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Pentagon trash 

George W. Bush doesn't seem like the recycling type, but if you check his White House performance so far, you'll see that there are many old things he's trying to reuse.

For example, he's brought back into action an extraordinary number of retreads from Daddy Bush's administration. While he campaigned last year as an "outsider," 43 percent of Bush the Second's presidential appointees are well-worn insiders who also had held appointed positions under Bush the First.

But Dubya's not only running the same old people through the system, he's also bringing back old, failed policies, including trying to saddle our country with another super-bloated, boondoggle-loaded Pentagon budget.

Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (both of whom are Washington retreads themselves) are leading the charge to dump a record $329 billion a year into the black hole of Pentagon spending. This would be more money than Congress would appropriate for every other federal program combined.

Bush and his boys claim that a massive spending hike is needed for basics such as bullets and better pay for soldiers, but that's just PR camouflage for funneling the bulk of these added billions into the corporate coffers of the huge weapons-makers that backed Bush's presidential run with an arsenal of campaign cash.

Among them is Northrop Grumman, which now stands to make a killing off us taxpayers by recycling one of the most notorious of boondoggles: The B-2 stealth bomber.

Not only is the B-2 the world's most expensive plane, but it's not very stealthy, it's slow, it requires a massive support force, it can't fly in bad weather and it's a maintenance nightmare. Even senior Air Force officers don't want the B-2, but Bush's bloated Pentagon budget calls for buying 40 of them from Northrop Grumman at $735 million each.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Not all recycling is a good idea — especially when it's a real piece of trash, like this $30-billion chunk of corporate welfare. Jim Hightower's latest book, If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates, has been released in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. E-mail

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