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An Honest Article About Military Spending and Corruption Gets Printed by Associated Press


Chris Rickert: Bipartisanship sets sail aboard the USS Defense Spending


CHRIS RICKERT | Wisconsin State Journal | crickert@madison.com | 608-252-6198
Published: Today

Forget about national tragedies, Olympic success or sitting down over a couple of beers.

Nothing brings people together like military spending.

What else could get the thumbs-up from a tea party debt hawk, a cheerleader for “new politics,” one of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate, and a massive, left-leaning educational bureaucracy?

Last month, three Wisconsin members of Congress criticized plans from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to curtail production of the Navy’s littoral combat ship, which is made in Alabama and Wisconsin’s own Marinette Marine.

Then last week, UW-Madison backed a bill in the state Legislature that would end a ban on federally funded classified research - including military research - in the UW System and make UW-Madison one of only three Big Ten universities to allow it.

When not proposing $1.4 trillion in federal spending cuts and producing episodes in his “victims of government” series, Sen. Ron Johnson seeks to explain his support for the LCS program as a matter of military readiness, not love of the government contract.

“Sen. Johnson supports the building of the ships and the LCS program,” spokeswoman Melinda Schnell said, “but he by no means feels it is within his role as a U.S. senator to tell the Navy how many of these ships it needs.”

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, whose district includes Marinette, takes a similar tack. His chief of staff said the ship is needed, wanted and comparatively cheap.

Ribble, incidentally, is part of a bipartisan effort called No Labels, which touts itself as “dedicated to a new politics of problem solving.” I guess “new politics” still includes the military-industrial complex.

Speaking of which, in a Feb. 4 statement, Sen. Tammy Baldwin - “a long-time supporter of the LCS program in Wisconsin” -says the LCS program has a “ripple effect across the state, boosting our Made in Wisconsin economy.” No word on whether her support will cause waves among her many peacenik supporters.

In Madison - where college students once rioted against recruiters from napalm-making Dow Chemical - a spokeswoman for today’s student government said the organization is not taking a position on the possible return of classified national security research some 40 years after opposition to the Vietnam War led the UW System to ban it.

The university and the lobbying arm of its Faculty Senate are behind the effort, though, which I suppose is no surprise given the university’s soft spot for secrecy.

Under the original version of the classified research bill, the university lobbied for a provision that would have exempted a broader swath of research from the state’s open records law. That idea was ultimately dropped.

For, well, obvious reasons, peace-minded, military-wary liberals should support curbs to the LCS program and oppose academic research on waging war.

You’d think conservatives would support calls to reduce spending. And secret military research is a little too reminiscent of black helicopters and jackbooted government thugs not to give libertarian-minded conservatives pause.

But principles stand little chance when federal largesse is on the line.

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