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Sunday, May 15, 2005

You Bet Your Sweet Ass I'm Paranoid

Time to pull out my tin foil hat. Okay, nice and snug...I'm ready...let's roll.

Call me paranoid, but the big announcement about base closings this week seems awfully politically convenient. Harry Reid has been wholly effective in keeping the Democrats in line to shut down any bi-partisan support for Social Security in the Senate, and President Horse Fluffer has been unsuccessful in getting his Republican moderates to toe the line -- when Voinovich (R-OH) broke ranks with Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to delay the vote on John Bolton, it was a huge PR blow for BushCo.

In Voinovich's Ohio, there are nine major bases who employ 38,000 people with an economic impact of about five and a half billion dollars a year. As recently as May 6 Ohio newspapers were bracing for the axe, fearful that it was going to drop when the new round of base closings was announced. Of particular concern was the Defense Supply Center Command near Columbus, where 6,100 people are employed. Well, Voinovich has a change of heart this week -- although he can't endorse Bolton, he votes to let the nomination go to the floor of the Senate -- and when the closings are finally announced, low and behold Ohio is a big winner. Not only is the Supply Command Center saved, the Defense Department proposal also recommends adding another 1,700 jobs at the facility.

And what states stand to suffer the most drastic cuts? Well, number one would be Connecticut, where the Naval submarine base at Groton will mean the biggest single loss of jobs in the proposal -- 8,400 jobs and $2.5 billion in annual revenues. Right in the home state of the Democrat Most Likely To, Joe Lieberman. Lieberman certainly can't look to the left for help -- Kos himself has declared Lieberman must go and promises to support his ousting in the primaries next election cycle -- and if Lieberman can't somehow save the base at Groton and forestall the terrible economic blow to his own state, he's in a pretty precarious position come election time. So what has he got to deal? I'd say plenty.

Second hardest hit -- the state of Maine, home to centrist Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe who are said to be two of the GOP Senators most likely to vote against Frist if he goes "nuclear." According to the NYT:
Lawmakers and local officials in Maine, one of the hardest-hit states with three closings, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, vowed to challenge the Pentagon's plans that would cost nearly 7,000 military and civilian jobs.

"In arriving at these inexplicable decisions, the Defense Department and the Navy must have been operating in a fog so thick they couldn't even see the facts in front of them," said Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine.
And the big winner? Why, Fearless Leader's own state of Texas, of course, which stands to net a total of 6,150 military and civilian jobs under the new proposal.

I was watching In the Money on CNN this morning, just because I like to be irritated by Jack Cafferty. And Jack tells me to expect a lot of kicking and screaming over the base closures as they are negotiated over the next few weeks. I'm betting these Senators are now faced with the choice of supporting GBW, whose disastrous war has led the country to the point where these base closures are necessary, or facing the wrath of their constituents suffering massive unemployment in the wake of the cuts. Jack claims, of course, that there is nothing political about these closures. You wouldn't think he could sit comfortably for a whole hour with Rove's hand up his ass like that.

Oh -- and for anyone who mistakenly thought that old Cat Killer Frist was a stand-up guy -- consider the fate of South Dakotans who took him at his word. According to the NYT:
During the campaign, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, appeared outside the base with John Thune, the Republican challenger, and promised to use his clout to spare Ellsworth if South Dakotans turned Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, out of office. Mr. Thune won.
And the new proposal calls for Ellsworth to be closed with a net loss of 4,000 jobs.