Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Defense Contractors And The Congressmembers They Own Go To War-- Against The Pentagon


If you heard moaning and groaning last night, it was right-wing bloggers complaining about Defense Secretary Robert Gates' Pentagon budget proposal. If you heard screeching and death threats, you probably live somewhere near a defense contractor or a member of Congress-- like say Johnny Isakson, Saxby Chambliss or Jim Inhofe, whose career is being financed by defense contractors. Newt Gingrich has joined Dick Cheney to warn the 12-14% of Americans who believe in their brand of leadership that Obama is making the country less safe.

So let's skip the hyperbolics and hysteria and check out what's up their asses today. This is the speech Gates gave that set them off. I doubt any Democrat would have had the political will to step on so many Military-Industrial toes, toes, I may add that have paid billions of dollars in "protection money" on both sides of the aisle.

Funny, I heard Republican John McCain commending Gates for his forthrightness while sleazy Democrat Ike Skelton hissed out a barely veiled threat. It breaks down like this-- those who want a realistic and effective security system will line up behind Gates. Those who see the defense budget as a giant pork barrel and a sources of bribes, will fight to the death over their turf.

Defense contractors have given elected federal officials-- of both parties, but mostly Republicans-- $141,511,374 in legalized bribes since 1990 (and spent another $989,941,961 on lobbying; prostitutes for Duke Cunningham, for example would come under lobbying). Expect the some of the loudest squealing and oinking from some of the biggest pigs at the trough:

John Murtha (D-PA)- $2,503,149
Jim Moran (D-VA)- $1,253,296
Ike Skelton (D-MO)- $1,097,383
Bill Young (R-FL)- $1,077,375
Richard Shelby (R-AL)- $1,031,616
Jerry Lewis (R-CA)- $968,101
Norm Dicks (D-WA)- $884,630
Jane Harman (D-CA)- $706,183
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)- $640,177
Joe Lieberman (I-CT)- $594,134

The NY Times has a good account of why: "deep cuts in many traditional weapons systems" and where there will be increases in the budget-- place where the Pentagon thinks our defense capacities will increase-- the profit margins are unacceptable for the corporations who think they are entitled to dictate-- through the members of Congress they have purchased-- Pentagon policy and spending.
The decisions are expected to set off a vigorous round of lobbying over the priorities embroidered into the Defense Department’s half-trillion dollars of annual spending. They represent the first broad rethinking of American military strategy under the Obama administration, which plans to shift more money to counterterrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan while spending less on preparations for conventional warfare against large nations like China and Russia.

Mr. Gates announced cuts in missile defense programs, the Army’s expensive Future Combat Systems and Navy shipbuilding operations. He would kill controversial programs to build a new presidential helicopter and a new communications satellite system, delay the development of a new bomber and order only four more of the advanced F-22 fighter jets.

But he also said plans to increase the size of the Army and the Marine Corps, while halting reductions in Air Force and the Navy personnel, would cost an additional $11 billion. He also announced an extra $2 billion for intelligence and surveillance equipment, including new Predator and Reaper drones, the remote-controlled vehicles currently used in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq for strikes against militants, and more spending on special forces and training foreign military units.

More broadly, Mr. Gates signaled that he hoped to impose a new culture on the Pentagon — making the system more flexible and responsive to the needs of the troops in the way it chooses and buys weapons.

UPDATE: A Simple Solution To A Catastrophic Basket Of Problems

Bob Fertig at Democrats.com has the most elegant way of solving this mess: no more lobbying from war contractors.
The First Amendment guarantees the rights of "the people" to petition the government - in other words, to lobby. But corporations aren't people, so their First Amendment rights are limited.

And corporations that take money from the government have to play by the government's rules, whether they like them or not. It's an ancient principle: "If You take the King's Shilling, You do the King's Bidding."

So why don't we simply ban all lobbying by Federal contractors? Defenders of the lobbying industry argue lobbyists provide a valuable service to Congress by providing information that Congress needs. But telephones and emails work both ways: whenever Congress needs information from a contractor, they can simply ask.

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At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weaponary to livingry.

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous me said...

"somewhere near a defense contractor"

Please don't call them "defense" contractors. They are war contractors, or weapons makers.

Renaming the War Department to the Defense Department was not a casual act. It was a deliberate marketing ploy. Taxpayers are not willing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on war, yet they will gladly spend for "defense". That is the reason it was done.

Cynical manipulation of language is one of the most basic tools the Frank Luntzes of the world use against us.


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