Brain Dump

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— What’s up with this fooferaw over the new Defense Dept. budget?

I keep hearing assorted conservatives in both parties, and a good many news outlets, talking about this as a budget “cut” or “slash” or “gutting.”  I don’t get it, Big Dan.  This DoD budget is bigger than last year’s by a substantial sum.  Where’s the cut?

Also, these people upset over the budget, aren’t they in a political pickle?  Who’s side can they claim to be on?  Who can they claim to be defending?  I mean, if this were a situation where congress was modifying the DoD budget over the Pentagon’s objections, that’s an easy one; you say you’re defending the military.  That’s nearly always a winner.

But here we have the DoD saying they want their budget modified.  If you oppose it, who can you paint yourself as defending?  This is the Pentagon’s budget.  It’s what they want.  If you oppose it, you’re opposing what the military says it wants.  How’s that a political winner?

— Related: why in the wide, wide world of sports are we increasing defense spending?

If you added up the entire world’s defense spending, we account for 50% of it all by ourselves.  Think about that one.

The Cold War is over.  There is no arms race.  Russia isn’t spending almost as much as we are on defense; try 15%.  China isn’t spending almost as much as we are on defense; also 15%.  Neither are Iran or North Korea or Syria or Libya or [your country here].  If you added Russia and China and Iran and North Korea, etc., together, they still wouldn’t be spending almost as much as us.  Expressed mathematically, here’s the equation:

(Russia + China + Iran + North Korea) x 3 = U.S.

Here it is graphically:

Why in the world are we increasing defense spending in this budget?  And why are there people running around screaming that we still won’t be spending enough?  Something is seriously busted, here.

— Why is Barack Obama turning into George Bush?

The Obama administration continues to move in the wrong direction on issues of executive power, government secrecy, and domestic spying.  It’s inexcusable.  It was inexcusable when it was Bush and Cheney’s policy.  It’s even more inexcusable for Obama, since open government and restored constitutional limits on the executive were a major part of his campaign.  He’s been in office for, what? 75 days?, and he’s already close to losing my 2012 vote.

This isn’t the kind of thing you can play the pragmatist with, Mr. President.  There is no middle way.  You can’t be a centrist.  You don’t have to compromise to make progress.  You have total power to do the right thing, here. You just have to do the right thing.  Do it.

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17 Responses to “Brain Dump”

  1. michaellasley Says:

    As always, I’m a lousy excuse of a citizen and haven’t read any news this week. (Other than the pirate headlines, because, you know, pirates were involved.)

    I know this is an impossible question to answer, but where is our defense spending going? Is it in research and development type things? Is it in maintaining a large active force? Stockpiling weapons? I mean, I know it’s all of those, but where’s our money going that Syria’s ain’t.

    A graph!

    Is there grumbling on the left about secrecy issues?

    • urbino Says:

      Arrrrrrgh!

      There’s probably another graph out there somewhere that answers your question about defense budget allocation. I’ll see if I can find one.

      Is there grumbling on the left about secrecy issues?

      Much.

    • alsturgeon Says:

      Yeah, and then the Pirates have to go take 2 out of 4 from the Cards, too. Damn Pirates.

      Oh, and if Barack loses your vote in ’12, I hear Evan Bayh may be running? That’s me. Mr. Bright Side.

  2. jazzbumpa Says:

    Good post. Love the graph. I’m gong to link to you.

    AlsoI loved Inhofe’s inane bloviating from Afghanistan. He has the YouTube video linked on his senate website, so he must be proud of it.

    What a freaking idiot.

    Barack is turning into Bush because power corrupts. It’s just about that simple and stupid. And, IMHO, he never was left of center. Things have gotten so skewed in this country that center-right looks like radical left.

    Context is everything.

  3. urbino Says:

    Hey, jazz. Thanks for stopping by, and for the link. Yeah, Inhofe makes a habit of setting new standards for idiocy, doesn’t he?

    I sort of disagree about Obama. Maybe he never was left of center, but he certainly ran left of center on these issues in his campaign. Clearly he was never as left as we’d like — he voted for the telecom immunity nonsense — but he did make open gov’t and the proper role of the executive campaign issues. It would be nice to see him follow through. To me, these are bigger issues than Guantanamo. (In part, I admit, because getting them right would lead to the closing of Guantanamo, anyway.)

  4. urbino Says:

    Gosh, I had no idea I was an expert.

  5. Whitney Says:

    Mikey, I would guess that the vast majority of military spending goes to two areas: technology (i.e., intelligence and warfighting systems that would blow your mind in their complexity) and personnel (i.e., base pay, housing, medical, retirement (HUGE chunk), any additional pays (like sea pay, family separation pay, cost of living adjustments for specific locations, etc.), and retention bonuses–which tend to be quite large.)

    You will not hear most military people who fully understand the monetary value of those things complain about pay. I think we have a pretty darn good deal, and I am extremely thankful for it. You hear a lot of grumbling from the enlisted community, but also consider that many of their spouses do not even attempt to work (a lot do, don’t get me wrong) and/or they spend their humongous bonuses on frivolous things, do not spread it out in order for it to make a reasonable contribution to their standard of living, and then complain.

    Thank you for giving me a soapbox. 🙂

    • urbino Says:

      My guess (and that’s all it is) is you’re right — tech and personnel.

      As I understand it, the proposed DoD budget shifts some money away from tech and toward personnel. That’s a) another reason (in addition to the ones mentioned in my post) I think the Inhofes and Tom Prices in congress are going to have a hard time getting political cover for criticizing the budget; and b) why the Inhofes and Tom Prices are criticizing the budget — less tech spending makes the defense contractors who line their pockets unhappy.

  6. Whitney Says:

    To be clear, I am not trying to bash the enlisted community, and I understand it could’ve been taken that way. Yes, they make significantly less, but would also in corporate America. As I told an E3 who’d been in a year or two and was complaining to me about how much more Joe made than him as an O4: Yes, but he has a master’s degree, he’s been in 12 years (few years ago), and if you screw up, he’s the one who takes the heat.

  7. Whitney Says:

    No, I cannot make just one post. Sorry.

    I was wondering when you’d comment on the whole “executive power, government secrecy, and domestic spying” thing. I kind of thought you would, and that you would take issue with it. Even though you know I don’t 100% agree with you (don’t 100% disagree either), I totally give yo kudos for applying the same standards to “your” guy. There are SO FEW on both sides of the aisle willing to do that. Thanks.

    • urbino Says:

      Yeah, I was trying to give the guy some time to assess the situation and come up with a strategy for rolling this nonsense back. To be fair, I still think it’s too early to make any kind of final judgment, but I can’t ignore the fact that what he’s done so far is decidedly wrongheaded and unacceptable.

      Like I said of Bush and his team: anybody who thinks the executive has this kind of power is, by definition, unfit to serve in the executive branch.

  8. michaellasley Says:

    urbino ain’t the only one who is frustrated, apparently. this from Harper’s, which then links elsewhere.

    • urbino Says:

      Horton (Horton Who’s at Harper’s) has probably been the loudest voice on this stuff from the legal community, going all the way back to when the Bush admin. first started making these claims.

  9. DeJon05 Says:

    “We stand by as children starve by the millions because we lack the will to eliminate hunger. Yet we have found the will to develop missiles capable of flying over the polar cap and landing within a few feet of their target. This is not innovation. It is a profound distortion of humanity’s purpose on earth.”
    — Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Oregon) Ret.

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