The latest trick from Congress to payback the military contractors who own them


Click to enlargeKatherine Tully McManus
A clot of military contractor lobbyists in the halls of Congress

…During an election year especially, the relationship between the defense industry and key congressional authorizers of funds can be almost seamless, resulting in a taxpayer-funded spending spree. That was particularly underscored by the House’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act, which was literally swarmed by defense industry lobbyists throughout the over 16-hour marathon session.

Unfortunately the committee largely failed to consider opportunities for savings to increase effectiveness. The Project On Government Oversight joined a coalition of groups across the political spectrum to propose $38.6 billion in potential savings. The one notable saving the committee adopted was to cut the blimp that got loose last fall, named the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System…

Instead, the committee passed a disturbing war-spending gimmick. The Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, which is supposed to support our troops fighting overseas, has regularly been used as a slush fund for Congress and the Pentagon to pay for favorite programs. But this year, for the first time, funding requested to fight our current wars has been taken hostage to boost Pentagon spending. Specifically, the bill purposely underfunds the OCO account by $18 billion in order to increase spending for additional weapon systems in the base budget (which, by the way, the Pentagon hasn’t asked for), hoping to trigger the need for the next President to ask for an additional supplemental bill to make up the shortfall around April, when this funding would run out.

So in this case not only has OCO been shifted by Congress to fund items that should be in the base budget, but the House is hoping to manufacture a war-spending crisis by purposely providing less than the Department of Defense says it needs in order to force even more Pentagon spending. It sounds complicated because it’s supposed to be.

This is outrageous and irresponsible. Those arguing for increased Pentagon spending have appropriately decried readiness shortfalls on numerous occasions. They’re wrong about the true cause of the readiness shortfalls, though, which is waste and mismanagement that only increases with a larger budget topline. “The solution to that loss is not to throw more money at the Pentagon—it’s to make the Pentagon a better steward of the trillions of dollars it already has,”…Lt. Col. Danny Davis recently wrote in The National Interest…

Let’s be clear about who stands to win and who stands to lose. The likely winners are the defense industry—who get rewarded for their campaign contributions with more funding for their overpriced weapon systems—and their lobbyists, pictured above standing outside the markup room. The likely losers are the troops and taxpayers — the people who don’t have the time or resources to stake out Congress to get their way.

RTFA if you want more details about this hustle. On one hand, conservative creeps who love to brag about cutting the cost of governance will brag about budget reduction. On the other, the same hypocrites plan to reward the military-industrial complex which owns a significant portion of their genes and genitals – with added sales and profits from crap no sensible military needs or wants.

Not that the Pentagon fits into any reasonable definition of sensible military.

Alabama’s secessionist judge Roy Moore suspended over bigoted rulings – once again

Alabama politics are at a low point even by the state’s own high – or low – standards: three top elected officials are embroiled in scandal or facing removal from office while a former governor serves time in federal prison on a corruption conviction.

On Friday, chief justice Roy Moore was suspended from his job. He faces possible ouster over his attempts to block gay marriage following the US supreme court ruling that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

It is familiar territory for the Republican, a Christian conservative who was removed from the same position in 2003 over a Ten Commandments monument, then easily won re-election later…

Idjits love re-electing idjits.

Among the nation’s poorest states, Alabama is troubled by problem areas including physical and mental health; comparatively low high school graduation rates; and too many occupational deaths, according to a report by the United Health Foundation…

In its list of civil charges against Moore, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission said the 69-year-old chief justice abused his office by issuing an administrative order to probate judges in January, telling them an Alabama court order and law banning same-sex marriages remained in effect despite the US supreme court decision affirming same-sex marriage six months earlier…

The court of the judiciary will decide whether Moore violated judicial ethics, and he could be removed from office if found guilty. The same court removed Moore from office in 2003 for his refusal to follow a federal court order directing him to remove a washing machine-sized Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state’s judicial building.

At least this gives today’s generation a demonstration of the thought processes of secessionists like the Confederate Judge Moore. If the federal constitution supersedes your own archaic ruling – stop recognizing federal law. He’s trying to do the same regarding the state constitution and the commission which suspended him. It’s all the same kind of anarchist silliness that ego-smitten nutballs embrace every time they confront civilized law which refuses to bend to their patriarchal dementia.

The toughest row to hoe is that red dirt and rocky line that women and men of good will in Alabama have to fight to cross. Plenty of folks who love their home state, self-educated or schooled in enough history and philosophy, science and law, to understand what a modern state and society can accomplish for all citizens. So it was when I lived in Louisiana. So it is in Alabama, today.

Sadiq Khan – the first Muslim to head a major European capitol


#YesWeKhan

Labour’s Sadiq Khan has been elected mayor of London, becoming the first Muslim mayor of a major European capital city following a campaign that was dominated by his opponent’s negative tactics.

Khan beat his Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith by an astonishing 65% to 35% in an election marked by an unexpectedly high turnout. The final confirmed result was delayed until the early hours of Saturday morning because of discrepancies with a small number of votes…

Khan used his victory speech to call for greater unity in London following a divisive campaign: “Fear does not make us safer, it only makes us weaker and the politics of fear is simply not welcome in our city.”

The result means Khan, who repeatedly emphasised his background as the son of an immigrant bus driver, ends eight years of Tory control of the UK’s capital city…Khan, the MP for Tooting, will now resign his parliamentary seat and take over City Hall from Boris Johnson, who has already returned to Westminster. In the process he will become the most powerful Labour politician currently holding elected office in the UK, although he faces a challenge to secure extra money for the capital from the Conservative-controlled government…

Despite the importance of the office, the campaign will mainly be remembered for Goldsmith’s tactics…by the end he became synonymous with attacks on Khan’s alleged connections with Islamist extremists, his decision to target different ethnic groups with warnings about what Labour would do to their finances, and dog whistle campaigning.

Although the candidate appeared at times uncomfortable with the decision to focus so much on personal attacks on Khan, prompting suggestions he was simply receiving bad advice, other London Conservatives queued up to personally blame Goldsmith for the result before it had even been announced…Even Goldsmith’s own sister criticised the campaign in tweets on Friday night.

Of course, if Republicans were to win the White House, the new mayor of London would not be allowed to visit the United States. He won out over bigots in London. Now, we must do the same in the United States.

Greenland and the amazing technicolor coastline


Click to enlarge

Greenland’s coast has never looked so vibrant, thanks to this three-image fusion from the ESA’s Sentinel-1A radar. Shades of grey represent land, while colors illustrate the changing sea-ice type over the course of two months.

For now, the Zachariae Isstrom glacier sits slightly left of the image center, but it’s been shedding five billion tons of ice every year because of climate change. Should it disappear completely, global sea level would rise by more than 1.5 feet.

Couple more excellent space photos over here.