Pentagon

The Pentagon has a $43 billion slush fund that the Obama administration is using to bypass Congress to intervene overseas

One of the funniest parts of the very funny movie Office Space has to do with the ridiculous requirement, and the related dialogue, regarding cover sheets on TPS reports. You remember:

Why is this relevant in a piece about the Pentagon and allegations that their Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, account has become little more than a slush fund “threatening to become a permanent repository for unneeded projects and bad ideas”, as William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, recently opined in the Los Angeles Times? Because they are both examples of the perniciousness of bureaucracy and, specifically, the “business speak” that accompanies it.

As the Times piece notes, there are several (almost hilariously) broadly defined budget items in the fiscal year 2015 OCO war budget, despite the fact that the US is winding down its presence in Afghanistan to fulfill one of President Obama’s stated goals.

Nearly half of that $43 billion is earmarked “to carry out the entire array of support activities by units and forces operating in the Central Command area outside of Afghanistan, including … the Arabian Gulf region.”

Rand Paul: “The American soldier, a volunteer, in defense of liberty”

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul spoke before a room brimming with cadets at The Citadel yesterday in a speech that was rightly considered an early stump effort toward an eventual Presidential run.

And, as The New York Times helpfully points out, he did address points that were not even remotely subtle nods toward presenting himself a viable candidate in the coming election, with emphasis on one special issue in particular:

Mr. Paul was speaking as a member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees, and he never mentioned his prospective presidential run. But allusions to it have been unavoidable throughout his trip to this early primary state. He drew applause in the packed hall when he reprised a line of attack against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for her handling of the terrorist assault on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, saying that it had been a “dereliction of duty” and should “preclude Hillary Clinton from ever holding high office again.”

Thomas Massie introduces bill to keep Obama from sending arms to Syria

Thomas Massie

President Barack Obama’s promise to send arms to rebel forces fighting against Bashad al-Assad alongside al-Qaeda operatives in Syria, has been met with much criticism from multiple Senate members. Senators from both sides of the aisle have come together to push legislation that would prohibit the President and the Pentagon from sending rebels any form of aid.

Now, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and nine other House members decided to act by introducing legislation that would challenge the President’s decision by blocking aid that wasn’t previously authorized by Congress.

Co-sponsors include Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).

The War Powers Protection Act of 2013 would keep the U.S. from sending any military assistance to the rebel forces unless Congress has issued a formal declaration of war.

Rep. Massie has stated that “since our national security interests in Syria are unclear,” risks could be far too great if we choose to aid rebel forces, particularly now that it has been noted that al Qaeda’s Iraqi wing in Syria insists on fighting alongside the Al-Nusra Front.

The Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that no war can be declared without Congress’ approval, which doesn’t seem to keep the President from continuing with his plan of aiding the rebels.

Real Defense Budget Alternatives

With the “fiscal cliff” behind us, it’s important to remember that in less than two months, the Congress will be dealing with another manufactured crisis: The budget cuts of the 2011 Budget Control Act known as “sequestration.”  The Department of Defense will bear 41% of the prescribed cuts, eliminating an additional $492 billion over 10 years.  Although entitlement spending will also be on the table, the initial fight will be over cuts to the Defense budget.

A new study by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation concludes that the defense budget cuts cannot be taken without altering our overall defense strategy, and that “the department should modify defense strategy to fit the new resource constraints and prepare its course of action sooner rather than later.”

The authors highlight three alternative strategies, which anyone interested in this topic should read and consider.  An accompanying article by the authors states, “Reductions of the magnitude implied by sequestration—some $500 billion over the coming decade—cannot be accommodated without a re-examination of current defense strategy.”

Shades of Red

I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.  I think conservatism is really a misnomer, just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals… The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom, and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. -President Ronald Reagan

The past two general election cycles have been bleak for the Republican Party. Looking  back on its celebrated rise from near irrelevancy in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, it becomes clear that 1994 was a peak rather than a new beginning.  When Newt Gingrich, Jim Babka and PNAC took control of the GOP from what was left of the Goldwater/Reagan conservatives, it marked the beginning of the end.

Audit the Pentagon: The Defense Department is wasting your money, and it’s time for Congress to put a stop to it

In the film Independence Day, President Thomas Whitmore, played by Bill Pullman, is absolutely stunned to learn that the Defense Department had constructed a massive complex, known as Area 51, to hide the existence of aliens.

“I don’t understand, where does all this come from?” he asks. “How do you get funding for something like this?” Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) sarcastically replies, ”You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”

While there isn’t an alien threat (or is there?), the Defense Department has become rife with waste. Businessweek takes note of a recent Government Accountability Office that documents the spending problems at the Pentagon:

Across the military, the average major Pentagon acquisition comes in at 40 percent over budget, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. In spite of the Pentagon’s well-documented history of profligacy, the Congress continues to enlarge its responsibilities. The DOD’s mandate now includes wide-ranging scientific and medical research and international infrastructure projects, diffusing the focus on its core mission—like buying planes that don’t set themselves afire on the runway. That’s a disservice to America’s military and a burden to the country’s taxpayers.

Today in Liberty: House GOP set elect new leaders on June 19, gun control group caught lying about shooting numbers

“Governments constantly choose between telling lies and fighting wars, with the end result always being the same. One will always lead to the other.” — Thomas Jefferson

— House Republican leadership schedule for June 19: And they’re already taking shape. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who was dealt a stunning and overwhelming loss on Tuesday, will step down from his post at the end of July. That move is expected to open up two top leadership spots — Majority Leader and Majority Whip. Things are moving quickly, but current Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) seem to be emerging as two main candidates for Majority Leader ahead of the June 19 conference election. Whatever happens, however, House conservatives could be serious players in what is a delicate process, and that could be good news for Hensarling.

Today in Liberty: Left-leaning law professor slams Obama’s lawless presidency, Bergdahl was never listed as a POW

“A lot of Republicans tend to have top down Soviet style campaigns. It’s very odd for a party that believes in the free market that they run campaigns through command and control centralized control and so they have the politburo. ‘You will go do that. You will go do that.’ And that is disempowering and it doesn’t inspire. It is far more effective having a race that empowers the grassroots.” — Sen. Ted Cruz

— Republicans shift away from “repeal and replace”: Republicans may still want to get rid of Obamacare, but you may not know that from the ads you’ll see this fall. “We are now fighting well across the center line. The entire right half of the country is galvanized against Obamacare,” one GOP ad-maker told the Washington Examiner. “We are now working to pick off people who are not ideologically opposed to it  but who believe it has failed.” David Drucker points out that some strategists are leery of the repeal because it suggests “that the GOP wants to move the country from one disliked health care system (Obamacare) to another disliked system (pre-Obamacare.)” That, of course, is a failure of congressional Republicans. They’ve focused so much on “repeal” in the last four-plus years that they haven’t gotten behind an alternative healthcare reform proposal.

Defense Department spent your tax dollars to make plans for the zombie apocalypse

The Walking Dead

The brass at the Pentagon must have read Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide. Military leaders have, apparently, come up with a contingency plan for how to take down the undead in the event of the zombie apocalypse.

Unlike the Centers for Disease control, which used a fictional zombie threat to educate Americans on disaster preparedness, the Defense Department is totally serious (emphasis added):

Incredibly, the Defense Department has a response if zombies attacked and the armed forces had to eradicate flesh-eating walkers in order to “preserve the sanctity of human life” among all the “non-zombie humans.”

Buried on the military’s secret computer network is an unclassified document, obtained by Foreign Policy, called “CONOP 8888.” It’s a zombie survival plan, a how-to guide for military planners trying to isolate the threat from a menu of the undead — from chicken zombies to vegetarian zombies and even “evil magic zombies” — and destroy them.

“This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde,” CONOP 8888’s plan summary reads. “Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population — including traditional adversaries.”

Coalition to Reduce Spending blasts Paul Ryan’s budget hypocrisy

A nonpartisan group focused on reducing spending and the national debt has blasted Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for having a “short-sighted view of the nation’s spending crisis” and “hypocrisy” for not putting defense spending under the same scrutiny as other parts of the federal budget.

Ryan penned an op-ed this week for Real Clear Defense in which he decried President Barack Obama and administration official’s “cuts” to the Defense Department and the military. The Wisconsin Republican argued that his budget “would change course,” spending “$274 billion more than the President’s request.”

Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, says that Ryan’s criticism is off the mark, offering it as an example of why Republicans lack credibility to claim that they can deal with the United States’ fiscal woes.

“With his Wednesday statements, Rep. Paul Ryan offers a stunningly shortsighted view of the nation’s spending crisis and shows clearly why so many Republicans have no credibility on the spending issue,” said Bydlak in a press release.

“Ryan seems to be working from the clichéd and dubious assumption that President Obama is ‘gutting’ the military,” he said. “President Obama and Defense Sec. Hagel have a different approach to military funds, to be sure. But Pentagon-budget slashers they are most certainly not.”


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