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Rep. Mike Rogers: The NSA’s New Minister of Radio Propaganda

Posted on | April 3, 2014 | 2 Comments

Representative Mike Rogers has a dream.

Apparently, he’s been secretly harboring this dream since his formative days at a small liberal arts college in Adrian, Michigan. This dream stayed with him through his time in the U.S. Army, his years as a Special Agent in the FBI and his tenure in the Michigan State Senate.

Nothing can hold back Mike’s dream, not even his safe Congressional seat in Michigan’s 8th District, nor his chairmanship of the powerful House Intelligence Committee.

Mike wants to be a radio talk-show host.

Luckily for Mike, the second largest radio system in America—Cumulus—couldn’t wait to make his long-simmering dream come true. Beginning in January of 2015, the NSA’s devout defender and Congress’ loudest advocate for keeping whistleblowers quiet will be on the air nationally, using his gift of gab to reinforce the idea that Americans should feel insecure about national security.

According to The Detroit News, DJ Mike will reignite his “college passion” by bringing “former intelligence officials and ex-spies on his show.” And what an entertaining show that promises to be! If his incessant appearances on the Sunday Show circuit are any indication, his radio show promises to be just slightly less entertaining than running your pinkie toe into the leg of a coffee table. But hope springs eternal. DJ Mike “joked” to the Detroit News, “I did one radio show when I was in college that was a disaster — let’s give it a whirl — maybe I’ve gotten better at it.”

If nothing else, he’s repeatedly shown the folks at Cumulus that he can read from a script.

Since Edward Snowden broke the NSA’s monopoly on the truth, Rogers has dutifully repeated Big Brother’s talking points—touting foiled plots that were never really foiled, accusing Snowden of spying for Russia without a shred of evidence and asserting that privacy that can only be violated if the person violated somehow finds out about the secret violation.

In DJ Mike’s America, secrets are not lies if the lies remain secret.

It’s a logic echoed in his forked-tongue support for the newly-announced reforms of the NSA’s bulk data collection regime—a regime that Rep. Rogers doesn’t really think needs reforming, but he’s sponsored reform legislation anyway. What desperately does need to be reformed—according to Rogers, his well-funded co-sponsor Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and President Obama—is the public’s perception of the NSA’s spying machine.

And what better place to reform perceptions than in front of a nationally broadcast microphone that will reach 4,500 affiliate radio stations and 140 million listeners?

His dream notwithstanding, the timing of Rogers’ announcement has some observers looking for clues or insights into the shrouded machinations of America’s Spook State. No doubt, this seemingly sudden decision wasn’t just the whimsical fancy of a capricious free spirit with a heretofore hidden talent. Rogers notified the House Ethics Committee of his negotiations with Cumulus on January 6th of this year, so this has been in the works for months—just like the newly-proposed reforms that Obama promised in his speech on January 17th.

We may never know if Rogers somehow transgressed the intel community and perhaps became a liability, or if he’s resigning in quiet protest of these “reforms,” or if he is being “placed” in the media to do what President Obama is trying to do with the reforms—which is to manage perceptions.

And nothing makes perception management—the au courant national security euphemism for good old-fashioned “propaganda”—easier than the relentless media consolidation that spawned Rogers’ new employer.

Founded in 1997, the creation of Cumulus Media Inc. was a direct response to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and its radical relaxation of media ownership rules. Cumulus CEO Lewis Dickey, Jr. quickly took advantage of the new rules (or lack thereof) to assemble a radio titan second only to the infamously ubiquitous media giant known as Clear Channel. Thanks to the efforts of the Clinton Administration and a majority of Congress, a company like Cumulus could quickly rise from non-existence to near-domination, reaching listeners in 89 media markets in less than 20 years.

When Cumulus bought Susquehanna Radio for $1.2 billion in 2006, it did so with backing from heavyweights like Bain Capital Partners LLC and The Blackstone Group. The deal signaled Dickey’s status as a major, well-connected player in broadcast media and, by extension, in the media’s bread and butter—partisan politics. Indeed, Cumulus radio specializes in a type of partisan blather and cacophonous fear-mongering that sounds more like “Afraidio” than it does radio.

Among its loudest mouths are Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage (who recently replaced a disgruntled Sean Hannity) and Mark Levinthe very first winner of CPAC’s “Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment” award. When it comes to reflexive support for the national security state, fits of Islamophobia and “We’re Number One” jingoism, Cumulus has tri-cornered the market.

Cumulus has also positioned itself as a premier distributor of red meat to the hungry masses during the increasingly lucrative election cycles that make America’s post-Telecom Act media a self-interested partner in political partisanship. It’s a perfect system. Listening to their Afraidio stokes the partisan hunger of its listeners and, on its webpage for the last election, it touts advertising on its massive network as a cost-effective way to “Win more than your fair share of hearts, minds, and votes” by distributing red meat directly to an audience whose hunger is stoked by their hosts in-between the commercial breaks.

And now Cumulus is giving the Spook State’s favorite mouthpiece a chance to spread the dread to its inflamed audience. As CEO Lew Dickey said, “We are thrilled to have Chairman Rogers join our team. He has been instrumental in helping to shape many of the most important issues and events of our time and will play a significant role in our expanding content platform.”

It’s also a perfect platform for DJ Mike to spin tales of shadowy plots, sing the praises of the NSA and, if he is so inclined, to beat his own drum in anticipation of a possible Presidential run. But that may just be Mike dreaming an impossible dream.

The reality is that the Spook State now has a well-practiced mockingbird with access to millions of willing ears. As the soon-to-be former Representative said of his new mega-microphone, “It gives me a chance to talk to people in their cars, in their living rooms, in their kitchens about these issues — about American exceptionalism, about national security.”

And Lord knows, America needs more of that on the airwaves.

The Corporate-Foreign Policy ‘Deep State’ at work in Ukraine

Posted on | March 16, 2014 | 6 Comments

Victoria “F*ck Europe” Nuland

I’ve got two new stories on the subtle partnerships behind the scenes of U.S. policy toward Ukraine and Russia.

The visible maneuvering over Crimea and the Cold War nostalgia expressed by belligerent U.S. politicians doesn’t quite match the corporate takeover we saw in Iraq. Rather, it feels more like Guatemala & the United Fruit Co. in 1953, or Iran & the CIA in 1953.

The moves are happening on two fronts: energy and agribusiness.

To read my story on Condi Rice and Chevron’s new 50-year lease to develop shale gas in Ukraine go to BuzzFlash: The Business of America Is Giving Countries Like Ukraine the Business

Excerpt: Like most American Exceptionalists, Condi Rice’s bluster and posturing can be reverse-engineered to find the banal truth about U.S. foreign policy. For example, her steadfast belief that Ukraine “should not be a pawn in a great-power conflict but rather an independent nation” might have something to do with Chevron’s 50-year lease to develop Ukraine’s shale gas reserves.

When that lease was signed on November 5, 2013, it stoked Russian fears about losing its influence on, and a major gas market in, a former satellite. It also came on the eve of the much-disputed trade deal with the European Union that, once abandoned due to Russian pressure, led to the toppling of Ukraine’s government. Reuters characterized Ukraine’s “$10 billion shale gas production-sharing agreement with U.S. Chevron” as “another step in a drive for more energy independence from Russia.”

To read my story on growing investments by Cargill, Monsanto and Big Ag in the Soviet Union’s former breadbasket go to Consortiumnews: Corporate Interests Behind Ukraine Putsch

Excerpt: Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming. According to Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer. And those aren’t the only eggs in Cargill’s increasingly-ample basket.

On Dec. 13, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea port. Cargill’s port at Novorossiysk — to the east of Russia’s strategically significant and historically important Crimean naval base — gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Both stories touch on the “Deep State” of interlocking interests, political fixers and policymakers steering U.S. policy into a long-desired collision with Russia. Ultimately, it’s about opening the door to Ukraine’s resources for well-connected corporations.

Drones and the Dream of a New Genie

Posted on | March 5, 2014 | No Comments

The defense industry dreams of genies.

That’s because it is really hard to get the genie back into bottle after you let it loose.

Really, the only option after releasing a genie is to invent new, expensive ways to combat it. And that’s been the story of America’s persistent gift to posterity—the “nuclear genie.”

Just ask the people who refuse to return to the site of America’s most notorious above-ground nuclear test—the bombing of Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954. That hydrogen bomb, codenamed “Shrimp,” remains the largest bomb ever tested by the United States. It’s also known as a “thermonuclear weapon” because it uses high temperatures to trigger four cascading stages, each magnifying the power of the explosion. It was an “advance” on the run-of-the-mill atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And it was a response to the Soviet Union’s emerging atomic weapon program, which was, in turn, a response to America’s pioneering effort to weaponize the atom.

In fact, six years after the H-bomb spread nuclear fallout onto nearby islands and their inhabitants like radioactive snow, the Soviets kicked it up a notch by testing “Tsar Bomba”—the biggest bomb ever to explode in the history of mankind. It was 1,400 times the combined power of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The nuclear arms race was on. And companies like General Electric, Westinghouse and Boeing ran it. The folks at Boeing had such a great sense of humor that, in 1957, they actually named a nuclear-tipped air-to-air missile system “The Genie.”

Between 1945 and 1998, seven nations unleashed 2,053 nuclear explosions. North Korea joined the party in 2006. Israel remains a silent partner in the perpetual race. All are on the same treadmill.

But that’s the nature of war-based economies. They depend upon running in arms races. Once the starting gun is fired, science and technology and huge amounts of tax revenue are marshaled into a hamster wheel-like sprint to stay ahead of everyone else. It is a perpetual machine unlike any other. And it’s a machine that’s becoming more and more automated, autonomous and pervasive with the advent of drones.

The Army’s new search for “anti-drone” technology is the logical next step in what is sure to be a long-lived and highly profitable new arms race for the 21st Century. According to the website Defense Systems, the Army has “issued a sources sought notice for information that can help in developing an affordable Counter Unmanned Aerial System (CUAS).”

Why? Because, as the solicitation notes, “U.S. forces will be increasingly threatened by reconnaissance and armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the near and far future.”

Near and far?

Perhaps that’s why the Washington, D.C. region is quite literally the only region in the U.S. with any economic confidence. In the most recent Gallup survey, the Beltway scored a +19. The second highest was Massachusetts at -1.

All of this exuberance is quite rational given the fact that America’s unchallenged drone supremacy, and its unique ability to use them with an unparalleled impunity, may finally be coming to an end. The flying killer robots might even come home to roost. So, the Pentagon will pay handsomely to find new and exciting ways to shoot ’em out of the sky.

It’s the nuclear arms race all over again.

China has developed its first stealth drone and, according to a story in International Business Times, owns the “most extensive fleet among the few countries that operate them.” Like the U.S. Army, China is also looking for ways to address the other guy’s drones. The People’s Liberation Army is currently seeking countermeasures and counter-surveillance to U.S. surveillance flights over China by long-range Global Hawk drones, which originate out of Guam.

Now that the genie is out, the cash is rolling in. A recent report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) predicted a sharp rise in use of drones for warfare, a rise facilitated by a drop in operating costs. The report also said China is driving a regional spike in military spending. Is that a response to America’s Pacific Pivot? Or America’s gargantuan defense budget? Or drones flying from Guam?

For now, the U.S. has the technological lead, an already-entrenched political lobby for drones on Capitol Hill and a new, 25-year long roadmap from the Pentagon charting out the future of all kinds of flying robots—from self-sufficient killer robots that “take the ‘man’ out of unmanned,” all the way to Northrop Grumman’s 757-sized surveillance drone that, as Wired reported, “offers a 360-degree view at a radius of over 2,000 nautical miles.” The Navy has ordered 68 of those babies.

And Russia is right there, doing its best to keep up with the Droneses. Not only does Russia have a fleet of approximately 500 drones, it has 43 different types of drones. It’s even working on a 20-ton flying behemoth that is the “Tsar Bomba” of flying killer robots. Additionally, the Russian Defense ministry recently announced a $9 billion drone program, expanding on deals it already has with drone-makers in Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Yes, you read that correctly. The United Arab Emirates.

But the U.A.E. isn’t the only new player in the widening world of drones. Even Facebook sees the long-term wisdom of investing in drones. The rumored buyout of Titan Aerospace and its solar-powered mega-drone—which can stay aloft for up to five years—could one day deliver internet access to earthbound customers.

Like Tang and microwaves ovens, the consumer and private drone markets are the so-called “spin-offs” that supposedly justify the costly, taxpayer-funded race. In the case of Titan’s solar-powered drone, the scarier idea is that the technology will be spun back into the military, the CIA or the NSA to keep their surveillance drones in a perpetual spying sortie that fills the skies indefinitely.

Like all arms races throughout history, the drone race will also end in a stalemate. Billions will be spent by Congress. Billions will be made by the defense industry. But until the next new weapons system comes along to replace drones as the genie du jour, drones will continue to make one thing all war economies cannot live without—an endless supply of enemies.

Can America Afford To Bring Home The Employee Army?

Posted on | February 26, 2014 | 13 Comments

What happens when a war ends and an army comes home?

It’s been a vexing problem for centuries.

After completing the long Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th Century, a newly-united Spain turned its attention and its Conquistadors toward the New World.

At the end of the Civil War, the Re-United States shifted its victorious army westward, quickly making the American Indian the Civil War’s biggest loser.

Now the United States faces the problem once again.

The question is whether the Pentagon’s planned reduction of the Army to “pre-World War II levels” will be met with post-World War II solutions, or post-Vietnam-like problems?

The issue now, unlike with those wars, is that America’s army is a “professional” army. Since the post-Vietnam reboot of the Reagan years, military service has become a jobs program, a wide-ranging technical school and training program, and a de facto safety valve for the poor, the working poor and for immigrants seeking a path to citizenship. And for some in the middle class it’s been their only chance of ever affording college.

The “Be All You Can Be” military of the 1980s—along with the “One Weekend a Month” National Guard and Reserves—matched Reagan’s Cold War calculations, but it also met a more subtle desire by a chastened Pentagon to transform the military into a professional army, with economic motivations filling the patriotic void left by the catastrophe of Vietnam.

The Vietnam demobilization was a disaster for many vets who struggled with drug abuse, PTSD, homelessness and, even to this day, a high suicide rate. The inability to absorb scarred and disillusioned draftees during the economically stagnant 1970s was in stark contrast to the overwhelming success of the G.I. Bill and the “go-go” manufacturing economy of the 1950s, which quickly and effectively assimilated a large standing army into comfortable civilian employment.

The assimilation is staggering—active duty forces dropped from the wartime high of 12 million in 1945 to roughly 1.5 million by 1947. A combination of conscription and volunteerism sustained U.S. troop levels thereafter, meeting the increased needs of the Korean War and various Cold War deployments until the burning of draft cards and widespread protests challenged the system.

The Vietnam backlash led to the functional end of the draft and the marketing of military service as a career development program.

As a bonus, this re-branding of service created a new pro-military constituency within the body politic. Like defense contractors’ use of civilian manufacturing jobs to secure congressional support, the new “employee army” offered enlistees a rational economic benefit beyond patriotism. It also gave the economy some help along the way, providing an injection of good old fashioned socialism under the guise of patriotic duty.

While many high school grads accumulated massive, inescapable debts as college students, the all-volunteer military offered a way out of the economic dead-ends created by the unleashing of Wall Street’s financial wizards, the end of manufacturing and the outsourcing of, it seemed, just about everything.

Military service mitigated the effects of Reaganomics in the 1980s, offered an alternative to the free trade and tech-bubble economy of the 1990s and, with a rapid post-9/11 ramp up, created an economic safety net for the faux economy of the new century. Americans were asked to support the troops while employing the troops actually helped to support America’s hollow economy.

Although these Army personnel cuts come at a time when Wall Street enjoys record highs and policymakers talk about “The Recovery” as if it’s an actual thing, Americans remain unconvinced that the rising tide is lifting their boats. Gallup’s latest poll shows unemployment atop their list of concerns, with the “economy in general” a close second. Americans want and need jobs, and not just the type of jobs that will benefit from a rise in the minimum wage.

For those scheduled to leave military service in the near term, they will find themselves in a wage-depressed, job-scarce economy. For those who planned on using the military “safety valve” as a way out of a stagnant future, the Pentagon is curtailing one of the only employment and job-training programs available to the poor, the working poor and the dwindling middle class.

Some called it the “poverty draft”—meaning that the poor had few options other than military service. Military recruiters called it “easy cash,” reaping illicit signing bonuses in what’s become a huge kickback scandal reaching up the chain of command. But none dare call it what it often is—a safety net for those who might otherwise fall through the cracks.

Just think what the Great Recession could’ve been like if America didn’t have over 540,000 people in the Army or a total of 1.4 million in uniform, all earning paychecks, getting healthcare and removed from the harrowing competition of a severely depressed job market?

And what would happen if even a quarter of the 1,387,638 active duty military serving in 2013 tried to get jobs in an economy of $19 billion companies with only 55 employees, bank tellers who depend on public assistance to scrape by and Americans who are one missed paycheck away from disaster?

Maybe the answer is coming, or maybe the answer is that the army isn’t really coming home. Rather, it’s just pursuing some cost-cutting measures designed to lower overhead and increase profitability.

The rise of flying killer robots, warfare by algorithm and a wide array of high-tech options to low-tech boots on the ground all give the Pentagon an easy way to reduce personnel costs without curtailing its global appetite for destruction. On the surface it looks like an incremental step away from empire. But it’s really a corporate-style move to cut the one thing all executives like to cut most—the cost of labor.

In addition to trimming the Army down to around 440,000, other cost-cutting measures include:

  • a one-year salary freeze for most officers
  • a meager one-percent pay raise for military personnel
  • “slowing of growth” in the tax-free housing allowance
  • a $1.4 billion subsidy cut to military commissaries
  • a rise in health insurance deductibles and co-pays for some retirees and active service family members

Of course, there is nothing here about closing down the Pentagon’s world-wide network of lush golf courses, freezing the F-35 program until rampant cost overruns can be stopped or cutting the actual defense budget. In fact, the White House is plotting a rise in spending for 2016. In light of Secretary Hagel’s plan, these cuts really amount to a windfall for the Military-Industrial makers of high-tech weaponry by shifting cost savings into new, profitable weapons systems.

Meanwhile, active duty enlistees are increasingly reliant upon on food stamps. Last year, military families redeemed $104 million worth of taxpayer-supplied food stamps at those subsidized commissaries the Pentagon wants to trim. That’s up from nearly $25 million in 2007. But it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the 44 million Americans who rely on those same food stamps, but don’t have access to subsidized commissaries.

So, like civilian workers, military personnel face a daunting future of stagnant wages and declining benefits. If they do come home, the one part of the economy that can absorb them is the growing police state—which receives excess military hardware doled out by the Pentagon, and the flourishing prison system—which leads the world in incarceration. Perhaps out of work soldiers can leverage their training to get jobs guarding the 700,000 veterans currently imprisoned in America.

If so, they’d be closing the “circle of professionalism” that began as a response to Vietnam, but also typified an ongoing unwillingness to invest in the civilian economy like America did at the end of World War II.

Step Right Up and See Boeing’s Amazing Shrinking Tax Rate!

Posted on | February 21, 2014 | No Comments

Last year, government contracting behemoth Boeing paid an effective tax rate of -1.4%.

Yes, you read that correctly—negative 1.4%.

According to a new report from the Center for Effective Government, one of America’s biggest corporations, with profits ranging from $1.6 to $5.9 billion over the last five years, found ways to whittle down its effective tax rate so much that it became, in effect, a source of revenue as they reaped a whopping $82 million tax refund on $5.9 billion in profits.

And this isn’t new.

As Scott Klinger at CFC points out, “Over the last six years, Boeing has reported $26.4 billion in pre-tax profits to its shareholders, while claiming a total of $105 million in refunds from the IRS [for] an effective tax rate of -0.4 percent.”

But wait, there’s more!

Boeing is also the second largest federal contractor. Last year, the aerospace, aircraft and military hardware giant captured 4.4% of the federal contracting pie, which accounted for just over one-third of all of Boeing’s sales!

The grand total?

Public servants in the White House, the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill redistributed $20,182,591,732 of taxpayer wealth to the patriots populating the plush boardrooms of a 36-story skyscraper in downtown Chicago.

With that type of reliable, tax-free income, you’d imagine that Boeing’s corporate headquarters might just be one of the happiest places on earth. But the denizens of Boeing—like CEO W. James McNerney, Jr., who pulled in $27.5 million in 2012—are not sitting alone in the cornered market of defense-related spending. They and their cohorts who sit atop a great federal contracting pyramid scheme—Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, SAIC, Raytheon and General Dynamics—are in no small part why the Washington, D.C. region is the reigning champion in economic confidence.

In fact, Gallup’s tracking survey found that D.C. is the only place in America with any economic confidence at all. Of the fifty states, every one of them has a confidence score mired in the negative. But D.C. scored an astonishing +19 in the most recent tally. In case you hadn’t noticed, the D.C. real estate market shrugged off the Great Recession of 2008 and, beginning in March of 2009, it has registered positive growth each and every year since.

As the Wall Street Journal declared in 2013, the nation’s capital is “a boomtown!”

Unlike Boeing, companies like the aforementioned Northrop Grumman and SAIC, along with uber-luxury carmaker Bentley, have decided to move their headquarters into the region and, therefore, closer to the cutting of the contracting pie.

And that pie is getting bigger.

According to Stephen Fuller, an economist at George Mason University, “…annual government spending on federal contractors in the D.C. metro area increased from $12.6 billion in 1990 to $29.3 billion in 2000, and to $82.5 billion in 2010. And 70% of the $82.5 billion was for technology services.”

The spike from 2000 to 2010 is staggering and, not coincidentally, concurrent with the coming of the Global War on Terror, the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the growth of the NSA-Spying Complex. Since 9/11, the iron reliability of defense and national security-related spending has drawn profit-seeking companies into the D.C. area like moths to an eternal flame.

It has also enriched elected officials—the Representatives in this so-called “representative government” who are charged with the duty of serving the public interest. Infamous examples like Halliburton, Blackwater, the Rendon Group and the hilariously-named “Custer Battles” are exactly what we’d expect to come out of the revolving doors at the Department of Defense and the Pentagon.

After all, there’s no business like war business.

Rather, it’s the cronyism and job security system of self-serving public servants in Congress that strips away—almost irrevocably—the veneer of democracy or the sense that voting even matters. The defense industry is among the most generous when it comes to lobbying, campaign donations and financial glad-handing. The list of top defense dole-meisters features the usual suspects: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and, of course, Boeing.

Predictably, Boeing has invested $1.09 million in the current election cycle. Those contributions have been split fairly evenly—with 42% going to Democrats and 58% going to Republicans. It’s always good business to hedge your bets. In the 2012 election cycle, Boeing topped out at $2.829 billion, giving 46% to Dems and 54% to the GOP. When you consider the $20 billion in government contracts and the tax loopholes, exemptions and incentives that allowed them to turn “the highest corporate tax rate in the world” into a negative tax rate, that’s some serious ROI (return on investment).

If Boeing has designs on the top spot, it will really have to step up its game. That’s because Lockheed Martin—the grand champion of revenue development—not only spends like a drunken sailor in a friendly port, it does so with the same sort of discrimination as lonely seaman. In 2012, Lockheed famously gave campaign contributions to 90% of the House membership. That’s 386 of 435 “Representatives” getting a taste of Lockheed’s magnanimity. And they gave “donations” to 24 of 25 members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee charged with “oversight” responsibilities for the F-22 fighter. The average gift of their patriotism came to $6,130.

Overall, the defense industry lavished $27,647,731 on the 2012 election and has made a $10,056,494 down payment on the coming 2014 election. Not coincidentally, many of the contractors teeming around the NSA-Spying Complex also give big and it was duly noted that members of Congress are far more likely to vote in favor of the NSA and against spying limits if they just so happened to receive financial contributions from companies with a vested interest.

It should also come as no surprise that long-time defense contractors like Lockheed Martin have branched out into the very “technology services” that economist Stephen Fuller says accounts for 70% of the $82.5 billion spent in 2010 on contracting in D.C. area.

No doubt, this effusive government spending turns into jobs and that’s a big reason why D.C. is so darn confident. Since the inception of the Cold War, the defense budget has often been used as a de facto jobs program—a rising tide of “military Keynesianism” that lifts just enough boats to keep the whole enterprise from sinking.

But the wealth isn’t spreading around like it used to, and years of defense-related “tax and spread” sacrosanctity have finally worn thin on a war-weary population. When compared to the stagnant or declining wages most Americans earn, and the taxes most working Americans pay, the patriotic mantra that “we’re all in this together” is belied by Boeing’s $27.5 million CEO compensation package and the “effective” tax rate his corporation has transformed into an “ineffective” tax rate.

And now that money is speech, the only people who truly have a voice once the election is over are those corporate persons whose spending changes their clout from a dim whisper to a resounding scream. That voice is why the defense budget is slated to rise once again in 2016.

Don’t fret, though. Even though your voice is unlikely to be heard above the din of D.C.’s cash machines, at least you know someone working as a contractor in the NSA’s version of cyberspace can and will hear you scream.

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