Saturday, May 03, 2014

Hawai`i Democrats React To Forbes-Hanabusa Military Intensification Bill


McKeon, Forbes, Hanabusa-- 3 crooked warmongers on the take

Earlier this week, Republican Congressman Randy Forbes did what he always does (the only thing he does?). He proposed more funding for the Pentagon. This time, it was in the form of the Forbes-Hanabusa Asia-Pacific Region Priority Act.

Hanabusa is Hawai`i Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who chairs the conservative, corporate-sponsored New Democrat Coalition's National Security Task Force and is trying to oust progressive Sen. Brian Schatz in the Aug. 9 primary.

As Rep. Forbes notes in his press release, he and Hanabusa have been partners throughout her short tenure in Congress in the effort to increase military spending based on the region's red menace ("China's rise") and the ensuing need to "rebalance" and "pivot to the Pacific."

Together, they are now seeking to accelerate the militarization of the heavens ("Space Defense and Deterrence Strategies"; "Space Situational Awareness"), ignite the China-Taiwan cold war ("Cross-Strait Military Balance"), provide legal authority for drone wars ("Defense Unmanned Systems Office") and confirm the prevalence of Star Wars ("Missile Defense Cooperation and Capabilities").

Though Hawai`i derives economic benefit from military spending, the state's voters tend to skew dovish and progressive, particularly in Democratic primaries, as the Schatz campaign has noted in a strategy memo.

But Hanabusa's Congressional career has thus far been bankrolled by the military-industrial complex, and she's not about to back down now. After making a half-hearted attempt to portray herself as just as progressive as Sen. Schatz earlier in the campaign, she's recently given up that charade and is instead touting her friendliness with conservatives like Rep. Forbes, perhaps hoping Republicans will vote for her in Hawai`i's open primary election.

Shortly after their joint legislation was announced, Hanabusa emailed out a fundraising appeal entitled "Bipartisan experience." The message touted her ability to work with Republicans in the Boehner Congress and includes multiple GOP talking points. Even while bragging about her alleged ability to spend military money, she claims to be a fiscal conservative (something Rep. Forbes, to his credit, doesn't even do):

"A pragmatic approach to spending our federal tax revenue on behalf of the people who work so hard to earn it is one of the most basic responsibilities of government."
(At the exact same time Hanabusa was emailing constituents to complain about “polarizing ideological positions on Capitol Hill"-- obviously referring to her opponent's proudly progressive viewpoints-- Sen. Schatz was in the Senate fighting for a minimum wage increase. His effort, of course, was ultimately defeated by Hanabusa's Republican friends. She favors a much lower $9.25 minimum wage, which is more palatable to her Chamber of Commerce allies. 

The reaction to the Forbes-Hanabusa legislation among Hawai`i Democrats has been swift and negative as seen in tweets and blog posts:

"Militarization of public lands still a battleground"
"Hanabusa's recent military upgrade bill prioritizes acquiring military money for HI, but at what cost?"
"Hawaii Dem wants MORE military spending!"
National progressives also recognize the sharp contrast and high stakes in this primary. Sen. Schatz has been endorsed by pro-peace groups like Council for a Livable World, Democracy for America and, of course, Blue America.

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