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Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s recent decision to cut big ticket weapons systems (even as he was increasing defense spending by four percent overall) was met with predictable howls of outrage from members of Congress. Those protests, needless to say, have nothing to do with concern about protecting the country– unless you’re dumb enough to believe that the Pentagon can build a workable missile defense system– and everything to do with protecting the defense companies who provide so much money to members of Congress.
Here’s an interesting small-scale example of how the system works, involving Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, and General Dynamics:
Step 1, April 23, 2008: General Dynamics makes a $4,000 contribution to Wasserman’s personal Leadership PAC, Democrats Win Seats (and it kicks in another $1,500 in early 2009).
Step 2, May 22, 2008: General Dynamics opens a small office in Wasserman’s district.
Step 3, September 20, 2008: General Dynamics makes a $5,000 PAC contribution to Wasserman.
Step 4, Wasserman announces her fiscal year 2010 appropriations requests, which includes $9.7 million for a General Dynamics project at the company’s new Florida office.
Multiply that process 535 times and you get a defense budget.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”