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Deep-Sixing the F-22

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Posted on Jul 21, 2009
F-22
DoD / Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald, USAF

By Robert Scheer

I’ll believe it when it finally happens. But the news that Congress might actually stop production of a high-tech, job-generating and, most of all, high-profit weapons system because it fills no legitimate national security function is a considerable victory for President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, as well as for logic.

You wouldn’t think it should require great courage to conclude that the 187 F-22s already authorized are enough when the plane has yet to fly a single combat mission in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else. But if usefulness was the criterion for defense spending, it would not have ballooned since the 9/11 attack, accounting for more than half of the federal government’s discretionary budget. Trillions wasted—ostensibly to defeat a terrorist enemy armed with an arsenal that can be purchased for a couple of hundred bucks at any garden-variety hardware store. We would not be spending as much on the military as the rest of the world’s nations combined, friend and foe, if defense spending was anything more than an elaborate political slush fund.

Just check the spectacle of supposedly enlightened Democrats like California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, joined by Connecticut’s Chris Dodd, treating yet another $1.75 billion F-22 allotment for war profiteers as a progressive jobs program. Los Angeles couldn’t find $50 million to keep its summer schools open, but a supposedly liberal senator like Boxer has voted for hundreds of billions over the years for exquisitely expensive military junk. Having lost the courage to make the swords-into-plowshares argument, they act like craven hustlers for the Daddy Warbucks types that support their re-elections. And once again, when it comes to being rational about military spending, John McCain, a Senate co-sponsor with Michigan Democrat Carl Levin of an amendment against funding the F-22, distinguished himself in the very moment when so many of his presumably less hawkish Democratic counterparts failed.       

Gates failed to halt further production of the F-22 during his tenure in the Bush administration, but this time the bipartisan military-industrial complex clique was beaten back. The incredibly intricate and therefore expensive plane was designed to defeat an ultra-advanced Soviet air combat ability that was never realized. And it obviously has no purpose in fighting irregular wars against terrorists, as Obama has pointed out. But those who support the plane make the same “the Chinese are the new Soviets” argument that Sen. Joseph Lieberman uses to such great effect to get his $2 billion submarines built in Connecticut to combat an enemy holed up in caves. The absurdity of borrowing money from the Chinese at a furious rate to be able to afford to build weapons to counter weapons that the Chinese have no intention of building rises to the level of a Madoff scam.

The end of the Cold War, with its potential for human extinction, was greeted with a great sense of relief by most of the world’s citizenry. For the U.S., as the first President Bush pointed out years ago, it was an opportunity to “look homeward even more and move to set right what needs to be set right—for half a century now, the American people have shouldered the burden and paid taxes that were higher than they would have been to support a defense that was bigger than it would have been if imperial communism had never existed. … Two years ago, I began planning cuts in military spending that reflected the changes of the new era.”

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He and his then-secretary of defense, Dick Cheney, did cut defense spending by 30 percent.  President Bill Clinton, ever mindful of triangulating with the hawks, did less. Now we are reduced to being grateful that Obama halts an extremely wasteful F-22 program, even as he makes the claim that this will free up money for his disastrous war in Afghanistan.

That’s not good enough. We don’t need a more “rational” use of defense dollars to fight yet another irrational war. Combating terrorism should never have been thought of in military terms, but rather as a matter of international police work that has very little to do with most of the items on our bloated defense budget.

But terrorism is not the major threat to our security; that threat is rather to be found in the failure of public schools, the decay of our economic institutions and the corruption of our politicians. All of those failures combine to produce politicians like Boxer, Dodd and Feinstein, whose idea of looking homeward is not to create a vibrant peacetime economy, but rather to hype high-tech weapons systems as the only viable jobs program.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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By mbh, July 27, 2009 at 11:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

my understanding, after talking with someone who works in the aerospace industry and has received designs on a new aircraft, is that the government is merely moving their attention away from the F22 on to something “better”. I think it was the F-35, but there is a new pet project that the government is throwing $$$ at which is meant to replace the F22….so, it is stil the same song and dance - Obama is getting rid of nothing - only is appearing to…

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By dihey, July 27, 2009 at 6:11 am Link to this comment

Peanuts!

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 26, 2009 at 3:11 am Link to this comment

Outraged,

Appreciate the heads up article, now only if Angelides will prove this skeptic wrong! Truth, accountability and integrity coming out of Washington Dc, sounds like the Twilight Zone.

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By Outraged, July 25, 2009 at 11:32 pm Link to this comment

Investigation, investigation, investigation…. this is what it will take to right these wrongs.

“An honest investigation—like the Pecora hearings that famously revealed the truth of what caused the Great Depression—could splash embarrassment on both political parties and turn up shocking evidence of the political collusion between Washington and Wall Street. But can we really expect such a truth-telling creature to emerge from Congress? Maybe we can. The appointment of Angelides is a very promising start because of his record as an aggressive reformer on issues like corporate governance, social equity and environmental reform. The danger is that the Angelides commission will be paralyzed by the usual hard-nosed tactics of Washington partisans.”

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/141463/solid_reformer_picked_to_investigate_how_we_got_into_the_financial_mess/

And the overriding conundrum is not simply how did we get “here”.... but moreso, why do we arrive “here” again, and again, and again…...?  This could and cannot be coincidence, nope.  Somebody is playing games….. these “games” certainly are not the nice kind.

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By Leefeller, July 25, 2009 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Gibby,

Blaming the service man for war seems ridiculous, it is like blaming the prostitute instead of the John?  If they reconstitute the draft I hope they call you, for the service is a grate place to grow up, instead of what you suggest, it worked for Bush the Vietnam evader.

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By Gibby, July 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The war-mongers (like maxketter & glider) just do not now, now will they ever get it. Nobody needs this junk. I could care less if the big, scary Russians have a better plane to shoot our guys down. Good! I hope they shoot ‘em all down until we have nobody left to fly the damn things and nobody will enlist in the armed forces. A man in a uniform is nothing more than an arrested adolescent playing with deadly toys. Mere children.

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By glider, July 24, 2009 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

I recall watching the Military Channel where they declared the F22 would be the last manned fighter jet. Not sure this is true due to “politics” but it makes sense in terms of UAV manueverability not being limited by the human body. Imagine how terrified you would be as a manned fighter pilot if you knew the enemy had much faster higher G-force UAVs in the vicinity targeting you.

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By Allan Scheer, July 24, 2009 at 10:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We the people here in Connecticut, would have liked to see Chris Dodd react to the request for his mortgage deals with Countrywide , with the same fervor that he showed on the podium the other day.

Chris Dodd should be looking to put his Washington DC crib up for sale now, and avoid the rush.

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By Leefeller, July 24, 2009 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

Of course we cannot have a Mig flying rings around our stuff, it just doesn’t look good.  We need to spend more tax dollars making sure we have the best and fastest ring around the rosy in the world.

So lets cut wasted spending on education and what of this National Medical plan, smacks of socialism according to the right of Neanderthals.

These last eight years the horn of plenty was great for the opportunists, the military complex must really be upset with this cut on the F22,(they already got tons of money)  it sounds like Vietnam all over again, next thing you know we will be pulling out of Iraq and making even more cuts, no we cannot have that!

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By oldlib, July 23, 2009 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

I remember when Jimmy Carter killed the B-1 bomber, only to be reinstated by Ronny Raygun latter. This may victory may be ephemoral.

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By maxketter@yahoo.com, July 23, 2009 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As usual sheer is way off the mark. it appears that he is way past his prime and needs to retire.
Most of the development costs for the F22 have already been paid and the cost is closer to 1/2 of his estimate.
In addition the Russians already have a new Mig the 30 that flies rings around the F35. Their MIG is flying and in production. So we are going to equip out military by 2nd best armament again. Same thing happens every time the Dem’s have the WH and Republicans will have to fix it in 2012

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By prole, July 23, 2009 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

Somehow, given their shifty poliics it’s hard to believe how “a considerable victory for President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates,” could also be a victory “for logic.’ as well, since the two so seldom go together. No “You wouldn’t think it should require great courage to conclude that the 187 F-22s already authorized are enough” - or even that they’re far too many. So that’s probably why two such uncourageous pol’s as Obama and Gates could smell a photo-op “victory” in their cunning shell game. Addressing the Economic Club of Chicago last week, Gates made a little political hay by loftily asserting, “The grim reality is that with regard to the budget, we have entered a zero-sum game…Every defense dollar diverted to fund excess or unneeded capacity is a dollar that will be unavailable to take care of our people, to win the wars we are in, to deter political adversaries and to improve capabilities in areas where America is underinvested and potentially vulnerable” Albeit, not ncessarily in that order. The last three reasons adduced are probably the more important ones. The third one, “to deter political enemies” however is especially intriguing. The first reason, “to take care of our people” is surely little more than a rhetorical flourish, coming as it does, from an Obama official. So what is really most at issue here is “to win the wars we are in…and to improve capabilities” - and for that the F22 just doesn’t cut it. There are still no serious questions about ends but rather, just about means. As Gates ominously explained in the speech, “Earlier this year, I recommended to President Obama – and he enthusiastically agreed – that we needed to fundamentally reshape the priorities of America’s defense establishment and reform the way the Pentagon does business – in particular, the weapons we buy, and how we buy them. Above all, to prepare to wage future wars…” Brace yourselves world, the new gang of chikenhawks aren’t talking about waging peace. That’s not what the F-22 “victory” is about. In the Gates/Obama worldview as the bipartisan Sec. of ‘Defense (sic)’ went on to describe it, “the world of terrorists and other violent extremists – of insurgents and IEDs – is with us for the long haul, we also recognize that another world has emerged. Growing numbers of countries and groups are employing the latest and increasingly accessible technologies to put the United States at risk in disruptive and unpredictable ways”. So we can be assured that massive military budgets will also be with us for the “long haul”. In fact, despite program cuts like eliminating the F-22, the Obama proposed FY 2010 defense budget of $534 billion increases the previous proposal of $524 billion. Bizarrely enough, Gates felt that the F-22 is “risking the future of U.S. air supremecy” as he put it. Perhaps that’s what he means by “taking care of our people.” Instead Gates/Obama prefer to fund the construction of a fleet of 2,456 F-35 Lightning IIs for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps for the next 25 years at a cost of over $1 trillion,  So it really is a “zero-sum game”  What the left hand takes away from F-22’s the right hand gives back to F-35’s. Either way, the goal is still, “Above all, to prepare to wage future wars”. That’s what’s really scary!

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By Maxim, July 23, 2009 at 2:50 am Link to this comment

Brussels 23 July 09 11.29 AM local time
An overdose of expensive technology ?
In the latest issue of a well-known US Military Review, ( 13 July) there is an article where it is triumphantly announced that the quantity of information gathered by the UAV Predators and Reapers will be multiplied by…35 i.e.sending 35 times more data than today’s UAV’s. Said one Director of this Service ” we are going to be swimming in sensors and drowning in data” . Consequently some 2500 airmen will be inserted into these “before the screens” jobs within the next five years. But besides the cost of the continuous improvements let’s have some complementary remarks 1) more and more informations are transferred to a number of various levels some of which are at the top of the chain command for instance in Tampa (Florida). This might have an unwelcome effect on the sense of responsibility at the “lower levels” i.e.the officers on the frontline who are under enemy fire whilst some wise men out there in Tampa, in cozy armchairs,are of course more experienced (at least we presume), know more and have more stars.They can give orders direct which deprive the second or first lieutenants of initiative . Sometimes, elementary psychology might help as well   2) it’s nice and necessary to know what or who could wait for us “on the other side of the hill” and an UAV with infra-red sensors can be helpful. But it is not with UAV’s that you are going to drive back a party of agressive Taliban or make the difference between a peaceful-looking farmer and a potential insurgent ? There is a human limit to technology including the F-22 which is a very expensive plane ( initial budget has trebled and from programmed 602 down to 187 units ). As Robert Scheer rightly puts it, such technoly advanced extravaganzas are useless in asymetric wars except if the United States want to act as “an international police force” or preventing any “emerging” power to become too sophisticated.
But all in all, if Pdt Reagon succeeded in ruining the USSR with the mythical “starwars” the United States can proudly state that they are indeed continuing the game, but to their own cost. Adding the lax SEC and the overblown banksters’greed, the stage is set for a slow if not brutal decline ?
By the way, I am a former batallion Commander and even Nato Staff officer: consequently, I still enjoy some remnants of military culture.
With my best regards and congratulations for your witty articles.
Maxim

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By William the Concurer, July 22, 2009 at 9:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Even if they cancel the F-22 production program they will transfer the money to the F-35 program, which promises to become the “Universal Fighter” of the US Military, replacing almost all Ground Attack, Fighter Bomber, VTOL Aircraft, and Interceptors in the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps Aviation in the next 20 years.

It will probably cost Trillions of Dollars and is guaranteed to become corrupt in every possible way, and may make the F-22 program look desirable(in hindsight).

There are plans to produce over 3,000 aircraft, and involve over a dozen nations, I suspect it will look like a Military Industrial Complex “Gold Rush”. As well as the various “Future Combat Systems” programs that will likely balloon the current US Defense Budget to 1/3 of all US Government spending.

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By Militaryindustrialcomplex Opponent, July 22, 2009 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

this is all Kabuki theatre by the Obombaton.  the goddamned warmongering scum at Low Key Murder (lockheed) will still build so many of the fucking wastes of time, that you can probably use them as paving stones to go across the atlantic with.

the only thing that will stop this bullshit is the total, utter financial collapse of the U.S., which is very soon upon us.  Unfortunately for most americans, they are too blind, ignorant, stupid, and lackadaisical to give a shit about how bad that will be for all of us in the aftermath of the DEBT DEFAULT coming around September / October this year.

we are in for very shitty times.  very shitty times.

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By Leefeller, July 22, 2009 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

This seems like a change, does it not?  Critics of Obama will say this is ruining the nation, but the same people were silent when Bush was ruining our nation. Who will fight the national medical plain to their last gasp, would probably support wasting money on their pet projects such as this kind of waste, just some more of the last eight years mentality. As we hear over and over, “I do not want to pay for someone else s medical problems”, the joke is on this mental concept, if it is sincere? No comment on wasting money on the military deep hole.

Obama seems to be trying to grab onto some change, can you imagine how hard it is? We have seen all the opposition to every move he has attempted to make.

Would it not do well to build our infrastructure and crate non military jobs that stay in the USA?  We all know how hard it is to find products manufactured with labels “made in the USA”, this needs to change and can be a positive sideways or even upward move.

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By Folktruther, July 22, 2009 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment

Obama and Gates are trying to orient the military to attacking populations rather than war with a major power, notably China.  One of the major populations being considered for attack are the American people.

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By PatrickHenry, July 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

F-22, Osprey, Divad, Sgt York, A6 navy fighter, just more junk the Military doesn’t want or need, forced upon them by congress.

So much money wasted in my lifetime, all which could of bettered America instead of being spent on seeking the death of others.

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By mike112769, July 22, 2009 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

I kinda miss the old Soviet boogeyman. All we had to worry about back then was simple nuclear war. Over in a flash. Now, we have to worry about every damned thing. At least Russia kept the suicidal Muslims in check. Say what you will, the world was more peaceful when we had the Russians around.

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By SteveL, July 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

We need infrastructure renewal, wind energy, solar energy and here in California water de-salting.  Let the defense contractors bid on this work or go away.

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By Steve E, July 22, 2009 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is it with most of the southern states that they produce and elect such wingnuts. Is it the water?

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By Paracelsus, July 22, 2009 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

Interestingly enough, the Center for Economic and Policy Research commissioned one of the major econometric firms to analyse the effect over time of military spending.  It turns out military spending is a job killer.

If Obama can reject the defense bill with the hate crimes rider, I’ll be happy.

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By P. T., July 22, 2009 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

Interestingly enough, the Center for Economic and Policy Research commissioned one of the major econometric firms to analyse the effect over time of military spending.  It turns out military spending is a job killer.  The ultra-high-tech weapons produce a limited spinoff that is useful in the civilian economy.

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By Paracelsus, July 22, 2009 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

The odd thing about this defense bill is that a hate crimes bill that connects speech to crime could be knocked out of contention if the F-22 spending stays attached. So if you love free speech, go pro raptor to get the whole thing vetoed by Obama. I love free speech, but I hate military spending. What to do?

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By Per Fagereng, July 22, 2009 at 7:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For the rest of the world it might be better for the US to waste billions on a weapon that doesn’t work, rather than buy a weapon that kills people.

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By Roth's Child, July 22, 2009 at 7:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess you could say they hit the trifecta in September eight years ago.

http://www.dreamscape.com/morgana/trifecta.htm

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By scared, July 22, 2009 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

Along with the McNamara article, another spot on commentary by Scheer.

The production line wouldn’t even shut down for the F-22 until 2011 and many of those workers could probably be moved onto other projects like the F-35.

Regardless, our military-industrial complex is wildly out of control and wasteful and cutting the F-22 is a no-brainer.

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By Ed Goldman, July 22, 2009 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

Federal Government Announces New Oversight Agency

President Barack Obama today announced the creation of a new federal agency, the Agency Against Redundant Procurement (AARP). 

The President said, “With debate in the Congress about the purchase of 12 unneeded, unnecessary and unwanted F-22 fighter planes, which I expect will be authorized, it became clear that we need more oversight over all the things the federal government funds or buys but doesn’t need or want.  We need to work more closely with Congress to make sure that unnecessary and unwanted government expenditures conform to a set of inexplicable standards and soon-to-developed priorities that covers such pointless and superfluous outflows.”  The President stated again his firm commitment toward a balanced budget, noting that it remains one of his highest of utmost priorities.

The news was welcomed by the leadership of both the House and Senate.  According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. Nev.), “It’s about time we address these unneeded budget-busting expenditures the Congress has foisted on the Administration.  I’m opposed to pork-barrel spending and earmarks,” he said, “even though we impose on the Administration the requirement to spend for those legislatively-mandated unneeded projects.”  He noted this does not include the attachments to the 2009 Omnibus budget bill that recently authorized $250,000 for the Quagga and Zebra Mussel Prevention Project; the $2 million Guam Brown Tree Snake Management project; the $3 million Marine Mammal Awareness, Alert and Response System; the $2 million Cogongrass Invasive Species Research Project; the $1.5 million Girl Scouts Beyond Bars project; and other similar worthwhile and needed community projects and bridges to nowhere.  Sen. Reid noted that while he has always opposed pork-barrel spending, he has never actually seen a pork barrel. 

Nancy Pelosi (D. Cal.), Speaker of the House, was actually seen to have broken into a smile upon hearing about the President’s initiative.

The President announced that Michael D. Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will be appointed to head the new Agency Against Redundant Procurement.  The president said he expects quick Senate confirmation.  Brown came to the attention of the American public when former President George W. Bush commended his performance by stating, “Good job, Brownie.”  Prior to joining the FEMA, Brown was the Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association, (IAHA), from 1989-2001.  Brown was also an unsuccessful candidate for Congress from Oklahoma in 1988.  He ran against Democratic incumbent Glenn English, who had not been challenged in the previous election.  English’s well-financed campaign trounced Brown with 122,763 votes against 45,199.  After losing, Brown promised to try again in 1990, saying, “I have an excellent chance of prevailing. It’s a Democratic state, but a very Republican district.”  In fact, he did not run in 1990, and English beat his Republican opponent, Robert Burns, 110,100 votes to 27,540.  From 1982-1988, Brown was the chairman of the board of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority.  Several power plants were built during his tenure.  One hydroelectric plant located at Kaw Reservoir was completed in 1989 and named the Michael D. Brown Hydroelectric Power Plant and Dam in his honor.

At the conclusion of the press conference, the President quoted Lewis Carrol to commemorate this historic event.  The President noted that Carroll said, “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” 

The President, dribbling a basketball right-handed, did not take questions from the reporters, claiming he was running late for an important meeting.

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By ProTester, July 22, 2009 at 6:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Historians of the Roman Empire state that the citizens were only happy when the armies were conquering foreign territory.
What barbarians.
I am glad our sentiment bears no resemblance to such a primitive mindset.

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By bogi666, July 22, 2009 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

Saxbee Chambliss and Johnny Isaakson, Georgia Senators, are the two most worthless Senators in the history of the Senate are going ballistic. Georgia’s corrupt elections keep them in office and last year Chambliss had a runoff because corruption of scrubbing votes was insufficient for him to garner the needed 50%. He was in shock after the election and it obviously showed.Two blocks from Chambliss North Georgia HQ there is a full size NAZI flag flying outside a house.Gates need to show some leadership and fire the generals, and the forth coming onslaught of MSM pundits defending the indefensible F22, who are countermanding him. Perhaps McCain should replace Gates. 100,00o employees to build 187 aircraft over a quarter century, you’ve got to get serious Obushama and this is the place to start.

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By teadrinker, July 22, 2009 at 5:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Boxer, Dodd and Feinstein are all rubber stamps for the military. We voters should bounce them right out of office. I won’t ever vote for them again!

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