Politics is fun!

Alright, I’ve come across two news stories today that I thought bear some some discussion. Sorry for the guys who come here looking for comic blogging, I’ll get something up about recent industry crossovers in a week or two.

To start up with, let’s look at Rep. David Obey who is looking to take a stand in the never-ending battle for the budget. While looking to make huge increases in defense spending, the President is threatening to veto any appropriations bill with spending exceeding $18 million of the President’s initial budget. Obey responds by shutting down the current bi-partisan spending bill and vowing to reach the President’s spending limit by throwing out GOP items and cutting billions of dollars worth of pork barrel spending and pet projects. He’s taking his ball and going home.

“I don’t see how we have any choice but to go to the president’s numbers on appropriations to make clear that we aren’t going to link the war with token funding on the domestic side.” – Rep. Obey

This is the kind of backbone I would love to see in all of congress, or at the very least in the leadership of every Committee. I mean, this is how the whole checks and balances system is supposed to work. The President makes outrageous requests for more money for defense when the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a mess and defense contract corruption is rampant, Congress should not have to bow to his will in fear of a veto. Congress should say, alright Mr. President, here’s a nice big fuck you. You can’t run up spending on one side of the equation and justify it by cutting off the other, especially when your job is primarily to work for the improvement and protection of life on the side of the equation you’re cutting.

“It is extraordinary that the president would request an 11 percent increase for the Department of Defense, a 12 percent increase for foreign aid, and $195 billion of emergency funding for the war, while asserting that a 4.7 percent increase for domestic programs is fiscally irresponsible.” Sen. Robert Byrd

Christ, look at the last major leader who increased defense funding and money spent on foreign expenditures while ignoring domestic issues, Leonid Brezhnev! He also enjoyed cronyism and fought an awful ground war in Afghanistan and did almost nothing to stop the degradation of life in the already not super-funland that was the Warsaw Pact. Hey, that led pretty damn directly to the collapse of the Soviet Union! Is that a fair comparison? No, obviously it’s a bit of hyperbole, just like any reference I could make to Hitler, say. But where’s the fun in punditry if I can’t increase the scale of an event by an enormous proportion?

Anyway, bravo Rep. Obey for taking the White House’s silly requirements and doing something positive with them.

Item #2. Hey look, another disgusting story of contractor corruption and abuse! A Halliburton/KBR employee was locked in a guarded container and deprived of food and water, while being gang-raped and abused. She was warned that if she reported the activities she would lose her job. When the State department rescued her and the Army doctor’s rape kit examination showed that she had been raped “both vaginally and anally”, the kit was placed in the hands of…Halliburton/KBR employees! There is promptly disappeared, shocking. 2 years later and no investigation by the government has been carried out, but the victim is suing Halliburton and KBR.

First off, anyone involved in the events is innocent until proven guilty, and the whole thing could have been made up for publicity, who knows. With that aside, how many awful things have Halliburton, KBR, and the other big name government contractors done without major repercussions? If members of the companies in question actually carried this out, and the Government failed to pursue the case, going so far as to attempt to cover it up, how morally bankrupt does that make both Halliburton and the US Government look? How does allowing brutal rape and corruption help us fight the “War on Terror”? Iraq was a mess without having Blackwater shooting civilians and Halliburton/KBR employees raping US citizens. What kind of incompetent medical examiner would turn over evidence of rape to the compatriots of the rapists? Why would we want to continue throwing billions of dollars at the Defense department when they contract to people like this and support them?

If it is true, the story is a disgusting example of what occurs when you grant Carte Blanche to anyone for an extended period, especially when that group has weapons and a large amount of cash. This is the same type of thing that occurred in Vietnam, and we apparently didn’t learn much from that. Intense and impartial oversight of every aspect of an operation the size of the war and rebuilding effort in Iraq is essential. After 5 years of this sort of thing, these sort of stories should not be broken by 20/20 and ABC, they should be announced by White House and Justice Department officials, (or hell, the Pentagon) long before the story can bloom into a cover-up conspiracy. I’m shocked and appalled by all of this, but won’t really be surprised if no major consequences come out of this story. Politics again makes me hate politics and distrust my government, yay!

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