So now we're hearing screams of outrage from supposedly "fiscally conservative" members of Congress. The Obama administration, they say, is endangering the nation's defense because Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (a holdover from the Bush administration) declares that the days of soaring defense budgets are over.
The same members of Congress who opposed the economic stimulus package and President Obama's budget on the grounds that such spending is "fiscally irresponsible" oppose cuts in the defense budget. Indeed, they want to add tens of billions to the defense budget and let contractors continue to milk the system. Sens. John Kyl (R-AZ), as well as Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), whose district includes a Lockheed Martin plant, and Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) are among those leading the charge for defense pork while claiming that Obama is spending too wildly. During the Bush administration, these "fiscal conservatives" voted to spend trillions in Iraq without a cost-benefit analysis and without scrutiny. Now they say they are worried about the nation's debt -- but only selectively worried. The debt can't interfere with their pet projects.
Here's some good news that has so far mostly been ignored by major North Carolina media: parts of the state may be insulated from the national recession as it receives a huge economic stimulus. Not enough media attention has been paid to the huge influx of more than 40,000 soldiers, civilians, contractors and their dependents to central North Carolina by 2013 as Ft. Bragg receives commands resulting from Base Realignment and Closing decisions. As many as 20,000 could arrive by fall 2011.
On Saturday, I heard a neighbor, Bill Tschudy, discuss his nearly seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He observed and experienced no miracles during captivity, he said, "except survival. Our survival was a miracle." His plane was shot down in July of 1965, and released on the birthday of "the great emancipator," Abraham Lincoln, February 12, 1973. He was on the cover of Time in 1970, for an article that exposed for the first time the plight of Vietnam POWs and their families.