorism:

dems: 41
gop: 46
neither: 6
both: 2

now, let's compare to some past data: bush approval on terrorism, 10/1: 92/5

party handling terror, 12/02

dems: 25
gop: 61
neither: 6
both: 5

the numbers are pretty clear, and the story they tell is that you're full of it.

Posted by: howard on February 8, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals are suffering from "battered wife" syndrome now. They're afraid to speak out because they smacked in the face every time they try to offer an opinion contrary to the Republican grand plan, especially regarding the military and national security.

Well... Another reason they (Dems, I mean) don't speak out is because the party's really treated foreign and security policy as an afterthought for too long. Don't get me wrong, there's a long history of forward-thinking Democratic international affairs types. But the party's major constituencies (labor, welfare state advocates, gays, feminists, ethnic identity types) are all too narrowly focused on domestic issues.

Posted by: sglover on February 8, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ralph Peters made the same points as Boot in his column in the New York Post a week or two ago.

Posted by: DBL on February 8, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing here is new but the weapon system names. Most of these points were made regarding the imbalance between extremely expensive mega projects and the unglamorous nitty-gritty of supporting the base core of the military role, between projects such as the MX missile and missile defense and better training and body armor for the troops on the ground. The core of any military is the basic infantry soldier; every other system is support for the basic role of holding and defending territory. So why, if the military must know this point, does the military keep buying the Ferrari when what they really need is a schoolbus? It comes down to the corrupt system of corporate lobbying, congressional earmarks and the procurement system officials hoping to secure a cushy job in the private sector with the very same companies they now do business with. Now add in the regime with the reverse Midas touch and amateurs like Rumsfeld and his crew, and you get fiascos like we are seeing now. At the hart of any real good news that comes out of Iraq you will find out that any success was gained by a field commander despite, not because of, the nonsense coming out of the pentagon.

Every day this crew makes me wonder how the Republic has survived the past 5 years.

Posted by: clyde on February 8, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

John Bolton nominated for Nobel Peace prize, by a Swede:

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/8/111611.shtml?s=ic

Supposedly he also gets on great with George Voinovich. maybe he can be confirmed soon.

Posted by: contentious on February 8, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ahh, but the F-22 is a really nice looking plane.

Seriously, I'm really interested in just how they manage to make the development of these things so protracted and costly - aside from pure self-interest. I mean, the prototype of the F-22 flew over 14 years ago! The whole thing's just insane.

Once they've built the project's inertia to the point when no-one can face cancelling the damn thing 'cos it'd mean so much wasted money down the drain, the contractors can just laugh all the way to the bank.

D'ya think even Eisenhower could have imagined how awesomely ridiculous this military-industrial gravytrain would get?

By the time they get these things to airshows where they can pull some neat tricks in the vein of the Russian Falcrums and Flankers during the '90s, no-one will give a shit anymore, it'll all be so transparently pointless.

Posted by: Mike on February 8, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

James Webb, Vietnam Veteran, writer and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration is going to announce that he will be running for George Allen's senate seat...as a Democrat.

Posted by: Wombat on February 8, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Bush has always been interested in getting Saddam, but not in terrorism. His open borders policy belies his false talk. The Great White Father in Washington speaks with a forked tongue.

Posted by: Myron on February 8, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Max Boot wouldn't know real national security, or respect for democracy and liberalism for that matter, if it punched him right in the face.

This is the guy who casually refers to our slaughter of Filipinos around 1900 as "neutralizing" them. Boot cares about American economic and corporate interests first, frames national security around that second, and just talks about freedom, democracy, and liberalism because it sounds good and puts a nice sheen on things.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

This is the guy who casually refers to our slaughter of Filipinos around 1900 as "neutralizing" them. Boot cares about American economic and corporate interests first, frames national security around that second, and just talks about freedom, democracy, and liberalism because it sounds good and puts a nice sheen on things.

I'm sorry, wrong word. He actually referred to killing hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, and rounding the rest up into concentration camps in order to try and isolate the guerrilla self-determination resistance, as "pacifying" the Phillipines.

That's one way of defining "pacifying", I guess, and most certainly would be a definition the Nazis likely would have appreciated. And it is definitely true that if you lock everyone up in barbed wire camps, burn their homes and villages, and kill a large number of their able-bodied men, not to mention women and children, along with torturing them to get information, then this might indeed "pacify" the situation (or may not, as we see in Iraq on a much less brutal scale, in terms of our operations there as opposed to the Phillippines).

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

So, uh, Kev...

Do it!

Posted by: fromer on February 8, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK


John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is one of two Americans who have been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Last year, Democrats and a few Republicans refused to confirm Bolton to the U.N. post, forcing President Bush to resort to a recess appointment.

Bolton and Kenneth R. Timmerman were formally nominated by Sweden's former deputy prime minister Per Ahlmark, for playing a major role in exposing Iran's secret plans to develop nuclear weapons.

They documented Iran's secret nuclear buildup and revealed Iran's "repeated lying" and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a press release said.

Posted by: Sloppy Liberal on February 8, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Bolton being nominated for a "peace" prize is the most absurd thing I've heard all year. We are getting closer and closer to the world of Orwellian doublespeak. Bolton advocates "war", not "peace".

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

For more on Per Ahlmark, a clear neoconservative, see this article. Ahlmark has been wholly discredited by his shameful performance in deceiving people about Saddam's WMD before the Iraq War.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Bolton may as well have been nominated by Paul Wolfowitz.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: I bet I could start a company and get a bazillion dollars in funding for "anti-boxcutter" technology - as long as I called it something really butch.

Hee!

howard: i'm not the first to note that it's not impossible that your true movement types are getting ready to cut bush loose and start worrying about who to nominate in 2008. indeed, i would guess that your true movement types want the dems to win congress in 2006 (or at least one house), so that as the chickens come home to roost over the next several years, dems can be equally blamed, making the 2008 campaign just the kind of "outsider" approach the righties specialize in...

I've also been thinking this all along, only I may be even more cynical. I think more than the true movement types have known for years that the smash-and-grab government style of Bushco would necessarily come to an end relatively quickly, and that the next phase of Republicanism will involve putting up a few "moderate" and "reasonable" candidates that can be differentiated not only from Bush, but also from any Dems caught in the hopeless task of being first emergency responders to the Bush crash scene. In other words, the exodus from the sinking ship has been scheduled for years.

Neocons shall lie down with traditional conservatives, just as they have for years, to accomplish their greater common goals of low taxes and screwing everyone outside the plutocracy. Some religious righters will stay home this time around, but not all, and it's not like they're going to vote for Democrats anyway. Republican renewal! God help us.

Posted by: shortstop on February 8, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Being in the tech industry, I recognize that we need to work on edge technologies... If we don't, we're sat with things like dealing with the Shuttle even though it was supposed to be retired years ago.

So the programs don't bother me. We can't use the same airplane and the same ships forever. They got old.

...But on the other side of the coin, these new ships and airplanes aren't designed to replace our old ones. And they don't help our boots on the ground.

Why are we spending more on one airplane than one teaching our kids how to speak languages?

One airplane won't stop one terrorist. But one kid knowing how to speak the right language could.

Posted by: Crissa on February 8, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

"It would be lovely to see a liberal columnist do the same, wouldn't it?"

Umm, check out Fred Kaplan at this url:
http://www.slate.com/id/2135553/

He even answers one commenter's question about the cost of missile defense.

Posted by: Cheryl on February 8, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it's cool to see Boot coming around some, and BTW Kevin should check to be sure liberal columnists haven't said suchandsuch before he claims such. However: I've had experience in the Virginia-class sub program. I can attest that it was at least intended for those subs to allow special forces to be carried and deployed in relatively shallow waters (no details can be given, of course.) It seemed plausible to me, but I don't know what actually happened to those plans.

Posted by: Neil' on February 8, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Defense spending has long been guided more by money being pumped into political districts than by actual need. Defense companies, on the whole, donate to both Democrats and Republicans. More to Democrats until 1994, more to Republicans afterwards. Current split is about 40-60.

Look up each project--start with the attack submarine--and I think you'll find as many Democratic congressional defenders as Republican ones. It's all about the money to home districts, and always has been.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 8, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

This is true, which is why it takes courage and conviction to change military spending, and perhaps moving away from the 2-party system with reforms like IRV, etc.

Posted by: Jimm on February 8, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to 3rd the Fred Kaplan supporters. I'm not sure if Drum checks out Slate all that often, but Fred Kaplan writes the best regular column out there for non-wonks on national security and defense, especially defense budget issues. I heard him on NPR and if he's not a liberal-or at least a Bush opponent-then I don't know what he is.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on February 8, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think many of us did critique Bush clearly and succinctly when we said he is a liar, a criminal and an idiot. Do you disagree?

Remember, he thought Africa was a country. He's publicly admitted to spying without a warrant. And, there is still no evidence that we are legally in Iraq, so that all the deaths there are crimes on his hands.

Posted by: MarkH on February 8, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Fred Kaplan isn't doing such a bad job, either.
Posted by: penalcolony


Yeah, Fred Kaplan's 'War Stories' (at Slate.com) is always worth reading but I doubt he'd consider himself a 'liberal'. Centrist maybe. Just a good analyst?

[It's finally dawned (heh) on me why I'm always too late to these slugfests - I'm early to bed - early to rise. Then I NewsCruise my way through WPost, NYTimes, LATimes, Slate, Salon, NewEcon and so on and so forth before I check over here.

Ya'll are up into the wee small hours. That must account for some of the 'stream of semi-consciousness school of typing'posts.]

Posted by: CFShep on February 9, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Clyde: It comes down to the corrupt system of corporate lobbying, congressional earmarks and the procurement system officials hoping to secure a cushy job in the private sector with the very same companies they now do business with.

And in other news: Good Ole Tom Delay has a new job on the House APPROPRIATIONS Committee where he can continue the corrupt trading of earmarks and budgetary handouts for votes.

Oh, swell. Just frackin' swell. Wasn't a corrupt enough process, I guess. Or is just the next step for Tom to network his next job search?

Posted by: CFShep on February 9, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

In other news, House Majority Leader Paymenor rents a basement apartment in DC for $1,600 a month from a K-Street lobbyist. Other hookers, er rather, hookers in the area say the 1600 is not out of line pricewise.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 9, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Other hookers, er rather, hookers in the area say the 1600 is not out of line pricewise.
Posted by: thethirdPaul

Heh

Posted by: CFShep on February 9, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Rumsfeld: worse sec-def ever.

tbrosz: Look up each project--start with the attack submarine--and I think you'll find as many Democratic congressional defenders as Republican ones.

You think.

Why don't you actually look it up and show that your obviously preferred outcome, which informs virtually all your conclusions, is actually true, instead of merely offering up a non-too-subtle-kiss-their-ass defense of the GOP.

Sorta like stating that Bush 41 never criticized Clinton only because that was your preferred outcome, not because you had any evidence that it was true, other than the mendacious, self-serving, conclusory, unfounded, and unbacked-up claims of conservatives spinning forth from equally mendacious conservative blogs.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 9, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

For crying out loud, how difficult is it for Democrats to say that money is being WASTED on programs that DO NOT ADDRESS THE TERRORIST THREAT and do not make us safer? How hard is it to talk about the need to fight irregular wars in a COMPETENT way?

Saying "don't spend money on defense," and "withdraw from Iraq," IMO are NOT the way to win elections. On the other hand, saying that the US defense machine needs to be reorganized to deal with non-state threats, "nucular" proliferation, and irregular warfare (and pointing out that the GOP has done a dismal, incompetent job of all three) might be the way. And let Rove take his best shot.

Posted by: BadassDem on February 9, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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