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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:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Amount traders on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange can be fined for fighting, per punch:
Philadelphian teenagers who want to lose weight also tend to drink too much soda, whereas Bostonian teenagers who drink too much soda are likelier to carry guns.
Nuremberg’s Neues Museum filed a criminal complaint against a 91-year-old woman who completed a crossword puzzle that was in fact a $116,000 piece of avant-garde Danish art.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”