Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Headline of the Day

I am a political junkie, but cheep so I read the free feeds of the Hotline, the National Journal daily online rag. Here is the headline that got my attention:
Dicks Hopeful For "Powerful Position"

But wait, it gets better:
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) is making phone calls to fellow members of the House Appropriations Committee to line up the necessary votes to take over a defense panel left vacant by the passing of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).
Dicks and Murtha joined the defense panel the same day in '79, and since Dems took control of the House Dicks served as Murtha's vice-chair. Dicks is the likely choice, based on his seniority, but he's taking the necessary steps to lock down the vote, he said today.
Stay classy Dicks

Of course he considered Rep. Murtha to be his friend and said good things about him further down in the article. But still, the man has been dead for less than 24 hours and Rep. Dicks is calling around to secure the chairmanship of the Appropriations Sub-Committee for Defense?

Let's just look at some of the members of this corrupting Sub-Committee:
Nearly half the members of a powerful House subcommittee in control of Pentagon spending are under scrutiny by ethics investigators in Congress, who have trained their lens on the relationships between seven panel members and an influential lobbying firm founded by a former Capitol Hill aide.

The investigations by two separate ethics offices include an examination of the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), as well as others who helped steer federal funds to clients of the PMA Group. The lawmakers received campaign contributions from the firm and its clients. A document obtained by The Washington Post shows that the subcommittee members under scrutiny also include Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) , C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).

The document also indicates that the House ethics committee's staff recently interviewed the staff of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) about his allegation that a PMA lobbyist threatened him in 2007 when he resisted steering federal funds to a PMA client. The lobbyist told a Nunes staffer that if the lawmaker didn't help, the defense contractor would move out of Nunes's district and take dozens of jobs with him.
As you can see, this is not a Republican or Democrat problem. The party in power tends to have more targets for the defense industry lobbyists to corrupt, simply because there are more of them on the committee.

Why is this committee the source of so much investigation? Because Defense is a sacred cow in Washington. No one dares to make serious cuts to rid the Department of waste, mismanagement, fraud, or boondoogles...lest they be accused of being weak or pro-terrorist. For example of what a member of that committee can do, read (or watch if your are pressed for time) Charlie Wilson's War.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) for a few days held all of Obama's appointments up on behalf of a foreign Defense contractor--Airbus--to aid them in their longstanding feud with Boeing over a bid to supply a multi-billion dollar air refueling tanker aircraft contract. Now the holds are more relevant, limited to 3 nominees involved in the Air Force and the like.

Defense spending in a members' district means jobs for his constituents and millions in donations in the members' campaign coffers. Its a win-win...for everyone but the American people. So Dicks may get his "powerful position," but it won't change the fact that Norm is a corrupt dick.

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