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At times I have enjoyed reading David Brooks NYTimes column. Today is not one of those days.

In a column titled, "Why Hagel Was Picked," Brooks starts out with a discussion of government spending on healthcare. After several paragraphs of preamble, he gets to his thesis: that Hagel was picked to give Obama political cover for making defense cuts that are necessary to pay for Medicare as its costs grow.

That's a somewhat reasonable argument for a Republican to make. But Brooks is being somewhat dishonest.  More after the orange squiggle of love.

He gets around to comparing us to Europe, which chose long ago to spend more on the "welfare state" than on the military.

Oswald Spengler didn’t get much right, but he was certainly correct when he told European leaders that they could either be global military powers or pay for their welfare states, but they couldn’t do both.
So we are going the way of Europe (read: broke) because of "middle-class seniors".  Greedy middle-class seniors. (Never mind that Medicare covers poor and low-income seniors, but I digress.)

He claims we are on our way to European-style military decline.

European nations can no longer perform many elemental tasks of moving troops and fighting. ... The United States will undergo a similar process. The current budget calls for a steep but possibly appropriate decline in defense spending, from 4.3 percent of G.D.P. to 3 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
After dazzling us with his command of numbers, he makes this hyperbolic, dire statement:
As the federal government becomes a health care state, there will have to be a generation of defense cuts that overwhelm anything in recent history.
Of course, he does not bother to mention that :

* The U.S. has been outspending the rest of the world on defense for decades, so the cuts are LONG overdue.

* The U.S. has blown through defense budgets, spending billions on unnecessary, ill-planned wars, like Iraq, during which billions were wasted and unaccounted for.

* Republican voters like Medicare as much as they like other social welfare programs, like Social Security, so if Brooks is going to blame voters for defense cuts, he needs to speak to his own primary readers.

Mr. Brooks: The United States is not about to lose its military might. Defense cuts will be made and the U.S. will continue to have the power to annihilate the planet several times over. If we decline in power, it will be because we continue to pretend that fighting war after war is the way to stay top dog, to push our adversaries around, and make a lot of money for military contractors (and energy companies) in the process. Remember that the Iraq war (as well as Afghanistan) revealed the limits of military might.

For these reasons, I posit, the David Brooks is a dick.

9:06 AM PT: Kevin Drum at Mother Jones agrees, with this quote:

"Brooks is right that healthcare costs are by far the most important part of the federal budget going forward. Every other component of the budget is growing either slowly (Social Security) or not at all (domestic spending and defense spending). But he's not right that healthcare will inevitably swallow everything else. We can afford to spend another 3 or 4 points of GDP if we need to, and the political climate of today isn't necessarily the political climate of tomorrow."

See : http://www.motherjones.com/...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 07:52:02 AM PST

  •  Stupid? Or intentionally misleading? (10+ / 0-)
    As the federal government becomes a health care state, there will have to be a generation of defense cuts that overwhelm anything in recent history.
    Well, we haven't had a defense cut in recent history.  

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/...

    Maybe now that we're stopping two wars, and have less need to project supreme military power throughout in the Middle East...let's face it, their oil isn't worth the trouble...we can return to peacetime spending.

    One piece of free advice to the GOP: Drop the culture wars, explicitly.

    by Inland on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:17:24 AM PST

    •  Misleading -- that's my point (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DuzT, TomP, mindara, Inland, Rusty Pipes, 714day

      He's deliberately ignoring our long history of excessive defense spending, and the poor ROI! I think he's giving talking points to other GOPers, so expect to hear more of this argument in the coming days/weeks.

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:19:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Both (8+ / 0-)

      Brooks is a consistently stupid writer.  His notion of cleverness is to cloak his partisanship in the gauzy folds of what he considers to be 'reasonable' discourse.  Problems arise when one unpacks his luggage to reveal the same, over-worn elephant hide suits.

      To me he embodies the worst of punditry, the smarmy, pseudo-intellectual shill pretending to be fair and balanced.
      The first sentence of the article in question is a clue:  "Most Americans don't like government."  While on the surface, that may seem to be accurate, its pretty clear that Brooks and his companions on the right have been devaluing government for years, and that the current disfunction in Congress is just another Republican attempt to suffocate the baby in broad daylight.

      The very cronies of Brooks who ruin government with their lobbying and money are the one's responsible for the bad rap government gets all around.  Couple that with the broken system of drawing House districts, and you have what you have now, a government that most don't like.  What rankles is Brooks lack of integrity in honestly appraising the situation.  He's just another partisan hack masquerading as a thoughtful commentator.

      Finding Fred A Memoir of Discovery @ smashwords.com/iTunes

      by Timothy L Smith on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:52:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Clinton cut defense quite significantly (0+ / 0-)

      For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

      by Anne Elk on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:22:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The US will lose it's military might (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, TomP, mindara

    But that's OK.  We're outsized in our military influence now, and it leads us to do some stupid things and lets our allies free ride on our spending.  

    Europe and Japan will have to up their militaries a bit and we'll have to cut back.  It's a good thing.

    We could halve our spending and still spend twice as much as the number two country.

    We get what we want - or what we fail to refuse. - Muhammad Yunus

    by nightsweat on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:22:06 AM PST

  •  You're just learning this? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, KJG52, mindara, Upper West, lostinamerica

    Typical David Brooks column circa 2004:

    "We elitist educated urban Northeast types are awful mean to the folks in the sticks. They don't like that much. On behalf of my class, I apologize to those folks and applaud them for voting for the Republican candidate I personally happen to support."

    Typical David Brooks column circa 2010-13:

    "Gosh, some of these Republicans are really out there. Not me. I'm good ol' reasonable Dave. I sure hope Obama will be reasonable like me and ignore basic macroeconomics by implementing expeditiously the recommendations of Pete Peterson & Co. Otherwise he'd be just as unreasonable as those Tea people. And I sure hope he's not that."

    Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

    by fenway49 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:27:22 AM PST

    •  HAHA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mindara

      I guess I'm slow - but today's column takes the cake. It bothers me because it's such a lie, and it will be repeated by other Republicans during the confirmation process. "Obama is cutting defense to support the welfare state"

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:31:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't like Hagel. I didn't like him when (0+ / 0-)

    he was in the Senate. I know he was a war hero, and I honor him for it. But, through sheer happenstance, I knew several war heroes who knew each other, and when all was said and done, they didn't like each other, either.

    I don't like David Brooks either. He is a jerk.

    And the President has the right to pick whomever he pleases.

    But I cannot forget that he picked Rahm Emanuel. I didn't like Rahm Emanuel either.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:32:54 AM PST

    •  I'm agnostic on Hagel (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      merrywidow, hestal

      But I like the idea of defense cuts. I'm just appalled by Brooks' argument that defense cuts = weak military, and that the cuts are forced by Medicare spending, as opposed to rabid militarism and greed.

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:37:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In other news, the sky is blue, the sun is bright, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    and every Right Wing news source is full of complete shit.

    Lawrence, KS - From ashes to immortality

    by MisterOpus1 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:42:58 AM PST

    •  Not always, but I see your point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mindara, Minnesota Deb

      Sometimes Brooks is even-handed and a true moderate. But in this case, he's full of shit because he knows how high our military spending has been, and he also knows how much conservative voters love their social welfare programs -- as long as they don't have to pay for them through taxes. It's just a lie to suggest that our military is going to be weak, devastated by reasonable cuts.

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:45:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I often hear Brooks commentary on NPR (0+ / 0-)

        and I think he tends to adapt his opinion somewhat in context to his surroundings.  Consequently, he tens to be a little more centrist.  But ultimately his dickishness comes out because he is a Conservative through and through.

        I actually have more respect for people like Limbaugh and Hannity because they at least don't put on a centrist front at any point like Brooks often does.

        Lawrence, KS - From ashes to immortality

        by MisterOpus1 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:58:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  But I did not read him as saying that (0+ / 0-)

        cutting defense was a bad thing, merely that it is the plan going forward.

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:25:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  "Sometimes Brooks is even-handed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lostinamerica

        and a true moderate"

        I would change to "seems even-handed."  He is the ultimate "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing."  His job is to package horrible ideas in the guise of "reasonable conservatism," of which there is no such thing.

        Paul Krugman despises Brooks, but by Times formal or informal rules, can't name him it critiques.  But if you read Krugman's blog after some Brooks' columns, you'll find Krugman tearing Brooks' column apart without naming him.

        For example, this diary noted Krugman's Insta Response to Brooks "Structural" Gobbledygook.

        No Krugman update yet today.  Others, like Pierce and Driftglass are great Brooks eviscerators.

        Though I don't have time to check, I am sure that there is all sorts of fishy stuff about his GDP ratios today.

        The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

        by Upper West on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:35:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  25% of the pentagon budget is "lost" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mindara, Minnesota Deb

    so if we cut waste we lose nothing but...waste.

    •  Amen to that, merrywidow (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      merrywidow

      That's my point exactly! Brooks' and other conservatives say nothing about how much of the defense budget is wasted on either obsolete weapons, or unnecessary, protracted wars and overreach.

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:49:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Who is it he thinks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KJG52, Minnesota Deb

    is going to invade the United States?

    There is no justification for the size of the military we have. If we didn't have it we wouldn't be tempted to invade countries we didn't have any business invading in the first place, like Iraq.

    •  Not to mention the fact that (1+ / 0-)

      full-scale invasions don't happen anymore. We have a deterrent in our large nuclear arsenal. These days, defense boils down to intelligence, drones, covert operations. Our current defense spending is like a solution looking for several problems.

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:53:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  PUBLIC RELATIONS SPIN: HE'S A VIET NAM VET (0+ / 0-)

    i get sadly tickled at this whole fiasco-
    and brooks? yawn yawn

    romney talked of billion dollar ships that can now be spotted and blown out of the water with new and cheapening technologies

    drones are unstoppable (though i anger at the President's current employment of them).

    there are less expensive effective weapon systems out there with the advent of new technologies.

    get our children the hell out of afghanistan- cause it's the right thing to do.

    MOST EFFECTIVE PUBLIC RELATIONS SPIN: HE'S A VIET NAM VET- AND WE'VE NEVER HAD A VIET NAM VET DEFENSE SECRETARY. AND HE WAS 'IN THE TRENCHES AND KNOWS.'

    I live in the south after being in Asia for a bit- so I've got my pulse on southern thinking (for a better or worse)--- and his Viet Nam status is the biggest 'pro' going.

    Good Post

    People who say they don't care what people think are usually desperate to have people think they don't care what people think. -George Carlin

    by downtownLALife on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 08:57:48 AM PST

    •  Brooks couldn't think of better reason (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      downtownLALife

      to oppose Hagel, I guess. So he went for the he'll-cut-defense-to-nothing-to-support-Obama's-welfare-state-which-is-bankrupting-USA argument.

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:00:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  we should let them run with it (0+ / 0-)

        and run like hell.
        their rationale is sure to reach levels of absurdity yet to be seen. A lot of Americans are wising up.

        cheers

        People who say they don't care what people think are usually desperate to have people think they don't care what people think. -George Carlin

        by downtownLALife on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:07:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hope you are right, downtownLALife (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          downtownLALife

          Maybe the confirmation will reveal just how out-of-proportion military spending has been, and people will wonder why we have a threatened safety net but a oversized military.

          The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

          by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:11:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Defense is the Republican version of the welfare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lostinamerica

    state. Without defense spending the manufacturing base would be completely hollowed out and R&D would be almost nonexistent. Brooks knows that and completely understands that the $600 billion annually that we have been spending since 9/11 plus Iraq/AfPak war spending, the DHS and other "terrorist security" spending is driving most of the "growth"  in the domestic economy. Brooks has been pushing his authoritarian line for over 20 years, and he has always been a "dick" constantly pushing the putative center rightward. Cut off the money to Defense, DHS, the Intelligence community and "security" contractors and the Republican Washington establishment blows away, and David Brooks loses his raison d'etre.

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:09:49 AM PST

    •  Very interesting, KJG52 (0+ / 0-)

      If he actually made this argument -- about the economy -- he might get more support for his argument. But to suggest that the welfare state is eating up our ability to defend ourselves against enemies is ridiculous.

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:13:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He can't state his real argument, it doesn't fit (0+ / 0-)

        with his ideological frame. With Brooks, its always "those people" the "grifters," those who are "dependent" on government spending, who are the "threat" to the American way of life. Not the wealthy "job creators" of the defense, health, pharmaceutical, FIRE and energy, sectors who are the actual benefactors of the majority of government spending.

        "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

        by KJG52 on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:43:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I realize the economy is an issue, an important (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minnesota Deb

    issue. However, I am sick to death of columists and pundits taking every single situation and turning it into an economic argument. Is that all we think about? How much money will this cost?
    At times it seems like the good old common sense and humanity is taken out of each one of these sitautions and it always goes back to how much money.
    When talks of spending cuts are on the table, the talk always comes around to cutting spending on those people who need it most, the poor and the elderly, and not cutting defesne spending. No one is talking about disbanding our military or leaving this nation unprotected, all we are saying is that we spend too damn much money on military contracts that produce out of date equipment and do nothing but fatten the pockets of defesne contractors and the people in the government, (Congress) that they own. The poor and the elderly own no one in Congress, so cutting from these programs will not be a finacial hardship on anyone but those who need it most.
    I am also sick to death of people taking isolated incidents about people on food stamps buying steak or lobster, when most of the people who survive on food stamps have a really hard time simply feeding their family. How about Fox news rather than repeating story after story about some one on government assistance going to strip clubs or spending money on unnecessary items, (they are in the minority) we all see some stories about how difficult most of the people on Food Stamps are having to simply survive until they can get a job.
    I see seniors every day who can no longer work, and who make sacraficies daily in order to be able to survive on the small amount they receive from Social Security, and none of them are getting rich by using Medicare either. When you think about it, the G.O.P. has painted these seniors as selfish and not caring about their children or Grandchildren, but in reality the fact that they have Social Secuirty and Medicare directly benefits their children and grandchildren, by allowing them to have some small shred of dignity and independence, and not rely on their chldren to support them. I think what I am saying is we need to start telling the truth and not allowing people who know nothing at all about living in poverty or fixed incomes to control the narrative and turn everything the humanity of the situation and toward the financial. Much of that money is not wasted as defense spending is, it helps people, real people, people in need of help.

    •  I concur, Vera (0+ / 0-)

      I especially hate the fact that Dick Brooks qualified "Medicare" recipients by referring to only "middle-class" seniors -- pitting seniors against children and the poor, as if only middle-class seniors receive Medicare. That's a lie.

      And didn't Bush preside over the largest expansion of Medicare, with the prescription drug benefit?????

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:21:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A couple of weeks ago on MTP, I saw Tom Brokaw (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Minnesota Deb, PeterHug

        talking about Social Security and Medicare recipients and how $250,000. is not alot of money becaues you have to support your parents in perhaps a nursing home that can cost up to $35,000. a year. It hit me that these people who have the microphone, know nothing at all about how the rest of us live. Not only do they not know, but they don't much care either. They care only about what effects them and how it effects them. They make these statements they get played on national t.v. or in the case of Brooks in a national newspaper and people hear it or read it and think they know it all. They don't.
        For 15 years up until my Mom died she lived with us, she received $800 per month from Social Security, not enough to live on, after my Dad died because he was handicapped we took her to live with us. She insisted she give me $200 per month to "pay her way". That left her with $600 per month to pay for her supplemental health insurance, life insurance (for her burial) and necessities, bithtday and Christmas gifts for her children, grandchildren and great -grandchildren. That gave her pleasure. Since her health insurance and life insurance increased as she got older, there was never any money left over each month, but try as I might to get her to keep the $200, she insisted she "pay her way". I saw first hand how that gave her dignity and how her Medicare kept her from being a burdon on all of us, her children. We are not in the Tom Brokaw catagory where we could put her in a nursing home that cost even $5,000. per month, let alone $35,000. per month. When they were younger, my parents owned a home, sold it and moved to California, they had no large savings and in order to supplement their S.S. benefits whatever profit they made on selling their home was quickly depleted, it was not much money at all. While my Dad was alive they scrimped and got along, but once he died, it was over $400 less for my mom and not enough money to actually pay rent buy food and pay for her needs.
        Not too many of us "middle class" folks make 6 and 7 figure incomes as these pundits and talking heads, so when they speak, they don't represent the majority of American people, and that pisses me off, they don't know what the f**k they are talking about at all. Sorry, I had to vent.

        •  Honestly, the awful thing is, he's right. (0+ / 0-)

          If I had to support my parents in a situation where one or both of them (God forbid) was severely disabled, and I wanted to do it properly - I could blow through $250,000 really pretty quickly.

          I CERTAINLY couldn't do it (not even with all my brothers and sisters, and they surely would be there as well) - but that just means that people like you and me need to make awful choices about what we do, and what the options are.

          No one should have to do that, unless everyone has to do that.  In the end, this is something that we are all in together as a society, and the faster we all realize that and behave that way, the better off we all will be.

          •  By not cutting Social Security and Medicare, we (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PeterHug

            lesson the chance of doing this. If you ask me Social Security should have larger cost of living increases, because what they call cost of living increases in S.S. are nothing when you get done paying for food, gas, even Medicare payments have increased. Seniors went without a cost of living increase in SS for two years because Congress refused to act, however that didn't stop the prices of necessities from going up.
            I think my point is that Social Security and Medicare doesn't just help seniors, it helps all of us. We all have parents, and most of us love them and would not turn our backs on helping them out as they age. We will all be there one day, and many of us will not be as well prepared for retirement as Tom Brokaw or David Brooks, we simply didn't have the same opportunities to make as much money in our lifetime. They just don't see it that way, they think Seniors are selfish and are placing debt on future generations by wanting to perserve these necessary programs. That is not the way it is at all,actually it is quite the opposite, they need SS and Medicare so they don't place debt on their children that love and care about them.

  •  But he is correct in pointing out (0+ / 0-)

    that the Defense budget is coming way down and Hagel was picked in order to do that. It is also correct the healthcare spending is rising and will continue to do so, not that there is anything wrong with that. It does mean that choices, big choices, are being made, and it is hardly dickish to point that out.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:21:29 AM PST

    •  Wrong! Read Kevin Drum's column (0+ / 0-)

      He says,

      "...we're now in our third straight year of low growth rates for healthcare spending—and that's before any of Obamacare's cost containment measures have kicked in."

      Healthcare is expensive, but that is not directly correlated with the need to cut defense, which gets the lion's share of our federal budget anyway.

      Here's the link to Drum: http://www.motherjones.com/...

      The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

      by LiberalLady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:26:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A low growth rate is still growth. (0+ / 0-)

        Also, the healthcare reform act has brought millions more into the system. That's just a fact, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. And there is a correlation between defense and healthcare when it comes to the national debt. If you don't want big tax increases and you don't want to cut essential healthcare spending and you do want to restrain the growth in the national debt, then you do have to cut defense. That's what I took from the Brooks article. More than that, however, is that America and the world must now look forward to a time in which this country will have nowhere near the military capacity it has today, at least not the kind of capacity it has today, a pretty welcome eventuality in my book. But there is in fact an equation conditional upon the larger budgetary choices being made that is forcing the US to choose between guns and welfare. I think the President has chosen a team that's choosing welfare, something we can all agree is a good thing.

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:41:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "decline" is code word for "weak on defense" (0+ / 0-)

    I saw some shill on PBS working the same angle. It's the opening fight in "we'll be over run by the Chinese/Muslim/who-ya-got hordes if we touch a hair on my pretty well funded defense systems."

    It's nonsense, of course. Google: H Bomb. Russia's not sending tanks into Poland any time soon. Japan v China in the South China Sea? Taiwan? That's what'll get brought up. We can easily stay at par with anyone, anywhere. As long as we're not doing new-fashioned Republican nation occupation and building (see: Bush 43 admin) we can spend A LOT LESS. And to make it politically possible go to the same bootstrapped decades ago weapons powerhouses and work with them to retool to sell us 21st century transportation networks and solar infrastructure. At a slightly smaller markup than a 1k toilet seat. Similar troop levels just close overseas bases and spend that cash in the 50 states. State by state. House district by House district.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 09:40:20 AM PST

  •  so let me get this straight... (0+ / 0-)

    ...we're changing from a country that spends 20-25% of its budget (which sounds a bit more than 3-4% of GDP, doesn't it?) on killing foreigners for whatever reason sounds good at the time, to a nation that spends its money on the well-being of its citizens.

    So what's the problem?

  •  It's Brooks' job to make bad policy (0+ / 0-)

    sound reasonable. I don't trust him.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:19:43 AM PST

  •  send me the mythical link that shows defense cuts (0+ / 0-)

    are we talking about a decrease in percentage increase?

    these things have to actually be proposed and voted on, right? and neither of those has really happened. the sequester, i was told, will not happen.

    the myth of defense cuts is spin to prevent defense cuts, i am saying.

    here is where we are at, no cuts yet.

    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/...

    war is immoral. both parties are now fully complicit in the wars. bring everyone home. get to work.

    by just want to comment on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:32:43 AM PST

  •  Brooks is giving Republicans cover (0+ / 0-)

    to oppose Chuck Hagel so that they won't look like right-wing neocon loonies.  That may not matter for Republican congresscritters, but Senators not only have to garner support from many outside the Religious Right, they have to justify a vote against a former senator in a chamber that has a culture of collegiality.  

    In addition, Hagel's quote about being elected as a US Senator, and taking an oath to the US Constitution has been played on the MSM: the American public has gotten a chance to hear Hagel's words, rather than their interpretation by the Israel Lobby as anti-Semitic.  While the Senators' hardcore Zionist donors and voting block may be appalled by that quote, many of their other constituents will be offended that their Republican Senators, who also took an oath to the US Constitution, are listing as their top objection to Hagel that he's not pro-Israel enough.  Brooks gives those Senators a chance to change their mode of attack.

    It isn't nice to go to jail ... but if that's freedom's price

    by Rusty Pipes on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 10:47:23 AM PST

  •  I've never liked him, can't even respect him (0+ / 0-)

    I don't care about the law. I care about justice.--Patrick Jane

    by UkieOli on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 11:07:49 AM PST

  •  Brooks has a kernal correct IMO, as usual, only. (0+ / 0-)

    I agree with the spirit of what Drum says, we can certainly afford to increase federal health care spending. But if we don't, at some point, of course the uncontrollable upward spiral of health care costs will consume the federal  budget as it will consume all other state and private budgets - employers, employees, and households. That's the most compelling business case for centralizing health care costs under a single national payer decoupled from employment.

    But IMO Brooks is also correct that the defense budget competes for resources and specifically competes with a more rational larger allocation of federal spending to health care (and other social spending). Hegel's nomination does indicate the President intends to aggressively decrease defense spending, which I applaud. The entire MIC will be/is in serious pushback mode and will utilize every hawk and money grubbing pol they can "entice".

    Hegel appears to be a text book case of a hatchet man - strong willed, independent thinker, stern with few friends or allies - and hatchet men have an essential, if short term, role in initiating downsizing initiatives.

    Brooks is a dick but even dicks have an upside once in a while. ;-)

  •  Minor correction: Brooks is a DICKLESS dick... (0+ / 0-)

    who apparently can't even bother to brush his teeth.  Ich, what a tool . . .

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by bobdevo on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 12:10:48 PM PST

  •  IMO Hagel's nomination sends a message... (0+ / 0-)

    and it's a message that has been sent regardless of whether he is confirmed or not - the message is for Netanyahu, and it basically says, "REALLY don't expect us to bail you out if you go attack Iran on your own."

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