Thursday, October 29, 2009

Military Budget, Economic Growth, Palin's $100,000 Fees

Dana Milbank
Seth Robinson
Amy Sullivan

"The problem is that progress is more gradual than his lofty campaign speeches led voters to believe, and they are becoming increasingly disenchanted."  - Dana Milbank
"For years, assholes in America have had no voice, and I want to be that whiny, nasal voice." - probably not Joe Lieberman

lawyers, guns, and anti-hate...

I've been trying to make sense of the military appropriations bill, it's the largest amount ever,some $680 billion, yet it's being touted by the white House as trimming more wasteful programs than any previous administration: “They probably get an ‘A’ from the standpoint of their success on their major initiatives,” said Fred Downey, a former Senate aide who is now vice president for national security at the Aerospace Industries Association. “They probably got all of them but one or maybe two, and that’s an extraordinarily high score.” And they tacked on the anti-hate crimes bill to it, as an earmark.

The military lobby is the strongest in Washington, they wrap themselves up in the flag while gouging for $120 toilet seats. Many of the weapons developed remain classified because they don't work, and it would be embarrassing if the public learned how much stupid ideas cost to make. The F-22 fighter is the classic example of a project muscled through by lobbyists, making sure the parts for it would be made in 88 different Congressional districts, assuring them of at least that much Congressional support. Each fighter jet, which has never seen combat, cost over $356 million to make, nd for every hour it spends in flight, requires 30 hours of maintenance. We're thinking of selling them to the Iraqi Airforce to recoup some of the money, except its American taxpayer's dollars that is funding the Iraqis...

So, for every bloated military project that gets cut, hundreds of manufacturing jobs spread out across the country are lost, never to return, unless Dick Cheney gets elected next term; then Haliburton and its subsidiaries will get free rein to run the government... er, privatize the government.

economic growth, like a tumor...

The other major headline is that the US economy grew 3.5% last quarter. Idealists are touting this figure as meaning the recession may be over. Yet people are still losing jobs at a rate of 550,000, and consumers have not regained confidence or a paycheck to do more shopping for manufactured goods.

The stimulus money has barely been given out, local and state governments are making millions of dollars in cuts, and small, family run businesses are still folding. On a personal level, I have lost half of my monthly income and my car got repossessed. If you try to find a job on Craig's List, up to 80% of the listings are scams or frauds. The local papers no longer have job listings in their classified sections, you have to use or Yahoo Jobs, it's all very depressing.

On a brighter note are these words from Elizabeth Warren, printed in the Huffington Post, of all places: "There are signs that we may have learned our lesson. Last week, the House Financial Services Committee voted for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would consolidate scattered and ineffective consumer credit regulations and establish a home in Washington for policymakers dedicated to rebuilding the middle class. Other reforms are also starting to move.
The banking lobby is as powerful and deeply entrenched as ever, but it was powerful in the 1930s, too. Nonetheless, the New Dealers learned the Great Lesson: Powerful insiders cannot be permitted to write the rules, and prosperity and security depend on a playing field that supports a vibrant middle class. Today, we face a similar set of questions as we faced then. Will the institutions that created the crisis continue calling the shots and writing the rules, or will Washington take the side of families? Have we learned the Great Lesson?" Elizabeth is chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee, trying to find out where the stimulus money goes, fighting to get answers from the good old boys of Wall Street and the banking industry.

sarah is an expensive habit...

When she's not sniping at a 19 year old ex-boyfriend of her daughter's, Sarah Palin is making mid-western waves, by confusing an invitation to give a political speech in Iowa for just another gig and asking for her $100,000 fee. Of course, the Iowans have a bloated sense of their importance, but just the same: "The Iowa Family Policy Center’s effort to cobble together $100,000 for Palin would represent a striking departure from customary practice in the first-in-the-nation state, these Republicans say, noting that a generation of White House hopefuls has paid their own way to boost their party and presidential ambitions...

But representatives from other Iowa-based political advocacy groups said they would never consider shelling out money for what many politicians see as a privilege: the opportunity to speak to a room full of sure-fire caucus-goers who often serve as precinct captains and can be instrumental to a presidential candidate’s success.

“If somebody tells me they want me to pay an appearance fee, it tells me they’re not very serious about running for president,” said Ed Failor, Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief and an influential GOP insider. “I found it really, really odd,” 

He noted that his group had not and never would pay for a politician to speak—pointing out the obvious in-kind contribution any potential presidential hopeful receives by appearing in the state that kicks off the presidential nominating process." Sarah recently snubbed the GOP by endorsing a Conservative Party candidate in Watertown, New York. Yeah, I've never herd of it either. The GOP candidate is a moderate Republican, and was endorsed by Newt Gingrich, who was hurt and befuddled by the aggressive tactics of the Susan B Anthony group, who endorse candidates that are not for abortion. Sarah's guy is someone who has never run for political office before, doesn't live in the district, and couldn't give answers to any local issues asked by the newspaper. But, he probably did come up with her fee... after all, she is the sole breadwinner for her family now, even if, as Levi Johnston dishes, she constantly make references to her retarded baby... the one with Downs Syndrome, not Todd. She has to make up for the fact that her book has already been discounted down to $9, before it was distributed...

Another moment of Zen:

"It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day, not only our troops but their families as well."

"And obviously, the burden that our troops and our families bear in any war time sit is going to bear on how I see these conflicts. And it’s something that I think about each and every day." - Barack Obama

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