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Thursday, July 10, 2008

McCain's Favorite Pork Product

Sahab-3 missileIran, late in joining us in celebrating the Fourth of July, shot off a few rockets yesterday. They plan to make up for their tardiness by firing off more today. According to the media and the right, the proper response to this news is, "Oh my freakin' God, oh sweet Jesus, we're all gonna die!"

Although some think the big news is that Iran apparently Photoshopped an extra missile in a photo released to the press, the actually story is that Iran shot off some rockets -- that's the big deal here.

In fact, the Photoshop story's not even secondary -- or tertiary or quaternary. It's trivia. "Authoritarian state releases propaganda" is not exactly earth-shattering news. No, the other story was the US presidential candidates' reactions to the Iran's action. Where Obama called for a diplomatic response, John McCain called on the US to shovel more money down a useless rathole.

Continued after the jump

Associated Press:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that Iran's missile tests highlight the need for direct diplomacy as well as tougher threats of economic sanctions and strong incentives to persuade Tehran to change its behavior.

John McCain, the Republican seeking the presidency, said the tests demonstrate a need for effective missile defense, including missile defense in Europe and the defense system the U.S. plans with the Czech Republic and Poland.

There are a couple of problems with McCain's whole missile defense idea. The most obvious is that no one thinks Iran is going to launch missiles at Europe. And the missiles launched yesterday have an extended range of 1,250 miles. If you're in the US, go change your pants, you've got nothing to worry about. McCain's offering a solution to a problem no one believes exists.

But the larger problem is that this missile defense system doesn't actually work. Ronald Reagan jotted the idea down on the back of a matchbook once, so Republicans believe it's divinely inspired. Ron came up with his big idea in 1983 (then called the Strategic Defnese Initiative or SDI) and, since then, it really hasn't gotten much farther. Even SDI true believers say that missile defense is "like hitting a bullet with a bullet." Not surprisingly, that turns out to be every bit as impossible as it sounds. The only "successful" tests of missile defense systems have been ridiculously skewed in favor of success -- missiles had GPS systems the interceptors could home in on, people on the ground had the precise trajectory of their targets, and they knew far, far in advance that the missiles were coming. Even then, in these insanely unrealistic scenarios, the success rate of tests have been mixed. Even when the tested are rigged, success is not guaranteed. The thing is just extremely expensive junk. Even these joke "tests" are expensive, costing taxpayers $100 million each.

And it's the "expensive" part that justifies its existence. We've spent $120 billion on missile defense since Reagan had his notion. By 2013, the annual cost will be nearly $19 billion. That marks 25 years of really expensive failure, with no end in sight. Missile defense is very lucrative busywork for defense contractors. The whole thing's been a scam on the American taxpayer.

And John McCain's been in on it. In fact, McCain's been trying to get one of these defense systems deployed in Poland. Poland -- knowing full well the "missile shield" doesn't do squat -- is holding out for military aid. After all, accepting the system alone would mean annoying Russia and getting nothing in return. That's not much of an incentive to help corrupt American politicians funnel money to corporations. They want something other than a pile of crap for their trouble. Poland wants some of that scratch too.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur:

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski told the daily Dziennik his recent trip to the US was important to clarify the Polish stance amid a deadlock in negotiations on a proposed American anti-missile shield in Poland.

Sikorski held talks with US presidential hopeful John McCain, and called them 'so cordial and precise that it surprised us.' Sikorski added that presidential candidate Barack Obama's skepticism about the shield is 'widely known.'

But McCain's opinion strengthens the Polish stance in negotiations, Sikorski said, and serves as an important point in talks.

'It shows the possible future president and one of the main strategists of that country thinks Polish demands are sensible,' he said.

Not only would McCain continue to blow money on this BS "shield," he'd actually spend more money -- in the form of military aid -- to deploy it. There is no part of that that makes any sense at all.

That is, unless you consider the obvious. "If you think of missile defense not as a military project, but as a... corporate picnic, it begins to make perfect sense," wrote Steve Lopez for the LA Times in 2001. "They spent $75 billion on Star Wars and got nowhere. Fifty Nobel laureates felt compelled to sign a statement declaring the whole thing insane."

That's exactly what it is -- a big pork picnic for corporations and the politicians who love them. In fact, John McCain's such a big booster he puts his love for this money vacuum right on his website. "Effective missile defenses are critical to protect America from rogue regimes like North Korea that possess the capability to target America with intercontinental ballistic missiles, from outlaw states like Iran that threaten American forces and American allies with ballistic missiles, and to hedge against potential threats from possible strategic competitors like Russia and China," we're told. "Effective missile defenses are also necessary to allow American military forces to operate overseas without being deterred by the threat of missile attack from a regional adversary."

Too bad there's no such thing as "effective missile defenses" -- just this ineffective piece of crap people like John McCain have been screwing us with for the past quarter century.

When the guy who tells you he's going to balance the budget in just four years tells you he's going to keep shoveling billions down a hole, you've got to wonder just how "straight" all of this straight talk can actually be. After all, he plans to do this all while keeping Bush's tax cuts and blowing money on occupying Iraq. If he's not going to cut BS pork like missile defense, what will he cut to keep it? What could possibly be less important than this corporate pork feast?

Someone should ask McCain that. Somehow, I doubt anyone in the press ever will.


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