Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tanks for Nothing

By Bill Maher

There are a few really key objects that explain why the 20th century worked out like it did: The cyclotron, the small pox vaccine, the invention of black people and sex in the late 50s. And the tank. I just want to say, right up front, hooray for tanks. The British invented them, the Germans perfected them, and Arabs still can't win a war with them, even against other Arabs. No matter how many they have. It’s actually weird. How hard can it be? It's like American Indians never coming up with the wheel.

And the best tank ever made is the M1 Abrams. It's got a 1500 horsepower Textron gas turbine engine and a 120 MM smoothbore cannon from the good (German) people at Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH. It weighs almost seventy tons, just like Rush Limbaugh, and can still do 45 mph on level ground, just like Paul Ryan. That said, the tank is a shitty welfare program.

In the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden said: 
"The military says we need a smaller, leaner Army. We need more special forces. ...We don’t need more M1 tanks. What we need is more UAVs."
And he's obviously right, except the M1 is made in Ohio -- the Valley of Elah for this entire election. And that's why Romney, Ryan and their ads, automated phone calls and surrogates are hammering away, like history's best tank is basically Terri Schiavo and Obama wants to yank its feeding tube.

"When you say…that we don't need any more Lima-built M1 tanks, what we are doing is we're projecting weakness, and when we project weakness abroad our enemies become more brazen!" -- Paul Ryan, in Ohio

"We need M1 tanks because they're part of the greatest military on the face of the earth. They will ensure that we have a military second to none so that we can keep the peace. We need M1 tanks!" -- Ohio Sen. Rob Portman

Here's the thing. The Army doesn't want any more M1s. We're getting a remodeled tank in 2017, and Obama would like to shut the M1 factory down and save $3 billion between now and then. This would cost 800 jobs.

Here's the other thing. It doesn't matter what the Army wants, Congress keeps voting to make more M1s. Last year, over Army objections, the defense appropriations bill included $255 million for 42 more M1s, basically to keep the factory open. So it's welfare, plain and simple. $255 million for 800 jobs building 42 tanks for no one.

Part of the problem is the M1 is too good. We never need to replace them.  In the first Gulf War nine were damaged beyond repair. In the entire second Gulf War, we lost eighty.

Now we have 2,300 M1s deployed around the world. And three thousand (3000) more right here in California, sitting there, row-on-row, at the Sierra Army Depot.

Enough to retake Iraq 37 times.

Hey, just a day’s drive up the I-5. Who wants to go?


Anonymous said...

I'm down! That's beautiful country up there and the medication is great. I have seen you use the Plate of food to illustrate the us budget. This poster works well as a visual aid.

Thanks Bill!

Meagan Nolan said...

This comment is not in reference to the blog but I couldn't find anywhere else on your page to post it. My question: per David Frum's words "(there is an amount of compassion) for about as painful an experience a human being can go through," these were his words in terms of Mitt Romney's loss.... How about those who who have lost children in Iraq\Iran? How about my father who lost his only two boys to unfortunate deaths? When a presidential election is a possibility I highly doubt, even then, that the thought of winning would weigh the most heavily on his heart and mind as the decision was to come to a close!

retiredusa said...

Bill I served in the Army for 21 years, and I can fix the Defense Budget. Next time you have a member of congress on the show ask them to propose a new piece of legislation that states. "When the DOD submits a budget to congress that congress may " 1. Approve the budget as presented. 2. Line item remove requests in the budget. 3. (AND THIS IS THE BIG ONE) Congress shall not add anything to the Defense budget that was not requested. Sounds simple right? Here is the problem. No member of Senate or House wants a based closed in there state. The Air Force tried to close Eielson AFB in Alaska and both Senators were ready to fight, and are fighting Marc Begich a member of the Democratic Party and Lisa Murkowski a member of the Republican Party are both outraged. See how the two parties can come together in a single voice. Of course this type of behavior is not limited to elected officials with a military base in their state. Let's say you have a factory in your state making a "widget" for the military. The Army wants to stop buying those M1 tanks or The Air Force no longer wants C-17 aircraft. I don't care what party the members of congress are from they will all be on the same page to continue the purchase of those widgets in their home state. God forbid we close the factory, that would but people out of work. This type of budget spending action has often been referred to as "Pork Barrel Spending". Senator John McCain is the worst offender, because he will sit down and write a list of all the pork barrel military spending that ended up in the budget, and say what a terrible thing it is, But he never proposed a Bill that would make it impossible for congress to add things to the budget that were not requested by the military. I Served in the Army from 1985-2006, and we had a 13 years stretch were "By Law" we could not receive a pay raise higher than 1% below inflation as determined by the consumer price index. It became obvious to me that elected officials only care about the jobs that a military base creates in their town. That new gym being built on the base that was not in the DOD budget is not getting built because they care about soldiers and want them to have a great gym to keep in shape at. No No it is about the carpenters, electricians, and plumbers that will get the contract. OH look at me I am the great and powerful Senator that got 10 million dollars in construction projects approved for the base... I am putting money into the local economy, I bring home the pork! Vote for me! Here is the problem there. Fort Hood, TX may have asked for a new gym in their budget, however a study determined that based on the number of soldiers on the base and the number of current gyms all ready there that the money would be better spent elsewhere and so it got cut somewhere along the way. Now when the DOD submits the budget to congress the officials from Texas are up in arms because that gym is not in their. Next thing you know Bam! the gym is in the budget.

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