| Sunday, May 22, 2005
Just another pig at the
So the governor had
national security in mind when fighting for bases?
The announcement last week that the Pentagon essentially
gave California a pass in the latest round of proposed base
closings was great news for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in two
very different ways.
The first was that the governor wouldn't have to waste time
and political capital fighting in Washington, D.C., to keep
bases open while still having to take on the Democrats and
public employee unions in Sacramento who think it's radical
and crazy to hold state spending increases to the level of
The second was that it kept the spotlight off the absurd
rationale the Schwarzenegger administration offered for
opposing any California base closures.
For months, local pols up and down the state as well as
most of our congressional delegation have repeated like a
mantra the argument that California "suffered enough" in the
first four rounds of military downsizing recommended by the
Base Realignment and Closure Commission and agreed to by
Congress and the president. In other words, military spending
is no different from other government pork, and California
deserves its fair share.
But Vince Sollitto, a Schwarzenegger spokesman, told me in
a May 2 phone interview that the governor was motivated by a
noble concern for national security and the fear the Pentagon
didn't appreciate "the unique strategic value of California's
So you don't acknowledge that this is about keeping
military money coming California's way?
"No, I don't acknowledge it," Sollitto said. "The primary
reason is national security, not economics."
Oh, come on!
Does the fact that the Pentagon thought almost all of
California's military installations worth keeping for now mean
that Schwarzenegger really was on the side of the angels in
his motives? That argument will be made. But do you really
believe that the governor's staff looked at, oh, the Navy's
antenna-testing facility in the Etcheron Valley or the Coast
Guard's communication center at Port Reyes or the Army's
Amadee Airfield in the Sierras or the Air Force's Beale base
east of Yuba City, compared those facilities to similar ones
around the nation, evaluated the global threat to America and
the role that these bases could play in lessening that threat
on a cost-efficient basis, then concluded that it was a matter
of urgent national interest that they all be kept open? That
his staff evaluated all California bases and determined
each must be kept open?
It takes a radical suspension of disbelief to swallow a
whopper that big.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, Schwarzenegger's
sin here is relatively minor. He remains not just the best but
pretty much the only hope for Californians who have seen the
Democrats who control the Legislature metastasize into a
cancerous force whose top priority is protecting the interests
of public employees, whatever the evermore dire consequences
for the state.
But the same attitude that led the governor to fight for
military spending in California, whether it was warranted or
not, iswhat animates the state's Democrats in their
push for higher taxes to fund teachers' salaries, bureaucrats'
pensions and whatever crumbs they throw the poor's way to
maintain the fiction that they are the party of the
It builds from the notion that the government has a lot of
money and that restraint and prudence in spending that money
might as well be four-letter words. And it reflects a mind-set
that sees the government's bank account as a gigantic slush
fund of mysterious origin that can be tapped without
consequence to reward select constituencies - not as a pile of
money forcibly extracted from tens of millions of
"Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he
spends his own," noted Milton Friedman, Arnold
Schwarzenegger's favorite economist. The lesson of the
governor's phony posturing on base closures is that he may
want to spend money collected from state taxpayers carefully,
but when it comes to the kitty collected by the IRS, he's just
another pig at the