Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Do Republicans think battleships are food stamps?

In 1996, when Trent Lott was the Republican senate majority leader he forced through an earmark attached to a defense spending bill that allocated $1.6 billion for battleships to be built in the shipyards of Mississippi that the Navy said emphatically it didn't want and didn't need.  Lott did it again in 2004 and this time was attacked for it by John McCain after Lott earmarked $370 million for a helicopter carrier to be built at the Mississippi shipyards that the Navy again said it didn't want and didn't need.

 Lott pushed through these earmarks on a regular basis. At one time he tried to get the Navy to buy a cruise ship that was built in Mississippi and refurbish it into a command and control ship. None of this ever had anything to do with national security. It had nothing to do with military readiness. What it had to do with was how Lott himself described the appropriations to build these battleships and other vessels the Navy said they didn't want, in the shipyards of Mississippi. He called it "bringing home the bacon".

 And it was.And he did.  That $1.6 billion in 1996 and $370 million in 2004 put a lot of bacon on the tables of people who worked in the shipyards of Mississippi. But since the Navy made it clear it didn't want or need any of these ships, "bringing home the bacon" in Lott's words, could easily be characterized for what it actually was --  a Republican version of food stamps disguised as military readiness.

And it's happening again. We're hearing the same kind of nonsense from Republicans over Obama's retort to Romney's accusation that the Navy now has fewer ships than it did in 1916 -- that we also have fewer horses and bayonets. The meaning was clear. We dont have as many ships because we don't need them. We didn't need the ships Trent Lott forced tax payers to build either.

 Predictably, the lower end of the Republican party,this time led by Republican governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell, showed, like Lott,  his main interest was not national security or the military but "bringing home the bacon", in his case to Virginia.

 McDonnell said, " his (Obama's) flippant comment about horses and bayonets is an insult to every sailor whoever put his or her life on the line for our country".

 Actually it wasn't. It was McDonnell's comment that was an insult to the intelligence of every sailor and every human being for that matter, not to mention tax payer, in the United States since this isnt about the Navy or the country's security or military readiness,  its about the same thing it was for Trent Lott --  the Republican version of food stamps using national security as the cover for "bringing home the bacon".

 Building battleships the Navy doesn't want especially in times of economic distress just to bring in money and put people to work whether it's Mississippi, Virginia or Florida,  is using the U.S military and the country's  national security for what it really is --  Republican food stamps and hand outs by another name. Yet these are the same people who opposed the stimulus and government spending on infrastructure projects like roads and bridges which the country does need and which would also have put people to work. These are also same people who denigrate food stamps and the people who need and use them.

 This is not a defense of Obama and his duplicity, political dishonesty, policy failures, capitulation, and spectacular betrayals of Democratic ideas and principles or his chronic lack of conviction and broken promises in his first four years. But it is one more example of gross Republican hypocrisy and dishonesty and more proof that they have no real solutions for righting the ship no matter what kind of ship it is. And one more reason to reject them at the polls. Especially in congress.

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