Missing (in)Action

Yes – this is for real. Today, one day before Valentine’s Day, the House Armed Services Committee invited the Pentagon’s top brass on a date to talk about sequestration — and then stood them up. (This was what the room looked like at about two hours into the meeting, toward the end. The screenshots were taken 5 minutes apart at 1:30. ) I can’t quite make out who the Representatives  there are —the ones who where there for their own freakin’ meeting, mind you — and I don’t really want to give them too much praise for simply doing their jobs (but, hey, good on ya’!), but I can tell you that the wall of uniforms in the top pic? Yeah, those guys — they definitely had better things to do.
(I mean, really, what was going on in DC today that was 1) so pressing that all of these Representatives couldn’t be at their own meeting, but 2) not pressing enough to require the presence of any of these military commanders? Maybe Beyonce was in town…)
***UPDATE- My good friend Ellery, who has been working in Washington politics for many years now, tells me that these pictures were taken around the same time the Majority called a vote on the House floor. In other words, the seats were empty because the Representatives had gone to vote. Fair enough. The vote, in case you are wondering, was “To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to clarify that houses of worship are eligible for certain disaster relief and emergency assistance on terms equal to other eligible private nonprofit facilities, and for other purposes.”
So, yeah, that’s totally pressing… Totally worth blowing off the heads of every branch of the military right before Congress’ lack of action decimates the greatest fighting force in the history of the world, even as we are still dealing with terrorism and nuclear threats.
[bangs her head against the wall]
Here’s a list of some of the people who should never be allowed the privilege of (not) serving their constituents again:

Members of the Committee

For the 113th Congress, the House Armed Services Committee will be led by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) with Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) serving as the Ranking Member.  The following members will serve on the Committee:

Updated: January 9, 2013



Build (and fund) your own military

The New York Times’ website has this fascinating interactive tool that allows people to decide how they would cut the military budget. It’s like the American Idol-izing of national security. I’d love to see a similar tool for other parts of the federal budget because, personally, I think I could do some real good on Education spending, and Social Security, and the Department of the Interior — I mean, what do they even do? –  and Agriculture (why, oh why, do we pay farm subsidies? If no one is buying your crop, perhaps it’s time to grow something else…), and Commerce, which hasn’t exactly done so well these last few years, and … and so forth and so on, but for now the Department of Defense budget is the only Department being subjected to this Roman-style thumbs up-thumbs down from the public, so we’ll have to work with what we’ve got.

I also wish the Times would post the results. I’d love to see how many people would opt to eliminate retirement pensions in favor of a civilian-style 401 system (that’s one of the budget cutting options) or how many would eliminate DoD schools altogether (another option), but no such break down is given.

In case you’re wondering, I spent some time — not a whole lot of time, just a little time  — pondering these choices and only managed to slash $254 million, and I felt pretty bad about most of things I chose to cut. I really debated on the military bands, for instance. Do we need them? No. But they don’t really cost that much compared to everything else in the budget, either. I’m still on the fence on that one, in fact.

Check it out for yourselves and feel free to chime in here and let us all know what you think is cut-able.


NOTE: Amy Bushatz, who blogs over at SpouseBuzz on the Military.com site, just informed me that if you actually do manage to cut $450 million from the Defense budget, you get an option to submit your plan and to see how other people elected to cut the budget. You don’t get to see those results if you, like me, only manage to cut a measly $254 million, though. So, if you’re curious, then go ahead and axe Tricare, just like 40 percent of Times readers did. Or, like 85 percent, you can choose to reduce the number of troops we have in Asia and Europe (btw, I really wish those two weren’t lumped in together. Europe — yes, maybe we don’t need so many people in Europe. But Asia (aka, South Korea) um, no. It’s looking like we might need to maintain a presence there, folks.) Reassuringly, only 17 percent opted to make military retirement pensions more like 401Ks. At least a majority of American civilians realize that no one is going to voluntarily risk their lives for their crappy retirement plans…