While on the topic of Republican senators from tiny states like Idaho there is this fresh outrage from today's New York Times (Still the best newspaper in the country, hands down).
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, is blocking the promotion of more than 850 Air Force officers, including young pilots who fought in Iraq and the general nominated to bail out the scandal-plagued U.S. Air Force Academy. His price to free the frozen promotions? Four C-150 cargo planes for the Idaho Air National Guard.
Senate rules give its members the power to hold up federal nominations and promotions, but no one has been stupid enough by my recollection to use this power to hold up military promotions which are typically whisked through the approval process. I would be just as upset with Sen. Craig if he were a Democrat and I would expect his fellow senators and party officials to knock him upside the head. But Sen. Craig is one of those politicos whose radical right views make it difficult to justify labeling him a "conservative." I guarantee that Craig voted for each and every one of Bush's budget-busting tax cuts, and now he turns around and demands a bigger piece of federal pork for his state. This is a fine example of why I often refer to the Republican Party as the Hypocricy Party.
I just wonder how many of my old Corps buddies in the Air Force are caught up in this mess that Sen. Craig has created. It's bad enough that the Bush administration is slashing veteran's benefits for the military personnel coming back from Iraq, but now they have to sit around and wait for their promotions while this Republican senator tries to blackmail the Air Force into giving his state more federal largesse. Never mind whether it is necessary for the security of our nation or even if the military can afford it today with all the pending budget cuts coming down the pike. The NY Times article spells it out pretty clearly that Craig is trying to bulk up the military base in Idaho with more aircraft so it will not be a target for closure during the next round of base closings gearing up for 2005.
I hope the Air Force officers don't have to wait much longer and I hope that the voters in Idaho will find a more honorable person to represent them in the near future.