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Leonard says GOP Is intent on sabotage

by Linda Beale

Leonard says GOP Is intent on sabotage
Andrew Leonard of Salon writes often about tax and economic issues. In Friday’s column, he addressed the increasingly obstructionist tactics employed by far-right representative Paul Ryan and a coterie of other GOP representatives who are willing to sacrifice core systems in order to keep the military machine humming (and putting money into pockets of GOP arms merchant constituents) while ensuring that anything that provides aide to the less well off is labeled as a disrespected “entitlement” that can be chopped and destroyed at will. See Andrew Leonard, Sabotage: the new GOP plan, (May 4, 2012).

Ryan introduced a bill on Wednesday that would achieve the Holy Grail of GOP political goals–continuing the ridiculous Reaganomics militarization by ending the sequester that would cut $600 billion from the military entitlement budget, and at the same time cutting drastically almost every single program that protects ordinary Americans. See Ryan offers bill to end sequester in bid to eliminate defense cuts, The Hill (May 4, 2012).

As a commenter on the Hill piece noted, the US military budget is overblown and needs to be cut.
The U.S. Spends More On Defense than Next Top 14 Countries Combined Wiki List of countries by military expenditures SIPRI Yearbook 2011 – world’s top military spenders in 2010 (in billions).

1. United States…..698.0
2. China…………… .119.0
3. United Kingdom….59.6
4. France………….. ..59.3
5. Russia………….. ..58.7
6. Japan…………… ..54.5
7. Saudi Arabia……..45.2
8. Germany………… 45.2
9. India ………………41.3
10. Italy…………. ….37.0
11. Brazil…………….33.5
12. South Korea…….27.6
13. Australia………….24.0
14. Canada…………. .22.8
15. Turkey………….. .17.5

Unbelievably, one of the things that Ryan would prefer to cut, rather than see some of the military’s perks diminish, is Title II of the Dodd Frank Act. I guess the radical right in the GOP has a short-term memory: it thinks there is no need for the government to have liquidation authority over the too-big-to-fail banks. Instead, it apparently would prefer more outright bailouts of the well-to-do bankers who speculate with our economy for their own private gains. Oh, and the GOP-led House financial services committee wants to defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau–to again allow the banks and insurance companies to undertake the rapacious exploitation of ordinary Americans through exorbitant and unconscionable fees. Other GOP “reforms” include medical liability, with the GOP protecting medical establishments from facing the piper when they make mistakes that they could have avoided through appropriate care.

Pretty clear just how much the Supreme Court’s terrible decision in Citizens United with its warped view of free speech in relation to elections is distorting our government’s ability to function for the good of ordinary citizens.

crossposted with ataxingmatter

Blast from the past…old funding dies hard

This article caught my attention mainly because I hadn’t heard much about the court battles on terminating funding for the A-12 because I thought it was done. But the inability of DOD to submit documentation that might justify that the A-12 was not viable due to classified and secret information and specs made an impression on me as a catch-22 of funding for non-viable projects…making it horribly difficult to ‘learn from mistakes’ so to speak.

Here is a response from ilsm to my sending him the link:


The A-12 a blast from the past!

I believe the Supreme Court last year decided the Navy/US Government would not be paid back “progress payments” paid prior to the termination of the A-12 sometime in the early 1990’s. Here is an article form Feb 1999 about the case as it stood then, it kept going until 2010!

I had read the linked article years ago and am surprised to find it. In the past 8 or so years I have only kept up with the A-12 headlines, when I saw them. The A-12 was a stealthy fighter concept, a carrier based version much different [of course] to the already retired F-117. Purportedly, the free world depends on things like the A-12.

The interesting issue to me is why then Sec Def Cheney terminated the contract for “convenience”, a termination used when the service decides it does not need the equipment. The Navy’s acquisition approach was to have Mc Donald Douglas (now owned by Boeing) build 12 of the A-12’s for test and evaluation. The technology was risky and the specifications challenging, for example they had to keep the weight under 80,000 pounds which was the limits of the elevators on aircraft carriers and likely a big deal to beef them up (maybe the decks cannot handle the load of the landings either).

I am neither an expert in stealth nor an expert in aircraft carriers, mostly Air Force. The contract type for this risky development was “fixed price”, which means Mc Donald Douglas signed up to deliver the 12 airplanes at a specification at a set time and contract price. In order words the contractors assumed al the risk.

As it happens today, and then Mc Donald Douglas promised to “name the song in 5 notes”, but needed about 20 special notes not on contract, they kept the Navy at bay, who would have done some insider contracting “magic” to raise the price until a contract auditor discovered the A-12 would not get any airplanes in the time and money Mc Donald Douglas had entered into the contract to deliver.

  George HW Bush was president and his advisors had some interest in cutting DoD spending [FY 91 spending had declined to 475B from 553B in 1989 a decline which was disrupted by the first Gulf war, but hit $400B in 2011 dollars in 1999] and finding new ways to do acquisition which was as much a mess as today.

So, through a fair amount of trading and evading it was decided to terminate for convenience. The better termination was for default, and I do not know why Cheney directed the type of termination, nor why a Navy contracting authority would not set him straight.

Cheney could have done three things, one being convenience. He could have terminated for “default”, which they were doing, or he could have called Mc Donald Douglas in and said: “a contract is a bond, do the job [which is impossible given the traditional ineptitude of defense contractors]. The point in Fensler’s article, which is valid today, is that the Navy needed Mc Donald Douglas and would have (without the publicity) kept shoveling good money after bad for  the A-12, (like the AF did F-22 and now F-35). The good thing is despite the fact the government does not get its progress payments back, the Navy has not been saddled for twenty years and likely $200B in costs to try and make the A-12 fly, a burden the USAF has successfully held up so their generals could have good jobs…

… Bottom line from the Supremes: the military industrial complex does not get real contracts, as in common law, they get paid whether they meet their promises or not.

The Hill reports on "supercommittee"

by Linda Beale

The Hill reports on “supercommittee

Alexander Bolton reports that “With Supercommittee Deadlocked, leaders Reid and Boehner meet“, The Hill (Nov. 15, 2011).  Reid (Dem) and Boehner (GOP) met Tuesday, but aides told The Hill that “They’re not about to dive in” to the negotiations.  But as the committee seems to be at an impasse close to the 11/23 deadline, the leaders must be discussing what is likely to be the next step.  The arrangements for the group (in case no bipartisan deal could be reached) called for across-the-board cuts that impose reasonable cuts on Defense but limited cuts for social safety net/earned benefit programs (medicare limited to 2% cuts to insurance companies and health care providers/Social Security and Medicaid exempt).

The GOP members, of course, are casting it as a Dem problem. For example, Hensarling (a very far right member of the group, from Texas) blamed the Dems for not accepting the Toomey proposal for a piddling $300 billion in new tax revenue.  With Supercommittee Deadlocked, leaders Reid and Boehner meet.

The across-the-board cuts would cut Defense by $500 billion.  Various GOP members of Congress have said they want to change the deal to avoid the cuts to the military.  Tea Party favorite and radical right-winger Jim DeMint has essentially admitted that he never intended to stick with the sequester deal, saying that the GOP has “until next election to fix this thing.”  GOP stalwarts want the US to maintain its exorbitant spending as “the world’s only military superpower” even while being willing to cut health care and pensions to the vulnerable and even while the country’s infrastructure–essential for business–crumbles in ruins.  McCain and Graham urged the Senate to reject the sequester of military funds, fearful it would “set off a swift decline of the United States as the world’s leading military power.” Dems gain upper hand in deficit talks, The Hill (Nov. 16, 2011).  This attitude seems to believe that defense spending, no matter what the cost to the country, is okay, while spending on poor people is a waste and raising taxes on the rich is an impossibility.  Apparently GOP McKeon considered that possibility, but then later backtracked.  Certainly, Grover Norquist has been making sure the pressure is on from the corporate masters of our pseudo-democracy–the Hill notes Norquist’s statement Monday that both Senate and House GOP leaders had “assured him they would not raise taxes to reduce the deficit.”  Id.

So we have elected representatives in Congress who willfully ignore the will of the majority of people in favor of higher taxes and higher taxes on the rich and corporations in particular; ignore the facts that show that higher taxes on the rich and a more equal economy are better for everybody; and ignore the fact that their own policies (preemptive war and tax cuts during deficits from 2001-2008 under Bush) represent the substantial reason for long-term deficits–all in order to continue to support extraordinarily disproportionate spending on the military rather than on public infrastructure, education and health and in order to be able to continue to use the self-created “debt crisis” to push for further impoverization of America’s middle class.  What a backwards value system that represents can’t be expressed in a public blog.

But at least Reid has said that method of reneging on the agreement won’t be allowed to happen: “Democrats aren’t going to take an unfair, unrealistic load directed toward domestic discretionary spending and take it away from the military.”    See Id.; see also Reid: Dems will oppose efforts to spare Defense from automatic cuts, The Hil (Nov. 14, 2011).

As one of the commenters on The Hill notes (quoting an NPR program), the supercommittee is set up to force one of two bad choices–reducing the social safety net or cutbacks during economic recession.  What we should be doing is increasing taxes now on the rich and on corporations, and then allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of next year–in their entirety.  We should make judicious spending cuts in wasteful programs–and the military certainly should be a target of some of those cuts.  And we should make judicious spending increases in infrastructure, research and educational support programs to add stimulus to keep the economy going.

Case in point–the New York Times story today about a small town in Kentucky that decided to increase taxes to pay for infrastructure improvements that are putting the two back on the map.

originally published at  ataxingmatter


Mother Jones points us to a Stimson Center study, titled What We Bought: Defense Procurement From FY01 to FY10 (PDF), (via Reader Supported News).

From the report

Procurement funding grew from $62.6B in FY01 to as much as $135.8B throughout the decade.3 In constant dollars, base procurement funding in FY10 increased by 41 percent from FY01.4 Increases also were augmented by the use of supplemental war funding. In FY02, only $1.4B was appropriated for procurement in supplemental war funding. That increased every year until $65.9B was appropriated in FY08. FY08 ended up as the high water mark, but the following three years have all seen procurement funding of about $30B included in war funding.5 In all, $232.8B or 22 percent of total procurement funding in the last decade came from supplemental war funding. Although procurement funding increased in the base budget, supplemental war funding significantly enhanced the resources available.

The Mother Jones article

says the military is hardly in dire straits when it comes to funding its big-ticket items. “The services capitalized on funding to modernize their forces, especially the major weapons programs that constitute the heart of the services’ capabilities,” writes the report’s author, Russell Rumbaugh—a retired Army officer and ex-CIA military analyst.

The study shows there’s one big reason the brass are concerned about budget-cutting discussions in Congress: They’ve been double dipping into the taxpayer’s pocket to finance weapons purchases. Of the roughly $1 trillion spent on gadgetry since 9/11, 22 percent of it came from “supplemental” war funding—annual outlays that are voted on separately from the regular defense budget. Those bills are primarily intended to keep day-to-day operations running in Iraq and Afghanistan—meaning that if a member of Congress votes against a supplemental spending bill, she exposes herself to charges that she doesn’t “support the troops” in harm’s way.

And there’s plenty to cut, thanks to McKeon and his congressional cohort. This spring, they preserved defense earmarks after vowing that they wouldn’t; voted to make more Humvees the Army doesn’t want (and reject Afghanistan base defense systems that it did); to keep an unnecessary $3 billion GE contract to build an “alternative engine” for the single-engine Joint Strike Fighter, whose costs are approaching $1 trillion; and to repatriate US victims of the 1804 Barbary War in Libya.

In their defense, they did vote to trim defense dollars by banning color copies at the Pentagon.

CGI 2011 – Developing Green Technology

Van Jones of Rebuild the Dream introduces the two presenters by noting that we are in the “post-Whale oil” strategy for liquid fuels; using algae and biomass technologies. Jonathan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme, Inc. opens by thanking his investors and then stating,  “We make oil.”  He declares that oil is not going away, and is not going to be replaced; the choice is what type of oil we are going to use of the three types: petroleum, plant, and animal.

It’s fairly easy to figure out where he is heading.  As Van Jones noted, we tried animal, and we’re using petroleum now.  Peak oil is past or, at best, demand for petroleum is going to outstrip supply even if we find and refine more and more of it.

Wolfson notes that the developed world uses oil for everything, with a concomitant increase in price as demand rises and the world becomes more developed.  He dismisses the inorganic alternatives without even bothering with environmental concerns: natural gas, fracking, and coal liquefaction are all non-renewable, and therefore doomed as an alternative.  Working on renewable oil: biomass conversion, plant sugars, photosynthesis and microalgae to convert sugar to oil.  Does not require changes in current processing system; renewable oil is fungible with the dinosaur-based creation.  Have created a hearty-healthy oil that is similar to olive oil in other ways; have an alliance with a French company.

Solazyme told potential private-sector partners that their technology could produce $1.50/gallon oil. Response was always: don’t talk about costs until you can show us you can scale. So made a deal with the U.S. Navy, and are delivering “the promise of advanced biofuel.”

Following Wolfson is his major investor, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Thomas Hicks. Hicks is well-versed in the Total Cost of Ownership:  “The Navy simply relies too much on fossil fuels…degrades our national security…and ultimately endangers our planet.” We have young men and women in Afghanistan protecting fuel convoys that begin in Pakistan. Multiple convoys per day; for every 50 fuel convoys, we have one Marine who is killed or wounded. “That is too high a price to pay for fuel.”

Hicks is leveraging the Marine Corps is reducing that dependence, through demonstration in Quantico. Took the winning technologies and moved them into combat zone in May—and then in September into Afghanistan. Solar tents, solar blankets, LED lights—resulted in a 30-90% reduction in fuel use.  Patrols able to travel three weeks, not two days, without a Battery Resupply. Now equipping all units in Afghanistan, with a payoff timeframe of six months.  Still looking for more, but it’s a great start.

Admits ongoing operations in “Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.” Additional cost for fuel last year ($38/barrel increase) was about $1B ($1,000,000,000)—which comes out of the extant fuel  budget, not as an additional appropriation.  (In this manner, the U.S. Navy is like a family.) The price volatility of the fuel has a direct impact on ability to engage in efforts, including support.

So the Navy has started an effort to move to 50/50 use of renewable/biomass fuel and oils at a price comparable to that of petroleum.  If they can do it, why cannot—has not—private enterprise??

The Navy intends to lead an energy revolution; they have a $1B RFI out, closing at the end of the month, in their continuing attempt to find alternative fuels. “Together we can build a new energy future, a new energy economy.”  Again, why do I have to hear this from the Navy, when everyone tells us that the private sector is the leader?

Hicks and Wolfson agree that have a climate that is built for technological innovation. Hicks notes, again, that it worries him that the Navy, not the private sector, is out in front on alternative energy exploration. Speaker from the floor notes that there has been a paradigm shift since a single person took out the power grid in CA and AZ.  Energy efficiency retrofitting will put people back to work (as it does in NYC). Will launch a career some time in 2012—not on Earth Day, but on a day—with 50/50 blended fuel all through, including the backup generator. By far the largest purchase, excluding ethanol., in history, per Mr. Wolfson.

Are you certain the extant energy company leaders—and, yes, I am including Jim Rogers of Duke Energy, who has been talking this game for at least twenty years—are really “job creators”?

This is US. We have done all of this.

by: Daniel Becker
This is very important.  It is a list of all we have done in the world.   Go take a look.  It won’t take long.  I’ll wait for you to return.

That we do not teach about this in our schools is why we are who we are.  This list should be a banner which is run along the bottom of every news cast for as long as we are involved in such activity or when a new such action is proposed.  It should be a page in every Sunday newspaper edition for as long as we are involved or when a new such action is proposed.

Most of all, this list and the banner should start with the following words: “You have done all of the following…”  I say “you” because such actions need to remain personal.   It is always personal.  Yes, you and me personally have done all of this.  Don’t start thinking that the use of robotics removes you from the equation.  Don’t fall for that psych-ops.  You, me, we still are the one’s pulling the trigger.  We did this.  All of this. 

We’re broke? We have to sacrifice? What do we have to sacrifice, our dignity? Our integraty? Do you like someone doing all this in your name? Your name is on it. Don’t make that mistake thinking it’s not.

Oh, it’s only about the money at this blog? Well, you’re the private sector, you, me and we. Is this how you would choose to spend your Nth dollar? Is this how you would choose to spend your vaction money, your retirement money, your holiday gift money? I mean, it’s all extra spending anyway. Gee, you have no extra? Well then, is this how you would choose to spend your grocery money, your heating money (just filled my tank, $3.59/gal), your insurance money, your TAX money?

Is the private sector spending it better than the government sector? How can you tell? See, private or government, it’s still US. You pulled the trigger. I pulled the trigger by inclusion. We pulled the trigger.

And the rest of the world knows it.

In case you did not go to the link, here is the first list:
US interventions taken for sole purpose of regime change since 1945:

1946 – Thailand (Pridi; conservative): success (Covert operation)
1946 – Argentina (Peron; military/centrist): failure (Subverted election)
1947 – France (communist): success (Subverted election)
1947 – Philippines (center-left): success (Subverted election)
1947 – Romania (Gheorghiu-Dej; stalinist): failure (Covert operation)
1948 – Italy (communist): success (Subverted election)
1948 – Colombia (Gaitan; populist/leftist): success (Subverted election)
1948 – Peru (Bustamante; left/centrist): success (Covert operation)
1949 – Syria (Kuwatli; neutralist/Pan-Arabist): success (Covert operation)
1949 – China (Mao; communist): failure (Covert operation)
1950 – Albania (Hoxha; communist): failure (Covert operation)
1951 – Bolivia (Paz; center/neutralist): success (Covert operation)
1951 – DPRK (Kim; stalinist): failure (Overt force)
1951 – Poland (Cyrankiewicz; stalinist): failure (Covert operation)
1951 – Thailand (Phibun; conservative): success (Covert operation)
1952 – Egypt (Farouk; monarchist): success (Covert operation)
1952 – Cuba (Prio; reform/populist): success (Covert operation)
1952 – Lebanon (left/populist): success: (Subverted election)
1953 – British Guyana (left/populist): success (Covert operation)
1953 – Iran (Mossadegh; liberal nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1953 – Costa Rica (Figueres; reform liberal): failure (Covert operation)
1953 – Philippines (center-left): success (Subverted election)
1954 – Guatemala (Arbenz; liberal nationalist): success (Overt force)
1955 – Costa Rica (Figueres; reform liberal): failure (Covert operation)
1955 – India (Nehru; neutralist/socialist): failure (Covert operation)
1955 – Argentina (Peron; military/centrist): success (Covert operation)
1955 – China (Zhou; communist): failure (Covert operation)
1955 – Vietnam (Ho; communist): success (Subverted election)
1956 – Hungary (Hegedus; communist): success (Covert operation)
1957 – Egypt (Nasser; military/nationalist): failure (Covert operation)
1957 – Haiti (Sylvain; left/populist): success (Covert operation)
1957 – Syria (Kuwatli; neutralist/Pan-Arabist): failure (Covert operation)
1958 – Japan (left-center): success (Subverted election)
1958 – Chile (leftists): success (Subverted election)
1958 – Iraq (Feisal; monarchist): success (Covert operation)
1958 – Laos (Phouma; nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1958 – Sudan (Sovereignty Council; nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1958 – Lebanon (leftist): success (Subverted election)
1958 – Syria (Kuwatli; neutralist/Pan-Arabist): failure (Covert operation)
1958 – Indonesia (Sukarno; militarist/neutralist): failure (Subverted election)
1959 – Laos (Phouma; nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1959 – Nepal (left-centrist): success (Subverted election)
1959 – Cambodia (Sihanouk; moderate/neutralist): failure (CO)
1960 – Ecuador (Ponce; left/populist): success (Covert operation)
1960 – Laos (Phouma; nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1960 – Iraq (Qassem; rightist /militarist): failure (Covert operation)
1960 – S. Korea (Syngman; rightist): success (Covert operation)
1960 – Turkey (Menderes; liberal): success (Covert operation)
1961 – Haiti (Duvalier; rightist/militarist): success (Covert operation)
1961 – Cuba (Castro; communist): failure (Covert operation)
1961 – Congo (Lumumba; leftist/pan-Africanist): success (Covert operation)
1961 – Dominican Republic (Trujillo; rightwing/military): success (Covert operation)
1962 – Brazil (Goulart; liberal/neutralist): failure (Subverted election)
1962 – Dominican Republic ( left/populist): success (Subverted election)
1962 – Indonesia (Sukarno; militarist/neutralist): failure (Covert operation)
1963 – Dominican Republic (Bosch; social democrat): success (Covert operation)
1963 – Honduras (Montes; left/populist): success (Covert operation)
1963 – Iraq (Qassem; militarist/rightist): success (Covert operation)
1963 – S. Vietnam (Diem; rightist): success (Covert operation)
1963 – Cambodia (Sihanouk; moderate/neutralist): failure (Covert operation)
1963 – Guatemala (Ygidoras; rightist/reform): success (Covert operation)
1963 – Ecuador (Velasco; reform militarist): success (Covert operation)
1964 – Guyana (Jagan; populist/reformist): success (Covert operation)
1964 – Bolivia (Paz; centrist/neutralist): success (Covert operation)
1964 – Brazil (Goulart; liberal/neutralist): success (Covert operation)
1964 – Chile (Allende; social democrat/marxist): success (Subverted election)
1965 – Indonesia (Sukarno; militarist/neutralist): success (Covert operation)
1966 – Ghana (Nkrumah; leftist/pan-Africanist): success (Covert operation)
1966 – Bolivia (leftist): success (Subverted election)
1966 – France (de Gaulle; centrist): failure (Covert operation)
1967 – Greece (Papandreou; social democrat): success (Covert operation)
1968 – Iraq (Arif; rightist): success (Covert operation)
1969 – Panama (Torrijos; military/reform populist): failure (Covert operation)
1969 – Libya (Idris; monarchist): success (Covert operation)
1970 – Bolivia (Ovando; reform nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1970 – Cambodia (Sihanouk; moderate/neutralist): success (Covert operation)
1970 – Chile (Allende; social democrat/Marxist): failure (Subverted election)
1971 – Bolivia (Torres; nationalist/neutralist): success (Covert operation)
1971 – Costa Rica (Figueres; reform liberal): failure (Covert operation)
1971 – Liberia (Tubman; rightist): success (Covert operation)
1971 – Turkey (Demirel; center-right): success (Covert operation)
1971 – Uruguay (Frente Amplio; leftist): success (Subverted election)
1972 – El Salvador (leftist): success (Subverted election)
1972 – Australia (Whitlam; liberal/labor): failure (Subverted election)
1973 – Chile (Allende; social democrat/Marxist): success (Covert operation)
1975 – Australia (Whitlam; liberal/labor): success (Covert operation)
1975 – Congo (Mobutu; military/rightist): failure (Covert operation)
1975 – Bangladesh (Mujib; nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1976 – Jamaica (Manley; social democrat): failure (Subverted election)
1976 – Portugal (JNS; military/leftist): success (Subverted election)
1976 – Nigeria (Mohammed; military/nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1976 – Thailand (rightist): success (Covert operation)
1976 – Uruguay (Bordaberry; center-right): success (Covert operation)
1977 – Pakistan (Bhutto: center/nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1978 – Dominican Republic (Balaguer; center): success (Subverted election)
1979 – S. Korea (Park; rightist): success (Covert operation)
1979 – Nicaragua (Sandinistas; leftist): failure (Covert operation)
1980 – Bolivia (Siles; centrist/reform): success (Covert operation)
1980 – Iran (Khomeini; Islamic nationalist): failure (Covert operation)
1980 – Italy (leftist): success (Covert operation)
1980 – Liberia (Tolbert; rightist): success (Covert operation)
1980 – Jamaica (Manley; social democrat): success (Subverted election)
1980 – Dominica (Seraphin; leftist): success (Subverted election)
1980 – Turkey (Demirel; center-right): success (Covert operation)
1981 – Seychelles (René; socialist): failure (Covert operation)
1981 – Spain (Suarez; rightist/neutralist): failure (Covert operation)
1981 – Panama (Torrijos; military/reform populist); success (Covert operation)
1981 – Zambia (Kaunda; reform nationalist): failure (Covert operation)
1982 – Mauritius (center-left): failure (Subverted election)
1982 – Spain (Suarez; rightist/neutralist): success (Subverted election)
1982 – Iran (Khomeini; Islamic nationalist): failure (Covert operation)
1982 – Chad (Oueddei; Islamic nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1983 – Mozambique (Machel; socialist): failure (Covert operation)
1983 – Grenada (Bishop; socialist): success (Overt force)
1984 – Panama (reform/centrist): success (Subverted election)
1984 – Nicaragua (Sandinistas; leftist): failure (Subverted election)
1984 – Surinam (Bouterse; left/reformist/neutralist): success (Covert operation)
1984 – India (Gandhi; nationalist): success (Covert operation)
1986 – Libya (Qaddafi; Islamic nationalist): failure (Overt force)
1987 – Fiji (Bavrada; liberal): success (Covert operation)
1989 – Panama (Noriega; military/reform populist): success (Overt force)
1990 – Haiti (Aristide; liberal reform): failure (Subverted election)
1990 – Nicaragua (Ortega; Christian socialist): success (Subverted election)
1991 – Albania (Alia; communist): success (Subverted election)
1991 – Haiti (Aristide; liberal reform): success (Covert operation)
1991 – Iraq (Hussein; military/rightist): failure (Overt force)
1991 – Bulgaria (BSP; communist): success (Subverted election)
1992 – Afghanistan (Najibullah; communist): success (Covert operation)
1993 – Somalia (Aidid; right/militarist): failure (Overt force)
1993 – Cambodia (Han Sen/CPP; leftist): failure (Subverted election)
1993 – Burundi (Ndadaye; conservative): success (Covert operation)
1994 – El Salvador (leftist): success (Subverted election)
1994 – Rwanda (Habyarimana; conservative): success (Covert operation)
1994 – Ukraine (Kravchuk; center-left): success (Subverted election)
1996 – Bosnia (Karadzic; centrist): success (Covert operation)
1996 – Congo (Mobutu; military/rightist): success (Covert operation)
1996 – Mongolia (center-left): success (Subverted election)
1998 – Congo (Kabila; rightist/military): success (Covert operation)
1998 – Indonesia (Suharto; military/rightist): success (Covert operation)
1999 – Yugoslavia (Milosevic; left/nationalist): success (Subverted election)
2000 – Ecuador (NSC; leftist): success: (Covert operation)
2001 – Afghanistan (Omar; rightist/Islamist): success (Overt force)
2001 – Belarus (Lukashenko; leftist): failure (Subverted election)
2001 – Nicaragua (Ortega; Christian socialist): success (Subverted election)
2001 – Nepal (Birendra; nationalist/monarchist): success (Covert operation)
2002 – Venezuela (Chavez; reform-populist): failure (Covert operation)
2002 – Bolivia (Morales; leftist/MAS): success (Subverted election)
2002 – Brazil (Lula; center-left): failure (Subverted election)

DoD Major Weapons Acquisition

guest post by Ilsm

According to GAO 11-394T 17 Feb 2011 , DoD Major Weapons Acquisition continues to be a high risk item watched by GAO. In the testimony the GAO is concerned about waste and mismanagement in the 102 largest DoD acquisition programs. The testimony states that in the five years starting in 2011 that $300B are spent by the programs GAO reviews annually, while the rest of the Trillion plus dollars in the budget for those years is to develop and acquire things in DoD and are smaller programs which are far less well managed, whose decisions are made less formally and whose engineering has much less experience and authority to do the job well.

From 2011 through 2015 the DoD will spend appropriations totaling $1.1 Trillion dollars for R&D and Buying new war making stuff. If recent reviews hold, none of it will be spent well.

I have followed the GAO annual reports over the past several years. Refer to GAO 10-388sp, 30 Mar 2010: Assessment of Selected Weapon System Programs.

Some of the findings: few of the 102 major programs, about $300B in funds the next 5 years, met statutory requirements to have their Selected Acquisition Reports (SAR) to Congress by May 2009, most had not delivered their SAR by Nov 2009 when GAO needed the data to do the report.

Specific observations: cost over growth is hard to measure this year as the management is too late with data, decisions on spending money for systems are consistently made without sufficient “product knowledge” or without managing the technical work using Congress’ required configuration steering boards (CSB), nor managing the programs’ system engineering and finally with too many requirements change (which ironically is not much of an issue since the programs were not managed by knowledge or understanding of the performance of the configurations).

Pretty revealing and no one makes any changes even though congress adds to its direction the programs are not managed.

No one will kill a bad program.

No wonder DoD cannot pass an audit.

I have a note on my calendar to look for the March 2011 release to see if anything is better

The Pentagon Labyrinth

by Mike Kimel

Cross posted at the Presimetrics blog.

I just came upon The Pentagon Labyrinth Its a very readable, very informative collection of essays about national defense in the United States.  The essays are written by ex-defense personnel (some of whom were very influential) and journalists who cover the military, and to top it off, its free!!!!

From the book’s blurbage:

The Pentagon Labyrinth aims to help both newcomers and seasoned observers learn how to grapple with the problems of national defense. Intended for readers who are frustrated with the superficial nature of the debate on national security, this handbook takes advantage of the insights of ten unique professionals, each with decades of experience in the armed services, the Pentagon bureaucracy, Congress, the intelligence community, military history, journalism and other disciplines. The short but provocative essays will help you to:

-identify the decay—moral, mental and physical—in America’s defenses,

-understand the various “tribes” that run bureaucratic life in the Pentagon,

-appreciate what too many defense journalists are not doing, but should,

-conduct first rate national security oversight instead of second rate theater,

-separate careerists from ethical professionals in senior military and civilian ranks,

-learn to critique strategies, distinguishing the useful from the agenda-driven,

-recognize the pervasive influence of money in defense decision-making,

-unravel the budget games the Pentagon and Congress love to play,

-understand how to sort good weapons from bad—and avoid high cost failures, and reform the failed defense procurement system without changing a single law.

The handbook ends with lists of contacts, readings and Web sites carefully selected to facilitate further understanding of the above, and more.

This new publication from the Center for Defense Information (CDI) is being made available for download through our Web site at the following links below. Included are the full e-book, and all individual sections and essays in PDF format.

Its a quick read (vital for me right now!!), and frankly, there isn’t much in here that’s controversial though its clear several of the writers relish being gadflies.  The book is chock full of facts, and it provides a lot of great food for thought about military issues.

The wacky world_of American war

From Tom Dispatch a quiz:

With President Obama’s announced July 2011 drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in mind, the Pentagon has already:

a. Begun organizing an orderly early 2011 withdrawal of troops from combat outposts and forward operating bases to larger facilities to facilitate the president’s plan.

b. Launched a new U.S. base-building binge in Afghanistan, including contracts for three $100 million facilities not to be completed, no less completely occupied, until late 2011.

c. Announced plans to shut down Kandahar Air Base’s covered boardwalk, including a TGI Friday’s, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a Mamma Mia’s Pizzeria, and cancelled the opening of a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs as part of its preparations for an American drawdown.

Answer is b.

According to Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, construction is slated to begin on at least three $100 million air base projects — “a $100 million area at Shindand Air Base for Special Operations helicopters and unmanned intelligence and surveillance aircraft”; another $100 million to expand the airfield at Camp Dwyer, a Marine base in Helmand Province, also to support Special Operations forces; and a final $100 million for expanded air facilities at Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan. None of these projects are to be completed until well after July 2011. “[R]equests for $1.3 billion in additional fiscal 2011 funds for multiyear construction of military facilities in Afghanistan are pending before Congress.” And fear not, there are no indications that the fast-food joints at Kandahar are going anywhere.

Restoring Affordability

by reader Ilsm

Restoring Affordability
Waste, Unneeded Programs Hinder Modernization
By ASHTON CARTER Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics
Published: 19 July 2010

Read the whole article at Defense News

Ashton Carter says:

“The department spends approximately $700 billion annually for our country’s defense. About $300 billion of this is spent inside the department, on the salaries and benefits of military personnel and civilian employees. But the remainder – $400 billion – is spent on goods-and-services contracts with entities outside the Defense Department.”

Carter’s use of the word “defense” is ministry of truth speak, so little of that $700B is for defense to be insignificant, I will not go to the propaganda contained in appeals to a “nation at war” or ill defined “capabilities” against no threats.

Mr. Carter is to “find” reductions on the order of $100B over 5 years from $3,500 billion of planned outlays. Worse the miniscule savings will not be returned to the taxpayer or lenders as Under Secretary of Defense Lynn, a former industry insider:

“Expects that two-thirds of the savings transferred to war-fighting accounts, or approximately $67 billion, should come about this way.”

As a contrast the UK Ministry of Defence will consume approximately $67 billion or 44billion pounds in one year for their whole defence establishment. That is a bit less than 7% of UK government outlays compared to the US military which consumes just under 20% of USG outlays in 2010, about the same as social security. There will be a one percent increase in the DoD bottom line in 2011; in fact the Deputy Secretary of Defense plan is to use cash drained from the economies to grow the war machines’ “capability”.

Mr. Carter states:

“To realize these savings, real productivity gains must be achieved.”

Like in real industries, not the socialized US security apparatus.

He says:

“Unfortunately, this is not the case. For the past decade, more has been costing more. We need to arrest this trend now.”

I observed firsthand how in the past few decades the DoD has been subjected to similar efficiency drives, streamlining, outside commissions, performance based contracts, reengineering and so forth. Mr. Carter’s statement is true for the past 50years despite repeated half hearted efforts at fixing pentagon monopsony spending. This is a reason why the Sec Def is closing the business transformation office, it did nothing at all.

Mr. Carter recognizes the cause, congress, encouraged by the “undue influence” from the concentration of trillions of taxpayer dollars in the security monopsony supports corporate welfare and local jobs programs.

He says:

“We also need the help of Congress. Members of Congress observe with dismay as they are asked to approve ever-increasing funding for the same product or service. We will need their input and support to make necessary adjustments that will in some cases be difficult.”

See how the two senators from Virginia are reacting to the idea of closing Joint Forces Command, a military think tank which makes up capabilities to spend money. Closing it is a good thing. But with little pay back, $240M a year from a $700,000 M budget.

There is no conviction behind trying to save $20B out of $700B annual budgets when the nation is $14 trillion in debt.

And the first time some civil servant tried to make a contractor perform and it costs profit the same effects which prevented savings in the past will arise and the industry will continue to require more money to deliver less “capability”. Whatever “capability” is and how it relates to “defense”.

Updated from: CNN