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Erik Prince of Blackwater/Xe returned to his hometown of Holland, MI, as the keynote speaker for the town's Tulip Time luncheon.

Prince had tried to bar the media from the event, for the first time ever, and had to settle for banning video and audio.

The local paper, the Holland Sentinel, has the best account of the speech, including this choice bit in the lede:

Erik Prince told a sold-out Tulip Time lunch crowd that the worth of a warrior is not best defined by his deeds, but by his enemies.

The founder of Blackwater and Holland native described his own enemies as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and "noisy leftists."

But comparing opponents of murderous millionaire mercenaries to Al-Qaeda was not the only example of far-right rhetoric besmirching what used to be a happy, tourism-promoting event.

Details, below.

Prince adopted the teabagger jive by "decrying Washington and its excessive spending," but the Sentinel reporter helpfully noted the hypocrisy of that:

He did not mention that Blackwater — now called Xe — was the beneficiary of government contracts worth more than $1 billion, many awarded without competitive bidding.

And according to Rep. Henry Waxman, head of the House committee that investigated the firm, Blackwater employees make about six times more than equivalent military positions, or around $1,222 per day.

Prince, of course, defended his mercenary company before the friendly crowd, though in one weird ahistorical way:

Prince believes such (mercenary) work is key to keeping America strong.

After all, the Roman empire fell because it couldn’t afford to pay its soldiers, he said, criticizing federal spending and the national debt.

And Prince made an absurd charge against the U.S. Naval Academy, where he lasted a mere three semesters before heading off to ultra-right Hillsdale College.

He called the school too liberal.

"As liberal as some universities may be, imagine one run by the federal government," he said.

Yeah, just imagine how liberal the Naval Academy, West Point, and the Air Force Academy are.

Jeremy Scahill, the guy who wrote the book on Blackwater and continues to report on mercenaries for The Nation, also spoke in Holland last night; see Mlle L's dairy for more about that.

Check out the comments under the Sentinel story. You'll find plenty of local people (in a red part of Michigan) who agree with us that one way to curb excessive federal spending is to have the military perform security and other tasks now contracted out to Blackwater, etc., at a scandalous cost.

Originally posted to devtob on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:34 AM PDT.

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